Readers who follow the ‘comments’ section of my blog will have noticed that my correspondent Richard Card has mentioned a man called Norman Warner a number of times. Warner is a former civil servant who worked in the DHSS with Secretary of State for Health and Social Security Barbara Castle back in the 1970s – Warner and Jack Straw were Castle’s advisors. Straw does make mention of his work with Warner and Castle at that time in his book ‘Last Man Standing’ – he stresses what a good team they made. Richard alleges that Castle, Straw and Warner continued a cover-up – one that originated with Sir Keith Joseph before them – over numerous deaths of children placed in a ‘care setting’ by Islington and Hackney between 1954-72. Richard also alleges that a former DHSS civil servant called Celia Hensman was involved in concealing wrongdoing back in the early 70s and that Keith Joseph blocked an inquiry into deaths of people in the care of the Sue Ryder organisation. Richard mentions that he was threatened with action under the Official Secrets Act in 1976 when he was suspected of having given information to ‘Panorama’ regarding the discharging of mental health patients homeless to seaside resorts. He also states that loopholes in the benefits system in the mid-70s were exploited by the IRA and that Kent Police Authority in 1997 called for an inquiry into the role of Jack Straw and Norman Warner regarding this. Jack Straw suppressed this call for an inquiry himself in his capacity as Home Secretary in 1997 – so Jack sat in judgement upon himself… After reading ‘Last Man Standing’ it doesn’t surprise me.
One thing that struck me as I investigated further after Richard contacted me, as I investigated the history of MIND and indeed struck me when I first investigated the history of the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, was what a very long history there has been of patients being abused and harmed by the NHS and social care system and of this being concealed at the highest levels. I was chatting to Brown about this and he observed that abuse and harm of patients was effectively built into the system from the very beginning.
I confess to having been a bit slow off the ground when Richard first mentioned Norman Warner – I had come across his name before regarding allegations of concealing wrongdoing, but it was so long ago that I presumed that Warner would now be dead or at least out of action. How wrong I was. Norman Warner – Lord Warner as he has been since 1998 – is still very much with us.
Warner describes himself as having been a ‘career civil servant’ since 1960. As mentioned above he was an advisor to Barbara Castle in the 70s – he was also Senior Policy Advisor to Jack Straw in 1997-98 when Straw was Home Secretary. Warner was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Dept of Health between 2003-07 and was Minister of State in the Dept of Health between 2005-07. He was Director of Social Services for Kent County Council 1985-91 and was Chair, City and East London Family Services Authority 1991-94.
OK – so Warner was in the higher echelons of Whitehall dealing with matters DHSS throughout the 60s and 70s. I bet he heard those allegations about the en masse sexual abuse of children in care in north Wales. Warner will also have been party to the grim activities of the mental health services during that period of time. His stint at the Home Office will have ensured that he knew about all manner of interesting things as well. Regarding his position as Director of Social Services for Kent – will they have been the same Social Services in Kent which were identified as having screwed up so badly in the case of Michael Stone at that time? As for Warner Chairing the City and East London Family Services Authority – scores of children in care from London boroughs, as well as from East London, were packed off to children’s homes in north Wales where they were abused. That continued into the 1990s.
This blog has provided numerous examples of people knowing about dung heaps being commissioned by Gov’t to lead investigations or inquiries into the said dung heaps on the basis that they can be relied upon to be critical enough for people to believe that the job has been done, but not so critical as to reveal just how deep and smelly the dung heap is. Two prime examples of such safe pairs of hands are of course dear old Professor Robert Bluglass and Sir Robert Francis QC, it’s why their talents were called upon so often. Well guess who Chaired the 1992 National Inquiry into the Selection, Development and Management of Staff in Children’s Homes? Norman did! This resulted in the Warner Report that was referred to in the Waterhouse Report. I have a sneaking suspicion that Norman knew that many of the staff in children’s homes were appallingly abusive long before he Chaired that Inquiry. Not that things got any better even after Warner published his Report – in 2014 Norman was appointed as the Commissioner to oversee improvements in Birmingham City Council’s Children’s Social Care Services, following a highly critical review. I had information about the serious problems in those services as long ago as the mid 1980s (see post ‘Amber Rudd, The Miners’ Strike And A Memory Jogged’). But who was one of the expert advisors to the Waterhouse Inquiry some ten years after I heard about those services? The former Director of City of Birmingham Social Services Adrianne Jones of course! Furthermore Adrianne utilised the Warner Report for her work with Waterhouse… As well as from the London boroughs, many of the children in care placed in the hands of the paedophile gang in north Wales came from the West Midlands.
Norman obviously knows that the NHS is crap because his solution is to privatise it. In 2013 he voted with the Tories and the Lib Dems in the Lords regarding proposed NHS regulations that Labour maintained would enable companies to bid for almost all health services. Warner was the only Labour peer to do so.
