Reports Of Death Were Greatly Exaggerated

The stream of people appearing in the media to pledge their loyalty to Top Doctors who tell them that they have cancer when they might well not continues. This supply of eager folk seems to have been given an extra boost since I wrote my post about the massive scams at the heart of cancer research (see post ‘Oh Lordy, It’s CR UK’). The latest person to share his troubles re prostate cancer is a man called Bill Turnbull. He’s someone who is on the TV, but I don’t have a TV and when I have access to one I don’t watch the programmes starring Bill Turnbull, so I only have a rather hazy grasp of who he is. Bill has announced that not only does he have prostate cancer but it has spread to his bones and how he wishes that he’d consulted his Top Doctor four years ago. I do not envy Bill having cancer which has metastasised and I am genuinely sympathetic to his plight, but the harsh reality is that even if he had taken medical advice four years ago, that cancer might well have been missed – as it was in the case of Jade Goody. There is nothing that the Top Doctors like more than a celeb who has developed cancer because they are ruthlessly used to Send A Message.

Bill has been supported by his colleague Fiona Phillips. Now I DO know who Fiona Phillips is – she is a self-centred narcissist who used to be on breakfast TV and she also wrote a column in one of the tabloids. Fiona was a laugh a minute – she took a hard right wing line on everything, was utterly unsympathetic to anyone and was sufficiently bothered by people who wore Birkenstock shoes that she devoted a whole column to the subject. Not that Fiona managed to explain why Birkenstock shoes were so offensive, her column simply repeated ‘they’re not fashionable, they’re ugly. Ugly, ugly, ugly’. A photo of the offending shoes were supplied. Another one of Fiona’s high points was her appearance on TV with Philip Schofield when they rolled around laughing at parents who did not smack their children and Philip proffered the opinion that fings ain’t been the same since they banned the cane in schools.

There is however one cause close to Fiona’s heart – Alzheimers. Although Fiona only became concerned about this when her mother developed the condition and it dawned on Fiona that her mum was soon going to need looking after. So Fiona started campaigning…

 

So in the face of all those who maintain that ‘Sally Baker is a nutter who is talking crap again’, I would like to remind everyone of the Chilvers Report which caused ructions in medicine in Sept 1990. The Chilvers Report was a paper which was published in The Lancet by Clair Chilvers and others who claimed to have demonstrated that cancer patients receiving ‘treatment’ at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre were very much more likely to develop secondary cancer and to die prematurely than patients receiving conventional treatment at the Royal Marsden. The Bristol Cancer Help Centre  was an ‘holistic’ centre which ‘treated’ cancer patients through the use of diets, meditation, relaxation, ‘visualisation’ etc. When the Chilvers paper was published I was a little confused because although I am someone who takes the view that cancer cannot be cured by altering one’s diet or listening to whale songs, I didn’t believe that such things are so detrimental that they finish you off within months. I took the view that they were ineffective rather than actively dangerous.

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre originated in 1979 after Penny Brohn, a cancer sufferer herself, took an interest in what she felt was a deficit in cancer treatment. Brohn initially worked as a child care officer in Bristol in the late 1960s – so she was another person who will have known what was happening to kids in care – then became a lecturer at Bristol Poly and then trained as an acupuncturist and in Chinese medicine. Penny Brohn was married to David Brohn, a civil engineering lecturer at Bristol Poly. Penny Brohn had no medical or scientific education – and her husband managed to acquire a PhD in engineering without having a first degree in engineering, which can be done but is unusual. Penny pooled her resources with Pat Pilkington and her husband Canon Chris Pilkington who were already running a healing clinic in Bristol and they established the Bristol Cancer Help Centre.

The Brohns and Pilkingtons seemed very successful at drumming up positive PR for their Centre. Penny Brohn’s obituary in the Indie in 1999 stated that a journalist was dispatched to ‘expose the flaws’ in complementary medicine, but was ‘so inspired’ by the Bristol Centre that a six part BBC TV series resulted showcasing the work of the Centre, entitled ‘The Gentle Way’. This led to an ‘overwhelming’ public response and the subsequent recruitment of paid staff and a newly acquired building for the Centre, Grove House, which was formally opened by Prince Charles in 1983. Charles really loved the Bristol Centre and Penny’s obituary tells us that in the wake of the Chilvers Report, Penny ‘took great comfort’ from Charles. In fact articles about Penny and the Bristol Centre read a little like Private Eye’s spoof stories penned by Silvie Krin about Charles  – Penny ‘provided hope and inspiration to cancer sufferers the world over’. Sadly for Penny, after the Chilvers Report row, her ‘personal healing journey’ involved her cancer returning with a vengeance and after conventional surgery she retired to Crete and ‘spent several blissful years renovating a mountainside cottage under the comforting rays of the Greek sunshine’.

There seems to be much regarding the establishment and initial success of the Bristol Centre that has gone unmentioned. It is not an easy thing to persuade the BBC to give one one’s own TV series to publicise one’s healing centre before it has even has its own building or paid staff. It doesn’t matter how inspirational one is or how much energy or passion or commitment one has, the BBC don’t usually turn up on one’s doorstep offering one a six part free advert. Penny or one of her mates will have known someone at the BBC.

As for The Gentle Way, there was nothing gentle about the way in which Prince Charles’s Private Secretary Sir Michael Peat pressurised Exeter University to destroy Professor Edzard Ernst’s career and dept after Edzard refused to collude with lies regarding the effectiveness or otherwise of various complementary/alternative therapies (see post ‘Tuppence And His Fragrant Wife’). As Prince Charles would have said had he not been behind it, ‘it really was appalling’.

Penny’s close friend Chris Pilkington was a member of the Pilkington Glass dynasty and for many years was Rector of the City Parish of St Stephen’s in Bristol.

Readers of this blog who follow my comments section might remember that recently someone posted a you tube link in a comment which referred to the alleged involvement of a former Chairman of Pilkington Glass in child abuse. I had never heard this allegation before and have seen no evidence at all to support it. Pilkington Glass was based at St Helen’s on Merseyside and for many years was the biggest employer in the town. Sir Alastair Pilkington was Chairman of Pilkington, 1973-80 and Sir Antony Pilkington – a distant cousin of Sir Alastair – was Chairman, 1980-95. Sir Antony’s uncle, Sir Richard Pilkington, was Tory MP for Widnes, 1935-45 and then Poole, 1951-64. Sir Richard was born on Merseyside and his father Arthur Pilkington was Chairman of Pilkington.

Sir Antony told an interviewe in 1990 that he wanted Pilkington’s to be ‘a good company in the best sense’, ‘not just a money machine’. His concern was reciprocated in much local support for Pilkington’s when it became the target in 1986 of a hostile takeover bid by BTR, an industrial conglomerate known for its ruthless approach to cost-cutting.

In response to the industrial recession of the early 1980s, Pilkington’s had reduced its workforce from 11,500 to 6,700. But they did so on generous terms and much effort – through the pioneering community of St Helen’s Trust, of which Antony Pilkington was founder Chairman in 1978 – to create small-business opportunities for those made redundant.

BTR was rumoured to have abruptly sacked many workers at Dunlop – one of its recent acquisitions – in the week before Christmas. Politicians and local Councillors joined the Pilkington’s workforce in rallying to the Pilkington Board’s support and after a nine week battle BTR was forced to withdraw.

Antony Pilkington was a very effective moderniser. He reformed Pilkington’s hierarchical management structure, reduced the size of its Board and placed new emphasis on salesmanship.

An attempt to diversify into spectacle and contact lenses through the takeover in 1987 of the American firm Visioncare was problematic, but Antony Pilkington continued to search for ways to reshape the group in response to market conditions. In 1992 – once again faced with a sharp recessionary fall in demand for glass – he was forced into another round of cost-cutting at St Helen’s and a rationalisation of its operations in Europe. Recovery was slow, but Pilkington’s remained a world leader in glass technology.

Antony Pilkington was also a Director of GKN, National Westminster Bank and ICI. He was a Governor of Liverpool John Moores University, a member of the Court of Manchester University, a Deputy Lieutenant for Merseyside and High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1996-97.

So Sir Antony was in the midst of many of those previously named on this blog as being involved with or concealing the paedophile ring in north Wales and the north west of England. He was Chairing a company facing serious difficulties on Merseyside in the 1980s. Sir Antony had the disastrous effects of Thatcher’s policies on Merseyside – and then the aftermath – to contend with and he was at the centre of the Liverpool branch of the empire of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and the paedophiles’ friends. He was a Governor of Liverpool John Moores – another Governor was John Hamilton, a very close friend of the paedophiles indeed. Cherie Booth was Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores. Then there was Eric Heffer, Derek Hatton and others on Sir Antony’s doorstep. The whole lot of them were at each others throats and concealing the serious criminality of Dafydd and co (see post ‘These Sharks Are Crap As Well’).

Sir Antony would have been in a very difficult position indeed.

A senior manager who spent many years with Pilkington’s optronics subsidiary in north Wales, Pilkington PE – which later became Thales Optics Ltd and was then divested from Thales in 2005 as Qioptiq Ltd – knew a great deal about serious organised crime and the abuse of children in north Wales. That is Trevor Jones, the Chancellor of Glyndwr University. Trevor Jones has alighted at every notorious stop during his journey as a paedophiles’ friend – including membership of Clwyd Health Authority whilst Dafydd illegally imprisoned the victims of the paedophile gang in the dungeon there. For full details of Trevor and his criminal associates, see post ‘A Vampire At Glyndwr University!’)

 

After the Chilvers Report was published the Bristol Centre received such bad publicity that it lost huge quantities of funding and nearly closed.

The work which resulted in the Chilvers Report was funded by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign. I had worked for the CRC by 1990 and had witnessed exactly how much fraud there was in cancer research, but I was also acutely aware that some of the claims of people providing ‘complementary’ or ‘alternative’ treatments were just as dishonest and misleading. What I desperately wanted was good science carried out by honest people – sadly there was and still is not much of that about.

Following the publication of the article by Chilvers et al, a group of patients and supporters of the Bristol Centre expressed disbelief regarding the results claimed by Chilvers et al and a review of the work was undertaken.

Then came the bombshell. Some major fundamental errors in terms of sampling and analysis had been made by Chilvers et al. Their conclusions were invalid because – as well as for a number of other reasons – the group of patients receiving treatment at Bristol whose progress was compared with those receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden all had cancers at a far more advanced stage and that was the most likely reason why the Bristol patients died so much more quickly than the Royal Marsden patients. Nothing to do with the lethal consequences of The Gentle Way. It was confirmed that where the outcomes of the Bristol patients were concerned, ‘reports of death were greatly exaggerated’.

Chilvers et al fessed up that they had got this badly wrong and Sir Walter Bodmer, the Director General of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, issued an apology and published a near total retraction.

Now Walter Bodmer is worth taking a closer look at. Walter’s wiki entry describes him as a ‘German-born British human geneticist’. Walter’s web page on the Oxford University site tells us that ‘In 1996, Sir Walter Bodmer assumed his current position at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine as Head of the Cancer and Immunogenetics laboratory and more recently within the Department of Oncology.  After obtaining a PhD in Genetics from Cambridge University, he moved to Stanford University in California where he rose to the position of Professor. In 1970, he returned to the UK as the first Professor of Genetics at Oxford University. He subsequently became the Director of Research, and finally the Director General, of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in 1986.’

Walter’s wiki states that Walter studied the Mathematical Tripos as a student of Clare College, Cambridge and was awarded his PhD in 1959 from Cambridge for research on population genetics in the house mouse and Primula vulgaris (primrose). So Walter began life as a population geneticist – so he will probably have known Prof Greig-Smith, the Cambridge-educated quantitative ecologist who dominated the School of Plant Biology at Bangor University for many years whilst Dafydd and the paedophiles’ friends ran Bangor University. Prof Greig-Smith was a colleague of Dr Chris Wood, the wife of the corrupt GP Dr DGE Wood who was playing a key role in facilitating the sex abuse ring. If Walter didn’t personally know Greig-Smith, he will definitely have known people in Greig-Smith’s circle. Greig-Smith was a colleague of Cambridge botanist Edred Henry Corner, who was the uncle of Douglas Hurd. Hurd was Home Secretary, 1985-89, whilst the Home Office ignored and concealed the criminality of Dafydd and the paedophiles and framed victims and witnesses for serious crimes if they made complaint. For further details of this sordid network and their skulduggery, see post ‘Additional Security Measures’.

After I wrote ‘Additional Security Measures’ Brown observed ‘a whole load of posh people who weren’t very bright and didn’t work too hard all getting jobs for their mates’. That’s just about the sum of it and it wasn’t only happening among natural scientists at Cambridge and Bangor Universities.

In 1985 Walter Chaired the Royal Society Committee which resulted in The Bodmer Report, credited with starting the movement for the public understanding of science. If the public really understood science, Walter would be out of a job and no-one would be running a marathon dressed in a pink bra to raise money for cancer research.  

Bodmer was one of the first to suggest the idea of the Human Genome Project. He was the Director of Research (1979–1991) and then Director General (1991–1996) of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. So Walter was Director of Research whilst the deeply flawed comparative study involving the Bristol patients was carried out. Looks like that ball was firmly in Walter’s court.

Not that it held Walter back. He was Chancellor of the University of Salford, 1995-2005 and Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, 1996-05.

Whilst Walter was Chancellor of Salford, that institution hosted a rather troubled social work dept. Walter was succeeded as Chancellor of Salford by Sir Martin Harris, upon whose watch a Professor of Social Work Research was appointed, whose incompetence and dishonesty would have made Water proud. I and two colleagues at Bangor encountered the fuckwittery of this man over a period of months and at first we wondered if he was having some sort of breakdown in the light of his chaos, crazy e mails and outright lies. Then a colleague of mine met someone from Salford University who told him that an utterly mad Professor of Social Work had been appointed because Salford wanted to pretend that it was hot stuff in the research arena, but this Professor knew nothing about research, lied through his teeth to everyone about his experience and pompoused around the university in an expensive suit smarming to visitors. It all caused much resentment at Salford.

Martin Harris was born in Ruabon – at the heart of the north Wales paedophile gang.  Harris’s father William Harris was appointed City Librarian of Plymouth – so he’ll have known Michael Foot’s family who were lawyers in Plymouth and undoubtedly knew Michael Foot, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton, 1945-52 and later leader of the Labour Party who spent years concealing sexual abuse in politics and other high places (see post ‘Oh, No! It’s The Pathetic Sharks…’).  Martin Harris will have also known the MP for Plymouth Devonport, 1966-92 – Dr Death! Dr Death knew some of the Top Doctors who were involved in criminal activities in Wales (see post ‘Dr Death’).

Martin Harris was educated at Devonport High School for Boys, Queen’s College, Cambridge and at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies).  He began his academic career at the University of Leicester in 1967 – where a great many people were concealing the paedophile gang of which Greville Janner and Frank Beck were part of (see post ‘Radical Leicester And Some Other Free Radicals’).  Harris spent 15 years at the University of Salford as a Senior Lecturer, Professor of Linguistics, Dean and later, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. From 1984 to 1987 he was a member of the UGC (University Grants Committee). In 1984 the UGC and its hatchet man Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer imposed such a severe grant cut on Salford that the University very nearly didn’t survive. So Harris gave his own institution a real kicking.

As a member of the UGC, Martin Harris will have known how Alwyn Roberts, a PVC at UCNW (Bangor University) persuaded the UGC and Swinnerton-Dyer not to close Bangor down, which was what Swinnerton-Dyer planned to do. The negotiating had a great deal to do with so many staff at Bangor being involved with, concealing or at least knowing about the paedophile ring in north Wales of which a member was Sir Peter Morrison, Thatcher’s aide and friend. Morrison’s sister was Lady-in-Waiting to HM Lilibet – at the time Prince Charles was Chancellor of the University of Wales (until relatively recently, Bangor and most of the other Welsh colleges were constituent members of the University of Wales).

Harris’s first appointment as Vice-Chancellor was at the University of Essex in 1987. He was VC of the Victoria University of Manchester from 1992 until its dissolution and reformation as the University of Manchester in 2004. So Harris knew about Dafydd’s mates at Manchester who really pushed the boat out to conceal the paedophile gang in north Wales/Cheshire as well as the havoc that they caused in the mental health services in Manchester (see post ‘The Mentor’).

Martin Harris was a member of the CHI (Commission for Health Improvement) whilst it gave a glowing review of the mental health services in north west Wales at a time when so many patients committed suicide that it showed up as a statistical outlier and when a number of patients were framed for criminal offences after complaining about staff violence. At least two members of staff met the CHI and told them in no uncertain terms that the Hergest Unit was very troubled and unsafe for patients, but that glowing inspection report from Harris et al arrived a few weeks later nonetheless (see post ‘Discussions On The Minibus – And A Revealing Letter’).

Martin Harris’s appointments since retirement from the University of Manchester include that of Deputy Chairman of the North West Development Agency, 2002-2008 and Director of Fair Access at OFFA, 2004-2012. Harris was President of Clare Hall, Cambridge, 2008-13.

