Dr Death

Readers noticing the title of this post could be forgiven for wondering who exactly it is referring to as a number of Top Doctors featured on this blog are worthy of the name. I am however making reference to the Dr Death whose adventures so entertained ‘Private Eye’ readers in the 1980s, Dr David Owen, now Lord Owen.

I am of the generation who particularly loathed Dr Death and I was very glad to see the back of him when he finally admitted defeat after the SDP polled fewer votes than the Official Monster Raving Loony Party at the Bootle by-election in 1990. Dr Death had a well-established reputation as a complete bastard and he wrecked every organisation that he became involved with. When Dr Death was doing his best to become Prime Minister or should I say to ‘break the mould of politics’, I was just on the cusp of being seriously screwed over by the other Top Doctors who are the stars of this blog, Dr D.G.E. Wood and Dr Tony Francis (Dr X). Documents now in my possession demonstrate that these two used to engage me in conversation back in the mid 80s in order to acquire information regarding my network of friends and my activities because they were more than a little worried about what I might be saying to whom about the mental health services in north Wales. One thing that I was interested in was politics and I certainly chatted about that at length with Wood and Francis and the one thing that I remember was that they were both paid up members of the SDP and they idolised Dr Death. Brown observed at the time that they were ‘defending another shit in their own profession again’ – they had already done their best to get Gwynne the lobotomist off the hook by then but I was unaware of the extremes to which they were prepared to go to do this. Brown’s comment proved to be prescient.

Last week somebody suggested to me that either Francis or Wood knew Dr Death personally and that he may well have been part of the network protecting them as they protected the north Wales paedophile ring. I’d never previously suspected this, but it wouldn’t be completely beyond the bounds of possibility – some very high profile people indeed from the fields of both politics and medicine were concealing what was happening in north Wales and Dr Death was well-connected in both of these fields. Dr Death also had connections to Wales.

Like so many named in previous posts who concealed the criminal conduct of Wood, Francis, Dafydd Alun Jones, Gwynne the lobotomist et al, Dr Death began his career as a psychiatrist. Dr Death was born in Devon to Welsh parents and qualified as a doctor from St Thomas’s Hospital in 1962. He then worked as a neurologist and psychiatrist at Tommy’s for two years. Now Dr Death and his supporters always made much of Dr Death ‘being a doctor’ and took that as evidence that not only was he ethical, compassionate and intelligent, but that he had an insight into matters of mental health, psychology, personal motivation and of course the right way to run a health service. ‘Private Eye’ cartoons at the time used to frequently feature Dr Death as Dracula saying things like ‘but I’m a nice young doctor’, whilst someone else in the frame would be saying ‘no you’re not you’re a vampire’. So was Dr Death a nice young doctor?

Dr Death’s early career at Tommy’s is not actually detailed that often and there might be a good reason for that. Dr Death was the assistant – for two years – to a psychiatrist called William Sargant, whose track record is so grim that psychiatry really would rather that he had not ever existed. Contemporary psychiatry text books rarely cite him so discredited is he. Sargant was a very big name in his day and was what we would now call a media psychiatrist. Even at the time there were people gravely concerned about Sargant’s activities but as ever in psychiatry their concerns were ignored. When Dr Death worked for him, Sargant’s work was described as ‘research into Parkinsonian trauma and neuropharmacology’. William Sargant was wildly enthusiastic about every dangerous, completely discredited psychiatric treatment – psychosurgery, deep sleep therapy, ECT in massive bursts very frequently and insulin shock therapy. Lest readers just presume that he was a man of his time, Sargant was bad even by the standards of mid-twentieth century psychiatry, in much the same way that the north Wales contingent were bad by anyone’s standards.

Sargant did not begin his career as a psychiatrist, he wanted to be a physician. He conducted some research into pernicious anaemia which involved giving patients huge doses of iron and history simply tells us that this research was ‘not well received’, indeed it was ‘disasterous’, which led to Sargant suffering a mental breakdown and being institutionalised himself. He was unable to continue his career as a physician and embarked upon a career in psychiatry instead. Sargant is by no means the only doctor who has been diverted into psychiatry because no-one else will have them, that characteristic is very obviously written into the biographies of many of those we know and love. I also wonder what the gory details of the ‘research’ were. Sargant was not a sensitive flower, for the research to have been so disasterous that he had a breakdown, ended up hospitalised and was unable to continue in his chosen field, I suspect that a few patients may have died – as they did on a regular basis when Sargant worked a psychiatrist. But because they were psychiatric patients it was tolerated.

Sargant did his psychiatric training at the Maudsley of course. In 1945 he became Director of Psychological Medicine at Tommy’s, where he stayed until his retirement in 1972 and indeed after that as well. Like Dr Dafydd Alun Jones, Sargant held a part-time NHS contract, which meant that whilst he slaughtered NHS patients he was able to build up an enormous private practice, in Sargant’s case at Harley Street. Sargant held a distaste for all types of psychotherapy. He took amphetamines himself whilst he was studying for his Diploma in Psychological Medicine – he took a number of drugs for depression throughout his life. Whilst he was at the Maudsley, insulin shock therapy was introduced. Sargant enthusiastically embraced this and it became a staple of his at Tommy’s. In the late 1930s whilst he was in America, Sargant met the notorious Walter Freeman and saw the results of Freeman’s psychosurgery on three patients. The patients had suffered huge damage but nonetheless Sargant then introduced psychosurgery to Britain.

At one point after the war London County Council tried to curb Sargant’s experiments with ECT and psychosurgery, but Sargant boasted that ‘we generally got our own way in the end’. London County Council insisted that advisors were needed to approve every psychosurgery case. If the advisors opposed, Sargant simply sent the patient to Wylie McKissock at St George’s and he lobotomised the patient. Sargant described this as ‘doing good by stealth’. Sargant selected neurotic patients, especially those with neurotic ruminations, for psychosurgery. The ‘operation’ often  left them with severely impaired functioning, serious memory loss and/or incontinent. A number of them died. Sargant also experimented with ‘abreaction techniques’ using barbiturates, in military psychiatric casualties. More experiments of his involved methedrine injections and ‘deep sleep’ treatments. Indeed so ‘experimental’ was Sargant’s work that he combined all these treatments. He subjected patients to up to three months of combined ECT, continuous narcosis, insulin coma and drugs. Sargant found narcosis a particular blessing, because as he explained himself he often found that patients ‘dreaded’ further treatment after the first two or three sessions, but if they were treated whilst they were in an induced sleep, ECT could be administered without their knowledge. Sargant also found another way of treating patients who didn’t want to be treated as well – he increased the frequency of ECT for ‘resistant obsessional patients’ to produce ‘therapeutic confusion’ which had the magical effect of ‘removing the power of refusal’. In other words they were shocked into oblivion and didn’t know whether they were coming or going.

This is what Sargant said about the beneficial effects of narcosis treatment: ‘all sorts of treatment can be given whilst the patient is kept sleeping, including a variety of drugs and ECT together, generally induce considerable memory loss for period under narcosis…patient does not know how long he has been asleep, or what treatment…he has been given’. Sargant inspired the psychiatrist Harry Bailey in Australia, whose deep sleep treatment resulted in the death of 26 patients. Bailey and Sargant’s correspondence show that they were in competition with each other to see who could keep a patient in the deepest coma. Sargant’s patients died as well and it has been suggested that the only reason that his death rate wasn’t as high as Bailey’s was the attention that the Tommy’s nurses paid to the patients once Sargant had got his hands on them. The nurses were waking the patients up every fifteen minutes, taking them to the loo and feeding them, which it is assumed kept a few of them alive. Sargant wasn’t put off when his patients did die in his ‘care’. He attributed the poor outcomes to the lack of a ‘good previous personality’. Now where have we heard that before???

Critics of Sargant maintained that he had extreme views, was irresponsible, cruel and ignored advice. It was said that he relied ‘upon dogma rather than clinical evidence’, was autocratic, a danger, a disaster and some spoke of ‘the damage he did’. So a combination of Dr T. Gwynne Williams, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Dr Tony Roberts then.

In 2009 a Radio 4 documentary interviewed patients whose lives had been ruined by William Sargant. There was discussion of his routine violation of patient’s rights regarding consent and his admission to an Australian lawyer that patients had died under deep sleep. The records of patients treated by Sargant at Tommy’s and associated Health Authorities have been destroyed which prevented patients seeking redress through the Courts.

It has been revealed that William Sargant worked as a consultant for MI5.

So what was Dr Death’s opinion of this lethal maniac who shocked, drugged and lobotomised patients without their knowledge let alone consent? After all Dr Death assisted him for two years. Dr Death stated that Sargant was ‘a dominating personality with the therapeutic courage of a lion’ and ‘the sort of person of whom legends are made’.

In March 1974 Dr Death was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health. In July 1974 he became Minister of State for Health and Social Security and remained in that post until Sept 1976.

Between 1977-1979 Dr Death was Foreign Secretary. I remember many allegations at the time that Dr Death was rude and arrogant, offended foreign statesmen and couldn’t get on with people. Dr Death has since stated that whilst he was Foreign Secretary he considered having Idi Amin assassinated. Like a troublesome psychiatric patient perhaps. In 1981 Dr Death left the Labour Party and with the infamous Gang of Four formed the SDP. He led the SDP between 1983-87 but when the SDP membership voted to merge with the Liberal Party Dr Death threw a hissy fit and announced that he would lead the ‘continuing SDP’. Dr Death is of course quite a one for hissy fits, his political career has been a sequence of resignations. He led the continuing SDP until 1990 when even he couldn’t pretend that it existed any longer. It was at this time that Dr Death made public statements about having wished that he’d stuck with a career in psychiatry. Presumably because lobotomised patients can’t vote for someone else. Dr Death wasn’t in the wilderness for long, in 1992 he became a member of the Lords. He sat as a cross bencher until 2014, but he now sits as an ‘independent social democrat’, after giving more than £7000 to the Labour Party when Ed Miliband announced his intentions to ‘reform’ the relationship between the Labour Party and the Trade Unions.

Many people have suspected that Dr Death is actually a Tory and did his best to inflict serious damage upon the Labour Party.  Thatcher was certainly very complimentary about his talents and a lot of people looked forward to him joining the Conservative Party and then destroying them. He never did though, despite John Major nominating him for a peerage and wanting him in his Cabinet. Blair also approached Dr Death, as did Gordon Brown, but he declined offers from both of them.

Dr Death has of course been back in the news over the past few days. He has been speaking a lot about the contaminated blood scandal and once more is exploiting his position as a nice doctor who wants the best. As a man who was once William Sargant’s assistant of course he does. Dr Death is not only telling anyone who’ll listen that he was demanding that Britain should become self-sufficient in blood products in the mid 70s rather than reply on imported products derived from the US, but he is also maintaining that the archived files of his containing all the documents that would shed light on who suggested and did what regarding blood products for use in the NHS in the 70s and 80s has been destroyed by an unidentified person. Dr Death is alleging a Civil Service cover up. I too believe that there has undoubtedly been a cover up at Gov’t level regarding the contaminated blood scandal and I’ve previously blogged about this. Substantial blame rests with Thatcher’s Gov’t who were told that patients would die because US blood was not screened, but who then shut down the UK MRC lab, ensuring that the NHS was completely dependent upon US imported products.

But it is becoming clear that blame does not just lie with Thatcher’s administrations. There is now information that administrations before Thatcher’s were being told of the grave dangers posed to NHS patients by the use of contaminated blood – although the threat in the 70s was considered to be Hepatitis C rather than HIV which only became a serious problem subsequently. I have found out that in 1974 the Dept of Health were explicitly warned by a specialist in the field that the products that they were using at that time could infect NHS patients. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Security was Dr Death. He had of course been a Minister in the same dept before that. Furthermore, Anita Roddick’s daughter Sam has now revealed that her mum – who died from complications arising from Hep C in 2007 – contracted Hep C from an infected blood transfusion at the time of Sam’s birth in 1971. Neither did anyone actually tell Anita Roddick that she was infected with Hep C until she had developed cirrhosis and it was too late for effective treatment. Of course no-one will have told Anita, because it was the NHS who had caused the damage and the NHS never informs people when it has harmed them. So by the time that Dr Death was making hay by making public statement in 1976 regarding the need for the NHS to become self-sufficient in blood products, people had already been infected and for a number of years as well. But no-one will ever find out exactly how much Dr Death knew and when and what his responses were because his files have been destroyed. By someone naughty in the Civil Service. Who did Dr Death a very big favour because he can now claim to be only relying on his memory when asked about the whole sorry business. This blog has previously described the rare variant of dementia which affects Top Doctors when they are faced with difficult questions regarding their role in patient harm – other sufferers include Dafydd, Robert Bluglass and Peter Higson. I suspect that Dr Death will be clobbered by a particularly serious form any day now.

Dr Death has spent his political career reminding everyone of his commitment to the NHS and has done this again very recently. So that is obviously why he was a member of the Board of the Abbott Laboratories, an American drug company between 1996-2011. In 2012 Abbott Labs were charged with a $500 million fine and $198.5 million forfeiture for illegal marketing, the second biggest fine in US history for a drug company. This was as a result of Abbott Labs unlawfully promoting the anti-psychotic Depakote for uses not approved by the FDA, including it’s use in children. Abbott Labs were also given a five year term of probation and court supervision. Which is more than William Sargant and his assistant ever got. Dr Death was Chairman of the Board of Yukos International UK BV, a division of a former Russian petroleum company, between 2002-2005. He was non-executive Chairman of European Steel until 2015. Between 2009-2014 Dr Death was on the Board of Texas-based Hyperdynamics Corporation, an oil concern.

Latterly Dr Death has expressed deep concern about ‘hubris syndrome’ among politicians. He became so worried about this that he established the Daedalus Trust. The Daedalus Trust exists to ‘promote and provide funds for the interdisciplinary study of how the intoxication of power in all walks of life affects personality and decision making’. Dr Death is Chair of the Trust. Well he would be wouldn’t he. He no doubt will remember this quote from his mentor William Sargant: ‘men…should humbly remember how much they resemble dogs in brain function and not boast themselves as demigods’. Other men that is, not Dr Death or William Sargant obviously.

As for Dr Death’s Welsh connections, I didn’t know about these until I heard him interviewed by Peter Hennesey on the radio in 2015. Dr Death explained that he grew up in Plymouth but was raised ‘in the Welsh radical tradition’. He spent his summers living with his grandparents in Tenby or Aberporth. Dr Death explained that his grandpa was a ‘clergyman’ ‘in the Welsh Church but was basically a Methodist’. Which is a bit confusing because historically Welsh chapels have been very keen to distinguish themselves from the Anglican Church in Wales and the Church in Wales doesn’t have a radical tradition. And Methodists call their Ministers Ministers rather than clergymen. The mystery deepened when Dr Death maintained that as a boy ‘I went to the local school everyday with him [his grandfather]…I learnt Welsh but I’ve forgotten every word of it’. Apart from a few specific locations which are noted for being bastions of Welsh speaking Welsh isn’t very widely spoken in south Wales, certainly by kids from Devon on their summer holidays. Dr Death is getting on a bit, when he was a schoolboy there won’t have been any Welsh medium schools in south Wales. The fight for Welsh medium education took place whilst Dr Death was an adult – when he was a boy Wales was still suffering from the notion that teaching kids through the medium of Welsh was not a good idea. Welsh was the language at home of many children in the north, but not where Dr Death was holidaying. Furthermore if Dr Death had learnt Welsh, how could his memory have become wiped clean completely? One’s second language can certainly become very rusty if one doesn’t stay immersed in it, but it’s not forgotten. Surely Dr Death could manage a ‘bore da’ or a ‘diolch’?

However Dr Death DOES have some Welsh connections via his extended family. In fact Dr Death is considered to be a bit of a celeb by some in south Wales, so much so that when the building that used to house a shop owned and run by one of his forebears was converted into a museum, Dr Death was invited to open it. Dr Death has also always clung to his identity as a Top Doctor and I bet Dr Death still networks with other Top Doctors as well – including Top Doctors in Wales. Both D.G.E. Wood and Tony Francis had good connections with other Top Doctors in south Wales. Wood worked for the Royal College of General Practitioners which took him to south Wales frequently and was also involved in training doctors, which again will have involved working with doctors in south Wales. Francis studied at Cardiff medical school and also spent a number of years working there. Furthermore when Francis wanted to have me declared dangerous and banged up, it was Dr Chris Hunter, his mate from south Wales, that he enlisted to help him (please see post ‘The Night of the (Dr Chris) Hunter’). Dafydd and a number of the other Top Doctors involved in wrongdoing in north Wales trained at Liverpool medical school. Dr Death was Chancellor of the University of Liverpool between 1996-2009. The Waterhouse Inquiry was announced in 1996.

I have blogged about a number of politicians involved in the cover-ups relating to child abuse and the associated wrongdoing in the mental health services, but I haven’t mentioned any figures whom I know to be politically close to Dr Death. There was an SDP MP who ended up in hot water after sexual impropriety, Mike Hancock, but that case involved him indecently assaulting an adult constituent with mental health problems. Hancock checked himself into the Priory after the constituent complained, where he probably received rather more care and attention that the woman that he assaulted did at the hands of the NHS.

There is of course one party which has been plagued by actual sex abuse scandals, rather than simply alleged sex abuse scandals and that is the party that Dr Death formed an alliance with, the Liberal Party. There was the Jeremy Thorpe business, although of course that involved adults rather than the abuse of under-aged children. But recently it has been admitted that two Liberal MPs were known to have abused children – Cyril Smith and Clement Freud.

The track record of Cyril Smith, who died in 2010, was appalling – as was the track record of the Liberals/Lib Dems in failing to deal with him In 2012 the Greater Manchester Police admitted that Smith should have been charged with sex offences against children. In April 2014 it was revealed that there had been 144 complaints against Smith, involving children as young as eight and that attempts to prosecute him had actively been blocked. Rochdale Council, the police and the social services were all implicated. In 2015 it was revealed that Smith had been arrested in the early 80s, but a high level cover up resulted in his release within hours. The investigating officers were bound by the Official Secrets Act. There were investigations into Smith in 1970, 1998 and 1999. He was a friend of Jimmy Savile and appeared on one of Savile’s TV shows in the early 70s. In 2012 a former Special Branch officer with the Lancashire Police stated that a dossier of sex abuse allegations against Smith which police claimed was lost had actually been seized by MI5. The Special Branch officer had been asked by MI5 to send this dossier, which was ‘thick’ with allegations that Smith had abused boys, to London.

