Police investigate 58 allegations of abuse against doctor at a former mental hospital where child patients were drugged and thrown into padded cells
- Doctor who died 41 years ago is being investigated on child abuse allegations
- Kenneth Milner ran Aston Hall Children’s Hospital in Derbyshire for 28 years
- He is accused of injecting children with truth serum before assaulting them
- Police have confirmed they are looking into 58 allegations of abuse against him
Police are investigating 58 allegations of abuse against a late doctor at a former mental hospital where child patients were drugged and thrown into padded cells.
Police are investigating 58 allegations of child abuse against Dr Kenneth Milner, pictured, who died 41 years ago
A string of allegations have been made against Dr Kenneth Milner, who died 41 years ago, about his conduct at Aston Hall Children’s Hospital near Derby, of which he was in charge.
The psychiatrist and hospital chief superintendent is alleged to have injected children with the truth serum sodium amytal before sexually abusing them.
Dozens have said Milner, who had previously worked at Broadmoor and Rampton hospitals was trying to ‘normalise’ naughty children.
He died in 1976 just one year after he left the institution, having worked there between 1947 and 1975.
Police launched Operation Hydrant with health and social workers to investigate the abuse claims.
Yesterday officers confirmed they were investing 58 allegations of abuse against Milner with more potential victims coming forward.
Writing a letter to the alleged victims, Derbyshire Police said they have recorded ’58 crimes regarding various offences involving the actions of Dr Milner and treatment at Aston Hall’.
It reads: ‘I am satisfied that all former residents who have indicated they wish to be contacted by the police have been identified and approached, in addition to this we are continuing to see further individuals coming forward.
David Martin, alleges Dr Milner ‘injected him with something’ and then gave him ether to ‘make him go to sleep’, leaving him unable to remember what happened to him
‘This is currently being reviewed I will then make a decision as to which staff members will be approached by the investigations team.
‘We are now in possession of a report regarding the practices at Aston Hall. Based on this, we are currently in the process of recording various crime types in relation to accounts given by former residents.
‘Once we are satisfied all accounts have been obtained, we will prepare a report for consideration of the Crown Prosecution Service.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to re-emphasise that, although this work is extremely time consuming, the investigation team remain focused and committed to establishing the facts as to what took place.’
David Martin, 55, claims he was abused twice by Dr Milner at Aston Hall while aged 12 and 13, including on his first day at the hospital.
The father-of-five said: ‘I was kicking and screaming on my way to Aston Hall. I remember being with some people from social services.
‘When I was there, I was grabbed and put in a cell. That night Dr Milner and two nurses came into the cell.
Dr Milner worked at Aston Hall, pictured, for 28 years and several patients have come forward with allegations against him
‘He gave me an injection and put a mask on me when I was tied down. He then gave me ether. But after that I don’t remember what happened. It made me go to sleep.
‘I was experimented on while I was asleep. It happened to me twice and it was wrong.
‘Once you’re in a place like that and things happen, it’s sick. It stays on your mind and people have wrongly labelled me in life because I stayed there.’
He claimed the abuse has caused him to ‘struggle with relationships and trusting people’.
He added: ‘They made me feel mentally ill by being there but there was nothing wrong with me.
‘I was never perfect and I did get in trouble. But there was nothing wrong with me.’
Mr Martin said he was relieved the police were investigating Mr Milner over the allegations.
Mr Martin said he was ‘relieved’ police had launched the investigation
He said: ‘It’s a very good feeling because finally someone has listened to what we said.
‘Finally, we can say for certain that what happened to us was wrong.
‘It should never have happened. What we went through was terrible. I’m very pleased with the police investigation.
‘They have been thorough and expert. It’s been complex for them and us.
‘Now I know many victims want to continue to push and get a conclusion to this.’
Another alleged victim, Trevor Bell, 62, claims he was forced to take drugs when he was 13 after Milner labelled him an ‘uncontrollable child’.
Mr Bell, who now lives in Sydney, had been in and out of care homes since the age of two.
He said: ‘When I first went in I thought it was going to be just another home but it wasn’t.
‘I couldn’t run away from this one. I met Dr Milner on my second day and he explained about my treatment.
‘He called it narco analysis but it was sodium amytal. They stripped me, put me in a padded room, everything was white.
‘They gave me an injection, then put a pad over my face, covering everything except my nose. And then he poured ether on my face.
‘They said they wanted to find out where things had gone wrong when I was a kid, why I was misbehaving. I was 13 years old. I didn’t understand a thing.’
Police say they are now in possession of a report regarding the ‘practices’ at the hospital, pictured, under Dr Milner’s charge
Mr Bell is now working with a lawyer to get his medical records.
Sodium amytal is a strong barbiturate described as a ‘truth serum’ because it makes the recipient lose all inhibitions.
Mr Bell added: ‘According to Dr Milner we were out of control kids. We were an experiment.
‘We had no rights, no love, nothing. Just a piece of meat for someone to play with.’
Amanda Solloway, MP for Derby North, who raised the issue in Parliament, said: ‘I think it’s very important that this has come in the public domain and the update from the police shows that anybody who was ever abused at any point in their life should feel confident to come forward because it will be taken seriously.
‘Crimes have been identified and that is positive. I want to thank the police as well. This is an ongoing investigation that has been detailed and shows they are taking this seriously.’
I have a growing list of units that have a 75 yr + blocks on the files.
Units that drugged children are heavily protected. The iiCSA cherry pick
In fact, there was quite a few on a block re CofE
I found 1 on the CofE & it was about a child abused.
Teresa Cooper, abused at Kendall House in Gravesend, lodges complaint against Kent police
n 2009 Kent Police carried out an investigation into the way it had handled allegations of abuse at the home, but found insufficient evidence to pursue charges against those responsible.
After the full extent of the abuse at the Pelham Road home was finally revealed by an independent review last year, the force received a Freedom of Information request for the disclosure of their 2009 report.
Ms Cooper claims the police report clearly identifies her and has begun the process of complaining to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for what she views as a breach of data protection.
She said: “I do not think it is appropriate for police to send out confidential information that survivors of abuse have given to them in confidence, even if they have put their life in the public domain.
“There’s a lot of information that I never put in the public domain that was in that report.
“The police had no right to send out that kind of information, whether it’s me or anyone else.”
A police spokesman confirmed the force had received a complaint regarding the disclosure of the 2009 review, but said it would not be recorded.
They said: “The review had been redacted to remove any personal or identifying features.
“The elements of the complaint were considered but it was decided the complaint should not be recorded as such.
“The complainant was provided with details of how to appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission should they not agree with the decision.”
Kent Police was criticised in last year’s independent review, which was commissioned by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, in January 2015, after years of campaigning by Ms Cooper.
Meanwhile, Ms Cooper has stopped pursuing legal action against the church over birth defects suffered by the children and grandchildren of former residents due to costs.
‘I was tied up, drugged and abused at the age of 12 – by a doctor’
Liverpool woman Barbara O’Hare has written a book about how she survived secret medical experiments
3 FEB 2017
“I didn’t understand what sexual abuse was because I was a 12-year-old kid – a very naive 12-year-old kid. And I was in a hospital where I thought I would be safe.”
