Sunday, 23 March 2014

Background - Part 5: The Guardianship Tribunal Hearing

We returned to the UK with heavy hearts.  We had no idea if or when we would ever see Mum again.

We learned shortly after returning to the UK that my mother had been discharged into the “care” of my brother and his wife.  The inspection visit had finally taken place and the house had been deemed safe enough for Mum to return there.  I’m certain the inspection visit was arranged swiftly as they had no idea how long we were staying in Australia and would definitely have wanted to prevent us seeing Mum if they could.  The fact Mum was back with my brother was a cause of concern for us as Mum had suffered a number of falls at their house that were unwitnessed and unheard by the family.  It was so very difficult being back in the UK.  We were worrying about Mum constantly.  She was such a meek and selfless person, she wouldn’t have wanted to feel she was a burden and would have just accepted any treatment meted out to her.

In September 2008 we had moved our daughter, Jade, to Bournemouth, Dorset, as she had been offered a place at the Arts Institute University, to study photography.  Our son, Zaine, has Aspergers Syndrome, a form of Autism, and he was additionally suffering from an associated condition that left Dave and me utterly exhausted as we cared for him.

Matters started to move ahead with regard to the Court of Protection case in the UK and also the Guardianship Tribunal (GT) in Australia.

At Sandra Hall’s (hospital Social Worker) suggestion, I wrote to the GT and requested to be joined as a party to the proceedings. There were pages and pages of forms to complete and I had many conversations with administration staff at the GT in New South Wales.  The EB/PBCC have had much in the way of negative publicity in Australia and one particular lady with whom I had regular dealings at the GT knew all about them.  She told me that the EB/PBCC were very much disliked in Australia because of they way they split families.  It was a relief not to have to explain the situation each time, because they just knew, but even so, they were horrified to hear my story.

As well as completing lengthy forms for the forthcoming hearing in Australia, I also had to fill in numerous other forms for the Court of Protection in the UK.  I had to put my case forward, stating exactly why I objected to my brother registering the Power of Attorney.  It was complicated because the reasons under which I could object were set out in legal terminology, which I had to get my head around first.  My best friend, Helen Ghinn would visit and after we had managed to lull her young baby girl to sleep in a darkened room, Dave, Helen and I would sit and tackle the forms together.

Having previously worked part-time, at the beginning of February 2008 I had taken on a full time position and also began studies to enhance and help my career.  On the 3rd February 2008 Dad had passed away, and apart from the few months after this and before Mum was kidnapped, the amount I had to cram into my daily life was phenomenal; I was also doing the paperwork and accounts for Dave’s business.  I was attending numerous medical appointments with Zaine and then making up the time at work, meaning I was working through many lunch hours or working late at night.  I worked only ten minutes walk away from home and in lunch hours when I wasn’t working, I would rush home to send another email, or do some more work on the dreaded forms.

On 21 September 2009, the Guardianship Tribunal hearing took place in Australia.  It was a four-hour hearing, commencing at 09:00 in Australia, which was midnight here.  I was linked to the hearing by telephone.  Our friend Mark Ghinn had very kindly offered support to us during the hearing and was with us for the duration . 

The tribunal panel comprised three members; a solicitor, a Dr and a community member.  Also present were a professional from Woy Woy Hospital, my brother, his wife and my mother.  My brother had a solicitor present, which seemed most bizarre as he wasn’t going to be speaking on behalf of my brother.  I’m not sure why my brother felt this was necessary.

My brother had applied to become my mother’s legal guardian.  However, the views of both hospital professionals and myself were that an independent guardian should be appointed instead. 

The panel heard the views of all parties.

My mother stated clearly that she did not intend to stay permanently in Australia. She confirmed that she was in Australia on holiday and wanted to return to her home in the UK.

The Occupational Therapist advised in submitted documentation that from conversations with Mum, she had gleaned that Mum was under the impression that she was on holiday and would be returning to her UK home.  She was doubtful that Mum would have made the decision to live in Australia, long term.

The Social Worker advised, also in submitted documentation, that Mum was at risk of exploitation and that she was easily susceptible to this.  Her professional opinion was that a guardian was needed who would endeavor to protect Mum’s access to us and vice versa, to ensure that she was not isolated from those she loves.

The Nursing Unit Manager advised that there had been no disclosure by my brother to me about Mum and her living arrangements and that the move to Australia had been made under a cloud of secrecy.  She pointed out that Mum would not have the capacity to make informed decisions about applying for Australian residency, nor be able to make an informed decision regarding where she would live.  She stated that there should be an access function via a Guardian so that we could have contact with Mum.

My brother, however, felt that Mum DID have the capacity to make decisions regarding where she would live.  He advised that while she was in hospital she had applied to continue to remain living in Australia.

This was rubbish.  Mum had been exploited and unduly influenced to sign the application.  This was illegal.  Mum had entered the country on a visitor’s visa and had a return flight booked.  My brother had made her sign the paperwork but of course she was not at all aware of what she was signing as she had Dementia and did not have the mental capacity to make such a lifestyle choice.  Note the obvious conflict here:  In the UK, my brother had applied to register Power of Attorney, because he agreed that Mum did not have capacity.  However, in the hearing, he was stating the opposite, that she DID in fact have the capacity to make such decisions.  It doesn’t work both ways!  The tribunal panel saw through my brother and his wife and my brother was forced to admit that he obtained Mum’s original signature for the immigration papers, knowing that she did not have the mental capacity to make such a decision for herself.  Because of the brethren, my brother and his wife exploited my mother.

