Mother, 41, died after bungling doctors missed aggressive cancer ELEVEN TIMES in a year and said her sore throat was just tonsillitis
A mother of four died after ten different doctors over 11 months failed to spot that she had cancer, an inquest heard.
Victoria Wyers-Roebuck, 41, was diagnosed with tonsillitis when she complained of a sore throat. It was only after her death that the rare nasal cancer was diagnosed.
Coroner Ian Smith criticised the NHS over its failure to recognise the condition and what he described as ‘a complete lack of urgency’.
The inquest heard how Miss Wyers-Roebuck, of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, went to see her local GP at Norwood Medical Centre in July 2011 complaining of a very sore throat. She was diagnosed with tonsillitis. Over the next 11 months she visited the surgery 12 times, seeing a number of different doctors.
She also attended Furness General Hospital six times, including the accident and emergency department, and was admitted three times.
Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s GP, Dr Steve McQuillan, said that with hindsight if she had been seeing just one doctor she may have had an earlier referral to see a specialist. He added: ‘I have been a GP for over 20 years and I suspect continuity of care was better back then.’
Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s mother, Paula, said her daughter had been unhappy with the medical care. ‘All she wanted to do was to be pain-free and continue living her life without suffering,’ she said.
Her partner, Kevin Nelson, 39, said: ‘Vicky complained of a sore throat but at no point did she even think it could be cancer. Vicky was let down by the NHS and doctors, who should have picked it up.’
Miss Wyers-Roebuck had her tonsils removed at Furness Hospital on May 1, 2012 and they were sent off to be tested. Because of a backlog at the lab, the results did not come back until after Miss Wyers-Roebuck had died on June 20 from organ failure brought on by the disease.
The surgeon, Mohammad Yuseff Main, blamed himself for not chasing up the results. He said new guidelines meant all results were chased up after two weeks.
The coroner said there had been ‘a lack of continuity’ at the GPs’ surgery and the hospital. ‘They all just got a bit of the picture rather than the whole picture,’ said Mr Smith. ‘This is the failure of the NHS system not an individual.
He recorded a verdict of death by natural causes. The hearing at Furness Magistrates’ Court heard that the cancer was so rare there have been only 12 cases in eight years in the north of England.
Jackie Daniel, the chief executive of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for Furness Hospital, said the organisation was ‘truly sorry’ and that elements of Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s care ‘should have been done differently’.
‘Following her death, we carried out an internal review of her care to understand what happened. We also instructed an external clinician to look at the case,’ said Miss Daniel. ‘The outcome of these reviews showed that there were elements of the care that should have been done differently.
‘Miss Wyers-Roebuck was suffering from a very rare and very aggressive form of lymphoma/leukaemia and whilst we cannot be sure whether the outcome would have been different had the diagnosis been made quicker, we did let her down and for that we are truly sorry.’
She said the trust would meet Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s family to discuss the findings of the reviews.
Coroner orders police to investigate doctor over ‘extraordinary’ delay in treating premature baby whose breathing tube fell out for 30 minutes before she died
Another “overseas trained”doctor
A coroner has asked the police to investigate the following what he called a doctor’s ‘extraordinary’ delay in treating a seriously ill baby.
Sheffield coroner Chris Dorries halted an inquest this afternoon and said he would be sending the notes to the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate a possible case of gross negligent manslaughter.
The inquest heard that seven-week-old Summer Hawcroft died from a severe brain injury after her artificial breathing tube became dislodged in the neo-natal unit at Barnsley District Hospital.
There was a ‘window’ of about 30 minutes before Dr Vishwanath Kamoji, who was in charge of Summer, reacted and had the endotracheal tube changed.
Heartbroken mother Michaela Hawcroft accused locum paediatric consultant Dr Kamoji of ‘killing her baby’ after an expert said they hoped the doctor had learned from his mistakes.
Tearful Mrs Hawcroft, 26, interrupted the Sheffield hearing and said: ‘It’s all right sticking up for him. He killed my baby.’
Experts have told the inquest the tube had been incorrectly fitted by Dr Kamoji and it was probable that the baby was starved of oxygen during this time, leading to the brain injury.
Professor Simon Mitchell, a consultant neo-natologist called to give evidence for Summer’s family, said there were several clinical failings by Dr Kamoji which amounted to a ‘fundamental error’ having been made.