Martin will be awaiting his peerage at the moment.

 

To return to Walter. In 2005, Bodmer was appointed to lead a £2.3 million project by the Wellcome Trust at Oxford University to examine the genetic makeup of the UK , the People of the British Isles project.

The research interests of the Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory at Oxford of which Walter is currently head include the fundamental genetics and biology of colorectal cancer. So if older readers are wondering why cancer testing kits are arriving unsolicited through their letter boxes with a letter demanding that they send a sample of their turds by return of post, blame Walter. That cancer screening initiative – as with the PSA test for prostate cancer – has a high rate of false positives.

Walter has quite a fitting name for someone involved in cancer screening cons. I remember a 1970s TV sitcom in which most of the humour centred around an elderly man called Walter of whom people constantly enquired ‘have you been Walter?’, the implication being that Walter need to pee on quite a regular basis. Because of course he suffered from benign prostatic hypertrophy – as do nearly all older men – so needed to go for a widdle fairly frequently. As I bet does Walter Bodmer and I very much doubt that Bodmer will have his own prostate removed on the basis of a PSA test result, because he will have heard about the concerns over the accuracy of that test.

The deeply flawed study concerning the clinical outcomes of the Bristol patients began in 1985. Walter was given his knighthood in 1986.

Walter’s wife Lady Julia Bodmer was a Distinguished Geneticist as well, although she didn’t have a science degree. What she did have was a husband.

The Royal College of Physicians ‘Lives of the Fellows Online’ tells us that Lady Julia ‘played an important role in discovering and defining the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system, the system of inherited differences which accounts for graft rejection and for susceptibility to autoimmune diseases’. Lady Julia was born Julia Pilkington (whether she was any relation of the Pilkington’s mentioned above I do not know) but the Royal College reminds us that at school she was Head Prefect. Julia then went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, PPE – just like David Cameron and so many other politicians! Immediately after graduating, Julia tied the knot with Walter. She followed him to Cambridge and worked as an assistant economist.

Julia moved to Stanford University with Walter and began her family. She began working with Walter on tissue typing. In her first projects, she identified two new tissue types and laid the basis of the first two genes of the HLA system. She went on to find many new types and analyse their distribution in populations. David Cameron never did that with his PPE degree, but then he wasn’t married to Walter.

In 1970, Julia moved back to Oxford, to the new genetics laboratory – guess who had just been appointed Professor of Genetics there? This enabled the genius which was Julia to expand her work to include associations between HLA types and disease. She highlighted the association between HLA type and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, helping to establish the immunological basis of these diseases.

In 1979, Julia transferred to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London – when her husband was appointed Research Director there. She extended her work to include analyses of Hodgkin’s disease, Burkitt’s lymphoma and testicular cancer. Through her analysis and collection of families with a history of testicular cancer, she was able to identify the first testicular cancer susceptibility gene.

When Walter became Principal of Hertford College, Julia moved back to Oxford to establish – with Walter – a new laboratory, working on genetic variation in human populations.

Julia helped found the European Federation for Immunogenetics and was President in 1999. She was an honorary Fellow of Hertford College and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded a DSc by Oxford University. Well as Julia still didn’t have a science degree, it must have been getting a bit embarrassing and the postdocs were probably fuming at the way in which Walter’s missus was parachuted into senior positions whenever he bagged a new job, so Oxford gave her a science degree to tidy it up.

Walter and Helen had three children – Mark, Helen and Charles.

A Dr Mark Bodmer is Chief Scientific Officer and President of R&D at Evelo Biosciences, Inc.

A Dr Helen Bodmer is featured on the Cambridge University Centre for Science and Policy website and is described as being ‘Head, MRC and Health Research Team, Research Funding Unit, Department for Business Innovation & Skills’. The website tells us that ‘Helen’s role as Head of the MRC and Health Research Team includes being the Departmental lead for policy on academic medical research and matters relating to the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research with high level strategic overview of publicly funded medical research in the UK. She also has responsibility for sponsorship and performance management of the MRC. She works closely with colleagues in her unit which covers all areas of scientific research as well as with the Office for Life Sciences in BIS and other Government Departments, especially the Department of Health and the Home Office. In addition to this she is the UK Delegate for the IDEAS programme (FP7) for the European Research Council.’

So Helen decides who’s going to get the dosh. Now I wonder what Helen might prioritise?

Helen’s background is as an immunologist and rheumatologist and she spent four and a half years as an Inspector in the Home Office Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate. So Helen inherited Walter and Julia’s tendency to be an immunologist – Walter could no doubt draw us a nice diagram explaining the transmission of the gene responsible or indeed build us a model of the DNA involved and can no doubt also trace the trait back to the time when the Bodmers were nitrogen in the atmosphere before they had actually evolved into scientific giants. Helen was also one of those responsible for allowing questionable animal research to continue without letting the general public know what was being permitted.

A Dr Charles Bodmer is an endocrinologist at Colchester General Hospital. He has some rave online reviews from his patients who compliment him on listening to them, having a sense of humour and also supporting them in their decisions to try alternative therapies. So if he is Walter’s son, he’s obviously learnt something from his father’s mistakes. Dr Charles Bodmer has an interest in diabetes. Perhaps he could do something about all the scaremongering over the allegations that fat bastards with diabetes have brought the NHS to its knees, because he will know that it is more complicated than that.

 

The ensuing row after Walter Bodmer’s apology re the Bristol study was enormous. The Bristol Cancer Help Centre and their supporters declared that this was all a dirty tricks attack from the Top Doctors – it might have been, I wouldn’t have put it past them, but it might just have been more shite, sloppy, dishonest research of the sort that I had witnessed so often. At the time there was a huge war taking place between alternative practitioners and Top Doctors and lies and misinformation were being spread by both sides. Patients’ interests were completely lost in the face of all this and they were left confused and in a very vulnerable position.

The supporters of alternative therapy at the time particularly hated Professor Michael Baum, because he made comments about people who use alternative therapy being middle aged female Guardian readers in ethnic weave clothes. Baum should have acknowledged that the reason why so many people were consulting alternative therapists was because they were having such bad experiences with Top Doctors. However Baum did write an interesting article not so long ago about the obsession with prostate screening and what a waste of time it all is, which culminated in the words ‘keep your fingers out of my anus’. I feel very much the same way myself – indeed it was my resistance to the groping suggestions of the sex traffickers of north Wales which brought the venom of the Top Doctors down upon my head for the next 35 years – but Michael Baum theorised that the obsession with other people’s prostates was an attempt to ‘turn men into women’. I think it is more complex than that – it is certainly an attempt to render men as docile and as obedient as many women have been rendered as they are terrified by horror stories of the many cancers from which they will suffer if they do not Get Screened, but it is also part of growing state authoritarianism in the style of Foucault’s ‘Birth of the Clinic’, ‘Discipline and Punish’ etc. It is of course substantially fuelled by the great Top Doctors’ medical research con.  Michael Baum knows as well as I do that bad practice and research fraud have been endemic in medicine for many years and have never been tackled.

Following the confessions that the Chilvers Report was deeply flawed, in Nov 1990 one of the co-authors of the Chilvers paper – Prof Tim McElwain – was found dead. It was assumed that he had committed suicide. Everyone sobered up and it finally dawned on the world exactly how very nasty all this was. Tim McElwain trained at Barts, then worked at Hammersmith Hospital and Great Ormond Street. He became a Consultant at the Royal Marsden in 1972 and was appointed CRC Professor of Medical Oncology at the Royal Marsden and Institute of Cancer Research in 1983. Tim McElwain will have known that research fraud in medicine was extensive.

I was still working in biomedical research when all this happened and I can remember it well, but when I was searching the internet earlier for some of the crucial details about the matter, I notice that certain things seem to have disappeared. I can’t find details of the circumstances under which Prof Tim McElwain died – although ‘pressure of work’ was blamed – so I can’t even do what I usually do and try and work out if there was anything suspicious about his death. Tim McElwain wasn’t the leading author of the paper but he was described as being ‘the most outspoken’ – I have no idea why he felt so bad about it all that he ended up killing himself. Although the Chilvers article was absolutely panned, patients of the Bristol Centre were subsequently very critical of the Bristol Centre as well. In 1993 one angry patient spoke to the Indie claiming that the Bristol Centre had made claims that they could not substantiate and had abandoned patients.

Who could ever tell what had happened behind the scenes.

I also cannot find the original paper by Chilvers et al – I don’t have access to a university library at the moment, so I haven’t been able to search very extensively – but I suspect that like the paper which resulted from the research fraud perpetrated by my old bosses Malcolm Pearce and Geoffrey Chamberlain at St George’s Hospital Medical School (see posts ‘I Don’t Believe It!’ and ‘Oh Lordy, It’s CR UK’), The Lancet has ensured that the testament to the wrongdoing of the Top Doctors can no longer be accessed. After all, the show must go on – there are celebs queuing up to appear on TV telling us that they have cancer and how they wished that they had consulted the Top Doctors and Got Tested, there are highly paid CEOs of cancer research charities and all those fundraisers whose bread and butter (or rather truffles and lobster) is dependent upon anxious people being convinced that they’re about to drop dead if they don’t Get Tested and then there are the thousands of women who need to be encouraged to participate in fun runs whilst wearing pink bras to raise money for the often fraudulent research upon which some Top Doctors have built their reputation. Furthermore where would the nation’s politicians be if they could not take part in photocalls with Top Doctors whilst wearing coloured ribbons and Pledging Their Support? It detracts attention from the abuse of the Parliamentary expenses system, the round the clock troughing and the lucrative company directorships.

The Chilvers affair did not bring an end to the merry-go-round – not only did the Pearce-Chamberlain scandal occur three years later, but Mark Williams and his Mindfulness scam (see post ‘The Biggest Expert Of The Lot’) conquered the world and the people whom I knew thirty years ago who were behaving appallingly started landing knighthoods and peerages for their ‘pioneering work’. Photos of their grinning mugs litter the websites of the charities asking people on modest incomes who have no idea of the scale of the con to hand over dosh.

 

Clair Chilvers, the leader of the team which carried out the flawed research and who was the lead author of the article didn’t seem to suffer many negative consequences at all.

At the time of the research, Chilvers was Professor of Epidemiology working in cancer research at the Queen’s Medical Centre, University of Nottingham. So Clair was was one of those people who worked in the building just over the footbridge from the international disgrace which was Robert Baldwin’s Cancer Research Campaign Laboratories. Clair will have definitely heard about Baldwin’s chamber of horrors (see post ‘Oh Lordy, It’s CR UK’), Queen’s Medical Centre knew about Baldwin.

So what did Clair do after the shit hit the fan and Tim was found dead? She went to work for the Department of Health of course. Clair was subsequently Chair of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Clair is now Chair of the charity that she founded in 2008 – Mental Health Research UK! A nice photo of Clair can be found on the MIRCYL (Mental Illness Research In Children And Young Lives) website explaining that her organisation ‘has made grants for PhDs to a number of different universities in the UK. Her research background is in breast cancer research and so she is very well versed in best practice when commissioning new research’.

Clair is fighting stigma and is committed to achieving equality.

Er – OK. Clair – lest you have forgotten, a member of your research team died as a result of a huge scandal of which you were the key mover and shaker. Do you think that the world of mental health research actually needs you? Or has it got you because cancer research wouldn’t have you back?

Others involved with Mental Health Research UK include: Lord David Neuberger, former President of the Supreme Court – David is well connected with the paedophiles’ friends (see post ‘The Most Dangerous Man In The World – The Scottish Play’); Professor Nick Rawlins, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford and Professorial Fellow of Wolfson College. Rawlins is Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience and has worked on schizophrenia. He became Associate Head of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division in 2008.  Rawlins is responsible for leading the development of the University’s external fundraising strategy. His most cited paper is ‘Place navigation impaired in rats with hippocampal lesions’, published in Nature in 1982.  That’ll knock ’em dead  when it comes to fighting stigma. Chilvers’ co-founder of Mental Health Research UK was the late John Grace QC. Early in his career, Grace defended a group of Hell’s Angels in a ‘turf war’ involving shotguns and pick-axes. Later on he specialised in medical negligence and healthcare law. Did John Grace represent patients who had been harmed? No. Grace represented Top Doctors who were facing disciplinary action and Health Authorities in some of the UK’s highest profile cases in which patients had died or been harmed or who had murdered other people when severely mentally ill and not in receipt of the care that they needed.

John Grace was involved in the case of Christopher Clunis, the mentally ill man who in 1992 killed a complete stranger on Finsbury Park tube station. It transpired that Clunis was extremely ill, had been for a long while, was known to the mental health services in north London and had been scandalously neglected. The Health Authority involved was Camden and Islington Health Authority. Tessa Jowell, Frank Dobson and Jeremy Corbyn have all been involved with the social services and health authorities in Camden and Islington. Any of you like to comment?

John Grace QC was bitten on the bum by the Top Doctors in the same way that Tessa has been – he developed a brain tumour with a poor prognosis. All those years of research fraud and lying to the patients about the excellence of care does have consequences…

Clair Chilvers is also a Trustee of the Barnwood Trust, whose ‘vision is to create the best possible environment in Gloucestershire for disabled people and people with mental health problems to make the most of their lives’. In addition, Clair is a Director of the Churchill Lodge Management Company – and the dear old McPin Foundation. The McPin Foundation is committed to service user led research – except when I and another service user with a PhD and postdoc experience applied for jobs with them they explained that the roles for service users were only very junior and they couldn’t possibly give Real Academics like us jobs with McPin. Probably because we’d have seen straight through Clair Chilvers and might even have known who she was…

The Chilvers Report scandal of course was discussed in the Commons. The aftermath was still rumbling on five years after Chilvers et al had published their paper. Hansard, June 14 1995, records Jean Corston, the Labour MP for Bristol East, becoming very irate.

Corston was uncritically supportive of the Bristol Centre, as were many other MPs. I note that Corston praised the Centre for using massage – whereas nearly everything that the Bristol Centre was doing was benign (although some patients had ended up with malnutrition after taking the dietary advice to extremes), it is now accepted that massaging patients with cancer is most definitely not a good idea because it encourages metastases. Corston reminded the House that in 1985, an agreement was reached that the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and Cancer Research Campaign would finance two research projects on breast cancer, to be conducted under the auspices of the Institute of Cancer Research. The project was set up under the directorship of Clair Chilvers. After two years of a five-year study, the interim findings claimed that the Bristol patients were faring very badly and it was these findings which caused the rumpus.

Corston told the House that a number of people questioned the findings including Professor Karol Sikora ‘a well-respected and internationally renowned oncologist’. Sikora worked at Hammersmith Hospital/Royal Postgraduate Medical School and was there when I was a postgrad there in 1987. He was every bit as unpleasant and dishonest as the rest of them there and was very unpopular. Sikora later fell out with everyone in a major way and latterly Imperial College – the institution with which Hammersmith/RPMS merged – made a point of stressing that Sikora was nothing to do with them when he continued to use the title Professor. Sikora has spent the last few years arguing for the dismantling of the NHS. He is a very rich man who wishes to become even richer and he has big interests in private medicine. Sikora established a group with an enlightening sounding name – Doctors for Reform – but this is a group which has been lobbying hard for the abolition of the NHS.

Corston mentioned the BBC Taking Liberties programme which was screened not long before she spoke in the Commons, which was sympathetic to the Bristol Centre. Corston was critical of Michael Baum and Gordon McVie (of the Cancer Research Campaign) who continued to repeat the allegations that the Bristol patients fared worse than the Royal Marsden patients.

Gordon McVie was the man who spent time with the dying George Carman QC and persuaded Carman to leave a legacy to the CRC. Carman was a violent, totally corrupt barrister who was close friends with crooked police officers and gangsters. He was retained by Jimmy Savile, he knew about the Westminster Paedophile Ring and its link to north Wales and he defended serious offenders whom he knew to be guilty. A lot of Top Doctors cultivated Carman’s company as did many politicians and media figures (see posts ‘No Ordinary Methods’ and ‘ No Ordinary Methods – Supplementary Post’).

Corston called for a review of the data from the Chilvers’ trial by a body such as the GMC. The GMC knew just how widespread medical research was and they’d spent years concealing the serious criminal activities of Dafydd and the paedophiles, so what joy Corston thought that she’d get out of the GMC I don’t know. Furthermore in June 1995 the GMC struck Malcolm Pearce off for his part in the St George’s research fraud, but they took no action against Geoffrey Chamberlain who was very much part of it and whose name was on the paper publishing the account of an operation which had never taken place. Malcom Pearce was struck off days before Corston made these comments in the House – she will have been aware of the case, it received widespread publicity (see posts ‘I Don’t Believe It!’ and ‘Oh Lordy, It’s CR UK’).