In 2009 Norman admitted to being a paid advisor for the General Healthcare Group and was also the Chairman of the NHS London Development Agency. He is a Director of Sage Advice Ltd and an advisor to Xansa and Byotrol – all companies that hope to sell services or products to the NHS. In addition Warner holds a position with Apax Partners, one of the leading private equity investors in healthcare.
Norman has been Chairman of the Youth Justice Board and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the think tank Reform. Reform likes to believe that it is coming up with fresh thinking and solutions, but it’s always seemed to me to be the Allyson Pollock of think tanks – it identifies real problems, it does know what’s going on, but it only tells half the story…
In Oct 2015 Norman resigned the Labour whip after having a hissy fit about Jeremy Corbyn. I’d take that as a compliment Jeremy…
Regular readers will know that I often end up very cross when various Top Doctors and their associates are wheeled out in the media to either tell barefaced lies, mislead the audience or to simply fail to mention a few uncomfortable truths. One serious offender in this regard is the ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4 – although it may be a case of me noticing the syndrome there because it’s one programme that I listen to virtually every day. It occurred to me that I could start delivering a new service for readers of the blog – every time that I hear one of these sinners, I could provide a little review. On Friday, whilst discussing the Mental Health Crisis that has existed for years but to which the UK has only just woken up, ‘Today’ interviewed Dr Susan Mizen, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Susan sounded rather more contrite than the Top Doctors usually do – well what on earth can she say in the defence of her profession after recent revelations? So I did a bit of research on Susan.
Susan is a ‘Consultant Medical Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst’ and is Chair of the Medical Psychotherapy Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She trained at the Cassel Hospital in Fulham and at the Society of Analytical Psychology. Susan worked as a Consultant Medical Psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital. She now works in Exeter, where she provides a service for ‘severe and complex personality disorder’, along with a ‘therapeutic team using a psychoanalytic model’. Susan has a ‘longstanding interest in neuroscience and neuro-psychoanalysis’.
Now Susan may be a committed, ethical practitioner. But one reason why some psychiatrists find ‘psychotherapeutic psychoanalysts’ so useful if they are concealing wrongdoing is that they can pretty much explain away any misconduct on the part of practitioners no matter how serious it is in terms of the alleged internal psychological processes of their patients. For a splendid example of this, please read the details of the letter that Dr Alice Levinson at Springfield Hospital wrote about me in the wake of her and her boss Dr Robin Jacobson being faced with Dr Dafydd Alun Jones’s extraordinary comments over the phone to Jacobson, after which they concluded that he was sexually exploiting patients (see post ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London…). Those two KNEW what Dafydd was doing – yet it was my alleged inner mental processes that were perceived to be the problem after I had complained about him. Furthermore although Jacobson documented his concerns about Dafydd’s and Dr Tony Francis’s (Dr X’s) misconduct, he then followed their recommendations to consult Lucille Hughes regarding ‘evidence’ of my ‘dangerousness’. That’s the Lucille who was Dafydd’s mistress, who a few years later was named in the Waterhouse Report as knowing that a paedophile ring was operating within Gwynedd Social Services whilst she was Director of those Services, but not taking any action. The Lucille who had never actually met me…Levinson now has a private practice in Richmond and supervises other therapists. The last I heard, Jacobson was working at the Priory in Roehampton.
I am not alone in having had such an experience. I have a good friend who had suffered gross abuse and neglect at the hands of the Hergest Unit who ended up spending a lot of money with a psychotherapist who was also a Jungian analyst after the Hergest Unit flatly refused to treat him after years of severe clinical depression. The therapist/analyst tied himself up in knots attempting to explain away the malpractice that my friend had experienced from the Hergest. My friend later discovered that this man had ‘trained’ along with some of those who worked in the Hergest Unit.
The use of the analyst’s ‘knowledge’ to facilitate their own wrongdoing whilst problematizing the patient – or others – seems to be well-established in psychoanalysis. I have discussed people like Andrew Skarbek previously on this blog (see post ‘One Dangerous Fucker), but I did read some years ago that some analysts themselves have identified that abuse of clients – particularly sexual abuse – is a big problem in psychoanalysis. I used to know a woman who was a Jungian analyst who told me the same thing – she also maintained that their conferences were notorious shagfests and that another very obvious syndrome was that of young female analysts being trained by much older influential male analysts which frequently led to somewhat exploitative sexual relationships.
Some months ago I read Leo Abse’s book on Margaret Thatcher, ‘Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice: Politician’s Psycho-biography of Margaret Thatcher’. Abse was a Labour MP who had a very big interest in psychoanalysis and came from a family with many connections in that field. When he first published that book there were a lot of allegations of misogyny levelled at Abse, but that wasn’t what I noticed most when I read it. Abse’s attempts at analysing Thatcher did throw up something which I haven’t noticed anyone else document – the effect that Thatcher’s grandmother had on her development. Much has been written about Thatcher’s idolisation of her father and her poor relationship with her mother, but throughout Thatcher’s childhood the family shared their accommodation with Thatcher’s grandmother, a Spartan Victorian character and Abse convincingly argues that she was the real formative influence on Thatcher. Yet it’s also clear that Abse uses analysis to excuse or justify rather unpleasant behaviour of his own. Of course, I knew something whilst I was reading Abse’s book that wasn’t known when he first published it – that Leo Abse was suspected of being a paedophile and indeed he was recently the subject of an historic abuse investigation by the police.
