The main stars of this post have both feet in the grave rather than just one, but their poisonous legacy lingers on.
In my post ‘A Bit More Paleontology’ I mentioned that one of the many old pupils from Bishop Gore School (formerly Swansea Grammar) who had achieved great eminence was Professor John Howell, President of the BMA, 1989-90. As detailed on previous posts, at this time the Top Doctors in the mental health services in north Wales were busy perjuring themselves in an attempt to have me imprisoned, actually documented their plans to do this and cc’d those plans to their partners in crime in various senior NHS and Social Services posts. In the case of Dr Tony Francis (Dr X), he was using the services of the MDU and Welsh Office lawyers to frame me – although the MDU lawyer, Ann Ball, was telling him not to proceed with litigation against me and the Welsh Office lawyer, Andrew Park, admitted that there was no evidence that I had committed the offences that Francis was alleging. Ann Ball and Andrew Park were well aware that I was raising concerns about Francis and his colleagues being involved in criminal activities – I spoke to Ann Ball about this myself on the telephone. Francis was also cc’ing the BMA into much of his correspondence. The BMA whilst John Howell was President.
John Howell was known as Jack. He died in 2015 and a Diana Brighouse wrote the BMJ’s obituary of him. Diana was one of his former students at Southampton. Diana explained that Jack Howell told her that if ever she needed advice or was concerned about anything, she could always go to him. I bet he did – that is the time honoured method which is used by Top Doctors to identify potential whistleblowers among medical students or junior doctors and get rid of them fast using methods of which they will be unaware and will probably only find out about years later – as I have discovered myself… Diana mentioned that Jack emphasised to her and the other students how important it is to persuade their patients to trust them and he showed them the way by sitting next to patients and asking them where they lived, what they did for a living etc. I remember it well – the corrupt Dr D.G.E. Wood pumped me for info regarding Brown and me and used it to stuff us over, as did Tony Francis. ‘For God’s sake don’t trust me, I’m a doctor facilitating a paedophile gang and the sexual exploitation of patients.’ Diana mourned not only Jack but the sort of medicine that he practiced. I’ve got news for Diana – she has nothing to worry about, Jack’s style of medicine is alive and kicking, even if Jack isn’t. Intriguingly Diana mentioned that all the students called Howell ‘whispering Jack’.
Jack Howell was the co-founder of Southampton Medical School. He was born in Swansea in 1926 and qualified at the Middlesex Hospital in 1950. He was Senior Lecturer and Consultant at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, 1960-69 and in 1969 was appointed Foundation Professor of Medicine at Southampton. He was President of the British Thoracic Society, 1988-89 and Chairman of Southampton District Health Authority, 1983-98.
Jack Howell was a friend and colleague of Donald Acheson who was UK Chief Medical Officer, 1983-91. Acheson was also involved in the foundation and development of Southampton Medical School. Acheson was President of the BMA in 1996-97 – as the Waterhouse Inquiry was launched and began taking evidence. Acheson also trained at the Middlesex Hospital and was a similar vintage to Howell. Dr T. Gwynne Williams, the lobotomist who worked at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh and who assisted Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Dr Tony Francis in concealing the North Wales Paedophile Ring, trained at the Middlesex Hospital. He was slightly older than Acheson and Howell but the Middlesex has loyal alumni – as do all medical schools – and they will have all known each other. Donald Acheson helped the Tory Gov’t out of a pickle whilst Thatcher’s aide Sir Peter Morrison MP – among others – were abusing children in care in north Wales (see post Professor Prestigious And His Associates’).
Both I and an embryologist who was a graduate of Aberystwyth University had very odd experiences when we were interviewed for jobs at Southampton Medical School’s newly created IVF Unit in 1989. I suspect that part of the explanation for this was my raising concerns about what was going on in north Wales at the time as well as wrongdoing in Southampton Medical School which the people interviewing us feared that we might notice. Please see post ‘Professor Prestigious And His Associates’ for full details.
