Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blocked CPS/Janner thread - latest correspondence

//See previous post. It seems the whole of the Janner thread on is diverted for some people. this is where things stand at present//

Dear Mr Lawson,

I write in relation to your correspondence dated 11th September 2014. In accordance with our guidance a complaint can only be made directly by the individual concerned or on their behalf by a nominated representative such as a family member, friend or support group. Your comments have therefore been noted and registered as a feedback.

I note you have expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of communication from CPS London, we have no record of previous communication from you in relation to this matter.

For your information I have attached the feedback and complaints.

Kind regards,

Sayma Khatun| CPS London VRR & Complaints Co-ordinator
Crown Prosecution Service, London
Communications Team
5th Floor, Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge Road
DX 15436 Southwark 12


//My response//

Dear Sayma Khatuni

Thank you for your email.

You will recall that in my complaint I write that I "have been directly affected by the failure of the CPS in London to communicate with me in a reasonable way about this matter".

I have received 4 emails from your colleagues in Enquiries, 5 from Gavin Brown at the Press office, and one from Mr Malcolm McHaffie in Special Crime. They are attached.
You will see that each one of them is entirely void of engagement with the substance of my correspondence.

I also attach my original complaint.

In my complaint I wrote that "I am also affected directly as a citizen since the CPS is not acting in the public interest by accepting these two claims of dementia uncritically and without seeking to check them by requesting second psychiatric opinions backed by special investigations including MRI scans".

This is not mere feedback. I am making a serious complaint about a decision that someone in the CPS has made about two very important cases, in that they neglected to carry out due diligence by checking the validity of the claim of dementia made by two men accused of serious crimes.

There is a great deal of public concern about the issue of child sexual abuse at present, and your correspondence shows no indication that the CPS shares this concern.

The decision to accept the claim of dementia by Varley and Janner needs to be  reviewed, and the review needs to be carried out quickly, since if there is indeed a dementia process in either one of these accused, the passage of time may mean that the dementia may become untreatable.

I would ask you therefore to reconsider your decision effectively to set aside my complaint, and instead to take it seriously.

If you are minded not to do so, I will ask formally that my complaint be referred to the Independent Assessor of Complaints.

If you are minded not to do this, since you classify this correspondence as feedback and not complaint, I will take it up with my MP, John Penrose, with a request for my complaint to be referred to the Minister of Justice, on the assumption that the CPS is ultimately responsible to the MoJ.

I am cc-ing this email to John Penrose to forewarn him of developments, but will hold back from taking things further until I have heard that the CPS does not intend to review your decision.

I look forward to your speedy response

Thank you

With kind regards

Dr Richard Lawson

Backup of wikidot page about Greville Janner, dementia, paedophilia allegations, and the CPS

//people are having problems accessing this page on the VIP Child Sex Abuse wiki.  So I am pasting it here. Sorry about the lack of formatting, wikidot doesn't use HTML.//

//I have made a complaint to the CPS about the way they have handled two cases. Their response to my complaint below is [[[cpscomplaint2| here.]]]//

September 11 2014

Complaints Dept.
Crown Prosecution Service
2 Rose Court, London,
London SE1 9HS

Dear Sir or Madam

I must regretfully make a formal complaint about the failure of the CPS to give due diligence to the matter of two alleged paedophiles who have both claimed that they are suffering from dementia and are therefore unable to face justice.

I am a retired General Practitioner of medicine and also a psychiatrist, with a current interest in the prevention of the widespread serious social, economic and medical problems caused by child sexual abuse. I am not directly involved in the cases of the two alleged paedophiles, but have been directly affected by the failure of the CPS in London to communicate with me in a reasonable way about this matter. I am also affected directly as a citizen since the CPS is not acting in the public interest by accepting these two claims of dementia uncritically and without seeking to check them by requesting second psychiatric opinions backed by special investigations including MRI scans. 

I have been through the process of trying to find resolution of my complaint using the good offices of my local CPS office in Bristol.

The first case is that of Greville Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone. The CPS holds the file of allegations against him.

The second case is that of Raymond Varley. On May 8th 2014 the Government of India requested in a Westminster court that he should be extradited to face charges of child abuse including sodomy.  The court heard from Varley’s non-medical advisor that he was suffering from dementia, and decided on these grounds that extradition should be refused.

