Don’t Be Silly, He’s Nice

Most of Ronnie Waterhouse’s whitewash was dedicated to excusing people employed in social care or social work who had abused children in care. However for those of us au fait with the mental health services in north Wales, there is a chapter that makes even more dreadful reading than the rest of the Waterhouse Report – the chapter concerning Gwynfa, a residential NHS unit for children with mental health problems, or in Ronnie’s parlance, ’emotionally disturbed and maladjusted children’. I need to remind readers yet again here that Ronnie’s definition of ‘disturbed’ and ‘maladjusted’, or indeed the mental health service’s definition, may well not be what the rest of the world – even in those days – would define as disturbed or maladjusted. In north Wales NHS speak it simply means that you’ve complained about a Top Doctor breaking the law or abusing their position. Ronnie’s chapter on Gwynfa demonstrates that this was as true in the children’s mental health services as it was in the adults’ services.

Gwynfa was a residential unit in Colwyn Bay that was a combined clinic and school. It was established in 1961 as an NHS psychiatric hospital for children with an on-site school. With the establishment of Clwyd County Council in 1974 the residential/clinic part became the responsibility of Clwyd Health Authority and the school became the responsibility of Clwyd County Council. Until 1982/83 the North Wales Child Guidance Clinic Service offered and monitored admissions, but after that it was administered by the Mental Health Unit of Clwyd Health Authority – yes, that bunch of goons who allowed Dr Dafydd Alun Jones to illegally bang up anyone who crossed his path, who oversaw a shagfest in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh and who failed to investigate any complaints, even those of serious abuse of patients. Gwynfa by this time was an 18 bed unit for children below school leaving age, staffed by eight qualified nurses, six ‘other’ nurses (who won’t have actually been nurses if they weren’t qualified) and four psychologists. A child psychiatrist, Dr Barry Kiehn, was appointed in 1981 his remit being specifically Gwynfa and according to Waterhouse it was at this time that ‘the concept of a therapeutic community was introduced’. In April 1993 the administration of Gwynfa was taken over by the Clwydian Community Care NHS Trust after an NHS reorganisation. Of course the people managing and staffing the Clwydian Community Care NHS Trust were exactly the same corrupt old gits who had managed and staffed the previous organisations. Letters in my possession regarding my own case written after the ‘reorganisation’ are signed by exactly the same people and use exactly the same phrases as before. Believe me, nothing changed. The average stay for the patients at Gwynfa was five months, although some were there a lot longer.

The overall responsibility for managing Gwynfa was taken by the Principal Nursing Officer, who was responsible for recruitment and selection of staff. They reported to the Unit Nursing Officer (later known as the Director of Nursing Services) at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, who visited Gwynfa about once a month. So Gwynfa was ultimately run by the person who ran Denbigh. When I read that I knew that the tales from the children at Gwynfa would be bad. Gwynfa was shut down in 1997 – I wonder whether that decision had been made in anticipation of what former patients might say to the Waterhouse Inquiry.

Between 1972-1990 the Principal Nursing Officer for Gwynfa was Nigel Mannering Berry. By 1972 he had already been employed there for nine years. Waterhouse tells us that Berry qualified as a registered mental nurse in 1959 and had been previously employed at Denbigh. So the ‘therapeutic community’ for children was run by something out of the ark who had worked at Denbigh when Gwynne the lobotomist was in full swing. Waterhouse notes that Berry had no specific training in dealing with ‘disturbed’ children. Waterhouse states that since 1974 there had been five internal investigations/reviews of the conduct of specific members of nursing staff at Gwynfa.

In 1986 a male member of staff had head butted a boy patient. The nurse received a final warning (which suggests that he’d done similar things previously) and was transferred to ‘another hospital’ for adults. Probably the North Wales Hospital, presumably so he could head butt patients there.