Barbara O’Hare, now 58, is sitting in her Liverpool home and painfully reliving the trauma of her childhood.
She has lived here since escaping the hell she documents in shocking detail in her book The Hospital: How I Survived The Secret Child Experiments At Aston Hall (to be published on February 9 by Blink, £7.99).
More than 50 alleged victims have claimed Dr Milner tied them down, injected them and pumped them with high-dose drugs before questioning them about their experiences as a child. Others claim they were sexually abused by Dr Milner, who died in 1976.
The former Aston Hall Hospital was in Derbyshire and the activities of the late Dr Kenneth Milner, who was Aston Hall’s head physician from 1947 to 1975 and died in 1976, are currently the subject of a major police and NHS investigation.
Barbara says: “Milner left me confused, traumatised and very, very frightened – and he destroyed my mind, body and soul.”
Brought up in the Midlands, Barbara had an extremely unstable and fragmented childhood – spending much of it with foster parents and in children’s homes. She did know her dad, but for many years didn’t know if her mum was alive or dead, saying: “I don’t know if dad was trying to protect me or spite her.”
Eventually she ended up at Aston Hall Hospital which, before 1948, was known as the Nottingham Corporation Home for Mental Deficients.
Barbara explains: “I was apparently sent there because I had behavioural problems, but I wasn’t the problem – the adults were always the problem.”
Of her nightmare time at Aston Hall, Barbara says sodium amytal, a barbiturate derivative with sedative-hypnotic properties, was used by Milner, supposedly aimed at correcting bad behaviour.
She says: “I would be tied up and injected by a nurse as I lay on a mattress in a padded room and left feeling like a piece of stone, with every muscle frozen.
“Then Milner came in and put three cushions next to the mattress and lay down on them. I never saw the mask he put on my face coming, but I remember it hurt my skin – and ether was then dripped on it which made me go unconscious.
“Along with many others, I was sexually abused and experimented on. But I actually think the worst thing he did was label us. He was happy to label us ‘mental defectives’ in a bid to justify his sick experiments.
“It is my feeling he was knocking us out on order for paedophiles. I have no photographs of myself as a child and it kills me to say this and makes me feel sick to the stomach, but in my heart I believe the only pictures of me that will exist could be in the possession of paedophiles – I am sure pictures were taken as I was lying in that room.”
“Milner was at the hospital from 1947 until 1975 – who knows how many more people like me there could be? My Facebook group (Survivors of Aston Hall) currently has between 30 and 45 active members, depending on how they are coping at any given time, but I think my book will open the floodgates.”
Since leaving the hospital, Barbara’s life has often been troubled and traumatic – it has included spells of being homeless and living on the streets of London, while she spent years hitting brick walls and being wrapped up in red tape as she tried to make sense of what happened to her as a vulnerable 12- -year-old and get hold of her medical files.
She was also diagnosed with cervical cancer and credits Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Clatterbridge Hospital with saving her life.
And today she says: “I want closure. I want to know the full truth of what happened. I can’t see there ever being a conviction. Milner is the person who should have been convicted but that can’t happen. I would have liked to have seen him treated like we were – locked in a dark room and feeling terrified.
“I want an apology but I don’t think the powers-that-be know how to say sorry. It would be a fake apology if it comes.”
A spokesman for Derbyshire Police confirmed investigations were ongoing.
And a spokesman for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “The allegations of historical abuse in the 1960s and 1970s at… Aston Hall Hospital are very serious. These allegations are being investigated by a partnership of agencies, including health and the police through the Derbyshire safeguarding children board.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further while these investigations are underway.”
Stephen Edwards, a solicitor from Liverpool-based Armstrongs Solicitors, is representing Barbara and other alleged victims of Dr Milner, and has previously said: “We represent a number of individuals in respect of civil claims for damages arising out of the subject matter. Our aim as solicitors is to support our clients during this difficult and upsetting process, but further to ensure that they are compensated for the atrocities in which they have sadly been involved.
“We would prefer not to comment further as to any specifics of the cases, save to say that we are satisfied that our clients have strong cases.”
Home channelled girls to ‘truth serum’ hospital
5 February 2017
Girls in local authority care may have faced experimental drug treatment after being channelled via a remand home.
Breadsall Remand Home in Derby took girls from the Midlands and Yorkshire and sent many to Aston Hall Hospital.
The hospital has been accused of using a discredited “truth serum” therapy on patients as young as 11.
An ex-patient said the revelation made her “disgusted to the pit of my stomach”.
Aston Hall in Derbyshire was opened in the 1920s for those deemed to have mental health problems. It could cater for about 100 children of both sexes, but took adults as well.
It closed in the 1990s but comments on a website about derelict buildings brought its grim history to light.
Former patients began to swap experiences, describing Aston Hall as “pure hell” and “a horrendous place”.
This put the focus on Dr Kenneth Milner, who took over the centre in 1947.
A treatment run by Dr Milner saw patients, including a number of children, being isolated, stripped and drugged, according to claims.
Records show he was using sodium amytal and may have been employing “narcoanalysis” – a military method for treating servicemen with repressed traumatic experiences, which was largely abandoned after World War Two.
This evidence, combined with a lack of published research and few medical records, have led to Dr Milner’s methods being called into question.
Many former patients have spoken of the trauma of the process, with some claiming to have had false memories of abuse suggested to them and even been sexually abused by Dr Milner.
But new research has shown there was a system for bringing children, particularly girls, to Aston Hall.
The National Archives show a single remand home may have made hundreds of girls available to Dr Milner, despite the doubts of regulators.
These documents show Dr Milner was available to provide psychiatric reports for those admitted to the Breadsall Remand Home for Girls as far back as 1964.
The home, which held about 20 children at any one time, mostly served the Derby and Nottingham areas, but took girls from at least 11 other local authorities, including Sheffield, Leicester, Coventry and Stoke.
The same year, the home’s committee asked the regional board to consider the appointment of a children’s psychiatrist, rather than Dr Milner and Aston Hall, as “more appropriate” to its work.
But a 1966 report shows Dr Milner was still examining girls at the home, and a year later councils were recorded as using it “as a means of bringing very disturbed girls to the attention of Dr Milner”.
An inspection in February 1971 said “Dr Milner continues to be associated with this remand home through… the superintendent. He sees cases at her discretion.”
The superintendent, recorded as Miss IP Brookes, is believed by police to have died. Dr Milner retired in 1975 and died shortly after.
Barbara O’Hare was 12 when sent from Coventry to Breadsall, where she said she was visited by Dr Milner.
“He came in and said ‘poor girl’ and stroked my hand.
“He said: ‘Would you like to come to hospital?’ and I thought it would be an escape. I was expecting grapes and comics.”
Ms O’Hare, who had always been confused by how she came to be in Derby, has waived her right to anonymity to publicise what happened at Breadsall and Aston.
At the hospital she said she was taken to a bare room, given sodium amytal and subjected to “terrifying” questioning.
She said about the latest revelations: “I am disgusted to the pit of my stomach and I am shocked. Everything has gone together like a jigsaw.
“Everything that I’ve been trying to prove and say for years is there now. This proves a lot of people stories.”
Ms O’Hare is among 30 former patients who have submitted a claim for compensation to the Department for Health through a solicitor. Other claims are also believed to have been submitted.