He failed to discover the tube had been dislodged and properly assess the baby, did not secure her airways, ignored the clinical picture and dismissed concerns voiced by fellow nurses and a junior doctor.
In the end he brought in an on-call consultant before making the decision to change the tube.
Prof Mitchell said: ‘I think Dr Kamoji made an error in his clinical judgment and this was a fundamental error during a resuscitation situation which was compounded by failure to take account of information which was being made available to him.’
The inquest has already heard from another paediatric expert Dr Martin Ward Platt that the consultant’s inaction during the 30-minute period amounted to ‘gross failure’ and he should have changed the tube earlier.
Summer, who weighed only two pounds and two ounces when born on April 23, 2011 by caesarean section after 27 weeks gestation, had a promising start but began to suffer breathing problems.
She required several intubations and ventilation to aid her breathing but during the early hours of May 4 began to deteriorate.
Dr Kamoji inserted a larger endotracheal tube at 2.40am but her condition worsened and she collapsed at 5.03am. Staff were particularly alarmed as the baby had a large amount of gas in her stomach.
They summoned Dr Kamoji who arrived minutes before 5.35am and did checks but failed to spot the tube had become dislodged. It was eventually replaced at 6.03am.
By this time the damage was done and Summer was transferred to a specialist unit in Sheffield where she died on June 11 when she was just 49 days old.
Prof Mitchell told the hearing the tube fitted by Dr Kamoji was ‘much higher than you would wish it to be’ and the infant’s abdomen was visibly distended indicating the tube was incorrectly placed.
An X-ray was taken at 5.40am but not viewed until 6am by the doctor. ‘You would want to see it as soon as possible,’ said Prof Mitchell. ‘If the tube is in the wrong place and the baby is not being ventilated properly that is an urgent situation.’
He said the consultant’s primary aim in resuscitating Summer should have been to establish that Summer had a secure and open airway. The lack of an airway was ‘likely to have caused significant brain damage.
He added: ‘There was a fundamental failure and it was unusually persistent.’
He did not believe there was any criminal culpability but calling in a second consultant to remove the tube was ‘most unusual.’
Dr Janet Rennie, a consultant neo-natologist called by Dr Kamoji’s legal team, told the inquest the tube must have moved some time after 5am but nobody had been able to pinpoint why.
She agreed there was an ‘error of judgment’ by Dr Kamoji in failing to replace the tube during the 30-minute window but in her opinion it was not serious enough to be reported to the medical authorities.
He should have revisited standard resuscitation procedures when the baby collapsed and had adopted a ‘blinkered’ approach which was a breach of duty.
‘As events did unfold it becomes less understandable and less rational but judgment becomes clouded by the stress of these situations,’ she said.
Pathologist Dr Mudher Al-Adnani said she died from a hypoxic brain injury which was ‘quite extensive and widespread’ but it could have been a combination of several factors rather than a single event.
Dr Kamoji qualified as a doctor in India in March, 1993 and has practised in the UK since 2000. He has worked as a senior house officer on neo-natal units in Lincolnshire, Gwent, Leicester and Nottingham and has been on the specialist paediatrics register since August, 2009.
After the inquest was adjourned Mtthew Brown, the family’s solicitor said: ‘Although they continue to grieve for Summer my clients are pleased that Mr Dorries has recognised the magnitude of the failures in her care at Barnsley Hospital by referring the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.
‘We now await a decision on whether a criminal prosecution for gross negligent manslaughter will be pursued.’
Children’s play is under threat from adults who ‘over-supervise’ and ‘over-schedule’, a British report says
It says youngsters cannot develop normally and are ‘play deprived’ because of our risk-averse, regimented lifestyles.
This means many lack vital skills such as resourcefulness, independence or self-regulation.
The research, discussed on EU ‘play day’ at the European Parliament yesterday, is the work of Dr David Whitebread, a senior lecturer in psychology of education at Cambridge University.
He consulted researchers from across Europe and found children’s leisure time is cut down by too much school work, safety fears, and lack of understanding of the impact of free play.
His report, The Importance of Play, warns ‘play provision is under threat in Europe’ and adult intervention is often ‘counter-productive’.
It says the UK in particular is ‘quite risk-averse’, with children ‘heavily supervised’ and forced to play indoors or in a garden or specially designed soft play area.
This compares with the more rural Scandinavian countries where children play independently in natural surroundings. Just a generation ago, British children did the same, it adds.
Children have ‘increasingly limited opportunities for the free play and association with their peers which were so commonly available ….. to their parents and grandparents,’ the report says. Life in big cities adds to the problem, making children ‘much more heavily scheduled’.
Poor children in cities can suffer from ‘stressed parenting’ and lack of access to the outdoors, while wealthier families may be overly cautious about dangers.
The report states: ‘Children brought up in relatively affluent households may be over-scheduled and over-supervised as a consequence of perceptions of urban environments as dangerous for children, and a growing culture of risk-averse parenting.’
If lack of play becomes severe it can lead to ‘abnormalities in neurological development’.
Dr Whitebread writes that over-supervision is growing, with more and more parents worried about children playing outside due to traffic, crime, harassment and violence, abduction, and germs.
There are also problems at school, with pressure to learn the curriculum and meet standards.
Combined with curbs on free play at home, this leads to a ‘worrying picture’ across Europe, with ‘a growing tendency to reduce play time in children’s lives, both at school and home, in order to increase time for “learning”’.
The report recommends cities be organised ‘with children in mind’, to enable them to play in the street and walk to school.
Informal outdoor activities should be encouraged at school, with longer breaks to encourage more physical activity.
The European Parliament event was planned by the Toy Industries of Europe, whose members include the LEGO Group.
Revealed: The British charity that uses taxpayer cash to campaign for migrant benefits and protect a foreign rapist
Tacpayer’ money funded a team of lawyers fighting European Court of Human Rights cases on behalf of foreign criminals and illegal immigrants.
The human rights quango the Equality and Human Rights Commission quietly gave nearly £200,000 to a pressure group so it could take controversial human rights cases to the court in Strasbourg.
The group, the AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe), used the money to fight and win a series of cases and represented among others a Nigerian rapist and two Somali criminals who won the right to stay in Britain.
The cases were picked as part of a policy of ‘strategic litigation’ designed to overturn ministerial decisions and rulings made in British courts, and to extend equality and human rights laws in favour of immigrants and criminals.
The centre – a registered charity – was in the news yesterday as the source of the legal complaint against Britain for restricting access to our benefits system.
It brought test cases arguing for the right of EU immigrants not to have to undergo a residency test before they can claim a host of benefits.
The European Commission has now referred Britain to the EU’s European Court of Justice in Luxembourg over the right to reside test.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith accused the European Commission of a power grab and has vowed to ‘fight every step of the way’ to retain the residency test. But yesterday the Mail revealed that the group was handed around half a million pounds over five years by the Foreign Office.
Now an investigation has revealed further funding, by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Over three years, from April 2009 to April 2012, the AIRE Centre received £185,906.
The money was for a project designed to get around a ban on Government legal aid funding for cases at the European Court of Human Rights. The centre used the money to hire staff and recruit lawyers to bring cases before the court.
One major case it won involved two Somali criminals who won the right to stay in Britain and, crucially, led to a ruling which shackled ministers in their efforts to send home dozens of other Somali criminals living here.
Another involved a Nigerian rapist whose deportation was blocked by Strasbourg because of his right to a ‘private and family life’ under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The centre also lobbied Parliament for prisoners to be given the vote and supported cases involving prisoner voting rights before the Strasbourg court.
In its project application documents to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, the AIRE Centre said the project would ‘improve the response to systemic human rights and equality failures that exist in Great Britain by offering a strategic response’. It said: ‘The AIRE Centre targeted litigation… will maximise the impact of the European Court’s jurisprudence in specific areas.’
The money was spent on a team of human rights lawyers together with staff, administrative, training, building, and travel costs, legal and professional fees and a hotline for applicants to register their cases.
The centre’s funding application, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, said it was unable to take on cases even if it considered them ‘viable’. It said: ‘We have only been able to adopt an ad hoc rather than strategic approach to our ECtHR litigation due to our limited resources.’
The charity – set up in 1993 by human rights lawyer Nuala Mole – has also received funding from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and Comic Relief.
