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Ashworth revisited

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 23 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:271
  1. John Gunn, professor of forensic psychiatry
  1. London

    Almost two years ago, on 10February 1997,the then secretary of state for health, Mr Stephen Dorrell, announced yet another inquiry into Ashworth Special Hospital. The previous public inquiry, chaired by Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, was published in August 1992.A serious set of allegations prompted the new inquiry, including possible paedophilia involving a child visitor to the personality disorder unit.

    I have been closely interested in the special hospitals for over two decades, and my wife spent five years working as medical director for the Special Hospitals Service Authority (SHSA).

    • When dealing with the professionals the report resembles a witch hunt

    Was the time, effort, and money worth it? The answer has to be no. There are many good things in this report (p 206,p 211). Part 1sets out an account of the background to the inquiry, and part 2details the development of Lawrence Ward at Ashworth Hospital, where the alleged criminal activities took place. Part 6is a lengthy digression on the nature …

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