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Murdered woman’s husband says Gething was wrong to block public inquiry

05 Jun 2024 7 minute read
Stuart and Christine James

Martin Shipton

A retired businessman whose wife was murdered by an NHS worker who had been accused of three sexual assaults on patients has spoken of his anger at Vaughan Gething’s refusal to order a public inquiry into the case.

Stuart James, 74, who now lives in Canada, told NationCymru: “There are many Welsh people whose souls are aflame with anger directed at Vaughan Gething, and speaking from personal experience l can understand why.”

Mr James’ wife Christine was killed by Kris Wade, a neighbour, at her flat in Cardiff Bay in 2016. Wade had arrived with a suitcase full of sado-masochistic paraphernalia and suggested they had sex. When she resisted his advances, he brutally assaulted her and cut her throat. Subsequently Wade pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 21 years.

Independent review

An independent review highlighted a string of concerns about the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University health board’s (ABMUHB) handling of the case.

It pointed out that Wade, who is the son of a former director of the health board, did not undergo a police records check before he moved from a job in IT to his role working with vulnerable adults.

The review from Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) concluded there was an “unacceptable delay” in recognising the first alleged attack on a resident as a safeguarding issue.

It also challenged a key conclusion made in an internal review that the health board could not have predicted or prevented the murder.

The HIW reviews said Wade, whose father is a former clinical director of the health board’s learning disability directorate, was first employed at ABMUHB in its IT department, but in 2004 he began his job as a nursing assistant at an acute assessment and treatment unit (unit A) after it was suggested working with screens may have been contributing to his ill-health.

Special leave

In December 2011, one of the residents of unit A made several allegations to staff that Wade had inappropriately touched and sexually assaulted her. Wade was placed on special leave but after a police investigation and disciplinary review it was decided that no further action would be taken and he returned to work at a second residential unit.

Two more residents came forward to allege that Wade had sexually assaulted them while they were at unit A. Wade was suspended – on pay – and again the police investigated and passed on details to the Crown Prosecution Service but it decided that he should not be charged. The health board began its own disciplinary process.

A dismissal letter was sent to Wade in April 2016 stating that the health board was terminating his employment for gross misconduct as, on the balance of probability, inappropriate behaviour had taken place. But by this time Wade was on remand having been arrested for the murder of Mrs James.

HIW made 24 recommendations for improvement and said key findings included:

* There was an unacceptable delay in recognising and reporting the first allegation as a safeguarding issue.

* The redeployment of Wade to the learning disability directorate did not follow the health board’s redeployment policy.

* No CRB or DBS checks were ever completed for Wade.

* The conclusion by the internal review that Wade’s actions outside of his employment could not have been predicted or prevented was not evidence-based. There was no evidence to either support or refute this.

‘Extraordinary’

Cardiff solicitors Hugh James issued a statement after the publication of the HIW review which said: “It is extraordinary that senior Health Board members knew of the allegations yet they failed to address them at a board level. This is a damning indictment on how the NHS functions at senior levels. It is of considerable concern that in spite of the failings in the Wade case governance, that there are still gaps in safeguarding procedures. All users of the NHS, and not just vulnerable patients, are entitled to expect that safeguarding is taken seriously and is implemented to the letter.”

Mr Gething was Health Minister at the time the British Medical Association and opposition parties called for a public inquiry into the health board’s handling of the complaints about Wade’s conduct. He rejected the calls, telling ITV Wales: “I don’t think there is a need for a public inquiry. There’s been a report that’s been provided about the tragic circumstances of both the murder, which I don’t think is related to the employment issues, and also recognition that the health board had things that they needed to improve as a result of that internal review.” Mr Gething then curtailed the interview and walked off.

‘No regard’

Mr James told us: “I feel it’s important to speak up from my own experience. I have no regard for Mr Gething at all, given his refusal to instigate a full public inquiry. If it was his wife, he would have gone for it 200%. But I bet if you asked him tomorrow who Christine James was, he wouldn’t even remember.

“I did my very best, and I don’t feel I could have done any more, to gain a full public inquiry, but unfortunately I failed. I felt I was up against the establishment, but in particular Vaughan Gething. It doesn’t matter to him. He is interested in himself – whatever improves his situation politically or financially. It’s all about him.

“At one time it crossed my mind to go and sit on the steps of the Senedd and do a hunger strike, because I wanted attention to the matter. It has been traumatic, but thanks to my friends here and in Wales, as well as my inner determination, I’ve managed to survive.”

Ogmore Valley

Both he and Christine were brought up in the Ogmore Valley, and he used to carry her bag for her when they were 12 and attending Ogmore Grammar School. They were married at 18 and had been together for 47 years when she was murdered.

Christine James had been married to Stuart for 47 years when she was murdered

Mr James said: “I can’t put into words how awful it’s been. I’ve been trying to put it behind me, but I never will be able to, and the recent events involving Gething have brought it all back – my frustration, my disappointment, my upset at his refusal to have a public inquiry. If he had ordered a full public inquiry things could be far different, not just in my life, but my family’s and my friends’ lives. There’s always this question mark about why didn’t they do anything about Wade, when he was brought to their attention on three separate occasions.”

Asked what could have come out in a public inquiry, Mr James said: “Answers and fingers pointed at those responsible. A public inquiry wasn’t going to bring her back, but I’d like to think that if a similar thing happened to me, someone would have spoken up on my behalf.

“My wife, as far as Gething was concerned, was a mere statistic – just somebody else who was insignificant, inconsequential. She didn’t matter one iota to him. All he was concerned about was progressing his political career.”


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hdavies15
hdavies15
4 hours ago

Probably more of an indictment of ABMUHB than of VG himself. However given that the health board was most likely Chaired by a Labour Party insider it is quite fair to presume that an inquiry was needed. Those high offices have deeper carpets and an awful lot of stuff gets swept under them.

Martyn Young
Martyn Young
4 hours ago

Mr James and his family have been terribly let down. How Gething can argue that the events are unrelated is disingenuous to say the least. The accusations of sexual assaults on vulnerable people and the sexual nature of the circumstances leading to Mrs James murder are evidently very much related.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
4 hours ago

Yet another failure by Gething, so sad for the family of the victim.
In many ways the report gives an insight into Gethings inadequacy and gross self serving as a politician and the insidious workings of the LP in Wales. They seem to operate like a cartel.

Rob
Rob
1 minute ago

This is a heartbreaking story particularly as it was all so avoidable. Mr James is right when he says Mr Gething thinks first and foremost about his political career. I long for the day when Welsh labour are voted out. Bunch of incompetents with what I feel is an unwritten brief to undermine devolution in Wales due to their ingrained unionist sympathies. Wales will never advance with them in charge.

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