A spokesman for the department said the matter was under investigation.
Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, a multi-agency body including police, health and social services, says it is working to ensure the allegations are thoroughly investigated and the appropriate support is in place for people who need it.
Det Insp Gemma Booth from Derbyshire Police said: “The scale and nature of this inquiry naturally means that this is protracted and complex.
“The investigation team have focused on meeting former residents of Aston Hall Hospital as well as identifying and tracing other witnesses who can offer their recollections, including previous staff members.
“A large part of the inquiry involves reviewing records and the investigation team is working closely with archivists in both social care and the NHS to trace, locate and review these.”
Derbyshire County Council, which was ultimately responsible for the Breadsall home, said it could not comment while investigations were under way.
Kendall House: Church faces massive payout to abuse victims
Jan 14 2017
Former residents of Kendall House in Pelham Road, Gravesend have been seeking out solicitors since the results of an independent investigation into its “harrowing” regime were published in a review last summer.
The results of a further review were released just before Christmas and “gratitude” payouts of £1,000 have already been made to the more than 20 women who gave evidence, but many of them are still suing the church for what happened to them.
Samantha Robson, of Robsonshaw Solicitors, has been bringing claims against the church over Kendall House since 2011, with six more victims coming forward since the review was published.
“Closure is very important to these women who finally want recognition for their mistreatment when they were vulnerable children,” she said.
“Some of these victims have suffered significant health issues as a consequence of their treatment at Kendall House. Often claimants will need to be examined by a specialist psychiatrist to provide evidence on mental health issues.
“In other instances, claimants have suffered conditions such as fibromyalgia (a long-term condition causing pain all over the body), which may have been affected by the drugs administered at the children’s home.”
The church is insured for such cases and has already settled a number of them, with Mrs Robson securing a five-figure award of compensation for a woman who lived at Kendall House in the 1980s.
Mrs Robson, who has been specialising in sexual abuse claims for 16 years, said the church was taking a “positive” approach to the cases and did not want to prolong the victims’ suffering.
She added that the church would likely end up paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages and legal fees.
Campaigner Teresa Cooper, who last month described the £1,000 gratitude payments as “an insult”, is one of those pursuing action over birth defects suffered by the children and grandchildren of former Kendall House residents.
Ms Cooper’s daughter Sarah was born with a cleft palate and her two sons and grandchild also have serious health issues, which Ms Cooper believes are as a result of the drugs she was given at the Gravesend home.
Her solicitor, Madeline Seibert, of Attwaters Jameson Hill, said last year: “The women residents of Kendall House need closure and justice in relation to these tragic events.”
Back in 2010, the church agreed an out-of-court settlement with Ms Cooper to the tune of £50,000 but did not accept liability for the abuse until the review was published last summer.
She contributed to the second review and the panel, chaired by Dr Sue Proctor, who led the investigation into disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile, thanked her for her efforts.
Update: Kendall House: Church payments to drugged girls an ‘insult’
22 December 2016
Teresa Cooper said: “They made my life a walking, living, breathing hell. We were pumped full of drugs over and over again by force.”
She said she had been left suicidal and unemployable, and lives in constant pain.
She said the £1,000 payment she received failed to atone for the illnesses she had suffered since being at the home.
GlaxoSmithKline faces fresh drug bribery claims in Syria
Unilever, Acumen, and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership announce USD $10 million Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to support smallholder farmers
There’s no way Unilever could be linked to $-billion enterprises like global child sex trafficking and child pornography rings; the global arms trade; narcotics production and trafficking operations; or industrial-scale money laundering (for example).
I mean, the fact that Unilever’s chief executive, Paul Polman, partners with the Lynn Forester de Rothschild to write business articles?
Such collaboration (friendship too?) can only prove that Unilever has a moral and ethical leader. Because, after all, the Rothschilds – as is well known – gave away their staggering, blood-money fortune in order to alleviate global poverty. (I may be wrong about that last bit),
Touchingly, Lynn Forester was introduced to her husband, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, by Henry Kissinger at the 1998 Bilderberg Group conference.
And I’m certain that the “family investment company” Lynn and Sir Evelyn established in 2003 – “E.L. Rothchild” – is not connected to any of the aforementioned wicked global trades or money laundering, either.
Sex tape started GlaxoSmithKline bribery inquiry in China
Kendall House Addendum to Main Report
Kendall House Review Report
Update December 2016:
Following the publication of the Kendall House Review report earlier this year, the Dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury wanted to ensure that any former residents who had not contributed to it, were given an opportunity to record their experiences. The Kendall House Review Addendum is the result of those conversations with the Review Panel and should be read alongside the original report.
Kendall House Review Report
Kendall House Addendum to Main Report, November 2016
Statement from the Review Panel
Dec 16 2016
What can I say? The report begins well and gives due credit to Teresa Cooper for the 30 years of her tireless struggle to achieve recognition for the maltreatment meted out to her and other residents.
And there it ends. One might ask, given the unprecedented access that Dr Sue Proctor had to Kendall House and Church of England records, why there is no reference to any official documents that might corroborate the testimony of the former residents that participated. One might further ask why the only reference to any official documentation in this report is to note its absence when particularly damning allegations are made by former residents – including the legally sensitive (for the Church of England) subject of organised drug experimentation on children at Kendall House.
Doesn’t that seem odd to you? No documented corroboration of witness testimony – but the noting of the absence of corroborative documentation when it suits?
If I were a conspiracy theorist I’d have a field day with this report – as I’m not, I’ll just say that this report falls far below what I’d expect from an independent report undertaken by professionals.
Update: Dec 13 2016
Kendall House: More harrowing accounts of historic abuse at Church of England children’s home in Gravesend
Harrowing accounts of historical child abuse have been revealed by a further review into a Church of England home for young girls.
More than three decades of cruelty at Kendall House in Gravesend was first exposed by the findings of an expert panel in June, with residents found to have been drugged, sexually assaulted, locked in an isolation room and kept in straitjackets.
The 137-page report, compiled by Dr Sue Proctor, part-time judge Samantha Cohen and former police detective superintendent Ray Galloway, described Kendall House as “a frightening, violent and unpredictable place to live”.
Dr Proctor, who chaired the investigation into disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile, said the abuse at Kendall House was the most troubling thing she had worked on.
So many other former residents came forward after its publication that the Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, agreed to an extended review, which has resulted in testimonies from one woman who was just nine when she was sent to Kendall House.
She had never been in a children’s home previously and it remains unclear why she was sent there, with other girls sent there by the Dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury ranging from 11 to 16-years-old.
She arrived in the mid-1970s and was quickly introduced to the superintendent Doris Law, who oversaw what went on at the home.
Another of the girls interviewed for the extension was 15 when she arrived at Kendall House in the early 1970s and recalls barred windows on the outside.
She was also introduced to Miss Law soon after her arrival, who is said to have pulled her by the hair and handed her over to two other women.
First impressions of the building in Pelham Road, which opened in 1947, were said to demonstrate a “nasty, horrible atmosphere”, with new arrivals left scared and confused by what was happening to them.
