Last Sunday, The Slog related how the Rose & Woffinden demolition of Steven Messham in the Daily Mail was a piece of blatant disinformation along lines they have been spewing out into the media for over fifteen years. This extended to using the utterly discredited theory of False Memory Syndrome to rubbish the testimony of abused North Wellian kids at the 2002 Waterhouse Enquiry.
We know how Rose veered off the straight and narrow: he was an MI5 spook, paid to write this garbage by a newspaper that appeared to have no qualms about his profession. But less is known about when and how Woffinden (left) started to see his job as covering up for the powerful as opposed to writing in the public interest. So here’s a starter.
Long ago, now losts in the mists of time and Fleet Street whisky, a tragic case of clinical negligence took place in South Wales. Not a paedophile this time, but a paediatrician. The bloke cocked up the treatment of a 12-year old kid, refused to regard her as an emergency, blocked her transfer to an ICU excellence centre, and when she went into anaphalactic shock, gave her valium and mogadon. She died, emaciated, some time soon afterwards.
The usual medical mafia cover-up then went into full swing, but rather than wallow in grief, her parents challenged every element of it. Still, case notes were altered, records doctored, consent forms addended after the event, and despite a Coroner’s Court ruling that her death was caused by not treating her as an emergency, Jones the Paediatrician got off.
The parents went everywhere: the Commons, the Lords, and the police. By now, the doctors involved were adopting the line that their daughter was ‘psychiatrically disturbed’, an allegation refuted by everyone who had known her. But it was rapidly becoming clear to those who must be obeyed that Mum and Dad weren’t going to relent.
So this is what Plod did next. They waited until Dad was out at work, then hammered on Mum’s door, dragged her off to the nick, and cautioned her that she was going to be arrested on a charge of planting a bomb on the Children’s Ward of Bridgend Hospital. It had been necessary, they told her, to evacuate the entire hospital, as a result of which lives might be lost and she would be held responsible, having been identified at the scene. They tape recorded an interview in which the by now hyper-anxious mother stenuously denied any of it. They let her go.
When her husband contacted the Health Authority later, they were told that no such emergency or incident had occurred at Bridgend at all: not then, not ever.
So eventually they went to the media. And there they met an enthusiastic Bob Woffinden. He drafted out their story. They read it. Two Mail snappers arrived, took lots of pictures, and then Woffinden said it’d be in the Daily Mail the following Monday.
But the article never appeared. The photos disappeared. So too did Bob Woffinden. The Mail said take it up with Bob, and Bob said take it up with the Mail. Many years later, the parents are still fighting, but to be honest the trail is stone-cold: half the participants are dead, and half the drones in Wapping were barely out of short trousers when the events took place.
Mr Woffingden changed his mind mysteriously in the case of Jeremy Bamber’s conviction. He was also wrong all along about the killer James Hanratty.
Nevertheless, he is the author of the 1987 book Miscarriages of Justice. Oddly enough, the case of how a 12 year-old child’s unlwaful got covered up on his watch isn’t in there.