Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by Dr G J S Herdman (CA 57)

  I was for thirty odd years the Medical Officer at Ty Mawr School, first under the Home Office and then the local Authority. I have since retirement had to give evidence in three trials. The experience so disgusted me that I wrote to the Home Office twice about the way the evidence was gathered and presented.

  Enclosed is a summary of my duties at the school and you will see that we kept a very tight eye on the boys' physical state. I cannot, of course, speak for any other school. I was questioned by the police once—I was in the garden and the whole interview was conducted on my vegetable patch. At no stage was I questioned about my regime at the school.

  I belong to one of the oldest professions (not the oldest) and the dangers of false witnesses is well known hence my policy over the whole period of never seeing a boy alone especially now we have this policy of universal compensation.

  The other aspect that I deplore is one lie reinforcing another to be true—a policy first invented by Dr Goebbels.

  I realise that you have a very difficult task because homosexuality exists as do other sexual crimes. One of the defendants at one trial admitted buggery. There was no rape or any other trauma as many of these boys had in the past rented themselves out so nothing was brought to my notice.

  I would urge you to look very carefully at compensation.


  When I started at Ty Mawr in 1955 it was an approved school under the Home Office and I was briefed by a Home Office M.O. as to my duties. The School specialised at that time in boys of low mental ability and drew from the south west of England and Wales.

  I have a firm grasp of the overall picture of events in the school but fine detail is blurred. However, the important and the unusual, as it does in everyday life, stands out clearly in my mind.

  All boys were first admitted to Kingswood Classifying School near Bristol. Here among other things they had a complete medical check the results of which were entered on a medical record together with a list of any defects found. This record card was made of thin card folded in two to an overall size of slightly less than A4. The first page contained the boys name, immunisation history and past illnesses: page two contained on the left a list of the various body systems and the rest of the page was divided into columns so that the top contained the date of the full examination and the rest either ticks or crosses depending on the state of the system under examination. There were some nine or ten of these columns. Page three and four were used to record the boys medical progress whilst at the school. At the bottom of page four were columns to record the boys weight and height every three months which was checked every three months in conjunction with quarterly medical.

  Every boy was on my NHS list but for the convenience of the school I held a weekly surgery there. Every time a boy was seen it was recorded in a large book the entry of which was copied into the boys school medical record (pages three and four). All copies of referral letters and reports were stored in the boys NHS record (kept at the main surgery).

  On arrival at the school I perused the results of the classifying school medical and repeated it. Any defects which would affect the boys school career were reported to the Headmaster, those correctable were referred for treatment. The full medical examination was repeated every anniversary of the boy's entry and again on leaving.

  Every three months was the quarterly medical when I looked at every boy in the school from top to toe, back and front, naked. I also inspected the punishment book and signed it. When the school passed under the care of the local authority I continued the quarterly examinations as it enabled me to keep a sharp eye on the overall state of health of the school, also to spot any bullying and to act as a safeguard for the staff against any malicious allegations. I might say at this stage I never saw a boy at Ty Mawr alone just as I was careful to have a witness in my ordinary practice when examining female patients.

  There was somewhat higher incidence of trauma among these boys than a similar cross section outside due to their lower mental ability and the fact that much of their curricula was of a manual nature. There was among the boys on entry a high incidence of self inflicted tattoos.

  During the thirty years I was at Ty Mawr I never saw any evidence of assault on a boy by a member of staff nor any evidence of excessive caning.

February 2002


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