In 1991 an investigation was held into the relationship between a 16 year old girl with a depressive disorder and a 45 year old auxillary nurse, Robert Martin Williams. We are told that the investigation began after a ‘letter’ was found, but staff were unable to encourage the girl to supply details of Williams’s activities. I wonder how hard they tried. Waterhouse notes that Williams had been previously ‘counselled’ (!) regarding his behaviour towards patients after other staff members raised concerns about him. He denied an unspecified ‘offence’ and resigned. Waterhouse goes on to explain that in 1996 the girl told the police that Williams had actually raped her twice. Waterhouse refers to a ‘highly incriminating letter’ which he had seen himself. Williams was charged with two counts of rape and in March 1997 was convicted at Mold Crown Court of both offences and sentenced to six years in prison. I note that like many other children at Gwynfa this girl had not been in care, so could not even be dehumanised and dishonoured like so many of the ‘troublesome’ young people in the children’s homes who were abused. Neither was she ‘disturbed’ or ‘maladjusted’ – even Gwynfa described her as ‘depressed’. So a 16 year old girl with depression was raped twice by a member of staff. And nothing happened until some years later when there was a major police investigation into the care of children in north Wales. Had there not been that investigation, Clwyd Health Authority and the North Wales Hospital would have sat on those rapes forever. Waterhouse notes that the girl who had been raped ‘did not feel able’ to use the complaints system. No-one asked her why. Of course, readers who have read my earlier posts will know that by the time that this teenager ‘did not feel able’ to use the complaints system, I had used that system and I had used it to raise concerns about, among other things, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones’s conduct towards female patients and staff at the North Wales Hospital physically assaulting patients. I got nowhere and interestingly enough at the time that this girl was being raped in Gwynfa, I was being dragged through the High Court by Sir Robert Francis QC – at the behest of psychiatrists in north Wales – who was demanding my imprisonment for ‘harassment’ because I was writing numerous letters alleging that patients were being criminally abused in the north Wales mental health services (see post ‘The Sordid Role Of Sir Robert Francis QC’).

But it transpired that there had been many other allegations of abuse by children who had been patients at Gwynfa and that by July 1993 it was clear that there was a problem with allegations of a ‘serious nature’. It was about this time that I was receiving letters from Laurie Wood, the former manager of the mental health services in Clwyd who then became Chief Exec of the Clwydian Community NHS Trust, refusing to reopen my own complaint and reassuring me that he was certain that no-one else was having the sort of experiences that I had – although of course at the same time maintaining that nobody had behaved improperly in my case at all. In July 1993 Detective Superintendent Ackerley from the North Wales Police was invited to conduct a fuller investigation into Gwynfa. That’s the North Wales Police whose officers conspired with Dr Dafydd Alun Jones to unlawfully arrest people and detain them in the North Wales Hospital – the same North Wales Police who returned children to children’s homes after they’d run away to escape the beatings and the buggery, the same North Wales Police who returned patients to Denbigh if they ran off even though they were being held there illegally. The same North Wales Police who employed Gordon Anglesea, who was abusing boys in care himself.

Waterhouse intriguingly tells us that ‘at some stage’ the NHS Trust ‘became aware’ that seven former patients had made serious allegations to the police against a member of staff who was still employed at Gwynfa, referred to only as Z. The Trust asked the police to ask the former patients who had made statements for their permission for the Trust to access the statements for internal disciplinary purposes. Only four patients gave permission. Waterhouse simply observes that because of this the NHS Trust had to investigate the matter ‘on an incomplete basis’. Ronnie doesn’t ask why the other patients had given statements to the police but wouldn’t co-operate with the Trust. Had they perhaps found themselves repeatedly up in Court after NHS staff made daft allegations about them? Ronnie tells us that the legal advice that the Trust Board received was that the available evidence was insufficient to justify Z’s dismissal. That advice would have come from the same source as the advice to repeatedly arrest me after I made serious complaint – that source being Andrew Park, the bent solicitor from the Welsh Office. Two members of staff were transferred to a day hospital. There’s a familiar pattern here – serious allegations made against a staff member, complaints mysteriously dropped or not followed up, the member of staff at the centre of the allegations transferred to work somewhere else with equally vulnerable people. Exactly what happened when I complained about the SEN Stephen Rose, employed at the North Wales Hospital, assaulting me. No investigation, but Rose relocated to Park Lane Hospital – an institution notorious for staff abusing patients. Regarding Z, it gets worse. Yet further allegations against Z were made at a later date and Z was finally suspended in July 1997. In March 1999 the CPS stated that a prosecution was not justified.

Altogether 27 people told the Waterhouse Tribunal that they had been abused at Gwynfa. 23 people complained about incidents between 1974-1987, 10 of them named Z. At the time that Ronnie submitted his Report, the police investigation into Z was continuing. Ronnie states that it would be ‘inappropriate to make any further comment’ because he had not heard any evidence from Z and Z’s ‘legal position was not clear to the Tribunal’. So even with all those lawyers, the team of paralegals and administrators from the Welsh Office and his numerous advisors, poor old Ronnie – a former High Court judge – couldn’t clarify Z’s legal position. So no more was said. Not that Ronnie had reached his zenith with this comment – he admitted that although there were allegations of sexual abuse against four members of staff, ‘they do not suggest a pattern of such abuse among staff’. His rationale for this thinking was bizarre – it was because each allegation of sexual abuse was made about a different member of staff, on a different occasion, by a different patient. Which suggests to me that there was one hell of a problem – particularly as one member of staff was already in prison for the double rape of a patient and dear old Z was at the centre of a police investigation. It’s also highly likely that there were many more allegations that no-one ever got to hear about. We learn from Ronnie’s Report that a 13 year old girl was indecently assaulted but did not report it at the time and that a 17 year old male patient was buggered in 1979/80, but that this allegation didn’t come to light until the police interviewed the complainant in 1992 – in 1993 there was a decision not to prosecute.

Ronnie didn’t just hear about sexual abuse at Gwynfa. Again and again bizarre stories – bizarre but all too believable to those of us who know how the mental health services routinely conducted themselves – were related by former patients. A boy who was described as ‘behaving disruptively’ at a private school in Llandudno was sent to Gwynfa – but he thought that he was going into hospital to have his heart investigated! Who told him this cock and bull story? And what was the nature of his ‘disruptive behaviour’ at the private school in Llandudno? Which school was it? We know that people were diverted into the mental health services if they crossed the paths of certain people or questioned abuses – is it possible that something was going on in the school in Llandudno that shouldn’t have been? This boy told Waterhouse that his year at Gwynfa had been a ‘waste of time’, that he hadn’t been helped, that the education at Gwynfa was inadequate, but he also told of two very serious assaults from male members of staff. On one occasion, a harness was made of rubber rings and he was yanked up on a door using this contraption – it was incredibly painful but he was told by the ‘nurses’ who did this to ‘take it in good spirit’. On another occasion he was dropped onto the ground outside from a first floor window. Each of these incidents was constructed as being the patient’s own fault. As every assault on a mental health patient in north Wales always is.

A girl felt so uneasy about Z that she told her (female) social worker that she didn’t like him. The social worker told her not to be silly, he was nice. The girl persisted with her concerns about Z – the social worker stated that she was ‘seeking attention’. Again this is depressingly familiar – over the last thirty years, I and others consistently raised concerns about staff who were doing things that they shouldn’t have been doing. We too were fobbed off constantly with idiocies – I lost count of the number of times that I was told that Dafydd Alun Jones had ‘helped people’, that ‘other patients like him’ or even, yes, that he was ‘nice’. He wasn’t, he was/is a fucking criminal who was abusing patients and everyone knew it. What chance did CHILDREN stuck in a residential unit for months have against staff who were groping them, raping them and throwing them out of windows? Ronnie admits that one witness at the Tribunal remembered being physically assaulted by Z – Ronnie simply states ‘we say no more about it’. Other former patients remembered being gagged with elastoplasts that were then ripped off, hit on the head with a pool cue, hung out of a window, regularly assaulted and beaten up. One witness described how a dog collar was put on him and he was led around on a lead – he was seven years old. One former patient compared Gwynfa to a prison. Which it was, but probably one with fewer safeguards.

