I have previously mentioned the case of Mary Wynch. Mary made legal history by being the first person to sue for being wrongly detained under the Mental Health Act –Dr Dafydd Alun Jones was one of those whom she sued. Mary’s case received widespread media attention in the London based press when she won the case – such was the aggro that she received in north Wales that by then she had gone into hiding in Eastbourne. I contacted her via the ‘Guardian’ and met up with her. I think that Mary has probably died by now, so there are a number of outstanding questions that cannot be answered. I have been trying to research Mary’s case for some while but have had great trouble retrieving information. It’s almost as if there has been an attempt to airbrush this case from history. However my co-researcher has now managed to access some information, including a transcript from the appeal – Mary had to initially appeal to the Master of the Rolls Lord Donaldson for leave to sue Jones et al.
I first read about Mary’s case after it was reported in the broadsheets in 1985, after Lord Donaldson allowed her appeal. I had just had my first taste of bad behaviour on the part of the north Wales mental health services but had no idea of just how corrupt that they were at that point. Over the following few years I received very serious grief from them, so when I read at some point in the late 80s that Mary had won her case against Dafydd Alun Jones et al I was keen to speak to her.
Mary told me an even worse story than had appeared in the press. Despite the allegations of ‘madness’ that those we know and love threw at Mary she was actually very level headed and was acutely aware that she couldn’t make statements in press interviews that she did not have evidence for, so she never spoke in public about some very worrying matters. I will summarise what she told me here. Mary had lived in Caernarfon, worked as a secretary in the agriculture dept at Bangor University (known in those days as UCNW) and for a long while looked after her elderly mother. Mary had a sister whom she did not get on with. Mary told me that at one point her mother was in a care home owned by Jones. Mary was worried about the standard of care there – when her mother subsequently died, Mary was deeply concerned at the circumstances of her mother’s death. Mary’s worst fear was that her mother had died of an overdose that had been unlawfully administered. The story that Mary related to me was that when she saw her mother’s body, it was covered in blisters. Mary was later told that this could have been the sign of a barbiturate overdose. She talked at length of her deep frustration at never being able to prove this, although she was pretty sure that was what had happened. In the wake of her mother’s death there was a dispute between Mary and her sister over her mother’s estate. Mary described her sister as ‘evil’ and believed that her sister was in cahoots with both Dafydd Alun Jones and the solicitors whom Mary alleged had mishandled her mother’s estate. It seemed that Mary had encountered difficulties with a number of different local solicitors firms and she alleged that these solicitors were so closely linked that they effectively formed a ring. As a result of the dispute Mary was ordered to hand over certain documents but refused, as she believed that the law had been broken and corruption was at work. She was imprisoned for contempt of court and sent to the notoriously grim Risley Remand Centre. She was then declared to be suffering from ‘paranoia’ and was detained in the North Wales Hospital for a year. When Mary finally got out she started the tortuous process of suing Jones, Clwyd Health Authority, Dr Paul Bishop (a GP) and Dr Paul Hayward (the medical officer at Risley Remand Centre) and the Home Office. By the time that I met her, negligence had been admitted and press reports had stated that Mary had been awarded £27,5000 damages – but she told me that everyone involved was quibbling over actually paying the damages and that it looked as though she was going to have to go to Court again to enforce payment. Intriguingly, no more information about Mary’s case or indeed Mary appeared in the media, despite the huge media interest that there had been. I never saw Mary again and I never knew whether she did receive her damages or what the results of her outstanding legal cases against other parties involved with the mishandling of her case were. The lack of further media coverage was quite inexplicable. When I met Mary, as well as telling me about her suspicions and fears regarding her mother’s death, she told me that conditions in Denbigh were dreadful. Interestingly enough although Jones had been prescribing huge quantities of anti-psychotics for her, as with me the nurses did not suggest that she take it. Mary told me that her greatest challenge in Denbigh was not showing any emotion – she realised that these people were a law unto themselves and would leap on any excuse to demonstrate further ‘insanity’ and who knows what would happen to her. She also told me another interesting anecdote. That the ‘young people’s ward’ was visible from the ward where she was imprisoned. Every evening the staff from Mary’s ward would gather around the window and watch the activities in the young people’s ward – Mary explained that the staff told her that Jones encouraged the young people to have sex with each other and that the staff treated the action in the young people’s ward as a live sex show.
One thing that I remembered from the press reports was a statement that Mary had been a voluntary outpatient of Jones’s after her mother’s death. This claim also appears in the transcript from the appeal. Yet I got the distinct impression from Mary that she only encountered Jones when she was banged up in Denbigh. Now Jones lies, he lies under all circumstances and one thing that he lied about in my case was that he assessed me before ordering the police to take me to Denbigh. He did NOT see me beforehand and did not carry out any sort of ‘assessment’. I cannot now clarify anything with Mary, but I strongly suspect that Jones did not treat her as a voluntary outpatient. She believed that her sister, whom she did not get on with and suspecting of swindling her, was in cahoots with Jones, so I think it very unlikely that she was returning to see him as a voluntary outpatient. She spoke of how unpleasant he was when she met me, but she certainly didn’t speak about Jones in any way that suggested that she knew him as ‘her doctor’ – she barely remembered his name and referred to him as ‘the doctor at Denbigh’. As far as Mary was concerned, Jones was just one of many professional people who had done various things that they shouldn’t have. I note that the claim that Mary had been treated by Jones as a voluntary outpatient was central to the claim of him and his cronies that she was mentally ill – ie. that she had been ‘deeply affected’ by her mother’s death and had it was alleged that she had been referred to Dafydd by her GP. Even if the GP had made the referral this does not mean that Dafydd actually saw Mary. Dafydd cannot be believed and Mary is not here to ask, so this is one of the many unanswered questions about Mary’s case.
As well as appearing in the broadsheets and the Spectator, Mary’s case was also featured in the BBC Two series ‘Taking Liberties’ in an episode called ‘Who Will Listen To Mary Winch’ which was screened on March 5 1991. Readers will notice that in the title of this programme, Mary’s surname was spelt ‘Winch’, as it was in the other media reports and indeed on the Court papers. Yet in north Wales, Mary’s name was always spelt ‘Wynch’ and I seem to remember that this is how she signed her name on the letter to me when she agreed to meet me. This is yet another very odd thing about this case – although I knew from personal experience that Court documents are full of errors, including basic ones and serious ones.
After the BBC programme I never heard another thing about Mary either in the London based or north Wales media. Interest in her case disappeared overnight and I was been unable to gain any further information about it until my co-researcher came up with some gems a few days ago. He has dug out a brief potted history of Mary’s case that appeared in the Spectator and has also acquired a transcript of Mary’s appeal, which was heard on 9 July 1985 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London before Sir John Donaldson (Master of the Rolls), Lord Justice Parker and Lord Justice Balcombe. The case is listed as Mary Agnes Winch v Dr Dafydd Alun Jones, Clwyd Health Authority, representatives of the estate of Paul Eardley Hayward, Paul Manley Bishop, Home Office. John MacDonald and Colin Braham were instructed by B.M. Birnberg and Co for Mary and Jon Williams was instructed by dear old Hempsons (who else – the lawyers who act for the Medical Defence Union who have featured on this blog previously) on behalf of Dafydd Alun Jones and Paul Bishop and Christopher Symons was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the personal representatives of the estate of Paul Hayward and the Home Office. Mary appealed to the High Court for leave for two actions alleging negligence against 1. Dafydd Alun Jones and his employers Clwyd Health Authority 2. Against the late Paul Hayward and his employers the Home Office and Paul Bishop. Because all three of the doctors were purporting to be acting under the 1959 Mental Health Act, Mary had to apply for leave to bring actions against them. It is mentioned in the transcript that Mary had been previously refused leave by Justice Otten (elsewhere his name is spelt Otton).
