A soldier's wife who stayed on in services' accommodation for more than 20 years after her drunken and abusive husband resigned from the army is facing eviction after a High Court ruling.
The wheelchair-dependent woman, named only as ‘JL’, fought a marathon campaign to stay in her Leeds home despite her husband’s resignation from the army in 1989 after a court martial found him guilty of ‘un-gentlemanly conduct’.
Her lawyers argued that evicting the woman and her two daughters would violate their human rights. However, a judge has now accepted Ministry of Defence (MoD) arguments that the time has come for the troubled family to move out.
The mother and her adult daughters, one of whom has mental health problems and the other has a sick child, will now fall under the responsibility of Leeds City Council, which has given them the highest possible priority on its housing waiting list.
Judge Ingrid Simler QC said the family's acute housing needs were ‘all too obvious’ and it was vital that it should be kept together.
JL's army officer husband was a violent alcoholic who abused one of his daughters and, after his departure from the army in disgrace, his wife and family lost their right to live in services accommodation.
However the family has stayed on in the house, with JL fighting numerous court battles to stave off MoD attempts to evict her, even taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights.
For much of that time, Leeds City Council has engaged in a so far fruitless quest to find a suitable four-bedroom home for the family.
At the High Court, her barrister attacked the MoD's latest attempt to remove JL and her family as a breach of ‘common humanity’ and their right to respect for home and family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
However, dismissing JL's judicial review challenge, Judge Simler said that the MoD had had proper regard to the vulnerability and difficult circumstances of the family.
Leeds City Council had given an assurance that the family would be housed temporarily after their eviction and that top priority would be given to finding them somewhere permanent to live.
Rejecting claims that the MoD's stance was irrational, the judge said that, even if the eviction were delayed, there was no evidence that the family's position would be any better in three, six or 12 months' time.