BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 16:00 UK

Mental Capacity Act

stressed man
BBC Radio 4's Law In Action
Tuesday 12 June 1600 GMT
On Radio 4 and online

Vulnerable adults and the Mental Capacity Act

Have the Government really closed the Bournewood Gap?

Law in Action investigates the rights of mental health inpatients who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves and therefore cannot consent to their treatment.

Thousands of people are kept in hospital without being formally sectioned under the Mental Health Act and without the safeguards that legislation affords. This is known as the 'Bournewood Gap'.

Named after a legal case involving Bournewood Hospital in Surrey where the hospital's authority to keep an autistic man in hospital was challenged by his carers.

The programme spoke to the carers of 'H', the man at the centre of the Bournewood Gap case; about their thoughts and experiences on their lengthy legitigation which saw them take the case all the way to the European Court.

Clive Coleman also hears from leading mental health lawyers, Lucy Scott Montcrieff and Nicola Macintosh, about their concerns that the Mental Capacity Act does not give vulnerable adults the same protections as those for people detained under the Mental Health Act.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton replies on behalf of the government.

The Apprentice

Katie Hopkins
Katie Hopkins, withdrew from The Apprentice last week
Just a game? Or is 'the job interview from hell' flouting the Discrimination laws?

Tomorrow night many millions will be glued to our TV screens watching the finale of the reality TV show, 'The Apprentice'. It will have to go some way to beat the intrigue and interest of last week's show when Katie Hopkins dramatically pulled out.

During that programme, she was asked questions about her childcare arrangements and children generally. Just a game or were these questions fair? Or did they breach employment law practices?

The programme hears from employment lawyer Clive Howard.

British and Spanish Fertility Laws

IVF treatment
Egg and sperm donors are protected by anonymity under Spanish law

Many a British baby has been concieved on hot, sultry nights in Spain's Costa Del Sol.

But this week reporter Mukul Devichand found a very different type of procreation in the famous Spanish resort of Marbella.

He investigated how British couples are travelling there for IVF treatment using donated eggs, taking advantage of differences between British and Spanish fertility laws.

A controversial change to British law in 2004 means that children born from a donated egg or sperm can, when they turn 18, identify and track down the donor. But the number of eggs donated by British women was already falling, and critics say these legal change may have put even more donors off.

Spanish law is very different. There, women who donate eggs remain anonymous. Spanish clinics also pay much more compensation to women who donate eggs - up to 1,000 Euros. As a result, many more donor eggs are available and this draws British couples who face waits of up to five years for a donor in the UK.

Supporters of the change to British law argue the human right of children to know their origin trumps any concerns about waiting lists. So do the babies born from Spanish donor eggs have fewer legal rights than babies concieved from donor eggs in the UK?

For this week's Law in Action, Mukul traveled to Spain and met three British couples who were going through IVF on one dy at a small fertility clinic.

Law in Action


Download or subscribe to this programme's podcast

Podcast Help


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific