It’s All About Protecting Children

My post ‘It’s A Piece Of Cake…’ gave an account of the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal which finally hit the UK wide media in the early 1990s. I described how reports detailing just how serious the abuse of children in care was and how these reports were constantly suppressed and how, after a very big effort by a relatively small number of people considering what was going on, a number of people working in social care were finally charged and imprisoned for very serious offences against children and young people. Of course, it is accepted that even now, after yet more people have been convicted after the recent reinvestigation, that only the small fry have gone to prison. The big fish have never been caught and I’ve actually named some of the fish who facilitated the paedophile ring on this blog – they’re having a great time, some of those who ignored what was going on have even made it into the House of Lords. Although the big fish are still merrily swimming away in the wider world, in the aftermath of the convictions of the small fish, the child protection services in north Wales continued to try to frame the problems as being in the past.

So what were the child protection services in north Wales doing as everyone was reassured that the clean up had taken place and no-one had any cause for concern? Well, as with their close colleagues in the mental health services – whom they were working hand in hand with – they were doing some very strange things. I witnessed this during 1993/94. I knew a man, F, who was in a relationship with a woman N. N had three children from a previous marriage – her first husband, D, had effectively abandoned her to live with a nurse and then had two children with this nurse. D did keep in touch with his children from his marriage to N, but contact was fairly erratic and he wasn’t the best dad in the world. At one point he emigrated and left them all behind but returned to Gwynedd when his plan for a job abroad went wrong. After D left her, N became very friendly with F, a man from the hippy community in Bethesda who was actually quite affluent as a result of the sale of a property following his own divorce. N seemed to target him with a view to a relationship, which was a bit odd because their backgrounds were very different. N had become pregnant at 15, left school barely able to read and write and had never had a job. She had never really travelled outside of north Wales. F was a child of the sixties, from a middle class family, had a Fine Art degree and had spent much of his youth traipsing around Afghanistan, Morocco and Turkey. He did however have a psychotic illness and was one of the many who had been variously abused and neglected by the mental health services – he was still ‘on their books’ during his relationship with N. I was aware that N had a number of rather unscrupulous female friends who were encouraging N and F to set up home together. F was incredibly lonely, his mother had recently died and he had no children.

N and F did start a relationship and N, who was pretty much destitute, moved into F’s house, along with her three children. F financially supported the family and even paid the fees for two of N’s children to attend a Steiner school. From the very beginning of the relationship, N had wanted to have a child with F. (She had wanted another child with D, but he had refused and then left her.) F was delighted by this, because he had no children but had always wanted a family. However it took N nearly two years to become pregnant. Neither N or F were employed and F’s bank balance was rapidly eroding. By the time that N became pregnant, the couple were quite deeply in debt, so F announced that he’d sell his house to pay off their debts. He did and N and F and her children moved into a large rented unfurnished house, again paid for by F. N requested some fairly expensive furniture, carpets and curtains on the grounds that the baby was almost due and she wanted a nice home. F obliged and spent a considerable amount of money doing this. By this time it was clear that N’s two eldest children had quite serious problems. N’s son had mild learning difficulties and had left school but was unable to find work, so he stayed at home, again supported by F. N’s teenaged daughter was showing quite serious behaviour problems and had been expelled from school. She began a number of casual relationships and F expressed concern to N that she was being sexually exploited. She then became pregnant and it transpired that the father of the baby was actually one of her nicer partners, a local young man who loved the idea of the forthcoming baby. So both N and her daughter were pregnant at the same time. F supported all of them. N then had her baby and when the baby was about a week old told F to leave the house. F thought that this was perhaps post-natal depression – it became very obvious though that it wasn’t. N had ended the relationship. It was F who was made homeless, whilst N stayed in the house that he’d paid for and kept all the goodies. She then asked F for two thousand pounds. F observed that he had no money left, he was homeless. N then told him that he was no longer welcome to visit her or see his baby. F then began a relationship with a new partner, A, after she’d offered to let him stay at her house when he had nowhere to go (after N threw him out, F had been admitted to the psychiatric ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd because of fears for his mental health). N then started sending A bills and demands for money. One of N’s friends, who lived in the same village as A, approached A in the street and observed that she was sure that A wouldn’t mind paying for some gear for F’s baby (F was still prevented from seeing this baby). A was of the opinion that F had been ruthlessly used by some very exploitative people and stated that no she would not be handing over any dosh to N. F observed that he seemed to have been used as a ‘sperm donor and a cashpoint’. At this point F confided in A that he was very worried for the welfare of N’s 11 year old son. It transpired that N’s eldest son, who was at the time 17, had sexually molested one of his brother’s 8 year old male friends on a ‘sleep over’. N had sworn F to secrecy at the time because she feared that her eldest son would be prosecuted. F expressed concerns that the 18 year old had serious problems that were not being addressed. A told F to ask the advice of his GP, who knew everyone involved. The GP told F to ‘forget about all of them’. F then rang another GP in the same practice to express his concerns yet again. That GP told F that he would deal with the matter. Then F and A received a visit from a child protection officer, a policewoman called Jo Bott. F gave a very clear explanation of what had happened between the older teenager and the 8 year old. Jo Bott promised to investigate and told F that this was sufficiently serious to warrant a case conference. A few days later, Jo Bott returned. She told F that the investigation had shown that there was ‘nothing to worry about’ and that a case conference would not be held. She then turned to A and told her to ‘leave N alone’. A had not been near N, she had not met with her or even spoken with her, even after receiving the demands for money from N. Jo Bott then left their house. A neighbour then told F and A that the GP whom F had confided in and Jo Bott had stated that F was making malicious allegations against N. Throughout this time, F still had no access to his own child. The same neighbour – who was on good terms with F and A – a couple of moths later told them that N’s 18 year old son had recently been in trouble for sexually abusing children after offering to ‘babysit’ for them. The GPs and child protection services had known about this and the solution had been for the 18 year old to move out of the block of flats where he had committed the offences and back in with N. So much for F making ‘malicious allegations’.

Things got even more bizarre. N and her daughter were both allocated newly built three bedroomed houses, next door to each other, with a local housing association. The rest of the village nearly staged a revolution at this point, because such houses were very, very difficult to get – there was a case of a single parent with two children living with her parents, yet N’s daughter had been offered a three bedroomed house next door to her mother BEFORE she’d even had her baby. Such was the outrage that a number of people started passing on an awful lot of information to F and A which they had been previously unaware of. It was alleged that a ‘deal’ had been done between N and the social services and that F, unbeknown to him, had been alleged to have been a danger to his own baby, and that in return for supporting this view, N was told that both her and her daughter would be housed. F and A were told that a local Plaid councillor, Dafydd Orwig, had also assisted, by securing the houses for N and her daughter through using his influence. N’s daughter then gave birth and within weeks it became very obvious that she was incapable of caring for the baby. She then moved out of the house that had been secured for her in the dirty deal, left the baby’s father and moved in with another man. She became pregnant again, quite quickly. She was told by the children’s services that if she agreed to attend the custody hearing regarding her first baby – who was now being cared for by the baby’s father – that she would be awarded custody. Fortunately for the baby and the father, she didn’t bother to attend court and the baby’s father was awarded custody. She then gave birth again and assaulted the new baby, causing injuries. The baby at that point was taken into care. F never ever gained access to his own baby and when the baby was about two years old was told by neighbours that N had moved over to Clwyd and was living in a communal arrangement with a number of other women and their children. There were plenty of people in the area who knew about the shafting of F and who were openly sympathetic to him, but interestingly enough people who didn’t know the full story were told by N and her mates that F had abandoned his baby.

Lest anyone leave with the impression that this mess was the result of that old chestnut ‘stigma’ and that a not very enlightened policewoman and her chums in the social services formed their view of F on the basis of his serious psychotic illness, there are a few more clues that something much nastier was at work. Jo Bott did meet with the mental health services and was told that F had actually always been very responsible and caring towards N and her children – even the Arfon Community Mental Health Team had not been able to throw any mud on that point. So where the allegation that it was F who presented a danger to his baby came from no-one knows. Before N ever met F, her family was known to the GPs – the GPs who had accused F of malice – as well as the schools, as a ‘troubled family’. Her first husband, D, was known to have been violent to the son who later indecently assaulted younger boys and had rejected him because of his learning disability. The nurse whom D established a relationship with after he left N and her family seemed to have quite an odd lifestyle for a woman with two young children. She had been working at Ysbyty Gwynedd, but was offered highly paid agency work in the south of England. She did not have a house with D, they lived in a caravan in rural north Wales. She used to drive down to the south of England and literally live in her sizeable four wheel drive vehicle for the four days or so whilst she was booked in for shifts at the English hospital, then drive back up to north Wales. The caravan that they lived in was so cramped that when N’s daughter used to visit her father she had to sleep in the vehicle that doubled up as a house for her stepmother when she was doing agency work. Things became so fractious between N’s daughter and her father that the daughter had cut off contact with him by the time that Jo Bott was carrying out her ‘investigation’.

