Skip navigation

The refusal of an application for a Judicial Review, relying on section 8 of the Human Rights Act against Camphill Village Trust will not now be appealed.

The application made by some of the Charity's beneficiaries in the Queen’s Bench was for the Court to look at and stop the proposed actions of CVT.

The matter was being appealed, not the least because of its significance to the future wellbeing of learning disabled people across the UK. Legal Aid was granted for this appeal.

That appeal will not now take place as the solicitors have withdrawn the case following a change in circumstances which means that the Legal Aid criteria for continuing to fund the appeal no longer applies.

Learning disabled residents, who are beneficiaries of the Trust, had originally requested a Judicial Review because CVT planned to make drastic and unwelcome changes to their family lives without consulting them or taking their wishes and choices into account. These changes were on the brink of being forced through when the initial application was made for a temporary injunction to prevent the changes being implemented whilst a full application was heard. The injunction was granted.

As the fact that the Charity has given undertakings in parallel proceedings has meant that the learning disabled appear not to be at an immediate risk of losing their shared living, this has meant the Lawyers have had to advise that public funding will no longer be available to continue the proceedings. They have indicated that they would happily continue if private funding was available but these are ordinary people with ordinary means and that is out of the question.

The position changed ironically because, in a separate but related case brought by 23 people including residents’ family members and Co-workers in the High Court had resulted only days earlier in the charity giving temporary undertakings that it would preserve the cherished family life/ living arrangements for the claimants and other residents for the foreseeable future (with one notable change). These arrangements included the Co-workers' agreeing to be temporarily classed as employees for tax purposes whilst an attempt is made at resolving the matters through mediation and if this fails, until the second case itself is fully heard.

As the Co-worker/learning disabled families are remaining together, albeit under very strained and distressed conditions, the Judge decided that there is now therefore no immediate prospect of a breach of the beneficiaries’ right to family life and indeed there may never be such a breach should either the ADR or other case prove successful.

Since the claimants are vulnerable learning disabled people without means to bring such an appeal themselves, the matter cannot currently be progressed, leaving their lives in a state of limbo and stress waiting for the outcome of these other actions.

Of course, should the position change and once again there be an imminent threat to the Human Rights of the claimants they will have the option to once more make an application for a Judicial Review, particularly as His Honour Justice Knowles indicated that he would not ‘mark the case as totally without merit’ when pressed by CVT’s barrister Christopher Baker on the point.

“It is ironic that, apparently, because CVT gave undertakings in one case they escaped having to account for their actions in this second case,” said Neil Davidson of the campaign group Action for Botton “it is even more worrying that should the second case not protect the learning disabled then public funds will be looked for to start this action all over again”.

The Judicial Review was requested to consider the entire situation and whether the threatened apartheid (literal translation living-apart) being imposed on the learning disabled of an intentional community who were being forcibly segregated from their co-worker families was, as claimants say, in breach of article 8 of the Human Rights Act, specifically the right to a family life.

This forced segregation of the disabled was being undertaken without any consultation with, and against the express wishes of, the overwhelming majority of the residents (who signed a petition to this effect) as well as the rest of the community and would have meant an end to their traditional, shared life model integral to the ethos at Camphill communities and which residents had enjoyed for decades.

“This case has wide reaching implications”, says Brian Knight, father of one of the learning disabled claimants. “Legal Aid was granted in the first instance on the strength of the Advice on Merits provided by both our QC and Barrister . Its conclusion read:-
‘It is our opinion that this claim has 50%+ prospects of success and that public funding should be granted in order for it to be pursued. It is our view that the claim raises issues of significant wider public importance and that its exceptional complexity makes the instruction of both senior and junior counsel necessary, proportionate and cost-effective.’”

Brian Knight continues: “Bindmans now inform us that in their opinion the situation has now changed based on the revised situation existing now in Botton Village as a result of an Order and Undertaking made in the Chancery Division of the High Court on 1 April 2015 in another case involving Botton Village. Since the undertaking simply involves the Co-workers temporarily engaging in employment with CVT pending the conclusion of their current legal claim, I am at a loss to understand how that action would have affected the substance and strength of our appeal in our case in the Queen's Bench Division bearing in mind that Legal Aid had granted us a certificate to proceed with the appeal after the 1 April 2015”.

Jackie Riis-Johannessen, mother of another claimant, said: “It is extremely disappointing that a Judicial Review cannot take place now, although our daughter's family life has been preserved for the time being, thanks to the considerable sacrifices of the Co-workers, sadly life is far from normal, as CVT managers chip away at the Co-workers. Whereas before, the Co-workers not only co-ordinated their houses, they managed and worked in the many various workshops as well as run and managed the community. Now they have been reduced to a minimum wage, 37 hour/week role. The family atmosphere can't be the same.

She adds: “Our daughter is acutely aware of CVT's actions and in a constant state of anxiety worrying that she will lose what she considers her family and be separated from her house parents at some unknown point in the future, something that is made worse by any delay. CVT’s managers have consistently acted in a callous and aggressive manner, announcing these changes ‘at’ their beneficiaries without consulting them and repeatedly telling them that their ‘service experience’ will remain the same. Our daughter has confined herself to her house and often room for months now, although encouraged recently to get back to partial work, as a result of the Court Order protecting her family for now.

“Obviously there cannot be any comparison between living in an actual family and having three strangers, not chosen by our daughter, coming in on eight hour shifts and leaving again, these two situations are nothing alike and the learning disabled residents fully understand this, it’s simply not family life. The managers continually insisting that it will be the same is causing lots of upset and is quite simply discriminating in assuming that the learning disabled do not have the same emotions and needs for real long term personal relationships as able people.

“Whilst I realise that shift support care is the norm in some institutions and may suit some people, (although many are simply not offered any other choice), it is not what our daughter chose or wants, having experienced it previously. Just because she is learning disabled does not mean that the very people entrusted to provide her with quality care can get away with moving her around like a pawn. It’s similar to a child being told their mother is being taken away but don’t worry your ‘experience’ of having a mother will be exactly the same, we will send in three support mothers on eight hour shifts, they will be strangers and won’t always be the same three but your experience of having a mother will be the same - it’s complete madness!”

Camphill Village Trust (CVT), a charity originally set up to support the formation and maintenance of intentional communities that fully integrate the learning disabled into every aspect of community life, has been facing a storm of criticism over its attempts to dismantle the key elements of its communities including the much valued workplaces of the learning disabled such as the creamery.

Campaigners claim that over the last four years CVT have been moving all their sites away from the traditional, Camphill community model, converting the communities into sterile institutions devoid of emotional, spiritual and psychological fulfillment. The sites now appear to be staffed mostly by low-paid, gagged, shift-workers who live away from the learning disabled, commute in to work and who are discouraged from having involvement with the community.

The net effect of CVT's restructuring actions has been and continues to be the tearing apart of living, vibrant communities and acute distress for community members, including Co-workers and most importantly, the learning disabled residents, who have themselves recently created and courageously presented a petition at No 10 Downing St asking the Prime Minister to intervene on their behalf.

The residents, with the support of worried family members in the campaign groups, feel that their concerns have not been heard and their choices to live with their Co-worker families in a shared-life setting are being completely ignored.

This forced segregation situation is set against the backdrop of national concern about the treatment of the learning disabled, with the launch of the Green Paper by former Care Minister Norman Lamb MP ‘No Voice Unheard, No Right Ignored’. In a recent BBC interview Mr Lamb relayed that he felt the learning disabled are being “treated like second-class citizens with decisions being made about them without them being involved and without their families being involved”. This, say campaigners is exactly the treatment being meted out to the learning disabled at Botton Village.

Overwhelming support for the campaign has been flooding in from the international Camphill movement whilst political support for the Community’s struggle against the enforced changes is growing with concern for the situation expressed by Baroness Hollins in the House of Lords this spring, over 30 MPs of all political colours writing to Ministers to express their concern, an Early Day Motion raised in Parliament about Botton, and the Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP, holding an enquiry at another CVT site, The Grange, in his constituency.

CVT was already under scrutiny in multiple areas with campaigners highlighting serious questions about the way the charity is run including a worrying lack of transparency in its accounts which, in spite of requests, has yet to be clarified; a potential conflict of interest with a director whose own company supplies services to CVT for unidentified remuneration; claims of harassment being made to local Police and pending actions for compensation by former community members who claim to have been bullied out of their roles and communities.

In addition, in February there was a sudden Trustee resignation citing assorted governance issues including concerns relating to the Articles and Memorandum. Finally, legal mediation is expected to be taking place in about 4 weeks’ time relating to the High Court claim brought by campaigners, including parents from one community now devoid of Co-workers, over alleged breaches of the charity’s articles resulting in an end to the shared-living model of care.

While campaigners prepare to present their case to the High Court, the residents have looked to Unite to help them protect their way of life. Some 70 Co-workers and residents have formed a branch of the Unite Community and are organising alongside other Unite activists to raise the profile of their struggle and to organise effectively against the changes.

One can only wonder how CVT’s Chair of Trustees Felicity Chadwick-Histed, also a Partner at Publitas Consulting LLP can continue to ignore the plight of the learning disabled for whom the Trustees are ultimately responsible.

