Langton House: a tale of international corporate greed.

Langton House

When I wrote ‘Therapy of Fear’ for NAYPIC (back in the dark ages before the www), I only knew the name of the company running Langton House – AMI plc. I knew AMI had its roots in the USA and that it had moved into the UK private health market in 1972 when it bought Langton House, or Spyways as it was then known.

The report was written in response to a claim from a survivor of Langton House. The response to the claim was along the lines of “Who guv? Not me guv,” because BMI Healthcare Ltd say they came into being in 1993. BMI are not to be confused with AMI who closed the home in 1991. Now, AMI had become GdS in 1990 and in 1991 they became GSI for international corporate ventures leaving BMI as the holder of their UK ventures. I hope you’re keeping up.

In co-operation with other sets of initials, AMU and AME, they established private mental health units in other countries. By 1995 they were under investigation in Western Australia for excessive deaths, misuse of drugs, unlawful use of confinement, lack of qualified staff etc. An exact mirror of what had been happening with BMI’s Kneesworth House.

As some of you may know, we have some incredibly dedicated people who work tirelessly behind the scenes. I am much indebted to them for tracking these corporate greed merchants who put profits before people everytime, in this case vulnerable, mentally ill young people. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, these corporations left a worldwide trail of dead, damaged people. A trail of wrecked lives and hopeless futures. There are many other sets of corporate initials that can be added alongside AMI. Their greed is limitless, not even a $600million dollar fine by US federal authories dented their bottom line.

Back to BMI Healthcare. Only formed in 1993, eh? Well, look at the 2012/2013 anual report for another set of initials (sorry about that) called PIC (Partnership in Care). They very helpfully include a “map” of their “achievements” (my ironic punctuation). You will see they proudly proclaim that BMI bought Kneesworth House in 1985!

It doesn’t matter what set of letters of the alphabet they chose to call themselves, it is what they DID that matters. It’s what they DID at Langton House that needs accounting for. The torture, violence, brutality; the misuse of narcotic drugs, the sexual abuse, the fear, the contempt for the humanity and dignity of their residents. That is what matters! Not just those who carried it out, but those who ran it and those who made massive profits from it. Also those who knew what was going on there. The health authority that covered it up, the police who failed to investigate complaints, who labelled those that did as “disturbed mentally ill trouble makers.” The Minister of State for Health, Mrs Virginia Bottomley, who refused to allow residents to complain or give evidence. They all have much to answer for.

In our report we highlighted the number of victims who hadn’t survived. Dead from drugs, suicide, etc. Those who survived left to live damaged, blighted lives with no support. I have recently been trying to trace the names of victims we knew were at Langton. I regret to say many have died and most of those who survive do so in long term residential care. All those who survive, and those that did not, deserve justice, or at least the recognition that what happened to them HAPPENED!

So the next time you hear Ian Duncan Smith extolling the virtues of the private sector and the “free” market, please remember the cost in human lives and all those faceless sets of initials.

One final thought. When we first heard of Langton, we all had difficulty getting our heads around this. The sheer level of brutality, violence and abuse seemed impossible in this “green and pleasant land”, this was happening, in England? Well, yes, it was. However, we tried to remain professional. Our report was based only upon the evidence and the testimony of victims. We tried not to listen to gossip or rumour. But knowing what I know now, I think a spot of deep gardening in the grounds of Langton House could well be in order. What secrets would that uncover?  What have these faceless sets of initials really got to hide?

Chris Fay


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4 responses to “Langton House: a tale of international corporate greed.

  1. karen s

    Hi I was in langton house from 1986 – 1988 and too suffered awful abuse at the hands of the staff and was forcibly given drugs without my consent, made to go without food due to the points system and put in the timeout room several times as well as given drugs whilst in there that should have been given with another medication to combat side affects but staff never gave it as they thought the side affects were funny, I was lucky really as was more able to protect myself than some of the others there who werent able to look after themselves the staff were bullies and encouraged some of the other kids to help with their abuse if you did not then you would be picked on and the gym was a good way to abuse the kids as playing bull dog gave them the oppurtunity to pick on certain individuals. Also while I was there one girl had both her arms broken by staff dragging her down the stairs with her arms up her back to the timeout room I jumped from a 3rd story window and went on the run for 2 days to escape as it was such a horrible place I also took a really bad overdose on a home visit in order for my social worker to listen to me but he just sent me back as soon as I was released from hospital. After getting out of langton house I was never the same had no confidence and wouldnt even answer the house phone if I was in the house on my own my lack of confidence led to me being vulnerable in later life to more abuse and was in a extremely abusive relationship for over 12 years and have suffered depression all my adult life please could you put me in touch with steven if possible as would love to help in his fight to get justice for the kids that were abused and see AMI punished.

  2. What sickens me most about it is that, it is all about “profit margins” and the neoliberal mantra that everything should be in the hands of private investors. To that end, to serve a doctrine that has zero intellectual basis children, the mentally ill are simply seen as expendable as somehow, not having the “unit value” to be considered as human. With the likes of UKIP aka Nazis Lite. at least you know you;re dealing with those whose mentally faculties never developed past the pack mentality of the school yard. These people, the Thatcher’s the IDS’s pretend to be respectable people who “care” when the truth is they don;t give a rat’s ass about anything save their’s and their friend’s bank balances.

    Then there’s the abject shamefaced hypocrisy of these self same people. At the first opportunity casting aspersions about whole sections of society as being somehow unfit, unclean when, they not only reside over the destruction of people’s lives on a daily basis, they fucking profit from it as well.. Oh, see the indigence of these vacuous charlatans the Bottomleys, the Thatchers, the Camerons, the IDS’s et al when there’s a sound bite about some poor kid murdered by quite obviously mentally incapable and wholly mentally ill parents. The crocodile tears these scum shed when, with the other hand they are dialling some “friend” and suggesting they employ all !”carers” on zero hour contracts.

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  4. Claire

    Powerfully written piece, thanks. I’ll confess I found it hard to follow how many initials there were! But what *is* clear to me is that BMI have lied and tried to distance themselves completely. Duplicitous and amoral behaviour by the company, even without considering the many instances of horrific abuse at Langton House, which I can only imagine.
    “All those who survive, and those that did not, deserve justice, or at least the recognition that what happened to them HAPPENED!”. Here here. I think that is the bottom line, and denial of it even happening, perhaps the biggest, and last, most cruel, insult of all. Where is the humanity for goodness sake?
    Sickeningly, I feel there are many places that could do with dispatching a few sniffer dogs to. Then, set them on the Fat Cats.

    The truth *will* be uncovered!!