A doctor who carried out medical assessments on North-East job seekers would have faced sex assault charges had he still been alive, police have told his victims.
Hundreds of young people were made to strip and submit to intimate medical examination by Dr Gordon Bates during the 70s and 80s.
Dr Bates, who worked from home in Newcastle, carried out medical assessments for a public and private sector companies, including Barclays Bank.
But instead of giving them a general check-up, he ordered them to remove their clothes and carried out unnecessary intimate examinations.
Barclays said last night that it had informed police as soon as the allegations came to light last year.
Dr Bates was not an employee of Barclays. At the time, he was used by a number of other organisations for pre-employment medical assessments which took place at his home surgery in Fenham, Newcastle.
The Northern Echo understands that he also provided services to a Government agency.
Many victims hid their suffering for decades until a police investigation confirmed what they had always known.
Although many originally came from the Tyneside area police say they have been contacted by people from across the region, including County Durham.
Detectives found the medic, who died in 2009, aged 73, made parents wait outside so he could see the young patients alone at his examination rooms.
Northumbria Police interviewed more than 150 people who were sent to the doctor during a three-month investigation. Detectives acknowledge that there may be even more.
Officers have now written to 48 of victims to say that if Dr Bates had still been alive “there would be sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution” for sexual assault.
The others have been told that, while there would not have been enough evidence to prosecute under the law then in force, the doctor’s behaviour could have been seen as professional misconduct and may have been referred to the General Medical Council.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “We can confirm that Northumbria Police received a number of allegations of sexual assault dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, made against a man who is now deceased.
“The allegations related to pre-employment medical examinations carried out on behalf of Barclays Bank.
“All of the allegations have been thoroughly investigated by specialist officers.
“Forty-eight of the allegations have been recorded as criminal acts.
“All of the complainants have been informed of the outcome of the investigation.
“Northumbria Police worked closely with Barclays Bank throughout the enquiry and any further allegations which may come to light will be fully investigated.”
Solicitor Chris Shaw, who is acting for dozens of people sent to the GP, plans to bring legal action against Barclays.
Mr Shaw, whose firm Shaw and Co Solicitors is based in Newcastle, said many victims were still having difficulty coming to terms with what happened. Some have not even told their partners.
He said: “These are otherwise confident, competent people. Most of them have been professionally successful and are now running their own businesses.
“At the time they were just young naive people. If you think back 30 years to how things were then, doctors were absolutely implicitly trusted. They didn’t have the life experience to know this was wrong.”
A spokesman for Barclays said: “Last year Barclays became aware of an allegation about a GP who conducted pre-employment medicals in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“The information was immediately shared with the Northumbria Police, who have investigated the allegations.
“Barclays has done all it can to help the police enquiry and to support employees involved in this sensitive investigation.”
Source – Northern Echo, 10 March 2014
An MP has said she’s determined to stand up to internet trolls after she received a barrage of abuse online.
Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, became a target for cyber bullies after she spoke out on theissue of children’s toys.
She hit headlines earlier this month when she led a debate in parliament on gender-specific toys.
Chi pointed out that it was “illegal to advertise a job as for men only but apparently fine to advertise a toy as for boys only. Why should girls be brought up in an all-pink environment? It does not reflect the real world.”
She also condemned toy shops that have a pink aisle for what they see as girls’ toys and a blue aisle for boys’ toys.
But, ever since Chi spoke out, she has been on the receiving end of a stream of abuse on social networking site Twitter.
Chi said: “I’ve had quite a bit of intense abuse, the whole range right up to, although thankfully not including, death threats.
“Everything from aggressive sexual swearing to bizarrely being told that I’m both a publicity seeker and that no-one is interested in the issue.
“I’ve been told I’m stupid, lazy and had the strongest swear words directed at me.”
But she vowed: “I’m determined it’s not going to stop me.”
In her speech to parliament, Chi claimed that directing girls towards pink toys featuring princesses and domestic tasks, while boys are encouraged to play with construction toys and characters who have adventures, limits their horizons and is bad for the economy.
She pointed to a page from a 1970s Argos catalogue that featured toys such as a baby buggy or shop till in variety of colours and compared it to the current catalogue, which has the same toys but only in pink.
She said: “I’m not calling for legislation.
“There is a fear that you are accused of wanting a nanny state but we are just fighting for more choice so children can play with what they want.
“It causes a lot of distress among parents to see their girls forced down the route of being pink puppets.
“I’ve had a lot of parents contact me since the debate too.”
Fellow Labour MP Stella Casey received rape and death threats after she called for more women to be featured on bank notes.
And Isabella Sorley from Newcastle and John Nimmo from South Shields were jailed after they sent messages to campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.
Another alleged troll is due to face court this month.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 24 Feb 2014