Smith was alleged to have abused boys at the Knowl View residential school – there were allegations of a paedophile ring. Greater Manchester Police stated that there were 21 suspects, 14 of whom had been identified, one of these being Smith. In July 2014 Rochdale Council’s inquiry into child abuse at Knowl View was stopped at the request of the Greater Manchester Police, whilst detectives investigated a possible institutional cover up.

It is known that Smith put pressure on the BBC in 1976, asking them not to investigate the ‘private lives of certain MPs’ – the National Archives reveal that Smith wrote to the Director General Sir Charles Curran, ‘deeply concerned about the investigative activities of the BBC’.

In July 2014 the CPS admitted that in 1970 a police detective investigating Smith presented evidence to a superior concerning Smith’s abuse of boys at a care home in Rochdale but no action was taken. In Nov 2014 the former editor of the ‘Bury Messenger’, Don Hale, stated that he had been served with a D notice in the 80s the day after Cyril Smith had been ‘aggressive’ and threatened him with a D notice from the police.

In 2015 a retired police officer had said that he had been threatened with the Official Secrets Act after he found Smith in the home of a known sex offender with two drunk teenaged boys and a police sergeant in civilian clothes. The retired officer stated that he was then summoned to a meeting with a senior officer at Stockport Police Station and told ‘in no uncertain terms’ not to say anything. The alleged incident was in 1988 at a house in Stockport after a complaint that the occupier was committing a lewd act in the window in front of a newspaper boy.

BBC Newsnight has broadcast claims that Smith was arrested in the early 80s regarding his participation in a paedophile ring, but that there was a cover up using the Official Secrets Act. There were also reports of his arrest by Northamptonshire Police and his subsequent release in mysterious circumstances.

In 2013 a spokesman for the Met confirmed that Smith had visited the Elm Guest House, a brothel near Barnes Common in south west London where children in care alleged that they were abused by politicians and other high profile figures. Savile was alleged to have visited and some parties there were organised by Sydney Cooke, a paedophile who was imprisoned for the murder of Jason Swift. At least one former resident of a north Wales children’s home has alleged that he was taken there and molested. One man alleged that he had been raped at the Elm Guest House when he was 14 by Sir Peter Morrison, Conservative MP for Chester, who was also known to have visited children’s homes in north Wales. The manager of the Elm Guest House, Carole Kasir, was found dead in 1990 at the age of 47, from an insulin overdose. The death was categorised as suicide, although people who knew Carole at that time have disputed this.

Sexual abuse and grooming at the Elm Guest House was the focus of Operation Fairbank. Operation Fernbridge resulted from the Operation Fairbank allegations and Peter McKelvie, a retired child protection team manager, claimed that evidence of a powerful paedophile ring was covered up in 1991. 1991 – I remember it well. I was bullied out of my job at St George’s Hospital Medical School, told by psychiatrists there who knew about the criminal activities of their colleagues in north Wales to ‘go back to north Wales’, taken to Court on the basis of a statement in which Dr Tony Francis perjured himself to find that one Sir Robert Francis QC was requesting my imprisonment for ‘harassment’, the harassment being me writing letters maintaining that psychiatrists in north Wales were breaking the law (see post ‘The Sordid Role Of Sir Robert Francis QC’). In 1991 my friend who was interested in making a documentary about what had happened to me in north Wales was bullied out of her job at the Royal Television Society. We should count ourselves lucky, a number of people who were victims of the north Wales paedophile ring were found dead at that time.

Cabinet Office papers released in March 2015 confirmed that Margaret Thatcher was aware of the allegations concerning Smith before he was knighted in 1988.

Other members of the Liberal Party have not really come up smelling of roses with regard to Cyril Smith’s conduct. David Steel, the leader of the Liberal Party between 1976-1988 and Dr Death’s political partner during the years that the Liberals and SDP were in the Alliance together, recommended Smith for a knighthood. In 1979 ‘Private Eye’ published an article which was based on an investigation carried out by the ‘Rochdale Alternative Paper’ into Smith, which revealed that Smith was known to have spanked boys on their bare bums. After the publication of this, Smith admitted to David Steel that he’d carried out (presumably bogus because he wasn’t a Top Doctor) intimate medical examinations on boys at a residential establishment. Steel famously commented that all Smith had done was ‘spank a few bare bottoms’. Steel became very angry when he was reminded of this response after the extent of Smith’s abuse was revealed – however it is also known that after the ‘Rochdale Alternative Paper’ published their article, Steel’s Press Office commented to them that ‘it was not a very friendly gesture, publishing that’. In 2014 Steel stated that he confronted Smith about his ‘unusual’ behaviour with boys after the 1979 allegations. Steel has also commented that it was a ‘different era’ and that ‘corporal punishment was permitted’. Which does not really adequately explain what the local MP was doing administering the punishment in question. It may have been a different era but molesting children wasn’t acceptable in that era either which is probably why so many people were working so hard to ensure that the allegations about Smith didn’t find their way into the public domain.

In 2014 the Liberal leader Nick Clegg refused to hold an inquiry into Smith – Clegg maintained that the Party did not know about Smith’s actions.

Just to add to the Liberal Parties woes, in 2016 it was alleged that former Liberal MP Clement Freud, who died in 2009, had been a paedophile who had spent a lifetime molesting and harassing young women, including girls as young as ten. A number of people came forward with tales of Freud’s lechery and unusually in such situations, there was no attempt by anyone to deny the allegations. Freud’s widow made a public apology to his victims, although she hadn’t actually done the molesting. Freud had shared an office with Cyril Smith. Freud too was knighted, in 1987. Mourners at Freud’s funeral included David Steel, George Osborne and Gordon Brown. But then Cyril Smith had a good turn out and I think that Clegg even made a speech at his funeral. Freud was someone who was in a very good position where suppressing stories that he didn’t want to appear in the media was concerned. Freud had many media connections as he was himself a food and drink journalist and later a favourite on Radio 4. His daughter Emma is also a journalist and a regular star of Radio 4 – she is married to the producer/script writer Richard Curtis. But it is Freud’s son Matthew who truly excels in this arena. Matthew Freud has his own PR company which he established in 1985. He was formerly married to the second wife of Earl Spencer and after that married Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert. A quick look at the website of Freud Communications revealed a photo of Sadiq Khan – presumably a client – and the logos of BBC Worldwide and Public Health England.

