In 2015 depression came calling. I would burst into tears when I saw or heard anything about the injustices of Hillsborough or the crimes of Saville. Emotions were stirred, and past hurts brought to life. Unwittingly, I found myself working in an NHS communications department, a PR factory, and I was increasingly distressed by what I saw happening around me. The NHS prioritized its reputation over the needs of patients and families. I saw first-hand, how when things went wrong they circled the wagons, shielding themselves without thought for those they had 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 Alison had meant to a health system that was supposed to look after her. How could she be treated so wrongly without anyone being held 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 logical outcome of a broken culture. The truth was hidden to protect reputations. During a session with my Psychologist, I realized I had to get to the bottom of what had happened.
In 2015, I requested notes from the 2001 investigation by Cumbria Police. When I received them I realized 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 the evidence they “mislaid” years earlier. Now we felt there was a chance to get justice for Alison. Once again we would be disappointed.
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