Donald Acheson had – quite incredibly considering what he concealed during his career – carried out work on health inequalities whilst he was CMO. He was assisted in this by one Michael Marmot, now Professor Michael Marmot, the go-to man globally where health inequalities are concerned – I suspect that Acheson and Marmot’s earth shattering contribution to this research is the reason why health inequalities remain stubbornly with us (see post ‘Professor Prestigious And His Associates’). Tony Blair commissioned Acheson to Chair an Inquiry into inequalities in health in 1997 and then in 2008 Gordon Brown commissioned Marmot to review health inequalities. Marmot worked at UCL and was President of the BMA, 2010-11. UCL has a flagship health inequalities unit led by Michael Marmot – which is ‘supported’ by the Department of Health and the BMA.
In 1987 the Middlesex Hospital and UCL merged. The senior administrator who worked at the Court of the University of London who oversaw that merger was Ann Widdecombe. Despite having such a senior job, London University were most helpful to Honest Ann when she was seeking a Conservative seat – she was allowed extensive paid leave to campaign and was even given the use of a member of the secretarial staff from London University to assist her. Widdecombe was also overtly encouraged and supported by her boss at the University when she was involved in covert activity opposing CND. The Anglesey Conservative Association were particularly eager to snare Widdecombe as their Parliamentary candidate. Details of Widdecombe’s extraordinary path to Westminster may be read in my post ‘Doris Karloff – Honest About Her Expenses But Not Much Else’.
Another old boy of Swansea Grammar who was of a similar vintage to Jack Howell was Lord Brian Flowers, who became Rector of Imperial College and then Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. My post ‘A Bit More Paleontology’ provides an account of Flowers’ career. I mentioned that Flowers was running the University of London whilst there was endemic misconduct and research fraud occurring at RPMS (Royal Postgraduate Medical School)/Hammersmith Hospital (see post ‘A Cause Close To Our Hearts’) and whilst St George’s Hospital Medical School employed Oliver Brooke – a key figure in a pan-European paedophile ring who was imprisoned for the possession of child porn – as their Professor of Paediatrics. Flowers was in post whilst the University of London was doing all it could to ensure that Ann Widdecombe became a Tory MP.
Whilst I was a postgrad at RPMS, I was told by a fellow student who’s husband was a member of staff there that it was known that one particularly questionable academic at RPMS – even by the standards of RPMS – was Professor Julia Polak. Polak was famed for her utter ruthlessness. She was a Top Doctor who had qualified in Argentina but her qualification wasn’t recognised in the UK. When she arrived in the UK she was taken under the wing of one of the few really decent academics at RPMS who gave her research facilities and helped her to build her career. When he retired and wanted to remain as an Emeritus Professor – by which time Polak was managing the department – Polak refused him any facilities. I was told by more than one person that Polak would do anything to make a name for herself and that she was believed to be committing even more audacious research fraud than many of her colleagues. I met one person who had been shafted by her whilst a PhD student.
A few years after I left London, Julia Polak became famous. She was the centre of a story worthy of the script writers of ‘Holby City’. In the 1990s Polak had begun to feel a little unwell. Nothing serious or too worrying, just a bit of breathlessness really. At the time Polak was working with Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, the transplant surgeon at Harefield Hospital, researching ways of improving the treatment of patients with pulmonary hypertension. Julia mentioned that she had been experiencing a bit of breathlessness and her colleagues urged her to get herself checked out. After a while she reluctantly agreed to be examined by one of her colleagues at RPMS/Hammersmith Hospital – specifically who does not seem to be public knowledge. To her absolute amazement, not only was she suffering from exactly the same condition on which she and Yacoub were working – pulmonary hypertension – but she was seriously ill as a result of it! In fact she was at death’s door and Magdi recommended a heart and lung transplant. Julia was most reluctant to agree, but after a short while she realised that it was the only answer. She was whisked off to Harefield Hospital where she waited nearly two months in intensive care for organs to become available. The call came at 2am whilst she was on a weekend visit home – so back into Harefield she went and in 1995 the life-saving surgery was performed by the great man himself. Julia laid low for a few weeks, but once she was back on her feet, she realised that her life’s work was now to Discover A Cure for lung disease.
