One of the first Top Doc disasters that I became particularly aware of occurred in 1978, when I was a teenager interested in microbiology. There was much news coverage of a technician who worked at Birmingham University who had contracted smallpox. Days later it was reported that the Professor in charge of the lab had killed himself and from then on the story became of world-wide interest, particularly when shortly after the Professor’s death, the technician died as well. Panic gripped Birmingham because no-one seemed to know how the technician had caught smallpox…
A few days ago BBC Online had a little feature on the ‘last death in the world from smallpox’ and sure enough, it was the case that I remembered from my teenage years. I’ve done a bit of digging and guess what, the smallpox outbreak in Birmingham in 1978 involved such wrongdoing that even by the standards of Top Doctors it was truly awe-inspiring.
Smallpox is an infectious disease unique to humans which killed and was feared for centuries. It is caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The risk of death following contracting the disease was about 30%, with higher rates among babies. The last naturally occurring infection was of Variola minor in Somalia in 1977 and the World Health Organisation certified the global eradication of smallpox in 1980.
This is what smallpox does to you:
Smallpox is so deadly that many took the view that if it could be eradicated from the globe completely and all traces of the virus eliminated, that would be a very good thing. There was an opposing body of opinion which maintained that no matter how deadly smallpox was, it would be worthwhile keeping sample of the virus under controlled conditions for the purposes of research.
The unfortunate employee of Birmingham University who died from smallpox in 1978 was a medical photographer called Janet Parker. Not only did Janet die as a result of the most appalling practices on the part of some Top Doctors, but the Top Doctors concerned were global authorities on smallpox. No-one was ever held to account regarding Janet’s death and a cover-up of which the Top Doctors could be proud placed a veil over the gory details regarding what actually happened which led to Janet’s death. A number of the Top Doctors responsible for Janet’s death died with their reputations as giants of science intact, although of course one involved did feel so bad about what happened that he killed himself. At least that is the official line, but as is often the case when a Top Doc is found dead as a result of a scandal, there are elements in the story which don’t quite add up.
Janet’s death led to a Gov’t inquiry and ‘triggered radical changes in how dangerous pathogens were studied in the UK’. The Inquiry was led by Professor R.A. Shooter, who found that while Janet was working at Birmingham Medical School, she was accidentally exposed to a strain of smallpox virus that had been grown in a research laboratory on the floor below her workplace and that the virus had most likely spread from that laboratory through ducting. Shooter’s conclusion on how the virus had spread was challenged in Court when Birmingham University was unsuccessfully prosecuted by the HSE for breach of Health and Safety legislation. Shooter’s name and reputation are not remembered with anything like the reverence of the names and reputations of those whose serious mismanagement and cavalier attitudes led to Janet’s death and could have resulted in a smallpox outbreak in Birmingham. Reginald Shooter however was a far more eminent medical microbiologist than those whose wrongdoing he investigated or those who opposed his evidence in court.
As they used to say on ‘Blue Peter’, John Nettleton tells the story.
Janet was married to Joseph Parker, a Post Office engineer and they lived in Kings Norton, Birmingham. After several years as a police photographer Janet joined Birmingham Medical School, where she was employed as a medical photographer in the Anatomy Department. Janet often worked in a darkroom above a laboratory where research on smallpox viruses was being conducted.
At the time of Janet’s death, a laboratory at Birmingham Medical School was conducting research on variants of smallpox virus known as ‘whitepox viruses’, which were considered to be a threat to the success of the WHO’s (World Health Organisation’s) smallpox eradication programme.
On 11 August 1978, Janet, who ‘had been vaccinated against smallpox’, fell ill; she had a headache and pains in her muscles. She developed spots that were thought to be a benign rash. On 20 August at 3 pm, she was admitted to East Birmingham (now Heartlands) Hospital and a clinical diagnosis of Variola major, the most serious type of smallpox, was made by consultant Professor Alasdair Geddes. By this time the rash had spread and covered all of Janet’s body, including the palms of her hands and soles of her feet and it was confluent on her face. At 10 pm she was on her way to Catherine-de-Barnes Isolation Hospital near Solihull. By 11 pm all Janet’s close contacts, including her parents, were placed in quarantine. Her parents were later also transferred to Catherine-de-Barnes. The next day, poxvirus infection was confirmed by Professor Henry Bedson, then Head of the smallpox laboratory at the Medical School, by electron microscopy of vesicle fluid, which Geddes had sampled from Parker’s rash. (Samples of the fluid were also collected for examination at the Regional Virus Laboratory, which was in East Birmingham Hospital). Janet died of smallpox at Catherine-de-Barnes on 11 September 1978.
Six days before Janet died, her 71-year-old father, Frederick Witcomb, of Kings Heath, died while in quarantine at Catherine-de-Barnes Hospital. He ‘appeared to have died following a cardiac arrest when visiting his daughter’. No post-mortem was carried out on Frederick’s body because of the risk of smallpox infection, so there was no knowing why Frederick Witcomb did die, although accounts of the 1978 Birmingham smallpox outbreak always remember to mention that Frederick died following a cardiac arrest.
Special disease control measures were put into place for Janet’s funeral. Undertaker Ron Fleet was sent to Catherine-de-Barnes to collect her body and later described his memories: ‘When the day of the funeral arrived, the cars were given an escort by unmarked police vehicles just in case there was an accident…The body had to be cremated because there was a chance the virus could have thrived in the ground if Mrs Parker had been buried. All other funerals were cancelled that day and the Robin Hood Crematorium was thoroughly cleaned afterwards.’
Over a year later, in October 1979, the University authorities fumigated the Medical School East Wing. The ward at Catherine-de-Barnes Hospital in which Janet had died was still sealed off five years after her death, all the furniture and equipment inside left untouched.
Birmingham Medical School had previous where smallpox was concerned. A similar outbreak had occurred at the Medical School in 1966, when Tony McLennan, who was also a medical photographer and worked in the same laboratory later used by Janet, contracted smallpox. He had a milder form of the disease, which was not diagnosed for eight weeks. Tony was not quarantined and there were at least twelve further cases in the West Midlands, five of whom were quarantined in Witton Isolation Hospital in Birmingham. There are no records of any formal enquiries on the source of this earlier outbreak despite concerns expressed by the then Head of the laboratory, Peter Wildy. Peter Wildy’s name is barely remembered, probably because of he dared raise concerns about Birmingham University twelve years before a second smallpox outbreak in identical circumstances resulted in a death.
On 6 September 1978, the day after Janet’s dad died, Professor Henry Bedson, then Head of the Microbiology Department at the University of Birmingham Medical School, died. On 1 September 1978 Bedson, while in quarantine at his home in Harborne, cut his throat in the garden shed and died at Birmingham Accident Hospital five days later. Henry Bedson’s suicide note read ‘I am sorry to have misplaced the trust which so many of my friends and colleagues have placed in me and my work.’ I have not found details of Bedson’s death. Cutting one’s throat is quite an effective way of killing oneself, but I have always presumed only if medical help did not arrive very soon. I can’t work out why Bedson would have survived five days and then died. Surely the hospital would have been able to stop the bleeding, guard against infection and do all the other necessaries and see Henry Bedson safely out of the other side of his injury.
In 1977, the WHO had told Henry Bedson that his application for his laboratory to become a Smallpox Collaborating Centre had been rejected. This was partly because of safety concerns; the WHO wanted as few laboratories as possible handling the virus. Bedson knew that his lab would be due for closure if he did not receive more funding and he therefore worked more rapidly, storing more samples.
Professor Reginald Shooter led the Inquiry following Janet’s death and his ‘Report of the investigation into the cause of the 1978 Birmingham smallpox occurrence’ was debated in Parliament and also played an important role in the Court case brought against the University by the HSE. The official publication of the Shooter Report was postponed until the outcome of the trial was known.
The Shooter Report was published in 1980. It noted that Bedson had failed to inform the authorities of changes in his research that could have affected safety. Shooter’s Inquiry discovered that the Dangerous Pathogens Advisory Group had inspected the laboratory on two occasions and each time recommended that the smallpox research be continued there, despite the fact that the facilities at the laboratory fell far short of those required by law. Several of the staff at the laboratory had received no special training. Inspectors from the WHO had told Bedson that the physical facilities at the laboratory did not meet WHO standards, but had nonetheless only recommended a few changes in laboratory procedure. Bedson misled the WHO about the volume of work handled by the laboratory, telling them that it had progressively declined since 1973, when in fact it had risen substantially as Bedson tried to finish his work before the laboratory closed. Shooter also found that while Janet had been vaccinated, it had not been done recently enough to protect her against smallpox, Janet’s vaccination having been in 1966.