Susan Mizen seems to be trying in her work to combine neuroscience with her other interests. I’m not sure that is possible – for a start, the concept of a personality disorder is very much in the eye of the Top Doctor. The Hergest churned out people with that diagnosis for two reasons: A. The care was so poor that patients very often did not recover, so their continued distress was blamed on their putative ‘personality disorders’ – even though many of those patients had previously received different diagnoses from the Hergest itself or indeed received different diagnoses when they consulted practitioners elsewhere. B. That diagnosis was given to patients who dared complain in order to discredit them – and the Hergest Unit was shite, so a lot of people complained. The Hergest diagnosed so many people with ‘borderline personality disorder’ that I’m sure, like their suicide rate, it must have constituted a statistical outlier. It was an ongoing joke among some of the better practitioners in the area – ‘oh someone else with a borderline personality disorder’. I know one patient who was diagnosed as such by the dreadful Dr Marie Savage. This patient spent a while scrutinising DSM and pointed out to me that even by DSM standards the ‘criteria’ recorded by Savage herself didn’t fit the DSM criteria – Savage seemed to have conflated two different sub-types of personality disorder. This person was quite correct, but even if Savage had actually known what she was doing, the criteria for borderline personality disorder effectively simply describes a very distressed person who uses many of the strategies that people use these days to try and relieve that distress. Furthermore, many such behaviours attributed to BPD are the very behaviours induced in people if they are subjected to the sort of mistreatment routinely dished out by so many of the practitioners at Hergest and the associated mental health teams. No wonder so many people are suffering from it.
In the face of diagnostic problems like this, how can Susan Mizen ever hope to correlate the measurement of neurotransmitter levels with BPD diagnoses, which is what she seems to be interested in if the seminars and research promoted on the website on which she appears are anything to go by. I am referring here to the ‘Confer’ website, which states that it is ‘online continuing education for psychologists’. ‘Confer’ is an appropriate title – my own records, as well as those of other people who have managed to obtain theirs, shows that ‘conferring’ is exactly what is going on – derogatory letters about patients sent back and forth between Top Doctors, making a note of who has complained about whose mates and who has worked with who – ‘but Dr Jones trained at the Maudsley with Bob Hobson’, ‘Professor Bluglass investigated this complaint himself’. The sub-text is crystal clear – has this bastard complained about anyone that we have connections with? The diagnoses conjured up have far more to do with that than any alleged character traits or neurotransmitter levels.
The Confer website has a few other things of note too. As well as measuring neurotransmitter levels in people with BPD, another team took MRI scans of ‘people in love’, as well as ‘people who had just been dumped’. There’s no mention of whether MRI scans were taken of those who had done the dumping to assess them on the Confer Heartless Bastard Inventory.
Susan Mizen also features on the British Psychoanalytic Council website, where she is touted as being the NHS Consultant Lead for the Devon Personality Disorder Service (based in Exeter). Susan therefore presumably works in the south Devon NHS which is so troubled that last year their Chief Exec narrowly escaped a prison sentence, where a young mentally ill man ended up dying in police custody and where a nurse received the biggest compensation award that a UK whistleblower has ever received after being unlawfully dismissed by the CEO who escaped prison by the skin of her teeth (see post ‘NHS Chief Executive Collapses In Court After Being Spared Jail’).
Susan also compiles Court Reports, as do many of those named n shamed on this blog, including Dafydd and Robert Kehoe. The British Psychoanalytic Council website’s ‘latest news’ column is running a feature entitled ‘helping people affected by Grenfell Tower fire’. Perhaps Susan and her mates are finding them somewhere to live, because I think that’s their biggest problem.
I have also found a powerpoint presentation of Susan’s, ‘The Talking Therapies Taskforce – New Savoy Partnership’. Is the Savoy perhaps the name of the hotel where the partnership meets – after all Dr David Crossley always used to arrange for the training events of the All Wales Psychotherapy Network to meet in an agreeable hotel. So essential was the hotel to the success of the training that when the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board ran out of dosh to subsidise Crossley’s hotel-based training events, they stopped. Likewise the staff mindfulness training offered by the Bangor University Centre of Mindfulness Research and Practice is always held somewhere very agreeable, usually at Trigonos, a rather nice place in the Nantlle Valley. The service users’ mindfulness sessions however are held in a drafty canolfan (village hall) or a disused chapel somewhere….
