The victimization of Lisa Blakemore Brown

This blog is about the distortion of scientific debate, most particularly by powerful forces in medicine. It is about the way in which industry, professional bodies, government regulators and powerful individuals collude to prevent scientific debate and to victimize those asking difficult questions (www.nhsexposed.com). It is about the way those entrusted with authority behave.

I have been contacted by many individuals who have found themselves in difficulty. Some of these stories are urgent enough for me to want take a break from my most interesting correspondence with Dr Larry Games Vice President at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.

One such case is that of the psychologist Lisa Blakemore Brown, a specialist in Autism, ADHD & Aspergers [website] [Book]. Blakemore Brown has been involved on the "wrong side" of the debate about the psychiatric disorder Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP), maintaining that many parents have been falsely accused of injuring their children. There have been high-profile releases from jail of women such as Angela Canning. MSbP is a disorder in which an adult invents or deliberately creates a child’s illness to draw attention to themselves. She has challenged prominent doctors such as Sir Roy Meadow and Professor David Southall who, in her view, have promulgated a wholly inappropriate approach to scientific evidence. She has irritated pharmaceutical companies. But instead of debate Lisa has encountered its very opposite. The abuse of science goes right into the heart of a prominent professional body. Her colleagues have stood by in silence.

I have no special knowledge of the science that underpins the debate surrounding autism, MSbP or vaccine side effects. But I do know that debate is important. It is the lifeblood of science. I will be discussing much more of this tragic case over the next few weeks. It is not only a tragedy for Blakemore Brown, but also part of the tragedy of medicine.

For now I simply place in the public domain a letter written this week by John Stone and myself to the British Psychological Society. It speaks for itself.
Ray Miller, President,
The British Psychological Society
St Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
Leicester LE1 7DR 14 January 2007

Re: Lisa Blakemore Brown

Dear Mr Miller,

We are writing to express our concern regarding the treatment of Lisa Blakemore-Brown (LBB) by the British Psychological Society. The actions of the Society are such as to cast serious doubts upon its motives as well as upon its plausibility as a professional regulatory body.

It is disturbing that the Society appears to be acting to suppress open debate about controversial theories. Our purpose here is not to get involved in this debate, nor do we necessarily agree with her views. Ms Blakemore-Brown's views are in fact irrelevant. She is entitled to hold any views and to express these, no matter how uncomfortable they are to yourselves. This is enshrined by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It seems that the Society have developed an unhealthy obsession with preventing free speech through abuse of mental health diagnosis. Its actions may also be construed as a breach of the Harassment Act 1997.

It cannot be in the interests of society, human rights, patients and of the British Psychological Society to suppress open debate and academic freedom through such mechanisms. The society seems to have encouraged an endless series of unsupportable complaints against LBB, and then progressed them despite evidence that they were not sustainable. The society itself then generated an entirely different complaint (about her irritated response to these very complaints). This is not a proper example for resolving scientific or academic disputes. It appears to be more a method of silencing a critic.

Irritation with a professional body is not in any event an offence. Neither is annoying a professional body. Disagreement with the professional "view" is not a reason to refer an individual for psychiatric assessment except in a Stalinist state. This approach of the BPS is wholly anti-academic and unprofessional. To quote Kingsley Amis "If you can't annoy someone, there's little point in writing". It is also not a prime facie offence to perceive oneself to have been bullied, as the BPS seem to be suggesting.

Having read the case transcripts, we must confess that we find them most extraordinary. The transcript of the first three days of the Fitness to Practice hearing July 2006 reads like an encyclopaedia of legal and psychological abuse. If LBB has responded with irritation, this would seem to be understandable.
  • Lisa had been coerced into "hearings" despite having left the society years before. The main charge was modified progressively until it bore no relation to the flawed original charge. The modified "charge" of supposed mental illness (so called "paranoia") was not revealed to Lisa for months after the process had been set in motion.
  • Evidence was assembled by the panel as if having been provided by Lisa herself, and presented to others in a jumbled order and without context to suggest mental incoherence in her correspondence with the BPS (a supposed offence).
  • In one instance it emerged that the material was forged. Despite that, the original complainants were not invited to be cross-examined, and no action was taken against them after the information was dropped.
  • An independent psychiatric report declaring LBB perfectly lucid, quite normal and fit to practice was rejected, and others were requested instead. This is a rather interesting approach for a "psychological society" towards the reliability of such reports. This interesting approach of the BPS appears to be on the basis of the findings of the reports themselves rather than upon the methodology used (since the panel seemed quite happy to consider an assessment based only on LBB's correspondence with the BPS complaining about her treatment, compiled without seeing "the patient" and without any relevance whatever to her clinical practice). More convincing evidence supporting justifiable paranoia and predetermination would be hard to find.
  • A psychiatrist declared Lisa to be unfit to practice with the diagnosis of "paranoia" without examining her, and on the basis of material constructively assembled by the committee. Having read the transcript relating to this material we find this "diagnosis" intriguing, and wonder whether a majority (or even any) other psychiatrists or members of the public would reach such a conclusion based on the same information if we were to provide it to them. In any event the material bears no apparent relation to her practice, only to her views about the suppression of scientific debate.
The society has acted callously over a sustained period seeking to undermine and silence Ms Blakemore Brown, despite her unfortunate family circumstances. It has used the practice of psychiatry and psychological assessment in a non-evidence-based way as a tool for destruction. It cannot improve the reputation of the society to be seen to act in such an arbitrary way using its own tools of trade.

The society must bring this charade to an end before any more damage is done, both to society itself and to the chances of proper public discourse in an atmosphere that is free from fear.

  1. We would appreciate the views of the society before taking this matter forward in terms of public discussion.
  2. We are unable to find any list of the psychological traits that would render an individual unfit to practice and would appreciate a copy of the same. If supposed "paranoia" or "irritation with the BPS" is on such a list, perhaps bullying should also be added.
  3. In addition we would also request that the society provide what scientific evidence it has in relation to the, indications for psychiatric assessment in such cases, as well as the reproducibility and plausibility of such reports.
  4. So bizarre are the case transcripts, we believe that open discussion is required. We intend to publish these in full, with appropriate commentary as part of a campaign to prevent such behaviour by professional regulatory bodies. If the society can see any reason such publication should not take place, we would appreciate it if you would let us know those reasons.
Yours sincerely,

Mr John Stone

Dr Aubrey Blumsohn


Please contact me if you want to help (Email me)

On 25 January 2007 we received the following "reply" addressing none of the issues raised. The discussion with regard to confidentiality was particularly surprising in that the BPS has since threatened legal action if Blakemore-Brown publishes the transcript.


[Address]

I am surprised that you have seen transcripts of proceedings which are confidential for the benefit of the respondent to those proceedings, and which the Society has neither intention nor authority to publish.

This matter has yet to be concluded, and consequently no comment can be made on it.

I would remind you that the transcripts belong to the Society and are confidential to Ms Blakemore-Brown and any publication would be entirely inappropriate and a breach of confidence.

Yours sincerely

RAY MILLER
President, British Psychological Society


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Comments on: The victimization of Lisa Blakemore Brown

 

Blogger Jack Hep said ... (January 25, 2007) : 

If this expose on the BPS is accurate with respect to it's questionable dealings with Lisa Blakemore-Brown one must wonder how the BPS ever gained its Royal Charter; or is it the incumbents of the BPS who appear to be out to embarrass that auguste status, if not disrespect it?

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 25, 2007) : 

Thank you for your blog. I've had the privilege of meeting Lisa BB. She is a wonderful, brave and dedicated professional. I'm a parent of a child with autism and a scientist who strongly believes the vaccine-autism link theory. I live in the USA and take for granted the freedom of speech which Lisa BB had been denied.

 

Anonymous Jane McG said ... (January 26, 2007) : 

I don't know Lisa, and I am very skeptical of the vaccine autism theory. But I think there should be a common understanding amongst decent people that we cannot have Stalinist approach to blocking out unpopular ideas - after all those ideas may prove to be correct. Your letter is excellent John. At face value it looks as if the British Psychological Society should be feeling some intense heat - I would like to know more.

 

Anonymous AB said ... (January 26, 2007) : 

Thank you for the transcript. Shame shame shame on the British Psychological Society.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 27, 2007) : 

Interesting to note in regard to Rita Pal's experience that the British Psychological Society are advised by the same firm of lawyers as the GMC: Field, Fisher, Waterhouse. They also have close connections with Government and this statement used to appear on its website (http://www.ffw.com/Sectors/Publicsector/Centralgov.aspx)

"FFW's position as a prime adviser to Government was confirmed by our appointment onto two central government panels, both of which took effect from April 2003. These panel appointments have already resulted in us being instructed to advise on some major confidential projects."

My understanding is that the present proceedings against LBB, over which Field, Fisher, Waterhouse have presided, were instigated in June 2003.

JS

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 27, 2007) : 

In regard to Rita Pal's experiences it is interesting to note that the GMC's lawyers, Field Fisher, Waterhouse, also advise the British Psychological Society. The also have close connections with the Government. This statement appeared on their website until late last year ( http://www.ffw.com/Sectors/Publicsector/Centralgov.aspx):

"We provide advice to a large number of Government departments and agencies.

"FFW's position as a prime adviser to Government was confirmed by our appointment onto two central government panels, both of which took effect from April 2003. These panel appointments have already resulted in us being instructed to advise on some major confidential projects."

It is my understanding that the present case against LBB was initiated in June 2003.

JS

 

Anonymous paula said ... (January 27, 2007) : 

There is something very wrong in institutions that work hard to silence questioning or criticism by diagnosing those critics as mentally ill or firing them. It certainly gives an impression that they have something they desperately wish to remain hidden.

Those engaging in such tactics make a mockery of science and their own institution, abuse their position of power, cause unnecessary suffering to the critic/questioner and intimidate other members so effectively silencing those too.

It is cruel, unethical, unscientific, just plain WRONG, and needs to be exposed.

 

Blogger Dinah said ... (January 29, 2007) : 

Thank you for exposing the ghastly hounding of this dedicated and conscientious woman, she has done great work to draw attention to the dubiousness of the Munchausen's by proxy nonsense. She has been a pillar of support and become a good friend to many falsely accused women who were not getting any help from any other professional. The BPS should be doing some serious self-assessment...

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 29, 2007) : 

I found Lisa to be a very dedicated professional when she was involved in helping my children.
She was one of the very few professionals who was honest with her views in making sure the children's Statements of Special Educational Needs met the children's needs and NOT (what many LEA's do) fit the children to the Statement to save costs.
I found her work very detailed and a great help in understanding my children's problems. She has a real knowledge in understanding autism and is not afraid to say so. She listens to the parents and treats them with respect. Her book should be read by everyone involved in Autism as it is a great learning tool.
Lisa, you have many parents behind you so hold your head up high.
The truth will out.
"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."
- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 29, 2007) : 

The above comment was from Isabella Thomas

 

Blogger Dr Rita Pal said ... (January 29, 2007) : 

Brian Morgan and Penny Mellor

Clearly both of you are reading this.

I would like the following
1. All your communications between the GMC, BPS and yourselves.
2. All your qualifications
3. All the links to Brian's journalistic efforts.
4. Brian's credentials.
5. A personal history of both of you. We all need to know what grades you obtained in school. I got 2As and 1 B at A level. Qualifications aren't everything but I need to know whether either of you have a grade A in A level biology because this is the minimal required if you consider yourselves experts in the field you are criticising.

Its time you debated on the forum as opposed to sending Dr Blumsohn emails in secret. As for you Brian, we have had dealings before. I have indeed been severely critical of both of you. Its important now to put up or shut up. I wish to know your qualifications as soon as possible.

Dr Rita Pal

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 29, 2007) : 

Rita

It is perhaps an even greater concern whom Penny and Brian work for, and what there objectives are. Last May they took their cue from Jonathan Gornall in trying to sabotage the Consensus Parliamentary Group on Fabricated Illness. You would think they would welcome it but the MAMA boards were awash with the usual innuendo and bullying. I think it is deeply sad how the Government have abandoned the territory to such people - was it an accident? -while persecuting Lisa, who was simply an honest professional who tried to draw attention to a problem.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 29, 2007) : 

Rita,

Even more to point, whom do they work for, and what is there objective (for instance in trying to sabotage the Parliamentary Group on fabricated illness las May). It is a tragedy that the Government have left the field open to such people by persecuting qualified professionals like Lisa. You have to wonder where all this is coming from, and to suit whom?

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

Rita,

Perhaps more important is whom do they work for, and to what purpose. These are things they do not like to be asked about, but they were very happy to take their cue from Jonathan Gornall in trying to undermine the parliamentary group of fabricated illness last May. Although we know nothing about them they created an aura of suspicion around the group, and the Concensus document which was the foundation for their investigation. It is nothing short of disasterous that official persecution of Lisa has prevented these issues from being handled in a professional and appropriate manner.

John Stone

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

Lisa Blakemore Brown is a brave soul. We appreciate her efforts.

What I don't understand is why does it has to be witch hunt? Why not just discuss the facts and find answers for children affected by autism? Why persecute anyone and all who asks a question?? This smells like the treatment Dr Andrew Wakefield received.

How will anyone stand up for a possible issue that could help people in the UK without total fear for loosing everything? This is not a healthy enviornment for the UK should take. It will leave everyone afraid to speak up the truth when society needs us to.

 

Blogger Anne McElroy Dachel said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

Here is a case of attacking the messenger when the message is simply too horrible to
consider. Lisa Blakemore Brown has the courage we rarely see these days. Despite the
constant harassment by officials, she could not be silenced. It is only a matter of time before
we will all be aware of just who stood for the truth.

 

Anonymous Michael D Innis said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

I am given to understand Ms Lisa Blakemore Brown is to appear before you on some disciplinary matter in connection with her views on the Munchausen Syndrome or similar matter

Having seen the work of Ms Lisa Blakemore Brown and consulted with her on her visit to Australia I wish to record I have great respect for the work she is doing in this area.

It may be recalled that since she visited Australia and spoke at a Conference in Sydney there has been a change in the Law in Queensland – no longer do the Courts recognize a diagnosis of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and this will no doubt be copied in other Jurisdictions.

Ms Lisa Blakemore Brown is probably the only member of the British Psychological Society recognized world wide for her outstanding work on Autism. It would be shameful if any disciplinary action is taken against her for holding the views she does.

Academic freedom is the lifeblood of progress in Science.

Yours truly,

Michael D Innis MBBS; DTM&H; FRCPA; FRCPath

 

Anonymous Charles Pragnell said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

"From further documentary evidence I have received, these matters are becoming increasingly bizarre and Kafkaesque. It would appear that the BPS would be far wiser to abandon their witch-hunt of Lisa Blakemore-Brown and to investigate instead the credibility, credentials, and motives of her accusers. Evidence suggests that there is definite malice behind the complaints and there has been collusion and collaboration in seeking to defame and discredit Lisa.

The BPS would also be well advised to investigate the mental stability of her accusers, their criminal histories for offences of deceit and dishonesty, and their links with and support by corporate organisations. Such corporate organisations have very considerable vested financial interests to protect and have a history of silencing exposure of their misdeeds and of controlling academic freedom if such academic treatises were unfavourable to their corporate interests.

If the BPS decide to mount such an investigation into the malicious accusers of Lisa Blakemore-Brown, I shall be more than happy to provide them with the documentary evidence."

Charles Pragnell Dip.S.W., L.R.C.C.

 

Blogger Dr Rita Pal said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

Ms Mellor

Please respond to the questions asked and stop wondering around the internet attempting to take down valid postings.

I have sent you a number of emails as I wish to interview you regarding your criminal record and your past. Perhaps you would respond in a coherent manner and not your usual tub thumping manner.

Regards

Dr Rita Pal
NHS Exposed
www.nhs-exposed.com

 

Blogger Dr Rita Pal said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

From Hospital Doctor - more gossip on Penny Mellor

Trial by media


The untold story behind the unrelenting media persecution of Prof Sir Roy Meadow is how a committed group of campaigners successfully managed to build the issue of his statistical evidence in the Sally Clark trial into a widespread belief that Münchhausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) was a 'now-discredited theory'.

At the opening of Sir Roy's High Court appeal last month against the GMC's decision, Mr Justice Collins said the Sally Clark case had been 'presented by the media as Sir Roy's evidence having caused a miscarriage of justice. That's manifestly unfair'.

That criticism failed to surface in all but the medical press and, when Justice Collins finally handed down his judgment, restoring Sir Roy to the medical register and reversing the GMC's finding that he had been guilty of serious professional misconduct, the response in the media was strangely muted. The decision, after all, did not sit easily with the public perception of 'Meadow the monster' that the media had helped to create - a perception not difficult to conjure against the background of such perceived failures of regulation as the Bristol heart babies affair.

Most readers of national newspapers also did not read Justice Collins's rebuke of the GMC's fitness-to-practise panel for criticising Sir Roy for 'undermining . . . public confidence in doctors who have this pivotal role in the criminal justice system'. Why? Perhaps because the judge continued: 'If the full facts are taken into account and the media campaign based on a lack of knowledge of all the circumstances is ignored, that comment is unjustified.'

Good faith

He further defended Sir Roy's conduct as an expert witness saying: ''The fitness-to-practise panelspecifically found that the appellant had not intended to mislead the court and that there was no evidence of any calculated or wilful failure to use his best endeavours to provide evidence. He had acted in good faith.'

Justice Collins appeared to suspect that the GMC panel had allowed itself to be influenced by inaccurate media coverage, but The Guardian was among the papers that ignored this intriguing possibility.

What it did find room for the day after the judgment, however, was an interview with Penny Mellor, the woman who has been heavily involved in the campaign against Sir Roy and MSBP for the past decade, and who has been behind many of the complaints that have been levelled against doctors working in the difficult field of child protection.

Under the headline: 'Tireless voice vows to continue speaking out', Mrs Mellor was introduced as 'the mother of eight, lauded and criticised in equal measure for her campaign to expose Sir Roy as an overzealous child-snatcher'.

