Pickles confronted over drugs case
Sunday 29th September 2013, 2:40PM BST.
Eric Pickles has come under fire for telling an alleged abuse victim to “adjust your medication” when she accused him of failing to help her.
Teresa Cooper, one of a number of women who say they were heavily sedated while living at a care home and then went on to have children with a range of birth defects, confronted the Communities Secretary at an event in Essex about why he had “ignored” the case.
The Tory Cabinet minister retaliated claiming Ms Cooper had given “different stories” and telling her to “adjust your medication”.
An investigation by BBC Radio 4′s Today programme in 2009 claimed that teenagers at the Kendall House home in Gravesend were restrained with huge doses of tranquillisers and other drugs.
It said 10 girls who were heavily sedated while living at the care home during the 1970s and 1980s went on to have children with a range of birth defects.
Ms Cooper, who left the home in 1984 at 16, was said to have been given medication at least 1,248 times over a 32-month period.
Mr Pickles’ comments came to light in The Independent, which published an audio clip of the exchange on its website.
Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn said: “What Eric Pickles said was thoughtless, stigmatising, very hurtful and he had no option but to apologise. David Cameron should make clear that this sort of out of touch comment should have no place in modern Britain.”
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive officer of mental health charity SANE, said: ” I think that you can go far too far down the politically correct route and make it impossible for anyone to say anything without fear of causing offence. This treading on eggshells does not help reduce the stigma of mental illness and can even increase it, making the subject a no-go area and leaving those who suffer even more isolated.
“However, there is a red line that should not be overstepped when words or images infringe taste, dignity and sensitivity, such as the ‘mental patient’ horror costume last week which was withdrawn.
“As regards Eric Pickles’ remarks, even if they were taken out of context, they could be seen as thoughtless and hurtful, and such personal comment should never be made.”