Susan is currently researching for a PhD in neuroscience. She has set up a programme for patients who are ‘in locked in and secure hospital placements’ who present a high risk to themselves in terms of suicide. Susan is researching the ‘complexity of their difficulties’. What would make for a far better PhD is an in-depth exploration of the biographies of those patients and the processes by which they actually came to be ‘locked in’ and at risk of suicide…
Susan mentions that she works with people with ‘very severe narcisstic disorders in the NHS’. Whether they are staff or patients she does not clarify.
The ‘Today’ programme this morning also ran an interview with a Top Therapist, Phillip Hodson. Hodson was discussing sexual fetishes in the wake of viewers of a recent episode of ‘Poldark’ finding themselves unable to cope with a scene involving toe sucking. They hadn’t better read too much about recent Chinese history then, because Mao Tsetung had a foot fetish and used to suck the feet of his concubines – the feet in question easily fitted into his mouth, because the women involved had tiny deformed feet as a result of foot binding. Hodson describes himself as a psychotherapist and sex therapist – he is massively media friendly and has spent years sitting on morning TV sofas or appearing in women’s magazines and tabloid newspapers answering questions and proffering advice. Hodson’s website states that he has ‘lectured widely around the world’ to people including doctors, psychologists, counsellors and health professionals. Hodson is famous for urging everyone to ‘talk about it’ -especially men, because we know that they ‘bottle things up’ (not that we’d ever want to resort to gender stereotyping) and that is Not A Good Thing. Hodson runs a private practice in north London. He may be an excellent therapist himself, but like so many Phillip is not being that honest or helpful as he implores people to ‘talk about it’. Should they try and do so in an NHS context, the chances are that they will be in for a very rude awakening – there is unlikely to be a listening ear like Phillip available.
I know a man who when he was in his early 40s approached his GP regarding a sexual problem. It wasn’t related to anything unlawful such as paedophilia, it was much more mainstream – part of the problem involved a minor physical problem that was actually eventually resolved by circumcision and the other part of the problem involved obsessive thoughts concerning a fairly common fetish. This man was told by his GP that he had to have a referral to the mental health services at Ysbyty Gwynedd (this was in the months before the Hergest was built). He was met with naked hostility from the psychiatrist to whom he was referred who told him that he certainly wouldn’t be dealing with such problems, my friend would be referred to a sex therapist called Caroline Bertalot. Bertalot refused to see him unless he was admitted as an inpatient – although he hadn’t been referred as a mental health referral. He agreed to inpatient admission. He remained on the ward for three weeks – and eventually found out by accident that Caroline Bertalot had been in dispute with Gwynedd Health Authority and had left her post. No-one had told him – the psychiatrist who had referred him to Bertalot had been away and no nurses would interact with him on the ward because ‘you’ve got sexual problems and we’ve been told not to speak to you’. It got even more bizarre. The psychiatrist returned and the now desperate patient tried to talk to him to request a circumcision because he was regularly in agony and fairly sure that he had a physical problem. The psychiatrist actually yelled at him ‘will you stop talking about your willy’. The patient could not work out what was going on – eventually a junior doctor turned up, examined him and recommended a circumcision, which was done and did resolve the physical pain that this patient was in.
The patient then continued to try and get help for his psychosexual problems. I know this man well and what he endured at the hands of the Hergest Unit – which by now had opened – was quite extraordinary. They just could not handle sexual difficulties, none of them. There were two staff who were very skilled at working with girls and women who had been abused – although the elephant in the room was that Dafydd had spent years sexually exploiting patients and this was never acknowledged – but there was no service available at all for men. I told my friend years ago that I thought that this was something to do with the presence of the paedophile ring – they were facilitated by the mental health services and they targeted boys in care. Who grew up into men with sexual problems. No-one was going to provide a service because of what would be revealed. My friend used to tell me that I was a conspiracy theorist – but when the Jillings Report was finally released, there it was, an admission that there was no service at all in any part of north Wales for men with psychosexual problems.
My friend had many adventures in an attempt to gain help. He was referred to a nurse who believed that even oral sex ‘wasn’t normal’ and who was far too embarrassed to talk about the presenting problems. He was reviled by the psychiatrist who had referred to his penis as a ‘willy’ and many years later after gaining his records via the help of a lawyer showed me the craziest letters that had been written by this psychiatrist, stating that no matter how distressed my friend became he was not going to be offered psychosexual counselling.
So why did my friend continue with the Hergest Unit? Because they didn’t tell him that the psychiatrist had ordered a ban on psychosexual counselling – they instead told him that he had mental health problems and that they would treat him for them. My friend continued to explain very clearly that his depression, his anxiety and the way that he felt about himself was directly related to his sexual difficulties. He was ignored. He was sent to many of those named on this blog – Marie Savage, Professor Mark Williams et al – and got no help from any of them. He was instead constantly told that he had a ‘personality disorder’. Of course. Like me, he was subjected to malicious allegations that he had ‘threatened to kill’ staff. Like me, when he obtained his records, he was able to map the fallacious allegations made by members of the Arfon Community Mental Health Team as they became increasingly florid. A notoriously dreadful CPN called Tom Harney – known among patients as the ‘alcoholic alcohol counsellor’ – had initially claimed that my friend had threatened to hire a hit man and have him killed (yes, that was documented on the medical records). Within weeks Harney had upped the ante and was claiming that my friend had threatened to have Harney and his family killed – my friend didn’t know that Harney had a family, in the way that I didn’t know that Harney’s colleague Bridget Lloyd had any children when she told the police that I was a danger to her children. But then Dafydd told Bluglass that I’d used ‘foul and abusive language’ in front of his young children when I had no knowledge that any such young children of his existed.