My complaint is that in both cases the CPS made no attempt to check the diagnosis of dementia by referring to psychiatric experts who would order psychometric testing and other appropriate investigations.

The [ Code for Public Prosecutors] states that the grounds for prosecution are twofold: first, there is the question of the amount of evidence against the accused, and second, the question of whether it is in the public interest for the CPS to bring the case to court.

It is very much in the public interest that these two accused should face justice.

Child sexual abuse is very widespread. It affects approximately one fifth of female children before the age of 16 in the UK. and one sixth of males. The sequelae of child sex abuse are very wide ranging and complex, but can be summarised by the statistic that approximately two thirds of the population of both prisons and psychiatric institutions are occupied by survivors of child sexual abuse.  In view of these statistics, and a large body of other evidence that points to causation of lifelong problems as a result of childhood sexual abuse, it is most clearly in the public interest that child abusers should face justice. This is even more important in the case of high-profile abusers, since there is a marked tendency of on the part of paedophiles to deny that their activities are in any way wrong or cause any harm. If they are aware that other paedophiles can easily avoid prosecution, especially those who are persons of public prominence, they will feel encouraged to act out their proclivities, with the result that child sexual abuse in the UK is even more prevalent.

In terms of the Code, it can be seen that the prosecution of high profile practising paedophiles satisfies all of the points of the decision to prosecute listed under the Public Interest Stage, namely 4.12 a) through to g).

It is noteworthy that in the Code, there is no direct reference to the physical or mental capacity of the accused to stand trial; in particular no mention of dementia. It may or may not be the case that these elements should be added to the Code, but as it stands, the decision to consider dementia, whether confirmed or unconfirmed, to be a reason to avoid prosecution stands outside of the current provisions of the Code. 

You will be aware of the case of Ernest Saunders, one of the four Guinness fraudsters, who managed to cut short his period of  imprisonment by claiming to be suffering from dementia, only to recover from dementia on regaining his freedom. The Saunders case makes it all the more important to check the validity of cases of dementia in accused persons, and it is all the more surprising that the CPS neglected to do so in the cases of Janner and Varley.

It is very clear that when dementia is raised as a reason to avoid prosecution, the diagnosis should be checked by the best possible authorities.

Dementia is a symptom that may arise from several causes, some of which are treatable. There is a depressive pseudo-dementia, and this should always be considered, since being accused and at risk of prosecution is itself a depressing event. Depression is of course treatable, although if it is entirely secondary to the situation of being prosecuted, the accused will simply have to live with the depression during the trial process, otherwise it would be universally employed as a defence and no prosecutions would be possible at all. Dementia may also arise commonly from untreated malfunction of the thyroid gland, or from a lack of vitamin B12. Even Alzheimer’s dementia, which is what people tend to think of first when dementia is raised as a possibility, can now be relieved to a certain extent, and for a time, by specific medication. If Janner and Varley do indeed turn out to be suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia, treatment with these medications should be considered in order to get them through the court process at very least.

To summarise, the CPS has accepted at face value the claim of dementia from two accused child abusers without taking due diligence by obtaining second opinions on their case from psychiatric experts who would commission special investigations to confirm or refute the diagnosis of dementia. In doing so, the CPS has not discharged its duty in acting in the public interest.

In your response to this complaint, I seek to know:
1. who made the decision not to prosecute in either case, and how he or she will be retrained. 
2. that the CPS will review its decision in both cases, and will order a psychiatric review of both Janner and Varley along the lines given above.
3. that the CPS will seek a second opinion in all future cases where dementia is claimed as a means to avoid prosecution. 

Finally, I must say that I regret being forced to make a formal complaint. As a professional I know that receipt of a complaint can be distressing. This complaint would not have been necessary had my emails to the CPS’ Special Crimes Division, and to Alison Saunders, been granted a substantive answer in the first place.

Yours faithfully

Thursday, September 18, 2014

4 hour A&E targets are good for the impatient, but not necessarily for the patient
What you are about to read is probably wrong. See the foot of the page.

Sonia Powell, 73, died in an ambulance while waiting for 35-minutes to be admitted to the A&E at Morriston Hospital, Swansea. She was seen by a doctor soon after her ambulance arrived, but the A&E was very busy.

There is to be an investigation.

The question I would put to the investigation is this:

Was Sonia's ambulance asked to wait before passing her into the care of A&E in order to meet the A&E's 4-hour target?

A&E departments are required to ensure that  95% of their cases be in their department for no more than 4 hours before they are discharged or admitted to a ward.

It is often pretty demanding to meet this target. In busy times, staff have to do one of these things:

  1. work quicker, which brings with it the risk of mistakes, which lead to complaints, which lead to staff being off sick or working while in a depressed and anxious state, which leads to more complaints
  2. get wards to accept patients quicker, before a firm diagnosis has been made, which may mean the patient is put on the wrong ward, which may lead to complaints, which lead to staff being off sick or working while in a depressed and anxious state, which leads to more complaints
  3. reduce the rate at which people come in through the doors of A&E. The way to do this is to leave patients coming in by ambulance in the care of the ambulance crews. These patients are technically not in A&E and so do not figure in the target statistics. 

I have been in this situation, on a trolley outside the door of A&E, chatting to my ambulance crew.  I was not acutely ill, and would personally rather not have been there, but a nurse from a MIU had insisted I go in order to avoid risk of a complaint, even though I had told her I was not a complainer.

My ambulance and crew were out of action during my 20-30 minute wait, leaving their colleagues on the road more busy, which brings with it the risk of mistakes, which lead to &c.

Sonia Powell was not that old. She may or may not have had multiple problems that doomed her to die. She might have died in A&E or on the ward - or she might not.

The investigation may decide that one factor in her death was the 4 hour waiting target. Or it may not.

In the end, to avoid mistakes, A&E departments do not need targets set by politicians and applied by managers. They need adequate levels of medical, nursing and diagnostic staff.

Having posted this, I tweeted this to the excellent Malcolm McKenzie, A&E consultant, who informed me most politely that what you have just been reading is wrong. However, it may be a bit right imo.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Now things have changed

We used to stand in awe of you
always the beggars
asking for this or that

Not any more, 
we've seen you fail. 
That brings us to a level ground

Just like that time when Tristan 
stepped onto a grassy island
to face the Morholt

And though it took him to the edge
the defender won against the powerful one
who came to take their children.

And now,
though argument has taken the place of war
and though you half control the word

Though you may put some of us in jail
we are too many.  Though you may hide your crimes
you cannot hide their stench.

Do not forget
"Though you be never so high
the Law's above you".

(c) Richard Lawson

NAPAC Conference for Survivors of Abuse

I attended a conference on Breaking the Cycle: Love and Laughter after Abuse, called together by the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) in London on September 13th. 
There were about 35 present, mainly survivors of abuse. It was a good conference.

Peter Saunders, founder of NAPAC, kicked off.  He is a survivor. Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is a ubiquitous problem, and we cannot arrest our way out of it. Speaking out as survivors of CSA are now doing does help to protect children. 

He had a meeting with Jeremy Hunt, who assured him that he is going to guarantee that survivors received adequate help. 

Peter set up NAPAC in 1995, soon after he spoke out. He recounted an anti therapeutic reaction from his then therapist, who jabbed her finger at him, asking if he enjoyed it, and why he did not speak out at the time. 
NAPAC needs volunteers and funds. He mourned the fact that we give large amounts of charity to an animal sanctuaries and less to help children, even though the same kind of people abuse both children and animals.

Chris Tuck spoke next. She is a survivor of abuse and neglect, who chose to be a successful accountant, and now a life and fitness coach, helping survivors with mindset, nutrition and fitness. She is author of a book, "Through the eyes of a child". She talked about the fight/flight/freeze reaction to threat, and detailed the impacts of CSA on the child's subsequent life. 

what do we all need to do about CSA?
Survivors need to be taught parenting skills, since they do not have a good model to build on.
Survivors need to accept themselves, look after themselves, and get help. 
Society needs to be vigilant, listen to children.
Government needs to set up a single reporting, education and aftercare of survivors agency.
Abusers need therapy (RL: especially young adults so that they can get help as soon as they become aware of their inclination).

Ann Stewart serves on a Metropolitan Police Child Protection Team. She recalled one case where she worked for months on a case, only to hear a judge throw it out because "it was all too long ago". This was before the days when DNA evidence, which works years after the crime, was commonplace.

She described the Code of Practice for Victims which is a useful resource for anyone giving evidence.

Vulnerable, intimidated or persistently targeted victims can give evidence in Special Measures.