One woman recalled: “An injection would happen if you’d had an argument with somebody, if they felt you were being rude or disrespectful. Anything you stepped out of line for, in their eyes, then you got sedated, basically.
“This injection would literally just knock you out completely, out cold, and I would just remember the next day, the next morning. I’d be in bed and I’d be like I can’t remember how I got there.”
Girls were also administered tablets, which staff told them were simply vitamins and would sometimes hand them out at meal time. If they refused to take them, staff would threaten them.
Psychiatrist Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam would oversee much of the drugging and a failure to properly hold him to account was identified as one of the Dioceses’ major failings in the original report.
Staff were also said to take blood and urine samples from those they drugged, and Miss Law and other senior diocesan officers were said to downplay such practices in meetings with social services.
Girls staying at Kendall House were regularly threatened for misbehaviour with being sent to the psychiatric hospital Stone House, which shut in 2007. One girl who was taken there was given electric shock treatment.
Such issues were reported to Kent Police, but officers have been accused of not taking the concerns of the girls seriously.
The report states that no further investigations took place despite the serious nature of the allegations and many of the girls were driven to self-harm.
Sexual assault accusations have also been raised with police since the home shut in 1986, but these also haven’t been followed up. One of the women interviewed said that police had told her the abuse was “in her head”.
Campaigner Teresa Cooper
One of the four former residents to contribute to this week’s report was Teresa Cooper, who has spent the last three decades fighting for a full investigation into Kendall House.
Ms Cooper did not take part in the original review due to a dispute over the terms of reference, but the panel felt she should be included in the extension.
The panel acknowledge that many of the complaints made about Kendall House in the years since its closure were made by Ms Cooper.
“If Kent Police had done something about it at the time, they would have found the same things that the review did,” she said.
“The police were not trying to help me, they were trying to help themselves. They didn’t deal with my allegations properly. Rather than try to deal with it they have actually gone out of their way to discredit me.
“Kent Police didn’t think for a minute that a review would come out. They owe me a huge apology. They screwed up and they need to accept that they screwed up.”
EXPERIMENTAL drug trials on school children were approved by Home Office doctors in the 1960s, it has been revealed.
Disruptive boys were given an anticonvulsant drug to see if it would help to control their behaviour while a proposal to give girls a powerful sedative was also considered.
In the disturbing revelations, exposed in National Archive files, parents were not consulted with consent left to managers.
Richmond Hill Approved School
The anticonvulsant drug trial was performed at the Richmond Hill Approved School in North Yorkshire, which housed male students aged 15-17 years-old.
The school for boys was established at a Victorian building on the site in 1961 after The Green Howards moved from its regimental headquarters and continued until 1973, when approved schools were replaced by community homes.
One of the documents was dated late 1967 and signed off by Dr JR Hawkings. He wanted to give some of them a drug called Beclamide
The proposal at the girls school had been considered for all students at the Springhead Park Approved School in Rothwell, which cared for 14 and 15-year-olds.
The drug that would have been trialled was Haloperidol, which is a powerful sedative now used as an anti-psychotic.
All three doctors involved in the drug trial plans are now deceased.
Home Office psychiatrist Dr Pamela Mason approved of the drug trials, saying she recommended “maximum support” for the project.
As the Richmond Hill trial got under way, a second trial was proposed, again by a school psychiatrist, at Springhead Park Approved School for girls in Rothwell near Leeds.
This was a sister school to the better known Duncroft in Surrey, a small institution for girls of higher intelligence.
In November 1968, Dr Joyce Galbraith wrote to Dr Mason at the Home Office “in strict confidence”.
She suggested giving Haloperidol to every girl in the school, for 18 weeks.
Again, Dr Mason supported the plan.
The files also show that Shelagh Sunner, headmistress of the school between 1966 and 1982, did not support the trial.
Bob Hammal, a teacher at Richmond Hill between 1968 and 1972, said he did not know about the trial at the time and is appalled.
Dr JR Hawkings, a psychiatrist working at Richmond Hill
Dr Pamela G Mason Home Office psychiatrist
^ In cahoots with Henry Hunter of Balderton Hospital?
and Dr Kenneth Milner of Aston Hall Hospital
“In Nottinghamshire, there were a series of lunatic asylums used to house wayward children. Those that refused to conform to schooling or the structure of family life. Doctors that thought nothing wrong in testing new anti-psychotic drugs and new treatment methods on the inmates…”
“This work was led, from what I can gather, by Dr Henry Hunter of Balderton Hospital in Newark, Notts. Funded by the Sheffield Health Authority, he accessed patients from numerous asylums around the region.
In turn, the doctors from these asylums trawled the children’s homes and secure units, looking for viable subjects for upcoming research or drug trials.”
“Over the years, Dr Hunter, Superintendent of Balderton saw fit to “borrow” patients from other facilities in the area.
Whittington Hall Hospital
Nottingham County and Borough Lunatic Asylum
Harmston Hall Hospital
Treatments included Chloropromazine, Trifluoperazine, Sodium Amytal, Ether, sensory deprivation.”
Police launch investigation into historic abuse claims at Derbyshire children’s hospital Aston Hall
FORMER child patients at a hospital at the centre of abuse allegations have told how they were drugged and thrown into padded rooms “to find out why they were misbehaving”.
“They said they wanted to find out where things had gone wrong when I was a kid, treatments at night time, at eight or nine o’clock. When we saw the car pulling up, we were petrified. We would scream. We were normal healthy children. There was nothing wrong with us. I don’t know why we were there.”
Det Insp Simon Tunnicliffe, head of Operation Hydrant, said: “A number of people have contacted the police wanting to talk about their experiences at Aston Hall.
The psychiatrist and hospital chief superintendent Dr Kenneth Milner (right), is alleged to have injected children with the truth serum sodium amytal before sexually abusing them.
Kenneth Oswald Milner was born on June 26, 1909, and educated at Wakefield Grammar School and Leeds University, graduating with honours in 1933 and gained his medical doctorate at the university in 1939.
It said he served as a medical officer in HM Prison Service at Broadmoor Hospital and later as deputy medical superintendent at Rampton Hospital.
This was before being appointed physician superintendent at Aston Hall Hospital in 1947, where he remained until 1975.
Establishment Physician – Dr Pamela Mason
1984-87 Pamela Mason Queen’s Honorary Physician
Pamela Georgina Walsh Mason married first to David Paltenghi and
then to Director/Producer Jan Darnley-Smith in 1965
MASON Pamela Georgina Walsh, Medical Officer; Psychiatrist, m. (1) David Paltenghi. 1949, dec. 1961, 2 sons, (2) Jan Darnley-Smith, 1 965. Education: Christ’s Hospital School, Royal Free School of Medicine. University of London; MRCS.
Visiting Psychiatrist, Holloway Prison, 1962-67 (When Myra Hindley was there)
MASON, Pamela Georgina Walsh 34 Goodwood Ct., Devonshire St., London W1N ILS – MB BS Lond. … Late: Hon. Phys. HM the Queen; Sen Pnncip. Med. Off. DHSS; Cons. Psychiat. Childr Dept. Home Office
Adviser to Church of England Children’s Society 1962-
Pamela Mason MB, BS, DPM Consultant Psychiatrist to the Home Office Children’s Department and Visiting Psychiatrist to Duncroft Approved School.