The Liberal Party, SDP and Lib Dems have often become excited in the face of notions that they are in situations whereby they can affect the balance of power and at such times there have been allegations that they have been very demanding of other parties. I can imagine a lot of wriggling if they not only had someone like Cyril Smith on their team but knew that there were people getting up to similar things with under-aged children in other parties. If Dr Death were to be introduced into those machinations – the Chair of the Daedalus Trust suffering from a very severe case of hubris himself at all times and under all circumstances – I can only imagine what might have gone on. Particularly if a few Top Doctors from Wales involved in the chain of supply of fresh meat for the Westminster Paedophile Ring had sent out a mayday call.

 

 

Top Of The Cops

Some four years ago when I was openly discussing when and where I’d publish my experiences with the mental health services, someone who knew much of what they had got up to and had read the ludicrous affidavits that they had sworn in their attempts to gain High Court injunctions against me and have me imprisoned gave me a book to read, simply commenting that he thought that I’d find it interesting. That book was ‘Stalker’, by John Stalker, the former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police. It was published in 1988 and Stalker wrote it in the aftermath of him being removed from his role in leading an investigation into the possibility that the RUC had pursued a ‘shoot to kill’ policy against suspected IRA terrorists and following an investigation into Stalker himself. Stalker was accused of associating with people who had connections to criminals. He was removed from the ‘shoot to kill’ investigation, suspended from his job, reinstated but then left the police force anyway, although he was only in his late 40s. It all elicited huge media interest and Stalker’s story was that he had been removed from the investigation because of what he was uncovering in N Ireland – he maintained that he was smeared and that a cover-up of dodgy practices in the RUC had taken place. Stalker was appointed Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester in March 1984 and began his investigation into the RUC in June 1984. In May 1986 he was told that he was removed forever from the N Ireland investigation and was instructed to stay at home. In August 1986 the Police Committee voted to reinstate him as Deputy Chief Constable and he returned to work. In March 1987 Stalker left the police.

Since ‘Stalker’ was published, much of what has been revealed regarding the conduct of certain police forces at the time and the allegations of organised child abuse by public figures – some close to Thatcher – allows one to read Stalker’s story in a way in which he probably never imagined one would. The picture that emerges from Stalker’s book is that of an awful lot of police officers at the most senior levels in Britain behaving badly, a number of whom seem to have axes to grind and are therefore making allegations and counter-allegations against each other. Admissions and accusations of Freemasonry swirl around numerous people and a lot of officers, including Stalker, seem to have very cosy relationships with journalists, whilst at the same time complain that other officers are ‘leaking’ to the press. The impression that I am left with is that of the scenario created by those we know and love – everyone involved loathes each other but have all done a lot of things that they shouldn’t have, so are condemned to one another’s company. One wouldn’t really trust any of these people further than one would spit a rat. Stalker certainly had some very interesting friends and contacts and I will return to this topic in future posts.

It transpired that the person who recommended that I read Stalker’s book had noticed something that I also noticed as I read it. On occasions throughout the book, the very words used, the phrases used and even the context in which Stalker frames himself as an honest man unfairly hounded, concerned only for the welfare of his loving wife and children and his desire to press on with his valuable work, is very reminiscent indeed of the affidavits that Dr Dafydd Alun Jones swore on oath in the mid 1990s regarding the reign of terror that he maintained that I was subjecting him to. Now those affidavits elicited hilarity at the time, as I shared them with a number of other people who had knowledge of what Dafydd was actually doing. Dafydd’s turns of phrase were so odd, stylised, quaint and melodramatic that some of those phrases were repeated frequently by numerous people, using a Dafydd voice. I remember those ridiculous affidavits very well and as I read Stalker’s book, I was right back there with them. My main thought was ‘I am reading something written by the person who dictated those affidavits’. Of course, people who have been educated by the same people in the same institutions often write or speak in a similar way. Stalker is slightly younger than Dafydd and grew up in inner Manchester and finished his education as a teenager, whereupon he joined the police. Dafydd grew up in a village in Gwynedd where Welsh was the first language of nearly everyone. I understand that he initially began a chemistry degree but was kicked out in disgrace (although no-one knows exactly what the disgrace involved) and subsequently studied medicine at Liverpool. There are no similarities between Stalker’s education and Dafydd’s. Stalker’s book reveals something else. That after he left the police, he pursued work in journalism and the media. At one point he was production manager for the soap opera ‘Brookside’ of all things. So Stalker had a talent for drama and fiction… Stalker’s skills are evident in the biography that he provides at the front of the book. He describes himself as living on a small farm in Cheshire, where he ‘generally lives off the land’. Yet his book is choc full of references to foreign travel and holidays, to hotels, favourite restaurants, his American express account, his big mortgage, his new carpets, his new kitchen, parties and social occasions with High Society in Manchester. This is not a man who lives in a yurt and grows his own. His extensive foreign travel is also a little inconsistent with his account of hearth, home and family life – he’ll have hardly had time to see his family. But then Dafydd hardly spent any time with the ‘small children’ whose existence he flagged up on many of the occasions on which he made lurid statements about me.

I have detailed previously on the blog the numerous occasions on which the mental health services in north Wales took Court action against me. This was usually at Courts in Wales or Chester, although Sir Robert Francis QC (please see post ‘The Sordid Role Of Sir Robert Francis QC’) had a go at me in the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London. Yet when Gwynedd County Council sought an injunction against me on the basis of affidavits by two social workers who perjured themselves (one of whom had never met me and one of whom had only met me two or three times), they made representation to Sir John Kay, a judge on the Northern Circuit. When Dafydd sought an injunction against me, on the basis of his Stalkeresque affidavits, he went to Liverpool High Court – again, on the Northern Circuit. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds are all on the Northern Circuit. They are also all a very long way from north west Wales which is where I, Gwynedd County Council and Dafydd were. Stalker’s book mentions legal contacts of his – in the region covered by the Northern Circuit.

