The Kentish Express is presenting evidence to the judicial review challenging the Department of Health’s decision to keep the doors closed on an inquiry into a disgraced doctor.
The weekly was asked to get involved after it launched a campaign in the summer to secure an open investigation into the unorthodox and humiliating practices of former Folkestone GP Clifford Ayling.
He was jailed in December for indecently assaulting some of his female patients and although Health Secretary Alan Milburn wants a thorough look at NHS failings in the case, he also wants the media excluded and suggested victims could report back to journalists about the proceedings.
The Express’s affidavit, compiled by editor Brian Lewis, was submitted last week, claiming that, well-meaning as the victims would be, they could not possibly offer balanced and objective accounts for waiting reporters outside the inquiry doors.
His statement also criticised the claim by Chief Medical Officer for England, Liam Donaldson, that a public inquiry would lead to NHS staff not wanting to be frank about any of their mistakes.
Special reports on the Ayling case, written by Kentish Express reporter Jo Robertson, have covered the doctor’s sentence and the fact that he was struck off the medical register.
The paper has also carried in-depth interviews with some of the doctor’s victims about the effect he had on their lives.
Many came forward after reading the experiences of fellow victims in the Kentish Express, a Kent Messenger Group title which has editions in Ashford, Tenterden, Folkestone and Hythe and Romney Marsh.
The Express claims another reason for holding a public inquiry is the fact that the full extent of the doctor’s abuse is still unknown.