Like me, for years my friend was either refused treatment, or treated for problems that he didn’t have after crazy inaccurate diagnoses had been made or was constantly arrested. Like me, once he obtained his medical records, he discovered that it was Dr David Healy who had ordered staff to have him arrested rather than treat him. It was actually the two of us together when we compared our records who finally concluded that after all we’d been through at the hands of the mental health services, it really wasn’t us that had been the problem. It was them – they were incompetent, they were malicious, they were punitive, they were dishonest and the thing that really screwed everything up was that they had been concealing a paedophile ring in the region and that had caused havoc.
My friend never ever managed to receive the sort of help that Phillip Hodson urges everyone to request from the ‘services’. He didn’t even ever manage to access it in the wider UK outside of north Wales – because everyone whom he approached conferred with the dear old Hergest who immediately denounced my friend as a complete git. One particularly unhinged Top Doctor wrote to another Top Doctor stating that my friend ‘destroys therapists’. It was they who very nearly destroyed him. Eventually my friend paid for private treatment, outside of the UK. That’s what he had to do to escape the toxicity of the paedophiles’ friends. But you won’t hear a word about that from Phillip Hodson.
Yet another Top Doctor featured on Radio 4 today on the ‘World At One’ – Simon Fishel. Simon Fishel was discussing fertility treatment and to what degree that it should be available on the NHS, in the wake of news reports that in many parts of the country the NHS is substantially withdrawing support for fertility treatment. One news report item this morning reported angry criticism from an organisation called Fertility UK. Unlike so many of those who staff the mental health services in north Wales, Simon Fishel is neither daft nor crackers. He has been involved with IVF from the very beginning and worked with Robert Edwards who pioneered IVF. We have moved a long way from what Edwards and Steptoe did – IVF is now big business and often a ruthless very unscrupulous business. Simon Fishel will be fully aware that some of the practices used by some of his colleagues are unethical – ‘treatments’ are knowingly being robustly promoted which everyone knows have a very low success rate and in some cases there is no clinical evidence at all for their use. For an account of the excesses involved in fertility treatment see post ‘The BMA And It’s Ethics’. As for Fertility UK – they are a marketing organisation. For details of those involved in Fertility UK, please see post ‘Professor Prestigious And His Associates’. Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe worked long and hard for many years on relatively modest salaries because they were motivated by scientific interest, as well as their desire to assist people with fertility problems. Many people owning fertility clinics are now multi-millionaire business people who’s aim is to maximise their profits. Simon Fishel is in a position to make a very valuable contribution to the debate, but he needs to be honest about some of what is going on.
It was refreshing to read the headline in ‘The Times’ today – ‘NHS Abuse Of Mental Patients ‘Endemic’. Yes, it is, no matter how much rubbish we hear from the Betsi or NHS unions about the Angels and Top Doctors being constantly at the mercy of dangerous psychiatric patients in the mood for murder. ‘The Times’ has published an utterly damning report which makes it quite clear that it is the patients who are being abused, assaulted and sometimes killed in mental health settings, not the staff. It was certainly a breath of fresh air, particularly as they stressed how much force and coercion that patients are regularly subjected to. Norman Lamb and Luciana Berger have both spoken in support of patients – but what has taken them so long? I note that the Dept of Health has issued a statement saying that ‘serious incidents remain rare across the NHS and our guidance makes clear restraint should only be used as a last resort’. The DoH knows as well as I do that they are telling porkies. There were hundreds of ‘serious incidents’ – involving deaths of mental health patients -in Southern Health NHS Trust alone in England. If we’re talking Wales, there’s a death associated with the dear old Betsi on an almost weekly basis. Since I have been writing this blog – for just over one year now – there have been two occasions on which there were media reports of the deaths of two psychiatric patients in one day in north Wales.
Neither is ‘restraint’ only used as a last resort – of course it is by good staff, but my experiences at the Hergest Unit and Parkhead Hospital Glasgow demonstrate that there are some staff who delight in ‘restraint’ and use it as an excuse to assault patients. A friend at the Hergest Unit witnessed the sexual assault of a young woman patient under the guise of ‘restraint’. The only reason why the DoH can claim that serious incidents are rare and that restraint is used as a last resort is that the DoH is relying on documentation compiled by the Top Doctors et al themselves – they have a habit of denying their own wrongdoing. All student teachers are taught that under no circumstances must they even touch a child – whereas student psychiatric nurses on placement witness their ‘mentors’ bullying and intimidating the people that they are paid to care for, shouting at them that if they ‘refuse medication’ they’ll ‘give it to them anyway’ and then witnessing the aforementioned ‘mentors’ pinning patients to the floor and ripping off their underwear to forcibly inject them with anti-psychotics. I know student nurses who have tried to report abuse even more flagrant than this – which is of course still actually legal – and they have been told off for using ‘strong words’ if they have dared mention ‘abuse of patients’ and have been asked if they’d ‘like to rephrase that’. (Note to student nurses in north Wales – if you are confronted with these techniques, which you probably will be should you report abuse of patients, refuse to ‘rephrase’ what you have witnessed and stand your ground. The NHS needs you far more than it needs clapped out old hypocrites like Grace Lewis-Parry who have spent their careers turning a blind eye to the most dreadful practices.)
I ended up purchasing a copy of ‘The Times’ to read the report regarding the violence of the Angels in detail and I was most surprised to see that Bangor University and the Vice-Chancellor Professor John Hughes were starring in ‘The Times’. There was a story about Professor Hughes’s house and that now notorious bedroom of his that was alleged to have been done up using Laura Ashley furnishings at great cost. I was reminded why I don’t usually bother with ‘The Times’ – everybody else reports the stories first. John Hughes’s bedroom was featured months ago in the ‘Daily Post’ and they even supplied a photo of a pastel room a la Contemporary Barbara Cartland, obviously presuming that John Hughes has a taste for pink boudoirs. ‘The Times’ also mentioned his salary and the fact that Bangor University staff are ‘facing redundancy’.
It seems to be open season on VCs at present, I think that the VC of Bolton started it all off with that ill-advised photo of him next to his Bentley, accompanied by his comment that students like being taught by someone with a Bentley. (Students actually like being taught by people who know their subject and take an interest in them – most students these days are taught most of the time by the more junior staff who rarely own Bentleys.) The Mail online published a really ferocious attack on Professor Craig Calhoun, the outgoing Director of the LSE, concerning the enormous amount of money that the LSE have given him. I sat next to Craig Calhoun at a conference dinner once amazingly enough and he was incredibly friendly and democratic and said ‘hi, I’m Craig’. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, me being a research fellow from Bangor who’d only recently finished a PhD – it was a bit like being greeted by President Obama, what does one actually say? What was interesting about the Mail online savaging however is that they levelled it at Craig Calhoun rather than the new Director of the LSE – who I suspect will demand even more money than they paid Craig Calhoun, because she’s some sort of banker. Craig Calhoun is at least an internationally recognised sociologist and sociologists do not tend to be as greedy as bankers.
I usually take a very critical stance towards people who believe that they have a divine right to huge salaries, but whilst I worked at Bangor I noticed an Interesting Phenomenon. There was a big obsession among a lot of people with the alleged excesses of the then VC and a very obvious plan among some to bring him down. There were allegations of the owning of a Porsche – in reality for a long while he actually drove an elderly thing with a blowing exhaust which I think might have been a Saab. Then there were the allegations of a chauffeur -no, that wasn’t true either, a chauffeur did eventually appear some years later but it seemed to be a chauffeur shared between a number of the senior staff. Then there were the Vicious Rumours – these reached their height when the VC’s wife was terminally ill with a brain tumour at which time people were being told that he was virtually frequenting brothels. I never managed to find out who was at the bottom of it all, but the Vicious Rumours were certainly fuelled by some of the staff involved with nurse training and social care/social work – I watched that lot very carefully because as I’ve mentioned elsewhere not only had many of them earlier in their careers been involved in working with those who facilitated the paedophile ring, but they spread some pretty nasty lies around about me as well. Well I knew what they had bloody well been involved with didn’t I.
The paedophiles’ associates were unsurprisingly not among the highest performing staff in the University and they were very defensive about this. As the whole of the UK HE system became increasingly more obsessed with league tables and REF results, the paedophiles’ associates and others who had been in their posts for a long time but had done very little adopted a siege mentality and tried to destabilise the institution. At one point they seemed to go on some sort of unspoken strike. Virtually all their teaching and marking was being given to the postgrads to do, but the paedophiles’ associates didn’t do any research either. What made them so difficult to deal with was that they were past masters at shouldering the blame for their lack of effort or wrongdoing onto other people. After one of the RAEs, I sat in a departmental meeting in which the results were analysed, followed by the usual grilling of how can we do better next time. The person presenting the analysis was one of the Professors, who was one of the staff whose own work had been judged to be ‘internationally excellent’. The two old cows sitting in front of me – one of whom had not even been entered for the RAE and the other who had actually attempted to submit her contribution to a Welsh dictionary as an entry – spent the entire meeting tut tutting, remarking on how crap Bangor was, repeating ‘ofnadwy’ (‘awful’ in Welsh). Who had actually let the side down in the RAE? Those two. They were in terms of the RAE results, the two who were indeed ofnadwy.