Stalker’s base seemed to be Manchester – although he had previously worked in the midlands and mentioned contacts there as well – but Stalker had dealings with a man very well-known in north Wales. That is the former Chief Constable of North Wales, Sir Philip Myers. Stalker only met Myers a few times, under circumstances which will be explained in a minute, but Myers became Stalker’s nemesis. Stalker made it clear that he believed that it was Sir Philip Myers, along with Sir John Hermon, the Chief Constable of the RUC and Sir James Anderton, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, along with some unidentified civil servants, who were responsible for his removal from the N Ireland investigation and his subsequent problems. He named Myers as the ‘prime mover’ against him. Myers died in 2014 and his obituaries all made mention of his ‘battle’ with Stalker. So let us take a look at Sir Philip Myers.

Myers was born in 1931 in Liverpool but grew up in Denbighshire and went to school in Wrexham. Like so many who have featured on this blog – another local boy who did well for himself. After a stint in the RAF he joined Shropshire Constabulary. He wanted to join the Denbighshire force but his Welsh wasn’t good enough. He remained in the Shropshire force for 17 years, until he joined West Mercia in 1967. In 1968 he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable of Gwynedd Constabulary. As part of his duties in that role, he oversaw the security for the investiture of the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon in July 1969. There was famously much trouble as a result of that investiture and two ‘Welsh nationalists’ blew themselves up during an attempt to plant a bomb, but no-one actually blew Charles himself sky high and Myers’ policing of the event was deemed a roaring success.

I have heard many anecdotes from people who hated everything that the investiture stood for, including allegations that at least one man who was threatening violent action on the day was detained in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh in a political move. As he did with a number of patients, Dafydd then cultivated this man’s company and many years later ruthlessly used this man in joint media appearances when there was pressure on Dafydd to retire. The media appearances involved this man dressing up in a dog collar, calling himself ‘Rev’ and claiming to be a Minister, although he wasn’t. Everyone knew about this misrepresentation, but there he was in the Hergest Unit, with a TV crew, giving interviews about how ‘Welsh boys and girls are going to prison in England’ and that things would only get worse if Dafydd retired and ceased to ‘look after’ the addicts of the region – please see post ‘The Evolution Of A Drugs Baron?’

As a result of his success regarding the investiture, in 1970 Myers became Chief Constable of Gwynedd at only 39 years old, the youngest Chief Constable in Britain. This appointment laid the foundation for the establishment of the North Wales Police force in April 1974, formed from the merger of the Gwynedd, Denbighshire and Flintshire Constabularies. With the North Wales Police, Myers ‘fought a long campaign’ against the rise in truancy and youth crime and Myers was described as ‘holding strident views’ with regard to the policing of the region. Of course whilst Myers was fighting his campaign against errant youths, children in the children’s homes in north Wales were being physically beaten and sexually abused. One of those abusing them was a member of Myers’ own force, Gordon Anglesea. Most of the people abusing those kids were never prosecuted, but the kids themselves were prosecuted repeatedly, often for very trivial offences. When the children ran away from the homes to escape the abuse, they were returned by the police and no questions were asked even if they were visibly injured. In 1972 Myers represented the police on the Advisory Council On The Misuse of Drugs. Of course, Myers will have known both Dafydd and Gwynne the lobotomist – as well as many other people named on the blog.

Myers was quoted as saying that ‘we don’t prosecute all young people found in possession of cannabis…[it’s] treated as a social matter…I have said quite publicly that pushers and traffickers will be prosecuted’. I find this puzzling, because when I first arrived in Bangor in 1981 Myers was still Chief Constable. What I remember hearing again and again was that there existed locally a thoroughly corrupt drug squad who harassed and pursued hippies blowing dope and who also planted cocaine and the like on them. Indeed so notorious were two of the officers involved that I was given their names, a description of both of them, a description of their car (a red Ford Escort) and it’s number plate – and I’m delighted to say that I did indeed spot these two twats driving around Bangor, as they fitted up two people whom I knew. I knew one hippy from Bethesda who had cocaine planted on him by these two – they planted cocaine on his wife as well, but she was from an affluent well-connected family in Surrey and was somehow never prosecuted – he was and he ended up in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh for a year under the care of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones! (Christ I bet Dafydd regrets ever meeting me – you didn’t know that all this was going to be made public did you Dafydd when you illegally imprisoned me, threatened me and made deals with corrupt police officers…) But whilst all this was happening, a serious heroin problem began to develop in Gwynedd and on Anglesey yet no-one put a stop to it…

The drug squad were not the only members of the North Wales Police who were alleged to be corrupt. I was told that the local police were dreadful and that anyone who fell foul of them would find themselves harassed on all levels. In my first year at Bangor University, I heard a bizarre tale. One of the halls of residence next door to the hall where I lived was an all male hall and it had a rather difficult man as a warden. I always got on with him very well (he was one of my lecturers), but he could certainly be very vindictive if he took a dislike to someone. A strange atmosphere prevailed in the hall where he had control – some students had been invited into a select friendship group with him but other students were just being bullied and targeted over ridiculously trivial matters. This man was a leading light in the local mountain rescue team and through this knew many local police officers. I was told on one occasion that one of the students whom this man had taken a dislike to had been picked up by the local police, not charged with any offence, detained overnight at Bangor Police Station in the cells and then released again without charge – after being told not to annoy this warden again. The warden himself was openly boasting of having arranged this unlawful arrest for a laugh. I also heard a few references to Stalker’s colleagues from Manchester as well when I was an undergrad. One of the boys on my course came from Manchester and maintained that there was serious corruption in that force as well with villains from ‘north Manchester’ going unchallenged whereas small fry were hassled. Then villains from Manchester were alleged to be running a nightclub in Bangor. Bangor had been seriously short of such facilities, but in about 1983 or 84, there was much excitement because a real nightclub opened. Within weeks terrifying rumours were circulating, that is was being run by some heavies from Manchester, that serious violence and drug dealing were occurring and it soon became a no go area for most students. At about the same time the A55 linking Bangor with the north west of England was built and various dodgy people involved in serious crime began making their way across.