Social Work Today – Volume 1 – Page 21
1970 – Snippet view
Peter Righton of the National Institute for Social Work Training spoke on the relationship between residential and community-based … Dr Pamela Mason, who is psychiatric adviser to the Home Office children’s department, speaking about …
All of this was government run and controlled.
Jimmy Savile visited Duncroft Approved School for Girls in the 1970s, pictured here, in 1974, with staff members and students
Dr Pamela Mason
Consultant Psychiatrist to the Home Office Children’s Department
Visiting Psychiatrist to Duncroft Approved School.
Pamela Mason, who supported the drugging of these children in Richmond Hill Approved School and in Springhead Park Approved School, without parental consent, was the Home Office visiting psychiatrist at Duncroft Approved School where Jimmy Savile visited and had his own room.
Duncroft, a ‘paedophile sweet shop’…
Savile abused 23 girls at a school for emotionally disturbed teenagers where he was given ‘unrestricted and largely unsupervised’ access to youngsters, a report revealed.
The paedophile DJ carried out at least 46 sexual offences Duncroft School.
He was even allowed to stay overnight and abused girls across the property and in vehicles parked outside, including his Rolls-Royce.
The abuse even took place in the principal’s office
He is also recorded to have twice stayed at Norman Lodge, a hostel in the grounds used as a place of transition for girls who had gained employment, and also visited the intensive care unit twice.
James Robertson Justice, a bosom pal of Prince Philip
Dan Davies writes about the Duncroft home in his book about Savile:
“Many of the 25 or so girls in its care at any one time came from comfortable backgrounds and included the daughters of ambassadors and BBC producers. As a Home Office-approved school, funding came from Social Services.
Regular guests at their parties included the actor James Robertson Justice, who was one of Britain’s leading film stars in the 1940s and 1950s and reportedly a close friend of the Duke of Edinburgh. Princesses Marina and Alexandra are said to have attended.
Among the former Duncroft girls to have come forward, one has said she was put in the isolation unit for ‘two or three days’ after loudly protesting when Savile groped her in a caravan on the school grounds. ‘For years we tried to report him,’ another confided to me. ‘We even had a mass breakout to Staines police station.’
Police cover up Savile’s claims to be friends with Queen’s cousin: Paedophile ‘visited (Duncroft) school at centre of abuse allegations with Princess Alexandra’
Angus Ogilvy and wife Princess Alexandra
- Paedophile Jimmy Savile mentioned first trip to Duncroft school at centre of abuse claims
- He said he was with Princess Alexandra, a patron of the school
- Made claims during police interview, the transcription of which was edited
- Information was removed by Surrey Police but has now been unveiled
Sir Angus Ogilvy, Princess Alexandra’s husband (left) with Jimmy Savile. All mention of the former DJ’s claims to friendship with the royal was initially omitted from police transcripts
Jimmy Savile was a frequent guest at garden parties at Duncroft Approved School for Girls and had his own room there
The Daily Star Sunday has asked the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate the redactions and consider the arguments any outside bodies made.
As we revealed in May, Government papers showing links between Savile and Prince Charles were redacted.
Duncroft – Closed Records for 85 years
Duncroft – 01/01/1963 – 31/12/1975
Reports of visits by Home Office inspectors
This record is closed
Closed For 85 years
Opening date: 01 January 2061
The Walton Hop was situated only five miles from Jimmy Savile’s haunt the infamous Duncroft Approved School.
The management must have been aware of this, permissions granted and ‘escorts’ arranged?
How was it that the underage patients knew about the abuses, as did other visitors and yet, according to the statement Mind has issued, it would appear that staff and indeed Mind has no knowledge of this?
1968, Dr Joyce Galbraith suggested giving Haloperidol to every girl in the school, for 18 weeks.
Background on Springhead Park School for Girls
A major aspect of the cost of maintaining Springhead Park, Sheffield, and of many other CHEs, was that of the employment of large numbers of staff. This raised the weekly fees to a level that deterred many local authorities from using the service.
In Springhead Park, a CHE for 30 girls, there were a Principal, two Deputies, a Head of Education, three full-time teachers, two Group Leaders and a team of residential social workers, a field social worker, a bursar, two office staff, a cook, a handyman, a gardener and domestic staff. It is hardly surprising that at the time of its closure in 1986 the weekly charge was £423 per week per girl. Part of the explanation for the policy of providing a high child/ staff ratio was the belief that change in the child could be best achieved through effective interpersonal relationships.
Springhead Park School for Girls age 14-16yrs – provided domestic training and instruction in gardening.
The establishment also had facilities for the treatment of venereal disease!
1965 Jan 01-1966 Dec 31 Springhead Park Approved School, Rothwell, near Leeds, Yorkshire: opening of the school by Her Royal Highness Princess Marina and speech by the minister of state
Springhead Park Approved School, Rothwell, near Leeds, Yorkshire: reports of visits
|1965 Jan 01-1974 Dec 31|
This record is closed
Closed For 78 years
Opening date: 01 January 2053
Richmond Hill School, Richmond:
1950 Jan 01-1965 Dec 31
Richmond Hill Approved School, Richmond, Yorkshire: complaint of irregular punishment
Richmond Hill Approved School, Richmond, Yorkshire: complaint of indecency
This record is closed
1965 Jan 01-1968 Dec 31
Closed For 93 years
Opening date: 01 January 2062
Kendall House was a private children’s home for girls based in Gravesend, Kent.
Young girls at a Church of England children’s home were drugged, sexually abused and bullied for two decades, a shocking report revealed.
An independent review laid bare the horrors of the now-defunct Kendall House between 1967 and 1986 where girls as young as 11 were left “broken”.
What happened in Kendall House…
Consider this line from the inquiry: “We have found that every former resident…was in fact the victim of abuse.”
And: “Concerns about the medication regime at Kendall House were raised in the 1970s and 1980s. All were either ignored, rebuked or belittled.”
Long-term institutional abuse on young vulnerable girls was perpetuated by staff and tolerated by the Church of England.
Brent placed girls in Kendall House & Bishop James invited the then Brent leader Howarth 2 help find KH review panel
1980 London Boroughs Children’s Regional Planning Committee
Meeting to discuss Kendall House
Apologies were received from Dr Peri.
Take note Wandsworth didnt attend. I know what view they held on Kendall House. Def number 1. Wandsworth a heavy user of Kendall House
Kent police… They played a part with CofE & Wandsworth. In it together.
Teresa Cooper in her three years at Kendall House in the early 1980s, she was drugged with tranquillisers 1,248 times despite having no history of violent behaviour.
Wandsworth Council in London had first referred her to the home.
She was raped on several occasions. Fellow residents of the home have suffered severe ill health following their time there.
More frighteningly, she and more than 90 per cent of the Kendall House residents who have so far come forward had children with birth defects, which the church has privately acknowledged are a result of the drugs that were forced upon them.
The drugs were prescribed by consultant psychiatrist Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam, who referred to himself as ‘Psychotherapist to the Home Office,’ on his notepaper.
In 1980, his methods caused a sensation after being exposed in a TV documentary, yet somehow Kendall House was allowed to continue operating its shameful regime. Teresa left at 16 in 1984, traumatised and barely able to read or write. Two years later the home was closed down following a Government report that expressed ‘extreme concern’ at the ‘administration of psychotropic drugs’ and said girls were ‘stripped of basic human rights’.
Dr Perinpanayagam died in 1988. He was never prosecuted.
Kendall House: Girls drugged and abused at Church of England-run home
13 July 2016
Girls at a church-run children’s home were routinely drugged, locked up and physically, emotionally and sexually abused, a review has found.
Hundreds of girls were sent to Kendall house in Gravesend in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, before it closed in 1986.
It found girls were heavily sedated and placed in straitjackets.
The review found girls as young as 11 were “routinely and often without any initial medical assessment, given antidepressants, sedatives and anti-psychotic medication”.
Drugs were administered in dosages exceeding usual prescribed adult levels to control girls’ behaviour, placing them in a constant stupor, and restricting their ability to communicate, the report said.
The review found: “The effects of the drugs also increased their vulnerability to emotional, physical and in a smaller number of cases, sexual abuse”.
Concerns about the medication regime at Kendall House were raised in the 1970s and 80s by residents, their parents, by some social workers and some employees. “All were either ignored, rebuked, ridiculed or belittled by those in the position of authority in the home,” the report said.
Many of the women, including Teresa Cooper, say they were also sexually abused at the home, sometimes while they were unconscious from the drugs.
Two former residents reported being raped on the premises in the late 70s inside the “locked isolation room”, one allegedly by a male visitor to the home when sedated, the other, allegedly, by several male visitors on different occasions.
“I woke up to people abusing me more than once and I think it’s possible I was abused by men from outside the home as well as staff,” she said.
The Home Office consultant psychiatrist in charge, Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam, has said in the past that the drugs used by the staff at the home were safe and did not have side effects.
Girls in his care were given pills designed for schizophrenics, psychotics and Parkinson’s sufferers…without having been diagnosed with any of these conditions and often held down and forced to take them.
Nearly 30 years later, the children of girls in his care have learning difficulties, cleft palates, water on the brain and brain growths.
One of the women, Teresa Cooper, 41, said: “They turned us into zombies with those drugs. But we’re only just starting to find out that it may have affected our children as well.”
During 15 years as consultant psychiatrist to Kendall House – run for girls with problems by the Church of England’s Council for Social Responsibility in Gravesend, Kent – Dr Perinpanayagam wrongly prescribed girls drugs.
Valium was given at four times the recommended dose for an adult male. When his methods were exposed on TV it caused outrage although it seems no action was taken.
BLM Abuse conference – London, 24 Nov 2016
Those who are accused of abuse seek anonymity and fairness of process, arguing that they should not be named until charged or at the end of a trial. That debate is one currently voiced in the media in particular by those whose names are well known but it is as important an issue for anyone irrespective of fame or fortune.
Does limitation have a future? A draft bill in Scotland seeks to remove limitation as a defence in sexual abuse claims. What are the implications of that proposal?
All of these issues and topics will be considered and debated at the annual BLM conference. This year we are delighted to be co-hosting this event with 39 Essex Chambers. Speakers will include eminent guests as well as those from 39 Essex Chambers and BLM, including:
• Harvey Proctor, former Member of Parliament for Basildon and Billericay
• Peter Skelton QC, Crown Office Row – counsel to the Accountability & Reparations
• Anne Tiivas, Director, Child Protection in Sport Unit, NSPCC
• Samantha Cohen, 9 Bedford Row chambers
• David Greenwood, Director & Solicitor, Head of Child Abuse Department, Switalskis Solicitors
• Richard Scorer, Principal Lawyer, Head of Practice Improvement, Slater and Gordon Lawyers
• Jonathan Wheeler, Partner, Bolt Burdon Kemp
• Neil Block QC, William Norris QC and Bernard Doherty, 39 Essex Chambers
• Fintan Canavan, Frank Hughes, Paula Jefferson and Michael Pether, BLM
This conference is for anyone already or potentially involved in the Inquiry or facing or managing claims for compensation as a result of abusive behaviour.
Delegates will learn about:
• Unfounded allegations/anonymity: ‘trial by media’ (panel debate)
• The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)
• Consent (debate)
• Abuse claims update
• Supporting victims and survivors
Teresa Cooper @teresacooper
BLMLaw insurance & risk law
Paula Jefferson partner v KH cases, dodgy Greenwood KH legal Sam Cohen KH panel
Thousands of solicitors in the UK,1 is a partner in BLM law, 1 is KH legal I cant stand for good reason & 1 is on the Kendall House panel
KH review independent? How close can they all be? Paula and Sam & David tagging along. The odds of that must be very slim
Cassandra Cogno @CassandraCogno
@seaofcomplicity for deeper understanding of Church of England corporate defence structures, investments & where the profits go
Thanks Cassandra. Hope to lift the veil a little. Not much awareness amongst CSA survivors of the corporate structures. Hope to change this.
Incidentally, part of the Church of England insurance group is main sponsor of the National Festival of Hunting.
1985 Dr Pamela Mason – Holloway Prison/ David Mellor
Sir Charles Cunningham 1957–1966
He became Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (1957-66) during which time he encountered
the likes of R A Butler (Duncroft visitor) and
Roy Jenkins, now Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, with whom he is said to have had a colourful relationship.
(“PIE was so deeply rooted in the realm of the social elite and the political establishment that it had extensive influence. To have these links fully examined now would lead to the exposure of many highly influential individuals as being either practising paedophiles or the promoters of paedophilia.
Roy Jenkins with convicted child abuser Frank Beck ( Janner)
It has to be remembered that Roy Jenkins (Home Secretary & the “Architect of the permissive society”) expressed support for PIE. The organisation also came close to having a private members bill to have the age of consent reduced to just five years of age introduced into Parliament. PIE was also linked to the security services. Some speculate that the security services used PIE to entrap, for the purposes of blackmail, people of influence. I believe that there is now sufficient circumstantial evidence in the public domain to support this assertion.”
Sir Charles Cunnigham went on to become chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (1966-71), chairman of the Uganda Resettlement Board (1972-73), and was a director of Securicor Ltd from 1971-81.
Sir Philip Allen Home Office 1966–1972 – Chairman of the charity Mencap from 1982 to 1988
He was also a member of the Diplock security commission for 18 years (1973-91), investigating, among other things, the salacious circumstances which brought about the resignation of Lords Jellicoe and Lambton in 1973 and the spy scandals inside MI5.
1970 Responsibility for Springhead Park School – NAMH
1970 Responsibility for Richmond Hill – Local Committee
Aston Hall in Derbyshire is an imposing white mansion, grade II listed, that’s been turned into high-end flats. Until recently, there were other buildings on this site too, less imposing, redbrick. Photographs taken before they were demolished reveal eerie abandoned corridors and derelict washrooms. It’s like the setting for a horror film. There are a few signs visible, such as “Drug Cupboard. Do Not Switch Off” – a clue to Aston Hall’s grim and now deeply questionable past as a psychiatric hospital for vulnerable, lost, so-called “mentally defective” children.
Back in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, troubled young children and teenagers, many from children’s homes all over the country and a great deal from the local remand home for girls, the Cedars, would be brought up Aston Hall’s drive, past the mansion, clueless to what was about to happen to them.