Waterhouse details two ‘therapies’ that were used at Gwynfa. ‘Pyjama therapy’ – where the children had their clothes removed and could only wear pyjamas. (I witnessed an adult male patient subjected to this at Ysbyty Gwynedd in the early 1990s.) But Gwynfa also had ‘bed therapy’ – children’s clothes AND pyjamas were removed from them so they were forced to remain in bed. Presumably naked under the covers with a bunch of rapists ‘caring’ for them. Sexual assault therapy could well have followed.

Despite the graphic accounts of the daily abuse that so many children endured, Ronnie decided that ‘the picture we have received of conditions at Gwynfa has been incomplete’ and ‘we have not attempted to reach detailed conclusions about the regime at Gwynfa’. Ronnie does have a bit of advice concerning Gwynfa though. He notes that it was staffed by male adult psychiatric nurses with no experience of child care, so he recommended that there should be more social services involvement, with trained residential care staff being introduced and that senior staff should have qualifications in residential child care. So instead of being assaulted by a bunch of former Denbigh nurses, the children could be assaulted by the sort of children’s social care staff that the rest of Ronnie’s Report was concerned with.

It seems that the abuses at Gwynfa only came to light when in Sept 1991 a former Gwynfa patient appeared on TV and a police investigation followed. Clwyd Health Authority reacted by ordering an investigation and a report from Irene Train, who was at the time of the Waterhouse Inquiry, Divisional General Manager (North) of Clwyd’s Community and Mental Health Unit. Irene featured in a previous blog post ‘It’s A Piece Of Cake’. In 1990 after Stephen Norris the Officer in Charge of a children’s home called Cartrefle had been convicted of sexual assault, the ACPC (Area Children’s Protection Committee) was asked to conduct a review. Irene Train was Vice-Chair – and then Chair – of the ACPC. She was at that time Director of Public Health Nursing in Clwyd Health Authority. So Irene was someone else who was in a very senior position, was very well-networked and even Chaired the ACPC – who was just so taken aback by all the allegations of violence and rape that emerged after people started appearing on TV and in the press. Irene presented ‘written evidence’ to the Tribunal informing Ronnie that: there was now ‘confidential free telephone facilities for patients to obtain individual counselling’; the development of child advocacy services; and that patients were informed of their right to have their complaints dealt with by the Chief Exec and a right of appeal to a non-executive director of the NHS Trust. Right – there is no confidentiality in the north Wales mental health services, the entire system works on gossip and rumour; hardly any of the ‘counsellors’ employed know anything about counselling, nearly all of them have been ‘trained’ by the same lame abusive idiots that have spawned the disaster in the first place; the ‘advocacy’ services positively ensure that no competent ‘advocate’ is ever employed and most of the ‘advocates’ are ‘service users’ themselves who are dependent upon the system and far too frightened to challenge it; the Chief Exec was Laurie Wood, who was ultimately responsible for the abusive services and who was very much part of the problem; a non-executive director of the NHS Trust will not step on anyone’s toes. So I really don’t think that Irene Train’s bright ideas were ever going to stop any future patients being abused.

So the children at Gwynfa were raped and assaulted and as with the children in care I expect that many – if not most of them – will be dead by now. What of those responsible for the ‘service’? Such as Dr Barry Kiehn, the child psychiatrist specifically responsible for the ‘therapeutic community’ that was Gwynfa? Barry Kiehn is now retired and living the life of Riley. His twitter feed informs us that he lives in Colwyn Bay (as so many featured in the wrongdoing detailed on this blog do) and he enjoys opera, classical music, ballet, art, ceramics, travel, languages, science and singing. How did such a cultured man stand by whilst his young patients were sexually assaulted and battered by a bunch of ageing thugs who had been transferred from the North Wales Hospital Denbigh? What about Irene, the most senior nurse responsible for those thugs? Irene is now retired but she keeps busy. In 2003-2004 she was Secretary for St David’s Promotions Ltd – that’s the fundraising bit of St David’s Hospice. The St David’s Hospice in Llandudno that gave the former manager of the Hergest Unit Alun Davies a job as Chief Exec after his corruption and mismanagement left the Hergest Unit a heap of smouldering rubble; the St David’s Hospice who, once Davies finally went, gave the dreadful Trystan Pritchard a job as Chief Exec – the Trystan who was responsible for lies, deceit and mismanagement when he worked at Ysbyty Gwynedd, the Trystan with Masonic connections who was on excellent terms with the regime of managers previously employed by the North West Wales NHS Trust. Please see post ‘The CEOs Of St David’s Hospice’ for more information. In 2006 however, Irene Train turned up as a company director, along with a Howard Geoffrey Train and a number of other people with the surname ‘Train’, of an outfit called H Domestic Agency Ltd. H Domestic Agency’s address is 99 Blimco Grove, Cambridge, should anyone wish to contact Irene and ask her a few questions about her glorious career in Clwyd. As for Nigel Mannering Berry, the pig who was ‘Principal Nursing Officer’ at Gwynfa, who oversaw the brutality and the abuse after gaining so much ‘experience’ at Denbigh – well he lives in Colwyn Bay as well. Specifically at 40 Yerburgh Avenue, Colwyn Bay, LL29 7NB. But guess what? Between 1993-94 Nigel was a Director of Colwyn Bay Masonic Hall! Ah, the Masons that never provided any sort of protective network at all for anyone involved in the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal – we know that because Ronnie confirmed in his Report that there was no evidence of Masonic links and so did Stephen Crabb, who was Secretary of State for Wales when the cover-up that covered up Ronnie’s cover-up, ie. the Macur Review, was published. I invite Ronnie and Stephen Crabb to do what I’ve just done, google Nigel Mannering Berry and read that very long list of names that are associated with the Colwyn Bay Masonic Hall – and that’s just the Colwyn Bay contingent. And if they’ve got time Ronnie and Stephen can google dear old Mrs Train and her former associates at St David’s Hospice – they’re all there, the elderly negligent fuckwits from yesteryear who brought the north Wales NHS to it’s knees.

There is of course one elderly negligent fuckwit who was in a senior management role with the Clwyd mental health services whilst horrors were being perpetuated at Gwynfa who has not yet been put out to grass. That is Dr Peter Higson, the current Chairman of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Let me remind you Higson: a 16 year old girl with depression raped twice; a 17 year old boy buggered; a seven year old boy fitted with a dog collar and led around on a lead; children dropped out of windows; hit with pool cues; regularly assaulted and beaten.

Waterhouse makes an passing observation regarding Gwynfa that I find telling. That most of the patients there were actually from Gwynedd – and that Barry Kiehn was categorised as a child psychiatrist employed by Gwynedd Health Authority. So it was those fine upstanding Top Doctors from Gwynedd who were referring children to a ‘hospital’ where they were beaten and raped.

Do all these people not owe the world an explanation? Or am I just being silly because they’re nice?

 

 

 

Author: Sally Baker

I am a writer and a sociologist, originally from Somerset, but I've been based in Wales for most of my life. I had my first encounter with a mental health professional in 1984 at the age of 21. My GP described this man to my then partner - who also became a sociologist - as someone who had experienced 'considerable success'. My meeting with this psychiatrist was a disaster and we attempted to complain about his insensitivity and highly inappropriate behaviour. That was the first time we were threatened and pressurised to withdraw a complaint against a mental health professional. This man is long dead - he was a retired psychiatrist from the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, T. Gwynne Williams, who was working shifts in the student health centre at University College of North Wales (now Bangor University). We discovered years later that this 'successful man' was notorious - he had been an enthusiastic lobotomist...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *