Yesterday somebody drew my attention to a few You Tube clips from that period of time that so many people found so difficult – the months in 2012 following the Jimmy Savile revelations. I watched a clip of Esther Rantzen with great interest as she wriggled around maintaining that she had heard ‘rumours’ but one can’t act on rumours (people used to say that to me when I challenged them over Dr Dafydd Alun Jones’s conduct). At one point Esther got really ratty and angrily told the interviewer that Childline had acted on every single complaint that children had made – well that’s interesting Esther because I was told that some of the kids who were abused in north Wales rang Childline and no, they were not helped. But then when Esther was campaigning for improved mental health care I wrote to her about Dafydd Alun Jones and the North Wales Hospital Denbigh – I did not receive a reply (see post ‘News Round Up, April 30 2017’). I noticed that the Daily Post’s website ran an article last week featuring Esther on a visit to north Wales publicising Childline… Now I don’t really expect anything other than vacuous insincere hypocrisy from an idiot like Esther, whom I was told by a friend who used to work at the BBC was loathed and known as a ferocious sharp-elbowed bully anyway – but there was a far more interesting You Tube clip than Esther pretending that she never had an inkling regarding Savile’s activities. That was a clip of Edwina Currie being interviewed on RTE 1 on 3 November 2012, in which she too denied all knowledge of Jimmy Savile’s penchant for molesting vulnerable people. Edwina of course was the junior Health Minister who, in 1988 when Ken Clarke was Secretary of State for Health, had appointed Savile to lead the ‘task force’ that was charged with managing Broadmoor and sorting out it’s very serious problems (see post ‘Socio-Political Context Of The North Wales Mental Health Services In The 1980s’). After Savile’s exposure as a sexual predator who shagged anything that moved, Edwina reassured the world that the reason why she made that very inappropriate appointment was that the POA (Prison Officers Association) to which all the ‘nurses’ at Broadmoor belonged were swindling enormous sums of money out of the NHS and dear old Jimmy had told her that he would reign the POA in by blackmailing them. Savile’s plan was to frighten the POA into submission by threatening to use his media contacts to run a story about them in the ‘Sun’. Edwina is on record as saying that she considered this to be ‘a pretty classy piece of operation’. But Savile was by no means the only one indulging in a bit of classy blackmail.
As Edwina was repeatedly confronted by the RTE interviewer with the reality of Savile’s abuse of Broadmoor patients, she continued to maintain that she had no idea that he was capable of such debauchery and that the only reason that she could think of for the staff at Broadmoor not grassing him up was that Jimmy, being as we all know an evil manipulative genius who fooled the world, had ‘information which gave him a hold over staff’. I’m sure that he did – not only were the staff at Broadmoor stealing from the NHS but they were behaving every bit as badly as Savile. There was rampant sexual abuse of patients, a porn racket and serious violence and brutality. Now the Tories knew that patients were being horribly abused in Broadmoor and they knew that many of the patients were not ‘criminals’ but were actually patients whom Top Doctors in other hospitals had transferred to Broadmoor after refusing to care for them themselves – just like Professor Robert Bluglass predicted that I would be if I didn’t stop complaining about Dafydd et al! – but they weren’t raising concerns about that. They were concerned about the POA embezzling the dosh and controlling the institution. So why couldn’t the Gov’t reign in the POA at Broadmoor, or indeed at Ashworth, which had very similar problems at the same time? Could it have been that the POA were playing the same game as Savile and were holding people over a barrel with ‘information’? What information might those staff have had?
Well, they would have known that a lot of the patients in Broadmoor were alleging that they had been sexually abused, beaten up and generally violated in other psychiatric hospitals. The Broadmoor staff would also have known that many of the patients were making exactly the same allegations about their experiences when they had been children who had been in care. Some of them in north Wales. Now some of the former residents of children’s homes in north Wales have maintained that some of the people who abused them were ‘VIPs’, at least two of which were alleged to have been Tory politicians. One of those politicians was Sir Peter Morrison, MP for Chester. He was known to have visited children’s homes in north Wales for inexplicable reasons and two former Conservative MPs are on the record as saying that they knew that Morrison was having sex with under-age boys. Those MPs are Rod Richards and Edwina Currie. Currie described Peter Morrison as a ‘noted pederast’ in her 2002 book of parliamentary life.
