Trial by media

So, Rebecca Leighton who was accused by the police of contaminating ampoules of saline with insulin has been released without charge, indeed the CPS stated “there had not been “sufficient evidence” for their test of whether the case could go ahead.”


Charges have been dropped against a nurse who was accused of contaminating saline at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital.
Rebecca Leighton, 27, of Heaviley, was arrested by police investigating the deaths of several patients.
Greater Manchester Police have revealed they are investigating 40 cases of contamination including seven deaths.
Prosecutors said there had not been “sufficient evidence” for their test of whether the case could go ahead.
Police believe that at least two deaths at the hospital were the result of contaminated saline.
Officers said Miss Leighton had been released from prison on Friday afternoon after she was told by the governor the charges against her were being dropped.
They said police were in contact with her to guarantee her safety and “to try and help her back into the community”.

I’m sure the police will do their best for this young lady to try and rehabilitate her back into society, yet I’m afraid the damage is done. The media ever in their quest to spice up a story and dig up dirt have probably ruined her chances of getting back into employment at least in the short term.


Miss Leighton, 27 – herself born at Stepping Hill – was described by colleagues as ‘dedicated’.
She was arrested at 6am on Wednesday in the flat she shares with her fiancé Tim Papworth, 28, a 15-minute walk from Stepping Hill.
Her Facebook profile revealed she enjoyed getting drunk on wine on days off and dreaded night-shifts at the hospital lasting as much as 14 hours.
After the nurse’s party-loving lifestyle came under scrutiny due to her numerous entries on social networking websites, they launched a campaign of support.

If you check the mail site, the pictures produced from social networking sites tell you how exactly the MSM viewed her in their prurient desire to show her off as some sort of lax party going drunkard. Yet it seemed unlikely from the start that Ms Leighton could have tampered with all the vials of saline to an identical specification, they are sealed and whilst it might not have been obvious to other staff if tampering had been done the likelihood of all the ampoules (36 I think) having the exactly the same amount of contamination seems remote, yet that’s what the police found. What evidence there was suggested that Rebecca Leighton had taken some equipment from the hospital, possibly some drugs or syringes, enough to get her on theft, but no evidence at all to suggest she was some sort of angel of death.

Once again as with Chris Jeffries the landlord in the Joanna Yeates case someone has had their lives ruined by media intrusion and speculation. No, Rebecca Leighton is no saint, but her private life was her own and she harmed no-one by liking parties and drinking a lot. It was wrong of the media to bring this out, perhaps she should have been sacked and charged over the missing equipment, assuming this would have even been discovered had not the patient deaths occurred. After all she certainly wouldn’t be the first to take stuff home with her from work, but there was no reason to have her associated by inference to the deaths of the patients and her name and reputation dragged through the mud by the MSM.

I wish her well, we’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all paid the price of those mistakes on occasion. She didn’t deserve the media circus though, that was the true injustice.

17 comments for “Trial by media

  1. September 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    “If you check the mail site, the pictures produced from social networking sites tell you how exactly the MSM viewed her in their prurient desire to show her off as some sort of lax party going drunkard.”

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when posting stuff to FaceAche, remember to stop and think ‘How’s this going to look if I’m picked up by the police for something newsworthy?’… 😆

    • September 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      The simple answer is don’t do Facebook.

      • September 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm

        No, the simple answer is set your privacy settings at the correct level and only add on people as friends that you can trust.

        • September 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm

          I’m going to stick with my solution :mrgreen:

  2. Patrick Harris
    September 3, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    She has been (a) perpetually anguished for the past weeks but is now in line for (b) squillions in compo.
    With, comparatively, a little bit of (a) and lots of (b), she lives happily ever after.
    What is the going price for anguish per lb.

    • September 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      If only it were that simple. For starters, it costs a hell of a lot of money to bring forward a libel case. To my knowledge, you cannot get legal aid for a libel case, so that’s the first hurdle. The second is that the payouts often handed out in libel cases often barely cover the costs of bringing the case to court in the first place. Which means that Leighton, if she decided to pursue this route, could well end up LOSING money as a result of doing the right thing.

