Relatives of Gosport War Memorial Hospital dead see glimmer of hope for justice

FAMILIES have been told police assessing each of the 456 deaths of patients in the Gosport War Memorial Hospital panel report are set to report by spring.

By Ben Fishwick
Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 1:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 1:33 pm
Ann Farthing and her husband Charles Farthing who were at the forum on Wednesday. Picture: Malcolm Wells
Ann Farthing and her husband Charles Farthing who were at the forum on Wednesday. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Around 160 people gathered at a forum yesterday at Ferneham Hall, in Fareham, for an update from Kent assistant chief constable Nick Downing and the Crown Prosecution Service.

It comes after a major report led by Bishop James Jones found 456 patients – and probably 200 more – had their lives shortened through the use of opioids without medical justification at the Bury Road hospital between 1989-2000.

Mr Downing told family members the initial assessment phase – looking at all information from the Gosport Independent Panel and an earlier Hampshire police probe – is due to be completed before the next meeting in April.

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Ian Williamson, whose parents both died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Picture: Malcolm Wells

For each death investigators are assessing evidence uncovered by the panel, looking if any would change a previous CPS decision not to prosecute, and then this will be scrutinised by a panel.

After this a panel of experts will then examine the material gathered under Operation Magenta.

Ken Woolley’s 68-year-old father Dennis John Woolley died at the hospital in 1996.

The 55-year-old, from Widley, said: ‘Today’s just another step with more information, we had the CPS here and with them being here it ramps it up another notch and the more that goes on the more information we can get and it means this might actually progress somewhere.

‘We absolutely implicitly trust the bishop and what the panel have done, now we want to see that we get some justice from the police or CPS.’

Last October Mr Downing told families the assessment could end with no police action, no action and recommendations for other agencies, a criminal investigation toward a prosecution, or a need for more work.

But after decades of campaigning others say there is ‘no confidence’ in the process.

Both of 66-year-old Ian Williamson’s parents died at the hospital – Ivy Kathleen, 78, and Jack, 81. They died on September 1 and 18 in 2000.

He said: ‘After 20 years they all keep on talking about – the authorities and the police and Bishop Jones – is the confidence of the families and listening to that today there’s still no confidence in what’s going on at the moment.’

Bridget Devine-Reeves’s 88-year-old grandmother Elsie Devine died at the hospital in 1988. Bridget, now of London, is concerned prosecutors have already said the panel conclusion did not bring forward new evidence.


Daughter’s upset at dad linked to hospital

THE daughter of a patient who died more than 26 years ago is coming to terms with the revelation his death may be linked to the Gosport hospital scandal.

Mary Burner, 68, from Titchfield, attended her first meeting of families yesterday after finding out last June that the 1992 death of her father 76-year-old David Chase, who died in the annex at the hospital, could be linked to the probe.

Recalling the day of the report, she said: ‘I spent the day in tears. It was a bit of a shocking day.

‘I was shocked at how many people were there and have been affected by it.’

Now she wants to know who – if anyone – will be held accountable.

Prosecutors are advising police on their work assessing possible new evidence uncovered by the Gosport Independent Panel.

Yesterday the CPS briefed families it would only become further involved if they were asked for a charging decision following a criminal investigation.

Relatives said specialist prosecutor Rene Barclay outlined three areas it could consider – gross negligence manslaughter with an individual liability, corporate manslaughter, and health and safety regulations.

Mrs Burner added: ‘It’s good to hear the process is going ahead and it will take a step up – and will be dealt with appropriately.’

In July last year the CPS reviewed the Gosport Independent Panel report but said there was no new material to change its earlier decision not to prosecute over 11 deaths. 

The CPS will be informed of any police conclusion.