So what Myers claimed was happening regarding policing in North Wales was rather different to what the rest of us witnessed on the ground. Even more entertainingly, I have come across quotes from Myers that he made claiming that in the mid 70s his force was hampered by an increase in legislation that left the ‘victim of the villain naked and the police officer investigating crime impotent’. So is that why they were stitching people up and failing to investigate the serious abuse of children and the abuses of the mental health services? It was of course on Myers’ watch that the likes of Gordon Anglesea and Elfed Roberts rose through the ranks of the North Wales Police and it was officers who were promoted under him who were later alleged to be involved with the paedophile ring that operated in the area – officers who were also instrumental in the convictions that I’ve explored on this blog that may well be serious miscarriages of justice.

In the 1970s Myers was President of the Association of Chief Police Officers. He was very cross when the failed experiment with ‘short sharp shocks’ regarding youth offenders came to an end. He was also on record as maintaining that the increase in crime was ‘directly linked’ with film violence. He was particularly vexed over the film ‘Clockwork Orange’ and the gang bang scenes. Well such things were happening for real in the region’s children’s homes and in the North Wales Hospital. In the tributes paid to him after his death, Myers was described as being ‘intensely loyal to his officers’.  To illustrate this, it was explained that in 1981 when riots were predicted on Merseyside, Myers sent five coaches of his officers to Toxteth to ‘assist’ and before the coaches left, Myers boarded each one to explain to the officers what was expected of them and what they might encounter. I wonder what was actually said to those officers…

In 1982 Myers had the honour of being personally reprimanded by Lord Hailsham (who was no liberal), after Myers had forced a probationary policeman, Michael Evans, to resign. Myers had an issue with Evan’s ‘hippy lifestyle’ on a farm near Bangor – except that Myers aimed his fire at the wrong man, it was a case of mistaken identity. There was also a spat over Evan’s pet dogs and malicious rumours were seeded about Evans’s marriage. Knowing how those we know and love conduct business, there is only one question that needs to be answered here – what did Michael Evans know about whom? Hailsham described ‘the treatment meted out to this young man as little short of outrageous’. If only he’d been molesting children in care…

When Myers announced his retirement, the Home Office was said to have ‘persuaded’ him to become one of HM Inspectors of Constabularies and in Nov 1981 the Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw confirmed the appointment, that ran from 1982. Myers was one of the youngest Inspectors of Constabularies. This post is described as involving delicate mediation between Chief Constables and the Gov’t. Myers was responsible for the ‘North West Region’, which covered north Wales, north west England and N Ireland. It was in this role that Myers encountered Stalker. Although Myers had played a key role in removing Stalker from the ‘shoot to kill’ investigation, he had also played a pivotal role in appointing him. Myers remained in this post until 1993. In 1983 Myers became the Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd. He was knighted in 1985. In 1985 Myers mediated in the row between the Labour-controlled Police Committee and the Merseyside Chief Constable Kenneth Oxford, as Oxford resisted calls for his resignation on the grounds that he had the backing of his officers and the Home Office. Oxford pursued a notoriously aggressive style of policing, on one occasion achieving the distinction of being the first person on the British mainland to lead a force using CS gas – Oxford also stocked up on plastic bullets. During riots in Liverpool one person was hit and killed by a police vehicle and somebody else was run over and left disabled. It took Lord Scarman to calm everybody down in the midst of some of what Oxford had done.

Myers was embroiled in more trouble again in 1992 when he became involved in the case that Alison Halford, the Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside, brought on the grounds of discrimination. He was named as a co-respondent – along with James Sharples (Halford’s Chief Constable), the Home Secretary and the Northamptonshire Police Authority. It was alleged that Sharples had commented to Myers that Halford had been involved with an ‘improper relationship’ with a woman (Halford is gay). Edwin Glasgow QC, on behalf of Myers, described him as an ‘old fashioned strait-laced man’ (er, with the exception of the activities in those children’s homes…) Halford won her case – she alleged that she had been passed over for promotion eight or nine times – and was reputed to have received more than a million in compensation.

Myers did something else that gained a certain amount of attention whilst he was Inspector of Constabulary that Stalker comments on in his book. Instead of making use of the offices provided for the Inspector of Constabulary in a more central location in north west England, Myers had his own office built – in Colwyn Bay, right next to his home. Stalker visited this ‘seaside office’ as he called it and observed that it was in a rather out of the way location. Of course it would not have been out of the way for Myers’s contacts and colleagues from north Wales, it would have been most convenient for them, because the North Wales Police HQ is at Colwyn Bay. Indeed Colwyn Bay seems to attract the movers and the shakers. Professor Robert Owen, the Medical Ombudsman from the Welsh Office who oversaw the investigation into my complaint about Dafydd in 1988 – an investigation which was a whitewash, which did not actually investigate most aspects of my complaint and which resulted in no action against Dafydd at al although he had broken the law and entered into a criminal conspiracy with Superintendent Roberts at Bangor Police Station – lived in Colwyn Bay. I have copies of letters which showed that correspondence about me, from people uninvolved in the complaint eg. Dr D.G.E. Wood, were being sent to Owen’s home address without my knowledge. So business was obviously being conducted informally at people’s homes. Someone else lived at Colwyn Bay as well – Gordon Anglesea, the Superintendent who was eventually convicted of sexually abusing children in care homes in north Wales. Anglesea had previously been based in the Wrexham area but in 1988 he was promoted to Superintendent in Colwyn Bay. Huw Vaughan Thomas also lives in Colwyn Bay – he is now the Auditor General for Wales but between 1991-1996 he was Chief Executive of Gwynedd County Council, whilst the paedophile ring was in operation in children’s homes in Gwynedd and Clwyd. There will of course be many other key public servants who decided to live near Colwyn Bay…

Myers died in 2014. Hundreds of police officers turned out for his funeral – as indeed they did for Anglesea’s, although he died in prison serving a sentence for child abuse – and it was agreed by many that he had been very, very well-liked among his officers. Well they did pretty much anything that they wanted when old Philip was in charge – and he remained near their Colwyn Bay base when he moved into his later, even more powerful role… Even the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner at the time, Winston Roddick, mentioned that he was a great bloke. A party celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of the North Wales Police force was held in 2014. Philip was too ill to attend, but his wife went along and Winston was overjoyed to see her.

 

So Myers attained dizzy heights indeed. His role may have involved mediating between Chief Constables and the Gov’t, but there was one person above Myers, between him and the Gov’t. That was HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, which between Jan 1983-March 1987 was Sir Lawrence Byford CBE. He’s certainly worth taking a look at, particularly as he was Chief Inspector whilst the paedophile ring in north Wales was causing havoc and whilst the British police stood accused of acting as the personal army of the Thatcher’s Gov’t. Byford was also Chief Inspector throughout the Stalker affair.