So Jo Bott knew damn well that she was dealing with two fairly feckless incapable people whose parenting skills were few and far between, a young man who was sexually abusing younger boys, a teenaged girl with substantial problems – and F, who had done his best to be a good stepfather, but who had been relieved of many thousands of pounds as well as his home. If Jo Bott ever wants to explain why, knowing all this, she then deemed F to be a threat to his own child and colluded with a number of other ‘professionals’ to ensure that he was never allowed near that child, a lot of us would be most interested to listen to her. I have solved a number of mysteries regarding those we know and love, but I have never ever got to the bottom of this one. Those we know and love detested F’s partner A and did all they could to make her life unbearable, but the Great Stuffing Over of F began before he moved in with her. No doubt their desire to gun down A increased the ‘services’ venom once F moved in with her, but there was another person targeted unfairly as well – the father of N’s first baby. He was a really nice young man, from a stable caring home himself. Gwynedd Social Services were gearing up to remove the baby from his care and hand her over to N’s daughter, although N had abandoned her and violently assaulted another baby. It was actually this young man who had the saddest outcome of all – after he gained custody of the baby, he was found dead. As so many people who have tangled with these absolute bastards were. He was hit and killed by a lorry whilst walking along a road near Bethesda one evening. The death was of course not suspicious and there was no investigation. His mum and dad have brought up his daughter.

Whilst all this went on, Lucille Hughes was Director of Gwynedd Social Services. Six years later she was named in the Waterhouse Report as knowing that a paedophile ring was operating in the social services but failed to act.

It is absolutely disgusting isn’t it Jo Bott???

NB. As well as Jo, Gwynedd Social Services, Dafydd Orwig, the GPs at Bethesda Surgery and the mental health services who watched all the above, there was another person playing a key role too, the Bangor solicitor the late Elwyn Jones, who ‘acted for’ N. I saw with my own eyes the nasty aggressive letters that Elwyn Jones wrote to F, demanding yet more money. Elwyn Jones was also a member of Bangor University Council and acted as their treasurer – the University is now in serious financial difficulty. I think Elwyn Jones was the same Elwyn Jones who used to work in the same legal practice as David Jones MP. Elwyn Jones was the son of Sir Elwyn Jones, the former MP for Conway, who has featured before on this blog. It must be something in the genes…

A Trade In People – Between London and North Wales

This blog has described how documents now in my possession demonstrate that those we know and love in the north Wales mental health services were part of a network with connections across the UK, including in London and how this network was used to shaft people from north Wales who had fallen foul of the mental health services if they relocated elsewhere. My own experiences were of someone who was stalked after moving to London from north Wales. However many years ago I came across a family who had been trailed to north Wales when they moved from London. I knew these people well, they lived in the Bethesda area and they were all members of the same very vulnerable family. Their story was horrific – they realised that they had been mistreated, but they weren’t well-educated and I was never sure if they realised just how serious what had happened to them was. What they did know was that people like them never won against the medical establishment so they never even tried to achieve redress. I will refer to them using the initials A, B and C, because two of them are still alive.

