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News of the World Ely scandal.


Conditions at Ely Hospital came to the attention of the world through the pages of the News of the World. It reported allegations of ill treatment of patients and pilfering by staff. The allegations were made by a nursing assistant at the hospital – a Mr Pantilides, then living in Ethel Street, in Canton. The public outrage which followed led to the setting up a committee of inquiry. Its chairman was to be Geoffrey Howe, QC, who went on to become Chancellor of the Exchequer and deputy Prime Minister to Margaret Thatcher.
It was Howe who insisted the inquiry should go far beyond the events at Ely itself, to look at the whole system and the way in which people with learning difficulties – “mental handicap”, as it was known at the time – were treated within the 20-year-old NHS.