I wrote this column for the South Manchester Reporter last Friday, before today's judgement by the Law Lords, which you can read here. I hope the Home Secretary will now change the law so that no other family have to go through what the Thornber's and the Lawton's had to.
It is an honour to be an MP in the best City in the world. And the most important thing I can do as an MP is to be there to help local people when they need me most.
Many of you will have read about the tragedy concerning Didsbury 17 year old Edward Thornber. Edward was arrested for the possession of cannabis and was treated as an adult. Being ordered to court rather than just being given a warning, the ex-head boy wrongly thought he was faced with the prospect of losing a career opportunity in the US, and hanged himself. According to police reports, following his arrest in Cornwall, police made a number of errors processing his arrest, filing him as an adult rather than technically a youth.
Edward Thornber’s parents, Adrian and Ann, contacted me to discuss how I could help them. I was struck by their quiet dignity when confronted by a what must be the hardest thing a parent could ever face.
They pointed out that there is currently an inconsistency in law when treating 17-year-olds. At a police station they are considered an adult and thus are treated so. In court, the law sees them as a child.
They argued that the law should be changed, and I agreed with them. Last month, I joined them and the Lawtons, who son, Joseph, committed suicide too, and presented a 52,000 name petition to 10 Downing Street. With us was Shauneen Lamb from the children’s charity, Just for Kids.
I also promised both the Lawton’s and the Thornber’s that I would submit a parliamentary motion highlighting Edward and Joe’s case, and do all I could to try to change the law. This Wednesday, I submitted the motion, and I thank the South Manchester Reporter for giving me a this platform to help me raise awareness for the campaign.
The law needs to change. To change for Edward, to change for Joe. My job is to help stop other parents across the country from going through what Ann and Adrian Thornber had to go through.
My job is to be there when I am needed.