Corston mentioned Professor Peter Garland, Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research. Garland was Chief Exec, 1989-99. Garland presided over the Institute when some of the people whom I worked with on a CRC project at the University of Surrey were working at the Institute. I never witnessed them taking part in research fraud, but they admitted to me that the knew that Robert Baldwin at Nottingham was not doing what he claimed to be doing – and I recently discovered that data from work carried out by me whilst I was at Surrey was given to Professor Nicola Curtin at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Medical School without my knowledge or consent and Curtin subsequently published it under her name (see post ‘Oh Lordy, It’s CR UK’). Nicola Curtin was not one of the collaborators on the project at Surrey and I had never even heard of her until a couple of weeks ago when I found a 1989 paper with my name on it – and Curtin’s.

When Peter Garland retired, the Chairman of the Institute for Cancer Research gave him a warm send-off praising his enormous achievements and the expansion of the Institute under his leadership. Who was that Chairman? None other than Dame Stella Rimington, Director General of MI5, 1992-96.

The Dame was particularly impressed by Garland because it was under him that the Institute for Cancer Research identified the breast cancer gene BRCA2. It is because of that particular discovery that Angelina Jolie decided that a sensible course of action would be to have a double mastectomy and her ovaries removed. She may well have had a few other bits taken out as well. Because Angela was given much publicity for doing this and the media waxed lyrical about her Bravery in the face of Risk, many other women Got Tested, found that they too had the BRCA2 gene and had a great many organs removed lest they developed cancer. It has now been admitted that the chances of people with the BRCA2 gene developing cancer are less than feared and even if they do, the sort of drastic surgery pioneered by Angelina is not necessary.

Stella – the reason why somebody made you Chairman of that Institute is that they will have been very concerned as to what was going on in there. You were supposed to put a stop to it. But then as the security services are known to have concealed organised sexual abuse by Westminster and Whitehall figures and bugged, burgled and harassed the victims and witnesses rather than the criminals involved (see post ‘Oh Lordy, It’s CR UK’), perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that the research fraud continued.

Stella studied archive administration at the University of Liverpool in the late 1950s. Which was just about when Dafydd was finishing his medical degree there. Lucille Hughes also studied at Liverpool University in the late 1950s. Perhaps they all spent many happy hours getting pissed together which was why MI5 was so helpful to Dafydd and Lucille when they ran the paedophile and sex trafficking ring.

Stella has since been a non-executive Director of M&S. They still aren’t capable of producing any worthwhile clothes.

 

Corston told the Commons that a group of irate patients from the Bristol Centre took the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign to the Charity Commissioners and that the two charities were censured by the Commissioners in January 1994 for inadequate supervision of the research and that the Commissioners recommended guidelines on the responsibilities of charities that fund medical research.

So that’s why Chilvers is now leading a mental health research charity.

Whilst making reference to the Taking Liberties TV programme screened in May 1993, ‘Cancer Wars’, Corston spoke of the ‘barons’ of cancer research and treatment from the medical establishment and how this was a David and Goliath struggle. It wasn’t – it was a punch-up between two Goliaths and the patients were damaged by the battle.

Lady Olga Maitland – a ludicrous figure from a past era, then the Tory MP for Sutton and Cheam – chipped in to defend the cancer research establishment. The Royal Marsden and Institute for Cancer Research were in her constituency, so she wasn’t going to upset them. My post ‘Doris Karloff – Honest About Her Expenses But Not Much Else’ describes how Ann Widdecombe and Olga Maitland obtained covert funding, free labour and support for their insane campaigning group ‘Woman and Families for Defence’ from London University in the 1980s.

A junior Health Minister Tom Sackville also joined in the Commons debate. He didn’t say anything very original or enlightening, but I’m interested in Tom by dint of him being a junior health Minister at this time – June 1995. In June 1995 the world was told that the North Wales Hospital Denbigh and its dungeon had been virtually closed down and was told later that summer that the institution was shut and that the patients had all been transferred elsewhere. We now know that this was not true. Part of that hospital was still open and remained open for some time – but again, no-one has ever been transparent about for how long for and why. Someone e mailed me recently telling me that they had put in an FoI request about this and had received a rather cryptic answer that wasn’t very informative.

We know why that hospital couldn’t be closed down as planned – it was because people were illegally imprisoned out there, some of them had been there for years and questions would be asked if those people materialised. I have explained in previous posts how records at the North Wales Hospital – like the records of the kids in care in north Wales – were unlawfully amended, forged, written after the events that it was alleged they were documenting or simply disappeared. So there will have been people in that institution who perhaps – like the Queen’s cousins who were discovered in a long stay institution in Surrey in the 1980s – had been declared dead. (I have received an e mail from someone who told me that there were actually five children of that generation in the Royal Family who were locked up and written out of history.) There was the dungeon at Denbigh and whoever was still locked up in there. And then there were the bodies that are in the grounds or possibly concealed within the building.

People died out there Sackville and that’s why they couldn’t shut the place down and then had to tell a pack of lies.

Tom Sackville was the Tory MP for Bolton West, 1983-97. His first career was as a merchant banker. Between 1992-95 he was a junior Health Minister and then between 1995-97, a Home Office Minister. So Tom was in the Dept of Health throughout the chaos and the dirty dealing which preceded Dafydd’s retirement (see post ‘The Evolution of a Drugs Baron’) as well as when the public were lied to about the closure of Denbigh. Sackville will also have known about the paedophile ring and drug offences that were facilitated by St George’s Hospital Medical School whilst he was in the DoH (see post ‘A Galaxy Of Talent’). Sackville’s time in the Home Office will have meant that he was party to information regarding the investigation into the north Wales paedophile ring and events in the run up to the Waterhouse Inquiry. Which William Hague only agreed to hold once Sir Peter Morrison was found safely dead in July 1995. Sackville was transferred to the Home Office some time in 1995 after June.

Have you anything to declare Tom?

Tom is the CEO of the International Federation of Health Plans. The International Federation of Health Plans was founded in 1968 by a group of health insurance industry leaders. With 80 member companies in 25 countries, it is the ‘leading global network of the industry’. It states that it’s  aim is to ‘assist in the maintenance of high ethical and professional standards throughout the industry’. Then Tom’s your man!

Tom’s older brother is William Herbrand Sackville, 11th Earl De La Warr. William’s younger son Ed is married to Sophie – they are good mates with Prince William and Kate and their daughter Viola was born pretty much at the same time as Prince George.

I wonder how William and Kate’s mental health campaigning is going?

 

There are two big mental health stories on Guardian Online today. One reports that a Guardian investigation found that 271 ‘highly vulnerable’ patients died between 2012 and 2017 after 706 failings by NHS bodies. Coroners have been so alarmed at the lapses in care that emerged during inquests that they issued legal warnings to 136 NHS bodies, mainly providers of care, between 2012 and 2017. They included mental health trusts, acute hospitals, ambulance services and GP surgeries. From what I can work out, the figures apply to England only. Paul Farmer, the CEO of MIND, has dispensed his pearls of wisdom about every death being a ‘tragedy’. Farmer has led MIND for years whilst they closed their eyes very firmly in the face of patient abuse and harm and before he was CEO of MIND Farmer led Rethink – where he ignored exactly the same problems. I know because I wrote to Farmer whilst he was at Rethink supplying him with details of the serious criminality on the part of the mental health services in north Wales and I did not receive a response. Farmer sat on the Westminster Gov’ts Mental Health Task Force and has recently been met with protests following his involvement with the Westminster Gov’ts plan to coerce people with mental health problems into work that many of them are too unwell to undertake. Farmer is very much part of the problem – and nets a very big salary indeed in return for colluding with this holocaust.

One of the Trusts named and shamed by the Guardian was Camden and Islington – who have been destroying the lives of vulnerable people for decades now. Another one was the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Camden, Islington, Cheshire, Wirral – all the locations of the vicious paedophile gangs in the 1980s and 90s who were operating through the Social Services and mental health services. As in north Wales, a legacy has been left.

The Guardian article goes into some detail regarding the ‘NHS failings’ and attempts to unpick the problem using a breakdown of the ‘reasons why things are going wrong’. It’s simple – many of the staff really do not care if their patients remain alive or not and are dripping with contempt for them anyway. If the Guardian actually reported what was going on instead of using phrases like ‘staff underestimated the risk that patients posed of suicide’ they would admit that scenes in which Top Doctors and other staff snap at suicidal patients ‘well we can’t stop you if that’s what you want to do’ or ‘you’ve felt like this before and never done it’ or have distressed psychotic patients arrested for shouting or swearing are routine in some units. The other old favourite is to make the environment as distressing as possible for voluntary patients and then tell them that if they don’t like it they can leave. What is happening to patients is simply not encapsulated by the sanitised language that is used in these reports – it does not begin to capture the brutality and inhumanity with which patients are often met.

The whole process of mental health care for many years has been diabolical. The diagnoses don’t make sense and are frequently changed at psychiatrists’ convenience anyway and many people find that many of the treatments simply don’t help them. For people in serious distress the care is woefully inadequate. Mental health professionals often simply view their patients as ‘just being like that’, with no understanding that they might have once been very different – it’s called being seriously ill. I have recently been reading about the actress Emily Lloyd who went through years of a very bad time and had the usual spectrum of meaningless diagnoses applied to her – from what I read Emily showed all the signs of someone who had been subjected to the usual years of fuckwittery and had been written off. She’s made a comeback, has had a baby and seems to be having a much better time. I wonder whether she’ll ever look back and actually remember any of the ‘expertise’ as having been in the least bit helpful. After Emily Lloyd starred in ‘Wish You Were Here’, it was predicted that she’d be the next biggest actress on a global level. It wouldn’t actually surprise me if some of those treating her didn’t even know who she was.

The punk singer Poly Styrene really had her life wrecked by mental health professionals whilst she was still young as well. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia, dosed up and whoops, 15 years later they realised that they’d got it wrong…

Jeremy Hunt banged on about record spending, zero suicide rates and parity of esteem. Jeremy, nothing is going to change until staff are employed who actually take an interest in their patients and those who abuse them – or who send whistleblowers death threats – are led out of hospitals in handcuffs and charged with criminal offences. NHS managers who have presided over units where patient after patient after patient has died despite warnings concerning safety failures need to be prosecuted and dismissed as well.

The other mental health article in Guardian Online concerns an incident at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds in which an elderly mentally ill man murdered two other elderly frail patients in 2015. This has only come to light after someone went public on this incident and explained that there had been a major cover-up. Staff at St James’s allege more than 40 incidents of violent and aggressive behaviour on the same ward between April 2014 and March 2015. They included nurses being punched, a patient throwing a table across the room and another slamming a medicine cabinet lid on a staff member’s fingers. Much has been made of the ‘paranoid’ ‘aggressive’ mentally ill patients.

The ward in question seems to be an EMI ward – elderly mentally ill patients can be aggressive and violent, far more so than one might imagine someone of 80 to be. The staff at St James’s are placing much emphasis on patients not being given anti-psychotics as being the cause of some of the incidents – could this possibly be a backlash against the dreadful publicity that there has been recently regarding elderly patients being drugged up to the eye-balls in EMI units? EMI patients can be cared for without coshing them chemically – it just takes a bit more effort and it involves sometimes going along with foibles and seemingly irrational behaviour until the elderly person’s anxiety levels and distress have decreased. Every ‘violent incident’ that I have witnessed with EMI patients has resulted from staff rigidly demanding that a confused elderly person does something NOW when the elderly person is, basically, freaking out. People with much more experience than me have observed exactly the same phenomenon – wards with EMI patients cannot be run for the benefit of the ward staff adhering firmly to ward routine. If you’re caring for someone who has lost a few million neurones, life doesn’t work like that.

As for covering matters up, St James’s has a long and fine tradition of that. For years they allowed one Jimmy Savile free reign and he sexually assaulted child patients as well and, it is alleged, did dreadful things with corpses in the mortuary. None of that was the fault of violent mental health patients who weren’t sufficiently dosed up.

 

The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse continues and the Church of England is under fire from the Chair of the Inquiry, Professor of Social Work Alexis Jay. Alexis has given the Church a grade A bollocking, claiming that it was an ‘enabler of child abuse’ and that nothing could be more oppressive than an institution saying that it had the power of God behind it abusing children. Actually Alexis, I reckon that a whole group of Social Services Depts linked up together run by paedophile gangs declaring people who complained about them insane and illegally imprisoning them in a dungeon in an isolated building in the middle of a range of hills in north Wales must come a pretty close second. Alexis presided over the Orkney Child Abuse Scandal. Children from the Orkneys were removed in dawn raids by social workers and flown to the mainland where they were placed with foster families whom they had never met before. Social workers refused to believe the children when the children explained that they really had not been Satanically abused. Some of the kids were not returned to their homes for years. It was later admitted that ‘mistakes had been made’. See post ‘The Most Dangerous Man In The World – The Scottish Play’ for details of the havoc wreaked by Alexis on Orkney.

My post ‘Oh, No! It’s The Pathetic Sharks…’ featured Tal Michael, son of Alun Michael, the man whom in May 1999 Blair insisted must be Wales’s First Secretary, although no-one but Blair wanted him in the post. Alun Michael resigned as First Secretary as soon as the Waterhouse Report was handed in, having done the job required of him by Blair (see post ‘News From Sicily’). I mentioned how Tal arrived in north Wales without good reason a few years ago, at the time when the paedophiles’ friends were in need of reinforcements. Tal bagged himself a job as the Chief Executive of the North Wales Police Authority, then resigned to stand for election as North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner as soon as it was announced that Police Authorities would be dissolved and replaced with Commissioners. Tal was unsuccessful so consoled himself with trying to get elected as the Labour MP for Ynys Mon. He didn’t pull that off either.

I commented that Tal was no doubt seeking other opportunities in which he could assist the paedophiles and their friends in north Wales. Tal beat me to it – by the time that I wrote that, Tal was in post as Chief Exec of Gwynedd CAB. I only discovered this because Tal has appeared in Daily Post Online in the wake of a cash crisis at the Gwynedd CAB. The CAB in Wales is best known for being a refuge for the paedophiles’ friends – Lucille Hughes, Dafydd’s mistress who was named in the Waterhouse Report as knowing that a paedophile ring was operating in the social services in north Wales whilst she was Director of Gwynedd Social Services but failing to act, is one of the managers of CAB in Wales. So does Lucille employ Tal or does Tal employ Lucille? The loathed Fran Tate, another paedophiles’ friend, is also involved with the CAB in north west Wales (see posts ‘Disability Support’ and ‘Just A Language Divide?’)

 

Yesterday the ‘Today’ programme broadcast a report on the subject of serious organised crime in prisons – the Gov’t have set up a new unit to deal with this as it is considered such a problem. The Lord Chancellor David Gauke was interviewed but the one thing that was not mentioned by either Gauke or John Humphrys was that the criminal justice system is endemically corrupt which is why this problem has occurred. Gauke and Humphrys discussed matters such as drones flying across walls with goodies for the inmates. A quaint picture of old lags in stripey jumpers stringing the bed sheets together to climb the walls was conjured up. The real problem is corrupt Governors, corrupt prison officers, corrupt Top Doctors providing the medical opinions/care and bodies such as the Parole Board and Criminal Justice Review Commission being packed with corrupt people. Just take a look at how many such people have been named on this blog. The whole system has for years been run by dishonest members of the professional classes and indeed they are positively selected for. If the priority when making such appointments is to identify safe pairs of hands who have followed careers during which they have concealed serious crime if Important People were involved, this will be the result.

David Gauke stated that he wanted prisons to be ‘places of hope’. So that’s why they are bursting at the seams with seriously mentally ill people, people with drug problems, homeless people or indeed anyone who just can’t cope in our rather dysfunctional society. There was one prisoner who did find prison a place of hope though – Vicky Pryce, the Gov’t economist who some five years ago went to prison (but only for a short while) after she, her husband the Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne and their mate barrister and judge Constance Briscoe all lied their arses off on oath. Vicky constructed herself as a female victim of her husband, wrote a prison memoir and returned to her job as a Gov’t economist as soon as she came out, after dispensing a few words of advice about gender factors regarding the prison system. How about a volume on the social class factors then Vicky?

David Gauke is a lawyer who graduated from Chester College of Law in 1995. Where he was at the heart of the rotten to the core Chester and Wales Circuit which had spent years concealing the paedophile ring that operated in the area and whilst David was there was going into overdrive lest anyone announce a public inquiry into the matter.

 

The Westminster Gov’t are going to order food companies to reduce the calorie content of their grub and reduce the size of the portions. No doubt seconds will be outlawed as the next step. It’s really great to watch a load of affluent middle class people lecturing the plebs regarding what they eat.