The transcript states that Mary’s mother died in 1972 and that the Public Trustee administered her estate and subsequently brought an action against Mary and possibly also her sister. Mary was ordered to hand over certain documents and refused (Mary was alleging corruption and law breaking and also maintained that she had not been given the opportunity to attend a crucial court hearing.) Mary was sent to Risley Remand Centre for contempt of court by His Honour Vice-Chancellor Blackett-Ord. The committal was in October 1977 but Mary went into hiding so wasn’t actually arrested until July 1978. It is stated that in October 1978 Mary was discharged from Risley by order of Blackett-Ord to the North Wales Hospital Denbigh to the care of Dafydd Alun Jones, on Section 26 of the Mental Health Act 1959, which allowed her to be detained for up to 12 months. This was done on the recommendation of Hayward and Bishop, Hayward being the medical officer at Risley, Bishop being a GP. For 12 months Mary was subjected to section 26 ‘either in the North Wales Hospital or on leave’ (at no point did anyone or Mary ever suggest that she had been ‘on leave’ – it was stated at all times that she was banged up for 12 months). Mary’s case was that Hayward and Bishop failed to exercise ‘reasonable care in diagnosing her with paranoia’ and that Dafydd Alun Jones failed to exercise ‘reasonable care’ in considering her earlier release from the North Wales Hospital (I remember that a press report at the time stated that during the year in which she was in Denbigh, Jones did not visit Mary or review her case once). The transcript also mentions that Mary had consulted several solicitors and was now suing two of them for negligence. Her view was that all the solicitors that she consulted were conspiring to stifle her complaints. This was the first occasion that the Court had to consider an appeal regarding the Mental Health Act. The transcript stated that at the previous appeal Justice Otton had considered that Mary’s applications were not frivolous, vexatious nor an abuse of the process of the Court but that Mary hadn’t satisfied the Court regarding a prima facie case of negligence against each of the doctors. At Mary’s appeal to Lord Donaldson, Justice Parker stated that the case against Dafydd Alun Jones was ‘fit to be tried’, although this was ‘not so clear’ with regard to Hayward and Bishop. There is a Dr Fry mentioned in the transcript who seems to have provided an opinion on Mary at an earlier stage of her journey through the Courts. The transcript also makes reference to someone at some point providing evidence stating that ‘she has no insight into her condition and will break into the property she formerly owned and squat in it. She would not remain in hospital of her own accord’. Yet during the appeal it was noted that there is no evidence Miss Winch had ever broken into the property or squatted in it or had ever threatened to do so’. (So Mary had been the subject of ludicrous allegations and speculations for which there was no evidence and these allegations and speculations somehow had found their way into Court documents – this happened to me after I made complaint about the north Wales mental health services.) Justice Balcombe agreed that the appeal should be allowed. The transcript states that the case against Hayward and Bishop was based on Dr Fry’s evidence. John Macdonald submitted that Hayward and Bishop should have made enquiries of Jones and the Official Solicitor and that they did this.
Mary’s appeal was allowed with costs.
My co-researcher has dug up a few details of the ‘Taking Liberties’ programme screened by BBC Two on 5 March 1991. The producer was Rhonda Evans and the series producer was Elizabeth Clough, who until very recently was the partner of Jeremy Paxman. My co-researcher then discovered an Early Day Motion tabled on 19 March 1991, sponsored by David Bellotti, the LibDem MP for Eastbourne – ‘This House urges an immediate review by the Home Secretary of the gross injustices suffered by Miss Mary Winch, now resident in Eastbourne, and recorded in the BBC Two programme ‘Taking Liberties’ on Tuesday 5 March’. Six MPs signed this Motion: Alan Beith (Liberal Democrat, Berwick-Upon-Tweed), Malcolm Bruce (Liberal Democrat, Gordon), Ronnie Fearn (Liberal Democrat, Southport), Geraint Howells (Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion and Pembroke North), Matthew Taylor (Liberal Democrat, Truro and St Austell) and Dafydd Wigley (Plaid Cymru, Caernarfon).
My co-researcher has also dug up something very interesting from Hansard. On 31 March 1993, Alex Carlile asked the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor’s Dept, to order a full investigation into Mary’s case and was asked when there was going to be a reply to letters concerning Mary’s case dated June 1991, August 1991, September 1991, October 1991 and May 1992. John M. Taylor replied that Mary had taken legal action against the Public Trustee which had not yet concluded and he wouldn’t comment because proceedings were before the Courts. At this point I thought that the trail had gone cold – despite so much concern being expressed at what had happened to Mary, there were no more mentions of her again in the media. But late last night I received another e mail from my co-researcher who had found something in Hansard, 27 April 1995. It is recorded that Alex Carlile asked the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor’s Department if he would make a statement on the actions of the Public Trustee in relation to legal proceedings brought by Miss Phoebe Winch (once more Mary Agnes Wynch’s name was misrecorded). John M. Taylor replied that he was unable to comment on individual cases where legal proceedings have been brought against the Public Trustee, who was also Chief Exec of the Public Trust Office. Taylor commented that she was also ‘an independent statutory office holder’ and ‘decisions that she takes in exercise of her statutory functions are those of her office and are not taken on behalf of Government’. Taylor adds that as the question concerns a specific case, he had asked the Chief Exec to reply direct. There follows the text of a letter from Julia Lomas to Alex Carlile, 25 April 1995. The mistake with Mary’s name is acknowledged and corrected and Lomas goes on to state that in 1982 Mary brought proceedings against the Public Trustee in relation to the administration of the estate of her dead mother, Violet Wynch. The proceedings were defended. The case was ‘complicated’ and the hearing was ‘anticipated to be lengthy and expensive’ and therefore in 1994 a payment of £15,000 into Court to settle the matter was authorised. Mary accepted this payment, which was made with no admission of liability on the point of the Public Trustee. ‘The Public Trustee has always been confident that had the case been fought the Public Trustee would have won, albeit at a disproportionate cost to public funds. The payment into Court was and remains regarded by me payment to save public funds rather than any admission as to the merits of Miss Winch’s case’.
And that was the end of the matter – a respectable innocent woman had been ruined, swindled out of her inheritance by a bunch of small town crooked solicitors, illegally imprisoned and then banged up, again illegally, in a notoriously grim, lawless mental hospital for a year. And people occupying the highest offices of the British state colluded with all of it.
Followers of my blog know that in previous posts, I have compared the chronology of some of the things that happened in my own case – being arrested at the behest of the north Wales mental health services, being denounced as ‘dangerous’, being served with High Court Injunctions on the basis of affidavits sworn by people who were lying about me and who had sometimes not even met me – with the chronology of the actions of Alison Taylor and others drawing attention to the paedophile ring that was operating in the children’s homes in north Wales. The injunctions and arrests correlate nearly perfectly with the breaking of stories about the north Wales paedophile ring, the ring which we now know was being facilitated and concealed by a number of people employed and associated with the mental health services in north Wales. The shit raining down upon my head was particularly bad in 1991 – when all that media and Parliamentary attention was focused on what had happened to Mary. It was at this time that the north Wales mental health services, along with St Georges Hospital and Springfield Hospital, were using some of the most biggest names in UK forensic psychiatry to denounce me as so dangerous that I was a candidate for the likes of Broadmoor – although there was documentary evidence that the psychiatrists in London knew that patients in north Wales were being sexually exploited by psychiatrists and that they also knew there was no evidence at all for the very serious charges that I was facing which were eventually dropped. Springfield documented that I had become suicidal as a result of the stress that I was under as a result of the constant arrests and court cases – yet failed to support me at all and discharged me with no aftercare after three weeks. When I arrived home after being discharged from Springfield, I found a letter from my employers, St Georges Hospital Medical School – I had been working as a research assistant there. This letter stated that I had spent an ‘excessively long time on sick leave’ and was effectively telling me that I was sacked. I had been on sick leave for three weeks. I now have in my possession copies of letters signed by managers of the north Wales mental health services in which they ask each other if their friends and contacts at St Georges have found out which dept I was working in and letters describing how their contacts at St Georges were accessing mail sent to me at the hospital in order to find out my home address. I also have a copy of a letter signed by the occupational health physician at St Georges – who basically harassed me throughout my time there and constantly told me to stop my complaints about the mental health services in north Wales – confirming that my ‘behaviour at work’ ‘was not a problem’.