The report concluded that Janet had been infected by a strain of smallpox virus called Abid, which was being handled in the smallpox laboratory during 24–25 July 1978. The virus could have travelled in air currents up a service duct from the laboratory below, to a room in the Anatomy Department that was used for telephone calls. On 25 July, Janet had spent much more time there than usual ordering photographic materials because the financial year was about to end.
On 1 December 1978 the HSE announced their intention to prosecute the University. The case was heard in November 1979. Expert evidence, presented by the defence and accepted by the magistrates, showed that sufficient virus material could not be produced by the laboratory to generate an infectious dose in the telephone room where Janet was supposedly infected. Although the source of infection was traced, the mode of transmission was not. A defence witness and ‘smallpox expert’ Kevin McCarthy claimed that 53,700 litres of virus suspension would have been required to generate an infectious dose in the telephone room. Although the Shooter Inquiry noted the poor state of sealing of ducting in the laboratory, it was claimed that ‘this was caused after the outbreak by engineers fumigating the laboratory and ducts’. The University was found not guilty of causing Janet’s death. In August 1981, following a formal claim for damages made by the trade union ASTMS (Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staff) in 1979, Parker’s husband Joseph was awarded £25,000 in compensation.
Professor Reginald Shooter as awarded a CBE in the 1980 Birthday Honours. He retired in 1981 and like P. Wildy has all but disappeared from history, although he was alive until 2013.
In light of the Birmingham incident, all known stocks of smallpox were destroyed or transferred to one of two WHO reference laboratories which had BSL-4 facilities; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Koltsovo, Russia. Russia at the time obviously being considered a safer pair of hands with deadly viruses than the Top Doctors of Birmingham. Did anyone tell Thatch?
Now let us look in detail at a few of the key players in the disaster which led to panic in Birmingham in 1978.
Henry Bedson was the second son of Sir Sam Bedson, who had been Professor of Bacteriology at the London Hospital. Henry Bedson’s paternal grandfather, Peter Philips Bedson, was Professor of Chemistry at Newcastle. Bedson’s mother was Dr Dorothea Annie Hoffert, who worked on aeroplane dopes and subsequently did research on oils and fats at the Lister Institute. His maternal grandfather was Henry Hoffert, a Senior Inspector of schools. Bedson was educated at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School and qualified from the London Medical College in 1952.
After jobs as a house officer and junior registrar, in 1955 Bedson joined the RAMC and served in Hong Kong until July 1957. During this period Bedson became a junior specialist in pathology and was also part-time demonstrator in morbid anatomy at the University of Hong Kong. In 1957 Bedson was back again at the London Hospital.
In 1958 Bedson embarked on his virological career and was appointed research fellow in the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Liverpool. In 1959 he became assistant lecturer and after one year was appointed a full lecturer. In 1964 he moved to the Department of Virology, University of Birmingham, being appointed senior lecturer and honorary NHS consultant in bacteriology and virology. In 1976 Bedson was appointed Professor and Head of the reconstituted Department of Medical Microbiology. He was in that post at the time of his death.
Bedson developed an interest in poxviruses while he was at Liverpool University. At Birmingham University, Bedson continued his work with poxviruses. Bedson was a member of the International Commission for the assessment of smallpox eradication in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1976, and of the WHO informal group on monkeypox and related viruses.
In 1978 Henry Bedson was not the only person at Birmingham University who was flouting good practice and misleading people. Dr Dafydd Alun Jones’s mate Professor Robert Bluglass was in place at Birmingham University by then and Bluglass concealed serious crime, including that on the part of Dafydd and his gang, for decades. There was endemic corruption in the West Midlands Police as well as in the legal system in the West Midlands and a trafficking ring was at work in the region, with links to Dafydd’s gang in north Wales. People in Birmingham University, particularly senior figures, knew about these matters and colluded with them.
The Chancellor of Birmingham University, 1973-83, was the naturalist and broadcaster Sir Peter Scott, who had links with a number of those who concealed the activities of Dafydd et al. See previous posts.
The Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham University, 1968-81, was Lord Robert Hunter. Hunter was a Top Doctor who must have known the extent to which things were unravelling in Birmingham University, particularly in the Medical School. Robert Brockie Hunter was the personal physician to Field Marshal Montgomery, 1944-45. Hunter was educated at George Watson’s College, Edinburgh, then studied Medicine at Edinburgh University, serving in the RAMC during WWII. After WWII, Hunter lectured at Edinburgh University and then moved on to St Andrews University and its associated Clinical Medicine Unit at Dundee University, where he was Chair of Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapuetics and was also Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, 1958-62. In 1963, after the thalidomide disaster, Hunter was appointed to the Ministry of Health Committee on Safety of Drugs, was Chairman of the Clinical Trials Sub-Committee and served on the Committee until 1968. Hunter was appointed VC of Birmingham University in 1968. From 1973 to 1980 Hunter was a member of the DHSS Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health.
With a VC with a CV like that, no wonder no-one was going to allow Birmingham University to be successfully prosecuted for killing Janet Parker, even if there was smallpox on the loose, warnings had been ignored and a pack of lies told regarding the conditions and practices in the labs.
At the time of Janet’s death, Jim Callaghan was PM and the paedophiles’ bestest friend Lord David Ennals was Secretary of State for the DHSS (see previous posts) and Hunter was working as a DHSS adviser. The Secretary of State for the DHSS when overt warnings were issued that Bedson’s lab was dangerous was Battling Barbara Castle. Dr Death served as a Minister under Barbara and Jack Straw was her adviser. Jack Straw might not have known what a smallpox virus can do but surely Dr Death did. Thatch was PM by the time that the HSE prosecution failed and the dreadful Patrick Jenkin was Secretary of State for the DHSS (see previous posts). Hunter was still an adviser to the DHSS.
Furthermore, Hunter bagged a peerage in 1978, the year of the smallpox outbreak. He was probably nominated for his peerage before the outbreak – although I am not certain of that – but whenever he was nominated, a lot of things were happening in Bedson’s lab and the wider Medical School which should not have been.
Hunter ‘was an active participant’ in the Lords and was ‘a vocal supporter of the NHS’. The poor old Top Docs could do with Hunter now, but he turned his toes up in 1994.
That splendid organ of propaganda for dead Top Doctors, ‘Munk’s Roll, The Lives Of The Fellows Of The Royal College Of Physicians’, tells us that ‘In 1948 [Hunter] was appointed as a lecturer in clinical medicine at the University of St Andrews, whose clinical medical school was based in Dundee. The Principal of the University promptly promoted him to the position of Professor of Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He was only 33. By any modern standards it was a remarkable appointment. He had by then published little more than a paper on a review of antihistamine drugs, in which he developed an abiding interest, and a contribution to the Practitioner on cough mixtures. Nevertheless, he settled to his new post with aplomb, delivering an arresting inaugural address on the contributions of science to therapeutics.’
I can see why there was a disaster in Birmingham Medical School when Lord Bob was at the helm. His inaugural address must have been a real laugh, what with Lord Bob having less experience of research than many PhD students would have had. The Principal of St Andrews who was so wowed by Lord Bob that he gave him a Chair on the basis of one review of antihistamines and a ‘contribution’ regarding cough mixtures was Sir James Colquhoun Irvine, a Scottish organic chemist. Irvine was the son of factory owner John Irvine. James Irvine’s tenure at St Andrews ‘saw the renovation and restoration of both buildings and traditions and his works are still talked of today‘. As are the works of Fred West. Irvine’s commitments spanned further than the University, ‘into higher education in Britain and the colonies’. He also served as acting Principal of University College Dundee.
During Lord Bob’s twenty years in Dundee ‘he developed a remarkable flair for administration and for successfully plodding the corridors of power. He…played a major role in the planning and development of the new teaching hospital at Ninewells which replaced the old Dundee Royal Infirmary. At the same time he was increasingly called upon to serve on important national committees. He was a member of the General Medical Council from 1962 to 1968, and from 1966 to 1968 was chairman of the medical subcommittee of the University Grants Committee, then supervising significant developments in the medical schools, particularly those recently established. He also served on the clinical research board of the Medical Research Council.’
So Lord Bob was among those on the GMC who ignored the outrages of Dafydd’s early career.
Munk’s Roll explains that it was Lord Bob’s work on the Committee on Safety of Drugs (the Dunlop Committee), which led later to his appointment as Chairman ‘of a departmental committee to assess research into safer smoking materials, the hazards of smoking by then being well established. Many fellow members of his profession considered that Hunter was supping with the devil in appearing to give succour to the tobacco industry by endorsing a supposedly safer cigarette. In fact, his committee’s first report gave only a qualified endorsement and in any case smokers throughout the world spurned the product. He never, however, fully appreciated the addictive powers of nicotine.’
In the same way that Lord Bob didn’t fully appreciate the killing powers of smallpox.
Lord Bob was traumatised after being appointed VC of Birmingham University. Not by Robert Bluglass concealing organised crime, but because Lord Bob arrived at Birmingham ‘at a time of widespread student unrest. Although he had never had to deal with student revolt in the calmer academic climes of Scotland, in Birmingham he at once encountered a student body prepared to confront authority. The students went on strike and for a while trapped the new vice-chancellor in his room. From there Hunter organized his response, arranging meetings of the University Senate in the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He was later to set up an external advisory group to advise on the improvement of internal relations. The group was chaired by Jo Grimond whose report was to lead to a number of more democratic but largely cosmetic changes in the structure and governance of the University.’
So Lord Bob and Jo Grimond entered into an HE equivalent of a patients’ consultation exercise then.
Lord Bob continued to impress: ‘The undoubted respect in which he was held outside Birmingham led to his appointment as chairman of the medical sub-committee of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Prinicipals between 1976 and 1981. He was knighted in 1977 and elevated to the House of Lords as a life peer in 1978.’
It was Sunny Jim Callaghan who dished out the honours to Lord Bob.
Munk’s Roll makes intriguing comments regarding the smallpox outbreak on Lord Bob’s watch: ‘A case was brought against the University by the Health and Safety Executive, but in the event the University was cleared in court. In retrospect few really believed the conclusion of the Shooter report and there were later to be allegations that the escape of smallpox virus was due to human relationships not revealed at the time.’
What can Munk’s Roll be referring to?
Hunter retired in 1981. He must have been the most dreadful old fart, because even Munk’s Roll admits that ‘He was never a charismatic figure, nor ever a volatile character, yet his quiet dignity, his deliberate manner and the care with which he prepared his contributions brought him universal respect.’ Munk’s Roll tells us that ‘He was described by his fellow peer, Lord Walton, as “a wise and thoughtful man with much compassion. His criticisms (and they were few) were always couched in terms calculated to make his point but never to wound.”‘
Lord John Walton was the Monster of Newcastle-upon-Tyne University, who in his capacity as President of the BMA, 1980-82; President of the GMC, 1982-89 and President of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1984-86, as well as in other roles, protected Dafydd and the sex traffickers for many years (see post ‘Little Things Hitting Each Other’).
The Indie’s 1994 obituary for Lord Bob, written by Professor Owen Wade, illuminates the glories of Lord Bob’s life and career further: ‘We were both appointed to the Committee on Safety of Drugs, the Dunlop Committee, set up as a result of the thalidomide incident to ensure that, before a drug could be marketed, its manufacturer should show that appropriate tests had been done to demonstrate it was safe and effective. Hunter was the Chairman of the Clinical Trials Sub-Committee. There were new and challenging problems on whether and how new drugs should be marketed by the pharmaceutical industry. Our American cousins admired us as ‘a lean and spare apparatus for drug safety which operates at a tiny fraction of the cost of a comparable FDA operation’.
In 1964 Hunter became a member of the University Grants Commission and in 1966 became Chairman of its Medical Advisory Committee. By 1968 Hunter had been in his Chair at St Andrews for 20 years. He felt that it was time for a change and he accepted the invitation to become Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham University.
Despite Lord Bob’s Chairmanship of the UGC’s Medical Advisory Committee, Professor Owen Wade explained that after the upset of dealing with the protesting students, Lord Bob received a Cruel Blow, when he ‘found himself at the receiving end of assaults on university funding. It was a difficult time. The reduction in funds from 1971 onwards was not accompanied by the power to alter staff contracts. The reduction in staff had to be by voluntary retirement, and this was too often taken by the able and the competent who knew they could get good jobs elsewhere. Hunter resented this stupid way of culling staff; humane perhaps, but not very fair on students.’
Hunter might have ‘resented’ this, but Hunter was one of those who ensured that ‘voluntary retirement’ was offered in the face of the cuts which his own Committee had implemented. Hunter will have known that useless old gits would stay in their jobs because they wouldn’t be offered another one, yet the best staff would bag the redundancy cash and move on to another post. This has happened in every round of university ‘cuts’ that has ever been implemented. When I was working at Bangor University, I and other research fellows rolled around laughing when people in senior lecturing jobs who had done nothing for twenty years were offered money by the VC to bugger off and retire, but they refused to accept on the grounds that ‘he’s not offering us enough’. Why would any of them have ever accepted the deal? The research fellows and a few of the hard working senior academics did absolutely everything, the Moribund Ones didn’t even come into the University on more than two days/week, why would they wave good-bye to a salary of £50k or more for doing nothing when they could stay there until retirement and then pocket pensions far more generous than their younger colleagues will receive?
It is clear from Wade’s obituary for Lord Bob that Wade played a part in the events which led to the smallpox outbreak as well: ‘I was particularly grateful to Bob Hunter for the steadfast support which he gave me and my Faculty when a member of our staff contracted and died of smallpox. There were allegations that our Department of Virology, which was doing important work for the World Health Organisation in controlling smallpox, had been and was a hazard to the citizens of Birmingham. Hunter knew that this was nonsense, bore the brunt of criticism with quiet dignity and in the end was fully vindicated: the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive was dismissed and it was clear that the standard of care and competence in our laboratory was as high if not higher than in the only other laboratories in Britain where smallpox virus was held’.
Denying absolutely everything was a strategy that worked well for Lord Bob. Wade lets us know that in the Lords, Lord Bob ‘was a member of the Select Committee on Science and Technology and he was deeply concerned with EEC problems in Brussels’.
Professor Owen Lyndon Wade was himself described by the Royal College of Physicians ‘one of the founding fathers of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics in the UK’. Wade was born in Penarth, South Wales. His father James Owen David Wade was a surgeon. Owen Wade was of a similar vintage to Gwynne the lobotomist.
Wade was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and UCL and subsequently worked as a clinical assistant at the Pneumoconiosis Research Unit in South Wales, 1948-51. Dafydd’s and Tony Francis’s mate and protector Professor Kenneth Rawnsley, later of Cardiff University, was associated with that Unit early in his career. Ken’s wife was a child psychiatrist who was a key figure in one of the medical charidees in south Wales established by child molester George Thomas. See previous posts for information on Kenneth Rawnsley and his wife.
Owen Wade was appointed as a Lecturer in Medicine at Birmingham University in 1951, rising to Senior Lecturer. In 1957, he became Professor of Therapeutics and Pharmacology at Queen’s University, Belfast. In 1971 he returned to Birmingham, to the post of Professor of Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology, from which he retired in 1986. Wade was Dean of Birmingham Medical School, 1978-84. So he knew Bluglass as well then and was also Dean when Dr Tony Francis’s pal and protector Ian Brockington was given a Chair at Birmingham Medical School after Francis relocated to north Wales to join Dafydd and the gang (see post ‘Ian Brockington’s Mischief’).
Dafydd’s mate Robert Bluglass studied Medicine at St Andrews. He will have been a student at St Andrews while Lord Bob worked there and then Bluglass rocked up in Birmingham when Lord Bob was VC of that University. Then Brockington joined the crew in Birmingham.
There is absolutely nothing ‘independent’ about the independent clinical opinions of the Top Doctors.
