A former nursing manager accused of a string of misconduct allegations at a Birmingham nursing home called for the hearing to be scrapped, claiming the Nursing Council had breached her human rights.

Kathleen Smith, 46, from Shirley, led her defence by claiming witnesses had been "lying" and the six years it has taken to bring the case breached European rules which say such cases have to be heard within a reasonable amount of time.

Smith and nursing colleagues Carol Estelle Bushell, 48, from West Heath, and Mary Kathleen Casey, 70, from Harborne, are accused of misconduct by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) while working at Maypole Nursing Home, in Kings Heath, before it was shut by inspectors in 2003.

They have admitted allowing drugs to be given to the wrong patients at the home, where 27 residents died in a year.

Smith faces other accusations including allowing staff to use an inappropriate method of restraint of bucket chairs, not keeping records of accidents and deaths, failing to ensure staff were adequately trained and keeping up-to-date care plans.

Smith yesterday said to the NMC panel: "I ask you to strike out the case due to the NMC's fitness of practise department causing an injustice. The passing of time, now in its sixth year, make it hard to provide insurmountable defence.

"The NMC has breached the European Convention of Human Rights that the registrant is entitled to a fair hearing in a reasonable time.

"The people giving evidence are deliberately lying. The length of time has affected their memories."

Smith claimed details had been withheld from her and her colleagues, who she said were representing themselves as they could not afford legal representation and accused care inspectors of destroying evidence that would help her case.

John Hepworth, representing the NMC, said he planned to oppose the application to strike out the case.

The hearing reconvened at The Jury's Inn, in Broad Street, after being adjourned in February when the panel heard allegations from inspectors that patients were found dirty and dishevelled and that a patient restricted to a soft food diet was given a mince pie and later died.

All three nurses face being struck off if the allegations are found proved.

The hearing continues.