Actually, that was a touch harsh: Mrs Mellor has pretty much only been lauded in the press and frequently quoted as a self-styled 'child advocate' - a curiously Orwellian job description for a sworn defender of women accused of harming their children.

She told The Guardian that, in the wake of Sir Roy's reinstatement, she was helping five families to bring actions against him at the GMC. 'This isn't about a witch-hunt,' she said, but added: 'I can't sit back and watch doctors put forward malevolent theory as fact.'

It's not the first time Mrs Mellor has been lionised in the press. In London's Evening Standard, on 24 February 2003, she was billed as 'the scourge of the child-snatchers' and, on this occasion, described as a 'child welfare campaigner'. The piece was by David Cohen, the same journalist responsible less than a year later for an interview with Sir Roy's first wife, Gillian, headlined: 'He doesn't like women, says ex-wife'.

If ever there was a moment when it became clear that, for the press, Sir Roy had become fair game, this was it. Sir Roy, Gillian was reported as saying, was a misogynist. So how did MSBP come to be accepted by the media as a 'malevolent theory'? If the tactic was to discredit the syndrome by smearing the man behind it, it was a complete success.

By February 2002, the label was already so tainted that a besieged Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Heath (RCPCH) deemed it necessary to tell its members that, henceforth, 'fabrication or induced illness by a carer' was the preferred term.

However, there was no doubt in the mind of the RCPCH working party that reported that month that the notion that some mothers did secretly harm their children remained as valid as it had been when Sir Roy first articulated it in his 1977 paper entitled 'Münchhausen's syndrome by proxy - the hinterland of child abuse'.

The DoH wasn't far behind. Six months later, in August 2002, it issued a supplementary guidance document entitled 'Safeguarding children in whom illness is fabricated or induced'.

Media myth

It is difficult to see how the media myth that MSBP was thoroughly 'discredited' could have persisted after it received such a resounding vote of confidence but, again thanks partly to selective reporting, it did.

It didn't help when, in February 2003, Earl Howe, opposition spokesman on health in the House of Lords, accused Sir Roy of inventing a 'theory without science . . . one of the most pernicious and ill-founded theories to have gained currency in childcare and social services'.

By January 2004, when Angela Cannings successfully appealed against her convictions for murder, the entirely separate issues of Sir Roy's use of statistics and the very credibility of MSBP had been inextricably conflated by the media. With hindsight, it appears that even the Government, caught in the headlights of the hue and cry, was stampeded into inappropriate action.

A story in the Sunday Telegraph on 19 January 2004 was typical, reporting the suggestion that, in the wake of Mrs Cannings's successful appeal, the Government was to review 5,000 Family Court cases supposedly tainted by 'Sir Roy's now-discredited theory of Münchhausen syndrome by proxy'. A comment by Margaret Hodge, the Minister for Children, poured fuel on the fire: 'The theory that some mothers harm their children to draw attention to themselves has been largely discredited as a result of a series of high-profile court cases.'

In vain did the Crown Prosecution Service try to stem the mounting post-Cannings hysteria by pointing out that Mrs Clark's convictions had not hinged on Sir Roy's evidence. Feeding on the Government's suggestion that as many as 5,000 civil and 300 criminal cases might have to be re-evaluated in the light of the failure of the Clark and Cannings convictions, and the acquittal of Trupti Patel, the newspapers tore Sir Roy to shreds.

'The scale of the injustice he contributed to makes the false convictions of the Guildford Four look like trivial technical problems,' wrote The Observer on 25 January 2004. The Daily Telegraph went further, saying: 'He and his friends may be immune from prosecution for the consequence of the opinions they have so sedulously expressed in court, but that does not mean they cannot be charged with wasting police time.' The Times contented itself with condemning Sir Roy's 'crazed theories'.

Interesting story

All the national papers, however, appeared to miss one interesting story in that spring of 2004, which was covered in The Auditor, the monthly journal of the Scientology movement. It reported that, on 24 April, its Citizens Commission on Human Rights - the arm of the Scientology movement aimed at 'investigating and exposing psychiatric human rights abuse' - had staged a ceremony in East Grinstead, Sussex, to present awards to individuals who had 'worked to expose human rights abuses in the mental health field'.

The journal reported: 'Penny Mellor was honoured for her vigorous campaigning to expose the psychiatric label Münchhausen's syndrome by proxy . . . a national scandal that involved widespread oppression by healthcare professionals.'

Mrs Mellor had certainly paid a price for her 'vigorous campaigning'. In March 2002, the 'child advocate' was sentenced to two years' imprisonment by Newcastle Crown Court for conspiring in January 1999 to abduct a child suspected by doctors to be the victim of a mother with MSBP.

Mrs Mellor denied the charge, but the judge described her as 'the Svengali of the whole plan' and told her: 'What you are guilty of is orchestrating the abduction of a child for your own propaganda purposes.' She served eight months in prison.

Despite the over-excited propaganda that filled the newspapers throughout the early part of 2004 ('Thousands of wrongly convicted parents' was a typical headline), the much-heralded review of cases, far from overturning hundreds of supposedly unjust judgments, in fact yielded very few cases worthy of reconsideration.

Yet, when this news broke, the media preferred to present it as it has now presented Sir Roy's successful appeal against the GMC - not as a vindication of an unfairly hounded doctor but as a blow to campaigning parents. On 28 December last year, the Daily Mail contorted itself to produce this headline: 'Review ordered following disgrace of expert leaves hundreds in prison'.

Similar vilification

Sir Roy has experienced vilification similar to that endured by Prof David Southall and Dr Martin Samuels, paediatricians at University Hospital North Staffordshire in Stoke, after their child-protection work attracted the attention of campaigners in 1999.

Mrs Mellor, although neither a patient nor the parent of a patient of any of the doctors concerned, was also behind accusations levelled against them. Among them was that Prof Southall 'instigates care proceedings in order to appear as an expert witness, for which he is paid a phenomenal amount of money', and that he accused mothers of MSBP in order to procure babies for experimentation.

The charges were deemed so serious by North Staffordshire NHS Trust that both men were suspended for almost two years while two separate inquiries unravelled the truth and concluded that there was no foundation to any of the allegations.

In November 1999, Dr Harvey Marcovitch, then a consultant paediatrician at Horton Hospital, Banbury, and editor of Archives of Disease in Childhood, had written in the BMJ of his horror at what he had found on a website called Mothers Against Münchhausen Allegations (MAMA).

He reported: 'It was full of attacks on named paediatricians and child psychiatrists, and diatribes against two judges, an MP and various social workers. The accusations included perjury, conspiracy to defraud, attempted blackmail and child abuse.' One posting, signed 'Penny', compared Prof Southall to Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who had experimented on Jewish children in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Vexatious complaints

In January 2002, Prof Southall and Sir Roy were two of the 18 doctors, mainly paediatricians, who signed a letter to the BMJ, headed 'GMC must recognise and deal with vexatious complaints fast'. In it, they made clear that they had been targeted by a group that had resorted to a campaign of vexatious complaints in an attempt to destroy their careers.

All 18 signatories had, according to postings on the MAMA website, been reported to the GMC by the same small group of people.

When questioned about vexatious complaints for this article, Paul Phillip, the GMC's director of fitness to practise, said: 'The whole situation relating to serial and vexatious complaints is a difficult one.' But he added that the GMC was introducing a new IT system this year which would make it easier to flag and identify patterns.

In February 2003, an exonerated Dr Samuels wrote to the BMJ to highlight how abusers and their supporters were 'increasingly adept at using complaints procedures and the media to attack professionals'.

The media, he said, 'with only one side of the story, parade parents who claim to be falsely accused. On the other hand, they heavily criticise front-line workers who make mistakes.' The cause of the bias was a 'highly complex campaign that is attempting to discredit paediatricians involved in the detection of complex child abuse, particularly fabricated and induced illness'.

Determined campaign

Current exchanges on the MAMA website demonstrate that, at the same time as Mrs Mellor was accusing Prof Southall and Dr Samuels in 1999, she was also complaining to the GMC about Sir Roy. Postings in the wake of Sir Roy's High Court exoneration last month, by someone calling herself 'Penny Mellor', make plain a determination to pursue the campaign against him.

At 5.48pm on Friday 17 February, the day Justice Collins had handed down his judgment, she wrote: 'What are the GMC going to do . . . I know what I'm doing and, for the record, the next wave of complaints have nothing to do with evidence given in court and are not "priveleged" [sic] Thanks, Justice Collins, the GMC did us no favours when they struck him off - bunch of incompetents.'

Although Mrs Mellor had insisted in The Guardian that morning that: 'I have already had confirmation from the GMC that these cases will proceed', the GMC told Hospital Doctor that no such decision had yet been made.

Harold Shipman

Mrs Mellor told Hospital Doctor that, in total, she had complained to the GMC about four doctors, including Sir Roy and Prof Southall, but that Prof Southall was her 'bête noire', about whom she had made at least 30 complaints. Although none had ever come to a hearing, she insisted that 'they are in the process of going through'.

One thing that is certain is that Mrs Mellor is, indeed, 'tireless'. In addition to the GMC and at least one NHS trust, over the past decade she has complained about Prof Southall and others to everyone ranging from the RCPCH, the Central Council for Nursing, social services and the police through to the NHS Executive, the Chief Medical Officer, the Health Minister and the Prime Minister.

It remains to be seen whether, in the interests of child protection professionals everywhere, authorities such as the GMC and the police will ever grow tired of her - and whether the media will ever tire of being so easily persuaded that, inside every eminent doctor, is a Harold Shipman awaiting exposure.

 

Blogger Dr Rita Pal said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

BMJ Provides Penny with Oxygen of Publicity. Penny has absolutely no idea what it is like to be a Prison Doctor. She has never been one.


Reviews
Personal views

The inside story on prison health care

I can speak from first hand experience about the lack of health care within the prison service, albeit from the perspective of the much over populated female estate.

The job of being a prison doctor is hard. Many inmates are drug users or self harmers. They pull fast ones to get legal prescriptions to alleviate the gnawing need for heroin or crack cocaine. They try to get sick notes so they do not have to work. However, not all prisoners are addicts or skivers, yet we are treated as if we are. On the "out," as it is colloquially known in prison, a general practitioner doesn't have to ascertain physically that someone has been up all night vomitinghis or her word is accepted as the truth. Unfortunately, someone residing at Her Majesty's pleasure is and always will be an inmate first and foremost.

From my experience there is a complete lack of health care for everyone. At HMP Drake Hall there is no night cover, and only three officers on for a population of 315 women, which is shocking. This led to one pregnant inmate being taken down to the segregation unit to miscarrythe segregation unit is the only place where there are officers constantly in attendance. We had no panic buttons in our cells to call for help in an emergency. Losing a baby is bad enough without being subjected to this type of dehumanising treatment.

Other inmates are the main carers for those who are sick and mentally ill. I personally telephoned Stafford Hospital's maternity unit, using my own valuable telephone units, in an attempt to get some help for the woman, only to be told that unless a directive came from the prison itself the hospital could do nothing. This inmate was finally transferred to HMP Foston Hall, which has a hospital wing. It was some days before the medical staff arranged a scan, only to discover that the inmate had been carrying twins and had lost only one. It is inconceivable that this could happen anywhere other than in prison.

So vast is the scale of mental health problems that accompany the physical needs of women in prison that it would take a team of highly trained and dedicated professionals to begin to come to grips with them. Most women in prison have been sexually abused either during childhood or in adolescence. These problems are greatly magnified simply because women come into prison with all their emotional baggage (unlike men, who "get their heads down and do their time" while their wives or girlfriends keep their lives intact for them.) Women have often left their children behind and are typically the sole or primary carers. Not knowing where the children are and not seeing them on a regular basis, if at all given the distances some mothers are placed away from their families, only makes matters worse. There are only 13 women's prisons in England and none in Wales.





(Credit: REBECCA NADEN/PA PHOTOS)

Other inmates are the main carers




Without doubt the most horrific thing that I have come across while in prison is "decrutching." This is the term used when a prisoner comes in with drugs secreted in her vagina and other inmates pin her down and remove those drugs with any available tool. This has led to serious injuries, which are all kept quiet because if the victim reports them, she will be charged with supplying. Female rape with implementsdoes it get any worse than this?