Just after I left St Georges in 1991, Dr Tony Francis from Ysbyty Gwynedd (who has previously been referred to on this blog as Dr X) ordered his solicitors – Hempsons – to take steps to have me committed to prison on the grounds that I was breaking a High Court Injunction that he’d obtained against me. He had obtained the injunction by perjuring himself and I have copies of letters demonstrating that his own legal advisors had advised him very strongly not to take legal action against me. Francis wanted me ‘committed to prison’ because I was writing letters of complaint stating that he and Dafydd Alun Jones were abusing patients and breaking the law. So who was the barrister who represented a man who was breaking the law – along with his colleagues – and tried to have the woman who was complaining about this imprisoned? It was one Robert Francis QC, a barrister who worked for the Medical Defence Union. Robert Francis is now Sir Robert Francis QC, a member of the Care Quality Commission and leading light of the Patients Association! He was also famously employed to Chair the Inquiry into the genocide that took place at Mid-Staffs – there were numerous allegations that Robert Francis played down the full horror of what happened at Mid-Staffs. Francis also led the Freedom To Speak Up review into whistleblowing in the NHS. Whistleblowers maintain that Francis sold them down the river and that his recommendations did nothing to protect them. Readers new to this blog can read the whole shameful saga in previous blog posts such as ‘St George’s Hospital Medical School 1989/90’, ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London…’ and ‘The Sordid Role of Sir Robert Francis QC’.
As for the Early Day Motion in 1991 urging an investigation into Mary’s case that was signed by Dafydd Wigley and others – this would appear to have been a noble action but obviously didn’t get anywhere. Yet only a year later, Dafydd Wigley signed another Early Day Motion, this time sponsored by Elfyn Llwyd, opposing the closure of Garth Angharad. Garth Angharad, which was described as a ‘hospital for mentally abnormal criminals’, contained people who complained that they’d been molested in children’s homes in north Wales and was owned and managed by a man who was mentioned in the Waterhouse Report as someone who also owned children’s homes and residential schools which had been at the centre of allegations of physical cruelty and sexual abuse (please see blog posts ‘More On Those Prisons For Folk Who Dared Complain’ and ‘Further Information On Garth Angharad Hospital’). So why in the course of a year did Dafydd Wigley move from a position of defending Mary on a Parliamentary level to working to ensure that the personal prison of Dafydd and the paedophile gang remained open? In about 1990 I received a very supportive letter from Dafydd Wigley after I contacted him about the abuses taking place at the North Wales Hospital. Yet when I wrote to him again a couple of years later I did not receive a reply. It is part of north Wales folklore that Dafydd Wigley was eventually shafted by Plaid for reasons that only members of the inner circle understand and was replaced as MP for Caernarfon by the fool Hywel Williams, a former psychiatric social worker who had worked with Dafydd Alun Jones and the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. Of course as a social worker based in Gwynedd, Hywel will have been employed by Gwynedd Social Services – that’s the Gwynedd Social Services that the Waterhouse Report admitted had a Director, Lucille Hughes, who knew that a paedophile ring was operating within the Social Services but failed to respond. All Williams achieved in the years following his election was to reduce Plaid’s majority in that constituency, which had been huge (recent boundary changes have bumped up the majority again, giving Hywel a bit of a breather). Dafydd Wigley was enormously popular locally – but interestingly enough the one person whom I know who was probably even more complimentary about Wigley than anyone else was Dr Tony Francis. So would anyone from Plaid – including Dafydd Wigley himself – like to explain to the rest of us what went on?