My brother also alleged that Mum had planned to emigrate to Australia with him.  If this was the case, which clearly it was not, there would not be an entry in my mother’s hospital admission notes, stating that Marilyn, my brother’s wife, told staff that mum was holidaying with them.  They were lying, they had told numerous people and organisations that Mum was in Australia on holiday.  They were obviously trying to move Mum to Australia via “the back door” in a deceitful manner and had said she was there on holiday to protect their own immigration status. Their lies flew in the face of all the hard evidence which clearly demonstrated the opposite.  Again, it doesn’t work both ways. 

Mum clearly believed what she had been told, that she was going on holiday.  Her house was left with all her and my late father’s possessions within.  There was clean crockery on the draining board and her engagement ring on the dressing table.  She had asked her neighbour to look after her plants.

My brother tried putting words in Mum’s mouth when she was speaking, and told her that Australia was her home.  It was revealed in the tribunal that Clement and Marilyn had used £10,000 of Mum’s money for UK lawyer fees, immigration papers and three flights to NZ.

When questioned, my brother said it would be “unthinkable” for Mum to return to the UK, even if full time care was provided.  He said that if he was made Mum’s guardian, he was not agree to Mum moving back home, even if it was her express wish.

When asked why he had not told me of his plans to take Mum to Australia, he said he didn’t feel it was appropriate.

The tribunal ruled that a guardianship order should be made and that the Public Guardian was appointed.

Following the appointment of the Public Guardian I was able on some occasions to speak to Mum at my brother’s house.  The time difference made it very difficult though.  I either had to stay up really late to try and speak to Mum after she was up and dressed in the morning in Australia, or I had to set our alarm to wake me at 05:00 here in order to talk to Mum, after she had eaten her lunch, but before she had an afternoon nap.  Both options were hard because with working full time, staying up until 01:00 was a challenge.  Likewise, waking up early to make a phone call and having to be immediately awake was a struggle.  Clem and Marilyn were problematic to deal with.  The phone would be passed to Mum and I would hear some whispering for a few seconds and then Mum’s voice would come on the phone.  The first thing she would say to me, before even saying “hello”, was “I’m very happy with the care I’m receiving here”.  There is no disputing that she was being told what to say.  The phone was put on loudspeaker, obviously so that Clem and Marilyn could listen to the whole conversation.  Mum would say that my voice was so loud.  She was obviously holding the phone to her ear having not realised that it was on speaker-phone.  It was lovely to talk to Mum, and she would try to keep the conversation going as long as she possibly could.

I was supposed to be kept fully informed of all decisions regarding Mum as per conversations and emails exchanged with Peter Wilson, the Public Guardian. 

At the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, I tried to call my brother’s house on a number of occasions to speak to Mum, but there had been no reply, then on 9 February 2010, I received an email from a cousin of mine, Reg Hendricks, who lives in NSW.  At that point I had never met him.  Reg has never been in the brethren.  He told me that he and his wife, Lorraine, had visited Mum in a nursing home.  I had no idea that Mum was in a nursing home as I had not been given this information by either my brother or Peter Wilson.

Apparently, Reg had somehow received information regarding my mother’s whereabouts and had rung and spoken to Marilyn who told him Mum was not available.  Later Reg rang and had spoken to Clement who told him that Mum was in a nursing home.  Reg and Lorraine visited and my brother told them they could only spend 20 minutes with Mum.  Reg and Lorraine had a lovely time with Mum, who greeted Reg with open arms and said “Reggie, you are a handsome boy!”  Rather than allow them some privacy, my brother and his wife stayed with them throughout the visit and at one point they chatted with Mum in Afrikaans, which caused my brother to become somewhat uncomfortable as he had no idea what they were talking about.  Reg took some photos.

My cousin Reg with Mum (Aunty Eleanor)
Cousin Reg with my very smug looking brother and his wife
On 14 March 2010, I received an email from Reg’s brother, Ivan, in Australia.  He also had never been in the brethren.  He said he had traveled from his home in Melbourne, to Sydney, in order to visit Mum.  He rang my brother and asked to see Mum briefly as he had very happy memories of time spent with his Aunty.  My brother said he was at work and couldn’t give an immediate answer.  The next day they spoke again and unbelievably, knowing that Ivan had travelled from Melbourne, my brother said he needed at least two weeks notice for a visit to Mum and that Mum was committed to a number of appointments.  Ivan told Clement that Mum was very special to him as she had delivered him some 60 years ago.  My brother said he would return the call.  He never did.  They cruelly deprived Mum of contact with those whom she loved. 

I had sent Mum pictures of us all, but they must have been intercepted by Clement and Marilyn because when the Guardian, Peter Wilson went to visit Mum, he told me that there were many pictures on display in Mum’s room, but none of us.

……….. Coming soon:  Another Court Case, Australia 2011 and Freedom for Mum at last


  1. The Brethren are sick. The rank and file are trapped by the threat of losing their family connections. The leaders are power hungry.

    Gordon Martin

  2. They sure are, Gordon. This story is unbelievable!! Marion, I really feel for you - what a position to be in!

    Lois John

  3. Their cruelty is just beyond belief.

  4. A truly tragic story Marion. The body language in the photo of your brother and his wife with your cousin Reg says it all really...!

  5. Absolutely appalling. How DARE they. So angry....
    Pam Fyvie

  6. Thank you for writing this. I wish there was more awareness!

  7. Victoria Anne, a group of us a trying hard to raise public awareness. Hopefully, in the coming months more people will know about this evil group

  8. Is there a part 6 yet? I have a friend who got out. This is extremely disturbing. Katrina

    1. Hi Katrina. I have been absolutely snowed under so haven't produced Part 6. However, I intend to update the blog shortly and advise everyone that I am actually now working on my book which will cover what happened in far greater detail.

      It is very disturbing, but sadly, all true with no exaggeration. I would be interested to hear who your friend is, perhaps I know them. Feel free to email me on

  9. I came across your story via Facebook after my sister shared it. A very tragic account but sadly not an isolated case. Oddly enough, I kind of got out at the same time as you in 1986. I did try, unsuccessfully, to testify against them in a written witness statement to the Charities Commission a while back, when they were going through the process of trying to get their charitable status reinstated. Your account would have been far more compelling than anything I could have told.

    I too am looking forward to reading the next installment. Ray

    1. Thank you very much for commenting. No, not isolated by any means and the cruelty and violation of humans rights continues whilst they carry on pretending they are there for the good of the community. I am also writing my book which I hope to finish one day and that will be very detailed and informative and perhaps an eye opener for those who think the Exclusive Brethren are "quirky but harmless". Feel free to email me on, if you wish. Many thanks, Marion.

  10. It has taken days for me to read all 5 sections of this blog as each one has made my blood boil with anger.

    As an outsider it's difficult to understand how the members of this cult can act so atrociously and yet feel that they have been chosen by God and the rest of us are spiritually dead heathens ... even after you explained how it's the only truth they know as they are born into and then brainwashed by the brethren. I'd think that people would be able to discern the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, compassion and cruelty or even the pious and controlling, asset stripping "Big Lie" merchants on the make. If the brethren is to be treated as a religion it should be promoting such understanding not precluding it.

    All the people mentioned in the blog, by name and the anonymous troops that formed a human barrier in attempts to confound your efforts to stand by your own father's grave and your mum's hospital bed should be ashamed of themselves but apparently they wont.

    As my sympathy turned to anger and, like you, certain elements of this story have turned my stomach, I have realised that I, too, have been a victim of the brethren having been deprived of my relationship with you. Were it not for the death of my father (your dad's youngest brother) earlier this year I would still never have met you.

    I remember our first telephone conversation. We were so much in tune ... that familial bond being strong despite the brethren's worst efforts. I was so excited to meet you when you and Dave came to meet the clan the day before the funeral it was instantly like we'd know each other all our lives. In some way I see it as being similar to how both our dads had researched our family line while being estranged by your dad's membership of the brethren. Blood is thicker than water. I liked Dave from the outset too and am glad you have him on your side. You are both formidable and I hope that my love and support go some way to strengthening your resolve to expose this litany of divisive, hateful behaviour as being far from the Christian ethos and, due to the fear that preserves and prolongs it, more akin to membership of a criminal gang or adherence to a despicable, bigoted philosophy like fascism.

    I'm proud of you. Proud that my cousin has the strength, tenacity and courage to take on this bunch.


    1. Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting with such lovely words, Colin.

      It is indeed difficult for people to get their heads around the behaviour of a group that claims to be Christian, but whose actions seem to be anything but. I am just so grateful that I was one who escaped; every single day I appreciate my freedom.

      I'm saddened at the death of Uncle Andrew, but am so, so glad that we are now in touch with the Sture side of the family. I felt that same bond of which you speak and I cannot tell you how glad I am that we were able to meet you all and to be there to say goodbye to Uncle Andrew. I wanted to be there for Dad too, as they used to be so close; it is what he would have wanted and he would be so happy that we are now in touch.

      Thank you for your love and support, it means so much to me. See you soon.

      Marion x

  11. I stumbled across your blog by accident through good old Facebook; like many others, I thought the Plymouth Brethren were "quirky but harmless". How wrong was I and how unbelievably cruel are they!! I will be keeping an eye out for Part 6 and for your book. Wishing you well. Tanya

    1. Hi Tanya, sorry I have only just had notification of your comment, hence it only being published now. I have not yet completed my book, as life is so busy, and now I am fighting an unexpected illness. It is my aim to one day complete my book though. I have now released Parts 1-3 of a new blog post, entitled 'Four Days Before Christmas 2017'. It is about a member of the Exclusive Brethren attempting to sue me last year for something I did not do. Do take a read. Below is the link to Part 1:
      Thank you for your good wishes, take care. Marion