The three people who moved to Bethesda from London were a young man, A, his sister B and her husband C. All three of them shared a small terraced house, lived in quite serious poverty and were said to have long term mental health problems. They were all well-dosed up with anti-psychotics. A had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, B of chronic anxiety disorder and C of personality disorder. They had quite a bit of trouble dealing with day to day life. The story of how they came to Bethesda was horrific. A and B had come from a family where both their mother and their aunt had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their father had been ferociously violent towards their mother and they were terrified of him. He died when they were in their early teens and their mum looked after them alone despite her serious mental health problems. Their mum was eventually sectioned and detained in Warlingham Park Hospital in Surrey, an institution that was eventually closed down in the wake of a scandal involving the serious abuse of patients – a number of staff were actually imprisoned. I remember A telling me about the way in which his mum was sectioned – she was forced to strip naked in front of the ‘assessing doctors’ as well as her own two children. A told me that he had never forgotten witnessing this. Whilst she was in Warlingham Park Hospital, A and B’s mum died after falling from a balcony. A and B had an older brother who seemed to have been like their father, fairly callous and ruthless. They were told by the hospital that their mum had been seen by a nurse to have climbed over the balcony and thrown herself off. A and B told me that they didn’t believe this version of events – they said that their mum had been very overweight, very unfit and would physically have been unable to climb over the balcony concerned. After the death of their mum, A and B and their brother were due to inherit the family house which was worth a substantial amount of money. But of course that took a while to sort out and in the immediate aftermath of their mum’s death, A and B were left with the problem of paying for their mum’s funeral. Their older brother had abdicated all responsibility, A was a boy of 17 and B was a girl of 15. They had attempted to ask questions regarding the death of their mother – and the hospital made them a most generous offer. The hospital offered to pay for their mum’s funeral if they agreed to go ahead with the funeral without further investigations being held. So two penniless bereaved teenagers agreed to this. There was no investigation into their mum’s death. But this wasn’t the last that A and B saw of Warlingham Park Hospital. A few months after his mum’s death, A, in his own words, ‘started crying and couldn’t stop’. He was sectioned and detained in Warlingham Park. Where he was one of the patients who was brutalised by the staff. A was given a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia – because he had threatened the staff. The staff who were assaulting him and other patients. But A wasn’t the only person in Warlingham Park – B was there as well. She’d been sectioned a few days after A. So two teenagers were now both sectioned in a hospital known to be highly abusive, in which their mother had died in suspicious circumstances a few months before. A and B were separated whilst they were in Warlingham Park and didn’t seem to have had much contact with each other at all. A was being constantly threatened with transfer to a high security hospital because he was so ‘paranoid’ and ‘dangerous’. The staff certainly knew how to elicit reactions from A. He explained to me that upon being admitted to Warlingham Park he had been interviewed and he explained in this interview that he had recently been very upset not just over the death of his mum, but because his learning disabled cousin had been subjected to a violent sexual assault by a gang of man. This has caused A to feel very homophobic and to fear gay men. A few days after his admission, A told me that he was called in for what he was told was going to be a physical check-up. The doctor conducting this ‘medical’ told A that he wanted to check his genitals – according to A, as the doctor was doing this, he said to A ‘by the way, I’m gay’. A hit him. So that was the beginning of A being constructed as a ‘dangerous patient’. That was not all. Sometime after this, A was told that the hospital authorities wanted to interview him. He presumed that it was some sort of psychiatric assessment. Upon arriving at the ‘interview’ A was greeted by senior psychiatrists from Warlingham Park and a police officer – who told him that B had made an allegation that he had raped her. B told me that this was all true, that the hospital had forced her to make that statement and that she had felt massively distressed and guilty about it ever since. A was not given access to a solicitor and all the ‘interviews’ about the alleged rape were conducted within the confines of Warlingham Park – at no time was A transferred to a police station. So PACE had been completely flouted. A held out under pressure and refused to sign the confession that was being demanded of him. A was told that arrangements were being put in place to transfer him to a high security hospital. As far as I could work out, the only thing that saved A’s neck was that the patient abuse scandal at Warlingham Park broke, a major investigation took place and the institution was closed down. A and B were both released – by this time, B had met C, who was another patient and had made plans to marry him. So A, B and C all moved back into the family home – which was now in the process of being sold in the wake of A and B’s mother’s death. A and B then discovered that whilst they had been sectioned, their older brother had been having a relationship with A’s girlfriend and he had set up home with her. He also wanted a good share of the money from the sale of their mother’s house and seemed to have laid the ground for all this whilst A and B were sectioned. When I heard all this it sounded very much as though A and B had been sectioned because too many questions were being asked about their mothers death – or that their older brother had something to do with the extraordinary sequence of events; he certainly seemed to have enjoyed a very good relationship with Warlingham Park, considering what that place had done to his immediate family.

My suspicions that something truly unpleasant had gone on were confirmed when I heard the next part of the story. After the sale of the house, an awful lot of money could not be accounted for – A and B did inherit some money, but not very much. Their older brother seemed to do very well out of the deal however. A, B and C – B and C had by now married – wanted to buy a house with the inheritance but could not afford one in London. Or indeed in most of the rest of the UK. But the solicitor who had handled the estate had told them that there was a place called Gwynedd in Wales where houses were so cheap that they would be able to afford one. This was in the mid 80s when quarryman’s cottages in Bethesda could be purchased very cheaply. A, B and C had never heard of Gwynedd and had never been outside of London, let alone to Wales. But the solicitor actually showed them a photo of a house in Bethesda that they liked the look of and seemed to be in good condition. Somebody else was very keen on the idea of them moving to Bethesda as well – their psychiatrist (who presumably had not gone to prison along with some of the nurses). A told me that this psychiatrist had told them that they would ‘all get better’ with the fresh air in Wales. A told me that he knew it was bullshit but they were homeless and they had no choice. So, relying on this solicitor, they began the purchase of the house in Bethesda. They were so broke that they couldn’t afford to come up and view the house, they just looked at all the photos and the solicitor did the rest. It turned out that their solicitor knew a solicitor in Bethesda! So they purchased the house – which took up almost all of their inheritance. They were given the address by the solicitor in London and made their way to Bethesda, with very few possessions. They were told to collect the key from the solicitors in Bethesda which they did. They then found the address that they had been given – and had quite a surprise. The house that they had purchased was not the one that they had been shown photos of. This was before the European structural funding had ben used to renovate all the houses in Bethesda and the surrounding area, and a lot of those houses were in very poor condition. The one that they had purchased was very ropey indeed. But they were in Bethesda now and the house had been purchased and they had no money left, so that was it. But something very odd happened to them after their first few days in Bethesda. C had been into a pub nearby and had been threatened and thrown out. He didn’t know why. Then days later, B had a very distressing and indeed a very odd experience. The local police arrived at the house and accused B, a young woman, of having a sexual interest in children. She was hauled off down to Bethesda Police Station and grilled. When they let her out again, A, B and C were so upset at the idea that the neighbours might think that they were unsavoury characters that they made a big diplomatic effort and introduced themselves to everyone and tried to be as friendly as possible. It worked and they made friends – they later discovered that the neighbours had been told that they were child molesters. They did not know how or why this slander had been started and they didn’t know where it had come from.

A, B and C were not child molesters but they most certainly had been abused and ripped off by a group of solicitors and doctors in London who had connections in north Wales and who all seemed to have been co-operating with each other. A, B and C had spent much of their lives in the welfare/mental health system and despite the dreadful things that had happened to them at the hands of the mental health services in London, one thing that they did when they arrived in Bethesda was to register with the doctors surgery there. After all, they were all ‘mentally ill’ and needed their ‘medication’ or who knows what might happen to them. And get their medication they did – they were all well-dosed up with anti-psychotics, even B and C who hadn’t been diagnosed with any psychotic illness. Interestingly enough, A, who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia, asked Bethesda surgery repeatedly for a referral to a psychiatrist because he had concerns about his medication. The GP concerned flatly refused to refer him – this went on for a good seven or eight years. Of course the one referral that this family were offered was to the dreadful Arfon Community Mental Health Team (please see previous posts for the catalogue of abuse and neglect that this lot inflicted upon vulnerable people). The Arfon Team got off to a flying start when they came to visit – they refused to sit down when invited because the chairs were ‘dirty’. They were indeed – because this family could not cope and no-one was helping them. After leaving this family feeling as though they were a bunch of scumbags not worthy of their precious time, the Arfon Team left again. There was a further incident in which the notorious Bob Ingham, a particularly aggressive CPN employed by the Arfon Team, threatened to hit C on a home visit. A, B and C decided not to ask for ‘help’ again. And so they lived for the next ten years or so. B and C did eventually start attending the day centre at the Hergest Unit – A refused to do so because he could not forget what had happened to him at Warlingham Park and the thought of setting foot inside a hospital terrified him. Sadly when the day centre at Hergest was closed down, C was one of the patients who died, basically of neglect. A is still alive and amazingly enough, when B hit mid-life, she did fantastically, with the help of the Hergest Unit whistleblower (please see previous posts) who befriended her and mentored her. She ended up completing a degree, came off all ‘medication’ – and was told that she’d never been ‘mentally ill’ at all, she had simply experienced serious distress after such a traumatic early life.

I haven’t seen A or B for years now – the last time that I was in touch with them, I still wasn’t sure if they realised just how serious the malpractice to which they had been subjected was. However, there were four people in Bethesda who certainly knew how serious the wrongdoing was – that was the GPs in Bethesda Surgery. They will not only have had access to the records of this family but they knew how badly they were let down by the Arfon Community Mental Health Team and they knew the dreadful conditions under which this family lived for so many years. There is a new Health Centre in Bethesda now and the GPs that this family put their trust in but who failed them so seriously are not working there – most of them are now living in comfortable retirement and one is working in England. But if ever I get the chance I’d like to ask Drs Mithan, Jones, Heinersdorff and Nickson how they managed to remain silent about this family’s history and experiences at the hands of the Arfon Community Mental Health Team in the face of their responsibilities as medical practitioners.