Lawrence Byford was born in 1925. His biography states that he was educated at the University of Leeds, but it doesn’t state at which stage of his life that was. In 1947 he became a constable with the West Yorkshire Constabulary, eventually becoming Commander of the Huddersfield Division. In 1968 he took up a senior leadership role with the Lincolnshire Police and was Chief Constable between 1973-1977. He was a Regional Inspector of Constabulary from 1978 until he was appointed Chief Inspector in 1983. He was knighted in 1984. After he retired he was President of Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 1991-1999 – he also undertook some management consultancy. Lawrence Byford was appointed by Willie Whitelaw to conduct the first inquiry into the massive stuffing up that was the investigation into Peter Sutcliffe’s crimes. Byford was assisted in this by the ‘Super Squad’, the external advisory team originally set up to investigate the murders committed by Sutcliffe! He was critical of the investigation by the West Yorkshire Police  (his old force) but considering how bad that investigation was, he should have been a lot more critical.

Two of Lawrence’s children have made the news. In 1999, his daughter and her husband were arrested whilst on holiday in Florida for leaving their two very young children in their holiday apartment alone. They spent the night in jail but were allowed out on bail to return home to Yorkshire. When they left the children alone, they were actually on holiday with Lawrence, who it was said ‘did protest quite a bit’ at their arrest. There were even suggestions that if Lawrence’s daughter and her husband were kept in prison it could lead to a diplomatic incident between the U.S. and Britain.

Lawrence has a son who is well-known in his own right. That is Mark Byford, former Deputy Director General of the BBC and Head of BBC journalism, 2004-2011. Mark Byford spent his early years in the West Riding of Yorkshire when his father was a police officer there. In 1976 he went to Leeds University to study law. After graduating, he worked for the summer as a researcher in the ‘Look North’ regional newsroom in Leeds. At the end of the summer Mark joined the BBC on a full time basis. In 1990 he was appointed Head of Centre at Leeds and in 1991 he was the Controller for Regional Broadcasting. He joined the BBC Board of Management in 1996. Byford was a member of the BBC Executive Board for 13 years. He established and chaired the BBC Editorial Standards Board and established and chaired the Complaints Management Board. He chaired the BBC Journalism Board and had overall responsibility for all BBC journalism, across the UK and the world. I would imagine that if there was a story that Mark Byford didn’t want to become public, he would be able to keep it quiet very effectively, even if other people thought that it should be broadcast. Mark Byford’s later career at the BBC did some strange things. Three weeks after he was appointed Deputy DG in 2004, the DG, Greg Dyke, resigned following the furore of the Hutton Report. The BBC Board of Governors appointed Byford as acting DG and he remained in that role for five months. Then Mark Thompson was appointed DG and Byford was given the journalism remit. In October 2010 Byford accepted voluntary redundancy in the wake of the row about the very high salaries of the numerous senior managers at the BBC. He was alleged to have received a redundancy package of between £800,000-£900,000 and previously had received a salary of £500,000 pa. Byford left the BBC in Jun 2011. During the row about senior executives and high salaries, a few very rude things were said about Mark Byford, with people asking what exactly it was that he did and whether anyone should have paid him half a million pa. Within 18 months of Byford leaving, the BBC was engulfed by two scandals relating to ‘Newsnight’. One of those related to Jimmy Savile and the other to Lord McAlpine. Jimmy Savile was finally outed as a paedophile who’d offended on a grand scale. That is the Jimmy Savile who’d had a base in Leeds and who had been on excellent terms with some officers of the West Yorkshire Police who had known what he was up to but had failed to take action against him. The Leeds where Mark Byford had worked and the West Yorkshire Police whom Lawrence Byford had once been a part of. Lord McAlpine, readers may remember, was wrongly identified on ‘Newsnight’ as being a paedophile and later sued a number of people for libel and won. McAlpine had been named by Steve Messham, one of the former residents of a children’s home in north Wales where he had been molested, but not by Lord McAlpine. The Pollard Review blamed the Savile row in the BBC on the lack of Mark Byford. Presumably he’d been keeping Savile under wraps for years. Media commentator Professor Stewart Purvis commented that ‘Byford watched the DG’s back and the BBC’s back’. It rather looks as though he watched Savile’s back, the collective backs of the West Yorkshire Police and his own father’s back as well.

 

Previous posts have explained how the serious abuse of children in children’s homes in north Wales spanned decades. The home with the worst reputation – from which a number of staff were convicted of very serious offences against children – was Bryn Estyn near Wrexham. Prior to becoming a children’s home in 1974, Bryn Estyn was a Home Office Approved School and many of the abusers had been employed there whilst it was run by the Home Office. Some of Gordon Anglesea’s offences were committed at a Home Office Approved Attendance Centre in Wrexham which he had been allowed to set up in 1978. So the Home Office had something to do with what was happening in north Wales, beyond simply ignoring the complaints and convictions. So who were the Home Secretaries responsible? During the late 60s and early 70s – by which time Bryn Estyn had gained an appalling reputation – they were James Callaghan, Reginald Maudling and Robert Carr. Callaghan was part of Harold Wilson’s Gov’t, Maudling and Carr part of Ted Heath’s. The Home Secretary in place when Gordon Anglesea set up his Attendance Centre was Merlyn Rees – Callaghan was PM. Regarding the appointments of Philip Myers: Reginald Maudling and Robert Carr were Home Secretaries under Ted Heath when Myers was appointed Chief Constable and the new North Wales Police force was formed. Willie Whitelaw under Margaret Thatcher was the Home Secretary who appointed Myers as an HM Inspector of Constabulary. When Sir Lawrence Byford was appointed HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary the Home Secretary was Leon Brittan, as part of Margaret Thatcher’s Gov’t. The Leon Brittan who was, before he died, investigated in connection with sex offences – and the Leon Brittan who mislaid all those files relating to allegations of people in public life abusing children. We’ve arrived at the Westminster Paedophile Ring again.

There are many more interesting names in Stalker’s book and I will be blogging about them and their possible relevance to the topics covered on this blog very soon.