In Llanberis in north Wales, the old quarry hospital has been turned into a museum. It’s well worth a visit as they used to say on Blue Peter and the records provide an interesting read. There’s a list of the patients in the hospital, what happened to them and what the outcome was – there’s quite a few accounts of ‘quarrymen’ of 14 or 15 yrs old who had accidents where the outcome listed was ‘died’ two or three days later. There is also information on the quarrymen’s diet. The Top Doctor at the quarry hospital used to get very angry that those ignorant buggers lived on a diet of strong stewed tea with much sugar, bread and jam and thin stew with lumps of fat rather than meat in it. It is otherwise known as ‘being very poor’. The present day version is someone on benefits – or of course very badly paid workers on less than full time hours – and with not very good kitchen facilities, trying to keep themselves and a couple of kids going if they live in a place without local shops selling fruit and veg at a good price. Multi-packs of crisps and pizza packs from Iceland start to look like a good option. Those sitting in Westminster will have faced problems as have the rest of the human race, but very few of them have actually had to survive the mum’s gone to Iceland experience to eke out the inadequate benefits for any great length of time.

There has been a bit of progress regarding the lecturing of the lower orders though. The dreadful Jamie Oliver has at least stopped calling women on low incomes ‘stupid cows’ and ‘daft bitches’ because he disapproves of the way in which they feed their kids – I wonder if any of the stupid cows have given their kids names as ridiculous as Jamie n Jules have? Jamie has finally made some sympathetic noises about healthy eating on a low income. The next step Jamie is that when you present a programme about eating on a budget, don’t helpfully recommend meals which need the sort of expensive kitchen equipment that you but hardly anybody else owns to prepare them. If you want street cred, take a leaf out of Jack Munroe’s book and invent some recipes which really can be made by people with very little money. Jack Munroe didn’t flog expensive coffee table books either, she took steps to ensure that many of her recipes could be accessed completely free of charge. Of course Jamie n Jules might not want to do that because it won’t provide them with enough dosh to send Buddy Bear et al to elite private schools.

 

There is much embarrassment over allegations that Bradley Wiggins, hero of Team Sky, might have indulged in a bit of doping when he won his medals. Bradley is robustly denying any wrongdoing, which if it did happen involved the co-operation of a helpful Top Doctor. The manager of Team Sky was Dave Brailsford who became Sir Dave Brailsford as a result of the success of Bradley and others. If Team Sky ends up disgraced, north west Wales is going to have to rename a lot of things – Dave Brailsford comes from Deiniolen near Llanberis and cycle paths, sports halls and all sorts have been named after him since the Team Sky success. Dave Brailsford’s dad was a lecturer at Bangor University during the era when that institution was crawling with paedophiles’ friends. I never heard any such allegations about Dave Brailsford’s dad but I have been told by at least three people that he was very hostile to women in sport – a climber whose ‘banter’ would send Harriet Harman into a 24 hour hissy fit described Brailsford senior as ‘the most sexist man that I have ever met’. When Dave was interviewed on the radio about hostility to women in sport a few months ago, Dave absolutely reassured the listeners that it didn’t exist. You just don’t notice it Dave because  you grew up with it – it was everyday practice for your dad.

 

Finally this blog’s friend Jane Hutt has ensured that Wales has another first. BBC News Wales reported that Wales has erected the UK’s ‘first purple plaque to mark notable women’. The purple plaque has been erected to one of Jane’s friends! The notable woman in question was Val Feld, Labour AM for Swansea East, 1999-01.

Hutt described her mate as ‘a passionate advocate of devolution, equalities and social justice’ and ‘a powerful force for women and minority groups’ and that ‘it is only right that her legacy of integrity, passion and commitment is permanently remembered as a ‘Champion of Equality’ with this plaque on the walls of the Senedd’.

Val was born in Bangor in 1947 and grew up in Caernarfon. Not that woman of the people Val went to school in Caernarfon – Val was the daughter of a dentist who went to boarding school in Malvern. Which by the standards of Caernarfon in the 1950s made Val pretty posh. Just like her mate Jane Hutt.

In 1967, Val started work in London as a production secretary at the BBC World Service and then become a researcher/secretary at ITN and a copywriter at the Radio and Television News Agency. In 1979, Val moved from to Chorley in Lancashire to work as a housing rights worker and then co-ordinator of the Chorley Rights Centre. After the breakdown of her marriage she became ‘increasingly involved in local community and self-help groups’. In Chorley, she was elected to the local council.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Val returned to Wales. In 1981 Val founded Shelter Cymru and was the Director of the EOC (Equal Opportunities Commission) for Wales, 1989-99. She was then elected as an AM.

Here’s the translation:

Val was a privileged woman who came from what was very much an elite in north Wales whilst she was growing up. She had a cushy job in journalism until she decided to Help The Poor. I have absolutely no problem with any of that – what I have a really big problem with is that like those other wimmin who Helped The Poor, Hutt and Julie Morgan, the Champion of Equality that was Val ignored the plight of some truly desperate people – the victims of the sex trafficking gang in north Wales. Of whom some were girls and women, so even if Val decided that male suffering didn’t matter, there was no excuse for her ignoring what Dafydd et al were up to. And she did ignore it – it would not have been possible to have led Shelter Cymru and the EOC in Wales without knowing what was going on. Psych patients in north Wales were dossing in empty buildings and living rough because they had been wilfully abandoned by the ‘services’ – where was Shelter? Did they publish a word about this or raise concerns about it? Everyone knew that it was happening – just as everyone knew that even if the psych patients and former kids in care actually had somewhere to live, the housing was terrible. Neither did the EOC mention a thing about the serious criminal activities in north Wales which led to such iniquity.

After achieving nothing but a comfortable life for herself, in 1999 Val did what many members of this cadre did – she bagged herself a seat in the newly created Welsh Assembly. Just in time for the publication of the Waterhouse Report – about which none of them asked ANY searching questions. They sat in the Bay of Plenty in the full knowledge that numerous people – including some of their friends and colleagues – had facilitated that paedophile gang.

In Val’s obituaries much was made of her challenging macho attitudes in Wales and how she was such a freedom fighter that she became seriously fed up with the ‘bastion of male chauvinism’ which was the Cardiff and County Club – a men only establishment where, it is widely believed, the great and the good from the media, business, academia and politics get together to discuss matters mutually advantageous. So Val ‘was instrumental in establishing a coalition of women’s organisations to interface with the Assembly’.

I am sure that the Cardiff and County Club does contain some dreadful old farts – but I know for a fact that the wimmins organisations that Val was involved with are just as excluding as the Cardiff and County Club. They are a female version of the Cardiff and County Club – a bunch of well connected privileged women who only let their mates join and then pull strings in the Assembly to ensure that matters go their way. I knew women who tried to get involved with Val and Jane’s wimmins organisations, as well as some of the ‘minority ethnic organisations’ with which Val was involved. They walked away in despair – everybody had the same experience of being told what to do or frozen out by Hutt and her clique. People who didn’t run away screaming were simply oppressed and explained that they couldn’t disagree because if they did ‘their funding’ would dry up.

Wales has had decades of Hutt and the gang log jamming every organisation and every committee concerned with wimmin, minorities and people generally having a hard time. Those people continue to have a hard time. Whilst Jane and the revolutionaries who were the daughters of the affluent middle classes of post-war Britain continue to dine at the trough.

You are a total embarrassment Hutt – and thanks to you someone who ignored a vicious paedophile gang who killed their victims is now honoured on the wall of the Senedd. What an insult to the dead and of course to the AMs who are not paedophiles’ friends.

Jane’s wimmins organisations keep wondering why young women don’t join them. I have witnessed them do this at various events at which I was present. Unusually for me, I didn’t bother to comment – some mountains are just far too big to climb. It was summed up by the comments of another woman whom I met who like so many had had the Jane Hutt/Julie Morgan/Breched Piette/Meri Huws experience – she pissed herself laughing at her memories of ‘the dinosaurs’. Paleontologists famously assumed that the Brontosaurus was very slow to react because of the structure of their nervous system – it was speculated that if they felt pain in one part of their body, it took a dangerously long while for the nerve signal to be transmitted, which is why the Brontosaurus had two brain-like structures. But Jane does not have the two brains – she just has the ultra-slow transmission system…

I’m wondering why Val Feld’s plaque is purple. Is it because this is considered to be a women’s suffrage colour? The thing that most people know about purple is that it’s a bishop’s colour. There is an impressive bishop in Wales – the new Bishop of St David’s. She’s doing a PhD in particle physics in her spare time because she likes that sort of thing. When she was ordained she was met with a group of people protesting about the fact that she is female. I don’t remember Hutt saying a word.

 

 

In The News At Present

I’m following up a few research leads for the blog at the moment, so today’s post is just a resume of a few stories that are currently in the news, with a bit of background info on some of the people involved.

This morning the ‘Today’ programme broadcast a rather weak piece concerning the issue of men in the workplace and their mental health. Of course, MIND provided someone to comment  – not the odious Paul Farmer, who has kept a low profile for a few days, but a Madeleine McGivern. Madeleine is ‘head of programmes, workplace well-being’ for MIND. I’m taking more and more of an interest in the Third sector, as are a number of other bloggers, because it has become clear that MIND are not the only charity coining it in by pretending to be representing the oppressed whilst doing anything but. There are problems across the whole of the Third sector. Madeleine has a wealth of experience in this domain, having previously worked for Christian Aid and Water Aid for some years. She does actually seem to have a lot of experience in working in the Middle East and specialised in the Middle East whilst she was at university. Her CV in that field is very impressive. So one wonders how she ended up in her present post with MIND – the only clue is that prior to her extended stint concerning the Middle East, she was a charity junky, having worked in a number of roles in the Third sector after she graduated. But there are now many people who are building extended highly paid careers on the back of charity work. Madeleine has shown a bit of nous in terms of building a network to land such roles – she co-founded something called FIND, a network which connects women with professional interests similar to hers. Despite her lack of previous stated experience in mental health, Madeleine is also a Trustee of Haringey MIND. My post ‘MIND Are Out For Mental Health – Never For Themselves Of Course…’ mentions that the worryingly paedophile-friendly Tony Smythe, former Chief Exec of MIND, continued to be involved with Haringey MIND long after he stepped down as Chief Exec, as did his partner Jeanne. So I took a look at the present ‘Board of volunteer Trustees’ for Haringey MIND.

There’s an awful lot of them – so either Haringey MIND is a substantial concern or they are top heavy. The Trustees are described on the MIND In Haringey website thus:

David Pascall, Chair and Acting Treasurer. David states that he has personal experience of mental illness and that he lives in Haringey. Is he a long term service user, battling with the excesses of welfare reform? Probably not. He states that he has retired from full-time executive work and is seeking non-executive chairmanships and directorships. He’s not going to be making the tea at the drop in centre then. I completely accept that executives can experience mental illness but David’s CV suggests that he wasn’t clobbered that badly – and some of his previous posts are rather inconsistent with the image that MIND likes to project. David was a senior executive with BP for 25 years. That’s the BP that was responsible for the 2010 Deep Horizon oil spill, the biggest oil spill in marine waters in history, which resulted in BP pleading guilty to eleven counts of felony manslaughter, two misdemeanours, one felony count of lying to Congress and paying more than $4.5 billion pounds in fines and penalties. David was the MD of Terra Firma, a private equity group, for eight years. (Terra Firma’s record is so bad that I have not got time to detail it all here, I recommend interested readers to just google, you’ll find pages of unscrupulous practices.) David has also held Gov’t positions and has experience of a range of non-executive chairs and directors positions.

Marcus Yorke. Marcus doesn’t claim any service user credentials himself, but he previously worked as an occupational therapist in a 57 bedded unit for young males with psychotic illness, supporting them to find work and educational opportunities. Marcus may have been doing a very useful job there – or he may have been the sort of mental health professional described in a previous post, who coerced people into work and education when they were not capable of it, resulting in them hitting disaster after a few weeks and finding themselves back in the mental health system again, although the records of Marcus will have had lot of ticks in the boxes labelled ‘recovered’. I cannot help thinking that Marcus’s previous employment will have been very attractive to MIND, as they made it clear to Gov’t some time ago that they couldn’t wait to bid for those lucrative DWP contracts forcing claimants with mental health problems off benefits into work. Marcus has organised events challenging stigma!

Gemma Coleman, Secretary. Gemma spent five months volunteering at Haringey MIND and then joined the Board. She worked for the Dept of Education in SEN and disability research. She has also worked for Rethink Mental Illness and has a Masters in Mental Health Research from UCL.

Laura Aldridge. Has personal experience of mental health issues. Laura spent a year volunteering at Haringey MIND in the admin dept. She believes that ‘mental health charities are ever more important due to the lack of Gov’t funding for mental illness’. Not only is that the Official Paul Farmer Line, but the only reason why Farmer, in his £100k pa plus post, wants an increase in Gov’t funding ‘for mental illness’ is so that it is channelled in the direction of MIND. Laura has worked in academic publishing and is a graduate of UCL.

Oran Blackwood. Oran is a mental health survivor and is training as a counsellor and SEN co-ordinator. He has ten years of experience working with SEN and mental health issues in post-16 education. Oran also volunteers with a number of other charities.

Tricia Bohn. She has worked as a GP in Hackney for more than 20 years, in a practice with a strong commitment to mental health and local voluntary organisations. Prior to working as a GP Tricia was a Youth and Community worker in Haringey and Hackney.

Glynnis Joffe. Glynnis has over thirty years experience in working in social care, initially as a social worker and then as a social services senior manager for twenty years. She has experience of working with NHS CCGs and provider Trusts offering hospital and community services, including mental health. Glynnis believes in co-production between the voluntary sector and service users!

Helen Moulinos. Helen trots out the myth that ‘1 in 4’ people suffer from mental illness. Which is not true, but it’s what MIND tells people. She has twenty plus years of international commercial experience in charity and the financial services. She has skills in business and commercial strategy and creating new business models. She is a Trustee of an East London based mental health charity – which is helping people return to the workplace! Helen is also involved in restructuring three of the UKs largest public health and social care charities.

David Mosse. David has personal experience of bereavement due to suicide. He is the Professor and Head of the Anthropology Dept at SOAS (University of London). His career has been in community based approaches to poverty reduction and human development internationally eg. Oxfam in India. He is a Trustee for an NGO working in rural India and a Governor of SOAS.

Heather Pegrum. She is a Mental Health First Aider and a volunteer support recovery worker with a background in fine art/graphic design.

Richard Popple. Richard is a trainer and facilitator for the private and public sectors including the NHS. He is also an actor and writer.

 

What is striking about these Trustees is what a very limited sector of society they have been drawn from. Many of them work in or manage the mental health services or arms of Gov’t which have led to so many of the problems experienced by ‘service users’. Two of them were educated at UCL which has been involved in concealing abuses in the mental health services and a number of them have spent their careers working in the Third sector. There is not going to be much divergence in thought among these Trustees – with the exception of the two who have a background in academic/international NGO work and of course the oil executive/corporate capitalist, they will all have been completely inducted into thinking about mental health problems and ways of addressing them in the way that the mental health services and MIND do. Which has not got us very far. Furthermore, most of these Trustees are in positions which makes public dissent impossible.

The Voice of the Service Users? Hardly. Some of them claim to have personal experience of mental health problems, but they all seem to have been able to build careers. That is not to dismiss their own experiences, which will be valuable – but there is an obvious absence of the voices of people with severe enduring mental illness who have experienced long-term poverty. It is those people who are being left destitute by Theresa May’s welfare reforms – welfare reforms which MIND intends to benefit from by bidding for Gov’t contracts. Something else is clear about this Board as well. Whilst I am cynical about organisations hitting ‘diversity’ targets, there is only one Trustee who is not white British. Haringey has one of the most ethnically and culturally mixed populations in the country. There is a huge Cypriot community, a huge Black community and a Jewish community. Statistics tell us that the Black community in Haringey will be over-represented among people who have been diagnosed with psychosis and treated under the Mental Health Act. Where are they on this Board? Where are older people, many of whom will be in receipt of ‘services’ (or more probably will need to be in receipt of services but won’t be getting them)? The Service Users on this Board are professional people whom I suspect have experienced the milder types of mental health problems. Which is probably why one of them is quoting the misleading 1 in 4 statistic…

 

Another health news item on the ‘Today’ programme was a discussion concerning the Gov’ts plans to increase the number of medical student places in UK universities – it’s a bit too little too late. It was pointed out to the Health Minister being interviewed, Phillip Dunne, that those students won’t be arriving in the medical workforce for years, yet the increase in numbers is a response to the alleged shortage of doctors now. Dunne stated that medical students make a valuable contribution to the medical workforce whilst they are training. They are certainly used as cheap labour for menial tasks, but they are also kicked about and bullied – particularly by a certain sort of Angel actually. Angels get kicked about and bullied by Top Doctors themselves which causes some of them to get the retaliation into medical students on the grounds that in a few years time their salaries will be exceeding the Angels’ pay and they’ll be putting the boot into the Angels themselves. It’s all a case of Red In Tooth And Claw in the NHS. Medical students are also completely powerless – so if they’re witnessing mad or negligent Top Doctors in action they can do nothing about it at all, even if patients are being very obviously harmed. NHS whistleblowers are nearly always sacked even when they’re paid up members of the workforce – I’ve not yet actually encountered a medical student who’s ever tried to report malpractice or misconduct, although I know plenty who have witnessed it. I do know student nurses who have been forced off their course for reporting the abuse of patients.

