Newspaper Articles & News
Keeping you updated with Lake Alice in the news,
Lake Alice staff need to be accountable
Stuff | Friday, 17th July 2012
Victor Boyd is still battling after 30 years to get justice for former child patients at the Lake Alice psychiatric hospital.
The Shore resident started helping former patients after touring the hospital and protesting about conditions in the 1970s. Mr Boyd was living in Wanganui and knew people who had been patients.
"I saw a huge injustice because they were children they were not being listened to, despite complaining about it," he says. "The aftermath is trying to get justice and accountability," he says.
During his research he interviewed 50 former patients and staff and took statements from about 30 people, including two former staff members at the hospital that closed in the late 1970s.
In 2001 the government began apologising and paying compensation to former patients.
But Mr Boyd says one of the key unresolved issues is that former staff haven't been told what they did was wrong. He says this is important for all New Zealanders, not just the victims.
"Such horrific things happened at Lake Alice, there should be accountability."
Many people have been traumatised for life by their experiences in the child and adolescent unit at the hospital, he says. Mr Boyd has self funded his research and sent reports to the United Nations during its investigations. He is now writing a history of the issues at Lake Alice.
UN asks Govt to re-open hospital abuse probe
NZ Herald | Wednesday, 23rd May 2012
The United Nations has sent the Government a please-explain letter over the stalled police investigation into claims of child torture at the former Lake Alice psychiatric hospital.
The UN's committee against torture has raised concerns over the police decision to end its investigation in 2009 without prosecuting any staff of the now-closed hospital near Wanganui.
Ex-patients and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights - a psychiatry watchdog linked to the Church of Scientology - complained to the UN over what they consider a lack of justice for victims.
A representative of the UN committee, Felice Gaer, asks in her letter if the Government "intends to carry out an impartial investigation into the nearly 200 allegations of torture and ill-treatment against minors at Lake Alice" and prosecute and punish the perpetrators. She asks if there will be an independent review of the "sufficiency" of the police investigation, if there will be a probe into claims the police failed to interview some complainants, and if the investigation will be re-opened. A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said last night the Government would respond but declined to give an indication of what it might say. Ex-patient Paul Zentveld yesterday rejoiced at what he took as the support of the world body. "I said we were going to the UN and everyone laughed. Three and a half years later and look at this. I'm so happy," said Mr Zentveld, 51, who was admitted to the hospital's child and adolescent unit five times between the ages of 12 and 16. He told the committee in a letter that he had been tortured at the unit, which operated from 1972 to 1977 under the authority of psychiatrist Dr Selwyn Leeks.
Dr Leeks, who later shifted to Melbourne, was about to face a charge of unprofessional conduct from a Victorian medical authority but surrendered his medical licence on the eve of the hearings in 2006. Separately, an Australian court ordered him to pay $55,000 in damages to a woman patient for sexually abusing her.
In 2001, the Government began apologising and paying compensation, which eventually exceeded $10 million, to more than 180 former Lake Alice child patients, including $115,000 for Mr Zentveld.
A report by retired High Court judge Sir Rodney Gallen said they had been subjected to a behaviour modification programme which he labelled a regime of "terror". More than 30 victims made complaints to the police against Dr Leeks and other former staff members. But the police decided they had no evidence of criminal offending.
Lake Alice Hospital child and adolescent unit:
* Operated 1972-77
* Patients subjected to electric shock "therapy" as behaviour modification
* They say it was a form of torture
* Retired judge said it was "terror"
* 2001 - Government apologises, pays compensation
* 2009 - police cease investigation, no prosecutions
* 2012 - UN seeks answers.
Judge wants abuse cases resolved out of court
Dominion | Wednesday 27 April 2011
Only six of more than 500 claims have so far gone to a full hearing and all of those were dismissed.
The claims filed in court are for the effects of alleged psychological, sexual, and physical abuse said to have happened as early as the 1950s. They cover social welfare institutions, psychiatric hospitals, defence force settings, and a small number in private or religious institutions.
The first four claims to go to trial cost an average of $356,500 in legal aid, and more than a month of court hearing time each. Money problems have complicated the process of getting other claims ready for trial.
Legal aid issues have spawned their own court cases as claimants challenge aid being withdrawn and the Legal Services Agency, which administers the legal aid system, challenges review panel decisions to reinstate legal aid grants. In the latest of the legal aid decisions from the High Court at Wellington, Justice Robert Dobson has asked the Solicitor-General, David Collins, QC, to consider recommending to the Government an alternative way of resolving the outstanding claims. One way or another, all aspects of the cases were being pursued at the taxpayer's expense, he said. Many of them, whether the complaints were genuine or not, seemed to be only barely capable of being decided by a court, the judge said. The Social Development Ministry has set up a claims resolution team that the judge was told had settled 23 claims against the former Social Welfare Department and 29 against non-government organisations.
Other undisclosed options for dealing with the remaining claims were suggested to the Government more than a year ago, with no decision announced.
At least one lawyer for the claimants favours a process such as the one used to settle the grievances of former child and adolescent patients of Lake Alice psychiatric hospital. An apology was given and more than $10 million shared among more than 180 former patients.
Before Dr Collins was appointed solicitor-general, he was the adviser for former patients during the process nearly 10 years ago in which they spoke confidentially to retired judge Sir Rodney Gallen, who allocated payments.
A spokesman for Dr Collins said alternative ways of settling the current outstanding claims were being looked at afresh in light of Justice Dobson's recent comments.
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson did not respond to requests for comment.
Justice Dobson said many claimants may be seeking an outcome not achievable in the court process – an acknowledgment of responsibility by those who committed a wrong.
Read the interview with Victor Boyd from September's Blog
Lake Alice recalled
Stuff | Wednesday, 21 April 10
The story begins in 1986 when Peter, a paranoid schizophrenic, had gone off his medication and had a "terrible fight" with police on the streets of Palmerston North. He was thrown into the acute unit of Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital in Rangitikei where he stayed for three months. The institution, which has been the subject of numerous historic abuse allegations, was a scary place, says Peter. "The worst thing about Lake Alice was the boredom," he says. He remembers being forced to stay awake, despite the heavy medication which made patients sleepy. All I wanted to do was lie down or have a private shower," he says. The second half of Blue Messiah covers the two years after he was discharged from Lake Alice and compares his time in the hospital with his recovery in the community. He says receiving occupational therapy and being able to chat for a couple of hours a week over a cup of tea with fellow sufferers made a world of difference. Having something like that is all you need to get you through. It improves your quality of life."Peter was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 26 and has spent the last 20 years of his life in and out of "unwellness" and various hospitals and mental health facilities. He says it's been a constant struggle to establish the right medication and stay on it. Once you come well again you tend to forget some of the thoughts. But I'm a happier person when I'm on medication," he says.
The 52-year-old Grey Lynn resident says he's been well for the last three years and the right dose of medication has enabled him to complete the book and attend creative writing classes at the Toi Ora Live Arts Trust, the publisher of his book. Toi Ora manager Erwin van Asbeck says funding for the book has come from the Frozen Funds Trust. The trust was established in 2008 to distribute grants from a $5 million fund, originating from interest accrued on patients welfare benefits while they were institutionalised during the 1970s and 80s.
More than half the money was returned to its owners in the 1990s and the rest is used as grants for mental health projects and services.
Erwin says mental health has come a long way in the last 30 years, with a focus now on community care. There's much more awareness," he says. Patients don't necessarily end up going to hospital." The book is being launched tomorrow at Alleluya cafe in St Kevin's Arcade, Karangahape Rd, at 5.30pm.
It's time to move on, says Lake Alice child patient
Dominion | Saturday, 17 April 10
A former child patient of Lake Alice psychiatrist Selwyn Leeks says she is sick of reading the same stories complaining about him and the hospital in the 1970s.
"It should finish now," the 52-year-old says. "I was there when I was 13, 14, 15, and Leeks was my doctor too. The woman acknowledges terrible things happened at Lake Alice and that the boys were treated more harshly than the few girls, but harking back to it all the time made recovery impossible, she says. This month police said they would not try to charge Dr Leeks, now aged about 80, based on the complaints of 40 former patients. Complainants say they have been denied a public inquiry of alleged mistreatment and abuse at the hospital near Marton.
Although other staff were also accused, complainants focused on wanting Dr Leeks charged because he headed the adolescent unit until 1978. Dr Leeks then moved to Australia and the unit closed.
Dozens of former patients still have civil claims against the Crown awaiting hearing in the High Court. In 2001-2002 the government apologised to 180 former patients and they shared about $10 million after a High Court judge's inquiry.
"I got a payment, but what is it? It's dirty money," says the woman, who wants the case closed. "They contacted me. I didn't put a claim in." She had been persuaded to accept $63,000 after initially not wanting to be involved. Even though she and her family needed money at the time she gave half to the Salvation Army. She did not want to buy anything lasting from the rest that would remind her of the past. "If I bought something with it, it would be a memory of what happened. It was not going to change what had happened, help me move on.
"The woman says she was sent to Lake Alice because she was a state ward and there was nowhere else for her to go. "We all had horror stories in our own lives before we got there."She was given electro-convulsive treatment, or shock treatment for nightmares. "I would have terrible pictures of things from my past, even during the day. And I could smell things [from the past]." The treatment blotted out her memories. Eventually they returned but she found them easier to deal with. I don't think I could have got over what I had without ECT. It seems to clear your mind out. I felt more able to cope with the memories when they came back gradually."
Some things should not have happened, she says. The social welfare department should never have put children in a psychiatric hospital. "We were like the lost children but there was nowhere else for us to go. ECT should not have been used experimentally on children. She does not remember anyone saying at the time that they had electric shocks applied to their genitals. "The thing we were robbed of most, for those of us there a long time, was social skills. We did not have a lot of contact with the outside world so we had our own code of right and wrong."
But she also has good memories of Lake Alice. The children lived there as a family, they got an education, played softball and had movie nights.
She does not remember Dr Leeks as he is now portrayed in the complaints. "I am sick of reading the same stories. There was another
side to that. He did the best with what he had. "There was a gentle side to Selwyn. He would come and play sports with us after dinner and Mrs Leeks would come and take me to her place. I think that was part of the plan getting ready for me to get out. Dr Leeks gave her money – which she thought came from his own pocket – when she turned 16, put her on a bus to Auckland and told her to contact social welfare when she arrived. If he had not done that, she would have been sent to Porirua psychiatric hospital, which he said would have been far worse for her. Her life after Lake Alice was not straightforward. She got work but she also served a prison sentence for fraud. She was married and had children.
Psychotherapy helped her cope with the past. "It was not easy. I spent years and years getting over it. 'She thinks the continuing complaints of former patients are holding them back, and they should stop dredging up history. "They are not doing anything with their lives. It should finish now. "Selwyn's an old man. If he got to court, nothing would happen. It has gone round in circles. And who pays for all these things? We do as taxpayers, and nothing will come of it."
Justice remains to be done over Lake Alice
Dominion | Tuesday, 6 April 10
Not just wrong then, but wrong now, because 32 years later those who accuse him show no sign of backing down on their claims. In 1977, police investigated a complaint that three years earlier staff had given two boys, then aged 12 and 13, electric shocks on the legs using the same equipment used for electro-convulsive therapy, or ECT. It was claimed the painful shocks were used as a form of punishment. Police spent seven months looking at allegations of mistreatment at the hospital before issuing a brief statement saying they had found no evidence of criminal misconduct.
Last week police again dismissed complaints, this time from 40 people who wanted criminal charges laid for acts committed at the unit, and not just by Dr Leeks. The complaints had stacked up over many years. Some were dismissed in 2005 only to be revived when more surfaced, but the result was the same. A complaint to the United Nations is now planned. Dr Leeks, now aged about 80, left New Zealand a week before the result of the 1977-78 police inquiry was made public. It was reported that he had gone to Melbourne to work as a child psychiatrist.
At the time Mason Durie, then director of the Palmerston North Hospital psychiatric unit, said it was a "major loss" and that Dr Leeks had borne the brunt of a lot of bad publicity and "snide innuendo". "He was surprised and disappointed at the publicity. It certainly did play a part in his decision to leave," Dr Durie was quoted as saying. Dr Leeks had been working for the Palmerston North Hospital Board since January 1971 when he had returned from studying overseas.
Past patient, now 51, was sent to Lake Alice Hospital as a 12-year-old for bad behaviour, and because there was nowhere else for children like him. He spent nearly three years at Lake Alice under Dr Leeks' care.
"A lot of people have called him a sadist and I believe that could be true." At first he saw Dr Leeks as a quietly spoken father-figure. "But then you would realise what a prick he was." Dr Leeks lived in the hospital grounds near the adolescent unit and the children would see him coming and going. He made a regular Friday visit to the unit but also came at other times to get his "shock box" to administer ECT in other units or to children. Mr Banks said Dr Leeks taught unqualified staff to use ECT and it was they who would use it on the children's legs and genitals.
"He was around enough to know what was happening," Mr Banks said.
Dr Leeks gave it only on the head, sometimes using a muscle relaxant. "He has given me a lot of nightmares. My head is not where it should be."
Mr Banks complained in the 1970s. He gave evidence to an inquiry and thought he was believed. The unit closed after Dr Leeks left in 1978, but nothing else was done.
In Parliament in May 1977 an MP presented the statement of a professional person who had direct contact with staff and patients at the unit for three years. The witness said that at the end of each week the psychiatrist responsible for the unit visited, met staff and discussed the behavior of the children.
"Children whose conduct had been difficult or unacceptable were on this basis selected for ECT treatment as an aversive form of punishment, and so perceived by the children concerned. But Dr Leeks said the allegation was "arrant rubbish". He thought the terms treatment and punishment became "awfully mixed up at times". His public statements about the claims made against him have been infrequent. On legal advice he refused to be interviewed for the latest police inquiry.
In 2001-02 the government paid out more than $10 million and apologised to 180 former patients of the adolescent unit after a private inquiry into the patients' claims. In 2001, Dr Leeks told The Dominion the unit had done the best it could with the staff it had. Any further inquiry would be "more of the same", based on what happened in 1977. "I guess being the one in charge I'm the obvious one to hunt down. "But of the four or five hundred children that came into the unit ... some were very discontented with what happened and there is a lot that's been said that's not true."In 2002, he told a reporter he was not bothered that complaints were laid with police. "I'm not worried. This has all been dealt with before. And I'm still practising." At the time he was running a private psychiatric practice in Melbourne.
But pressure from the College of Psychiatrists was mounting. The college called on anyone adversely affected to complain to the professional disciplinary bodies for psychiatrists in either New Zealand or Victoria.
"The prime minister and the health minister in New Zealand have seen fit to apologise and to compensate the former `patients' of the service operated by Dr Leeks," the college's executive director, Craig Glenroy Patterson, said.
"And yet despite everything they have been through and all the allegations being made publicly about their experiences, no investigation into the role played by this doctor in the alleged practices has been successfully completed."
ON the eve of the long-awaited hearing into his professional conduct in 2006, Dr Leeks stopped all forms of medical practice and undertook not to start again, anywhere. On that basis the Victoria Medical Practitioners Board did not proceed with the hearing. In 2008 he lost an appeal against a $55,000 award to a woman a court accepted he had sexually assaulted in 1979-80. He was photographed outside court but has since gone to ground and could not be contacted for this article.
Steve Greene, executive director of Citizens Commission on Human Rights, said that at least nine complainants had not been interviewed by police as part of their latest inquiry. The commission had also sent "screeds" of evidence to police, but had been told it was not wanted, Mr Greene said. It would now refer victims' statements to the United Nations. "The key thing about this is justice is not being seen to be done.
Tuesday, 30th March 10
'Abused' Lake Alice patient turns to UN
Dominion/Stuff | Wednesday, 31st March 10
"There were crimes committed. The truth needs to come out," Palmerston North man Past patient, 51, said yesterday. Mr Banks was among 40 people whose complaints police refuse to turn into criminal charges against Dr Leeks, now aged about 80. Police confirm they spoke to Dr Leeks but, after taking legal advice, he declined to be interviewed. Complaints about mistreatment at Lake Alice's child and adolescent unit near Wanganui focused on Dr Leeks, a doctor at the unit from 1972. It was closed in 1978.
Some of the former patients were sent there only because there was nowhere else for them to go. They said they received ECT shock treatment and painful injections as punishment, not treatment.
Mr Banks had confronted Dr Leeks in Melbourne in the 1990s when he was still working as a psychiatrist. The recording of that meeting secretly made for a television programme formed part of the complaint against Dr Leeks. Mr Banks also made statements to police in 2001 and 2005. The police decision not to charge Dr Leeks was obviously disappointing but was expected, Mr Banks said. "I'm trying not to let it eat at me. There is nowhere else to go so now we go to the United Nations. All avenues in New Zealand have to be tried before the United Nations will consider a human rights complaint. After receiving assistant police commissioner Malcolm Burgess's letter, Mr Banks rang him on Monday. "He never gave me much at all, it was just denial after denial."
Mr Banks said he wanted to know why the Government paid out more than $10 million to about 180 former Lake Alice patients in 2001 and 2002 if nothing had happened. He said Mr Burgess told him one problem was to draw the line between treatment and punishment. But how can electric shocks on a boy's genitals be treatment?" Mr Banks said. Police say its own legal section reviewed the decision not to prosecute. The case was then referred to Christchurch lawyer Pip Hall, who agreed there was not enough evidence. Even if police had decided to charge Dr Leeks, grounds existed for an application in court to stop the charges based on repeated inquiries into the events at Lake Alice without charges being laid, and witnesses not available through death or disability, Mr Burgess' letter to Mr Banks had said.
1972: Child and adolescent unit set up at Lake Alice psychiatric hospital near Wanganui.
1977: Selwyn Leeks leaves the unit and moves to Australia after an investigation found that a 15-year-old boy given ECT was done a grave injustice.
1978: The unit closes.
2001 and 2002: The Government apologises and gives 180 former patients at the unit about $10 million to settle claims.
2005: Police say they will not act against Dr Leeks, based on the complaints of 20 former patients.
2006: Dr Leeks agrees to stop working as a psychiatrist, heading off a professional disciplinary committee hearing of complaints against him.
2008: Dr Leeks loses appeal against a $55,000 court award to a former patient whom he sexually assaulted in Australia in 1979 and 1980.
2010: Police refuse to lay charges based on complaints from 40 former Lake Alice patients.
Lake Alice to become a backpackers
Yahoo!Xtra News | Tuesday, 30th March 10
The hospital has been closed for 11 years and was thrown into the spotlight after allegations against the centre's doctor, Selwyn Leeks.
Police announced this morning that no charges would be laid against Dr Leeks, based on insufficient evidence.
Real estate agent Diana Hansen, who is marketing the property, is pleased a decision has been made.
"That's gone to rest. Lake Alice had a stigma before."
Ms Hansen believes the 24 roomed administration block will be used as a backpackers' hostel.
Lake Alice inquiry: no charges to be laid
Yahoo!Xtra News| Tuesday, March 30th 10
Forty people complained about being given shock treatment and injections of the drug paraldehyde as punishment.
Despite a lengthy investigation, the man at the centre of thee allegations, Dr Selwyn Leeks, will not face prosecution.
The police investigated medical records, interviewed witnesses and complainants and looked at the Ombudsman's and Commission of Inquiry investigations in 1977. Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess says the time delay made the investigation difficult, as many records had been lost or destroyed and key witnesses have died or could not recall accurately.
Ex-patient Paul Zentveld is pleased the police investigation has come to an end, because now the United Nations can look into the case.
Mr Zentveld says he was kept in the loop with the investigation, so the result is not a surprise. He says they needed to exhaust all resources here before taking it to the UN.
"The police required 100 percent proof. They only had 75. The Nazis, when they were all rounded up, they didn't need 100 percent proof. So this has just been an ongoing battle with police and Government departments, but in the end the truth will win. It always does."
Mr Zentveld says he is glad it is over, because now they can start to move on.
"The investigation took so long. The UN cannot do a thing unless all the resources are exhausted, which is a great victory for us the claimants, all the families that have been affected, all the ones that have died. There are so many people involved - and a lot of pain."
Mr Zentveld says he is feeling confident about the UN investigatio
Lake Alice abuse group to take case to UN
Stuff |Tuesday, 30th March 10
Police said today their investigation into treatment of patients at the hospital, near Marton in the Rangitkei, had come to a close with no criminal charges being laid against the man at the centre of complaints, Dr Selwyn Leeks.
Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said that, despite a lengthy investigation, police had decided there was insufficient evidence on which to mount a prosecution. Dr Leeks headed the hospital's child and adolescent unit, which closed in the late 1970s, before heading to Australia to continue practising.
He was accused of punishing patients at Lake Alice with electric shocks (ECT) and painful drug injections. The police inquiry was made more difficult by the delay in having these matters investigated, Mr Burgess said. "These events happened over 30 years ago. Some witnesses have died, others were unable to accurately recall events to the level of detail required, some records and original files that may have assisted the inquiry have been lost or destroyed."
A former patient and founder of the group Survivors of Lake Alice, Paul Zentveld, told Radio New Zealand they could not take their case to the UN until the police had closed their investigation.
"So now we can move forward."
Mr Zentveld said he underwent 92 ECT over five years.
"And each session is not just once, there's like three sessions in each one."
He said he was also tortured for wetting the bed.
"The medical knowledge was just not there and we paid for it in the way of pain."
The group was taking their case to the UN because it was about "torture to children". They wanted accountability and justice for those subjected to the abuse at the hospital, Mr Zentveld said.
Wellington lawyer John Edwards, who represented a large number of patients in the 1990s and is still involved in the issue, said it would have been difficult for the police to bring individual prosecutions.
"There's a number of very difficult aspects to bringing a prosecution - one being the availability of evidence over such a long time. You've got difficulties with the frailty of some of the patients and lack of documentation."
There was also a hurdle with the Mental Health Act 1969, which provided an immunity for anything that was treatment, Mr Edwards said.
"If Dr Leeks could raise a doubt that what he was doing was a form of treatment, there would not be a prosecution."
However, Mr Edwards said that by the standards of his contemporaries, Dr Leeks' practices were "way out of whack".
In 2001, the Government apologised and paid compensation to a group of former patients of Dr Leeks' unit.
It later extended this to a second group, bringing to $10.7 million the total paid to 183 people.
A special forum heard accounts of ill-treatment suffered by patients between 1940 and 1992.
Its report said 493 people came to the forum, most of them former patients with tales of the neglect and abuse they suffered, either at the hands of other patients or staff members.
The forum was set up after several former patients went public with accounts of their miserable lives in the hospitals.
The forum's report did not identify any of the former patients and did not publish individual accounts of life in any of the hospitals, but it did present the common themes it said had emerged.
* many had been afraid of other patients or staff, and had suffered or witnessed physical or sexual abuse;
* they said staff had been callous, threatening or abusive, and they were often told they would never recover, never get a job or have children;
* most felt they had little choice about the treatment they received, and said they were cajoled or bullied into agreeing to have electric shock treatment; and
* those who were in the hospitals as children or adolescents described their desolate lives. Many said they had not known why they were there.
Water Tower Sold
Radio NZ | Friday, 19th March 10
The hospital housed the country's only secure unit for the criminally insane.
Most of the 56ha property was turned into farmland after plans for a subdivision failed. Marton real estate agent Diana Hansen, who has been marketing some of the remaining buildings, says a couple from Wanganui bought the old three-storey water tower to refurbish as a home.
But no buyers have been tempted so far by the 24-room administration block and a four-bedroom house on a 2ha block.
Minister presents report to Human Rights Committee
Scoop | Wednesday, 17 March 2010
The presentation took place on Tuesday at midday and the early hours of Wednesday morning, New Zealand time.
He headed New Zealand's delegation, which included New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jim McClay, as well as officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Crown Law Office, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Labour.
Mr Power made an opening statement that addressed New Zealand’s recent human rights record, the challenges facing New Zealand, and some of the Government’s initiatives to assist vulnerable New Zealanders. He then addressed specific questions from members of the Human Rights Committee.
“I appreciated the open and constructive manner in which New Zealand’s human rights situation was discussed with the Human Rights Committee," Mr Power said.
“It's important to front up with our own situation so we can credibly discuss the challenges facing us and other countries."
The Covenant is the principal international human rights treaty affirming fundamental civil and political rights. New Zealand is required to report periodically on how the Covenant obligations are being implemented domestically.
New Zealand submitted its Fifth Periodic Report to the Human Rights Committee in December 2007. The presentation of that report was the culmination of an iterative reporting process, during which the committee considered the report and posed written questions. Mr Power responded to those questions today. The committee will release its concluding observations to New Zealand shortly.
All of the publicly available documents relating to the Fifth Periodic Report are available online at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs98.htm.
Govt looks to settle historic abuse cases
NZ Herald | Thursday, 25th February 10
Ministers were given confidential advice before Christmas about how to settle a wide range of long-running claims of abuse in psychiatric hospitals, welfare homes and other institutions, Crown Health Finance Agency officials told the health select committee.
Agency property manager Lynn Martin told MPs there was a large number of claims against a range of government entities.
"The recommendation was that we might look at offering a wellness payment, and it's pretty confidential at the moment," Ms Martin said.
"There are a number of government agencies that have historic abuse claims, and we are dealing with them on a whole-of-government approach and just prior to Christmas we put up a recommendation to ministers and also a report on how we are going with managing those claims."
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson is co-ordinating the Government's policy response to the historic abuse claims, and his spokesman confirmed the agency was one of those giving advice. No decisions had been taken and ministers were set to consider the issue in March.
In May 2007, the Queensland Government set up a A$100 million ($129 million) redress fund in response to an inquiry into the abuse of children in Queensland institutions. The scheme provided for payments ranging between A$7000 and A$40,000 to people who experienced abuse and neglect.
More than 10,200 applications were received by the closing date in 2008, with more than 7400 applications being paid.
In New Zealand figures differ on how many people might be eligible for payments. The Attorney-General's office said 527 claims were before the High Court, but no consideration had been given to how much could be offered to settle the claims.
It was recently reported that more than $11 million of state-funded legal aid had been approved or already paid to pursue hundreds of historic abuse compensation claims. Few of the claims have been heard despite some being filed almost 10 years ago. The Dominion Post reported that the Legal Services Agency, which administers legal aid, said more than 900 people had asked for legal aid to sue for the damage they said decades-old psychological, physical and sexual abuse caused them. Claims were still being filed.
Legal aid for about 50 people was refused at the outset and about 300 more had either dropped their claims or had legal aid withdrawn after it was initially granted, the agency told the newspaper.
It began reconsidering funding in the wake of the first few claims failing. When legal aid was withdrawn for some claimants, the withdrawal decisions were taken to a review panel and then on appeal to the High Court.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture has asked the Government what it is doing to ensure the allegations are investigated, perpetrators prosecuted and victims compensated and rehabilitated.
Torture doesn't stop for boys home claimant
The Dominion Post | Wednesday, 3rd February 10
He says he was bashed, sexually assaulted and given electro-convulsive therapy as punishment. And now, more than 30 years later, he does not know why people he says were responsible have not been exposed and why he has not received fair compensation for the damage they caused in his life.
"I have such a clear cut case, I don't know why they have struck me out," Mr Banks says of a decision that his claim for $5 million compensation cannot continue. "I can't go out and earn an income - I want someone to pay for that."
Now 51, the Palmerston North man says money is not his only goal. "I want them exposed. They need to be named and shamed; there needs to be a mark against their names."
For four months in 1973, in between spells in Lake Alice, Mr Banks, then 14, was sent to Epuni Boys' Home in Lower Hutt for preventive supervision. The home closed in the 1990s.
He was scared that an ECT machine like the one at Lake Alice would appear so he locked himself in the toilet. A staff member sexually assaulted him and he was beaten up so often he was sent back to Lake Alice.
He was tortured then and he is being tortured again now, he said. He has been diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder, as well as anxiety and depressive symptoms.
In 2006, he started a civil case against the Social Welfare Department. More than three years later, a judge has ruled his claim cannot proceed. His allegations were denied generally, but the frontline defence was that his claim was brought too late.
Like many of the more than 900 others who have made claims for historic abuse in various kinds of institutions - mostly psychiatric hospitals, welfare homes, and military training schools - he has run up against the Limitation Act.
It imposes a two-year window within which to launch some types of civil claims. That window can be widened to six years in some circumstances.
The Limitation Act timeframes can be changed in cases where a person was not immediately able to link an event with the mental or physical damage they say resulted, or that they were under a disability, for instance a mental illness, that meant they could not start proceedings earlier.
The emergence of so many historic abuse claims has led to refinements in this part of the law.
But Justice Gendall said that, in Mr Banks' case, the difficult legal questions did not need further consideration because there was no evidence to back up his claim that he could not, and did not, link his psychological damage to events at the boys' home. To avoid the Limitation Act, there needed to be an incapacity and not just "an inability to face up to the process of suing", the judge said.
Justice Gendall said that at age 18, in 1977, Mr Banks had complained to mental health authorities about the Lake Alice events. In 1999, he joined with a group of former patients who won an out-of-court settlement.
But the judge who struck out his Epuni claim said Mr Banks should have asked for permission to bring the case about Epuni at the very latest in April 2005, and probably much earlier.
"It has cut me pretty deep," Mr Banks said. It had taken him a lifetime to get this far and he did not care if it took him till the grave to get justice.
He continues to press for criminal charges against former psychiatrist Selwyn Leeks, who administered ECT at Lake Alice. Mr Banks was instrumental in exposing him in 1999.
Dr Leeks moved to Australia in the late 1970s. In 2006, he escaped a doctors' disciplinary inquiry in Victoria by promising not to practice again.
$11m OF LEGAL AID APPROVED TO FIGHT FOR ABUSE COMPO
More than $11 million of state-funded legal aid has been approved or already paid to pursue hundreds of historic abuse compensation claims shuffling their way through the court system.
Some of the claims were first filed nearly 10 years ago but only a handful have been heard and so far no court has awarded compensation.
One lawyer, Sonja Cooper, says it would take about 150 years to hear the claims at this rate. She wants an out- of-court system to resolve the claims.
The Legal Services Agency, which administers legal aid, says more than 900 people have asked for legal aid to sue for the damage they say decades- old psychological, physical and sexual abuse caused them. Claims are still being filed.
Legal aid for about 50 people was refused at the outset and about 300 more have either dropped their claims or had legal aid withdrawn after it was initially granted, the agency says.
It began reconsidering funding in the wake of the first few claims failing. When legal aid was withdrawn for some claimants, the withdrawal decisions were taken to a review panel and then on appeal to the High Court.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture has asked the Government what it is doing to ensure the allegations are investigated, perpetrators prosecuted and victims compensated and rehabilitated.
An Auckland lawyer who has continued to represent Palmerston North man Past patient without payment after legal aid was withdrawn says it may take the Supreme Court or the UN to vindicate Patient' claims.
But the case must go to the top New Zealand court before the UN will consider it.
Evgeny Orlov says that, at its heart, the way the claimants were treated at the time and in the court system is a human rights issue. The same kind of treatment that the historic cases have raised is continuing even now. "What is left unpunished will continue to smoulder in the unconscious."
Parts of former hospital property on market
Wanganui Chronicle | Tuesday, 19th January 10
When Lake Alice Hospital closed in 1999 the property was landbanked as a Treaty of Waitangi settlement asset. However, it was later sold to a developer who then onsold it to the owner of an adjacent landowner to expand his farming operation. Now Property Brokers real estate are in the process of selling two pieces of the property by tender.
Lake Alice Hospital, or LA as it came to be known, was opened in 1950 and closed just short of 50 years later. At its peak it housed hundreds of patients and had the only maximum security psychiatric unit in New Zealand.
Lake Alice Hospital made the news again recently with further revelations about experimental treatments applied to patients there during the 1970s.
Following investigations into the treatment of child and adolescent patients during that period Government has paid out millions of dollars in compensation.
Much of the complex has already gone and the remaining villas, which had asbestos roofing, were being carefully demolished one by one.
Currently on the market are the former hospital's water tower, on 1800 square metres of land as one property and a 2ha block with the 24-room former administration block and a four-bedroom house as another.
There have been a few owners with big ideas. In the end the farmer has got the best idea, because he just basically wants to farm it," Property Brokers said.
The estate agents have been surprised by the amount of interest. Tender documents were not yet available, but they had a list of people who wanted them.
Property Brokers said two of the parties were interested in tendering for both properties. She wondered whether the Grand Designs programme on TV had piqued people's interest in converting unusual buildings.
"The tower is a bit of a landmark. It could be converted to a dwelling or studio,
It had three levels, and the water tank above had been emptied.
The administration complex had the potential for converting into a backpacker hostel or theme park. The building could be developed to comprise up to 17 bedrooms. There was plenty of asphalt for parking and separate accommodation for a caretaker in the house.
The block would need some renovation. It was a sound building but had been damaged by vandals and while being used for army exercises.
Tenders close at Property Brokers Marton office at 4pm on Friday February 12.
Buildings for Sale
Sunday, 10th January 2010
Anyone want to buy a old hospital Admin block, what about the caretakers house and a Water tower plus 2 Ha? Well here's your chance because Old McDonald has put the buildings & land up for tender.
I Wonder if any of the Villas will be next!
Shock Treatment Ban Sought
Voxy | Tuesday, 1st December 09
The Western Australian government are looking at banning the use of electroshock on children under the age of 16 years after documents revealed that children as young as 11 were being given the controversial treatment.
WA Mental Health Minister, Dr Graham Jacobs believed the treatment should not be given to children under 16, raising the proposed level from under 12 years after receiving documents from the Commission.
Figures procured by CCHR, an NGO set up by the Church of Scientology and a professor of psychiatry, revealed "less than five" children were given ECT aged between 11-15 with similar numbers in 16-17 year olds.
Although health authorities in New Zealand say shock treatment should still be used in mental health, prominent studies have revealed it causes long term damage.
"A Parliamentary Heath Select Committee looked at submissions to ban ECT on children, pregnant woman and the elderly in 2007 but did not. This needs to be looked at once again in light of what is happening in Western Australia," Commission director, Mr Steve Green said.
Electro-shock has also been widely criticised when used as punishment, especially at Lake Alice Hospital, when the Citizens Commission revealed serious allegations that are now part of a criminal investigation. Over 200 child-victims have been officially apologised and paid compensation for what was tantamount to torture in the psychiatric adolescent unit in the 1970s.
Police finally get hospital child-abuse papers
NZ Herald | Saturday, 7th November 09
Crown lawyers took statements from the former staff of the now-closed hospital near Wanganui after a damning inquiry and before the Government started paying compensation to former patients in 2001.
But the statements have not been available to the police for their investigation into child abuse and torture complaints, because of lawyers' client-secrecy rules.
Detective Superintendent Malcolm Burgess, of the Police Commissioner's Office, said yesterday that Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson had waived the legal privilege applying to six statements.
The Government's compensation payments and apologies to former patients of the hospital's child and adolescent unit, which closed in 1978, were based on the findings of retired High Court judge Sir Rodney Gallen.
His inquiry revealed allegations - most of which he accepted were true - of electric-shock therapy being used to punish children, youngsters being locked away with insane adult patients, sexual abuse and injections of paraldehyde, a sedative-hypnotic drug.
More than 30 complaints from former patients were subsequently sent to the police.
Former Lake Alice patient Paul Zentveld, who has been lobbying for the statements to be given to the police, said yesterday a government lawyer who had seen them had indicated that in the hands of the police they would inevitably lead to charges.
Mr Burgess said he had not yet read the statements so did not know "how helpful" they might be.
Awesome work Paul!!
Solitary confinement for acutely ill needs to stop
Dominion Post | Wednesday, 30th September 09
The Health Ministry's annual mental health services report for last year, made public yesterday, shows big differences in seclusion rates nationally.
Director of mental health services David Chaplow cautioned against reading too much into regional differences "as these could be due to a number of variables, including practice, size, location, population and configuration".
However, the report identified lack of appropriate facilities, staff numbers, experience and training and use of sedative drugs as the main factors behind regional differences.
Advocate Anne Helm, who experienced seclusion herself as an inpatient at Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital in the 1970s, said it was a terrifying experience for "already very distressed" people.
She remembers nurses kicking plates of food into rooms where patients lay on cold linoleum, paralysed by antipsychotic medication, and cells empty of furniture except for buckets that served as toilets.
'In those days they used to do it as punishment, to tell you who was boss ... we've come a long way and there are genuine moves by health boards to reduce the use of seclusion," Ms Helm said. "But we want total abolition."
Nationally, 16 per cent of adult inpatients (not including forensic services) experienced seclusion at least once last year, while 65 children and young people were secluded a total of 200 times.
Canterbury had the highest rate of seclusion "events" – 340 per 100,000 people – about 10 times the lowest reported rate, at Wellington's Capital and Coast.
Maori were more than twice as likely to be secluded and were locked up at nearly three times the rate.
Ms Helm said alternatives could include "time-out" for patients in a supportive environment and peer support workers offering one-on-one care.
'I'd come out angrier than when I went in'
Wellington woman Wendy Randall who has almost 40 years' experience of mental health services, has "never seen seclusion do anyone any good".
"It's scary," says the 59-year-old, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after an abusive childhood. "I would come out angrier than when I went in."
In the 1970s she was admitted to Cherry Farm in Otago, where seclusion was used as punishment.
"They would remove all your clothes, supposedly so you couldn't hurt yourself, but it was really about power and coercing you into compliance. There was no privacy, no dignity."
Last secluded about 10 years ago in Nelson after trying to leave the unit "in a disassociated state," she "came to about three days later in a locked room. I rang the bell, but no one came for ages ...
"We were there because we were unwell, but treated as though we had done something wrong."
MENTAL HEALTH OVERVIEW
The annual mental health services report shows there were:
* 3921 compulsory treatment orders.
* 6424 patients admitted to inpatient units (excluding forensic and rehab).
* 1395 patients "secluded" for between 2 minutes and 365 days.
* 203 people given electroconvulsive therapy in the year ending June 2008, of whom nearly one in five were treated without their informed consent.
Deaths: 71 people died in 2008 while under compulsory care orders, including 13 reported suicides. 20 deaths still under investigation.
Psych patients can sue Government
NZ Herald | Thursday, 17 September 09
The court today released a decision saying it had partially allowed an appeal by six former Porirua Hospital patients.
The court said the six informal patients, as opposed to committed patients, treated after March 31, 1972 could continue their legal action to sue the Government in the High Court. They were entitled to costs of $15,000.
The decision is seen as likely to determine the course of proceedings for a group of 280 claimants who were admitted, with their agreement, for treatment at various psychiatric hospitals around the country in the 1960s and 70s.
The former patients, who cannot be named, claim they were abused in various ways; hospital staff physically assaulted and sexually abused them, they were not protected from other patients, were subject to inappropriate electro-shock therapy and long periods of solitary confinement.
Warning to people going near the hospital
August | 2009
Ex Child and Adolescent unit patient dies Manawatu Standard | Saturday, 21 March 09
51-year-old Palmerston North man has drowned after being caught in a rip at Foxton Beach.
Father-of-five Michael McGregor was swimming at the beach about 2pm on Saturday when he became caught in the rip.
He was pulled from the water by another swimmer but could not be revived by ambulance officers, Police Inspector Michael Coleman said.
Mr McGregor had been staying at the Foxton Bible Camp with the Te Aroha Noa Community Services group from Palmerston North.
The group was conducting a family-based event at the bible camp over the weekend, which involved 110 children and parents.
Te Aroha Noa Community Services chief executive officer Bruce Maden said the drowning was a tragic accident at what had been a positive event.
"The family are deeply traumatised by what's happened but there has been a tremendous amount of community support for them."
Mr McGregor and his family were heavily involved in the group's activities, Mr Maden said.
The children who witnessed the drowning had been spoken to but many were too young to understand what had happened, Mr Maden said.
There were no surf lifesavers on patrol at the time, as the Foxton Surf Lifesaving Club patrol does not operate on Saturdays due to a lack of members.
Mr Maden said Mr McGregor's family wanted to prevent future drownings by appealing to local and national government for more lifeguards at Foxton Beach.
"They were keen to raise awareness to see if one of Palmerston North's key beaches can extend their lifeguard services."
The death has been referred to the coroner.
''Michael McGregor spent time in the Child and Adolescent unit the 1970's and was apart of the 2001 law suit which saw more then 100 past patients receive minor compensation for the staff patient abuse while been housed in the hospital unit.
New vision for Lake Alice
Manawatu Standard | Saturday, 7 March 09
New Lake Alice owner Jim McDonald is embarking on a huge cleanup. Decrepit buildings at the former psychiatric hospital and maximum-security unit for the criminally insane will be knocked down.
Many of them are a soggy mess, littered with debris and broken glass.
Mr McDonald has been felling trees for the past three weeks as part of a campaign to make the 54-hectare property near Bulls tidy and more suitable for dairy grazing.
A helicopter will be used to spray a gully of gorse.
"It's a big job to get my teeth into," Mr McDonald said.
"Someone needs to do it."
Mr McDonald and wife Kate own a neighbouring property, where they have fenced off stock from the lake and carried out a major weed control programme.
Their purchase ended the tenure of Paul Chapman and accountant Patrick McCormick, who acquired the site in 2006, seven years after the Government closed the psychiatric institution.
"In the short time it's been closed, it's amazing how it's deteriorated," Mr McDonald said.
"It's a nice spot though."
Aucklanders Mr Chapman and Mr McCormick had hoped to subdivide, but their development plans never got going.
Most of the buildings were now locked up.
One or two might be worth salvaging, Mr McDonald said.
The property included a hall, disused swimming pool, fire station and sealed roads. An PGG Wrightson real estate advertisement said it had a large number of buildings, "some restorable".
Mr McDonald said the site had become hazardous. He declined to say how much it cost. Thieves had stolen guttering and fittings since the institution's closure, he said, and there wasn't much of value left.
"Timber rots pretty fast once the water gets in." Still, Mr McDonald was keen to clean up the property. "It will be nice."
Ex- patient fails in attack on parole system
The Press | Thursday, 8 Jan 09
A repeat rapist serving an open-ended prison sentence has failed in a wide-ranging attack on the parole system.
Michael Carroll has been in prison since March 1988 when he was sentenced to preventive detention for his third rape.
His release in February 2003 to live at Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington, caused an outcry when it was leaked to the media.
He was moved to a Christchurch live-in treatment centre, but breached the conditions of his release and was recalled to prison in August 2003 where he remains, 20 years after being sentenced.
Carroll blamed media attention for his decision to leave the treatment centre and spend the night sleeping in a cemetery.
During his brief release Carroll went to hotels and massage parlours where he spent most of a $50,000 compensation payout he received for ill treatment at Lake Alice mental hospital, the parole board was told.
After news of Carroll's release became public the police officer in charge of the investigation that led to the preventive detention sentence wrote to the Parole Board about the risk Carroll posed to public safety.
As a result the parole board chairman met a senior Corrections manager to see if Carroll should be recalled.
Complaints about that meeting were among a large number that went before the High Court where a judge has dismissed the case mounted for the release of Carroll and another three-time rapist, Allan Brian Miller.
Carroll's lawyer said the meeting had been improper, but Justice Alan MacKenzie said the board was right to monitor the consequences of its decisions and act if it appeared the continued freedom of an offender should be reviewed.
But the judge said that the "unfortunate circumstances" of Carroll's release and recall meant Corrections should make a special effort to have his risk of reoffending still believed to be high properly assessed and to assign a psychologist with whom Carroll can develop a rapport.
Miller has also been convicted of rape three times. He received preventive detention in 1991 and became eligible for parole after serving 10 years jail but remains in prison.
The case challenged the legality of the board and what they did in Carroll and Miller's cases, and the level of rehabilitative treatment Corrections offered, on 40 grounds.
Central to many of them was a claim that the board should have the same sort of independence as a court, but Justice MacKenzie disagreed. He said the Parole Act set the level of independence and that was different to those that applied to courts. Dominion Post
Hospital sold again!
Monday 29 December 08
Four and a half months after the property and buildings went on the market it has been sold yet again. Wrightson's real estate confirmed that the property has been sold, but the sale at this stage is still going through the finalization. As well as the Lake Alice property been sold so did the New Railway Hotel in Palmerston North which was formerly owned by Patrick McCormick who previously owned Lake Alice.
Lake Alice for sale
Manawatu Standard |Tuesday, 25 Nov 08
Lake Alice is set to be sold, ending the tenure of a former bankrupt who is bankrupt again and a man struck off the register of chartered accountants.
Aucklanders Paul Percy Chapman and Patrick McCormick acquired the 56-hectare property near Bulls from the Government in 2006 and had planned to subdivide it, but the venture was one of a series that fell flat when the property market deteriorated.
Lake Alice - formerly a secure unit for the criminally insane and a psychiatric hospital - is again being marketed as a "former village complex".
Mr Chapman, declared bankrupt in the High Court at Palmerston North in 2002, was to spearhead the development project.
But it never got off the ground and he was bankrupted again at the High Court in Auckland last week.
Wrightson real estate agent Murray Robinson said Lake Alice was not a mortgagee sale, however.
Mr McCormick, who was struck off the register of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in July, said he now had as little contact as possible with Mr Chapman.
"I'm the man who's been left with a lot of the mess," Mr McCormick said.
The planned development was hit by the economic downturn associated with the international credit crunch, he said.
Easy Factors International finance company general manager Kieran Jones said his business was working with the owner of Lake Alice to get the maximum return possible.
Easy Factors holds the mortgage.
Lake Alice is owned by Lake Hicks Ltd, of which Mr McCormick is the sole director and shareholder.
Mr Chapman is a former shareholder. Mr Chapman told the Manawatu Standard in May that a subdivision was "going through the planning process".
Those plans stalled before any proposals were formally presented to Rangitikei District Council and they were never revived.
The caretaker at the property in the past two years, who declined to be named, said it had gone to "rack and ruin" since he left about five weeks ago.
He was owed about $22,000, he said.
Another company run by the Auckland pair, Queenstown Alpine Ltd, embarked on a multimillion dollar project in Nelson.
But it went into liquidation last month, owing about $10 million to creditors.
Mr Chapman is listed as an unsecured creditor for $800,000.
Mr Chapman and Mr McCormick are also the former owners of The New Railway Hotel building in Main Street West, Palmerston North.
The Oaks Law Centre forced a mortgagee sale there and it also held the mortgage for Queenstown Alpine.
Mr McCormick was struck off the register of chartered accountants after a disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of professional misconduct, negligence or incompetence.
The charges related to Mr McCormick failing to run a trust account and conduct an audit properly.
Property for sale | October 2008
The current owners of Lake Alice, Lake Hicks Ltd have put the old hospital and land on the market after only 2 years of ownership. This is not the first time a redevelopment scheme by current owners Paul Chapman and Patrick McCormick of Auckland has gone sour. They are currently in receivership for the property and are asking for around 4.5 million, thats 3 times the amount they paid back in July 2006. Since the pair have brought Lake Alice the property it has simply stood there housing vandals and a broken future. What a waste!
More articles on the owners can be find here , dated 28/4/08
Lake Alice development stalled
Manawatu Standard | Thursday, May 22nd 08
Plans to develop the former Lake Alice psychiatric institution property near Bulls have stalled, while surveyors remain unpaid for work they carried out last year.
The Auckland man who was to spearhead the development, former bankrupt Paul Chapman, said this week it would proceed, though "nothing in the next five minutes".
He had hoped to subdivide the 54ha site, which featured a disused maximum-security prison unit, 15 two-storey villas, two swimming pools, an orchard and glasshouses, several kilometres of sealed roads, a workshop, water tower and fire station.
There has been no progress in recent months, however.
Palmerston North aerial photographer Lawrie Cairns is owed $3375 for photography and surveying he did last September.
Consultancy MWH is owed about $500 for preliminary work on a scheme plan that was to be prepared as part of a subdivision consent application.
Mr Chapman said the subdivision was "going through the planning process" and a caretaker was looking after the property.
However, Rangitikei District Council chief executive Clare Hadley said that while preliminary plans were drawn up, the council has not received any applications for consents.
The property is owned by Lake Hicks Ltd, of which Auckland chartered accountant Patrick McCormick is the sole director and shareholder. Mr Chapman is a former shareholder, according to Companies Office records.
Both Mr Chapman and Mr McCormick know about the surveyors' invoices - copies were hand-delivered to Mr McCormick, according to MWH. In an email to Mr Cairns on December 11, Mr McCormick said payment would be organised "today".
Asked if Mr Cairns would be paid, Mr Chapman said he had "no control over that part" and he suggested the Standard contact Mr McCormick. Mr McCormick did not return calls, nor reply to an email.
Commercial property investment hasn't been going well for the pair in recent months.
They are shareholders of Hotel Palmerston North Ltd, the company that owned the New Railway Hotel building in Main Street West, which is subject to a mortgagee sale in the city, with tenders closing June 6.
Mr McCormick is the sole director of the company and recently became a shareholder, though the registered office will move to Mr Chapman's Remuera address next week.
Mr McCormick is the director and Mr Chapman former director of Queenstown Alpine Ltd, which embarked on a multimillion-dollar project in Nelson involving a former nurses' home, now also subject to a mortgagee sale.
Electro-shock doc loses sex case appeal
The Dominion Post | Friday, 14 March 08
Former Lake Alice Hospital psychiatrist Selwyn Leeks has lost an appeal in Australia against a $55,000 damages payout to a patient who says she was sexually assaulted by him. Leeks headed the Rangitikei hospital's child and adolescent unit, which closed in the late 1970s, before heading to Australia to continue practising. He was accused of punishing patients at Lake Alice with electric shocks (ECT) and painful drug injections. Other staff have been accused of sexually abusing patients. In 2001, after a lengthy investigation, the Government gave apologies and compensation to a group of former patients of the unit. It later extended these to a second group, bringing to $10.7 million the total paid to 183 people. The Melbourne Age newspaper reported that the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed Leeks' appeal last week against a civil prosecution there from an alleged sexual assault victim. The woman said in 1979 and 1980 she endured Leeks undressing her, touching and licking her breasts and digitally penetrating her. At the time the woman, a mother of two children, was a psychiatric patient with a history of physical and sexual abuse. Leeks denies he abused any patients. Another Australian newspaper said it had spoken to a different woman who alleges she was abused by Leeks. A large number of former Lake Alice patients, aided by lawyers, are still pursuing ways to seek justice against Leeks and other staff. Citizens Commission on Human Rights executive director Steve Green told NZPA today those seeking justice felt they were being obstructed when trying to further their cases through police and government. "They can't really get any closure until there is some accountability," Mr Green said. He said patients would have taken heart from the civil Victorian case against Leeks and would continue to investigate. There have also been calls for Leeks to be extradited from Australia. Detective Superintendent Malcolm Burgess of the New Zealand Police said today there were no immediate plans for police here to push for Leeks' extradition, but the file was "still under active consideration".
Money withheld from claimants
The National Business Review | September 23 2006
The Minister of Health Pete Hodgson needs to explain the decision to withhold one-third of the compensation awarded to former patients of the Lake Alice mental hospital, says National party health spokesman Jonathan Coleman.
Judge Tom Broadmore has criticised the Government's 'political' decision to secretly withhold 30 per cent of the compensation to former Lake Alice patients to cover non-existent 'legal fees' in a second-round settlement, as reported in this week's print edition of the NBR.
"It is unacceptable if there was a Government decision made behind closed doors to hold back money from the claimants," says Dr Coleman. The recent judgment awarded a further $35,000 that was found to have been withheld from final payment to a former patient, with implications for the 87 other second-round claimants.
"The Government needs to be upfront about how the decision was reached, apologise to the claimants, and stop dragging the chain in paying them the $3 million that is rightfully theirs," Dr Coleman says.
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