Currie appointed Savile as leader of the Broadmoor task force in the summer of 1988. During her RTE interview she stated somewhat vaguely that ‘for approximately four months in 1988’ she was responsible for mental health. That was pre-devolution, so her remit would have extended to the mental health services in north Wales. By the summer of 1988 Mary Wynch and I had both approached politicians and Ministers about our own abuse at the hands of the mental health services in north Wales. In the autumn of 1988 I was receiving correspondence from the Welsh Office concerning the Review into my complaint (this was the Review that eventually took place in 1989, the utter whitewash by Robert Bluglass). By the time that Edwina was in charge of the nation’s mental health services Mary Wynch had won her case against Risley Remand Centre, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Clwyd Health Authority (please see post ‘The Mary Wynch Case – Details’). Edwina was only responsible for mental health for four months in 1988, but she was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health between Sept 1986-Dec 1988. By 1987 the chaos in Gwynedd Health Authority was such that the Welsh Office had sent a team of management consultants in (see post ‘A Visit To Gwynedd Archives’).
So Edwina knew that all was not as it should have been in the mental health services in north Wales. But would she have known about the paedophile ring operating in the region, the victims of which were ending up in the mental health system if they complained? Well someone whom Edwina idolised and claimed to use as a role model knew – Margaret Thatcher. In Jan 1987 Alison Taylor wrote to her and told her that children in care in north Wales were being abused. Alison – like Mary and I – also wrote to a lot of other people as well. One of those was a man called John Major, who at the time was a Minister in the Home Office. Edwina knew him well, indeed she shagged him for a number of years. (Interestingly enough it is rumoured that John Major was by no means the only politician that Edwina had an affair with, although none of the others have been identified. But she says a few interesting things about her boss John Moore in that RTE interview.) Early in 1988 Alison also wrote to Tony Newton, another Minister that Edwina will have had dealings with; Newton was Secretary of State for Social Security – at that time Health and Social Security were dealt with by the DHSS.
If Edwina’s rationale for appointing Savile to the Broadmoor task force – that he was a sharp operator where blackmailing other criminals was concerned – was eccentric, so was the way in which the appointment of the Chief Executive of Broadmoor at the same time was actually discussed. It was discussed – and presumably offered – to Savile’s friend Alan Franey at what Franey later called an ‘unusual meeting’ that was held at the Athanaeum club in Pall Mall. The meeting was attended by Franey and Savile as well as two senior civil servants, Clifford Graham (who was Currie’s departmental Under-Secretary of State) and James Collier. When this all became public in the aftermath of the Savile expose there was much gnashing of teeth, but I suspect that an awful lot of this sort of thing went on. For a start the Athanaeum is a club with a lot of Top Doctors and academics as members and there is a lot of evidence that even very senior jobs in medicine are dished out on the basis of networking rather than ability or a sound track record. After he died no-one wanted to admit to knowing Jimmy Savile – although he was a mate of Prince Charles’s and was invited to numerous Christmas’s at Chequers by Thatcher – and trying to establish who had lived it up at the Athanaeum with Savile et al was like trying to get blood out of a stone. Yet in her RTE interview Edwina fesses up that she had popped over to the Athanaeum with Savile too. Of course she stresses in the interview that this wasn’t the way to impress a woman like her – then why did she accept the invitation ? I bet if Savile had invited her for a coffee and a pasty in Greggs she’d have found it within her heart to say no. There were also some rather odd people working in the highest echelons of the civil service at the time. The mandarin who had been instrumental in forming the Broadmoor task force in 1987 was Brian McGinnis, the Under-Secretary for mental health with responsibility for high security hospitals. McGinnis was never convicted of child abuse but there was sufficient concern regarding his conduct with children for him to end up being banned from working with them after he retired.
