On Sunday 18th January 2004 Margaret Hodge (Minister for Children at the DFES)
announced in the Sunday Telegraph that she did not intend to reunite thousands
of mothers with children wrongly taken from them.
On the following day Harriet Harman (Solicitor General) announced in the Commons
that there would be a review of the approximately 5000 cases of adoption and fostering
in which children had been removed from their parents because of allegations based
on the now discredited theory of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) as espoused
by Professor Dr Sir Roy Meadow.
Later in the week I looked at the websites of the Department of Health and
the Department of Education and Skills and found to my utter amazement that
guidelines promoting the idea of MSBP or Fictitious and Induced Illness in Children
(FII) as it is frequently called were still available on both websites. Surely
it would have been basic common sense to withdraw these guidelines before Harriet
Harman made her Commons Statement. If the cases need review why retain the guidelines
which trigger these cases?
The DFES guidelines are new draft guidelines - released since the 2003 legal
cases of Sally Clark, Trupti Patel & Angela Cannings brought Professor Meadow
and his theory of MSBP or FII into disrepute. It amazes me that the DFES could
have been so stupid. Margaret Hodge is based at the DFES - did she agree to
these draft guidelines? If the draft guidelines are accepted then the situation
for school children with mild to moderate special medical and educational needs
(and their parents) will become intolerable as they are drawn into a web of
suspicion and false accusation.
The D O H guidelines were put in place in late 2001 after a supposed "consultation"
in which everything contrary to Meadow's ideology was ignored or disregarded.
On 17 10 01 Earl Frederick Howe (Conservative Spokesperson on Health) and Lord
Tim Clement Jones CBE (Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson) had brought a debate
in the house of Lords on the subject of False Allegations of Child Abuse. Lord
Philip Hunt of Kings Heath (Labour Spokesperson on Health) promised to review
the draft guidelines in the light of speeches made in the Lords - but the guidelines
were formalised without this review ever taking place. These guidelines have
been the cause of all the damaging and expensive wrongful Child Protection cases
(based on Meadow's now discredited theories) brought by Social Services departments
for the past two and a half years. Many or most of the cases, which Ms Harman
& Mrs Hodge are now committed to reviewing, are because of these D O H guidelines.
This debate had been initially triggered by the false accusation of emotional
abuse (MSBP by another name) levelled at me by the London Borough of Barnet,
Barnet LEA and the Barnet AHA when they had refused to acknowledge my son's
CFS/ME or assess his Asperger's Syndrome. (Barnet LEA has now acknowledged my
son's difficulties and provide excellently for him but our lives have been damaged
by the trauma of false allegations.) I had a history of professional involvement
in Children's Work and took the attitude that if this could happen to me it
could happen to lots of people less articulate than me and I should speak out
on their behalf.
Harman & Hodge cannot say that they only just found out about the damage
caused by false accusation of MSBP. I wrote to both of them on 17th May 2000
telling them about it. Earl Howe and Lord Clement Jones (who didn't know me)
responded positively to this letter and have been actively working to expose
this travesty and support wrongly accused families ever since. Harriet Harman
who knew me and had worked with me on the issue of "Latchkey Children"
ignored this and subsequent letters, as did Margaret Hodge and many of her Labour
Charles Pragnell (Social Work Consultant previously involved with the Lady
Justice Butler Sloss Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry) and Lisa Blakemore Brown
(Psychologist and Author) had been telling them about the false allegations
of MSBP for some time before I became involved.
In May 2000 Professor Rod Griffiths had recommended an inquiry into MSBP when
he reported for the D O H on aspects of child health in the West Midlands. The
Prime Minister's office and the D O H appeared to regard the one-sided so called
"consultation " on the D O H guidelines on FII to stand instead of
this vital inquiry.
The News media have at long last latched onto the realisation that Professor
Meadow and his colleagues and their promotion of the theory of MSBP or FII to
interfere with and divide families where a child has a chronic illness or mild
disability or learning difficulty is a scandal of immense proportion.
The Labour Government are every bit as guilty as Professor Meadow because
- They did not implement a directive from the outgoing Conservative administration
to return Social Services to directly working with families in need, rather
than wasting endless time in supposed "Child Protection" conferences
and other such meetings (this would also have saved Victoria Climbie)
- They ignored warning letters and information from Charles Pragnell, Lisa
Blakemore Brown, myself et al.
- They suppressed the research done on MSBP by Professor Rod Griffith for
the D O H as part of his report.
- They did not hold the inquiry into MSBP recommended by Professor Griffith
- They ignored the Countess of Mar in the Lords and in the Telegraph in July
- They ignored the warnings given in many and various communications to several
Government departments from Lady Mar, Earl Howe, Lord Tim Clement Jones CBE,
the former Attorney General Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Lyell QC MP and many others.
- They ignored all information contrary to Meadow's view, which was received
by the D O H in response to the supposed "consultation" on their
guidelines on Fictitious and Induced Illness in Children.
- They did not keep the promise made by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath in the Lords
on 17 10 01 to reconsider their views in the light of information put forward
by Peers in the debate.
- They did not act to change things after the Sally Clark appeal showed the
unreliability of Professor Meadow
- They still have not removed the D O H guidelines on FII
- They have just introduced new draft DFES guidelines on MSBP
Jan Loxley Blount 24 01 04