Notes to Editors

Betrayal of Trust

- CVT is a Trust that was originally set up to hold and manage assets which belong to an intentional community and are held in a state of Trust specifically to be administered for the benefit of the charity’s beneficiaries.
- To put it simply, the set-up is comparable to the way that parents might leave monies ‘in Trust’ for their children and have trustees administer the funds specifically for the benefit of those children.
- The trustees have a duty of care to make sure that any money is used in the way the Trust says and the trustees must make sure this happens.
- The Camphill community at Botton consists of both learning disabled residents and the Co-worker families who together create the community. The community includes people of all ages from children to pensioners.
- The trustees are given very clear instructions as to how the community should be run particularly about shared living and the support being given freely and not brought in exclusively by employees. Until recently, the community managed its own affairs and choices internally.
- Instead of holding the assets and administering the finances as they are supposed to, the trust appears to have secretly decided to try to get rid of the volunteers and stop shared living. Effectively it therefore attacked its beneficiary (the community) and is currently trying to evict community members from the site when it should be supporting them.
- This is the equivalent of those trustees of a child’s Trust ignoring what the parents wanted.
- Senior barristers, including Queens Counsel, now say that the actions of CVT mean that the Trustees are in breach of trust and acting outside their authority.
- The trustees appear oblivious to their potential liability as they may be personally liable for the conduct of the Trust. They are called "Trustees" because they are trusted to behave properly.

CVT Trustees who are responsible for the conduct of the Trust

Christopher John Beckett Retired
Stephen Stanley Butterworth Consultant on public to private sector transfers
Felicity Anne Chadwick-Histed Partner in Publitas
Christopher Cook Retired architect
Diana Mary Parrish Part-time educational consultant
Peter Sveinbjarnarson Chairman of Sólheimar community in Iceland
Robert James Thompson Director of consultancy - specialising in service reconfiguration
Karen Elizabeth Walker Educational adviser


Please contact the press office if you would like an interview with any of a wide range of stakeholders including;
Campaigners from Action for Botton including the chair
Co-workers and former Co-workers
Legal experts
Accounting experts
Parents and family members of the residents
Learning disabled residents

CVTs False Claims to the Press

Recently CVT has been making a number of false and misleading claims to members of the press, we should like to set the record straight;

Misleading Claims re HMRC and Tax

False claims about HMRC's position on Tax. CVT has taken actions which they must have known would convert Co-workers into employees and has made false claims in order to do this, initially claiming that it was necessary to do this due to changes in tax law, which they now agree is untrue. Furthermore CVT could easily support and facilitate the Co-worker tax model if it chose to - something HMRC has made completely clear in correspondence;

1. In short, there is a technical document which sets out how to determine a vocational co-worker’s income which is then subject to taxation, which can be viewed on the HMRC website (BIM22040). This is still valid as confirmed by the Treasury and HMRC in writing only a few months ago.
2. Many other Camphill communities in the UK, outside CVT, operate the normal vocational Co-worker model, where the community clearly is allowed to continue to exist, perfectly satisfactorily in line with this taxation document.
3. CVT, however, knowingly undermined the existence of community by enforcing changes that it did not have to make - this was its choice and strategy and by ceasing to recognise the communities as separate from the charity and Co-workers as living and working within the community, it has imposed layers of intensive management thereby changing the facts on the ground. i.e. it is CVT’s choice to try and force employment on the Co-workers.
4. CVT stated it wished to employ all Co-workers from 6th April. It produced information which failed to acknowledge the existence of a community and regarded vocational Co-workers as “engaged” as employees. The vocational co-worker should not (according to the charity’s constitution) have any contractual relationship with the charity or indeed the community in which they live and work. HMRC's website states that "Co-workers assist the vulnerable members within each community, living together in houses, sharing money and making joint decisions.”
5. Co-workers are categorically not engaged in tax avoidance. (BIM 22040 deals with their liability to pay tax).
A detailed breakdown plus supporting documentation of these can be viewed on the Action for Botton website on the following link:

Claims about Shared living

CVT has never mentioned until recently to Co-workers, residents or their families that the offered traditional Camphill shared life model is an option going forward. On the contrary managers and trustees have always stated to all stakeholders and the press that this would never be possible for employees, whether former Co-workers or otherwise - they would not be allowed to live in the same households as the learning disabled as a matter of statute; this was emphasised strongly in their correspondence. After the unsuccessful mediated dialogue last December, the CVT CEO did say that he would set up a workshop to explore the possibilities for shared living and invite guidance from an outside group (“Shared Lives”), however, even though he suggested a date for this of Feb 10th the meeting was never held. We are therefore extremely surprised that in recent press statements a ‘spokesperson’ for CVT claimed this was a possibility, however we have no evidence that this claim is true.

