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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
MSP defends 'tablets' remarks
John Swinburne of the SSCUP
John Swinburne has defended his comments
An MSP who said mentally ill patients were "two tablets away from flipping" has defended his comments after being criticised by other politicians.

John Swinburne made the remarks during a debate on equality.

More than 50 members of the Scottish Parliament have signed a motion condemning his comments.

Mr Swinburne, who represents the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, was attacking plans to built a medium secure unit for mentally ill patients in Lanarkshire.

He said: "This is for the criminally insane with a view to eventually integrating them back into the community.

Allowed to integrate

"By their own admission the people that will be in this institution can possibly be murderers, attempted murderers, rapists or paedophiles.

"Once the psychiatrist says they are safe to go back into the community they will eventually be allowed to integrate. I wouldn't like this situation beside my house."

He suggested that these patients could "flip" if they missed medication.

He said they were not "normal, run-of-the mill people with a mental problem".

My intention was to get across the point that a safe, peaceful village like Uddingston or Bothwell it is not the most clever place to try and site a secure unit for people with severe mental problems
John Swinburne MSP

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme Mr Swinburne insisted his remarks were taken out of context.

He said he understood the comments to be correct, having been told about medication used by mentally ill people by a psychiatrist attending a meeting to discuss the location of the secure unit.

"If I have caused offence to anyone I'm very, very sorry because that was not my intention," he said.

"My intention was to get across the point that a safe, peaceful village like Uddingston or Bothwell is not the most clever place to try and site a secure unit for people with severe mental problems.

"In fact, some of them may even be criminally insane."

'Lack of understanding'

Labour MSP Margaret Jamieson has now tabled a motion "condemning and dissociating" the parliament from Mr Swinburne's remarks.

It received 54 signatures from cross-party MSPs within the space of two hours.

Ms Jamieson said: "It shows that the parliament across the political divide are not going to allow individuals to come away with comments like John Swinburne.

"It just shows a lack of understanding and it was inappropriate to do what he did in a debate that was about mainstreaming equality."

The Scottish Executive has said the unit will house patients currently in the State Hospital at Carstairs.




WATCH AND LISTEN
John Swinburne on Good Morning Scotland
"If they can avoid taking treatment, some people unfortunately do"


BBC Scotland's Glenn Campbell
"Mr Swinburne has built a reputation for speaking his mind"



SEE ALSO:
Mental illness: your views
03 Oct 03  |  Have Your Say
The political landscape shifts
05 May 03  |  Scotland
Search begins for secure unit site
12 Mar 02  |  Scotland


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