Dino Nocivelli is a solicitor specialising in CSA. 
"Historic" abuse is a misnomer. It is just abuse.
Survivors can sue the person who did the abuse, or the organisation the person was working for, or the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

98% of abusers settle out of court. 
The action must be brought before the victims is 21 years old.

Wendy Capewell is a counsellor specialising in CSA. She stressed the message "It Is Not Your Fault", and "You Are Not The Only One".
She mentioned that sometimes there is physiologically-based pleasure during the abuse which compounds the distress of the victim.

Jenni Steele is an ambassador for Domestic Violence UK. There was a bit of discussion of whether domestic violence should be renamed unhealthy relationship. She described how she was sucked into such a relationship, and how she escaped and created a life for herself as a radio show host. 
Te judgment of others tends to drive an unhealthy relationship further and further into itself.

I commented on an impression I formed over one extreme case of DV which suggested to me that the dominant partner seems almost to control the will of the abused partner, making it very difficult for the abusee to decide finally to escape. 

Ian Royce (Roycey) gave a vivid account of his life, being brought almost to suicide by low self esteem until he decided to change with determination and help. He changed many of his life habits, even down to which sock to put on first. 

Stephan Pierre Mitchell was the big rocket to round off the pyrotechnic show. He is a young actor/director/writer, and his career is one to watch.

His mother gave birth to him in Romania and promptly abandoned him, so he was raised in a Romanian orphanage along with children suffering from disabilities and terminal cancer. He began each day by being grateful that his only disability was having a brown skin. Eventually UNICEF discovered him, fortuitously knew where his mother lived in France, and took him there. His mother had moved to Nigeria. He went to live with her. She did not meet him at the airport, which was a bit of a disappointment for the kid. He was taken across country to his mother's house which she shared with a brutal controlling husband who beat her and Stephan with great assiduity. He ran away, crossed Nigeria in a bus which broke down in the jungle, reached Lagos, and had to live in the slum. Each day he woke in a state of gratitude that he had his life. He persuaded the French Embassy to give him a passport, went back to France, then to find his father in London (not welcome), sent to Barbados to be with his gran (happy times) then came to Newcastle, to study first Law, then switching to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Stephan Pierre Mitchell is an amazing example of what we can do if we do not allow ourselves to get attached to the negative aspects of things that happen to us. He lets the past go because we cannot change our past. But we can only change our future, by making choices in the present.

Stephan has a special superpower that allows him to let go of negativity. We ordinary mortals need to use Phyllis Krystal's Cutting the Ties that Bind technique to bring about this happy condition. I hope that this tool will will become widely used among the survivor community.

Carl Jung said  "I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become".

In conclusion this was an inspiring conference. The take home messages were clear:

Survivors need to cast aside the guilt and shame which belong to the abusers, not survivors.
Nearly all victims need to realise that they are not alone, not he only one this has ever happened to.
Leave the past behind and look to the future. You cannot change the past, but you can change the future.

Finally,there is a definite social change happening, where survivors are opening up the locked away history that has been ruining their lives. They are finding power and a community of fellow survivors and helpers. Child abuse has thrived in the past on secrecy and denial. Now it is out in the open, the abusers power is diminished.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ian Paisley has died. Related poem.

I wrote this when Pope John Paul II died. 

Now Ian Paisley has died too. 

Wonder what they will have to say to each other.

Please note the prophetic accuracy of the last line. 

Lines on the Death of John Paul II

"No Popery!" Ian Paisley cried,

and now that John Paul II has died,

there is no Pope,

so can we hope

for Orangemen with peace inside? 


They just can't cope

without a Pope.

The Papists want a Papacy

and Paisley needs an enemy.

Without a Pope

they'd all just . . . mope.

It really makes you think:

what if it pushed them off the brink ?

what if it made them turn to drink

or even . . . turn to dope?

Might be a blessing in disguise.

Imagine, if the smokes that rise

above the Convocation

(while they all grope

for a new pope)

should symbolise a wider scope

for toleration?

What if the newly chosen Pope,

red-eyed, and reading Rattigan,

loped        lazily

around the Vatican

flashing the peace sign,

Wow. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. Fine.

But that could be a slippery slope

No-one would want a hippy Pope.

We should not hope

for a doped pope;

But could we hope for one

that has a decent sense of fun?

(Maybe when Ratzinger’s gone?)

(c) Richard Lawson