Eric Pickles tells survivor of alleged child abuse: 'Adjust your medication'

Mental health campaigners aghast as minister recorded shouting at alleged child abuse survivor ‘adjust your medication’

Eric Pickles has been criticised for furthering mental health prejudices after he told a survivor of alleged child abuse to “adjust your medication” when she accused him of ignoring her.

The Communities and Local Government minister made the comment in a recorded confrontation with constituent Teresa Cooper earlier this month. Ms Cooper was one of at least six women who say they were drugged as teenagers at the Kendall House care home, Kent, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, whose children now have genetic defects.

To hear the recording, click on the video above

Confronting Mr Pickles, who is her constituency MP, she said: “Nothing has changed on the Kendall House abuse. Only you have ignored it. You have ignored it.” Pickles then interjected, shouting: “just, just, adjust your medication”.

The two met while at a wildlife event in Ongar, Essex, on 14 September and Ms Cooper recorded the conversation. Ms Cooper, 46, said: “I was shocked to be honest. He’s implying I’m mentally ill which is really rude of him because people do have mental health problems and they should not be spoken to that way.”

She added: “The Conservatives say ‘we need to change attitudes about mental health’ but clearly they need to start with Eric Pickles.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said: “It is disappointing that a minister would use language that can feed the prejudice around mental health. We would encourage everyone to really consider the impact of using mental health language in a way that could contribute to fuelling stigma.”

Mr Pickles’ adviser said that the comment  was said in “the heat of the moment” and was his way of giving a blunt piece of advice. Mr Pickles had corresponded with Ms Cooper about some of her concerns but she claims she has been trying to speak to him in person for 16 years.

Mr Pickles said: “It was never my intention to insult Teresa Cooper. I was giving her a frank piece of advice in private.”

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said: “It’s a very thoughtless phrase which could be very hurtful. It may be exaggerated out of context, but whatever the provocation, it’s a ghastly phrase which should never be used.”

The recording is published as the Conservatives begin their party conference under the shadow of the arrest of their vice-chairman Alan Lewis. The 75-year-old was arrested on Friday on suspicion of raping a teenage girl in the 1960s.

Senior members of the Conservative party last night accused police of having political motives in the timing of the arrest. A senior member of the parliamentary party said: “This appears to be yet another example of political and crass police action which follows a litany of others, including Hillsborough, Jean Charles de Menezes, Plebgate and the G20 incident.”

Greater Manchester Police said the arrest was “proportionate and necessary”, but one source familiar with police protocols said: “I’m very surprised at the decision to arrest, rather than just invite him in. Under Code G of the new guidelines, arrest should be the very last resort ... It does look a bit provocative. I’m not saying the police would have given the press the name, but the timing does invite suspicion.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there