Phillip Dunne also emphasised that more ‘diversity’ was needed among medical students and that the Gov’t will be giving universities incentives to accept students from underprivileged backgrounds or those who want to work in rural or coastal areas or psychiatry. No doubt the Gov’t will now implement some simplistic lame initiatives which will not result in what they want to achieve. This blog has previously commented that many Top Doctors are from privileged backgrounds. Younger Top Doctors however are often not quite so privileged – they still tend to be from the middle classes, but many more of them have attended state schools. The discussions concerning diversity in medicine that I’ve encountered are missing a crucial element. A greater variation in social backgrounds would be a positive move, but the problem with the Top Doctors isn’t so much that they are drawn from the more privileged sections of society – it is that so many of them are incredibly self-interested and no-one is acknowledging this. Their self-interest and sometimes sheer naked greed is what leads them to abuse or neglect patients, to demand bigger and bigger salaries, to mistreat their colleagues and to falsify research. There is little point in increasing diversity if the system still selects for people who’ll murder their grandmother – or indeed other people’s grandmothers – to advance themselves.

‘Today’ broadcast an interview with a Top Doctor who had been working in a rural GPs practice but who had returned to the city to work in a hospital. He explained in his interview that he had found general practice rather routine and boring and wanted ‘broader experience’. He was probably too tactful to admit that he had been stuck in a surgery with a group of old farts of senior partners who had ‘done things this way’ for years and weren’t going to take on board any suggestions from a whippersnapper. Of course, the image presented to aspiring medical students – including by medical schools themselves – is that of medicine as a glamorous career which involves endless heroics and life-saving, plus a healthy dose of brain surgery. If the students have been lured in on that basis, they will feel that it’s a bit of let-down when they find themselves spending most of their time treating frail elderly people with conditions that are not going to improve. As for tempting students into psychiatry – well Phillip Dunne needs to get rid of the Dafydds, the Marie Savages and the Tony Roberts’s if psychiatry is ever to become a popular speciality.

As is my current practice, I did a bit of research on the person being interviewed by ‘Today’, Phillip Dunne. His wiki entry describes him as a ‘farmer’ and a ‘banker’. I presume that he’s not the sort of farmer who has a flock of sheep on the side of a mountain in north Wales and is reliant on the agricultural subsidies to keep him from bankruptcy. Phillip I suspect is the sort of farmer who owns a few thousand acres and who also receives agricultural subsidies – but in his case they will ensure that he remains one of the wealthiest people in the UK. (I think that Lord Newborough of Rhug Farm Estate worked in the City before he returned to north Wales and took over the ‘family farm’.) I’m not sure that either of Dunne’s previous jobs leave him in a particularly good position to take up a role as Health Minister.

I was also interested to hear the former Chancellor Alistair Darling speaking on the radio – ‘Today’ were celebrating the 10th anniversary of the banking crash. Alistair reminisced about how it took him completely by surprise, he was actually on holiday and had gone out to buy some rolls when he heard that the French banks had collapsed. He didn’t worry but he then heard that banks were collapsing across the world and he thought gosh it might happened to the British banks. It did, a few hours later. Just like that. He subsequently had a phone conversation with the head of one of the biggest UK banks who told Alistair that the bank was probably going to run out of money later that afternoon and Alistair realised that he didn’t know what to do about any of it. Alistair, who had no idea that his running of the economy was going to lead to a banking crash and then didn’t know what to do when it did, has of course been rewarded with a seat in the Lords. Harriet Harman memorably stated that if only Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters none of it would ever have happened (it was a problem of gender you see, not one of global capitalism) and the rest of them blamed the general public for spending like drunken sailors, although Gordon Brown had positively encouraged everyone to do this. Liam Byrne put the icing on the cake by leaving a witty note behind telling the incoming Coalition Gov’t that there was no money left.

 

BBC News Wales online has reported that the Welsh Gov’t has announced that it will be dispensing with the post of the Welsh Language Commissioner, who is of course a star of this blog – Meri Huws aka the Crack of Doom (see posts ‘Let Me Enlighten Lord Gnome… and ‘Local Accessories’ for background on Meri and the way in which she was alleged to have secured the numerous jobs that she could not do). Cymdeithas yr Iaith have got very angry about this, but then Meri is their former Chair, so they would wouldn’t they. Heledd Gwyndaf from Cymdeithas stated that the Welsh Gov’ts proposals were ‘aimed at making civil servants lives easier’. Their lives certainly will be easier once Meri is out of the door, when she was given that job a senior colleague of mine at Bangor University observed that she won’t know what she is doing, but at least the civil servants will. Alun Davies the Minister for the Welsh language made some eminently sensible comments, including that promoting and protecting the Welsh language involves ‘more than slogans and chanting on an Eisteddfod field’. But as I noted previously, Meri should never have been given that position, there was outrage among language scholars and researchers when the appointment was announced because she had no credibility with any of them.

Meri gave an interview stating that ‘change for change’s sake is not acceptable’ but ‘change is acceptable if it leads to improvement’. So Meri, who has received more than £100k pa for the last five years from the Welsh Gov’t, is now dictating the circumstances under which they can kick her out. Meri has demanded ‘evidence’ that change is needed. The evidence Meri is that you made such a hash of drawing up ‘standards’ a few years ago that Leighton Andrews had to publicly comment on the cock-up and that after five years of you being in post there is every indication that Welsh is still on the back foot. Furthermore, it was recently reported that ‘Sports Direct’ in Bangor had banned staff from speaking Welsh. Did you organise a boycott of ‘Sports Direct’ or send anyone in undercover to clock how many laws they were breaking – which they will be, they are after all ‘Sports Direct’? No, you were at the Eisteddfod, giving interviews explaining why it wasn’t ‘acceptable’ for the Welsh Gov’t to sack you.

There was however a protest in Bangor yesterday by another self-appointed guardian of the Welsh language. Hywel Williams, MP for Caernarfon, was photographed standing in the rain on a pavement in Bangor holding up a small piece of paper with a ‘No To Starbucks’ printed on it. It transpires that ‘Starbucks’ are planning to open a café in Bangor. Was Hywel protesting because this American tax-dodging giant might put other cafes out of business or disrespect the Welsh language (which it probably will)? No, Hywel was protesting because he thought that the road junction on which the proposed ‘Starbucks’ is to be sited is ‘dangerous’. Not that anyone has ever been killed or injured there.

Even the ‘Times’ yesterday, the Murdoch owned, Danny Finkelstein-employing, Tory-supporting ‘Times’, published a leader supporting the right of people to speak Welsh and condemned ‘Sports Direct’ in the strongest terms. So the ‘Times’ has been more pro-active in it’s support for Welsh than the Welsh Language Commissioner. Is anymore evidence needed to justify her dismissal?

BBC News Wales recently ran a story concerning a scandal in a Council in south Wales. A number of staff were disciplined for consuming cooked breakfasts whilst they were supposed to be working. New readers may not be aware that one of my first posts when I started this blog was an account of the practices of the Arfon Community Mental Health Team. Not only did they perjure themselves in an attempt to have me imprisoned and threaten to assault clients in their own homes, but the Arfon Team achieved notoriety for their consumption of cooked breakfasts. They’d all gather in Morrison’s café in Upper Bangor at about 9-30 every morning and enjoy a fry-up, finally returning to their offices at about 11-30. ‘Service users’ who were being refused ‘help’ from this team on the grounds that they were ‘too busy’ would watch this ritual daily. It went on for years – that ‘team’ was jointly managed by Gwynedd Social Services and the North West Wales NHS Trust. Disciplinary action was never mentioned.

To finish, some news about Bangor University. The Daily Post online is taking delight in reporting that the University has once more performed brilliantly in terms of student satisfaction. Bangor has done well on this measure for years – there are a lot of staff, including admin staff, who are very committed to student welfare and love working with the students. The irony is that the man who is basking in the glory and bragging about it to the Daily Post is none other than Professor Oliver Turnbull, PVC for Teaching and Learning. Turnbull is best known for being sent on extended gardening leave a few years ago when an e mail that he wrote was leaked to ‘Private Eye’. A female psychology student had complained about being sexually harassed by a teaching assistant. Turnbull had responded by asking whether her complaint should be taken seriously or whether she should just be viewed as a poorly performing student who was seeking excuses. Turnbull accidentally cc’d the e mail to the student herself. It remains a mystery why he was ever appointed as PVC for Teaching and Learning after his suspension. One thing is certain. Bangor excelling in it’s support for students will have sod all to do with Oliver Turnbull. For more details of Oliver Turnbull and the School of Psychology that he runs, see post ‘He’s Not The Messiah, He’s A Very Naughty Boy’.

MIND Are Out For Mental Health – Never For Themselves Of Course…

MRegular followers of this blog will know that I – and some of those commenting on my posts – have been bringing to public attention the appalling hypocrisy of MIND, an organisation claiming to be the ‘voice of the service user’ whilst concealing serious abuses in the mental health services and even entering into ‘partnerships’ with abusive services and individuals  (see posts such as ‘The Mysterious Silence Of MIND’, ‘Newly Discovered – Parabl’ and ‘The Commissioning Of Parabl – And Yet More History’).

I have explained that I first became aware of the corruption of MIND when I went down to see William Bingley, their Legal Director, in 1987 regarding the criminal activities of the north Wales mental health services. Bingley admitted that he knew all about the wrongdoing of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and indeed he knew a lot more than I did. I gave Bingley yet more evidence re Jones et al but not only did Bingley continue to keep quiet regarding Dafydd and co but when Bingley later became Chief Exec of the Mental Health Act Commission, he and that organisation continued to collude with Dafydd and Dr Tony Francis (Dr X), although they knew about the continued illegal detention of people and abuse of the Mental Health Act in north Wales. I knew from my meeting with Bingley that he knew an awful lot about Dafydd – including the deaths in Dafydd’s ‘care homes’, the allegations that the wrongdoing in north Wales was linked to Freemasonry and the existence of Dafydd’s extensive ‘sex therapy’ practice and the possible purposes of that business. I have no idea whether Bingley knew that Dafydd et al were concealing the paedophile ring that was operating in north Wales at the time though – the paedophile ring that was concealed again at a higher level by Thatcher’s and Major’s Gov’ts. However before Bingley began working for MIND, he worked as a research assistant for Matthew Parris, A Tory MP who had previously worked as Thatcher’s correspondence secretary. A man whose autobiography told of his summer trips – in the company of friends – to a place in Italy that they named the ‘villa of shame’, where they would be visited by ‘boys’ whom Parris described as ‘always willing’. For more background on Parris and his connections, see post ‘A Pretty Classy Piece Of Operation’.

I had thought that I had previously dug up a substantial amount of shit and compromising info on MIND, but I’ve spent a bit of time doing more research on a few other key figures in that organisation and I’ve found much more worrying info – that organisation has been compromised for decades. Here are a few of the highlights that I have dug up.

The current Chief Exec is the disgusting Paul Farmer whom I have blogged about previously. Farmer’s reputation is plummeting fast as a result of his enthusiasm for MIND to land contracts from the Dept of Work and Pensions, contracts that are all about forcing ‘service users’ into employment that may well be unsuitable and for which they may well be too ill. Farmer’s enormous salary has also been made public by disability activists – he trousers in excess of £100k pa for his role as the Voice of the Service User – and I’m delighted to say that this unscrupulous git has been met with protests on his travels around the UK. I was expecting the BBC to wheel him out for him to give his comments regarding the latest round of bad news re the UK’s mental health services, but mercifully we were spared that for once. Had he done the rounds of the BBC studios perhaps somebody would have finally asked him why he and his lame organisation have kept so quiet about the crisis – which has been evident for many years. Of course Farmer also knew all about the criminal activities of the north Wales mental health services many years ago. When I wrote to Peter Hain in his capacity as Secretary of State for Wales in approx. 2005 giving him full details of what had happened to me t the hands of the mental health services, I cc’d the letter to the Chief Exec of Rethink (I didn’t cc it to MIND because I knew that they were ignoring what was happening in north Wales) – who at the time was one Paul Farmer. I never received a response, although a few months later Farmer then became Chief Exec of MIND!

But what of previous CEOs of MIND? Before Farmer, the CEO was Richard Brook, who was appointed in 2001. Brook was CEO when I e mailed MIND HQ about the assaults being carried out by Hergest Unit staff on patients – only to receive an e mail back written as though it was to a small child telling me that what I had to do was go to the yellow pages and look up ‘solicitors’ and go and talk to one of them…. At this time the ‘service user reps’ for the Hergest were heavily involved with MIND – those reps who wet themselves at the thought of confronting Hergest staff and managers concerning the gross abuses that were endemic. One of those ‘service user reps’ admitted to me that she knew that residents in Prestwood Homes were being abused – furthermore, Prestwood Homes were taking full advantage of free MIND facilities such as walking groups, drop in centres etc without paying MIND a penny, although Prestwood were charging thousands of quid a week for a ‘placement’. Somebody else involved with MIND knew about the abuse of residents at Prestwood as well – Geoff Lees, who is now Director of Vale of Clwyd MIND. I told him about it, whilst he was still working as a social work tutor at Coleg Menai in Bangor. I know that a number of other people told him what was going on at Prestwood as well. For details of the horrors at Prestwood and the unfortunate death of a young woman support worker there who witnessed even more that I did, see posts ‘A Convenient Arrangement With The Private Sector’ and ‘The Commissioning Of Parabl – And Yet More History’.

Richard Brook was able to publicise unacceptable practice if he felt like it though. In 2004 the ‘Daily Mail’ ran an article entitled ‘Why I Resigned Over This Disgraceful Happy Pill Cover-Up’. The article explained that Brook had resigned from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Authority) after he discovered that they had known about the side effects of the anti-depressant Seroxat but had not publicised them. Brook claimed that he had been threatened with legal action by Prof Kent Woods, the CEO of the MHRA, if he revealed that the MHRA had been ‘sitting on’ it’s knowledge of Seroxat’s side effects. Brook stated that MIND had been ‘tracking Seroxat’ for a decade’. So MIND knew about Seroxat and it’s problems as well then – but then they’d known about the problems in north Wales since 1979 at least, when Mary Wynch was illegally arrested and imprisoned (see post ‘The Mary Wynch Case – Details’) and had done or said nothing. In this article, Brook mentions the ‘Panorama’ programme about Seroxat that had been screened the year before – that will be the programme that featured Dr David Healy, who worked at the Hergest Unit! So MIND had got into bed (so to speak) with two psychiatrists from north Wales – Dafydd, who years before had been involved with MIND and David, as he Bravely Spoke Out. Brook told the Mail that following the ‘Panorama’ programme, MIND held a demo outside the offices of the MHRA. As opposed to outside of the Hergest Unit, where patients were being assaulted, framed for serious crimes, refused treatment no matter how ill they were and were committing suicide.

Brook maintains that he went to see the Health Minister Lord Warner to tell him of his concerns regarding SSRIs and Warner told him that he would speak to the MHRA. Warner then simply issued a guide to doctors detailing the max recommended dose of Seroxat (that must have been why Dr Richard Tranter, Healy’s friend, protégé and PhD student prescribed a friend of mine three times the maximum recommended dose of Seroxat then). It was at this point that the man of principle Brook resigned from the MHRA. Brook told the Mail that there was an urgent need for an inquiry into the MHRA and stated that many people involved with the MHRA also have connections to the pharmaceutical industry. Which is true – but then MIND’s hands are as dirty as those of any advisor to the pharmaceutical industry.

In Jan 2006 Brook featured in a BBC News online report and commented on the mental health of people living in rural areas. He stated that ‘the extent of mental health problems in the countryside is likely to be hidden’ – it was in north Wales, it was hidden by MIND, they knew that huge numbers of people were being given a diagnosis of ‘borderline personality disorder’ and refused care after being told that they were ‘untreatable’. At the time the area served by the Hergest Unit had the second highest rate of suicide for women in England and Wales.

After defending people with mental health problems so successively, upon leaving MIND Brook was appointed CEO of the newly created Office of the Public Guardian! Just the sort of person that was needed in such a position obviously. After a year guarding the public, Brook then became CEO of the deaf-blind charity SENSE.

MIND’s CEO before Brook was Judi Clements, who was in post between 1992-2001. So she oversaw those crazy years in which I was repeatedly arrested by the mental health services for ludicrous reasons, in which Dafydd resisted efforts to shut down the North Wales Hospital Denbigh and for his pains walked away with the contract to provide ‘substance abuse services’ for North Wales (see post ‘The Evolution Of A Drugs Baron?’) – the years which also saw the massive cover-up of the paedophile ring in north Wales which was the Waterhouse Report, in the wake of which a lot of people who’d been victims of that gang as children were found dead after becoming ‘users’ of the mental health services. Judi’s tenure also spanned the years in which Prestwood Homes were established and became big business within just a few months, what with the constant supply of vulnerable people from secure hospitals available for Prestwood to traffic them…

Something must have happened on Judi’s watch, because there is virtually no info from MIND available about Judi, it’s as though she never passed through their doors. However, there is some info about her in an article in HSJ from 2010. HSJ told us that after being Chief Exec of MIND for nine years, she was leaving due to health related problems, namely diabetes and arthritis. A David Peryer, the Chair of Trustees of MIND, stated that Judi would be ‘sorely missed’ – so that’s why they subsequently air-brushed her out of history. Preyrer mentioned that MIND was currently undergoing restructuring to concentrate on ‘supporting local offices’. These were of course the ‘local offices’ which included those in north Wales who were so helpfully providing free services to Prestwood Homes and who then began entering ‘partnerships’ with CAIS to provide yet more ‘services’ after being handed contracts by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – many of whose former staff and their friends were now working with MIND.

Judi didn’t just leave MIND, she did a Richard Tranter and left the UK for New Zealand. Despite the diabetes and the arthritis, Judi seems to have bounced back and in 2005 when she relocated to New Zealand, she landed a job as Chief Exec of the Mental Health Foundation over there. She ‘moved on’ in 2015. In Feb 2015 Judi featured on the website of the New Zealand Law Society, promoting her forthcoming seminar on Mindfulness for the New Zealand Law Society Auckland Branch. On this website Judi was described as an ‘experienced Chief Exec in the NGO sector’ with a ‘background in law, social policy, housing, local government and management practice’. It was explained that ‘after a successful career in local government service management, policy and practice development, Judi moved to the NGO sector’. So which failing local authority did Judi work for prior to keeping the lid on the barrel of shit in MIND then? Judi has an LLB – so she will recognise serious crime when she sees it. Or indeed conceals it – or even facilitates it.

Judi has sat on ‘several Gov’t advisory groups covering mental health, social policy and NGO development’.

Between 1989 and 1992, Ros Hepplewhite was Chief Exec of MIND. Whose reign also spanned the Dafydd years, but then the Dafydd years have gone on for the last five decades so everyone’s implicated where Dafydd is concerned. So perhaps it’s more helpful to mention that Ros’s reign spanned the period of time during which St George’s Hospital Medical School and Springfield Hospital colluded with Dafydd – although they knew what he was up – to in his attempts to have me labelled dangerous and banged up. The early 1990s of course also saw allegations that a paedophile ring was active in north Wales involving political figures appear in the London based media. Dafydd and his mistress Lucille Hughes were concealing and facilitating this paedophile ring – it was Dafydd and Lucille to whom St George’s Hospital and Springfield turned for ‘evidence’ of my dangerousness. It was in 1992 that five people with connections to the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal were killed in an arson attack on a flat in Brighton (see post ‘The Silence of the Welsh Lambs). So Ros was pretty close to some serious action.

However I can’t find any references to Ros’s activities at MIND. Although Ros did hit the headlines after she left MIND. In 1993 Ros was appointed CEO of the Child Support Agency – which was a Gov’t disaster as big as the NHS IT system that had to be shelved after a few billion had been spent on it. Although unlike the CSA, the failed NHS IT system was not thought to have contributed to anyone’s suicide…Ros was famously removed from her post and the CSA metamorphosed into something else because Gov’t could not withstand the embarrassment any longer.

I have found a reference to Ros on the blog of the Labour MEP for London, Mary Honeyball. Mary’s post dated Jan 11 2010 discusses examples of what she believed was outrageous sexism. Honeyball believes that Ros was removed from her post as a result of such sexism – nothing to do with the suicides of distraught parents then, or the numerous parents who were never able to collect their maintenance payments, or the absent parents who used every trick in the book not to pay up leaving their former partners destitute whilst the CSA refused to listen to their pleas for help… Tragedies as a result of the chaos that was the CSA involved both men and women – and of course the children. Honeyball entertainingly stated that Dame Barbara Mills the DPP was also the victim of sexism. Babs has featured on this blog previously – she was the DPP whilst the CPS found excuse after excuse not to mount prosecutions against numerous paedophiles despite stacks of evidence being presented (see post ‘A Future Leader Of The Labour Party’). Mary Honeyball also extended her ‘sympathies’ to the former Home Secretary Jaqui Smith, who was ‘hounded’ for being a ‘high profile woman’. No, Jaqui Smith became a source of national entertainment when it was revealed that her husband had rented porn films, the cost of which Jaqui had then reclaimed on her Parliamentary expenses. In a desperate attempt to salvage herself in the eyes of a nation rolling around laughing, Jaqui then tried to construct herself as a latter day Mary Whitehouse and began speaking out about Porn and Sex, which culminated in her presenting a documentary about prostitution. Unfortunately she did this whilst wearing one of those brightly coloured plastic macs when she was filmed under street lamps, which caused one of the better Radio 4 comedians – it might have been Sue Perkins – to comment that Jaqui looked like something out of ‘Band of Gold’.

Mary Honeyball ends her post by explaining that she speaks as someone ‘who ran’ the Association of Chief Officers of Probation in the mid-90s – she mentions that she didn’t have a background in probation, but that she was appointed on the basis of her other talents. So that’s why at that time some of those accused of molesting children in north Wales or failing to act when their colleagues were molesting children found it possible to move into careers with the Probation Service.

Ros Hepplewhite was CEO of MIND whilst the most dreadful scandals involving the abuse and even murder of patients occurred at Ashworth and Broadmoor. Don’t remember the Voice of the Service Users saying much about all that at the time.

At the time of my initial encounters with Dafydd and the paedophiles’ friends in the mid-80s, the CEO of MIND was Christopher Heginbotham – he’d been appointed CEO in 1982. He was in post at the time that I had my meeting with William Bingley. I suspect that Chris and Bingley might have been chums – Heginbotham was appointed CEO in 1982. Bingley was working as lobbyist for MIND at that time and landed his plum full time post there in 1983. Bingley’s mother Lady Juliet Bingley was also a bigwig in MIND and was Chair 1978-84. Furthermore Heginbotham departed from MIND in 1989 – Bingley ‘moved on’ into the post as Chief Exec of the Mental Health Act Commission in 1990. Bingley eventually wound up in the Chair of Mental Health Law and Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire and then in a role at the University of Cumbria after resigning from his post as Chair of an NHS Trust when a few awkward questions were asked about his business interests. Heginbotham also eventually secured a position at the University of Cumbria. References to William Bingley seemed to have disappeared from the MIND website recently, but I know that MIND named a building after him in Lancashire, ‘William Bingley House’. I wonder if it’ll be a bit like the fall out after Jimmy Savile’s death and MIND will end up renaming the building in a desperate attempt to pretend that they’d never met Bingley? But guess what? Heginbotham ended up in Lancashire too – where I presume that he still is.

Bingley and Heginbotham were at MIND when Savile was appointed General Manager of Broadmoor. I do not remember them questioning the appointment. What’s the betting that there’s some photos somewhere of dear old Jim with folk from MIND that are now well hidden? Should anyone know of any, please do let me know…

Heginbotham is a Director of something called ‘Values Based Commissioning Ltd’ in Lancashire, which began life in 2011. The other Director is a Christine Heginbotham. It is described as ‘health and social care consultancy’. Christopher Heginbotham has also published a book on Values Based Commissioning of Health and Social Care. So what is this all about?

According to an article in HSJ from June 2013, ‘Values Based Commissioning’ (VbC) ‘aims to put users’ views at the heart of reshaping services’. The discussion concerns the commissioning of mental health services by CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) and it is explained that ‘expertise’ in this area is ‘varied’. However, as readers may have guessed, a few aficionados are on hand to help! HSJ quotes words of wisdom from Rethink’s Associate Director of Policy, Research and Campaigning, Victoria Bleazard, as well as Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at MIND. A Joint Commissioning Panel on Mental Health (JCPMH) was established in 2011, which is co-chaired by the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists and General Practitioners – this Panel produced ‘guidance’. VbC is ‘a new type of commissioning’ (which must be why it involves the same old people and institutions as the previous commissioning did), ‘prioritising service users’ values and experiences’ (the Royal Colleges mentioned, Rethink and MIND have such good track records in that area don’t they).

HSJ identifies a Dr Neil Deuchar as the architect and champion of VbC – he’s a psychiatrist from Birmingham, a specialist advisor on commissioning and JCPMH Co-Chair. The other Co-Chair is Liz England, a GP who is Mental Health Lead for a Locality Care Group within a CCG and National Institute for Health Research Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham. Deuchar is quoted as saying that ‘patient power is the key’ and that ‘co-production between patient and carer groups, clinicians and commissioners is vital’. There then follows a bit of asinine text headed by the words ‘what do service users think?’

So Christopher Heginbotham saw an opportunity then – an insane system was devised by a Gov’t that had relied on the likes of Heginbotham and his mates at MIND for advice, this insane system was then explained to the world by HSJ and promoted by MIND and their friends, by which time Heginbotham had written his book and set up his company – presumably with Mrs Heginbotham – to serve the insane system. The insane system was entirely dependent at every stage on the involvement of the very same people and institutions that were colluding with the likes of Dafydd and the paedophiles’ friends.

Is it surprising that five years down the line we have Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Courts, hitting the roof because there is virtually no provision in the whole of the UK for a suicidal 17 year old girl who is due to be released from ‘secure custody’? Although no-one has explained why a girl in her state is IN secure custody, allegedly alone in a seclusion room from which everything has been removed except a mattress on the floor. That’s going to do her a power of good isn’t it. Furthermore I guarantee that I know how that barbaric regime will be described on that girl’s records – there will be a reference to her being ‘nursed’. I have heard mental health nurses taking about ‘nursing’ people in ‘seclusion’ or ‘nursing’ them ‘on a mattress on the floor’. The whole system is completely nuts and the people working within it have been sent nuts by it if they weren’t already nuts when they took up their employment.

If readers have been impressed by the calibre of MIND CEOs described so far, hold on to your hats whilst I tell you about Heginbotham’s predecessor, Tony Smythe, CEO from 1974-82.  Smythe’s incumbency pre-dated the internet, but Smythe was quite something and info about him is still available online. Smythe’s full name was Clifford Anthony Smythe. He categorised himself as a radical anarcho-pacifist until the day that he died in 2004 and was involved with a number of political causes. He was appointed General Secretary of the NCCL in 1966, a post that he held until 1971. It was in the 70s that it became clear that the NCCL had been infiltrated by paedophiles who had conflated their cause with gay liberation – paedophiles also infiltrated the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) at this time and a number of those guilty of abusing children in north Wales were active in CHE. Smythe was at one point Vice-President of CHE. In 1971 Smythe became involved with MIND. His obituary describes him as establishing an ‘executive committee’ which led to ‘service users becoming involved in management and policy decisions’ and that this ‘chimed with Tony’s anarchist belief’.

Now this talk of the active involvement of ‘service users’ also surrounds Bingley and his mother. Which ‘service users’ do people think that the Bingleys and Smythe liberated? Psychiatry was dreadful in the 70s and early 80s – it was particularly gross in north Wales but it was pretty grim everywhere else as well. There is no way that ‘service users’ had any voice anywhere in the 70s – who are MIND actually talking about? Radical ideas were bandied around by people like Laing et al but these ideas didn’t touch mainstream psychiatric practice – it is dishonest to pretend that they did.  I am wondering if all this guff about the active involvement of ‘service users’ in MIND is simply a glorified reference to one or two influential people in the organisation who may have had mental health problems themselves at some point. Of course Dr Dafydd Alun Jones told everyone that he suffered from a ‘nervous illness’ himself – it was a good excuse when he was challenged about his appalling conduct.

CHE was usually led by people who were gay themselves, so I was interested to read that Smythe had a ‘lifelong partner’ Jeanne and five daughters. Jeanne died in 2001.

Smythe and Jeanne were involved with Haringey MIND long after Smythe had stepped down from his post as CEO. Tony Smythe was listed as a Director of Haringey MIND between 1998-2000 and Jeanne between 1990-92 and between 1996-97.

I have mentioned previously that Dr Dafydd Alun Jones had a contact in Haringey Social Services – when I finally got out of the North Wales Hospital in Jan 1987, he told me that he had rung Haringey Social Services to ‘let them know’ that I would be living on their patch. This was not any sort of referral for aftercare – this was just the way that Dafydd conducted himself. I have also mentioned that I now have copies of letters between Alun Davies, the manager of the mental health services in Gwynedd and Laurie Wood, the manager of the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, in which they discuss their ‘friend’ at St George’s trying to find out which dept I was working in when I started working there in 1989 – there is also a reference to their friend accessing mail that was sent to me at St George’s in an attempt to discover my home address. There is no clue as to the identity of this friend in my documents, but whilst I was working at St George’s I was visited by a junior doctor called Jimmy Schroff who had come to find me because he’d heard that there was a girl from Bangor working there – Jimmy Schroff seemed to know everyone whom I had made a complaint about in north Wales and furthermore he had done his GP training in the practice of Dr D.G.E. Wood (see post ‘St George’s Hospital Medical School, 1989/1990’). Jimmy Schroff died some years ago – his widow works at the Betsi.

Tony Smythe was also a Director of an organisation on the Embankment called Reach Volunteering in 1990/91. In 1992 and again between 1995-2001 Jeanne was a Director of ‘an inclusive community hub’ called the Markfield Project.

Tony Smythe kept interesting company. He was acquainted with an actress called Adrienne Corri who died in 2016. Corri had a cult following and was noted for being rather excessive, sometimes swearing aggressively at her own audiences. She was friends with Ronnie and Reggie Kray. In the days before they were both banged up when it dawned upon everyone that despite hanging out with Barbara Windsor and Adrianne Corri they were a pair of vicious thugs. Who had also murdered people. Ronnie of course ended up in Broadmoor and there was a lot of huffing and puffing from some Tory MPs when it was revealed in the press that he had superstar status in Broadmoor, was politely called Mr Kray by the prison officers (who according to the likes of Professor Robert Bluglass were ‘nurses’) who generally pandered to him. What the Tories expected from an institution which Edwina Currie had appointed Jimmy Savile to run I do not know. Perhaps they should have taken a bit of notice of the other patients who complained that they were being beaten up and sexually abused by the ‘nurses’. As well as by Savile.

In 1968 whilst Tony Smythe was still leading the NCCL, they sponsored a production of Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Come and Go’ which starred Adrienne Corri. It was advertised as ‘gala entertainment concerning depravity and corruption’. The evening included other entertainment as well and was compered by George Melly. The George Melly who was famously promiscuous but whose wife was very tolerant of his desire for an open marriage. Much has been written about Melly’s bisexuality and his penchant for numerous extra-marital relationships, but his wife was I suspect much more tolerant than most people realised. Many years ago, George Melly came to do a gig at Theatre Gwynedd in Bangor. I know a man who was at the time of Melly’s performance in Bangor 16 yrs old. Melly paid to have sex with him. This was whilst the age of consent for gays was still 21. I have never seen Melly’s name included among the Rolfs or the Saviles or the Gary Glitters, which is extraordinary, particularly as some years before he died Melly gave an interview to a newspaper mentioning how much he enjoyed caressing the thighs of pre-pubescent boys. Yet no-one commented on this at all. Melly retired to Wales of course – to the Brecon Beacons.

Tony Smythe’s years as CEO of MIND covered the period of time which saw Mary Wynch unlawfully arrested and illegally detained in Denbigh for a year by Dafydd. Whilst she was in Denbigh Mary told me that she witnessed the patients in Dafydd’s ‘young people’s ward’ having sex with each other – after being encouraged to do so by Dafydd – whilst the nurses watched the show. Mary approached MIND for advice regarding her unlawful imprisonment. William Bingley admitted to me that MIND received grant funding from Gwynedd Health Authority and that Dafydd wrote to MIND telling them that he would block their dosh from Gwynedd if they advised Mary. Bingley told me that they didn’t succumb to Dafydd’s threats. However I now know that Bingley wasn’t in the least bit truthful regarding his stories of fighting for patients rights. What’s the betting that they slung Mary overboard lest they lost their dosh from Gwynedd Health Authority? Bingley also admitted to me that Dafydd had been a ‘leading light’ in MIND himself in the 1960s.

The General Secretary of MIND immediately prior to Smythe was Mary Appleby. She was CEO from 1951-74. Whilst Dafydd was a leading light in MIND! At the same time that Gwynne was lobotomising people and the paedophile ring was growing and growing, assisted by John Allen’s collection of children’s homes, the Bryn Alyn Community, which was doing a roaring trade in accepting children from across the UK but particularly from the London boroughs and the West Midlands…

Appleby died in 2013 and her obituary in the ‘Guardian’ mentioned that she became involved in MIND because there were mental health issues in her family. The ‘Guardian’ tells us that it was as a result of Mary’s efforts that MIND (then still called the National Association for Mental Health) became hugely influential, employing 200 people and was consulted by the Gov’t, the judiciary, the NHS and social workers’ organisations. In the early 70s a group of Scientologists tried to join MIND. Scientologists, although they are a rather eccentric group of people themselves, famously loathe psychiatry. They attempted to join MIND after alleging that psychiatrists were illegally imprisoning people, torturing people and were ‘carrying out perversions’. Mary fought the Scientologists in the High Court to keep them out of MIND. However, she allowed Dafydd to remain in.

