Sunday, November 02, 2014

British mother jailed for child cruelty after rejecting NHS care to seek treatment at foreign clinic for teenager's hormone therapy

When British mother Mary Kidson took her seriously ill daughter to a world-renowned doctor in Belgium in the hope of finding a cure, she could never have imagined the extraordinary events that were to follow.

When she returned to the UK, Ms Kidson, an expert in the field of special educational needs, was astounded to find herself imprisoned and prosecuted – accused of trying to poison her daughter.

Then, to her horror, the child was taken from her and was subsequently placed in psychiatric care.

Now Ms Kidson is free again, following the collapse of the case against her at Worcester Crown Court last week, and is relieved to have her name cleared.

But, speaking for the first time about her ordeal, the 55-year-old says she is furious that charges were brought in the first place, and devastated she has yet to be reunited with her 16-year-old daughter.

In particular she blames the NHS for operating rigid rules about treatment that allowed the prosecution to take place – but also her former husband, Michael Guilding, who she believes needlessly reported her to the police.

‘It’s unbelievable what I’ve been through,’ she says of a case that has echoes of Ashya King, whose parents fled abroad to seek proton treatment for his cancer and ended up in prison in Spain.

‘I am very angry and fed up as I was completely misrepresented prior to my acquittal. ‘I am just so relieved. This case came about because I am a caring mother and was only acting in my daughter’s interest. I’m now looking forward to being reunited with her.

‘All of the allegations against me were wrong. I know my ex-husband was behind it all. I’m in no doubt. He was very upset about our divorce, which he didn’t want, and unhappy that the children went with me. The prosecuting team were very careful to keep him out of it during the court hearing.

‘I have been through a huge ordeal. As things become clear I will make decisions about whether I am going to sue anyone. ‘I tried to make the best of it in prison, and I was treated well, but my life will never be the same again. ‘I hope I will become a stronger person as a result of what I’ve been put through.

‘When I was told I was free this week, well, it’s indescribable what I felt. I was elated, relieved, and very, very thankful that justice has at last been done.’

Ms Kidson’s barrister, Ken Hind, says that her complaints against her husband were part of her evidence, but were never heard in court as the case against her collapsed.

During the court case Ms Kidson, from Ledbury in Herefordshire, was accused of dosing her daughter with unnecessary medicines and of ‘doctor shopping’.

This, it was alleged, involved touring hospitals and clinics in Britain and then abroad, until she received a diagnosis for her daughter – hormone deficiency – that she found acceptable, but which the NHS did not recognise.

In 2012, desperate for help, she travelled with her daughter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to the Brussels clinic of Dr Thierry Hertoghe, a Belgian physician and expert in hormone therapy.

She believes that, as a result of the deficiency, the girl was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome that had left her virtually bed-ridden.

The prosecution claimed that once under Dr Hertoghe’s supervision, Ms Kidson administered toxic levels of three hormones in a five-month period. But according to the Belgian doctor, the girl’s ailments improved.

Taking up the story, Ms Kidson’s sister, Ruth Stobbs, says: ‘Mary thought that Dr Hertoghe was absolutely fantastic. ‘He measured my niece’s thyroid, oestrogen, growth hormone and cortisol and found her to be deficient in all of these, so he prescribed medication to correct the deficiencies.’

But, it seems, when Ms Kidson’s ex-husband found out about the treatment, he contacted police, two months later. In March 2013, police arrived at Ms Kidson’s home with social services and arrested her.

Ms Stobbs continues: ‘I took a phone call at work from Mary who said simply, "I’ve been arrested." ‘At first I thought it was some sort of joke. There was silence down the line. "Seriously. I’ve been arrested. For child cruelty", Mary said.’ After 24 hours in custody, Ms Kidson was released on bail.

Ms Stobbs adds: ‘The judge also ordered that my niece go back to school. She had been home-educated from age ten. Suddenly facing a return to school, without her mother around to support her, was too much for her. She hated it.’ The judge also ordered her to live with her father, and she ran away twice.

One afternoon early this year, she locked herself in her father’s bathroom and in a highly emotional state she sent a text to her mother. Mary, who was worried her daughter was going to harm herself, texted back, which breached her bail. Michael phoned the police and Mary was arrested again and taken into custody, and then to Eastwood Park prison near Bristol.

‘Her ex-husband told police and social services that Mary would try to take their daughter out of the country, and we think this is why they have acted as they have,’ says Ms Stobbs. ‘Mary is a responsible person and she would never, ever have done that.’

Ms Kidson has been apart from her daughter since March 2013. In January this year she was charged under the 1861 Offences Against The Person Act with poisoning her daughter with thyroid extract, oestrogen and hydrocortisone. She was then allowed only two hours supervised contact each fortnight.

Her daughter became so distressed that she suffered a breakdown after the pair were separated, and was detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. ‘My daughter is on other medicine now but she does appear to be fit and well, which is great,’ Ms Kidson says. ‘She is on the verge of discharge but I still don’t know when I can see her.

‘I’m very angry with the way the Crown Prosecution Service, social services and the police all dealt with this. They formed an opinion of me without even meeting me.

‘The whole case raises the question of a parent’s right to find treatment outside the NHS for their child. Adults have total freedom to go wherever we want in the world for our health care but if you’re a child it seems only the NHS can treat you.’

Supporting Ms Kidson, Dr Hertoghe says that her trial ‘should never have taken place’ and called for widespread NHS reform to allow parents greater choice over their child’s care.

‘Two lives have been broken,’ he says. ‘The whole system needs reform. We have to give people the right to choose their doctor without fear of prosecution.’

Original report here

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