There were other various techniques used to cause as many problems as possible, including ‘support staff’ – such as some of the librarians – who made it their goal in life to be as unsupportive as possible. Then there were the Finance Clerks Who Said Ni – if one was working on a grant application, the finance clerks who were employed to complete the staff costs etc constructed numerous hoops for the researchers to jump through before they would agree to help and then once one had jumped through all the hoops they refused to help with the application anyway. When I first encountered the Finance Clerks Who Said Ni, I presumed that they just wouldn’t help me because I was junior and unknown. But one day I witnessed a well thought of Professor (not a git, a really nice man) ask for assistance with his grant bid and one of the Finance Clerks Who Said Ni simply returned his notes straight back to him and said ‘you’ve got to fill in all the costs’. So the more enthusiastic academic staff were doing the teaching, writing the publications, writing the bids – and then doing the job of the finance clerks and battling around the library with bugger all assistance as well. Which made for a great deal of work. Whilst those we know and love did bugger all.
After watching all this for a few years, I began to wonder whether the VC’s salary actually represented a sort of compensation payment for all the shit that was thrown at him and the attempts to undermine him. Everyone KNEW that scores of the staff who had previously worked in the region as Angels, social workers, clinical psychologists etc had worked in close proximity to those who perpetuated the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal, but no-one actually mentioned it. I know that in all institutions the boss is a target, but Bangor University – like the whole of north Wales – was living with the legacy of the paedophile gang and it certainly showed in the parts of the institution that employed former health and social care practitioners. The nursing tutors and social work teaching team were highly dysfunctional and the most appropriate course of action would have simply been to dismantle them – but whenever anyone tried to broach the problem that they were, there’d be a wailing and a gnashing of teeth and accusations that the University authorities were launching an attack on those who care…The psychology dept was also very dysfunctional but in a different way (see post ‘He’s Not The Messiah, He’s A Very Naughty Boy’) – but that too employed people who had worked and still did work as mental health practitioners in a grossly abusive service…
There was one person at Bangor who knew that those we know and love were trying to render the institution unmanageable, who was actually fantastically supportive to researchers whom he knew were keen. That was an historian, Professor Duncan Tanner. Sadly Duncan died – suddenly, years before his time, just when he was doing so much for the University. He died as a result of a cock-up at Ysbyty Gwynedd that should never have happened.
From what I gather, the problems at Bangor are greater than ever now – the paedophiles’ associates linked up with their partners in crime in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and now claim to be conducting world beating ‘health and social care research’ – which they very obviously are not. That Board is in special measures and is under investigation for the abuse of mental health patients. If John Hughes needs to make a few people redundant, he doesn’t have too look to hard to find a few whose services could be dispensed with – although knowing the way of the world, those we know and love will do what they have always done, sit tight and engage the help of UCU whilst the junior staff who are on short term contracts will be the ones who’ll get the chop – or the folk from humanities, on the grounds that ‘healthcare research’ is just too important to be cut… After all, the paedophiles’ associates know that nobody else will employ them no matter how rude they are about Bangor.
‘The Times’ today featured a Top Therapist as high profile as Phillip Hodson – Professor Tanya Byron. Tanya is a Clinical Psychologist who describes herself as a ‘clinician, journalist, author and broadcaster’ who works with ‘psychological and emotional issues’. Tanya is Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Edge Hill University – she is also their Chancellor. Tanya appears on TV constantly and specialises in tackling what is alleged to be difficult behaviour in children. As with Phillip Hodson, I have known for years that being someone who trained as a Clinical Psychologist, Tanya will be fully aware of just how dire and abusive mental health services are – although that never gets a mention in any of Tanya’s media offerings. I knew that one of Tanya’s parents was a big figure in the media world – that tends to be the case with BBC ‘experts’, despite their ‘expertise’ there’s often a family connection to the media that helped them along – in fact her dad is the film and TV director John Sichel. I had always presumed that Tanya had acquired her qualifications and then headed straight for the BBC -but I found out today that she did actually work as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS for 18 years, working with drug addiction and mental health problems. So Tanya will definitely know the gory reality then. I note that Tanya did her MSc in Clin Psy and her PhD at UCL – the UCL that has featured so often on this blog in terms of the concealing of the shite… The UCL that is also host to some very influential well-connected people who are in a good position – and have good cause – to conceal the shite.
Tanya has undoubtedly joined the ranks of the Concealers of the Shite herself now – she has worked with the Home Office and in 2007 was commissioned by Gordon Brown to lead an investigation into the effect on children of video games and the internet. Gordon probably should have commissioned her to provide an honest analysis of the practices and effectiveness of the mental health services.