Mary Appleby worked in both the War Office and the Foreign Office. She Chaired the Bench of Magistrates in an inner London juvenile Court for many years. She contributed to Gov’t Inquiries on mental health and social services. She sat on the appeals panel for the BBC and ITV and was a Member of the Immigration Appeals Tribunals. She also sat on the Selection Committee for the Civil Service. A pretty well-connected and influential lady then – even at Whitehall level.

Tony Smythe took over from Mary Appleby in 1974, but Appleby remained a Vice-President of MIND until her death in 2013. She will have not only had substantial influence regarding the appointment of Smythe, but she wielded considerable influence over that organisation for decades. She will have known exactly what sort of people were being appointed, what they were getting up to and indeed what they were concealing, ignoring or colluding with.

 

So what about those who have Chaired MIND? Let’s take a look at some of them….

Between 1969-78 Christopher Mayhew MP was Chair. Mayhew spent many years as a Labour MP but in 1974 he defected to the Liberals. In 1974 the Liberal MP Cyril Smith was busy abusing boys (and had been for some years) but it is now admitted that there was assistance from the security services in ensuring that he was never prosecuted (see post ‘Dr Death’). Mayhew is perhaps most famous however for taking part in a mescaline experiment in 1955 with Dr Humphrey Osmond. The plan was to film Mayhew on a mescaline trip for ‘Panorama’ but the programme was never broadcast. Humphrey Osmond was a psychiatrist who was well-known for his research into hallucinogens and schizophrenia – he was the man who administered mescaline to Aldous Huxley in the 50s which resulted in Aldous Huxley writing ‘The Doors of Perception’. Osmond also experimented with peyote when he went to stay with Native Americans.

So Mayhew was a man up for experimentation. He was given a peerage in 1981.

Between 1978 and 1984, William Bingley’s mother Lady Juliet Bingley was Chair. Juliet Bingley grew up in Harley Street – her father was a surgeon at Barts. She studied social administration at the LSE, during which time she undertook a placement in Liverpool at the Personal Services Society. In 1945 she qualified as a medical almoner (what we would now call a social worker). Her first job was at Barts. Juliet Bingley was married to Admiral Sir Alec Bingley who in 1959 was appointed NATO commander-in-chief of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean fleet in Malta. The family only spent three years in Malta but Juliet got to work out there. She became involved in the development of health services for elderly people – but she was also good mates with the former Prime Minister of Malta, Dom Mintoff. Mintoff had just resigned as PM, which meant that Malta was under direct rule from London – Juliet became the ‘messenger’ between Mintoff and the London Gov’t and continued to play this role throughout the 70s and 80s during the various crises in Anglo-Maltese relations. Alec Bingley died in 1972 which was when Juliet became involved with MIND. She was initially Chair of the Local Associations Committee before becoming Chair of the whole organisation. In 1973 she also took up a post as medical social worker at St Marks, a hospital for gastro-intestinal disorders in London and was Chair of the Heads of Departments Committee there.

Juliet Bingley was busy with other charity work as well as MIND. In 1979 she founded the National Association for Colitis and Chrohns and she was also a founding Trustee of the Carr-Gomm Society, a charity now working for the homeless.

Well with a mum and dad with backgrounds and connections like that William Bingley was certainly not going to do anything to put Dafydd out of action whilst he and Lucille facilitated a paedophile ring supplying boys to Westminster figures and others in London who were enjoying the protection of the security services at the time. Come to think of it I don’t think that Juliet would have been particularly inclined to put a stop to Dafydd’s activities either – and she was incredibly well-connected among the very Top of the Top Doctors as well as the highest echelons of Gov’t should she need to protect him…

How did the Bingley clan ever manage to convince anyone that they were the Voice of the Service Users?

The person who succeeded Juliet as Chair of MIND was Lord David Ennals – he was Chair between 1984-89. Ennals was a Labour politician. In 1967 he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Home Office under Jim Callaghan. The Home Office that was at that time directly managing Bryn Estyn, where a brutal regime overseeing the violent sexual abuse of teenaged boys was becoming established. Ennals became Minister of State for Social Services in 1969. He lost his seat in 1970 and it was then that he became the ‘Mind campaign’ Director for the National Association of Mental Health. This campaign was established to fundraise but also to clarify the policies and aims of the organisation – as a result of the campaign in 1972 the charity changed it’s name to MIND. It was whilst Ennals was Chair that Tony Smythe was appointed Chief Exec – supposedly on the basis of his ‘human rights’ experience. Ennals remained campaign director until 1973 and was re-elected to Parliament in 1974. He lost his seat again in 1983 and was elevated to the Lords – then he popped back to MIND again to become Chair.

Ennals has a few close relatives who are worth mentioning. His younger brother Martin was a human rights activist and Secretary-General of Amnesty International. His son Paul has fingers in numerous pies.

Sir Paul Ennals was Chief Exec of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) between 1998-2011. That’s the NCB to whom Peter Righton, a social care expert and academic who was a founder member of PIE and a convicted paedophile, acted as a ‘consultant’ (see post ‘The Waterhouse Tribunal – Who Was Involved And What Happened To Them Subsequently?’). Despite such worrying connections, the NCB, being an umbrella organisation, has links with many other organisations, including Barnardos – some of those involved with child abuse in north Wales had worked for Barnardos. The NCB also collaborates with the NSPCC – which works with Esther Rantzen’s Childline (see post ‘Ian Brockington’s Mischief’ for the questionable background of Valerie Howarth, the first Chief Exec of Childline) – and works in partnership with the Department of Health.

Paul Ennals is Chair of Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board; South Tyneside Local Safeguarding Children Board; Gateshead Local Safeguarding Children Board; Sunderland Local Safeguarding Children Board. I do not know why Ennals has interests in both Haringey and the north east of England but I presume that he does a lot of commuting. If anyone living in the north east hopes to escape Paul Ennals’s safeguarding when they hit 18, they’ll be disappointed – he also Chairs the Safeguarding Adults Board of Gateshead and South Tyneside.

Before Ennals was involved with the NCB he was Director of Employment at the RNIB. He has Chaired or played a leading role on numerous Gov’t taskforces, working groups etc concerned with SEN, disabled or very young children.

Between 1994-2001 David Peryer was Chair of MIND. Peryer had previously been Director of Humberside Social Services. On 23 April 1998 Peryer gave evidence to the Select Committee on Health, along with Liz Sayce (Policy Director of MIND), Peter Wilson and Dinah Morley. Wilson had been Director of Young Minds for six years, was a child psychotherapist and had ‘many’ many years ago’ been a social worker. He had also worked in child and adolescent mental health at another institution familiar to readers of this blog, the Maudsley. In addition Wilson stated that he had worked in ‘child guidance’ in London. Dinah Morley was the ‘professional services manager’ for Young Minds. She had previously been the Assistant Director of an unidentified London borough, responsible for mental health and children’s services. Before that she ran a multi-disciplinary mental health team. She is also a member of a Health Authority.

So these witnesses all had vast experience of working in organisations and fields that had screwed up badly. Indeed Peryer told the Committee that he began working the field of child protection in 1977 in East Sussex, ‘shortly after the Maria Colwell case’. Maria Colwell was the first high profile death of a child in recent decades that was attributed to the fuckwittery of the welfare services.

The Committee were happy to rely on the advice of this bunch nonetheless. Liz Sayce in particular had a lot to say to the Committee. She was keen to tell the Committee of the sort of problems that ‘service users bring to us’ – did they include abusive psychiatrists, mental health staff perjuring themselves in order to secure convictions against them or their illegal detention in secure units? No, the service users complained of being bored in day hospitals. So Liz recommended that day hospitals should be shut and service users encouraged to attend college. I remember the results of Sayce’s recommendations well. The day hospitals were indeed closed down – nothing replaced them, so service users had nowhere to go at all and lost touch with their friends whom they used to meet in the day hospitals. So service users ended up being bored at home, alone. In the two years following the closure of the day hospital at the Hergest Unit, service users could be seen hanging about in the local towns destitute. A number of them died. As for ‘going to college’ – well a very small number of ‘service users’ benefited greatly from this and it turned their lives around. However Sayce’s ‘encouragement’ of such activity was interpreted by mental health teams as ‘coercion’ and certainly in north Wales numerous ‘service users’ were frog marched into college courses – they were told that they would lose social services support if they didn’t ‘take responsibility for getting better’ and enrol. Many of them did not have the academic ability needed for the courses that they had been coerced into joining and even more of them were far too fragile emotionally to cope with a college course. I knew of one course in which at the beginning of term about 15 service users enrolled at the behest of their mental health teams – every one of them withdrew before the course was half-way through and two of them were so distressed that instead of handing in essays to their tutor they handed in suicide notes and accounts of how they had been sexually abused by members of their chapel when they were children. The college ‘counselling service’ was in no way equipped to deal with the difficulties that these students were encountering. Not that the mental health team cared – once the ‘service user’ had enrolled, the mental health team ticked a box marked ‘recovered’ and forgot about them. A lot of ‘service users’ paid a very high price as a result of Liz Sayce’s advice.

No-one noticed – Sayce fucked up peoples lives all over again a few years later once she had been appointed Chief Exec of the Disability Rights Commission and a leading light on the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. It was Sayce that advised the Gov’t – what with her unique insight and being the Voice of the Service User – to close the Remploy factories on the grounds that they were ghettoes. Hundreds of Remploy staff volubly protested that they loved working at Remploy, that their disabilities were such that they couldn’t hold down other jobs – Remploy staff came forward with the most harrowing accounts of their mistreatment in previous workplaces and begged for Remploy to be reprieved. But Nurse Liz knew best and in 2012 told anyone who would listen in no uncertain terms that Service Users must be Included, that Remploy was Old Fashioned and that the Gov’t proposed Access To Work Fund was far more Empowering (it was also much cheaper and merely involved chucking a few hundred quid at a few service users to pay for simple adaptions on things like cars). The Gov’t followed Sayce’s advice and shut the Remploy factories down. Many of the former Remploy staff never worked again and are now on benefits. Furthermore I think that Theresa May et al are now proposing to whittle away at the Access To Work Fund anyway.

The Gov’t is still grappling with the advice that Liz gave them in 1998 – she recommended that health care and social care should NOT be merged. That’s why there is still such extreme inequity in the treatment of those people classed as needing ‘social care’ as compared to those whose needs are categorised as ‘medical’. But somebody was stupid enough to allow Liz to ‘lead’ on creating the Disability Agenda forming the basis of policy for the next two decades….

In Jan 2017 Liz announced her retirement from the Disability Rights Commission – she’d been shortlisted for a post as a Disability Commissioner on the European Human Rights Commission! For fuckwittery, arrogance and sheer irresponsibility, Liz is only matched by Rachel Perkins.

In 2001 David Henry took over as Chair. I can find no info about David Henry at all other than that whilst he was Chair of MIND he was given two free tickets worth £1,500 for the opening ceremony to some grand event in his capacity as ‘leader’ of a UK charity.

The present Chair, Ryan Campbell, has been in post since 2012. He was formerly the CEO of a ‘drug, alcohol and mental health charity in the south east of England’ and is currently the CEO of Demelza Hospice Care in Hindhead, Surrey. Ryan was previously involved with Age Concern and has been an expert advisor to Gov’t on the development of health services; is the author of DoH guidance to commissioning in the Third Sector; has been an advisor and taskforce member to DoH guidance on High Impact Changes in Health and Social Care (2008); and was the UK rep to the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

Ryan is also a member of something called the ‘Association of Chairs’, which seems to be no more than a collection of freeloading dipsticks who become Chairs of outfits like MIND. Ryan explains on their website that he joined the Association ‘because I need a network’. Of course you do Ryan. To propel you onwards and upwards in the face of your dismal performance in order that one day you too can bag a seat in the Lords or a place on the EHRC alongside Rachel bloody Perkins.

 

It is because of people like this lot that so many other people are dying and suffering in the UK’s health and welfare system.

 

NB. BBC News Wales and the ‘Daily Post’ online are reporting that there is pressure on Wales to provide ‘fix rooms’ in which drug users can inject heroin. North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones – he who as a young PC chauffeured Gordon Anglesea to the venues at which Anglesea molested boys and who many years later as Police and Crime Commissioner ‘made a mistake’ which resulted in Anglesea’s widow receiving 50% of his police pension although Anglesea died in prison as a convicted child abuser – is fully in support of the idea. Well it’s another great business opportunity for Dafydd and Lucille at CAIS – they can provide shooting galleries in which the CAIS clients can inject the goodies which they have been sold by their ‘peer guides’ and draw down a grant from the Welsh Gov’t to fund it all! I used to know someone who always quipped that CAIS stood for ‘Come And Inject Some’.

Anyone for co-production?

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Who Is In Need Of Restraining?

Today the Observer has published an ‘open letter’ to Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Health in Theresa May’s Government, from leading figures of eight national mental health charities demanding an end to face-down ‘restraint’ in mental health units. The Observer is also carrying an accompanying article.

The Observer is reporting that restraint is being used much more frequently on women and girls in mental health units and this is deeply traumatising for them, particularly as many have experienced previous sexual violence or abuse and that it is being used routinely in some units, rather than other de-escalation techniques. I had not realised that restraint was being disproportionately used on female patients, although I certainly know that there is a problem with ‘restraint’ being grossly abused by some people in some units.

However I would argue that the ‘open letter’ to Jeremy Hunt does not reveal just how serious this problem is, although any efforts to reduce incidences of ‘restraint’ is to be welcomed. From what I have seen, ‘restraint’ is frequently an excuse to assault and intimidate the patients – and because it is the staff that have done the ‘restraining’ who fill in the mountains of documentation that are compiled in the wake of an incident of ‘restraint’, there is absolutely no way of telling whether the restraint was necessary or not. I saw ‘restraint’ abused on a number of occasions on Taliesin Ward in the Hergest Unit. My first indication that this technique was being abused was when I witnessed a young man, whom I think was a Muslim, reduced to a trembling wreck on that ward. Every time a female member of staff came near him he’d start repeating ‘please don’t hold me down and inject me again, please don’t ever do that again’. Interestingly enough, one of the staff on that ward, a nursing assistant called Kate Madden, actually responded with ‘now why would we do that?’ (Because Kate you did it to him previously and I suspect that you did it to him a number of times and frightened the living daylights out of him.) Over the next few days I observed a number of things about Kate Madden. She was a criminology student at Bangor University – I think that she might even have been a postgrad – who was working shifts at the Hergest Unit to earn extra money. She was not stupid and being a social scientist she would have known all about institutional abuse and the abuse of power and would have easily been able to identify just how abusive the practices were on that ward. She said nothing at all in protest at what was happening. I also noticed something else – that she didn’t like this young man who had been subjected to ‘restraint’ and she admitted this to me. She didn’t like him because he had expressed some views about women that in her eyes were unacceptable. I found his views on gender unacceptable too, but I got the impression that the self-styled ‘feminists’ of Taliesin Ward had decided to teach this young man a lesson…

I have a close friend who has also spent time on Taliesin. He was never subjected to restraint there himself, but he noticed that another patient was, constantly. He described this patient as being ‘a tiny teenage girl, weighing about 6 stone who was completely psychotic’. My friend noticed that the male staff on Taliesin ‘used every excuse’ to ‘jump on’ this girl on the grounds that she needed ‘restraining’. He noticed that she was far too small in stature to have presented a danger to anyone and that she wasn’t self-harming. What really disturbed him however was that during every ‘restraint’, this young woman’s clothes would somehow end up being removed and the male nurses doing the ‘restraining’ would end up basically groping her. But I bet that didn’t go down in the medical records. Might this be the explanation as to why some mental health units seem to be restraining women and girls so much more than men?

As readers may have guessed, I too have had my own experiences of ‘restraint’ on Taliesin Ward on a number of occasions. On one occasion it was an excuse for a male healthcare assistant to assault me – the incident left me with bruises. I notice that the written record stated that I had attempted to ‘hit out’ at a nurse so this man ‘restrained’ me. I did not ‘hit out’ at anyone, it would have been impossible for me to do so as during the incident in question I was lying down horizontally on a bed, when the four abusive staff in question walked into my room unannounced and surrounded my bed. I later found out that there had been many, many complaints of abusive behaviour from this ‘team’ – Sian Lloyd, Gwen Bethan Roberts, David Wood and Michelle Shaw. David Wood often seemed to find himself unaccompanied in female patients rooms at night. My solicitor made Herculean efforts to get this abusive, lying bunch investigated but they were afforded total protection by Patricia Gaskell, the hospital solicitor at Ysbyty Gwynedd. (I will be blogging further details about this soon.) Another incident of ‘restraint’ involved the manager of Taliesin Ward at the time, one Alison Parry, literally landing on me in a corridor, demanding assistance from a male colleague who then also landed on me. I was later told by a former member of staff that there was a very big problem with Alison Parry doing this to patients and that she was encouraging trainees and junior staff to respond to patients in the same way. I never ever managed to work out what I had done to set Parry off. However, recent documents released to me from my lawyers contain Parry’s rationale for this ‘restraint’ – that I was ‘in a doctor’s personal space’. Now I do not know whether it could be fairly judged that I was in someone else’s personal space or not because the notion of personal space means different things to different people. But if someone is in my ‘personal space’, I simply move back a step. I would not expect two of my colleagues to jump into the air, land on them from above, deck them to the floor and pin them there for twenty minutes. It would seem to be somewhat of an over-reaction. There was another incident of ‘restraint’ on Taliesin Ward as well and again I have no idea at all what precipitated it. This time it was accompanied by my clothes being removed and a forcible injection, followed by a very long time in a ‘seclusion room’ (ie. cell). Interestingly enough, it came to an end the minute the shift changed and a different ward manager came on duty – a man who was actually a human being rather than a thug. Following this incident, I was detained in Taliesin Ward for a further week although the then clinical director of the Hergest Unit, Dr Tony Roberts, had already stated that I was not suffering from a mental illness (I had a borderline personality disorder of course, as did nearly all the patients who had the misfortune to be ‘assessed’ by Tony Roberts). No-one managed to explain why I was kept in that locked ward for a further week. However I noticed that by the time that I was released, the numerous bruises that I had incurred as a result of the ‘restraints’ had finally disappeared – I had asked for these to be documented whilst I was in Taliesin, but guess what, they weren’t. An hour after arriving home I was arrested by the police on the instructions of the Hergest Unit, but that’s another story (please see blog post ‘Interesting Happenings In The Legal System’). Before anyone lapses into too much crude gender stereotyping regarding these matters, I should mention that I later found out that the psychiatrist who had ordered the restraint/sedation/seclusion in a cell was one of the female psychiatrists at Hergest. Men do not have a monopoly on abusive behaviour towards women patients.

Among the documents recently released pertaining to my ‘care’ from the Hergest Unit, there is paperwork relating to one of the incidents involving me that was judged by the Hergest to be worthy of a ‘risk assessment’. It certainly makes interesting reading. There is a copy of the sheet documenting the ‘risk assessment’, with the signature of the nurse who completed the documentation. The document required the nurse to judge on a scale of 1 to 10 how ‘serious’ the incident was. The nurse had ringed the figure 2. However, someone had then made an alteration to this document and had crossed out by hand the figure 2 with a ring around it and had written in ‘8/9’. The person who had done this had very kindly dated the form – the date was quite sometime after the incident had occurred – and signed it. The signature was that of Anne Ward, one of the senior nurses at the Hergest Unit. Ann Ward was at one point suspended from her job, but a robust campaign by her colleagues soon saw her reinstated. Indeed, even Dr David Healy managed to detail the unjust treatment of poor Anne Ward on his blog. It might just be relevant that the incident documented on the form that Anne Ward altered formed the basis of a very serious complaint that my solicitor made to the Hergest Unit on my behalf. By the time that Anne Ward was rewriting history, we had made it clear that a complaint was going to be made.

The open letter to Jeremy Hunt mentions that staff should be trained in ‘de-escalation techniques’. Unfortunately a lot of staff abusing patients by the use of ‘restraint’ believe that they are. In the midst of my constant problems with the Hergest Unit on one occasion I asked the manager of the Unit, Alun Davies, why none of my or my solicitors letters were receiving responses. Alun Davies responded by standing in front of me and repeatedly bellowing ‘shut up’ at me. So not unsurprisingly my lawyer then wrote to him about his inappropriate conduct. Davies wrote back telling my a lawyer that a colleague who had witnessed this scene had ‘complimented’ him on his ‘de-escalation technique’. I can only presume that they were being sarcastic but Davies was too thick to realize.

The Hergest Unit is not alone in its novel interpretation of the notion of ‘restraint’. Some three years ago I spent a terrible few weeks at Parkhead Hospital in Glasgow. As far as I could see ‘restraint’ in that place was simply the signal for a punch-up involving as many staff as possible.

So as far as ‘restraint’, ‘risk assessments’ and ‘de-escalation’ go, staff doing the restraining, assessing or de-escalating fill in all the documentation and if they are Anne Ward return later and alter it if necessary. If the patient has been injured they’ll be kept in a locked ward and denied access to the police, or indeed any visitors at all, until the injuries are no longer visible. The denial of visitors in my case was due to me being ‘distressed’. I tried to phone the police to report the assault on me and my phone was forcibly removed and locked in the nurses office. I then tried to phone a friend using the ward phone and when they heard me talking about the ‘restraint’, Kate Madden cut the phone off and told me that I would not be allowed to ‘abuse’ the phone in such a way. I was not the only person subjected to these techniques – whenever ‘restraint’ occurred at Taliesin, a notice would be pinned on the door explaining that visitors were not allowed in because a patient was ‘distressed’. Visitors only appeared when that patient had agreed to stop referring to the ‘restraint’ in terms such as ‘they’ve hit me’. The patient’s version of the fight is never solicited yet alone documented and if the Hergest Unit is involved any complaints of assault subsequently made will never be investigated. Indeed after I complained about the sheer naked aggression of staff on Taliesin Ward, Keith Thomson, the CEO of the North West Wales NHS Trust, sent my lawyer a letter saying that patients often misinterpreted ‘restraint’ and that complaints of assault against staff in these circumstances were ‘common’. My lawyer responded by telling Thomson that if complaints of assault against staff were common, there was a substantial problem. I doubt that it sunk in.

But what of the signatories to this open letter to Jeremy Hunt? Well the first signatory is Katherine Sacks-Jones, who seems to be leading on this campaign. And straight after her is of course that illustrious ‘voice of the service users’, Paul Farmer, CEO of MIND (please see blog post ‘The Mysterious Silence of MIND’). But Paul has known just how serious this problem is for years. After I was assaulted and injured, I mean ‘restrained because I was distressed’, in Taliesin Ward I wrote to Paul Farmer (among others) who was at that point leading the charity Rethink. I heard nothing. I also wrote to MIND, just after Paul Farmer had arrived there as CEO. I received a very odd reply written as though it was to a child, explaining that what I had to do was go to the yellow pages, look up ‘solicitors’, choose one and go and tell them what had happened to me. They might as well have added ‘because we certainly aren’t interested, Paul has his enormous salary and future possible gong to think about’.

 

The Mysterious Silence of MIND

MIND is the most high profile mental health charity in the UK. It has a nationwide network of drop-in centres and support workers and is consulted by UK Governments. It’s representatives sit on Government committees. It receives an awful lot of money from UK Governments. It likes to think itself as the voice of people experiencing mental illness and it also uses its celebrity ‘ambassadors’ to relentlessly promote itself (one of the most well-known of MIND’s ambassadors is Alistair Campbell, Blair’s notorious spin doctor who decided to repackage himself as a ‘service user’ some years ago). But as with many big professionalised institutionalised charities, a lot of people have noticed that MIND might not be as vigorously fighting battles on behalf of vulnerable people as they would have us believe.

My first encounter with MIND was quite positive. It was in 1987 and I had experienced the abuses of the notorious North Wales Hospital and the dreadful Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and I had dared make complaint. I had been arrested, overtly threatened, told to ‘shut your mouth about DA’, told to ‘get out of north Wales’ and was getting nowhere with the dear old Mental Health Act Commission. My partner at the time was so worried by what was going on in north Wales that he consulted a friend of his who was a mental health social worker in Leicester, where we were living at the time. I told this social worker some of what had happened to me and she was horrified – she said that Jones had undoubtedly broken the law and that the institution sounded as though it was riddled with corruption and abuse. She recommended that I go and speak to the local MIND branch in Leicester to see if they knew anything about the mental health services in north Wales. So I did – and to my amazement they had indeed heard of problems in north Wales. The man that I spoke to referred to a well known ‘mafia’ operating in north Wales and said that there had recently been a big investigation up there because a Welsh psychiatrist ‘had everything sewn up for himself’ and that there was rumours that it was all associated with Freemasonry. He told me to talk to the legal director at MIND’s London HQ. So I went down to see him – a man called William Bingley. When I told William Bingley my story he was remarkably forthcoming about the situation in north Wales. He said that DA Jones had been described to him as ‘a charming psychopath’, that he was highly abusive, that he operated by threats and manipulation, that he ran a ‘sex therapy’ service in north Wales and it was believed that he was using the information gained from this to wield power over people, that he had attempted to threaten MIND when MIND supported a patient who was suing Jones, that he had been repeatedly referred to the GMC (in one case over a death), that the Mental Health Act Commission was constantly investigating the North Wales Hospital Denbigh but were a toothless organisation and that if I returned to north Wales or indeed even visited I would undoubtedly be intimidated and harassed by Jones and his network. Despite having all these nuggets of very interesting information, William Bingley didn’t seem to want to actually do anything about the appalling misconduct in north Wales. Nonetheless, I was certainly interested to hear all this and I went back to Leicester to tell my friends. Shortly after this conversation with William Bingley, DA Jones held a phone conversation with me and told me that he was friends with a Professor at Liverpool Medical School and that if I dropped my complaints about him and Denbigh he’d get me a place there. I realised that I was dealing with a Grade A scumbag here – shortly before this conversation he’d told me that if I didn’t drop my complaints about him he’d have me arrested and detained in Risley Remand Centre – so I declined his generous offer and told him that I wanted my complaints properly investigated. After this phone call I rang William Bingley to tell him of Jones’s threats and crude bribery attempt. William remarked that this was entirely characteristic of Jones and that I shouldn’t do any deals with him – I explained to William that I had no intention of doing deals with Jones, but I was bringing some very serious malpractice to the attention of MIND. But William seemed strangely uninterested in this gross abuse of power and its potential ramifications and simply repeated that I shouldn’t visit north Wales at all.

(I made representations to the relevant authorities in north Wales regarding Jones’s extraordinary comments. No investigation or action was taken. I continued to make representation regarding Jones’s attempts at blackmail and bribery. Eventually, my former partner, Brown, who had listened in to both phone calls, wrote to Gwynedd Health Authority. He received no reply. He wrote again and I was told that his letter hadn’t been received. Many years later, when I finally obtained a copy of my medical records, not only did I find a copy of Brown’s letter among them, but I found a little note asking what should be done about Dr Brown’s letter. A little unsigned handwritten message had been added saying ‘do not reply’.)

Despite the threats and William Bingley’s rather strange attitude, I did later return to live in north Wales – I was not going to let a bunch of crooks who seemed to have a lot to hide force me out of the region. (And I carried on investigating them.) In the early 1990s I experienced a MIND drop-in centre in Bangor. It seemed to have a rather odd reputation. A lot of people alleged that the two women running the drop-in centre took personal dislikes to certain people and made them feel very unwelcome. It was alleged that men in particular were alienated – indeed very few men seemed to use the centre. The only people who did use the centre were a small clique of rather passive people who seemed to do what they were told by the two MIND workers. I noticed that abusive behaviour of local mental health professionals was openly discussed by patients at the drop-in centre – yet the two women running the centre did not pass comment or even bat an eyelid. They were hearing first hand accounts of serious malpractice – and were completely ignoring it. In the end I told these two women that I wanted to discuss with them the abuses and malpractice that seemed to be endemic in the mental health services in the region. They replied that MIND doesn’t investigate complaints. They ignored the fact that what they were being told was so serious that it would have been the duty of any citizen to inform the police about such matters. These two women continued to run the MIND drop-in centre until one of them left to train as a mental health social worker. She later gained employment in this role in north west Wales. Some years later I was told by another social worker that she had witnessed the psychiatrist Tony Roberts refuse treatment to a distressed patient who killed himself a few weeks later. She tried to raise her concerns about Roberts’s competence and attitude with the former MIND worker, who simply replied that ‘Tony Roberts is a very experienced psychiatrist’ – he was also known to have a very high suicide rate among his patients but she didn’t mention that.

I encountered MIND again at various times between 2003 and 2005. On one occasion I wrote to MIND in London detailing the evidence of the abuses that I now had that were occurring in the Hergest Unit – these included patients being physically assaulted by staff and staff perjuring themselves in order to secure convictions against patients who had made complaint. I received a truly extraordinary letter back written as though it was addressing someone very young. It explained that what I had to do was find a phone book and look in the yellow pages under ‘solicitors’. Then I had to choose a solicitor and go and tell them. It was quite clear that MIND knew exactly what was going on in north Wales and had done for years and were steadfastly ignoring it. Cultivating the company of the likes of Alistair Campbell and Stephen Fry was clearly far more important.

At about this time, MIND Cymru were making media appearances in Wales, promoting all the wonderful work that they were doing for people with mental health problems. So I conducted an experiment. I rang MIND Cymru – I believe that the person that I spoke to was a Ruth Coombs. I explained that I was a sociologist and that I wanted to discuss the mental health services. She was all ears. I then explained that I had evidence of serious misconduct and abuse of patients in a mental health unit in north Wales. She became a bit more shaky and asked which unit was I talking about. I replied ‘the Hergest Unit’. I actually heard her whisper ‘oh my God’ before she terminated the call.

So what has become of the MIND employees who were told of the horrors in north Wales but kept quiet and took no action? Not long after I met him, William Bingley was appointed to the Mental Health Act Commission in a senior role – the very organisation that he knew was ‘toothless’. Indeed William was in this role for many years – years during which I and numerous other patients made representation about the abuses of the north Wales mental health services and years during which sometimes we did not even get a reply to correspondence, let alone an investigation. After the welcome abolition of the Mental Health Act Commission which had dismally failed so badly, William turned up in a senior role in the very troubled Morecombe Bay NHS Trust, which subsequently made national headlines as a result of the deaths of a number of babies due to negligence (the fall out from this scandal continues to the present day, with allegations emerging of midwives’ negligence being concealed at the highest levels). William himself resigned among accusations of financial irregularities and died a few years ago in a fell walking accident. Ruth Coombs took part in Welsh Gov’t consultations concerning mental health and has now moved into a very senior role with the British Heart Foundation. The present Chief Executive of MIND is one Paul Farmer. A few years ago when I wrote to Peter Hain in his capacity as Secretary of State for Wales about the wrongdoing in the mental health services, I cc’d the letter to a number of people, including a senior figure in a mental health charity called Rethink. That person was Paul Farmer. And just look at his current CV http://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/minds-annual-review-and-governance/our-senior-management-team/

So a lot of people in MIND knew that mental health patients in north Wales were being abused, neglected, imprisoned and were dying in great numbers. But they kept schtum, built nice careers for themselves and some of them are now Government advisors. Interestingly enough, a couple of weeks ago I saw an advert for support workers for Aberystwyth MIND – it was stressed that one duty of a MIND support worker was not to bring MIND ‘into disrepute’. What’s the betting that in reality that’s a gagging order?

But MIND hasn’t only kept quiet about abuses inflicted by the statutory services. MIND do some pretty big favours to the private sector too. About 15 years ago there existed in north Wales a truly dreadful network of ‘care homes’ for people with mental health problems and/or learning disabilities, known as Prestwood Homes. Prestwood residents were nearly all from English authorities, could not speak a word of Welsh and had not usually ever been to Wales before. Many of them could not pronounce the names of the villages that they were living in, let alone navigate themselves around north Wales. They were completely isolated and disorientated. A lot of the ‘residents’ were young women who had been sexually abused and were chronically serious self-harmers. They had very obviously been ‘dumped’ in Prestwood by uninterested mental health professionals who had given up on them and rarely visited them. The abuses at Prestwood were legion eg. two residents threatening suicide were told to go on and do it then – they threw themselves out of windows, in separate incidents, one incurring a broken back. There was no investigation. Prestwood charged a very great deal of money for the ‘care’ of these residents and in their not-very-truthful marketing material they boasted that all residents had access to socialising facilities and activities – in reality this constituted visits to MIND drop in centres and MIND activities such as walking groups (the drop-in centres and activities are free, so didn’t cost Prestwood a penny). Residents were accompanied by a Prestwood support worker at all times absolutely everywhere, lest any of them tried to run away or indeed tell anyone what was happening to them. Thus they were accompanied to MIND activities. Despite the best efforts of Prestwood to silence these residents, some of them were brave enough to talk about what was going on. I know for a fact that residents attending drop-in centres in Llandudno and Holyhead told workers there that they were being abused, in one case sexually. These residents were then prevented from attending. The MIND workers did not raise concerns regarding what they had been told by residents or at the sudden disappearance of certain residents. Prestwood continued to ruthlessly exploit the free MIND activities, safe in the knowledge that MIND was going to keep absolutely silent about the malpractice that they were hearing about.

MIND – the voice of the service users!