The cars that delivered them to the door were so often driven by their social workers. The “mentally defective children” – many of whom were simply badly behaved as a result of their early lives – were now under the care of the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Kenneth Milner, a psychiatrist who had worked at Broadmoor and Rampton hospitals, but who in 1947 transferred to Aston Hall, employed by the government. He had no history of treating minors.
Milner’s view was clear. Here, at Aston Hall, it was thought that all the troubles of the children’s pasts – their parents’ neglect, for instance, or their parents’ alcoholism, often their presumed sexual abuse – could be “cured”.
But evidence now being gathered by the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board and Derbyshire Constabulary, under the auspices of the nationwide Operation Hydrant, has revealed that if these children entered Aston Hall damaged and lost, they often emerged months later even worse – more confused and more broken down in even more profound ways. And this is because the very man – Kenneth Milner, now long since dead – who was supposed to help them had subjected the children to drug experimentation instead.
Barbara O’Hare, now 58 and a mother of 4 living in Liverpool, was admitted to Aston Hall in January 1971 and left 8 months later.
In a book published this month, The Hospital, the story she tells of what happened during this period is profoundly shocking: abuse, both medical and sexual, at the hands of a man who was supposed to protect her. It makes for grim and depressing reading.
Every night, she recalls, Milner would sweep up the drive in his car. The children, a mixture of girls and boys, would stand at the window waiting and then flee in terror. Each evening, a new name was read out for “treatment”.
With the help of some of the nursing staff, he “treated” the young children and teens by ordering them to be stripped naked bar a thick brown gown, binding their hands and feet, and making them lie on a mattress on the floor of a small room. Their faces were covered with a wire mask and a cloth soaked in ether. He would then lie down beside them. All this took place in a small, locked side room, and countless medical records reveal they would be injected with an exceptionally high dose of an irregular drug called sodium amytal, a so-called “truth serum” dating back to the early Twenties. This drug turned them into a “statue”, as O’Hare recalls, and was intended – on a sympathetic reading – to make them speak openly about the buried traumas of their past. While a recognised form of therapy called narcoanalysis, even by the standards of the Sixties and Seventies it was already outdated – and wholly inappropriate for children.
Today, the rigours of Barbara O’Hare’s hard life are etched on her face: alcoholism, family tragedy, mental breakdown. The pattern of how a broken, unloved childhood can shape adult life is a familiar one.
From the story O’Hare tells of her neglected childhood (a mother who left when her daughter was 11 months old; negligent father, though they’ve since reconciled; brutal foster mother; terrifying care home at 12), she was set on a terrible path from birth. But it is her memories of what happened at Aston Hall that are the most disturbing – and it is these, she says, that brought her down in adult life.
For years, O’Hare could not make sense of her patchy but distinct recollections of what had gone on inside that treatment room. Was she remembering it properly? Was she the only one? Was she crazy? Wrists tied? Metal muzzle on her mouth? When she tried to tell people, one said, “Crazy Barbara. You’ve always been crazy.” And at low points, she believed it.
She left Aston Hall after eight months and was transferred to a children’s home in Liverpool. She ran away to London and, after a spell living on the streets, got a job in a hotel. Her life, she says, has never had any sustaining relationships in it, aside from the love she feels for her four children.
For years, she chugged along, never seeking redress or thinking she had any rights. “When you’ve lived a life like mine, you learn to get on with it. You’ve got no option. What are you going to do? Sit down and cry? You’ve just got to get on. I wish I’d been adopted.”
But in 1995, her time at Aston Hall caught up with her. Triggered in part by the brickwork of her local fire station in Liverpool and in part by a police investigation into abuse at another care home for which she was a witness, she had a paralysing flashback to her time in the hospital. “Milner’s breath was here, right here above my head,” she says. “It was as if I could feel it again. I knew then it had been sexual, too.”
After “treatment”, which often saw an Aston Hall child, boys and girls, disappear for days, she remembered how he or she would finally return whimpering and broken. She remembered, aged 12, bleeding after seeing Milner, despite not having started her periods. But she couldn’t recall much else, except the flash of a camera going off. She remembered being bundled into the back of a van, too.
Now in possession of her full medical notes after a two-decade long attempt to make sense of it all, she recalls, for example, that on March 3, 1971, when Milner’s car screeched to a halt below where the girls watched at the windows, dreading his nightly visits, “The nurse appeared inside the door and called out a name. ‘Barbara O’Hare,’ she said, holding a clipboard.”
O’Hare was taken to a bathroom and made to sit down in a tepid bath, then given the thick gown and bound. When she became distressed, begging not to be bound at the ankles, the nurse smirked and said, “You know and I know your dad doesn’t care. If he did, you wouldn’t be in here. He can come and get you any time he wants, but he doesn’t care because he doesn’t want you … Just like your mother.”
When she finally came round, as she recalls, she was “swollen and wet … Someone had put something inside me to leave me so sore down below … Fluid continued to trickle out along the top of my legs.”
Questions only started to be asked about the events at Aston Hall last year. Today – despite O’Hare dealing with alcoholism, depression, family suicide, cancer and, at one stage, her own suicidal impulses – it is largely as a result of her persistence that Aston Hall has been brought under the remit of Operation Hydrant.
The story of what happened to the children at Aston Hall at the hands of Kenneth Milner finally broke on February 24, 2016, after Isaac Crowson, a crime reporter at the Derby Telegraph, got a tip-off that allegations had been made.
For years, nobody had believed Barbara O’Hare’s memories. It sounded too far-fetched, too sci-fi. And, crucially, she had no evidence.
After that 1995 flashback, two different GPs didn’t believe her because she had no proof. More family tragedy hit (the deaths of two nephews, the collapse of her marriage); a spell of depression then left her suicidal. But the flashbacks to Aston Hall and the nightmares got worse and more frequent. “I remember going to my doctor and her saying, ‘Why are you going on the internet looking for it? As long as you carry on doing that, you are going to have flashbacks.’ ”
But in the run-up to her meeting Isaac Crowson – she was the first victim he spoke to – and that initial story, it was the internet that helped her. On a website called Project Mayhem, she saw pictures of a derelict Aston Hall, which for years she’d mistakenly thought was “Ashton Hall”. There was a comment below the story from a woman recalling her horrific “treatment” there.
“I couldn’t sleep,” O’Hare explains. “I put a comment under hers and thought, ‘Oh God, I hope she finds me.’ The next day she got in touch on Facebook and said she’d already got another lady in a different part of the country. Suddenly, there were three of us after all those years. I set up a Facebook support group for us, mostly so we could communicate. But I also felt that, if there were 3 of us, there could be 303. There was a real sense of, ‘I’ve got to do something.’ ”
O’Hare spoke to Crowson about Milner and his so-called truth serum, about the coma-like state he induced in the terrified children, about the abuse and the nudity and being made to lie down on a mattress.
Isaac Crowson, after “a lot of digging”, decided to run with the story of alleged abuse and drug experimentation. “Very quickly, we knew we had a very big story on our hands,” he remembers.
