Mental health law challenged in court

A Leeds man who beat a teenager to death more than eight years
ago has won the first round of a test case bid for release from one
of Britain’s highest security mental hospitals.

Michael Pearson kicked and beat a 19-year-old man in Leeds in
May 1992. He was convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminished
responsibility after he was found to be suffering from a
psychopathic disorder.

This week, at London’s High Court, he was granted permission to
mount a full judicial challenge to the mental health review
tribunal’s refusal in February this year to sanction his

His lawyers argued that placing the burden of proving he was fit
for release upon Pearson was a breach of the “fundamental rights of
liberty of the subject” under the European Convention on Human

A spokesperson for mental health charity Mind said: “The Court
of Appeal has already declared the burden of proof elements of the
Mental Health Act 1983 to be incompatible with the European
Convention on Human Rights.”

Ministers are considering ways to update the Mental Health
Act 1983
through the White Paper Reforming the Mental Health
Act, published in December last year.

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