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Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK
Update: transcript

This is the full transcript of Frontline Scotland's Update programme, broadcast on 23 May.


Reporter Shelley Jofre: In the past six months the Frontline team has brought you the people who are making the news.

Stories that matter about health tales of crime and deception.

Compelling stories about real people.

And tonight, we tell you what's happened since we first made the headlines.

Reporter Jane Franchi: Straightening teeth, orthodontics, has grown into big business, very business.

Last year nearly seven million pounds of NHS money was spent in Scotland on orthodontics - most of it on children.

For the relatively small number of practitioners it's very lucrative.

As Frontline revealed, it's made one of Scotland's top earners extremely wealthy amidst allegations of financial chicanery and poor treatment.

Colin Mulgrew's clinics have grossed nearly five million pounds from the NHS in the last five years.

Despite a catalogue of unnecessary and failed treatments and a series of dubious, in some cases, false, claims for payment.

Orthodontists are paid per item in a course of treatment - per X-ray, per brace, per repair to a brace. The more the elements the more they earn. And Colin Mulgrew has perfected the art.

Dr Roy Smith: I saw patients having more treatment than I thought was necessary at a young age. I saw them having extended treatment which was probably not necessary.

And I was unhappy with the quality of some of the treatment. There was an emphasis there on, as he put it, bums on chairs. You had to have as many patients going through as possible per day.

Jane Franchi: Colin Mulgrew doesn't hide his success. As his large, smart practice in Hamilton, one of four clinics he owns, personalised number plates on the company cars proclaim their owner's profession.

Orthodontics is obviously a very nice little earner, particularly if the system can be milked. And that's what three health boards are accusing Colin Mulgrew of doing. They're suing him for making invalid claims.

Dr Colin Mulgrew: I have never, ever undertaken any form of orthodontics treatment which I did not believe was in the patient's best interests, or was against some of health service rule.

Jane Franchi: But the Dental Practice Division, who police the profession, have identified a list of incorrect claims.

His unusually high number of X-rays, repairs, and repeated treatments, have also come under scrutiny. And we've learned that the General Dental Council have twice found Colin Mulgrew guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Jane Franchi and Colin Mulgrew

Jane Franchi: We learned that you had twice before been reprimanded by the GDC?

Dr Mulgrew: Reprimanded?

Jane Franchi: Found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Dr Mulgrew: Relating to?

Jane Franchi: There were two incidents. One involved a dental hygienist, who was allowed, under your authorisation, to perform work which they were not qualified to do.

And the other was adding, with permission, initials to a patient's cheque, a charge which originally read - forging.

Dr Mulgrew: The first I have been absolute admonished. On the second count I was absolute admonished.

Jane Franchi: Admonished. Doctor Mulgrew makes it sound like an acquittal rather the serious indictment it was.

Since the programme he's been reported for a third time to the General Dental Council. The initial hearing was in March. But while the slow process of the investigation continues, despite the allegations, suspicions, and complaints against him the professional allows Colin Mulgrew to continue practising.

Duncan Hamilton MSP (SNP Health Spokesman): Why should it be that a policeman who us under serious suspicion is suspended from his job.

Yet when you come to the Health Service, there's a profession there where that doesn't apply. I think we need to see some kind of uniformity across the public service.

If it's right in other services, then it's right in the NHS. We're dealing with people's lives, and people's health here.

There is no more important matter for them. If that's the case we deserve the highest standards of accountability and transparency.

That doesn't appear to be the case in this instance, and I think that's got to change.

Jane Franchi: Doctor Mulgrew has been on sick leave since the programme. But there've been more recent bizarre developments.

He's been charged with breach of the peace following an incident last week when he allegedly distributed obscene documents about a former colleague to her neighbours. Police are investigating. A report has gone to the procurator fiscal.

Shelley Jofre: Twenty-seven million people now use mobile phones in Britain.

They're popular with the public and hugely profitable for the manufacturers. But as Frontline recently reported concern is growing about the safety and living and working near mobile phone masts.

Mobile phone masts are springing up everywhere. It's estimated there will eventually be a hundred thousand across Britain to cope with the rocketing number of mobile phone users.

Almost half the population have them now. Masts may improve communications, but the ease with which they can be erected has angered many local communities.

