Gosport War Memorial Hospital: Families have 'no confidence' in criminal investigation into patients' deaths

FAMILIES of patients who died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital have said they have no trust or confidence in a police investigation into hundreds of deaths.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 3:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 5:24 pm

Operation Magenta is the fourth criminal probe into the deaths between 1987 and 2001 at the Bury Road hospital.

An independent panel, led by Bishop James Jones, reported in 2018 that more than 450 people had their lives shortened by the use of opioids without medical justification.

But now some relatives of those who died have written to the bishop, who chairs regular family forum meetings with police.

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David Wilson at Portsmouth Cathedral in Old Portsmouth speaking about Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Picture: Sarah Standing (101120-9040)
David Wilson at Portsmouth Cathedral in Old Portsmouth speaking about Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Picture: Sarah Standing (101120-9040)

David Wilson, whose aunt Dulcie Middleton died aged 86 after being transferred from the hospital in 2001, penned the joint letter.

He said: ‘We have no trust and/or confidence in those in command and control of Operation Magenta.’

He previously told The News deaths could have been prevented had Hampshire Constabulary investigated sooner at the time. Force bosses have acknowledged their previous probes were not good enough.

Mr Wilson and the cosignatories also want Bishop Jones to recuse himself as family forum chair as he is an adviser to the Department of Health.

In his letter to the bishop he said this is because you ‘have a legal duty of care to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and no legal duty of care to the families and thus you were not impartial’.

Some 600 individual family members of patients who died are now involved with the police probe.

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In a statement, the bishop said: ‘I continue to support the families in their search for the truth in over 700 cases now being investigated.

‘Without the Report of the Gosport Independent Panel there would not be the current criminal investigation.

‘It is important that there is no public comment that would prejudice the outcome of the investigation.

‘I do not wish to comment on or compromise the investigation and so risk denying the families truth, accountability and justice relating to those 700 cases.’

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Jerome, heading up the investigation, said: ‘The role of independent chair of the Gosport family forum is vital in ensuring these important meetings are run impartially for the benefit of all families, giving them an opportunity to ask questions about the ongoing progress of the investigation.

‘Bishop James Jones has chaired the forum for a number of years and I remain confident in his ability to continue to do so in the best interests of the more than 600 individual family members we are currently engaged with.

‘We are aware of concerns raised by a small number of these families and remain committed to building trust and confidence among them, and to carrying out a full and thorough investigation into the standard of care provided to their loved ones.’

He said the investigation is still considering the ‘full range of criminal offences, whether committed by individuals or organisations’.

Mr Jerome added: ‘The investigation is progressing well with officers and staff continuing to take witness statements and review millions of pages of documents including more than 700 patient records and a significant number of materials from the previous three police investigations carried out by Hampshire Constabulary.

‘Our relationship with the families is extremely important to us and we remain committed to building trust and confidence among them, as well as continuing to keep them updated on the progress of the investigation.’

Co-signatories include Gillian Mackenzie, Bridget Devine-Reeves and Charles Farthing, who all lost relatives at the hospital.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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