Owen Wade ‘oversaw the modernisation and 1981 relaunch of the British National Formulary’, published by the BMA and Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. This was described by Munk’s Roll as Wade’s ‘greatest legacy’. In 1978 Owen became Chairman of the Formulary Committee and led the team which transformed the BNF from a dusty old text full of Latin and chemistry into the gripping read which it is today. Which interestingly enough, although being the ‘Bible’ for prescribing Top Docs, is ignored by some of them. Particularly Dr Richard Tranter, who before he made a run for it to New Zealand a few years ago worked at the Hergest Unit and prescribed me a combination of drugs which the BNF clearly flags up as being neurotoxic, leading to psychosis and possibly death (see post ‘Why So Many Die So Early’). Being the ‘difficult non-compliant’ person that I am I of course didn’t take the drugs prescribed by Richard, which saved my bacon. Richard Tranter is a psychopharmacologist, supposedly one of the global leaders in this speciality. So what’s your explanation then Richard?
Richard prescribed the lethal combination after Brown and I published our first paper about the mental health services in north Wales and were planning a follow-up book.
Owen Wade’s three brothers also qualified in medicine. Two of his brothers became surgeons, one in Cardiff and one in Edinburgh, the other became a GP working in London. When Owen became a Professor in Belfast, ‘they had the UK well-covered’.
As a teenager, Owen ‘would help his father giving the anaesthetics (cloth and bottle) and began learning to do the operations. Well before starting his clinical course he had removed an appendix, repaired a hernia and enucleated a prostate – all performed rapidly before the anaesthetic wore off‘. The legality of the teenaged unqualified Owen’s operating is not clarified. Presumably Owen’s dad viewed Owen’s help with the operations in the same way that farmers do when their 14 year old children drive the tractor around the farm.
It’s just as well that Owen had been operating before medical school, because when he began his clinical training at UCL, ‘there was a shortage of clinical senior medical staff’ and Owen ‘recalled that students had to look after themselves and take clinical responsibility at a very early stage. On one occasion, he had to deliver a baby on the platform of Warren Street tube station. Coping with the spectators was a challenge, but he used the old trick of sending them off to find boiling water’.
‘Now don’t you worry dear, we’ll soon get that baby out. I’m not qualified, there aren’t even any lecturers at my medical school, but I’ve been treating patients since I was knee-high to a pompous old git.’
WWII provided Owen with ‘lots of excitement and he and the staff often had to take cover. In his obstetrics exam in January 1945, he was trying to talk about placenta praevia with Hilda Lloyd whilst conscious of the sound of an approaching V-1 bomb. Sensing her increasing concern, he asked if they should both get under the table, which they did. They were not hit and he passed the exam.’
Thank God the lady on the platform at Warren Street tube didn’t have placenta praevia, Owen hadn’t learnt about that then and he’d have probably killed her. ‘That bloody placenta hasn’t appeared yet, I’ll just give this a tug…’
Owen Wade married Margaret Burton, a dentist, which he said was the best thing that he ever did. We are not told whether Margaret began drilling and extracting when she was still at school.
Munk’s Roll supplies yet more terrifying details of Wade’s career. At Birmingham University ‘Owen was the first person to catheterise a normal subject at rest and during exercise. It was his team leader who kindly left a letter absolving his colleagues if anything went wrong, like sudden death. Nothing did go wrong, and Owen was catheterised by him at the next session. In total 12 subjects were studied, including the ward sister and the catheter team nurse – both willing volunteers. There was no ethics committee and no defibrillator.’
And if there was a death no-one would have admitted it. So we do not actually know that ‘nothing did go wrong’. Furthermore, the ward sister and team nurse almost certainly were not ‘willing volunteers’, in those days Angels followed orders no matter how dangerous. If they were told to volunteer, they will have.
‘In 1957 Belfast Medical School wanted to establish an active clinical pharmacology unit and appointed Owen. He was just 36, and had only been a senior lecturer for five months, had had no special training in clinical pharmacology and no specific interest in therapeutics. The department had one senior technician, who was a great asset, but no other staff and he was offered a few beds on someone else’s ward. He was there from 1957 to 1971.’
This is sounding like an Everyday Story of a Father of Modern Medicine.
Owen ‘set about devising a course, putting together a lecture programme and planning practical classes, having never done anything like this before. He gave all the lectures and ran all the practicals. He soon complemented the lectures with interactive road shows, discussing the management of specific patients with a panel of students whilst the rest of the class listened, learned and joined in. These were very clinically relevant and became very popular. Over the early years his clinical work prospered and he became the first consultant to have beds in both teaching hospitals.’
Owen may have simply been amazing. But if he wasn’t, no-one would have admitted that.
‘In 1961 it became clear that thalidomide taken during pregnancy caused very severe, often fatal, abnormalities in the foetus. Many babies were born with phocomelia. His response was positive. He tried to find out how much thalidomide had been prescribed in N Ireland and by whom. This proved impossible, but he was able prospectively to quantify all the drugs prescribed by each GP in Northern Ireland and subsequently worked with colleagues to obtain comparable data for Norway, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and West Germany.’
So if all this data was available, why was it ‘impossible’ for Wade to find out who prescribed thalidomide in N Ireland and how much? Prescriptions were easy traceable at the time, the data that Owen needed was recent and N Ireland is a small place. There will not have been millions of babies born during the relevant period, let alone millions with phocomelia. The number of such babies born in N Ireland will have been in single figures. Owen could have literally knocked on the door of every mother with a young child and found out who had prescribed thalidomide. Phocomelia is such a rare condition that it’s not as if mothers in N Ireland who gave birth to babies without limbs won’t have noticed. This was N Ireland in the early 1960s. Virtually all the mothers will have had one GP throughout their pregnancy, that GP would probably have treated them for years and very probably their parents as well. The GP’s own father could well have practised as a Top Doctor in the same community.
Whoever did prescribe thalidomide in N Ireland must have heaved a huge sigh of relief that Owen wasn’t able to trace them.
Munk’s Roll states that Owen Wade ‘used the computer-based system used in Northern Ireland to pay the pharmacists, and became the first person to use computers in this type of research, and the first to produce numerical data on drug utilisation. These tools fed his interest in adverse drug reactions and he wrote some of the earliest papers and books on this subject.’
But Owen just couldn’t find out who prescribed thalidomide…
Munk’s Roll explains that ‘The nation was horrified by the thalidomide disaster. At that time there was no legal framework for assessing new drugs, no system for monitoring the safety of drugs already on the market and no means of communicating rapidly with prescribers about safety concerns. In 1963 the Government set up the Committee on Safety of Drugs, the so-called ‘Dunlop Committee’, named after the chairman, Sir Derrick Dunlop [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.170]. Owen was a founder member and subsequently went on to chair the Committee on the Review of Medicines, the adverse drugs reaction subcommittee and became a member of the Medicines Commission, which set up and oversaw the regulatory committee structure.’
The parents of children born with disabilities as a result of thalidomide had to drag the Gov’t and the pharmaceutical company involved kicking and screaming into an admission that their children had been harmed and the battle to gain the (inadequate) compensation was huge and took years. Little wonder it was Owen ‘I just don’t know which Top Doc prescribed that’ Wade who was appointed a founder member of the Dunlop Committee.
Owen Wade’s ‘Deanship of Birmingham Medical School started at a minute past midnight on 1 September; by midday, he had had to shut half the medical school and his Professor of Virology had cut his own throat and was dying’.
By the time that Wade was appointed Dean, Birmingham University knew that Janet Parker had contracted smallpox and knew that the University could possibly be responsible for an outbreak affecting hundreds of people. What better Dean to have appointed to ensure that allegations of malpractice would be like water off a duck’s back and the culprits would be ‘impossible’ to trace?
Munk’s Roll tells us that ‘Trade union power in 1978 was at its peak and the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) made life very difficult. However, Owen did well. He took command, learnt all about smallpox, took expert advice, kept the relevant documents in good order, looked after his staff and they gave him a lot of support. The medical school was battered but unbowed and lived to fight another day. Four of his professors became presidents of their respective colleges.’