Julia set about publicising Her True Story, founded the Julia Polak Lung Transplant Fund and then along with her colleague Larry Hench she established and later led the Centre for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College – RPMS/Hammersmith and the other London medical schools were merged with Imperial College at the behest of Lord Brian Flowers. Magdi Yacoub joined Julia’s new Centre. Julia’s Story became the basis for a novel by Rosemary Friedman, ‘Intensive Care’. So business-like was Julia about her Life’s Work that she even produced her own old diseased lungs to show to students at RPMS.
Julia was made. She became Dame Julia and advised on Parliamentary Committees. She obtained funding from the Texas/UK Collaborative Research Initiative in Biosciences. Sadly in 2014 she died of ‘undisclosed causes’. At the time of her death at 75 years old, Dame Julia was one of the world’s longest surviving heart and lung transplant patients.
So someone with a reputation for being prepared to murder her grandmother if it would advance her, as well as for research fraud, who worked in an institution in which misconduct was endemic and in which other senior academics were known to be carrying out research fraud, managed to suddenly develop the condition which she was researching which was only diagnosed by an unidentified colleague in the fraud-plagued institution in which she worked herself, then nearly died of the condition which she was researching which had been diagnosed by her colleague, then made a Lazarusesque recovery after a double transplant performed by another colleague – which took place at 2am at the weekend, so there won’t have been that many people around to witness or indeed not witness the operation. In the wake of all this, a novel is written, heart-tugging charities are set up and the millions roll in. The benefactors are the institution which employed in a senior position everybody involved with saving Julia’s life and of course Julia, Magdi and their colleagues, including Lord Brian Flowers. As for the displaying of the diseased lungs to the students – diseased organs are ten a penny at RPMS, whilst I was a postgrad there we were given them to dissect every day. Organs and other specimens are frequently kept by hospitals without consent and sometimes unlawfully. When I worked at St George’s I came across a foetus in a jar and I asked the dreadful Dr Cathy Wilson – who’s lab this was in – the age of the foetus (because it looked fully formed) and she shrieked at me. Probably because that foetus should not have been in a jar sitting in her lab and she knew it.
Lest anyone unfamiliar with the everyday story of medical school folk have difficulty believing that Polak et al could ever get away with a fraud as substantial as the one that I suspect them of having committed, I wanna tell you a story to quote Max Bygraves.
Some two years after I left St Georges and their criminal wrongdoing behind, I read in the ‘Indie’ and the ‘Guardian’ that a consultant at St George’s had made history by saving an ectopic pregnancy. He had carried out an operation in which he had transferred the embryo from the Fallopian tube into the uterus, the pregnancy had progressed to term and had resulted in the birth of a healthy baby. The consultant who had performed this miracle was Malcom Pearce, who had been my boss at St George’s. Malcolm Pearce was very energetic and cleverer than a lot of his colleagues and I didn’t think was as poisonous as many of them, but people did used to grumble about him and his excessive drinking and there were whispers that a Chair in the US was going to be found for Malcolm before he somehow disgraced himself at St George’s. So when I read about the miracle that Malcolm had performed I presumed that he had sorted the boozing and had achieved something. In 1994 a huge scandal blew up at St George’s. It transpired that Malcolm had not performed the operation which he claimed. He hadn’t even attempted to perform it. He had made the whole thing up and published it. It was never made clear how Malcolm’s fraud was uncovered, but once it was, Sir William Asscher the ‘absolute bastard’ (to quote a former colleague) who was the Dean of St George’s conducted an inquiry. It was found that Malcolm had doctored (so to speak) medical records and had fabricated the results of some other clinical trials. Malcolm was subsequently struck off.
