A £2m pension pot: NHS chief Sir David Nicholson’s reward for failure
The NHS is still failing patients, its outgoing head has admitted, as he announced his retirement on a day that leading health figures issued grave warnings about the safety of accident and emergency units.
Sir David Nicholson said it was a matter of “profound regret” that the health service was letting down many sick and elderly people, as he announced his departure with a £2 million pension pot.
Sir David had been under pressure to resign over his part in the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust scandal, where up to 1,200 people died needlessly following appalling failings in care between 2005 and 2008. He was in charge of the health authority supervising Stafford hospital for two years before being appointed NHS chief executive in 2007.
The announcement that he will retire next March coincided with warnings that basic NHS services were unsafe. With a bank holiday weekend approaching, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, told the Commons that A&E services could no longer cope at such times, and warned that the whole emergency system would become “unsustainable” without major changes.
Dr Mike Clancy, the president of the College of Emergency Medicine, warned that patients were dying in A&E units because of “substantial overcrowding”. Dr Patrick Cadigan, the registrar of the Royal College of Physicians, added that patients had been left with no choice but to turn up at casualty departments, because they were one of the few parts of the NHS open at evenings and weekends. “Patients will go where the lights are on and, in many of the alternatives, the lights are not on after five o’clock in the evening and at weekends,” he said.
Senior NHS managers claimed that the pressures on A&E were bringing the health service “closer and closer to the cliff edge”.
Sir David, 57, who earns £290,000 a year including performance bonuses and “benefits in kind”, has also been criticised over his expenses claims, with almost £50,000 claimed during 2011-12 in travel expenses. Last weekend it emerged that civil servants had questioned his reliance on first-class travel for routine journeys.
Following changes to health service structures, last month he became chief executive of NHS England, a new arms-length body responsible for services. He said that he will take retirement next March, or sooner if a successor is in place.
Julie Bailey, who set up the campaign group Cure the NHS after her mother Bella died in horrific conditions at Stafford hospital in 2007, described the announcement that Sir David was standing down as “fantastic news”.
“This is the start of the cure for the NHS,” she said. “We can start to look to the future now. He was part of the problem, not part of the solution. We now need a leader who will galvanise and inspire the front line, not bully them.” Others were “absolutely sickened” that he was leaving on his own terms, with a pension that will pay a six-figure annual sum for life.
Charlotte Leslie, a Conservative MP, said it was a “terrible insult” to the families of Mid Staffs victims and “a terrible indictment of our political system that he has not already been fired”. She added: “It is an even worse indictment that in an era where we talk about accountability, he should walk away to an enormous pension, funded by the public.”
In his resignation letter, Sir David wrote: “Whilst I believe we have made significant progress together under my leadership, recent events continue to show that on occasion the NHS can still sometimes fail patients, their families and carers. This continues to be a matter of profound regret to me but please know that on a daily basis I continue, and will always continue, to be inspired and moved by the passion that those who work in the NHS continue to show.”
The wording of the letter, sent to the chairman of NHS England and obtained by Health Service Journal, suggests it may have been drafted some time ago.
It says: “In getting ourselves ready for the 1 April 2013 we should take great pride in how the GP-led commissioning groups are now taking forward the quality agenda that I established with [the former health minister] Lord Darzi.”
He also appears to take a swipe at Coalition changes, writing: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the wider reforms, the creation of a national organisation with the independence and resources to act in the interests of patients remains a prize worth fighting for and even in retirement I will continue to be the staunchest advocate of the NHS.”
British grade-school pupil, 10, who spots ‘grammar mistakes’ in her English exam writes a letter of complaint to Education Secretary Michael Gove
A schoolgirl who spotted grammatical ‘mistakes’ in her English exam has written a letter of complaint – to Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Eagle-eyed Rebecca Lee, 10, a pupil at Christ Church Primary School in Clifton, Bristol, noticed commas ‘missing’ from two questions in her SATs last Tuesday.
The Year Six pupil says she was so ‘annoyed’ by the basic punctuation errors that she wanted to take her complaint to the top.
So she wrote to Mr Gove saying: ‘I understand that you are very keen for us to all learn our complex sentences and use of accurate punctuation. ‘I believe that your department should also use the correct punctuation in all SATs tasks.’
The schoolgirl said she hoped to hear back from Mr Gove.
Rebecca, from Clifton, said: ‘The exam wording should be setting an example and I was annoyed. I had to write.