I bet that Owen’s staff ‘gave him a lot of support’. Just think of the alternative if he didn’t win this battle…
Regarding the ASTMS making ‘life very difficult’. The ASTMS later became MSF. When I worked at St George’s Hospital Medical School, the MSF reps were corrupt and wielded power entirely by using their knowledge of the wrongdoing of the equally corrupt but much more powerful Top Doctors. Top Doctors are incredibly hierarchical and usually drip with contempt for anyone who is not a Top Doctor. They treat the lab staff – not so much the research staff, but the lab staff carrying out the routine work – appallingly. When anything ever goes wrong, the Top Doctors blame Angels or other staff, such as lab staff. You bet that the ASTMS would have been difficult, but it won’t have been anything to do with it being 1978 and trade union power being at its height. It was because ASTMS needed to ensure that one of their own wasn’t blamed for the smallpox outbreak, needed to get a compensation deal for Janet Parker’s family, but most importantly ASTMS could see that if they played their cards right over the smallpox outbreak, Christmas had come. I worked at St George’s between 1989-91. Thatch had finished off the union movement and the corrupt MSF rep in the Dept of Obs and Gynae at St George’s, David Hole, wasn’t a Trot, he was a leading light in Wandsworth SDP. Hole was surrounded by rich Top Docs concealing a trafficking ring, drug dealing and perpetrating research fraud and they also had celebrity patients and friends, one of whom was the biggest light entertainment star in the UK at the time. David Hole and his mates had a lorra lorra laffs by acquiring the dirt on their senior colleagues.
At the time of the smallpox outbreak in Birmingham, the General Secretary of the ASTMS was Clive Jenkins, the self-indulgent slimebag who was substantially responsible for orchestrating the arrangements which resulted in the Windbag becoming leader of the Labour Party in 1983 . For more information about Clive Jenkins, see post ‘I Warn You…’.. Jenkins and his associates became powerful because of the knowledge that they had of the wrongdoing of professionals like the Top Doctors. If Jenkins had found out that a cleaning lady had done a bit of shoplifting it would have been neither here nor there. But in 1978 Jenkins found out that the idiocy and lies of some of the UK’s most ’eminent’ Top Doctors had put the lives of the population of Birmingham at risk. I don’t know how Jenkins and those close to him used that info – including the info that was never made public and the info that was involved in the cover-up that was the failed HSE prosecution – but they will have definitely used it.
In 1978 the full-time Health and Safety Director of the ASTMS was Sheila McKechnie. Sheila remained with ASTMS until her appointment as Chief Executive of the charity Shelter in 1985. After ten years there, McKechnie left to become Head of the Consumers’ Association. In 2001 McKechnie said: ‘I am a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad and will remain so for the rest of my life. No government would ever feel entirely comfortable with me or the association because we are both fiercely, fiercely independent.’
When she was a student at Edinburgh University, McKechnie was a close friend of Gordon Brown. Although she was fiercely independent of Gov’t of course. Awkward Sheila became Dame Sheila in 2001, when her old mate Gordon was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The fiercely, fiercely independent awkward squad:
McKechnie was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 and died in 2004. If Dame Sheila had only been a little more awkward during her lifetime and had not kept quiet about the scams and research fraud on the part of Top Docs and their colleagues, the clinical outcomes for cancer patients in the UK might be rather better than they are at present. Dame Sheila was an activist in the Wimmin’s Movement. So that’s why she remained silent about the abuse and trafficking of vulnerable women and girls within the welfare system of the UK.
Following the Dame’s death the Sheila McKenchie Foundation was established to support a new generation of campaigners.
Clive Jenkins’s proud boast was that he unionised the middle classes. Indeed he did. Thatch destroyed the NUM, the print unions and most of the unions representing what were considered to be working class people. The NHS, universities and schools remained unionised. The BMA is the most powerful trade union in the UK. It tells Gov’ts of every political hue what to do and how much to pay Top Docs.
The ASTMS was created in 1969 when ASSET (the Association of Supervisory Staffs, Executives and Technicians) merged with the AScW (the Association of Scientific Workers) under the leadership of joint General Secretaries Clive Jenkins of ASSET and John Dutton of the AScW. ASSET, the larger of the two unions, began as the National Foremen’s Association and chiefly represented supervisors in metal working and transport. Covering both the public and private sectors, AScW largely represented laboratory and technical workers in universities, the NHS and in chemical and metal manufacturing. The AScW could name half-a-dozen Nobel prize winners amongst its membership.
Between 1962-70 Ken Livingstone worked at the Chester Beatty cancer research labs looking after the research animals and during this time Livingstone helped found a branch of ASTMS to fight redundancies imposed by company bosses. Ken won’t have missed the opportunity to put what he witnessed going on at the Chester Beatty labs to good use in his later political career.
By the end of 1970 Clive Jenkins had become sole General Secretary of the union. Jenkins kept ASTMS in the public’s eye, within 15 years the union had expanded from 65,000 members to a figure approaching 500,000. This was achieved both by individual recruitment and by merging with small unions and staff associations, such as the Managers’ and Overlookers’ Society, Medical Practitioners’ Union, the United Commercial Travellers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland, the Union of Insurance Staffs and the Prudential Assurance Staff Association. The number of mergers was eventually to exceed 30.
In 1988 ASTMS merged with TASS, the federated white collar section of the AUEW (Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers) to form MSF. On January 1, 2002 MSF was to amalgamate with the AEEU, a successor to AUEW) to form Amicus. On 1 May 2007 Amicus merged with the TGWU to form UNITE.
Anyone up for a march to Save The NHS From Tory Cuts?
I suspect that those four unidentified professors from Birmingham Medical School who were in post at the time of the smallpox outbreak and who later just happened to become presidents of their respective Royal Colleges, used their knowledge of life behind the scenes in the smallpox lab as skilfully as Lord Clive Jenkins and Dame Sheila did.
Another Top Doctor who had a great deal to do with the Birmingham smallpox outbreak but who’s career suffered no deleterious consequences was Henry Bedson’s friend and senior colleague, Thomas Henry Flewett. In 1956 Flewett had been appointed consultant virologist to East Birmingham Hospital, where he established the Regional Virus Laboratory. Flewett was a member of the senior management team of East Birmingham (now Heartlands) Hospital overseeing Bedson. Flewett was ultimately responsible for the disaster over which Bedson killed himself. It was Flewett who ordered his staff to fumigate the smallpox laboratory with formaldehyde after Janet Parker’s death. Why Flewett told them to do that is a mystery, because formaldehyde would not eradicate smallpox viruses. Formaldehyde is very good at killing and preserving living tissue, but the only characteristics of ‘life’ that viruses have are that they replicate. There is still debate as to whether viruses are ‘alive’ or whether they are merely self-replicating pieces of DNA or RNA. It was also Flewtt who ordered the ward where Janet was cared for to be fumigated. The building at East Birmingham Hospital housing that fumigated ward was later demolished, probably in order to conceal how hopelessly inadequate it was as a location in which to treat a patient with smallpox, even by the standards of 1978. Here’s the scene of the fuckwittery:
Flewett was a founder member (and subsequently Fellow) of the Royal College of Pathologists and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1978. He was Chairman of the WHO Steering Committee on Viral Diarrhoeal Diseases, 1990–3, and a member until 1996. Flewett’s Birmingham lab was a WHO Reference and Research Centre for Rotavirus Infections from 1980 until his retirement in 1987. Flewett was a member of the Board of the Public Health Laboratory Service (now Public Health England), 1977-83 and was Chairman of the Public Health Laboratory Service, Committee on Electron Microscopy from 1977-87.
Flewett was born in India where his father was a member of the Imperial Forestry Service. Flewett’s father was also a member of the Indian Reserve Army. Flewett was educated at Campbell College, Belfast and qualified as a Top Doctor from Queen’s University, Belfast. He worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and then as a demonstrator at Queen’s University Belfast for two years. Between 1948 and 1951, Flewett worked at the National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill. This led to his first use of electron microscopy, ‘in which he became a leading authority’.
Flewett’s work on rotaviruses brought him international recognition. He was one of the first western virologists to be invited to the People’s Republic of China (in 1983) to lecture. He was a judge for the King Faisal International Prize in 1983, which was awarded to Professor John S. Fordtran, Dr William B. Greenough III and Professor Michael Field, for their work on oral rehydration in reducing mortality and morbidity due to cholera and other acute infectious diarrhoeal diseases. Flewett travelled widely as a WHO consultant to most countries in which childhood diarrhoea is a major problem.