One of Tanya’s less well-received media contributions was ‘The Life and Times Of Vivienne Vyle’, a spoof based on the dreadful Jeremy Kyle. Tanya stated that it’s aim was to be a ‘black comedy with pop psychology at the root’. Tanya is not as offensive as Jeremy Kyle, but her offerings are merely a more up-market form of pop psychology – and she’s no more honest than Kyle.
Tanya has presented ‘All In The Mind’, the weekly pack of lies that Radio 4 broadcasts about the mental health services. I look forward to hearing how Claudia Hammond deals with the latest revelations regarding the reality of the UK mental health system – for years now Claudia et al have given no clues at all that there are any shortcomings on the part of the Top Doctors.
Another media figure who’s keeping schtum about the practices of the Top Doctors is comedian Harry Hill. Harry Hill is a Top Doctor himself – he trained at St George’s Hospital Medical School and then did a stint in neurosurgery in London. Hill has stated that he gave up medicine because he ‘didn’t feel in control of what was happening’. I bet he didn’t. I would imagine that Harry Hill witnessed some dreadful things which is why he waved them all a not-so-fond farewell – but even though he now works as a comedian and has done so for years, he’s still keeping the Top Doctors’ vow of silence…
The news reports from north Wales are telling of a hoard of drugs and cash that has been seized by police in Conwy and in Mold a man had his throat slit in an act of revenge over a drugs debt. So Dafydd, Lucille and CAIS are still doing a fantastic job tackling ‘substance misuse and associated problems’ in north Wales then – it’s what the Welsh Gov’t give them millions for.
The Daily Post was emblazoned with screaming headlines a few days ago concerning 22 year old Hannah Turtle from Flintshire who has been charged with murdering her seven week old baby by poisoning him with anti-depressants. If that wasn’t a big enough clue that this will turn out to be another tale of tragedy at the hands of the mental health services, it was reported that Hannah’s previous address had been given as Llanarth Hospital in Abergavenny, but at her most recent Court appearance she was stated to be of no fixed abode. OK – new mother with depression left to cope without sufficient support, ends up killing her baby, only after that is she admitted to hospital, but now she’s out again, discharged as homeless and facing a murder charge…
The Daily Post and BBC News Wales online are also very excited about the trial of two police officers at Caernarfon Crown Court for attempting to pervert the course of justice – one of them is also on trial for assault. The details coming out from the trial points to a great deal of misconduct. PCs James Burns and Robin Humphreys arrested Michael Stanley in Penrhyndeudraeth. Fortunately for Mr Stanley – who was later charged with assaulting a police officer, criminal damage to a police car and a public order offence – a body camera being worn by another police officer filmed his arrest. The footage was played to the Court and showed Burns grabbing Mr Stanley by the throat and spraying pepper spray in his face whilst he was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car. After Burns and Humphreys returned to the station, they both lied in their statements. The charges against Mr Stanley were ‘discontinued’ last summer – no doubt when it was revealed that his arrest had been filmed. The Daily Post reports that Mr Stanley was known to the police’ and is a ‘prolific offender’. His previous convictions consist of very similar offences to those which have now been ‘discontinued’. Perhaps no-one was wearing a body camera when he was arrested then. I used to know Jimmy Burns – many years ago he worked as a nursing assistant at the Hergest Unit. His colleagues at Hergest were all very keen for him to undertake nurse training because they thought that he was so good – but he wanted to join the North Wales Police. If he’s found guilty as charged – actual bodily harm, common assault and attempting to pervert the course of justice – I’m sure that Martin Jones could find him another job at the Hergest. After all, Martin was one of the managers at Ysbyty Gwynedd when Burns was employed by them previously – and I think that Dr Peter Higson, the current Chair of the Betsi, was still employed as one of the senior managers of the mental health services in north Wales at the time.
Now that symbol of neoliberal penality, HMP Berwyn, is up and running in Wrexham – thanks to Hywel Williams MP and David Hanson MP begging for this monstrosity in north Wales – the Welsh Gov’t wants to flog off a bit more of Wales to the Home Office to build yet another prison, this time in Port Talbot. It would seem that the residents of Port Talbot are not quite as easily duped as the residents of north east Wales and people in Port Talbot are objecting. I’m glad that somebody is, I’m not quite sure why so many politicians in Wales are so in love with the notion of locking up thousands of dispossessed people with mental health and drug problems – particularly in the wake of the admissions of just how serious the problems are in UK prisons. It was only last week that there were riots…
There is also trouble at t’ mill in Bangor – ‘Sports Direct’ ordered all their staff to speak English only ie. NOT WELSH. It wasn’t a very good idea, has caused an enormous row and now the Crack of Doom aka Meri Huws the Welsh Language Commissioner has entered the fray (for info on Meri see posts ‘Let Me Enlighten Lord Gnome…’ and ‘Local Accessories’). Meri will only make things worse. The most sensible course of action would be for the Welsh Gov’t to sack Meri and reinvest the money that they have been wasting on her inflated salary into organising a boycott of ‘Sports Direct’. Mike Ashley will worry far more about losing money than he will about receiving silly letters from Meri.