There's no need for planning permission for masts under fifteen metres, and no obligation to consult those who are forced to live with them.

American scientist, Dr Henry Lai, is one of many concerned about the radiation that masts emit. He believes long-term exposure to even low levels of microwave radiation could cause future health problems.

Dr Henry Lai (University of Washington, Seattle): Well you're talking about human life. I don't think it's a good idea to wait and see.

Shelley Jofre: Would you be happy, for example, to send your own child to a school that had a mobile phone mast on the grounds?

Dr Lai: Well if the phone mast is very close to the school, sometimes they put it up on the roof of the school, I would be concerned, yes.

Shelley Jofre: And many local communities share his concern. For almost two years the residents or Arden, in Glasgow, have had to live with a mast right between their two primary schools.

Shelley Jofre and Arden residents

Shelley Jofre: You all have children at these two schools. Were any of you consulted about this mast going up? Women: No.

Shelley Jofre: What do you think about that?

Female 1: I think it's ridiculous, really.

Female 2: I just think it's a no no. A mast between two schools is just, it's not on.

Shelley Jofre: The scientific community, though, is divided on the issue. Many believe masts pose no danger to health.

Dr Michael Clarke (National Radiological Protection Board): I'm sitting here saying on TV that there's no risk. So, I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't convinced myself by the evidence. But no one can know everything.

Shelley Jofre: Last year Glasgow City Council asked the local health board for its advice on where to allow masts to be sited. And then ignored the recommendations they were given.

Dr Helene Irvine (Public Health Consultant, Greater Glasgow Health Board): My advice was to adopt a precautionary policy, that is to avoid erecting these masts in sensitive areas, and by that I was including schools and residential areas.

I don't think it's a good idea to put a mast, for instance, between two houses on a residential estate. We need to arbitrarily introduce a stricter standard.

Shelley Jofre: Since that was broadcast three months ago Glasgow City Council hasn't changed it's position on masts.

However, both a Scottish Parliament, and a Department of Health inquiry, headed by Sir William Stewart, have just recommended the introduction of precautionary policies and full planning permission for masts.

Andy Kerr MSP (Convener of Transport & Environment Committee): The Stewart inquiry, and our inquiry, have both come up with the same conclusion with regard to this issue, and that is to say that: Let's assume there may be a health problem and.... ensure that schools, residential areas, old folks' homes and hospitals are protected, and therefore no masts should be erected within the vicinity of a school, and this is in a local area.

Helene Irvine: Both reports have demanded the adoption of the precautionary policy, and both have asked for planning permission for all masts, including those under fifteen metres in height, and I think this is an absolute fundamental point.

And I do feel vindicated. It's been a long, hard year, and I feel the committees have made recommendations similar to those made all those months ago.

Shelley Jofre: Meanwhile, companies eager to erect masts have met with some resistance from worried residents, even when they've offered lucrative inducements.

Elaine Ford: BT Cellnet approached two buildings in our area and offered us both £50,000 to have the masts situated on the roof of the property.

The residents were quite concerned by this and shocked, mainly because of the health aspects. We've got children in the building, and there's a school nearby. We rejected the £50,000.

Jane Franchi: Imagine, if you can, that your child disappears in the company of her father. On the face of it, an abduction. Most people would assume police forces would be empowered to search for them, checking airlines, credit card details.

Fiona Cameron assumed that. But she was wrong. When her estranged husband Robert didn't return their daughter Sasha after a holiday in France Fiona found herself searching on her own.

Every night at her home in Portmahomack, Easter Ross, Fiona Cameron writes to her nine-year-old daughter. She puts the letters in a special box.

She can't post them because she has no idea where in the world Sasha is. Her older sister Rachel came home after a holiday in France with their father. Sasha didn't. That was last July.

Fiona Cameron reads letter to Sasha

Ms Cameron: "Dear Sasha, I hope you are well and happy. Rachel was playing in her concert today. Hamish had to go to the doctor because he had a tummy ache.

We all miss you so much and hope you are home very soon. Good night my little darling. I love you very much. Mum."

Jane Franchi: After a long and bitter court battle Fiona was awarded custody of the children. So in her eyes Robert's abducted Sasha.