I noticed the reference to ‘magistrates’ with regard to the 1979 HSE prosecution of Birmingham University. This suggests that lay people heard the case and it was those lay people who rejected all the evidence suggesting that Birmingham University were hugely culpable where Janet Parker’s death was concerned. Unless one of those involved just happened to be a microbiologist, it might have been very difficult for them to weigh up the conflicting evidence presented to them by different Top Doctors, all stressing their ‘expertise’ in the matter. The same situation prevails today. Yesterday morning Radio 4 broadcast a programme in which various people reviewed the newspapers and one story discussed was the recent US Court case in which it was found that the weedkiller Round-Up was responsible for someone’s cancer. The manufacturers of Round-Up have been ordered to hand over a great deal of dosh. There didn’t seem to be any awareness on the part of the Radio 4 guests that there is no firm opinion on whether Round Up (ie. glyphosate) does cause cancer. The argument has raged for quite some time now, but a link has not been demonstrated in the way that the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer has. The American jury could well have been unaware that the alleged carcinogenic properties of glyphosate are still very much a matter of debate. Someone on the radio also believed that glyphosate presents a risk because people spray it on their gravel paths to keep the weeds down. No, if there is a risk it is from the agricultural use of glyphosate. Some farmers drench their crops in the stuff and indeed in the 1980s, the Agriculture Dept at Bangor University recommended this practice to the students. Add in dishonest expert witnesses and how a jury is ever supposed to get to the truth I cannot understand.
BBC News Wales reported yet another good news NHS story – there’s a great many of them in these days of special measures and ever-worsening NHS performance – precisely that the crack team of Top Doctors at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff carried out ‘six kidney transplants in 30 hours’. Dr Mike Stephen, one of the transplant surgeons, mentioned that the theatres used for transplant surgery competed with space for other emergency surgery. As no additional operating theatres have been built, assuming that this story of six transplants in 30 hours is true, it can only mean that if a major incident had occurred – multiple car crash, train crash, a plane crash, industrial accident/explosion etc – that there would have been insufficient capacity in the theatres at UHW to deal with it. Aren’t hospitals supposed to organise matters to ensure that there is always sufficient capacity to allow for a major incident? UHW isn’t on top of Snowdon, it’s in Wales’s biggest city where a major incident could happen.
It was explained by delighted Top Doc Mike Stephen that Wales is now ‘the envy of the world’ because with regard to organ donation, it has ‘the highest rates of consent in the UK, after having previously had the lowest’. This is not true. A recent change in the law in Wales means that now, unless someone actively states that they do not wish their organs to be used for donation, the Top Docs can assume consent. Even if consent has not been given. This massive far-reaching change in the legal ownership of the bodies of the citizens of Wales – they now belong to the state, not the individual – was rushed through with the minimum of debate on the back of an advertising campaign featuring the usual eg. pictures of stylised hearts and other organs, shots of Angels holding the hands of patients and the promise that if the legal change took place, Doctors Would Be Able To Help.
I do not have any problems with organ donation but the main reason why there were so many anecdotes regarding people who carried organ donor cards but who’s relatives ‘were too upset to say yes’ at the time of death, was that the circumstances of so many of those deaths in Wales’s hospitals were just so distressing. The communication between staff and relatives was frequently terrible and if one’s nearest and dearest has had the sort of death that Ann Clwyd’s husband had in the University Hospital of Wales, one is not going to agree to organ donation. No-one addressed this issue, there was simply a command sent out – your organs now belong to the state.
One reason why awful death bed scenes may not have been addressed is that the Health Minister who pushed the presumed consent Measure through was Edwina Hart. Edwina knew just what a bloody dreadful state Wales’s hospitals were in, she knew that the NHS had become a site of considerable confrontation and she knew the sort of experiences that people were having as their relatives lay dying. Dealing with that was much too steep a mountain to climb, so Edwina Passed A Cuddly Fluffy Law. But in the hands of some of those who are running Wales’s NHS, it is not a Cuddly Fluffy Law, it conjures up the sort of scene in Python’s ‘Life Of Brian’, where two dodgy looking characters find their way into an older lady’s home, explain that they’d like her to donate her organs to medical science and then slaughter her.
I note that the good news story regarding Edwina’s Bright Idea appeared a few days after I mentioned on this blog the criminal activities of the former Chair and CEO of the NW Wales NHS Trust, Elfed Roberts and Martin Jones. It was Edwina who failed to deal with those two, despite me sending her enough evidence to have both of them prosecuted. Elfed disappeared from public view, only to quietly re-emerge as a member of the Welsh Ambulance Trust, an appointment made by one Edwina Hart. Martin was recycled into the newly created Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Edwina hated Elfed and Martin and they hated her, but they all had so much crap on each other that, as with Ken Clarke’s battle with the BMA in the late 1980s, no-one won. Edwina and the Top Docs loathed each other as well, it was the BMA who organised the Edwina Out campaign. Ah, but this blog is detailing serious crimes on the part of the BMA too. It’s a Rainbow Alliance against Service Shenanigans!
I wish the Rainbow Alliance all the best and I look forward to the next bit of propaganda. The Rainbow Alliance have obviously forgotten that not only do I have 10,000 documents detailing serious crime, but that I haven’t blogged about all the evidence that I have. I’ve also been sent documents relating to other people’s cases that I haven’t even mentioned.
By the way Rainbow Alliance, wasn’t it at the UHW in which the wrong kidney was removed from a patient? The only healthy kidney that he had? He died didn’t he? Now, as I have recently blogged about the close and chummy relationship that the child molester George Thomas had with the UHW, perhaps the Rainbow Alliance would like to clarify whether it was the UHW which treated Thomas for an STI in 1984 but backed up Leo Abse’s plan to issue a press release stating that George had prostate trouble; clarify whether the NHS were footing any part of the bill for George’s bungaloid that was on the doorstep of the UHW; and tell us all how George Thomas managed to wangle such a massive proportion of the hospital building budget for the development of the UHW when the rest of Wales was left with inadequate provision.
One more thing Rainbow Alliance. Among all the other wrongdoing and chaos at the UHW, can you please enlighten us all regarding Mrs Walker’s flagship fertility unit which was alleged to be in operation in the late 1980s at the UHW? Mrs Walker was a little old lady who didn’t seem to know a great deal about fertility treatment but she was agreeing to treat pretty much anyone who arrived at her door if they had the cash. I don’t know how, because there were bugger all fertility specialists there and there weren’t the labs needed to run a successful fertility unit either. I could find no reference to Mrs Walker’s work when I researched her so I presume that she hadn’t done any. Mrs Walker’s right hand woman didn’t have a PhD and I don’t think that she knew much about fertility treatment either. So what was going on then?
Now you don’t really want me to mention anything else that was going on at the UHW do you? Such as the death of the medical student Philip Jones in 1984, after he volunteered for a clinical trial? Cardiff maintained that Philip’s death was unrelated to the trial, but Philip spent his final days in a London teaching hospital and they did not agree with Cardiff’s stated cause of death. Only no-one was told that the London hospital concluded that Philip’s death was everything to do with that drug trial.
Then there was the Dean of Medicine at Cardiff who was giving his friends places on the Medicine degree, even though they didn’t reach the entry criteria.
Ooh, what about the scores of complaints from the women who had given birth in one particular ward at the UHW, the ward that had such a bad reputation that those in the know made sure that they didn’t give birth there?
I’ll keep my many other accounts of UHW Experiences for the next time that the Rainbow Alliance make a media appearance… Perhaps they could find an area of medicine to boast about of which I do not have knowledge of the most dreadful scams or misconduct?
Dr Mike Stephen, being a transplant surgeon of many years experience, will remember the scandal involving Dr Michael Bewick in the early 1990s. Michael Bewick was a London transplant surgeon who stood accused of performing kidney transplants on Turkish peasants who had been paid for their organs. The scandal came to light after one such Turkish man came forward and claimed that he had not consented to organ donation, he had woken up in London after having been told that he was to undergo some other procedure while ‘on a free holiday to London’ only to find himself minus one kidney. Bewick maintained that he had no idea that the Turks were being paid for their kidneys and that there was never an operation carried out which had not involved informed consent. The GMC found Bewick guilty of serious professional misconduct. His punishment? He was banned from private practice and ordered to ‘work within the NHS’ for I think it was two years. That is the Top Docs’ view of the NHS. The NHS gets the crap that the Top Docs themselves don’t want. I knew a Top Doc at the time of that case who knew Michael Bewick and they assured me that he knew exactly what was going on with regard to those Turkish peasants…
At the time of the Bewick scandal there had been reports of dead bodies washed up on beaches in Turkey which had undergone recent removal of the kidneys. There was much public incredulity and ‘this can’t really have happened’. Well I would not have thought that a police officer known to be corrupt could be thrown out of the North Wales Police by the Chief Constable for er corruption and then be appointed as Chair of an NHS Trust, unlawfully refuse a patient all NHS treatment, have her arrested twice unlawfully, disappear from his job in a blaze of scandal and bad publicity and then be given further appointments as a member of the Board of the Welsh Ambulance Trust and as a governor at Bangor University where he subsequently Chaired the Fair Practice Committee. It happened and we have Edwina Hart to thank for it.