Residents being upset

Claims made by CVT regarding the learning disabled being upset are misleading, they are upset precisely because of CVT's actions for three reasons:

1. firstly because they are not being listened to, their clearly stated opinions are being ignored and
2. secondly because CVT has made reported and very underhanded attempts to gag them and prevent them speaking about their objections to the changes. These attempts include failure to acknowledge their capacity under the mental Capacity Act and banning the press from coming into the homes of the residents when they have been invited by residents and where the residents are lawful tenants. This is a breach of their right to free speech: they are entitled to speak about things they object to and find upsetting.
3. the learning disabled residents know that CVT plans to segregate them from their Co-worker families.
The cause of their upset is in fact CVT’s actions and Action for Botton has facilitated the learning disabled being heard by the media which they have found very empowering and are deeply grateful that someone at last wants to help them.
CVT are being disingenuous in accusing Co-workers of spreading misinformation amongst villagers; please see an analysis that shows how it is in fact CVT that subtly but systematically misleads the most vulnerable in their care. We urge readers to read this example of CVT's deception campaign in the following link and consider how this contrasts with CVT's mantra of 'the beneficiaries at the heart of all we do'.

Laws, etc, campaigners say CVT have breached

Human Rights Act
Mental Capacity Act
Harassment Act
Companies Act
Charity Commission regulations
The Charity’s own Memorandum and Articles of Association

Links to additional information

Example of support messages for the campaign and communications;
Families writing to Camphill Village Trust and to North Yorkshire County Council
many more letters from families and friends of Botton to CVT

Recent Coverage can be viewed here

Independent report that outlines the devastating effects of these changes on other CVT communities. The unintentional destruction of intentional communities by Bob Rhodes and Richard Davis, published in March 2014. It is available at;
How bureaucrats destroy public services

Guidelines about care of the learning disabled can be viewed here

About Camphill Botton Village

The Camphill Movement was started over seventy years ago by German/Austrian Jews fleeing from the Nazis at a time of great persecution of the disabled. They did this to give learning disabled adults the chance
1. to live closely with the land and in a beneficial environment,
2. to live in a community where all are equal, irrespective of their abilities
3. to have a meaningful and fulfilling working life

CVT was founded in October 1954 to support the first adult community of Botton Village, which was started by Villagers, their families and volunteer Co-workers as an ‘intentional community' in 1955. The Articles of Incorporation expressly specify that the charity's purpose is to establish a community into which the disabled can be incorporated in order that their lives be fulfilled according to the above principles.

The community was therefore formed to include and support people with a wide range of disabilities. Those with learning disabilities live with the volunteer (unwaged) Co-worker families in shared family-like households so that they can each be supported to participate in all aspects of community life including fulfilling and meaningful work.

Fundamental to the movement is sustainable farming, and as a result CVT has grown to be the single largest holder of bio-dynamically farmed land in the UK with Botton in particular winning awards.

The entire community shares all the work in running the sustainable community, according to their abilities and wishes and for the benefit of all. Everyone agrees to these principles when they join the village. The result of this has set a world-leading standard in terms of community living, with Botton village famously leading the way in sustainability.

The community has been based for the last sixty years on vocational volunteer Co-workers receiving no salary, living modestly, pooling resources, having their needs met by the community.

Since its foundation, the Village has been widely recognised as an exemplar of a sustainable, inclusive community and has been much copied, inspiring over a hundred communities of the Camphill movement world-wide - 75 separate Camphill Communities worldwide and 36 in the British Isles, nine of which are currently CVT communities that grew out of the original site at Botton.

Popular for its caring and inclusive values, Botton Village has attracted generous donations and support from the public over the years with supporters keen to make sure that this unique way of life is continued. The original property owned by the charity was offered by the Macmillan (publishing) family, and/or built, bought and/or renovated with the help of donations intended for the purpose of supporting the remarkable community that is the Botton that donors know, admire and are keen to support.

Four years ago the appointment of a new management team at CVT heralded a catastrophic departure from Botton's founding structure and values, with management making repeated attempts to undermine the ethos and core caring principles of Camphill and ignoring the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the charity.

Links to more details on this are below;

About Action for Botton

Pressure group Action for Botton has been set-up by stakeholders including friends, families, former Co-workers and Co-workers to oppose these changes and enjoys the support of 84 Botton parents and family members, the majority of the 95 learning disabled residents at Botton as well as over 5,000 supporters locally and worldwide.

In December 2014 representatives of the group entered into mediation talks with Camphill Village Trust in a bid to find common ground over the planned changes. Despite several deadline extensions, reassurances from CVT about halting the changes whilst talks were in progress were not forthcoming and the talks did not progress and since then Action for Botton - along with other Camphill communities at Delrow (near Watford) and the Grange (Newnham-on-Severn) have vowed that they will continue their campaign. Tellingly, CVT refused to call these talks ‘mediation’ at the time, but are now using that term for PR purposes.

For further information see and

Contact Information

Botton Buddies
Action for Botton
Neil Davidson – Chair
Kay Clark
Tel: 0845 833 8292
Richard Graham
Tel: 01765 640736

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Action for Botton in the following categories: Health, Environment & Nature, Farming & Animals, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, for more information visit