Tory MP Priti Patel said: ‘It is outrageous that taxpayers’ money is being used and abused in this way. It is particularly outrageous that money is being used to undermine benefit rules when the British public are crying out for benefit reform.’
A spokesman for the equalities commission said: ‘The commission provided funding to support the centre’s work on issues including human trafficking, domestic violence and protecting the human rights of those at risk of torture.’
The Daily Mail did not kill Lucy Meadows
A coroner’s ruling that the press helped drive a transgender teacher to her death marks a new low in the culture of ‘You can’t say that’.
Since the UK phone-hacking scandal broke and the News of the World closed in 2011, it has been open season on the popular press. Self-righteous critics have felt free to blame the tabloid newspapers for everything from the recession to rape. Now matters have moved a little further down the slippery slope, with a state official effectively accusing the British press, and the Daily Mail in particular, of helping to cause the death of a transgender primary-school teacher.
Michael Singleton, the coroner for Blackburn in Lancashire, this week told the inquest into the death of Lucy Meadows that the ‘sensational and salacious’ press coverage of the teacher’s gender change had been a big factor in her decision to commit suicide in March. The coroner declared his intention to call on the government to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for controlling the press, to ensure that nobody else was driven to their deaths by such ‘ill-informed bigotry’. Singleton concluded his ruling by turning to the media reporters present in court and declaring, like an Old Testament prophet, ‘Shame on you all!’. (The Guardian headline omitted the ‘all’ from this judgement, perhaps because they were certain he could not be talking to them.)
Nobody has to like the Daily Mail, of course, and anybody must be free to criticise its coverage. But this is different. A coroner now feels free not only to declare that the Mail and others contributed to a tragic death – despite the absence of any real evidence to support that claim – but to demand that the government crack down on the press. That is a sign of how far the lobby to curb press freedom has advanced across British politics and society.
We have seen throughout the Leveson circus that anti-tabloid crusaders have used high-profile victims of phone-hacking as ‘human shields’ behind which to pursue their wider agenda of purging the press. Now it seems that some are prepared to use a suicide as a weapon in the propaganda war over press freedom. What was that about the ‘sensational’ exploitation of people’s lives to make headlines?
The story of Lucy Meadows hit the news late last year, after the head of a primary school in Accrington, Lancashire, wrote to inform parents that teacher Nathan Upton had ‘recently made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman’. Mr Upton returned to the school after Christmas as Ms Meadows, wearing women’s clothes. First the local and then national press picked up on the story after some parents expressed concerns about the effect this dramatic change might have on their children; one father was widely quoted as saying that his three sons at the primary school were ‘too young to be dealing with that’.
Then Richard Littlejohn, the conservative Mail’s notoriously provocative columnist, weighed in with his characteristically forthright opinion on the case. His column, published in December under the headline ‘He’s not only in the wrong body… he’s in the wrong job’, asked whether anybody had considered the ‘devastating effect’ this teacher’s gender transformation could have on the young pupils, and suggested that Ms Meadows should have left the school and gone to teach elsewhere.
In January, Ms Meadows complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about ‘press harassment’ and about the Littlejohn column in particular. As a result, the Mail removed the offending article from its website, and Ms Meadows thanked the PCC for helping to resolve the dispute.
The tone of the Littlejohn article is clear from this extract (worth reprinting since it is no longer available on the Mail’s website):
‘The school shouldn’t be allowed to elevate its “commitment to diversity and equality” above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents. It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.
‘These are primary-school children, for heaven’s sake. Most of them still believe in Father Christmas. Let them enjoy their childhood. They will lose their innocence soon enough.
‘The head teacher denies that pupils will be punished for referring to the teacher as Mr Upton but added ominously that they would be “expected to behave properly around her”. Nathan Upton is entitled to his gender reassignment surgery, but he isn’t entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.’
To some of us at the time, Littlejohn’s column about Lucy Meadows seemed fairly constrained by his own standards. For instance, he acknowledged her right to change gender, and to continue to teach – though not at the same school where she had been Mr Upton.
To many others, however, it seemed that Littlejohn had committed a hate crime by criticising Lucy Meadows and the school. The outrage exploded on social networking websites in March, when it was reported that Ms Meadows had been found dead in her home, having apparently poisoned herself after two failed suicide attempts. Protesters gathered outside the Mail’s offices, and launched a Twitter onslaught and online petitions calling for Littlejohn to be sacked. These petitions now claim to have gathered a quarter of a million signatures.
The gathering storm of outrage culminated this week in the coroner’s official ruling that the press – and the ‘ill-informed bigotry’ of the Mail and Littlejohn in particular – had contributed to Lucy Meadows’ suicide. He called on the government to implement ‘in full’ Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for taming the press, in order to prevent further deaths.
In fact, as the Mail and others have since pointed out, there was no real evidence to suggest that the press coverage of Ms Meadows’ gender change contributed to her death. She left a long and eloquent suicide note, trying to explain her reasons for taking her own life. It made no mention at all of the press.
Instead, she talked about her financial problems, the stress of her job and, most importantly, the way she had been left bereft by recent bereavements, including the loss of her parents. Ms Meadows’ therapist told the inquest that she had found the media intrusion ‘very stressful’ but ‘easier to deal with than she had thought’, because she had been more concerned about the terminal illness and death of somebody she loved. The woman who had previously been married to Nathan Upton, and had his child, said that Ms Meadows had been ‘more annoyed than anything’ about the press ‘intrusion’ into their lives. She said her former spouse had first discussed suicide in February: ‘She said there was not enough to keep her here.’
Like many suicides, Lucy Meadows’ death appears to have been the tragic outcome of a complex set of personal circumstances, difficult for anybody to comprehend from the outside. Such events do not lend themselves to sweeping explanations. That did not stop the coroner, despite the absence of any evidence, declaring that the shameful press had helped drive her to her death. He acknowledged that she had not mentioned the press in her suicide note, but effectively decided that he knew better than her.
It is also worth asking: even if Lucy Meadows’ note had blamed the media coverage, or named Richard Littlejohn, would it really have changed anything? The coroner said that if she had mentioned the press at all, he would certainly have summonsed ‘various journalists and editors to this inquest to give evidence and be called into account’. Yet whatever she had said or thought, the press reports and comments about the transgender teacher would still remain only words. It would still have been her who committed the act of suicide, and the ultimate responsibility for taking her own life would still lie with Ms Meadows herself.
As her suicide note put it, ‘I have simply had enough of living. I am not depressed or mentally ill in some way. I may have different worldviews to others to the point that most may not consider this a rational act. But it is right to me. All the things I have wanted to accomplish I have done. I have no regrets other than leaving behind those dear to me and causing them pain in doing so, for which I am deeply sorry.’
Coroner Singleton complained that the case showed ‘nothing has been learned from the Leveson Inquiry’ into the ‘culture, practices and ethics’ of the press. The implication is that the treatment of Lucy Meadows shows that the tabloid press is still free to do what it previously did to such victims as the parents of Madeleine McCann or Christopher Jefferies, who were star witnesses at the Leveson Inquiry.
But from my point of view, this case shows that things have indeed moved on since Leveson – and in the opposite direction. The Mail and others did not make false factual allegations of serious offences against Ms Meadows, as newspapers did against the McCanns or Jefferies. Instead, what Richard Littlejohn did was to express his opinion about the transgender teacher returning to the same school.
That opinion may have offended many, including the coroner who deemed it ‘ill-informed bigotry’. But it remains an opinion, not an offence. Yet the expression of opinions deemed outside the respectable mainstream of polite society is now apparently considered a suitable case for punitive action by the government and the courts, acting on the word of the good Lord Justice Leveson. That is a major change – and one for the worse.
It may seem perverse to some to have to defend the principle of press freedom in such a sad case as the suicide of Lucy Meadows. But these are the hard cases in which it is important to hold the line. Not because we necessarily agree with anything Littlejohn might say, but because we agree with another popular journalist, George Orwell, that ‘if liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’. The fact that some might use press freedom for ends of which we disapprove is no reason to allow others to encroach upon it.
No doubt a coroner should be free to express his prejudices about the press, just as a tabloid columnist is at liberty to express his opinions and prejudices and be judged on them. But there is no excuse for demanding state action to curb the expression of opinions that are not to the taste of the bench.
The discussion around the Lucy Meadows case reveals how persuasive the creeping culture of ‘I blame the media’ and ‘You can’t say that’ has become. You do not have to like the British tabloid press at all. But in a free society, I’m afraid you really should have to lump it.
Gay marriage opponents like supporters of apartheid, says C of E bishop who apparently can’t find his Bible
Is God an apartheid practitioner? Presumably he must be if we regard him as the author of Leviticus
A senior Anglican bishop has likened opponents of gay marriage to Christians who used the Bible to justify slavery and apartheid.
Opponents of gay marriage like supporters of apartheid, says senior bishop
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, suggested Christians should “rethink” their interpretation of Scripture in light of changing attitudes towards homosexuality in society.
In a strongly worded intervention as members of the House of Lords prepare to debate the Government’s draft legislation introducing gay marriage, Bishop Holtam told peers that allowing gay couples to wed would be a “very strong endorsement” of the institution of marriage.
Bishop Holtam previously opposed gay marriage, but is now the only diocesan bishop in the country to publicly favour the proposed new law.
In a letter sent to Lord Alli, a gay Muslim peer, and published in The Daily Telegraph, Bishop Holtam distanced himself from the Church of England’s official opposition to same-sex marriage, saying: “Christian morality comes from the mix of Bible, Christian tradition and our reasoned experience.
“Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience.
“For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.”
Bishop Holtam’s intervention comes as peers from all main political parties prepare to mount a last-ditch attempt to block the draft legislation, which has been championed by David Cameron.
Among peers set to criticise the Bill on Monday are the former head of the British army Lord Dannatt and Lord Lothian, or Michael Ancram, a former Conservative Party chairman.
Lord Dear, the retired chief constable of West Midlands Police and crossbench peer leading opposition to the Bill, has described the Bill as “ill-thought through”, saying its critics were not “anti-homosexual”. Earlier this week he said Monday’s vote would be “too close to call.”
The Church of England, which has 26 bishops in the Lords, formally opposes the move and there has been speculation that the Most Rev Justin Welby, the recently appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, will be among bishops voicing their concerns about the policy at the debate.
A statement issued by the Church’s House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council last year and endorsed by the Archbishop, said same-sex weddings were against Anglican teachings and would undermine the state of marriage, as well as being “divisive” and “legally flawed”.
However, the statement prompted a groundswell of opposition within the Church and two suffragan bishops broke ranks to say it did not speak for them, nor for a substantial number of clergy and churchgoers.
Bishop Holtam, a diocesan bishop who sits in the House of Bishops but not the Lords, indicated his support for gay marriage in an interview and a speech last year but has been cautious about intervening in the ongoing debate.
Lord Alli, however, asked the bishop to set out his views for the benefit of peers debating the Government’s legislation next week.
In the letter to the Labour peer Bishop Holtam said: “You, as a gay Muslim, will not be surprised that there are a variety of views within the Church of England where we are experiencing rapid change similar to that in the wider society.”
He added: “The possibility of ‘gay marriage’ does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people.
“Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage.”
The Church’s leadership indicated as part of its opposition to the move that it favours civil partnerships as a way for gay couples to demonstrate their commitment to each other.
However in the letter Bishop Holtam suggests civil partnerships are same-sex marriage in all but name, saying “this now needs recognition in law.”
He said: “Like the Archbishops now, I used to think that it was helpful to distinguish between same sex civil partnerships and heterosexual marriage. Many in the churches think the commonly used description of civil partnerships as ‘gay marriage’ is a category error.
“However, the relationships I know in civil partnerships seem to be either of the same nature as some marriages or so similar as to be indistinguishable. Indeed, the legal protection and public proclamation which civil partnership has afforded gay relationships appears to have strengthened their likeness to marriage in terms of increasing commitment to working on the relationship itself, to contributing to the wellbeing of both families of origin, and to acting as responsible and open members of society.
He added: “Open recognition and public support have increased in civil partnerships those very qualities of life for which marriage itself is so highly celebrated. It is not surprising this now needs recognition in law.”
The legislation was passed by the House of Commons last week despite an attempt by almost half of Conservative MPs, among them two Cabinet ministers, to block the move.
It includes so-called “quadruple locks”, described by Bishop Holtam as “extraordinarily robust”, to protect religious groups, including the Church of England, who do not wish to carry out same-sex ceremonies.
Homosexual weddings pave the way for polygamy, warns former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey
A former Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday warned David Cameron that his ‘equal marriage’ reforms open the door for multiple weddings and marriages between siblings.
Lord Carey said that same-sex marriage laws amount to a radical and disturbing upheaval which is likely to lead to unintended consequences.
Among them he listed the inclusion of polygamous and multiple relationships into the definition of marriage, and the right for two sisters living together to demand a legal wedding.
The intervention from Lord Carey, one of the most prominent campaigners against same-sex marriage since the Prime Minister first announced his plan in the autumn of 2011, comes as peers prepare to debate the new marriage law.
Ministers are braced for an attempt to wreck the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill next week.
A group of MPs have already written to members of the House of Lords urging them to vote down the Bill, on the grounds that in the supposedly free vote in the Commons they were warned by Downing Street that their careers would be at stake if they failed to back it.
Lord Carey, 77, said that the Bill overturns the historic understanding of marriage as a platform for a man and a woman to raise children that has lasted since the dawn of Christianity.
That, he argued in a paper published by the Civitas think tank, means that the doors will fly open for very different legal versions of marriage in the future. ‘A reason why we should be worried by the redefining of marriage is the unintended consequences of such a step,’ Lord Carey said.
‘Once we let go of the exclusivity of a one-man one-woman relationship with procreation linking the generations, they why stop there?
‘If it is about love and commitment, then it is entirely logical to extend marriage to two sisters bringing up children together. If it is merely about love and commitment, then there is nothing illogical about multiple relationships, such as two women and one man.’
The former Archbishop, who stepped down from Lambeth Palace in 2002, cited the arguments of US academic and lawyer William Eskridge, a prominent advocate of gay marriage rights, who has maintained that it is illogical to limit the number of people in a relationship. Instead he has proposed the scrapping of any laws that limit the numbers or sex of people entering a marriage.
Lord Carey said: ‘In no way do I mean to be alarmist about the possibility of this happening in a large scale way, but it is happening in the United States and there is nothing to stop the trend continuing.’
He added that the idea promoted by Home Secretary Theresa May that people who care deeply for each other and want to spend their lives together should have the right to marry is ‘a wholly inadequate understanding of marriage.’
The former Archbishop said: ‘Those of us accused of being on the wrong side of history can only plead with the Government to respect our concern that extending marriage to same-sex couples is not only unwise, but also sets a dangerous precedent.’
Lord Carey’s plea for rejection of same-sex marriage was published alongside a series of arguments both in favour and against the reform published by Civitas in The Meaning of Matrimony: Debating Same-Sex Marriage.
Among contributors was Culture Secretary Maria Miller, the minister in charge of piloting the new law through the Commons.
Mrs Miller said: ‘Much of the strength of marriage lies in its ability to change with the times. As society has changed, so marriage has changed, and become available to an increasingly broad range of people.
‘In the 21st century marriage is an inclusive – not exclusive – institution. It is available to all adults who are prepared to make vows of life-long fidelity and commitment. Except, that is, if you happen to love someone of the same sex. I believe that simply isn’t right.’
“Hate speech” in Britain
A comment from Ireland
Let’s put it this way, how fair is it that you can be arrested for using the word ‘n*gger’ in a tweet while Anjem Choudary openly boasts of sending hundreds of young men to kill British soldiers in Afghanistan and his followers carry placards with such cheery sentiments as ‘behead those who insult Islam’?
And it’s not just Britain he has his eye on – I remember debating Choudary in Dublin a few years back when he declared Ireland a worthy target for jihad because we let the Americans use Shannon as a stopover.
He also said that Irish gays and ‘perverts’ and atheists should all be subject to the punishments of that lovely Sharia law.
I remember being dismissed at the time as a racist and a bigot – I was genuinely shocked at just how patheticially accomodating the organisers were towards Choudray and his rabble. At the pre-debate meal, non-Muslims were expected to eat halal food and out of respect for the Muslim guests no wine was served, meaning that everyone else was expected to conform to Muslim dietary commands – under pain of being seen as ‘intolerant’ if they objected. I left and ate elsewhere.
In fact, when I said him and his followers were worthless savages who wanted to drag us back to the Stone Age, this was dismissed as hate speech which only ‘demonised’ Islam. In fact, one person there threatened to report me to the gardaí [police] for incitement to hatred.