Finally a warninghepatitis and HIV are rife in the female estate and most women conduct sexual relationships with other prisoners for all sorts of reasons. Many are also prostitutes when not in prison. These relationships go on without any protection or education at all. How long before the ticking bomb explodes into the wider population and everyone pays the price?




Footnotes

Competing interests: PM is a former inmate of three prisons and is currently involved in an investigation into the health care for pregnant prisoners that is being conducted by HMP Women's Estate.


If you would like to submit a personal view please send no more than 850 words to the Editor, BMJ, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JR or e-mail editor@bmj.com

Penny A Mellor, advocate.

Coven, Staffordshire
dare.tocare@virgin.net



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
© 2003 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd

 

Blogger Dr Rita Pal said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

Allow me to just add that Professor Griffiths is currently at the GMC accused of dishonesty. The Griffith's Report supported Mellor. We wish to examine what special knowledge Ms Mellor has to determine whether or not appropriate consenting has taken place. We have still not been given details of her qualifications.

Journal List > BMJ > v.323(7318); Oct 20, 2001

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BMJ. 2001 October 20; 323(7318): 885.
Copyright © 2001, BMJ


Leading UK paediatrician reinstated
Caroline White

London





Top
North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust has reinstated consultant paediatrician Professor David Southall after a two year investigation into his work at the hospital in Stoke on Trent.

The investigation, which cost £750000 ($1.1m), involved five investigative panels, child health specialists, the Social Services Inspectorate, and the police.

The announcement, which the trust had intended to make at a press conference on 16 October, was rushed out on the preceding Friday afternoon, after it was leaked to a freelance journalist. Professor Southall, whose work is also being investigated by the General Medical Council, said, “I'm really pleased to be able to go back to looking after sick and injured children.”

Professor Southall, who was appointed in 1992, was suspended in November 1999 from his post on full pay along with another consultant, Dr Martin Samuels, after two independent external clinicians undertook a preliminary examination of his child protection and research work at the hospital (BMJ 2000;320:9). This was prompted by a series of serious complaints made about Professor Southall's professional conduct in January 1999, spearheaded by Penny Mellor, a woman who has campaigned on behalf of parents who claim to have been wrongly accused of child abuse. Dr Samuels was reinstated in April this year (5 May, p 1085).

In a statement issued last Friday, the trust said: “No case to answer has been found in respect of professional misconduct or incompetence.” The medical director of the trust, Dr Pat Chipping, said the investigation found that “Professor Southall always acted in a way that promoted the best interests of children under his care.” There was no evidence of inappropriate diagnosis, she said.

The investigation also found no evidence to suggest inappropriate use of covert video surveillance, the controversial technique that Professor Southall pioneered at London's Brompton Hospital, to detect child abuse. A spokesperson for the trust said: “We and Professor Southall understood that these complaints were potentially very serious. There was no alternative but to investigate them very thoroughly. . . We are confident of our findings.”

But Penny Mellor claims that the trust did not obtain consent from any of the parents for their cases to be reviewed by outside agencies during the course of the investigation. “We will attempt a judicial review of the trust's decision,” she said. “If the trust have cleared him of wrongdoing, we will go after the trust.”

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who nominated the child health specialists involved in the investigation, said that children around the world had benefited from Professor Southall's work, and many owed their life to him: “Rather than seeking to apportion blame for what has happened, the college believes that we all (trusts, government and colleges) have lessons to learn about how these complex matters should be handled.”

Dr Harvey Marcovitch, editor of the Archives of Disease in Childhood, said “The NHS complaints procedure does not work. In this case it didn't serve Southall, the complainants, or the children well. The whole thing needs to be thoroughly overhauled, specifically with respect to child abuse and research.”

Dr Richard Wilson, who chaired the college's working party on new guidance for paediatricians on Munchausen syndrome by proxy, reported that several paediatricians consulted about the guidance said they felt too intimidated to respond. The guidance was due to be posted this week on the college's website (www.rcpch.ac.uk).

“It's very understandable that parents [suspected of Munchausen by proxy] feel accused, and it's very difficult to accept that parents harm kids. It is for some doctors too. But the public needs to know that child harm requires a different type of investigation and that if everyone is doing their job properly there are bound to be investigations.” The college has called for an interagency appeals procedure to which parents could apply if they feel wrongly accused.

Government guidelines on Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which are currently out for consultation, are due to be published in the next few months.

The government has also been forced to concede that some of the findings of the review, chaired by Professor Rod Griffiths of the West Midlands Regional Office were incorrect. The report, which has come in for swingeing criticism (BMJ 2000;321:752), was commissioned to look into the research framework at North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust. Parents of premature babies who had been entered into a ventilation trial (of continuous negative extrathoracic pressure) under the aegis of Professor Southall complained that their consent had not been obtained and took the matter up with the local MP, Llin Golding.

After agreeing to consider fresh information last August, the Department of Health confirmed that, contrary to what was said in the review report, the protocol for the trial had been peer reviewed, the design and content of the trial were of a high standard, and there had been statistical input into the trial. Professor Southall's solicitors were advised of this last month.

A department spokesperson said, “However, these three points do not invalidate the review report or its main recommendations, which the department accepted.”


No case to answer has been found in respect of professional misconduct or incompetence



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Professor Southall: pleased to be going back to look after children


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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

I am a parent with two Autistic children both of which Lisa Blakemore-Brown has assessed. She is to my mind one of the most dedicated, caring professionals I have ever met and her knowledge on Autsism far exceeds other known professionals in this field.

I think the BPS need to think very carefully about their treatment of this professional as it amounts to persecution. I feel they are using the same tatics used by the GMC at present with their destruction of Andrew Wakfield and Jayne Donegan two other likeminded professionals.I also agree with others here that Ms Mellors activities should be examined very closely as a close look at MAMA website reveals a lot of the truth behind this very dangerous woman

I am intrigued with her receiving a Scientology award as I thought you needed to be a Scientologist to recieve one. This would explain a lot as Scientologists are taught that Psychologists and Psychiatrists are evil and need to be destroyed.

 

Anonymous Tim Kasemodel said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

RE: The victimization of Lisa Blakemore Brown


I have met Lisa and find her to be more sound of mind than any doctor or health official who believes mercury is fine to inject into babies. Your letter to the BPS reminds me of a quote from Albert Einsiten:

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing"

Because of your willingness to stand up for what is right, you make this world a safer place. Thank you Mr. Stone and Dr. Blumsohn, Thank you.

Tim Kasemodel
Minnesota
USA

 

Anonymous K Paul Stoller, MD said ... (January 30, 2007) : 

When all is said and done, autism will be recognized as an environmental neurological disease, and those like Lisa Blakemore Brown will be recognized as one of those courageous enough to sound the warning and tell the truth on behalf of her patients.

Almost 8 years after the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service called for the elimination of Thimerosal (50% mercury), the preservative used in certain vaccines not only is Thimerosal still in the flu vaccine, but in many other vaccines used in the Universal vaccine program of the World Health Organization (WHO) giving mercury poisoning in second and third world countries.

There are now almost 2 million cases of autism in China. Now, the mercury spewing coal-fire power plants have had a great deal to do with this just as it does in the USA. The mercury that pours out of power plants goes around the world and poisons fish, soil and other animal life. The 20 to 30 tons of mercury used by dental offices (in the USA) is the greatest cause of mercury pollution in wastewater and has not helped either.

In 1995, an estimated 5,500 tons of mercury was emitted globally, and if this continues unabated we will exterminate life on this planet as we are in the process of doing right now.

Why is the second deadliest neurotoxin on the planet so politically protected?

Why are physicians not fighting to protect the precious blood of our citizens?

Because the polluters have the money, make the rules and ignore the science. They have been very good at getting weak minded bureaucrats to do their biding.

Parents are claiming toxins in vaccines cause autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other increasingly common neurological problems have one undeniable argument in their favor: as we gave kids more and more mercury-containing vaccines, starting in the late 1980s, the autism rate exploded from one or two per 10,000 to the epidemic rate today of one in every 166 children today (specifically, one in every 104 boys). One in every six schoolchildren now has a diagnosis of a learning problem like attention deficit. Their sensitive young bodies were pre-polluted with the mercury increasing in the environment, and when they were injected with more…..BINGO…the most sensitive developed full blown autism (which should really be called an environmental neurological disease).

This is the history of the mercury-based vaccine preservative Thimerosal that never gets into the news stories where doctors assure us that there is no evidence that it's dangerous:

Thimerosal goes back 75 years. It was invented and tested Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company in 1930. The one study done on Thimerosal was done by Eli Lilly on 22 adult patients suffering from meningitis. There was no chance for follow-up to observe long-term effects, as all of the patients died. Even if follow-up had been possible, damage to the developing brains of very young children would have remained an unknown. Eli Lilly said it was safe and the medical community just accepted it. After the creation of the FDA, its use was simply continued. This is an unconscionable oversight failure and calls any safety claim into question.

In his book, Evidence of Harm, journalist David Kirby points out that "...many researchers had sent the company [Eli Lilly] documents dating back to the 1930's, each raising a red flag about Thimerosal." (EOH 207-209). Mr. Kirby chronologically lists over 70 years of scientific research on the damaging and deadly effects of Thimerosal that was willfully ignored by Eli Lilly and the CDC.http://www.evidenceofharm.com/

Our CDC and FDA should be utterly embarrassed to make safety claims based on such a pathetic history of oversight.

This is a national disaster, a global disaster, that we so far are failing to address as a disaster. These kids are everywhere. Services for a child diagnosed with autism can easily run $50,000 to $80,000/year and this is a cost few communities can deal with easily. Use those increases and consider that a Harvard study by Michael Gantz puts lifetime care cost for one autistic person at 3.2 million

With eighty percent of autistic Americans under the age of 18, we need to ask ourselves what it's going to be like in the next five to ten years when one in every 166 eighteen old isn't looking for a job or going on to school, but going on Social Security Disability for life with autism? This will happen year after year and it will be at the same time the baby boomers are retiring. I can imagine we'll be seeing headlines like Huge Increase in Disability Claims Threatens Social Security Funds.

So, the message of Lisa B Brown is not one several governments want to let out into the societal mind. There is money to be made and reputations to protect as we exterminate ourselves.

 

Blogger Joan of Arc, Jr. said ... (January 31, 2007) : 

BPS sounds like Bush & Co, dismiss good science and fire those who have a difference of opinion. Bury a blackout documents, silence the good science. Liz Bert gracefully fought and so will you Lisa! Not only is autism up since toxic mercury was added, but so is Altzhimer's (neurological disorder) - no surprise. BPS is showing unethical deplorable behavior!

 

Blogger slatta said ... (February 01, 2007) : 

Having worked and known Lisa Blakemore-brown for over four years, i would like to say that i am shocked at what has happened. I am not, as a first hand witness to the campaign against her from the BPS and others it is a suprise she has fought them this long.

The requests that i witnessed from the BPS to Lisa asking for information were then used as a sign of mental illness of some sort. This is clear entrapment and only the start of it.

Having worked and know lisa for this length of time she is more 'fit to practise' than most.

Who has lost out here. Lisa thats for sure, but far beyond one persons loss is that of the loss of the children that she helps and the parents who's live are improved by her. In the time that i worked with her her clients were happy with the work that she produced and the understanding that she had with the children.

If ever there was a reason for the BPS to be regulated, (which i am aware they wish not to be and no wonder why thats why they are going to the members on mass email telling them to go to mp's and try and block such an attempt by government) it is this case.

Who guards the guards when they clearly need to be?