‘I’ve not heard back yet and am still waiting – Mr Gove’s busy but I do hope to get a response back.’
The ‘mistakes’ were in a section of the exam on complex sentences – and had commas ‘missing’ from two sentences.
One sentence read: ‘If there is not enough rainfall this month there will be a drought’ and ‘As he was the chief of the tribe the final decision was his.’
This afternoon a spokesman for the Department for Education defended the lack of commas in the exam paper.
He said: ‘The commas here are a matter of choice. They can be used to mark out clauses that appear at the beginning or the end of a sentence, but they are not necessary.
‘We decided to use commas sometimes and not at others to make the tests more like real life where people will have their own styles.
‘The only clauses that must be surrounded by commas are those in the middle of a sentence.’
The same sentences – featuring commas in the correct places – had appeared in an earlier part of the exam on grammar.
The Government’s Standards and Testing Agency is meant to check if exams are up to scratch before pupils take them, but a spokesman insisted that using commas in complex sentences was ‘a matter of choice’.
Rebecca’s teacher Barney Braithwaite said many of his pupils noticed the mistake when they undertook the new spelling, punctuation and grammar test.
He said: ‘I laughed my head off when I had heard that Rebecca had sent the letter. She obviously felt moved enough by the mistakes.’
Should you be taking vitamin B to protect against Alzheimer’s?
For as long as he can remember, John Hough has suffered from a poor memory. ‘I hated learning poems at school — after a few lines it had all gone,’ says the 83-year-old retired electrical engineer from Banbury.
His memory only worsened with age. ‘He’s always been forgetful,’ says Kathleen, his 80-year-old wife, who just happens to have a photographic memory. But, increasingly, she was finding herself having to remind him about things.
‘We have had our differences over memory,’ she adds diplomatically. But both are firmly agreed on one thing: the letter five years ago inviting John to take part in a trial to test whether high doses of several B vitamins could protect his ageing memory was a godsend.
For although Kathleen, a retired university lecturer in physiology, still has to remind her husband to take his vitamins, she is happy to do so ‘because I really noticed the difference when he stopped taking them’.
This has been reinforced by research published yesterday in the top journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which showed that people in the trial who got the B vitamins were almost entirely protected from the brain shrinkage suffered by those who only got a placebo pill.
A rapidly shrinking brain is one of the signs of a raised risk for Alzheimer’s. Those taking the B vitamins had 90 per cent less shrinkage in their brains.
And the research showed the areas of the brain that were protected from damage are almost exactly the same Alzheimer’s typically destroys. This ‘Alzheimer’s footprint’ includes areas that control how we learn, remember and organise our thoughts, precisely those that gradually atrophy as the ghastly disease progresses.
‘I’ve never seen results from brain scans showing this level of protection,’ says Paul Thompson, professor of neurology and head of the Imaging Genetics Center at UCLA School of Medicine, California.
He’s a leading expert in brain imaging, and his centre has the largest database of brain scans in the world. ‘We study the brain effects of all sorts of lifestyle changes — alcohol reduction, exercising more, learning to handle stress, weight loss — and a good result would be a 25 per cent reduction in shrinkage,’ he says.
In other words, the 90 per cent reduction seems really impressive. So, could the simple answer to memory problems be to take B vitamins?
The new research — part funded by the Government’s Medical Research Council — was based on data from the trial in which John took part. This was run for two years by OPTIMA (Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing) at Oxford University, and involved 271 people with early signs of a fading memory, known as mild cognitive impairment. This can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s.
The study was designed to discover whether giving high doses of three B vitamins — B6, B12 and folic acid — could slow the rate at which the participants’ memory worsened.
As well as giving the participants standard memory and cognitive tests, the researchers scanned some of the volunteers’ brains at the beginning and end of the study to see what effect, if any, there was on the rate these were shrinking.
We all lose brain cells as we get older, normally about half a per cent a year. If you have mild cognitive impairment, that rises to 1 per cent, and when Alzheimer’s sets in, the atrophy speeds up to 2½ per cent.
Why do experts think B vitamins might be the answer? The link is that they effectively help keep in check our levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. Normally we don’t have much of this because it is quickly turned into two important brain chemicals, including acetylcholine, which is essential for laying down memories.
There have been lots of studies showing that Alzheimer’s patients have unusually high levels of homocysteine in their bloodstream. They also have low levels of acetylcholine (in fact, the most common Alzheimer’s drug works by boosting acetylcholine).
So it seems that the usual conversion of homocysteine into acetylcholine is going wrong. And that’s where the B vitamins are thought to come in.