As for the final mention of Mary in Hansard in 1995 – by 1996 the Jillings Report was published, a result of the first investigation into the north Wales child abuse scandal (please see previous posts). This was the report that was so damning that it was famously not published and an order was sent out by Flintshire Council (which had succeeded Clwyd County Council after what looks like now a very convenient local authority reorganisation) that all copies should be pulped. The Jillings Report was commissioned by Clwyd County Council in 1994, so Jillings and his team will have been undertaking their investigation in 1995…
The information that my co-researcher has sent me about Mary’s case has prompted me to find out more about the judges and lawyers involved in her case – and the politicians behind the scenes. More posts on this will follow soon.
One more appeal to readers of the blog. Many years ago, sometime in the mid-1980s, Radio 4 broadcast a play called ‘Penrhyn Summer’. It had very obviously been written by someone like me, of my generation as well, who had studied at Bangor University and made friends with local people rather than only students. The play’s plot centred around a young woman who had just graduated and had taken a summer job at Penrhyn Castle and through this had learnt much of the grimmer history of north Wales and how local people had suffered at the hands of an economy dominated by the Anglicised landowners in the region. The North Wales Hospital featured in this programme and there were references to the dreadful things alleged to be happening there. One of the central characters in the play was a local man whom the young woman idolised who framed himself as a radical political activist – towards the end of the play this man announced that he’d been selected as a Plaid candidate for Westminster and dropped his enquiries into the North Wales Hospital… Most of what I hear about north Wales on Radio 4 is so inaccurate that it’s not worth listening to. But this play had the social and cultural landscape of north west Wales in the mid-1980s spot on (only of course Radio 4 used actors who all had perfect SOUTH Walian accents) and it was very obviously based on someone’s own experiences. I have tried to find out who wrote this play, or indeed to gain any more info about it at all, but have got nowhere. If any readers know anything about it – especially who the hypocritical Plaid candidate was based upon – I’d love to know more.
Whilst on the subject of memories of student life at Bangor in the 80s, one of the biggest and most well-funded of the student societies was ‘Community Action’. CA (as it was known) had it’s own minibus and I seem to remember had a full-time paid organiser. One of their specialities was ‘working with disadvantaged children’ in the Bangor area. Students are idealistic and probably would never have imagined that a vicious paedophile ring was operating in the local Social Services. But someone in authority in CA will have smelt a rat. And the one thing that students like me who mixed with local people noticed was how many seriously neglected children there were in Bangor. Children whose parents had abandoned them or gone to prison or who had parents who simply couldn’t cope were just left to their own devices, often left in the care of an older sibling who couldn’t look after them very well. And people did know that all was not as it should be. When I first complained about Gwynne Williams the lobotomist who was working sessions in the Student Health Centre no less, my first representations – after I’d been threatened by Dr DGE Wood the GP running the Centre and told by him that I ‘wasn’t allowed’ to complain about Williams – were made to the Welfare Officer in the Students Union. This young man admitted that there were major problems with Gwynne Williams and that there had been many complaints about him. He later denied saying this to the staff of the Health Centre. He then told me that if continued to complain about Williams I would get a ‘bad name’ – did he know that I’d be slandered, libelled and lied about in Court perhaps? After this he told me that he couldn’t take my complaint any further. Some five years ago I discovered that this man had become the Financial Director of an NHS Trust in the English Midlands (which was interesting because he graduated with a Third and I was told that he subsequently failed accountancy exams). Clearly Duncan Orme has done very well for himself after failing to challenge a lobotomist whose handling of one student was so negligent that they tried to kill themselves hours after seeing him. An ideal start to a glorious career in NHS senior management. But my God Duncan – the bastards were assisting a paedophile gang as well….