In 2015 depression came calling. I burst into tears when I saw or heard anything about injustice at Hillsborough or the crimes of Saville, these stirred up emotions and brought past hurts back to life. And I unwittingly found myself working in the communications department of an NHS Trust, it was a PR factory and I was increasingly distressed by what I saw happening around me. The NHS prioritised its reputation over the needs of patients and families. I saw first-hand how when things went wrong they slipped into self-defence, shielding themselves without thought for those they hurt or harmed. It was an impossible climate for me to work in. I suffered a breakdown after being gaslighted and I went to see a Psychologist who helped me understand my distress; unsurprisingly it was the confusion I felt about Alison.
After all these years I could not understand how little she had meant to a health system that was supposed to look after her. How could she be treated so wrongly without anyone being accountable? Getting behind the scenes in the NHS had awoken me to the possibility that what happened to Alison was not a one-off incident, but the predictable outcome of a broken culture. The truth was hidden to protect reputations. During a session with my Psychologist, I realised I had to get to the bottom of what happened to Alison.
In 2015, I requested notes from the 2001 investigation by Cumbria Police. When I received them I realised all the medical records and documents were missing from the file. It dawned on me why the original investigation had failed, so I asked Cumbria Police to come and see me at the earliest opportunity.
In Autumn Senior Officers from Cumbria Police sat in my home and assured me the investigation in 2001 was of a good standard. They said there was nothing to be gained by reopening it and personally vouched for the colleagues who had undertaken that investigation. They were lying. The investigation of 2001 was later exposed as a fiasco, described by the Police themselves as poor and flawed. Cumbria Police had given the CPS an incomplete file, and officers failed to interview witnesses and didn’t create a basic investigation plan. Despite their attempts to stop a new investigation, in Autumn 2016 they were forced to reopen the case after we gave them with the evidence they “mislaid” years earlier. Now we felt there was a chance to get justice for Alison. Once again we would be disappointed.