But it deemed not a civil, not a criminal offence, limiting the steps the police can take to trace him. There's a Children's Panel warrant for Sasha's return, but nobody knows where to send it. Catch 22 - find her to enact the warrant, but you can't use the law to find her.

Ms Cameron: Even after a warrant is issued for her return, even after authorities have kind of gone through the motions that they're saying that she is officially in a dangerous situation, and officially at risk, we are not still in the situation where anybody's actively searching for Sasha.

Jane Franchi: Fiona decides on her own search, and Frontline goes with her, to south west France. The family had lived here for a short time before the split, and Robert had stayed on. The local police are sympathetic, but powerless.

Fiona returned to the one time home but neighbours can't help. And there's no forwarding address.

In Angoulême Fiona's French lawyer has high hopes of a court case against Robert due in March. Fiona's last immediate hope is Charmé, Robert's last known address where he and his new partner ran the local bar. It no longer exists.

Neighbour: So he mentioned Australia, Sweden, USA and England. He made things up. And the children, I haven't seen the children for ages.

Ms Cameron: I really feel like the trail has gone cold, and our chances of really getting any information that could have been quite valuable are diminishing.

However, one can only hope that after March, when the police can be engaged in the case properly, they can gather all this information. I hope that's what will happen.

Jane Franchi: In March, far away from Portmahomack, as predicted by Fiona's French lawyer, the court in Angoulême found Robert, in his absence, guilty of kidnap, although police progress is still slow.

Police here now believe that Sasha and her father may be in Bangkok. In the meantime, out of the blue, nine months after any contact - a letter.

Ms Cameron: We have had a letter in Sasha's handwriting. It was actually addressed to the Children's Panel. They received it on 27 March. The letter itself was undated and no address was given on it.

It was a wonderful relief to actually have something in her handwriting to know that she was well enough to actually write the letter, although it's fairly well accepted that the content of the letter was not really hers. Yes, it was a great relief to just have anything from her at all.

Fiona reads Sasha's letter to Children's Panel

Ms Cameron: "Dear Panel, I am happy living with my dad at the moment. I get lots of love and attention like I do at home. I miss my mum a lot, but not enough to go back yet. I will tell dad if I want to go back home, and he says I can when I want to. From Sasha."

Shelley Jofre: If you or I go for a new job we can expect to be put through a rigorous selection procedure. Equally if we make a series of mistakes at work we can expect to be disciplined, or even sacked.

But Scotland's judges are exempt from all that. In February we told you a harrowing tale that ultimately called in to question the reliability and independence of Scotland's judiciary.

Harry Gormley became the proud father of baby Rachel in July 1998. But less than two years later both are dead. Harry killed himself after he was convicted of murdering his daughter.

His fiancée has never believed that he was guilty.

Katrina O'Donnell: I know the love that he had for that bairn, and there's no way he'd even harm a hair on her head.

Shelley Jofre: But Harry Gormley was found guilty by a majority verdict of shaking three-month-old Rachel to death.

The medical experts who gave evidence at his trial were sharply divided over her cause of death. The defence maintained it could have been accidental.

The trial judge, Lord Dawson, was accused of bias in his handling of the case. In a historic move Harry Gormley's family have been granted an appeal. They claim that Lord Dawson failed to exhibit the proper detachment and impartiality of a judge trying a criminal cause.

Vincent Belmonte: This is a case where the evidence had to be considered wholly in a calm and rational way.

To show a degree of partiality may well have made the jury give more weight to one side than the other, and that could have affected the outcome of the deliberations.

John Scott (Scottish Human Rights Centre): Every judge can make mistakes and that's the main reason that the Appeal Court is there.

But it does appear that in the case of this particular judge there's an alarming number of cases, and sometimes with the same grounds of complaint being made about his behaviour in each.

Shelley Jofre: In 1998 Lord Dawson was criticised in the Appeal Court for using highly coloured language during a drugs smuggling trial.

One of the accused had his conviction quashed. Lord Dawson had described his evidence to the jury as a "story".

Last year, two men convicted at the same trial had their jail terms cut after the Appeal Court ruled their sentences had been excessive.

They said Lord Dawson had misdirected the jury. When we contacted Lord Dawson's clerk for comment we were told he was on "sick leave".