The question that I have always been interested in is why was Malcolm Pearce hung out to dry for doing something that huge swathes of his colleagues were doing – research fraud – and for doing a lot less than some others – for example facilitating a paedophile ring in north Wales…
When Malcolm’s fraud became public, everyone followed the line of ‘We’re shocked and disgusted and we knew nuzzin…’ Well did no-one wonder where the baby that Malcom had successfully saved was? This was a medical first, surely that baby would have been of interest. As would be the baby’s mum. Where was she? What about the rest of the team who had looked after the mother and baby? Where were they? What about the theatre staff who would have been present at the medical miracle? There must have been some degree of collusion on the part of at least some other members of staff.
Somebody else suffered badly from the fall-out over Malcolm’s fantasy, but not as badly as Malcolm did – Professor Geoffrey Chamberlain, the Professor and the Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Dept at St George’s and at the time President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Chamberlain had co-authored the paper with Malcolm. Chamberlain gave evidence at Malcolm’s GMC hearing, blamed the whole business on Malcolm and made a few Dr Finlayesque comments about having trusted Malcolm and having been dreadfully let down by him. Chamberlain didn’t get the knighthood that he was expected to be in line for, but he wasn’t struck off or disciplined in any way.
I confess to having been very slow on the uptake about this matter. I have blogged about all it previously and because I have been so pre-occupied with why Malcolm was thrown to the wolves when others were doing so much worse, I have missed the obvious. Chamberlain CO-AUTHORED THE PAPER. Of course Chamberlain too would have wanted to meet the mother and baby involved – Chamberlain was famously sociable and clubbable, the patients loved him and he had a Harley Street practice with celeb patients as well. He would have wanted to be photographed with that baby and to have featured in feel-good stories.
Geoffrey Chamberlain was in on that fraud but he was the one who got away. Surprise Surprise!
Chamberlain was Welsh. His father Albert was Secretary to the Lord Mayor of Cardiff. Chamberlain went to Llandaff Cathedral School, Cowbridge Grammar School and then read medicine at UCL. He trained at RPMS, GOSH, Queen Charlottes and Chelsea Hospital for Women and King’s College Hospital, London. He was Professor of Obs and Gynae at St George’s, 1982-95. Between 2000-08 he lectured in the history of medicine at Swansea University.
Between 1955-74 Geoffrey Chamberlain served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and reached the rank of surgeon commander. Gwynne the lobotomist who facilitated the paedophile ring in north Wales had also spent a number of years as a surgeon in the Royal Navy.
Geoffrey Chamberlain had been a colleague of and was on good terms with Oliver Brooke. Oliver Brooke’s stash of child porn was discovered in the cupboards of an office in St George’s.
We cannot ask Geoffrey Chamberlain to explain his wrongdoing because he is now dead. However I believe that his wife, another Top Doctor, Professor Jocelyn Chamberlain, is still alive. Jocelyn spent much of her career involved with the cervical screening programme – another field of medicine in which lies have been told. In the 1970s Jocelyn Chamberlain worked at the Middlesex Hospital.
The victims of and witnesses to the paedophile ring in north Wales were found dead Jocelyn. Time for you to make a police statement before you too are no longer with us. Perhaps you’d also like to tell us why Malcolm Pearce was lynched – was he about to grass you all up? Because Malcolm Pearce was finished off at the same time as Gordon Anglesea the former senior officer with the North Wales Police was awarded nearly £400k damages after he was accused of sexually abusing boys in care in north Wales and as investigations into the possibility of a paedophile ring in north Wales began. In 2016 Gordon Anglesea was imprisoned for historical sexual offences against boys in care in north Wales. Weeks after giving evidence against Anglesea, the young man who accused him of abuse was found dead.
Every summer the Chamberlains used to hold a garden party at their house in Wimbledon. One of their neighbours was George Carman QC, the corrupt barrister who knew about the north Wales paedophile ring (see posts ‘No Ordinary Methods’ and ‘No Ordinary Methods – Supplementary Post’). Just down the road in Wandsworth lived Michael Mansfield, the radical lawyer who also studiously ignored anything to do with the north Wales paedophile ring (see post ‘Workers’ Play Time’).