Robbie Powell: how one crucial document may hold the key to a young boy’s unnecessary death [PART THREE]

Steve Topple

The death of a 10-year-old boy over 26 years ago is once again being investigated, amid claims of a cover up by medical professionals. These claims by the boy’s father also imply that the NHS, police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Welsh Office, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the General Medical Council (GMC) and other public bodies were involved.

Robbie Powell from Ystradgynlais, Powys died a preventable death in 1990. Originally, investigations by Dyfed Powys police (which retained the GPs as police surgeons) and the CPS between 1994 and 2000 claimed that there was no evidence of any criminal offences. But following an independent investigation between 2000 and 2002, the CPS agreed that numerous individuals could be charged. But they never were. So now, his grieving father is once again fighting for justice.

Note: All evidence cited in this article has been seen by The Canary. This article is the third of three parts.

As Part One and Part Two of this article demonstrated, the crucial ‘Addison’s letter’ was missing from Robbie’s GP records. Mr Powell believes that, not only did the GPs actively try to cover up their actions, but the alleged deception went as far as the police, solicitors and the Welsh Assembly.

Systematic deception?

In March 1994, the Powells formally complained to Dyfed Powys Police and made serious allegations of forgery and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Although the allegation regarding the Addison’s letter was being investigated by the police, they refused Mr Powell’s request to secure Robbie’s Morriston hospital computer records. Therefore, on 23 March 1995, Mr Powell’s solicitor requested the computer records from West Glamorgan Health Authority’s solicitors. It took them until the 6 March 1996, almost a year, to respond. It was claimed that the computer systems at Morriston hospital had been changed in 1991 and again in 1994 and that the only information now on the computer was Robbie’s name, address and age.

Mr Powell claims that Bevan Ashford solicitors, who acted for Morriston hospital, misled him about the computer systems being changed in 1991 and 1994. Also, Mr Powell had written to a member of Morriston Hospital staff who claimed to have checked the alleged forged Clinical Summary Sheet after it was apparently typed by a trainee. But she missed several significant errors between the handwritten sheet and the typed version. After Powell wrote to her, Bevan Ashford Solicitors threatened Mr Powell with a court order to prevent him asking further questions.

In 1997, Mr Powell made further enquiries about the computer systems at Morriston hospital and received the following information from the Head of Information Technology, JR Parkhouse:

  • Parkhouse claimed the initial computer system was introduced in 1984 and was not replaced until December 1995. This was nine months after Mr Powell’s solicitor requested copies of Robbie’s computer records. This contradicts Bevan Ashford Solicitors’ claim that the computer systems had been changed in 1991 and 1994.
  • Only data from January 1994 onwards was downloaded from the 1984 system to the new 1995 system. Therefore, the only computer records that are available go back to January 1994. If correct, 10 years of patients’ data was destroyed.
  • The new system was implemented on 11 December 1995 and the old system decommissioned on 31 December 1995.

In August 1997, a letter was sent to the headquarters at Morriston hospital, from a third party, regarding their computer systems. The letter was forwarded to Parkhouse for response. But on this occasion, he stated the following:

  • When the computer systems were changed, they transferred in totality all the information into the new system: “In cases where two years had elapsed since the episode had been completed only an episodic summary was transferred. So the earliest information held on the current system goes back to 1984”.

This suggests that Robbie’s computer records would have been available when formally requested by the Powells’ solicitor in March 1995. It begs the question why were they not provided if they would have proven the Addison’s letter did not exist and the current Clinical Summary Sheet was authentic? Furthermore, and contrary to Parkhouse’s initial assertion, Robbie’s computer records would still have been transferred to the new system in December 1995, even if they were later summarised.

In 2012, it was confirmed, following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, that the 1984 Morriston hospital computer system was actually backed up at the time the new system was being replaced in December 1995. Again, this suggests that Robbie’s computer records should still exist.

Police inaction? Or police deception?

In May 2014, Mr Powell again raised his serious concerns about the Addison’s letter and Robbie’s computer records with South Wales Police. He also formally requested that they secure the records from Morriston hospital. They refused to do so. But when the matter was considered subsequently by South Wales Police, following a request by the Director of Public Prosecutions to secure a formal statement from Mr Powell, which still hasn’t been taken two years on, it was agreed that Robbie’s computer records would be secured from Morriston hospital.

After Mr Powell and his family completed and signed authorisation forms to secure all the paper and computer records at Morriston hospital, they were provided to an individual that Mr Powell believes may have been complicit in the initial cover up. He was given a month to produce them. But when Mr Powell informed the police officers that there was a conflict of interest regarding this individual, the forms were provided to another Morriston hospital employee.

But it came to light subsequently that the Powells’ Morriston hospital computer records were not secured by South Wales Police and the investigation was closed without further enquiries or discussion with Mr Powell. South Wales Police have confirmed that there is no evidence to substantiate the existence of the Addison’s letter and the CPS has taken the same view, which contradicts the available evidence referred to above. Mr Powell made a formal complaint against the South Wales police officers in June 2015 regarding this matter, which is still ongoing.

Another glaring conflict of interest?

There is also a conflict of interest within another report. This time by the Welsh government. In July 2012, Nicolas David Jones, a barrister appointed on behalf of the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, produced a report into Robbie’s case. In it he stated that:

  • It is very unlikely that the Addison’s letter, and an additional letter Mr Powell claims were present in Robbie’s medical records, actually existed.
  • That he believed the hospital’s computer records were indeed all destroyed on 31 December 1995.

ND Jones was previously a junior counsel to Carwyn Jones, in his capacity as Counsel General, in 2007. He was then reappointed in 2009, and in 2012, seemingly having a close relationship with the First Minister. Mr Powell takes issue with ND Jones’ conclusions. His claim that the Addison’s letter didn’t exist means, if true, that Mr Powell and his witness to the letter, the Reverend Thomas, conspired to create the existence of the Addison’s letter. Mr Powell completely denies this. And he was never charged for attempting to pervert the course of justice, despite having specifically invited the police to do so on more than one occasion.

Furthermore, there is a problem regarding ND Jones’ claim that the hospital computer records had been destroyed on 31 December 1995. Mr Powell has evidence in writing that ND Jones was fully aware from the disclosed documents that Parkhouse, the IT Manager at Morriston hospital, had accepted in 1997 that computer records were still available from 1984 onwards. It was also subsequently proven by Mr Powell that ND Jones had failed to contact Morriston Hospital with regards to Robbie’s computer records.

A state sanctioned cover up?

It is Mr Powell’s belief that Robbie’s Morriston hospital computer records hold the key to proving that the Addison’s letter actually existed. He sees it as very suspicious that two police forces and the CPS have refused to secure vital computer records, as evidence, or provide an explanation as to why Robbie’s computer records were singled out and deleted after the Powells’ solicitor formally requested a copy of the same.

Misinformation has been provided by health authorities, police forces and even a cabinet minister. Several pieces of vital evidence have either vanished, been withheld or not been disclosed. Just what are the authorities in the tragic case of Robbie Powell trying to hide?

All evidence cited in this article has been seen by The Canary.

The Canary will be working with the Powell family on a further investigation into Robbie’s tragic death. You can read Part One of this article here; Part Two here; and all other articles in The Canary’s series here.

This article was updated at 7pm on Friday 2 December to reflect an error with a date.

Get Involved

– Read more on Robbie’s tragic story.

– Write to your MP, asking them to intervene in the case.

– Support the family on Facebook.

Featured image via the Powell family

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed