Fourth person suspended at Ashworth

A senior psychiatrist has become the fourth member of staff to be suspended at Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside, after the discovery of pornography and alleged paedophile activity. It follows the suspension of its chief executive, Janice Miles, and two nurses last Friday, when the Department of Health ordered an immediate inquiry into "extremely serious" allegations concerning the Personality Disorder Unit, including claims of drug and alcohol misuse and financial irregularity.

New, stringent measures were announced by the acting chief executive, Erville Millar, who denied the hospital was "out of control" and said yesterday's suspension did not imply guilt but was made in the doctor's best interests.

"This hospital is not out of control. It is very much in control and it is very clear what it is trying to do and what it is trying to investigate," he said.

Ward-based visiting by children has been banned throughout the hospital, as have visits to the hospital by ex-patients. Mr Millar confirmed that any videos brought in for patients would be vetted by staff, as was normal procedure, and any gifts and packages brought in for patients were also searched.

He confirmed that a computer and a modem had been removed from a ward and patients from Lawrence Ward had been relocated in the hos- pital, with concern for their safety.

The Secretary of State for Health, Stephen Dorrell, told the Commons yesterday that the inquiry, headed by retired circuit judge Peter Fallon QC, would report within the year. Its report will be made public.

The action was taken after Alice Mahon, Labour MP for Halifax, gave ministers a 60-page dossier compiled by a former Ashworth patient, Stephen Daggett, who absconded from the hospital for 10 days last year.

The hospital, whose most famous inmate is the Moors murderer, Ian Brady, had not passed on the information to the Department of Health - even after a "substantial" amount of pornography had been discovered in the Personality Disorder Unit - and continued to maintain that press reports were "unfounded".

Mr Daggett said large quantities of pornographic videos were found on the premises and some patients were able to amass large sums in their bank accounts by copying and selling tapes. He also expressed concerns that a young girl was being put at risk by being brought into the ward, saying that she had been left unsupervised with a sex offender.

In his statement, Mr Dorrell said that last Friday he had instituted "urgent action to address the very serious situation which had been brought to my attention in the previous few days".

"The public is entitled to reassurance on two counts," Mr Dorrell said. "Firstly, Ashworth Hospital must be properly managed and must provide a high level of security for the benefit both of patients and of the public at large.

"Secondly, the hospital must also ensure that its patients receive a high standard of clinical care. The action that I announced on Friday is directed at the achievement of both these objectives."

Tessa Jowell, Labour's health spokeswoman, said the revelations exposed "the dreadful inadequacy of the monitoring systems which are supposed to ensure safety at high-security hospitals".

"The revelations are shocking," she said. "But as disturbing is the fact that this alleged trade in pornography and paedophile activity could have gone on undiscovered in a hospital that has already been subject to a recent fundamental and far-reaching inquiry under the chairmanship of Sir Louis Blom-Cooper.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam