Harri Pritchard-Jones and Literature Wales

Harri Pritchard-Jones, an adolescent-specialist psychiatrist who was also a successful writer, in Wales, died on Mar 11.

Glowing obituaries for him as a writer and cultural figure have passed through the Welsh media and are still being left in place for him by Literature Wales, an organisation he helped to set up and was a vice-chair of. They are doing this, doing nothing and hoping for a quiet life, when they know all about his part in destroying a child author. Described here on Autism Network Scotland’s site. After he was never caught when alive to answer to the effects of his medical practices, he is being left unexposed even in death.

A writer called Peter Finch who used to work for Literature Wales passed the info to them recently. But so did its former joint chair John Pikoulis in 2012, when Pritchard-Jones was living, and now he has been willing to give him a praising obituary.

The story of how Pritchard-Jones’s adolescent unit closed ranks against letting teenagers take their own life decisions, with this consequence, is academically published in detail (but of course only anonymously without names) in an autism student’s PhD thesis. It was described as “heartbreaking to read” by child psychiatry critic Brenda leFrancois. In my submission on the Scottish parliament’s recent Mental Health Bill, I described the outcome from the All Wales Child Protection Procedure to looking at what that unit had done: “X’s position is that it is for Y to take further, while Y’s position is that Y can not take it any further except by X taking it up.” NHS in Wales remained totally noncommittal on the same adolescent treatment practices still being possible.

Because it is still big organisations instead of autistic people ourselves who the media listens to about us, I have not been able to force into any wide public knowledge before Pritchard-Jones’s death the story that he destroyed a child author’s chance while enjoying an author reputation himself. To see his success continue was exactly the same as it was for Jimmy Savile’s victims and they described how it felt. Now his death still in success and escaping from any accountability adds to that parallel.

TV channel S4C ignored 2 emails about it until I chased it up as a complaint. In outcome on Sep 15 they wrote:   “The programme in question was a portrayal of the life and work of Harri Pritchard Jones.” yet “did not deal with any matter of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy and therefore there was no requirement to present any alternative viewpoints.” “As a broadcaster, we take child protection matters very seriously and have a robust child protection policy in place” but it’s only to do with kids involved in programme making, which is not relevant here. For their current affairs output, which they buy in, “there is no obligation on S4C as a broadcaster to initiate any particular investigation.”

A media insider protected even posthumously. Their procedure’s last stage, an “S4C Authority Complaints and Compliance Committee” is discretionary, it has never responded and there is no sign it will to my return points of Oct 1 – that health services’ ethics are a political issue, that his “life and work” includes his psychiatry, that it impacts children to accept uncritically “a profiled person’s work with them, and the ideas and practices behind it”, that to be recorded continuing a culture of silence around it makes another post-Savile media scandal.

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Adolescent psychiatry was still totally ignoring Asperger syndrome and rejecting awareness of it, in the eighties when my encounter with Pritchard-Jones happened.

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Maurice Frank
17 Apr 2015 (+ later updates re S4C.)

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