Older people are particularly likely to be deficient in these nutrients. That’s because, as we age, our bodies become less good at getting it from food, and certain widely-used drugs, such as proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux, make the extraction process even more difficult.
So the thinking is, boost B vitamins and you boost the conversion of homocysteine into acetylcholine. Another theory is that high levels of homocysteine may actually trigger brain shrinkage.
A further reason B vitamins could help is given by Professor Teodoro Bottiglieri Baylor, at the Institute of Metabolic Disease in Dallas, Texas. ‘The link between brain deterioration — memory loss, cognitive deficits — and B vitamin deficiency is standard neurology textbook stuff,’ he says.
‘You get it with various disorders that prevent B vitamins functioning properly, such as severe alcoholism and pernicious anaemia.’
However, the Oxford trial was the first time the vitamin B theory had been tested in a proper trial. When the initial results were published in the leading journal PLoS ONE in 2010, two findings attracted a lot of attention.
First, the vitamins appeared to halve shrinkage across the whole brain compared with the brains of the people taking the placebo pill. But second, and very significantly, the vitamins only benefited people who had a high homocysteine level — over 13 (a healthy level is said to be between about seven and ten).
‘It was a useful finding,’ says David Smith, professor emeritus of pharmacology at Oxford, and lead researcher on the trial. ‘It showed you’ll only benefit from the vitamins if your homocysteine level is high, but it also told us that when it rises above a healthy level it can damage brain cells.’
But the trial didn’t answer an important question: Does brain shrinkage make you lose your memory? It sounds very plausible that it should, and tests showed that the memory of people getting the vitamins stopped getting worse. However, the researchers couldn’t say for certain this was because their brains weren’t shrinking as quickly.
That’s where the latest study comes in. It involved a much more sophisticated analysis of the brain scans from the first study, by a new team from the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Centre at Oxford.
This analysis showed that the protection against shrinkage was even more effective than reported previously — not just halving it, but reducing it by 90 per cent.
The old study had looked at the whole brain; this one only looked at the effect in the Alzheimer’s footprint and found that in there, just where help was needed, the vitamins had an even greater impact.
The new study also made the connection between less shrinkage and greater cognitive improvement.
A new statistical analysis established that slowing the rate of brain atrophy was directly responsible for slowing the rate at which the memory deteriorates.
The studies make a clear connection between too much homocysteine and poorer memory. The next step might be for homocysteine to be a new biomarker for Alzheimer’s risk, tested for and lowered if necessary.
‘The study needs to be repeated because there’s a lot to learn about why homocysteine is damaging and whether lowering it can stop people with memory problems progressing to Alzheimer’s,’ says Professor Thompson. ‘But if the results survive retesting, homocysteine level could be a useful biomarker for Alzheimer’s risk.’
So could B vitamins stop you developing Alzheimer’s? ‘We can’t tell from this research because it didn’t go on long enough,’ says Professor Smith. ‘It would cost about £6 million to do the study to prove it, but we haven’t been able to get the funding. Surely it would be well worth it.’
Dr Gwenaelle Douaud, an imaging and neuroscience expert and leader of the new study, says: ‘Slowing the progression is the Holy Grail of Alzheimer’s research.
‘We know some people with mild cognitive impairment will go on to develop Alzheimer’s and the best marker of raised risk at the moment is the amount of shrinkage in an area called the medial temporal lobe. This is right in the middle of the Alzheimer’s footprint — the area B vitamins protect.’
Professor David Smith believes it would be wrong not to offer high-dose vitamins to someone with memory problems and raised homocysteine. His published papers state that he is named as an inventor on two patents held by the University of Oxford on the use of folic acid to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
But Robin Jacoby, emeritus professor of old-age psychiatry at Oxford, who was also involved in the first study, cautions: ‘As a medical scientist I wouldn’t advise anyone to take high doses of B vitamins yet to protect their brain without first consulting their GP..
‘There is a link between high levels of folic acid and cancer, although the risk is low.’
Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, also doesn’t think the evidence is good enough yet. ‘Until further trials have confirmed these findings, we would recommend people think about a healthy and balanced diet along with controlling weight and blood pressure, as well as taking exercise,’ he says.
Viscount Ridley: Earth To Met Office: Check Your Climate Facts
The latest science suggests that our policy on global warming is hopelessly misguided
There is little doubt that the damage being done by climate-change policies currently exceeds the damage being done by climate change, and will for several decades yet. Hunger, rainforest destruction, excess cold-weather deaths and reduced economic growth are all exacerbated by the rush to biomass and wind. These dwarf any possible effects of worse weather, for which there is still no actual evidence anyway: recent droughts, floods and storms are within historic variability.
The harm done by policy falls disproportionately on the poor. Climate worriers claim that at some point this will reverse and the disease will become worse than the cure. An acceleration in temperature rise, they say, is overdue. The snag is, the best science now says otherwise. Whereas the politicians, activists and businessmen who make the most noise about — and money from — this issue are sticking to their guns, key scientists are backing away from predictions of rapid warming.
Yesterday saw the publication of a paper in a prestigious journal,Nature Geoscience, from a high-profile international team led by Oxford scientists. The contributors include 14 lead authors of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientific report; two are lead authors of the crucial chapter 10: professors Myles Allen and Gabriele Hegerl.
So this study is about as authoritative as you can get. It uses the most robust method, of analysing the Earth’s heat budget over the past hundred years or so, to estimate a “transient climate response” — the amount of warming that, with rising emissions, the world is likely to experience by the time carbon dioxide levels have doubled since pre-industrial times.
The most likely estimate is 1.3C. Even if we reach doubled carbon dioxide in just 50 years, we can expect the world to be about two-thirds of a degree warmer than it is now, maybe a bit more if other greenhouse gases increase too. That is to say, up until my teenage children reach retirement age, they will have experienced further warming at about the same rate as I have experienced since I was at school.
At this rate, it will be the last decades of this century before global warming does net harm. As the economist Bjørn Lomborg recently summarised the economic consensus: “Economic models show that the overall impact of a moderate warming (1-2C) will be beneficial [so] global warming is a net benefit now and will likely stay so till about 2070.”
Now contrast the new result with the Met Office’s flagship climate model, the one that ministers and their advisers place most faith in. Called HadGEM2-ES, it expects a transient climate response of 2.5C, or almost double the best estimate that the Oxford team has just published. Indeed, the latter’s study concludes that it is more than 95 per cent certain that the response is below 2C, considerably short of the Met Office model’s estimate.
Why trust the new results rather than the Met Office model? The new study not only uses the most robust method, but joins several other observationally based studies from the past year that also find lower climate sensitivity than complex climate models exhibit.
Notice that this new understanding is consistent with what we have actually experienced: about 0.1C per decade over the past 50 years. The most remarkable thing about the recent milestone of 0.04 per cent carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (400 parts per million) is that it comes after 15 years of no net warming at all.
The new paper also fits the known physics of the greenhouse effect, which predicts a warming of 1.1C for a doubling of carbon dioxide. Only unverified assumptions by modellers about the added effects of water vapour and clouds have allowed politicians and activists to claim that a much higher number fits the laws of physics. Only now-disproven claims about how much the sulphur pollution in the air was masking the warming enabled them to reconcile their claims with the actual data.
It is true that the “transient climate response” is not the end of the story and that the gradual warming of the oceans means that there would be more warming in the pipeline even if we stopped increasing carbon dioxide levels after doubling them. But given the advance of nuclear and solar technology, there is now a good chance we will have decarbonised the economy before any net harm has been done.
In an insightful new book, The Age of Global Warming, Rupert Darwall makes the point that “in believing scientists and politicians can solve the problems of a far distant future, the tangible needs of the present are neglected”. The strong possibility that climate change will be slow and harmless must be taken seriously before we damage more lives, landscapes and livelihoods in its name.
Ex-soldier told to repaint his St George’s flag front door by housing association after it was deemed offensive and distressing
For ten years, Steven Rolfe has displayed the flag with pride.
But far from making him a patriotic citizen, his unorthodox St George’s banner has seen him branded a ‘nuisance neighbour’.
The 52-year-old former soldier painted the red and white symbol on his front door in 2003 yet only now have his landlords decided it is ‘offensive’ and must go. He has 14 days to remove it – or face eviction.
Mr Rolfe, who served in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, said: ‘I’ve had this for ten years and nobody has said anything until now.
‘My landlords, Places for People, sent me a letter saying it could be deemed offensive, and that I was breaking my agreement over a nuisance.
‘I wrote back, asking for retrospective permission because it’s been there so long, but they weren’t interested.
‘I’m ex-forces and I’m proud to be English. I’m not in the EDL or any other racist group. I’m very angry about this, and I won’t be changing anything. I want my day in court.’
The enforcement notice has sparked outrage among Mr Rolfe’s neighbours in Preston and Muslim groups have criticised the housing company’s stance. Ali Anwar, a Muslim representative on the Preston faith forum, said: ‘As far as I’m concerned, a man’s home is his castle, and he should be allowed to express himself as he wishes.
‘This is political correctness gone mad. As a Muslim it really frustrates me that organisations become overly politically correct and make issues and tensions where there aren’t any. They don’t speak for the Muslim community.
‘The flag of St George needs to be reclaimed from the far right. There is nothing offensive about the flag and anyone who is proud to be English should be able to fly it.’
David Borrow, a former Labour MP who is now a local councillor, said: ‘The door has been like that a long time and, having spoken to the gentleman, I have no reason to believe that he is anything other than a decent member of the community.
‘I do not believe that he has intended the door to symbolise anything offensive, and I have heard no specific complaints. ‘There are other doors in the city that have flags painted on to them, and there appear to be no problems at all.’
John Clemence, who is vice-president of the Royal Society of St George, said: ‘To say that the cross of St George can cause offence needs to be challenged. ‘We are seeing more and more of this kind of complaint, and these jobsworths are causing resentment and inciting racial hatred.’
Places for People, which owns Mr Rolfe’s house, has since apologised for calling the flag offensive but insists its tenant must repaint the door because he did not have the proper permission to turn it into an England flag.
A Places for People spokesman said yesterday: ‘We do apologise for describing the door as offensive, which it is clearly not.
‘Under the customer’s tenancy agreement, they can make alterations and additions to their property, including external decoration, so long as they gain written consent from ourselves and meet our decoration specifications.
‘We have asked Mr Rolfe to repaint his door as he has not requested our permission and his door does not meet our decoration specifications. ‘We are happy to discuss any future changes he may wish to make to his rented property.’
Mr Rolfe, who helps out in a friend’s chip shop, says he has won a Preston Council award for the appearance of his house and has flown the St George’s cross in the past.
Farmer accuses police of acting illegally after they refuse to hand back shotgun he fired at thief
More bastardry from the British police. They HATE self-defence
A farmer, who shot at a metal thief as he attempted to get away in a van, has hit out at police after they refuse to hand back his guns. Bill Edwards, 21, says he has struggled to find work six months despite being cleared of attempted murder because his guns are the tools of his trade.
The man from Scalby, Scarborough claims the police have acted illegally by keeping his property.
He was arrested last summer on suspicion of attempting to murder scrap metal thief David Taylor after he shot at Taylor’s van, loaded with stolen metal from remote farmland at Whin Covert, Riggs Head near Scarborough in North Yorkshire.
Mr Edwards’ four shotguns and two rifles – worth at least £3,000 – were all confiscated when he was arrested last August.
When he was finally released from police bail on December 20, he was given a letter from North Yorkshire Police stating they were going to review his suitability to hold a firearms certificate.
He always maintained he only turned his shotgun on the van because he feared for the life of his mother Louisa Smith, 50, as Taylor sped towards her while he fled the scene.
Taylor claimed that he was simply trying to getaway because Mr Edwards was shooting at him. He was later caught by police in a nearby village after a high speed chase.
Mr Edwards and his mother caught Taylor and an accomplice loading stolen metal cables into the back of his Ford Transit after spotting that outbuildings had been tampered with. The thieves jumped into the van and drove it towards the pair as they desperately dialled 999 for help.
Mr Edwards fired his shotgun, which was loaded with lightweight rabbit shot, several times, hitting the van’s windscreen and bodywork. No one was hurt. Police eventually caught Taylor when Mr Edwards gave chase and gave a running commentary on his mobile phone. But the crook was only charged with metal theft.
The 39-year-old from Scarborough escaped with just a £100 fine for theft after claiming he had been ‘traumatised’ by Mr Edwards shooting at him.
His father Gary, 67, said: ‘It’s ironic because when this first happened he was a local hero. The farmers who employ him were queuing up to offer him work.
‘But the police have his guns and his firearms certificate and it seems legally they can take as long as they like to reach a decision.
‘They are still treating him like a criminal for defending his own property and his mother.
‘Bill does not have any work and feels very badly let down by the police.’
Mr Edwards added: ‘They have also got my air rifle which doesn’t even require a certificate to possess.
‘They are the tools I need and not having them is costing thousands as my crop is being eaten by pests and I could not have lambs this year without controlling vermin.
‘When I work for other farmers they also require me to control pests. Not being able to do so prevents me getting work and if I do it is low pay.
‘Clay shooting is, was also my main hobby and social activity.’
He argues that once his firearms were taken off him, the police no longer had any legal right to retain them. Legally, Mr Edwards could buy guns and ammunition because his certificate has not yet been revoked.
However, he would need to present his firearms certificate – which the police have also retained.
Mr Edwards added: ‘They are breaking the law. I am left very disappointed with the police as they have illegally held my property since August.
‘Since no further action was taken in December and the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] made a very positive statement regarding my case, the police still have not communicated their decision on whether I am still fit to hold the firearms I need.’
The national representative body for shooting sports, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, supports Mr Edwards’ cause.
Senior Firearms Officer Matt Perring said: ‘A gun is absolutely essential to a farmer. ‘There is nothing like having your own gun to control the land. ‘Otherwise the land owner can ask anyone else with a shotgun certificate to do the job.’
He said employers needed farm workers who were trusted to carry guns to stop pests and vermin attacking crops. Mr Perring said: ‘Otherwise it’s like asking someone to put up a fence with a broken arm.’
Mr Edwards said his family has lost thousands of pounds through theft and damage caused in a number of raids on their land.
North Yorkshire Police Professional Standards are still looking into a complaint from the family into how the whole case was handled.
A police spokesman said: ‘The investigation into Mr Edwards’ complaint is still ongoing and so we are not yet in a position to comment.’
Another lying British female: Woman who lied to police and said her ex-boyfriend raped her is jailed for eight months after her own mother reported suspicions
A woman has been jailed for eight months after falsely accusing her ex boyfriend of raping her. Kirsty Debanks, 20, lied that Chris Newitt had attacked her the day after she suffered a miscarriage.
However, she finally admitted that she had made it all up when CCTV showed Mr Newitt was in Oxford city centre with his brother at the time.
Sentencing her, Judge Ian Pringles told Miss Debanks ‘Those who suffer genuine rape are undermined by people like you. You undermine the whole system of justice.’ He added: ‘I would be failing in my duty today if I was not to pass an immediate prison sentence.’
The city’s crown court heard that police were called by paramedics to help control Debanks who was claiming to be having a miscarriage.
Prosecutor Jonathan Stone said the next day Debanks told police that Mr Newitt had raped her when she got home from hospital.
Mr Stone told the court: ‘She said he had pushed her friend Tracy out of the address. ‘He had pushed her (Debanks) down on the sofa. He said: ‘You’re going to f*** me whether you like it or not’.”
Mr Newitt was arrested and questioned in police custody for almost six hours and subjected to forensic testing.
Officers visited her to begin the formal investigation but she told them she did not want to make a complaint only ‘wanted the defendant to pay for what he did’.
She also refused a medical appointment and would not sign the officer’s notebook to confirm her account.
However, later on she called police to say that she did want to make the complaint. In interview she described the alleged attack to them, saying Mr Newitt’s face was ‘pure evil’.
Miss Debanks’ mother then called police and said something did not ring true in her daughter’s account.
Mr Newitt protested that he could not have carried out the attack as he was in Oxford city centre with his brother at the time. When officers viewed CCTV footage it confirmed his account.
Debanks then called police herself and confessed that she had lied.
In her statement she explained that in fact she had gone to the pub with her friend Tracy to drink double vodkas and beers, then gone back to her home to continue drinking and smoke crack cocaine.
Tracy then suggested making the false claim, she said. Debanks only told the truth when her mother warned her the case would go to trial.
‘She appeared to show no remorse. In fact she smirked as she gave her account,’ Mr Stone told Oxford Crown Court.
Lucy Ffrench, defending, said Debanks had suffered a difficult time, including the loss of her father to cancer and of her uncle in a freak accident, as well as other personal issues.
‘She has been looking in the wrong places for the attention she craves,’ said Ms Ffrench.
Jeremy Clarkson stirs the pot again
He is critical of crying babies on aircraft. So once again he says what many think but are afraid to say. But in typical style he exaggerates
TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson has prompted a strong reaction after suggesting that children should be stashed in the luggage hold during flights.
Following a flight to Scotland earlier this month Mr Clarkson tweeted: “When will British Airways realise that babies belong in the hold?”
Justine Roberts of the website Mumsnet responded to his comments in the Mail on Sunday, saying: “There are plenty of Mumsnet users hoping British Airways will realise Jeremy Clarkson belongs in the hold.”