09:27, March 11 310 0 theguardian.com

2020-03-11 09:27:04
Other lives  Graham Enderby obituary

The life of my friend Graham Enderby, who has died aged 67, changed dramatically in 1994 when he and his wife, Wendy, decided to take on the care of a middle-aged man, known as “HL”, who had profound autism and no speech.

HL had been living for 30 years at Bournewood hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, before Graham and Wendy, whose children had by then flown the nest, decided to offer him a place in their home under a resettlement scheme. He lived happily with them until, in 1997, he became agitated at a day centre, was put under sedation and returned to Bournewood without reference to the couple, who were forbidden to visit him.

They went to court to challenge the move, and, following a court of appeal ruling, HL was returned to their care after five months. He continued to live with them from that point onwards, and will soon celebrate his 71st birthday. The case continued up to the European court of human rights, which found that HL’s human rights had been breached and that proper procedures and rights of challenge had to be introduced if adults who lack capacity are to be detained.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission later produced a film about the case, which described the couple as “remarkable people whose struggle for HL’s human rights has changed the way vulnerable people are treated under British law”.

The BBC also made a radio play, Test Case: Bournewood, and Graham gave evidence to the parliamentary joint committee on human rights in 2018. Previously referred to only as “Mr E”, Graham’s identity was by then public as HL’s carer, a result of years of activism and advocacy on behalf of people with learning disabilities.

Graham was adopted at an early age by Jack Enderby, a hospital registrar, and his wife, Lilian (nee Down), a secretary. After attending Christ’s Hospital school, in Horsham, West Sussex, he went on to spend two decades as an estimator for Guildway, a company that built timber-framed houses.

When he and Wendy took HL into their home, she became HL’s full-time carer while Graham continued working as an estimator. But after the Bournewood incident he began to work for Mencap as an advocate, and later for VoiceAbility.

Graham’s plain speaking and dry wit were welcome counterfoils to the technical debates that bedevil social care law. But he was nonetheless comfortable debating with senior judges and the influence of his views could often be found in key judgments.

At home, with the four rescue sheepdogs to whom Graham was devoted, he and Wendy made a welcoming and witty couple – a formidable team. It was a pleasure to spend time with them; they proved to be great champions of disability rights.

Graham is survived by Wendy, their three sons, Stephen, Nicholas, and Timothy, and by HL.