In this fetid environment is it surprising that the POA themselves were getting away with abusing patients whilst simultaneously holding the Party of Law N Order hostage? Of course Broadmoor’s troubles didn’t end with the appointment of Savile and the task force. After Savile’s death, Dr Bill Kirkup led an investigation into his involvement at Broadmoor. Kirkup’s report is entertaining in that he admits just how dreadful the problems were/are at Broadmoor, but he works very hard to exonerate any Top Doctor of contributing to the fuckwittery that led to it all. Kirkup’s report mentions a few names known to me. There’s a reference to Robert Bluglass in there! Bluglass was involved in the investigation into the abuses at Ashworth in the early 1990s – which included the murder of a patient. Having concealed the criminal activity of Dafydd et al at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh some three years previously Bluglass was obviously the ideal candidate to carry out a whitewash at Ashworth. There’s a reference to someone else as well- Dr Julie Hollyman, the former Chief Exec of the West London Mental Health Trust, who was responsible for managing Broadmoor whilst Savile abused patients there. I remember Julie Hollyman well, although she won’t know who I am. Hollyman was reputed to be the most aggressive and unhinged psychiatrist at St Georges/Springfield Hospital when I lived and worked in south London in the early 1990s. The nurses loathed her and even my flatmate who was a psychiatric nurse in another London hospital had heard about Hollyman. I managed to have an encounter with her myself. Part of my job used to be carrying out pregnancy tests and one day a sample came in from a Springfield patient marked urgent with a request to phone back with the result as soon as poss. So I did. Only to be literally subjected to a mouth full of abuse from Hollyman’s secretary – which really astounded me, so I hung up. I then received a phone call from Hollyman shouting at me accusing me of being intolerably rude to ‘her’ secretary. I explained that for some reason best known to herself her secretary had actually sworn at me down the phone – Hollyman shrieked that she didn’t believe that. So I hung up on her and informed the Head of Dept what was going on. The response from someone in the know was ‘oh God it’s Hollyman, she’s nuts’. I was then told that the foul mouthed secretary was actually a ‘service user’ on Springfield’s ‘flagship’ patients work programme (which hit the headlines a few years later when it was revealed that one ‘service user’ had been given a job as a stripper in a night club), that she wasn’t suitable, shouldn’t have been given the job and Hollyman knew it. But Hollyman wasn’t too happy that she’d been rumbled and Hollyman grasped any excuse for a scrap.
Of course I now have documentary evidence that Hollyman’s colleagues at Springfield knew about the criminal activities and abuse in the north Wales mental health services and things at Springfield itself in 1991 were pretty dire (see post ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London’). But things were to get a lot worse at Springfield with patients murdering each other and members of staff. In 1993 Julie Hollyman herself appeared in the ‘Independent’, after a major scandal involving allegations that five patients had been raped – the appalling Hollyman had by then been promoted to the post of Unit General manager at Springfield. (I was delighted to see that MIND Spoke Out about the need to ensure that patients were safe – the MIND that knew what was happening in north Wales but kept schtum and indeed continues to keep schtum about the sordid activities of the mental health services. Please see post ‘The Mysterious Silence of MIND’.)
Five rapes on your watch? No problem – Julie Hollyman could only go higher and that is how she ended up being appointed in 1998 as Chief Exec of West London Mental Health Trust overseeing Broadmoor. In 2003 Julie hit the national media once more. A whistleblower at Broadmoor had gone public after conducting a small survey of 28 female Broadmoor patients over three years and finding that between them there had been 56 cases of sexual abuse, five rapes and that six of them had needed to request a pregnancy test. Dear old Julie had been in post when much of it had happened. Three months after the whistleblower blew Hollyman resigned and stated that ‘at 52 years of age’ it was time to leave the NHS. (I don’t think you should ever have been there in the first place Julie and you certainly should never have been promoted after the disaster at Springfield.) Sadly Julie believed that the world still needed her talents. She took up non-executive posts with the British Refugee Council, the Youth Justice Board and New College Worcester (a special school for the visually impaired). Julie also Chaired a housing association, the Hyde Group. More recently though Julie has realised that the NHS does indeed need the services of a vile bitch who has spent her career bullying staff and putting patients in danger and she is now a non-executive director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. I’m tempted to quip that we’ll now await a spate of rapes and sexual abuse at the Maudsley but I fear that things at the Maudsley may have been bad for a long while. The Maudsley is where Dafydd Alun Jones did a stint of ‘training’, it employed Dr Paul Bowden who ignored Dafydd’s abuses and criminal activities in north Wales and it also employed the plagiarist Raj Persaud who happily plagiarised away for years until Richard Bentall finally confronted him. And now the Maudsley has Julie on it’s Board.
But let us return to Edwina Currie. Currie’s role as a junior Minister will undoubtedly have resulted in her knowing exactly how dire the mental health services were, but she has also been in other positions whereby the abuse of children in care may have become apparent to her. Edwina was first elected to the Commons in June 1983, for the constituency of South Derbyshire. Edwina represented South Derbyshire until 1997. Indeed she still lives in Derbyshire, in Whaley Bridge, although she did spend a while living in Surrey. It was of course John Jillings, the former Director of Derbyshire Social Services, who carried out the first external investigation into the abuse of children in Clwyd. The Jillings Report was so damning that it was famously suppressed and only published many years later and then in a heavily redacted form, but I suspect that even Jillings may not have been as frank as he could have been regarding just how serious the abuse of children in Clwyd was. My post ‘A UK Network’ describes how even back in the 80s paedophiles working in the children’s services and those concealing their activities had linked up on a UK-wide basis. There were connections between north Wales and Derbyshire Social Services before Jillings ever retired and investigated Clwyd. John Leslie Jeffreys worked at the Bryn Alyn Community for nine or ten years, between about 1974-83. Prior to that he had been a community youth worker and then a residential care worker at a children’s home in Derbyshire, having received ‘training’ from Derbyshire Social Services. The Bryn Alyn Community was owned and run by John Allen, currently serving a life sentence for the sexual abuse of children in his care. Boys abused by Allen maintained that he ran a gay sex, drugs and porn empire and that boys from children’s homes in north Wales worked in brothels owned by Allen in London and Brighton. John Jeffreys was named repeatedly in the Waterhouse Inquiry as inflicting serious violence upon boys at Bryn Alyn and also upon a boy who was staying at John Allen’s villa in Bordeaux. Jeffreys’ wife – who moved to Bryn Alyn along with him from Derbyshire – also worked at Bryn Alyn and eventually became one of the Directors. Jeffreys was Officer in Charge of one of the Bryn Alyn homes. Jeffreys and his wife were major players in Bryn Alyn.
I note that two of the ‘advisors’ to the whitewash that was the Waterhouse Inquiry also had connections with Derbyshire. Sir Brian Briscoe, the Head of the Local Government Association, had previously worked for Derbyshire County Council. Sir Ron Hadfield, Ronnie Waterhouse’s advisor on ‘police matters’, had previously worked for Derbyshire Constabulary. It is quite obvious that absolutely everybody involved with the Waterhouse Inquiry only ever got near it because they were considered a safe pair of hands and would not be in any danger of making public just how horrific the situation prevailing was. So someone in the Welsh Office felt able to rely on people with previous involvement with Derbyshire. But of course someone somewhere also felt able to rely on John Jillings – they will have needed a clean skin for that investigation, someone who could be seen to be carrying out a thorough job (because by then the north Wales child abuse scandal had hit the London-based media), but they won’t have appointed anyone whom they thought might blow the whole thing wide open. Which was probably why the Jillings Report made a point of refusing to speculate on whether a paedophile ring was operating in north Wales.
But Edwina will have been in a position before she ever became an MP to know that some unacceptable things might be happening in children’s homes. Like many MPs, Currie has also been a councillor. Between 1975-86 she was a councillor for Birmingham City Council. Councils from the West Midlands were among those who were placing children in the Bryn Alyn Community. My post ‘Amber Rudd, The Miners’ Strike And A Memory Jogged’ details the case of a family from Birmingham who adopted a little girl who had been abused who then relocated to Anglesey in the 80s but were subjected to vindictive attacks by those we know and love. That post mentions a few other links between Birmingham and north Wales as well. Furthermore there were some people in public life in Birmingham who knew what was happening to children in care in north Wales. One of the people involved in the 1991 Cartrefle Panel of Inquiry which investigated after a care worker was imprisoned for sexually assaulting children was Susan Mead, Chief Inspector of the Social Services Division of Birmingham City Council. Adrianne Jones, the Director of Social Services of the City of Birmingham Council, carried out a review of children’s services in north Wales and then acted as an advisor at the Waterhouse Inquiry. Adrianne Jones then retired to Wales – to Abergavenny, which was another site of a facility where children had been sexually abused. Sir Ron Hadfield also had a connection to Birmingham – he was the recently retired Chief Constable of the West Midlands and was still based in Birmingham.
In the 1980s there was another Derbyshire MP who will have been in a position to know about paedophilic activity in children’s homes and who I think may well have known about the abuse that was happening in north Wales. That is Matthew Parris, who between 1979-86 was MP for West Derbyshire. As I have mentioned previously on this blog, I read Parris’s autobiography about four years ago, an autobiography that he wrote some years ago covering his time in politics. He writes of how he and a number of friends of his used to go to Italy to a place that they called ‘the villa of shame’ and have a lot of gay sex. Parris uses the phrase ‘the boys were always willing’. Boys – not men. Did Parris not wonder where these boys had come from and why they were so willing to have sex with him and his much older friends from Westminster? Who procured these boys for Parris and his mates? No-one seems to have thought to ask Parris about this. Parris was of course famously one of the first MPs to publicly declare that he was gay. He is also well-known for outing Peter Mandelson in 1998 and has stated that there are between 30 and 60 British parliamentarians who are gay but are keeping it quiet. Did any of them holiday at the villa of shame as well? By the time that he outed Mandelson and made his claims regarding scores of other gay politicians who were in the closet Parris had spent a few years in positions where he would have been well-placed to acquire such information. In the mid-70s he spent two years working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The same Foreign and Commonwealth Office that employed the diplomat Sir Peter Hayman, who was known to be a paedophile. After that Parris joined the Conservative Research Department and following a stint there he became correspondence secretary to Margaret Thatcher. The Thatcher who was a personal friend of Jimmy Savile and lobbied for him to be given a knighthood in the face of civil servants telling her that there were concerns about Savile’s ‘private life’ which could prove politically embarrassing if it ever became public. The Thatcher who was sent documents in 1980-81 informing her that Peter Hayman had sexual fantasies relating to children and that his ‘sexual perversion’ rendered him vulnerable to blackmail. The Thatcher who was told that Sir Peter Morrison was holding sex parties with under-age boys, but still appointed him Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1986 and then her PPS in 1990… A correspondence secretary for a woman who was repeatedly being warned that some of her closest aides and friends were abusing children would have read a lot of very interesting things.
Both Edwina Currie and Matthew Parris have now left politics but are in excellent positions to control what is known by the wider public about them and indeed their associates. Edwina has cultivated good media connections and makes frequent appearances on TV and radio. At one point she had her own radio show and it was through this that she met the man to whom she is now married, John Jones. John Jones is a former senior detective with the Metropolitan Police! Since retiring from the Met he has worked as an advisor to media companies and in the media himself. Matthew Parris has an even more influential position. When he suddenly resigned as an MP in 1986 he took up the position as host of the ITV programme ‘Weekend World’. Between 1988-2001 he worked for Murdoch as a columnist for the ‘Times’ and he also wrote for the ‘Spectator’. He is now a parliamentary sketch writer and presents a weekly programme for Radio 4. Parris has homes in Catalonia, Derbyshire and the Docklands in East London. He doesn’t have all three homes to himself though. Parris has a partner, Julian Glover – they’ve been together since 1995. Glover is a political journalist and used to work for the Guardian. He is also a speechwriter for David Cameron.
A pretty classy piece of operation on behalf of just about everyone I think.