Within 24 hours of publication, 12 other victims contacted the paper. The following month, Amanda Solloway, the MP for Derby North, raised the alleged abuse in parliament. David Cameron shared her concerns. “It is vital the full facts are considered,” he replied.
By March 7, 35 people had been in touch with the Derby Telegraph. By the beginning of August, it was 50. “We had legal firms contacting us saying they were representing victims,” says Crowson, “and we managed to obtain a letter from the NHS which victims had been sent, saying, ‘We have no reason to doubt the allegations.’ ”
Derbyshire Constabulary is investigating (“We are seeking specialist experts,” runs the official police statement, “who can focus on the medical treatment at the time and cross-reference this with the accounts provided”), while Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, the body that co-ordinates all child welfare agencies, is working to ensure all the allegations are fully examined. The majority involve drug experimentation. The victims, however, feel in limbo. “It’s like the abuse all over again,” says Barbara O’Hare.
There are now 31 survivors in her own support group, independent from the Derby Telegraph’s 50. “A lot of them are very vulnerable,” she says. One man has tried to commit suicide.
Barbara’s lawyer, Stephen Edwards, is representing the 31 in her support group (other victims have different legal teams) in a civil case for compensation relating to the drug abuse, and has presented the claims to Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary.
“Some survivors are saying they were [sexually abused],” says Edwards, “some are saying they haven’t been, some are saying it’s more likely than not.
“There is a clear ring of truth,” he goes on, “because time and time again the victims coming forward are saying the same thing [about Milner’s treatment]. These are people from all walks of life who were at Aston Hall at different times, different years and are now scattered all over the country.”
Sodium amytal (first synthesised in 1923) and narcoanalysis had been used as a possible treatment for shellshock in the Second World War and features in a 1946 documentary, Let There Be Light, about American soldiers who are suffering from emotional trauma and depression, directed by John Huston.
It had something of a revival in the US and elsewhere as part of recovered memory therapy – which, in at least one case of the mid-Nineties, involving Holly Ramona and her father, Gary, had devastating consequences. After being sued by his own daughter, at the time in her early twenties, for allegedly raping her between the ages of 5 and 16, Gary Ramona retaliated by suing the therapists who had planted false memories in her using the drug. In May 1994, he was awarded $500,000 damages against the two therapists.
In 1953, while working at Aston Hall, Milner gave a speech entitled Psychotherapy with high-grade mental defectives, in which he said, “One of the most difficult things to elicit was a history of cruelty in childhood. It was of vital importance to elicit such histories, however, for they often gave a clue to what was to come. If a patient gave a history of gross cruelty by alcoholic parents, it was very likely to be coupled with sexual degradation at an early age.”
Even were Milner using sodium amytal in some sort of groundbreaking experimental way, you’d expect to find plenty of research to back it up. But his “treatments” resulted in no publication of medical papers or trials in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Nor is there any trace of such research at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
In the mid-Nineties Ramona case, the administration of sodium amytal was linked with false memory syndrome. At Aston Hall, it is alleged that, in some cases at least, the false memories of sexual abuse that Milner created in the children allowed him to become their abuser.
Last year, a few months after Barbara O’Hare made her allegations (implanting false memories is not one of them), Radio 4’s File on 4 took up the mantle. One survivor told the programme how Milner implanted memories of sexual abuse, taking her back to when she was 11, the age when she started going off the rails. She recalled him saying, “ ‘Whatever we talk about, you will be reliving it as though it’s happening again … Did your father touch you?’ And I felt as if I were being touched where I shouldn’t be touched, and he’s saying, ‘What’s he doing? What’s he doing?’ He’s touching me. I don’t like it. I don’t like it.”
Finally, after nine or ten sessions, she remembers Milner bringing her in to see him and saying, “We’ve got to the bottom of it. You were a hard nut to crack! I’ll tell you now what happened. Your dad was sexually abusing you.”
In the case of this survivor, the allegation is that while using sodium amytal to plant a false memory of parental sexual abuse in her, Milner himself was able to carry out sexual abuse. This survivor believed what Milner had told her. “I’ve tried so hard to visualise it,” she told the programme. “But I can only remember and visualise it from the treatment, and for 51 years I have been accusing my father of maybe doing something he did not do. And the worst part about it, I’ve got … If it didn’t happen, I’ve got to live the rest of my life knowing that I’ve told people he’s done this and accused him of doing it … I believe it was Dr Milner doing the abuse while I was under treatment.”
Milner died in 1976, so these allegations were never put to him. His family refute them and have pointed to a former patient whose life was helped by such treatment in the Fifties. This female patient continues to describe Milner as “wonderful” and says that he made her life “worth living”.
“Even though this is very shocking and horrendous,” says Barbara O’Hare, “you could even say unbelievable, we know the truth. We have our memories and we can’t all be having the same one. One member of my group dates back to 1957.”
A key voice in the campaign emerged last year when John Bull, the pioneer of community-centred children’s care in the Seventies, came forward to say that as a student nurse at Aston Hall back in the Sixties, he’d received training on the treatment but wasn’t involved in giving it. “I’ve seen the room,” he told File on 4. “From the outside when you were walking past the ward you would hear sometimes kids crying … He was the only person I know that gave the treatment.”
Isaac Crowson at the Derby Telegraph also interviewed an anonymous former staff member who remembered “how the staff regarded Milner as the expert and never once questioned him”.
Breakthroughs such as these have had a massive impact on Barbara O’Hare and her fellow survivors. “I don’t feel I’ve got anything to prove any more, which I always did feel. I remember passing my driving test more than 30 years ago and it breaking my heart. I never felt adequate; I never felt as good as anybody else.
“From the age of 12, I’ve carried a big black balloon of depression, of anger, of confusion, of hurt in my chest. For years, I’ve been trying to make sense of it.
“The decision to write this book was the best thing ever, because it deflated the balloon. It made some sense to me of what had actually gone on. It has given me the energy now that I need to help some weak and troubled survivors in my group, but the amazing thing is less than half of 1 per cent of us has a drug or drink addiction now. There are down days and days when we have mainly flashbacks or nightmares, but we are keeping each other strong.”
Aside from financial compensation, Barbara O’Hare has a clear view of what she wants to come out of any public acknowledgement of the abuse of and experimentation on the children of Aston Hall.
“I want every doctor in this country to have to carry his own portfolio, so that when you take your child to them, you can see what they have done. Dr Milner had had no experience working with children. There should be much more protection of children, and in particular more protection of children in care. I want social workers and foster parents to read this and learn from it. We messed up years ago. Don’t let us make the same mistakes for a new generation.”
Sun Mar 20 2016
Such medical experimentation will form part of the SNP’s child abuse inquiry, with chair Susan O’Brien QC to launch the call for evidence in Glasgow this week.
The group of nine boys and three girls were subjected to testing while in the care of the state at Lennox Castle Hospital, near Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
They were given droperidol, a tranquiliser which was banned as an antipsychotic in Britain and America in 2001 after being linked to heart problems and a number of deaths.
It is still licenced for use in hospitals to prevent nausea in post-operative patients, although the maximum dose for under-18s is 1.25mg.
The youngsters in Lennox Castle were given up to 60mg a day for up to 19 months, with the average dose 20mg a day.
Each patient was also given a cocktail of other drugs
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