John Scott: If we are to preserve the independence of the judiciary what we need to make sure is that we appoint the right people in the first place, and that we can see who is being appointed, where they're from, what their views might be, and why these particular people are being appointed. And at the moment you can't say that.

Shelley Jofre: The Scottish Parliament, clearly stunned by such criticism, has since announced the setting up of an independent judicial appointments board.

The Justice Minister has accepted that there are failings in the current process. He wants to make the system of appointments more transparent and representative. A consultation exercise has been set up to establish the best way to go about this.

Mr Scott: Well, it's an important start. The Judicial Appointments Board is an open and accountable way to make sure that the process can be seen by the public to produce the right people for the right job.

What we want to see is the board set up before the end of the year because the need for new judges may arise at any time, and we don't want any more judges appointed under the old boys network of the past.

Shelley Jofre: As for Lord Dawson it had been widely rumoured that he was about to retire after just five years on the bench. However, he returned to work last week on a part-time basis.

John Scott: Hopefully he'll come back and be able to do the job as any judge should. But it is a matter of extreme concern if a judge fails to produce reports repeatedly, and without wishing to sound too uncharitable, I think a close eye has to be kept on Lord Dawson to make sure he produces reports.

And if there is any future failure to produce reports, albeit it's a cumbersome procedure to go through to have a judge removed, we may have to at least consider that.

Jane Franchi: It was a murder to horrifying, a story so shocking, that it became a turning point. Marilyn McKenna's death at the hands of her former partner, and the revelation that he'd terrorised her for months, provoked scrutiny of the law.

It's the crime with no name. Stalkers are usually charged with breach of the peace. As far as Marilyn's sister Aileen was concerned that had to change.

The sisters were very close. Aileen five years older than Marilyn, who was a mother of three children. September 1998, a night out in town. It was the sisters' last.

Hours later Marilyn was found dying in a pool of blood in the street outside her home. Her killer said he loved her.

For more than two years in the name of that love Stuart Drury wouldn't let her out of his sight, ever. He'd assaulted her, attacked her home, lain in wait for her, menacingly followed her every move, stalked her relentlessly.

Aileen McDermott: My sister needn't have died. Everyone knew that he was terrorising and stalking her. She cried out for help and protection, and nobody - nobody - would help her.

Jane Franchi: For months before the murder Marilyn and her three young children lived in perpetual fear. Eventually the family were given a so-called safe house. Within days Drury had found it and the phone number.

Ms McDermott: They were living there with the windows all boarded up, you know, terrified, you know, for every time the phone went. And then when they went to bed they all slept in the one room, and Marilyn and her wee boy would push the wardrobe against the door.

Jane Franchi: She was genuinely frightened by this time by the threats of violence, wasn't she?

Ms McDermott: She phoned me, she says 'I'm going to be found in a pool of blood.'

Jane Franchi: A chillingly accurate prediction. It's in Marilyn's memory that Aileen agrees to a personal investigation for Frontline. Her terrified sister had called the police many times.

They tell Aileen that since the tragedy they've made major changes to their procedures but they still can't guarantee that it won't happen again.

Supt Kevin Smith (Strathclyde Police): The harsh reality is that when you get people who are violent, devious, determined, then I'm afraid there are no guarantees.

Jane Franchi: Drury was charged four times with breach of the peace. On top of a previous conviction for assaulting Marilyn. It also emerged that he'd stalked and terrorised two other women before Marilyn, but nobody seemed to link the offences.

Aileen believes they would have done if there was a stalking law.

Murray Macara (Law Society of Scotland): We have an offence, breach of the peace, that is tried and tested, that has served Scots law well throughout centuries.

Ms McDermott: It doesn't seem to be happening, you know, it just doesn't seem to be happening. I know that from my sister's point of view.

Murray Macara: What really matters, and I'm sure what would comfort you would be that the law is applied properly. I think that is the problem rather than whether we have the law.

Jane Franchi: Since Aileen's Frontline investigation the Scottish Executive has published a consultation paper. It seeks the views of experts and the public on whether the law should change. But it points out that a specific stalking law could limit courts' powers - making matters worse, not better.

Ms McDermott: I've read the consultation paper and I'm still not happy. I feel on reading it that they're trying to..... they're still trying to stress that breach of the peace..... trying to evade the issue of stalking, and they're trying to emphasise that the laws that we have just now in Scotland are sufficient.