The new Chairman of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will be taking up his position within weeks. It is Mark Polin, who has just stood down as the Chief Constable of the North Wales Police. The North Wales Police who have failed to bring any prosecutions against anyone in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, despite scandal after scandal and police investigations.
I am no longer in Wales, so if I am involved in a serious accident and someone has their eye on my kidneys, I hope that the chances of documentation being destroyed/fabricated and lies being told following my death from clinical negligence to allow the harvesting of my organs is rather less than it would otherwise be. Although I can’t be 100% certain, after all Michael Bewick was not in Wales…
Previous blog posts and recent comments added to posts have discussed the activities of the Dreadful Professors Irvine – Fiona, an Angel who was complicit with the abuse of patients and the most frightful workplace bully and her husband Stuart. The Irvines previously both worked at Bangor University and when one brave PhD student went to the HR Dept to make representation about Fiona’s appalling behaviour, he was asked not to make a formal complaint because Fiona ‘is not a nice lady’ and was expected to make a counter complaint against the student. Who had suffered a breakdown at the hands of Fiona. Another source told me that the Irvines had both lined up new jobs for themselves at another university but were conspiring to bring a case against Bangor in order to screw some dosh out of the institution as a golden goodbye. I’m not sure whether that plan did work but imagine my surprise when just weeks later, Stuart and Fiona left for Chairs at Glyndwr University!
The Chancellor of Glyndwr University had been paedophiles’ friend Trevor Jones, but he had been succeeded by Jon Shortridge (see post ‘A Vampire At Glyndwr University!’). Sir Jon Shortridge is a civil servant who served as the Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Office from March 1999 and then of the National Assembly of Wales from its creation in May 1999. Shortridge became Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Assembly Gov’t on its establishment as a separate institution in May 2007 and left the post at the end of April 2008. Which was when Elfed Roberts, Chair of the NW Wales NHS Trust, was having me unlawfully arrested and refusing me NHS treatment and Edwina Hart was failing to deal with it. It was also when Fiona Irvine was abusing her position at Bangor University.
In 2009, Shortridge was brought back as interim Permanent Secretary of the Dept for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Mandelson was the Secretary of State for that Dept and his right hand woman was someone who had grown up on Anglesey, the daughter of Ron Evans, who for years worked as a lawyer for Gwynedd County Council. Ron was the lawyer who, in the wake of the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal, told everyone that what had happened was so serious and so inexcusable that none of them must ever say a word about it to anyone. I know that because Ron’s wife told me. She worked as a lecturer at Bangor University. She is (or was) also a magistrate. Documents in my possession with Ron’s signature on them detail perjury and conspiracy in an attempt to have me imprisoned. The names of colluding officers from the North Wales Police also appear on those documents. See previous posts for details.
The documents with Ron Evans’s name and signature on are from the late 1980s/early 1990s. Jon Shortridge joined the Welsh Office in 1984. I first complained about Dafydd and the gang to Keith Best, a Welsh Office Minister in 1985. Between 1987 and 1988 Shortridge was Private Secretary to two Secretaries of State for Wales, Nicholas Edwards and Peter Walker. Throughout this time the sex trafficking gang caused havoc in north Wales and complaints about the NHS and social services were simply ignored. From 1988 to 1992 Shortridge was Head of the Welsh Office’s Finance Division. He undertook the Senior Management Review of the Welsh Office in 1995 and was appointed Director of Economic Affairs in 1997, with responsibility for establishing the National Assembly for Wales.
So Sir Jon, did Ron Evans tell you too never to say a word to anyone because what happened was so serious and inexcusable? And how exactly did the delightful Fiona and Stuart let you know that they had all the shit on you and that they’d both like Chairs at Glyndwr University?
Sir Jon was educated at Chichester High School for Boys, then St Edmund Hall, Oxford and then Edinburgh University.
In December 2002, Sir Jon was summoned by the Audit Committee of the National Assembly of Wales in order to be questioned over delays and rising costs surrounding the construction of a new debating chamber, which was to become the Senedd. £250,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent on a legal dispute with sacked architects, the Richard Rogers Partnership. Sir Jon stated during the hearing that the design submitted by the Richard Rogers Partnership would not have been eligible for the original competition if the true costs had been known. The saga of the design for the Senedd and the Richard Rogers Partnership being commissioned is covered in an earlier post on this blog (see post ‘Have The Lambs Stopped Screaming?’). The man largely responsible for it all was the former Secretary of State for Wales, Ron ‘I was looking for badgers’ Davies.
In 2010 Jeremy Colman, the Auditor General for Wales, was imprisoned for the possession of child porn (see post ‘The Reality Is, There Is No Problem’). His position as Auditor General was succeeded by Huw Vaughan Thomas, who had been the Chief Exec of Gwynedd County Council for some of the years when the paedophile gang flourished in the Council’s children’s homes (see post ‘I Know Nuzzing…’). Huw’s son worked in the National Audit Office for Wales and Huw’s his wife, Enid Rowlands, was a Director of the North Wales Health Authority and is/was also a key figure in the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (see post ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’). Huw and Enid have numerous other links with the paedophiles’ friends which stretch back many years, as detailed in previous posts…
Fiona Irvine didn’t stay at Glyndwr University long, within a few short months she bagged a Chair of Nursing at Liverpool John Moores. This is a woman who was unable to assess the work of a PhD student appropriately because her own grasp of the sociology of health was so shaky. Fiona’s inaugural lecture at Liverpool John Moores was entitled ‘Me, Myself, I’ no less.
Fiona is now Professor and Head of Nursing at Birmingham University. Whatever could be the key to Fiona’s success? Not that she’ll be telling us, Fiona will remember Ron Evans’s advice from all those years ago…
I have discussed in previous posts George Thomas’s many links with the NHS, medical charidees and his role as Patron of the National Children’s Home (NCH). The NCH is now known as Action for Children. Presumably the re-branding exercise followed all those embarrassing revelations that paedophiles were busy working for the NCH. A number of those involved with the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal had worked for the NCH, including Glanville Owen. Glanville was Deputy Director of Gwynedd Social Services, responsible for Gwynedd’s children’s homes for years while the paedophile gang enjoyed themselves within those homes. Glanville later became the Chief Exec of Gwynedd CHC, in which role he lied to patients and failed to investigate serious complaints, including assaults on patients by NHS staff.
I have discovered an entertaining document in the archive of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation. It is the text of a speech that Thatch gave on Jan 17 1990, at the National Children’s Home, as the inaugural George Thomas Society Lecture. The George Thomas Society was founded by the NCH for the purposes of tacking child abuse. For those of us who knew what Thatch was concealing and what George Thomas was up to for decades of his life, this speech is wonderful. I won’t reproduce it all here, it can be found on the website of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, but I’ll highlight the best bits.
‘George Thomas is admired and loved throughout this country. As Mr. Speaker, his voice became known in every home. His life has been dedicated to the service of people and especially, through the National Children’s Home, to children. He has never ceased to proclaim the importance of Christian values in family life…
George has always believed that children must come first because children are our most sacred trust….We need to do all we can to ensure that children enjoy their childhood against a background of secure and loving family life. That way, they can develop their full potential, grow up into responsible adults and become, in their turn, good parents.
But it is a sad fact that throughout history some children have been neglected, exploited and cruelly treated. So it was in the mid-19th century in England. Dr. Stevenson, the founder of the National Children’s Home, was born when Lord Shaftesbury was campaigning to reform the appalling conditions in which children were made to work in factories and mines. It was a time when Charles Kingsley described the plight of child chimney sweeps in the “Water Babies” and Charles Dickens that organised juvenile crime in “Oliver Twist” . It was a world in which many children were neglected and even rejected and thrust into a life of crime, violence, exploitation and poverty, yet by the reformers’ response to theseconditions, that period also stands out in English history as a period of social progress based on Christian belief.
People like the Earl of Shaftesbury campaigned for laws to protect children; Robert Raikes started the Sunday School Movement, Dr. Barnardo established his famous homes, Prebendary Ruolf founded the Church of England Children’s Society, Benjamin Warr started the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Margaret MacMillan founded nursery schools and, of course, Dr. Stevenson founded the first National Children’s Home in South London—a remarkable period—and all of this was done because those people felt impelled to care for the needs of these children….
Voluntary societies like yours can respond quickly to meet changing needs. They are run by people with a commitment to building genuine relationships with others and not simply to introducing programmes.
…the early reformers were almost all Christians who saw such duties as an expression of their faith…
the very foundation of human happiness lies in the development of secure emotional relationships within the home, but far too many children are denied a secure and affectionate family and that is the greatest deprivation of all. Alas, today, that truth is not universally accepted and it is the children who suffer.
I believe that in the 1960s, far too many young people were ridiculed out of their true beliefs by the proponents of the permissive society who believed in precious little but themselves. They talked a lot about “rights” yet they gave away the fundamental right of a child to be brought up in a real family and now we are reaping the harvest.
There are, of course, some who blame all our social ills on poverty and others who think that affluence is the cause. Certainly, young people who nowadays have more money and more freedom, also have more opportunity to misuse them and some do, but do not blame freedom and prosperity for the faults ingrained in human nature!…
…cruelty to children is still with us and the breakdown of so many families adds to the deprivation which children suffer and brings with it a new problem of teenage homelessness…
Over eighty children a year have died at the hands of a parent, step-parent or connected adult and there are thousands more who suffer. Even though child abuse is now more widely reported, it is very disturbing that at any one time about 40,000 children in England alone are registered as needing protection. Tragically, the case histories from a variety of backgrounds suggest that many of those who ill treat their children have themselves, when children, been ill-treated. To use children for sexual purposes, whether through the wicked perversion of sexual abuse or through fantasies induced by child pornography, must provoke the strongest outrage and reaction from individuals and Government alike.
The Government has increased the penalties for child cruelty and tightened the law on child pornography by making possession of this material an offence but I am very concerned by recent reports of what is still occurring…
four out of five lone mothers claiming income support receive no maintenance from the fathers. No father should be able to escape from his responsibility and that is why the Government is looking at ways of strengthening the system for tracing an absent father and making the arrangements for recovering maintenance more effective.
Another area of children in danger is teenage homelessness. The problem is not confined to London but it receives most publicity in the capital. We are not talking about teenagers who leave a perfectly good home voluntarily but about those who leave because of the breakdown of the family and the fact that they do not get on with the new step-father or mother. Sometimes, violence and sexual abuse may also be involved.
Other teenagers come out of Local Authority care with nowhere to go and without being given any proper training in how to look after themselves. I know that in some cases social services departments will find lodgings or a family to which the children can go and that is right because these young people are in special need of someone who cares about them personally…
our initiative on more hostels in partnership with the voluntary sector has produced an extra 21,000 hostel beds in the last eight years and in total, there are now a similar number in London alone and a further 31,000 hostel beds in the rest of England…
not all teenagers who choose to come to London are homeless and we must try not to pursue policies which have the effect of encouraging still more young people to leave their own home for our large cities without any idea of where to live or what to do…
As well as responding to the problems of homelessness, we in Government have also been especially concerned to do our part to improve the care and protection of children. As a politician, I first came into contact with the problem of child abuse when I was Secretary of State for Education and Science. I used to ask young teachers to come and talk to me about their work. A few told me of children who at the end of the week would cling to their teachers—they were not wanting to go home themselves. What should the teacher do in those circumstances with a child clinging to her? Should she walk home with the child to see the parent or would that bring down the wrath of the parent on the child later? Should they report the incident?Should they call in the social worker or should they even alert the police? To those who would criticise their hesitation, I have frequently said:“Well, what would you do under those circumstances?”
Teachers and social workers and others working with children must have enough confidence to know how to respond. That means proper training for all of those who come into contact with children and everyone must know the circumstances in which the social services or the police have the power to take a child into their protection.
So last year and this year, we are making £7 million available to Local Authorities to train those involved in caring for children, particularly social workers, and student teachers are now taught about child abuse as an essential part of their preparation for teaching.
We are making the largest ever grant to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to help them to establish their new training centre…
The Children Act of 1989 is the most comprehensive piece of legislation about children ever enacted in this country; it draws on the experiences learned in Cleveland and through the tragic deaths or abused children such as Kimberley Carlisle, Jasmine Beckford and Tara Henry. Above all, the Act seeks the right balance in protecting those too young and vulnerable to protect themselves while preventing excessive and over-zealous intrusion into family life by the State; and in 1988, the maximum penalties for child cruelty were increased from the previous two years to ten years…
all the voluntary helpers of the National Children’s Home and other similar organisations and all those who give to their work are just such people. Nearly a third of your income of £37 million comes from private individuals and companies and we would like to thank them very much indeed. Truly, this country has become an active and generous society and I know that you, the National Children’s Home, have played an important part in developing new ways of alleviating distress such as “Touchline” , the telephone counselling service for sex abuse victims in Leeds, which is similar to the wonderful work of Esther Rantzen—she is here and we would like to pay tribute to her work too!… Also, the new facilities you arepioneering through the George Thomas Society to overcome the consequence of sex abuse and the programme for sixteen to nineteen year-olds in Wales and for those who are needing care in Calderdale, to equip young people with essential skills such as budgeting, shopping, cooking and housework. Once again, a Methodist Foundation is showing by example that common faith is the best basis for common effort to build a better life in every sense of the word…
They knew—and we dare not forget—that children cannot flourish unless they learn to distinguish right from wrong and have respect and thought for others…
When we have all done our best to repair the broken lives of children, we must also keep in good repair that foundation of standards and values…That way, we can best emulate and honour John Wesley, Lord Shaftesbury—the poor man’s Earl—Dr. Stevenson, the founder of the National Children’s Home, and George Thomas—the children’s Viscount—whom we honour tonight.
When Thatch made this speech she had given George Thomas, who was known to the police and to Parliament to be a serial child sex offender, an hereditary Viscountcy. I don’t know why, because he was a paedophile who targeted boys Thomas had no heirs to whom he could pass on the Viscountcy.
By Jan 1990 Thatch had become good friends with Jimmy Savile and he had spent a few Christmas’s at Chequers with her. Thatch was warned by the civil service that Savile’s ‘private life’ threatened to damage the Gov’t and bring the honours system into disrepute were he to be given a knighthood. Thatch’s response was to lobby ever harder for Savile’s knighthood. Savile received a knighthood in the 1990 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
When Thatch made this speech, her personal friend Sir Peter Morrison, Tory MP for Chester, was Minister of State for Energy. It was known that Morrison was abusing kids in care in north Wales, Cheshire and elsewhere. Thatcher was directly told about this but nonetheless in July 1990 she appointed Morrison as her PPS. He then organised her leadership campaign at the end of that year.
Since 1979 Thatcher had led a Gov’t which had systematically ignored, concealed and colluded with the most dreadful abuse of children and vulnerable young people in north Wales and elsewhere.
Thatch mentioned that Esther was in the audience. I had written to Esther some two years before this speech was given, providing Esther with details of the abuse of mental health patients in north Wales, after Esther launched one of her campaigns. I did not receive a reply.
Thatch mentions the notion of people knowing right from wrong. Paedophiles and their friends are keen on this idea. When I was illegally imprisoned in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh in Dec 1986, I overheard Janice Davies, Dafydd’s mole and the Sister of Bryn Golau Ward telephone Dafydd and tell him that I was ‘dangerous’ and had ‘no sense of right and wrong’. Nothing had happened to elicit the phone call, but Dafydd was in need of ‘evidence’ to justify sectioning me because people were asking questions about my unlawful detention. I challenged Janice and she ran out of the office shrieking ‘I never said any such thing’.
Bryn Golau Ward at the time was full of people who were been detained unlawfully because they had in some way crossed the path of the sex trafficking gang which Dafydd was facilitating.
Everyone in positions of responsibility and authority in Wales and Westminster and Whitehall knew something of what was happening. They have so much blood on their hands that it will never wash off.
I will now try and find out more about this initiative launched by George Thomas for people of sixteen to nineteen in Wales and Calderdale who had been sexually abused. I shudder to think what I will discover.