      All this shows that something is seriously, seriously wrong with our legal system. It also demonstrates something is seriously wrong with our media. Whatever they end up paying out in damages and costs will be more than compensated for by the increased sales and readership brought in by the sensationalist reporting. No matter what she does, it’s the newspapers and lawyers who stand to win.

    • September 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      There is a third option – the Max Clifford route.

      • September 4, 2011 at 6:13 am

        I think even he demands payment…

        • September 4, 2011 at 8:51 am

          He gets it from the papers – i.e. he takes a cut.

  3. September 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I prefer to wonder why the charges were dropped!

    I presume there must have been some evidence, however scant, that she was an individual who had access to the drips and the ability to interfere with them. If I recall from reports at the time, her mother was (or had been) in charge of training nurses there or nearby elsewhere).

    It always seemed to me bizarre, particularly given the publicity on her socialising, that she would have been the introverted kind of person given to brooding on the possible plight of her victims, whom I would have considered the most likely to independently and individually to have become involved in such a situation.

    Given that the end result of the actions of which she was originally accused, were likely to save the hospital and/or the health authority considerable sums, the more logical conclusion now seems very clear.

    Have the charges now been dropped as she was sufficiently alert, possibly after prompting from her Mum, to cover herself against the consequences of actions she perhaps only reluctantly undertook?

    The logical area for suspects to now be sought is up the NHS medical hierarchy and thereafter up the management chain, I will await developments with interest.

    The State is not our friend, putting medecal treatment in the hands of the state and state employess will inevitably result in just such cases.

    Yet more reason to scrap the NHS and perhaps salvage some cash for the defence of the nation!

    • September 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      I presume there must have been some evidence, however scant…

      Doubtless, but innocent ’til proven guilty means what it says on the tin, so innocent she is. The day we drop that principle we’re all in very deep shit.

      (Edit: not that you were suggesting that, but I thought I’d bring it up anyway.)

    • Lord T
      September 3, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      More than likely they found she had taken something and clearly taking a botle of hand wash meant she was guilty as sin. Let’s arrest her on that and then push her till she breaks.

      Our entire social system is broken. It can be repaired but it won’t be until we make some massive changes.

      • September 4, 2011 at 6:12 am

        “I presume there must have been some evidence, however scant, that she was an individual who had access to the drips and the ability to interfere with them…”

        They found her fingerprint on a ‘supposedly tampered with’ (i.e. appeared to have a needle-hole in it) bag of saline.

        That’s it. No reason, of course, that she shouldn’t have had a fingerprint there, given she was a nurse.

        And this arrest is before the police have even finished questioning 500 potential suspects!

        • September 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm

          Is that it? Didn’t anyone think that whoever was tampering with the saline might have worn those things… you know, like socks for your hands, made of latex, hospitals chock full of ’em… gloves? Not so much Sherlock Holmes as Shithouse Harms.

          • September 4, 2011 at 7:26 pm

            It’s not quite all; Mummylonglegs has more, but none of it seems to be the sort of stuff you’d normally arrest for, unless you were panicky about the media suddenly getting on your ba…

            Oh. Right.

  4. Ice Queen
    September 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Many many moons ago, I was a student nurse on general ward placements. Throughout the course of an 8 or 9 hour shift I would often accumulate “hospital property” in my capacious student uniform pockets. Such delights as spare gloves, unused but sealed syringes, needles & saline ampoules, packs of gauze, dressings etc. I’d be attending to one task, finish and move onto the next without taking spare supplies back to the nurse station. Exhausted after a long shift (on top of a part time job) I’d sometimes find myself emptying hospital property out of my uniform at home before filling the washing machine. I have no doubt, if someone wished to “fit me up” that I could have been charged with theft of hospital property, such charges later being dropped on the basis that “it was not in the public interest to continue” as is the case with this unfortunate lady.

    • September 4, 2011 at 6:13 am

      Ah, but ‘many moons ago’, you wouldn’t have had FaceBook… :mrgreen:

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