Jane Franchi: But as far as Women's Aid is concerned what can't be legislated for are attitudes, and it's attitudes that need to change - radically.

Dr Mairead Tagg (Easterhouse Women's Aid): The real issue surrounding stalking are just not addressed at all within the consultation paper.

There's a fundamental lack of understanding of what stalking and harassment is actually all about. And I think until that happens women like Marilyn will continue to be victims to men who get away with murder, literally.

Shelley Jofre: It's been described as the most serious problem ever encountered with fingerprint evidence. Frontline's revelations about the work of the Fingerprint Bureau at the Scottish Criminal Record Office have created a storm of controversy.

Over the course of two programmes we've shown how they wrongly identified not just one, but two prints from the same case.

It all began with the brutal murder of Marion Ross at her home in Kilmarnock in January 1997. Strathclyde Police detective, Shirley McKie, was assigned to the investigation.

During routine enquiries she found a tin that was to become crucial evidence at the later trial. But a fingerprint found at the murder house was identified by the SCRO as belonging to Shirley, even though she said she'd never been inside the house.

At the murder trial she maintained the print could not be hers. That led to her arrest for perjury. Just weeks before her trial Shirley's situation seemed hopeless.

She searched the internet for anyone who could help her. She found an American expert who examined the prints and reached a dramatic conclusion.

Pat Wertheim (Fingerprint Expert): It was clear to me that a mistake had been made. This was not an identification. There was something horrible going on here.

Shelley Jofre: Shirley McKie was found not guilty of perjury. It was the first time that fingerprint evidence had been successfully challenged in court.

But still, the director of the SCRO refused to admit they'd made a mistake. So we asked five independent experts to analyse the prints. Each one agreed with Pat Werthein - the SCRO had got it wrong. As a result an inspection into the Fingerprint Bureau was set up. It will report back next month.

In our second programme last week we examined the evidence that was crucial in convicting David Asbury of the murder of Marion Ross.

The jury at his trial was told that a tin containing money found in Asbury's house belonged to the murder victim. The SCRO said Marion Ross's print was on the tin. We asked Pat Wertheim to examine the evidence for Frontline. His conclusion, yet again, was shocking.

Pat Wertheim: The fingerprint which was on the tin inside of David Asbury's apartment is not Marion Ross's print. It's that simple.

Shelley: David Asbury has now spent three years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit.

Amelia Crisp (David Asbury's mother): I feel there's something very wrong going on here. One might be a mistake - two, I don't think so. I don't think any of it is a mistake. I think they had to get a conviction.

Pat Wertheim: The SCRO is wrong. They have no one to support them in this.

Shelley Jofre: The woman who first dared to challenge the fingerprint system is now anxious to see some action taken against the SCRO.

Shirley McKie: It's as if the authorities keep hoping that I'll just give in and go away, and I can't do that. I need to see this through. I need to see justice done.

Shelley Jofre: And her concern is shared by fingerprint experts world-wide. The prints from David Asbury's case have been posted on a website, and the response internationally has been unanimous - the print on the tin is not Marion Ross's.

Even one of the world's foremost experts, Andre Moenssens, has confirmed that view since our programme was broadcast.

He wrote: "The actions of the SCRO are clearly unconscionable. To do nothing puts the Scottish criminal justice system to shame." Closer to home pressure is growing on the justice minister to take action.

The issue was raised in parliament last Thursday.

Michael Russell MSP (South of Scotland MSP): Given the information this week that there is a state of crisis in the fingerprint support services and the Scottish Criminal Records Office, will the first minister, I ask him genuinely, will the acting first minister give a commitment now to a root and branch review of the services provided there because there is world-wide concern about the case of Shirley McKie.

Jim Wallace (Acting First Minister): I'm very well aware of Mike Russell's interest in this matter, not least the events arising out of the Shirley McKie case, and he well knows an investigation is currently being undertaken by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary into these matters.

I can assure Mr Russell that that report and its recommendations will be given the serious attention by this Executive to see this attention it deserves.

Shelley Jofre: In the meantime Mike Russell has tabled a motion to have the whole matter debated in parliament.

Jane Franchi: That's all from this series of Frontline. But we'll be back with more investigations in the autumn. Until then, have a good summer.

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