This is a human rights abuse which is happening too often though never stops.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 01, 2007) : 

So many disturbing facets to this issue but above all it is about accountability and transparency. Justice is not seen to be done, and it is not done - if people (admittedly of certain limited class) realised that 800 years ago, we certainly should understand it now. Unfortunately, we live in a time in which legal process is being set back hundreds of years, and often people do not even blink. Well people ought to mind about it, and this is a seriously and singularly grotesque example.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 02, 2007) : 

There is much to emerge still about this matter, and it is of vital public interest. The public will want to know why a responsible and respectable professional like Lisa has been sidelined, by the British Government - and why the case management of defendants against MSbP/SBS type accusations, have fallen into the hands of people with no known qualifications and unknown funding. It is doubly troubling that these same people are attacking Lisa both within the British Psychological Society, and through such forums as MAMA (www.msbp.com). The result has been obfuscation of the most serious issues of justice and public policy.

I would like to ask Penny Mellor and Brian Morgan in what sense their antics are an appropriate response to this catastrophic issue? To read MAMA is to enter realms of poison and hatred, devoid of human compassion. Why has it been necessary to try and destroy Lisa's reputation? Nothing I know of against Lisa apart from the bizarre and unfounded allegations before the BPS amounts to anything more than innuendo. If they really know something about Lisa I challenge Penny and Brian to come out with it. I do not believe there is anything, and I think they are just trying to dispose of a professional rival.

John Stone

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 10, 2007) : 

This is a response to Christina England's article 'Lisa, our champion sorter outer' on NHS Exposed:

http://www.nhsexposed.com/healthworkers/psychology/for-lisa-blakemore-brown.shtml

I was interested to read that Christina's predicament was triggered by disputes over provision for her two children. One of the questions which is continuously posed is whether such mistakes are accidental or institutionalised and deliberate (if not by the perpetrators who may be extremely ignorant but by by the very presence of the institutional tool). You might think that diagnosis should lie in the hands of experts, but actually according to Department of Education guidelines a host professionals with no expertise are allowed to call into question the integrity of parents and even those with diagnostic qualifications. Almost any normal or protective behaviour by parents towards children can be construed as Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy according to the Depart of Education guidelines:

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/qualityprotects/info/publications/childprot.shtml

What is very curious about this is that the leading proponents of this style of diagnosis fail to dissociate themselves from the widespread institutionalisation of them.

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/333/7560/194#138108

You might think that they would not want this vulgarisation of their miraculous skills of divination, but not only did no one respond to this point when I made it in BMJ Rapid Responses attached an article Meadow and Southall advocate Jonathan Gornall, it was just shrugged off when I approached the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health. Innuendo is apparently the name of the game. Lisa stood out against it, and look what happened to her.

John Stone

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 13, 2007) : 

The BPS is not a regulatory nor disciplinary body for the profession of psychology.in Great Britain. It is merely a membership-based association and all they can do therefore within their powers is to cancel the membership of Lisa Blakemore-Brown but as she resigned from their membership over five years ago, then such a course of action is not open to them. No doubt they will seek to redress this by making a rule that they can still examine complaints against a former member if the complaint was made during that person’s membership of the BPS. In this case it was not made during Lisa’s membership and therefore there are no lawful grounds for their jurisdiction in these matters. If the BPS were now to make such a rule it could not be applied retrospectively. That would be contrary to legal principles and particularly the principle of natural justice. (You cannot be tried for an offence that was not against the law at the time it was committed).

In effect the BPS has no jurisdiction whatsoever in this matter and as such therefore, the Panel had no legal or administrative basis or validity and the appearance of Lisa B-B before their Panel must therefore have been of her own volition and solely to help them to clear up this matter. The BPS seem to have been unable to find any evidence to support the complaints made against her and the complaints must therefore be assumed to have been groundless and malicious but the BPS appear to have then changed tack and sought to question her fitness to practice on health grounds. This secondary issue appears to have been introduced after it was found there was no evidence on which to consider the original complaints.

I am informed that although she did not have to do so, Lisa B-B agreed to submit a mental health assessment to the BPS Panel and quite naturally such assessment by a respected psychiatrist found her to be totally mentally competent. I would suggest that such would not be the case if applied to the BPS Panel.

I am informed that the Panel reached their decision to cancel Lisa B-Bs membership of BPS without giving reasons for so doing. Surely in any decision-making process the process of reasoning and clear statement of the reasons precedes the conclusions and justifies the decisions made?.

Such simple and logical processes are obviously beyond the competence of the hierarchy of the BPS and raises serious questions regarding how these people who comprised the Panel were able to get into psychological profession in the first place and their own standards of practice.

I think that every psychologist in the UK who is in membership of the BPS must seriously question whether they would wish to continue in membership of such an organisation. Firstly that this case of Lisa B-B has seriously damaged the reputation and standing of the BPS and secondly, that they themselves may be subjected to the same injudicious processes and have their careers wrecked by this incompetent body, especially if they should have the temerity to challenge and unsound and unscientific theory..

The BPS would desperately like to become a regulatory and disciplinary body under statute and with the support of the government, but this case has clearly shown that they are far from being competent to fulfil such a role and I’m sure the government will have taken careful note of their incompetence and irrationality, when they are already facing similar problems with the GMC.

Charles Pragnell Dip.S.W.., L.R.C.C.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 14, 2007) : 

I was a witness at the first hearing, my personal view is that the two complaints were nothing more than a smoke screen. If the hearing had been about these two complaints it would have simply been a conduct issue which would have quickly been resolved with the evidence supplied by the two witnesses.

Mr David Lindsay a BPS representative for the Conduct Panel had already said that one of the complaints should have been thrown out, as he felt it was argumentative and part of a jealous campaign. He also said that to continue with this complaint would be opening a can of worms.

The evidence, which I heard over two days, was largely about the enormous amount of correspondence sent in by LBB. It later emerged through evidence that much of this was in fact asked for by the BPS and some of the evidence in the file LBB had not sent in but it had got into the file by 'mistake' and this was the fault of the BPS.

This was then all very transparently turned around by the BPS and used against LBB, saying she had sent in irrelevant material and she seemed irrational and disorganised in thought.

This was then in turn used by a Psychiatrist a Dr Trevor Friedman to diagnose her so- called 'paranoia'. This psychiatrist had never assessed LBB but used only the evidence submitted in the file. He even admitted that this was his 'opinion' as it was difficult to diagnose on correspondence alone.

You could say this was more an act of divination.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 14, 2007) : 

I wish to add my name to the last post.

Christina England

 

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