Health Secretary 1988-1990
Minister of Health 1982-1985
Lord Chancellor Justice Minister May 2010-September 2012
Minister ‘without portfolio’ September 2012
Resigns cabinet post 15th July 2014 C
Chairman (non-ex) Unichem
Director (non ex) Independent News and Media (UK)
March 16th 2016 nets £430,000 in book deal for his memoir, ‘Kind of blue’ by publisher Macmillian
During the weeks before and just after the publication of Kenneth Clarkes book (October 2016) he received huge amounts of cash for newspaper interviews, TV and Radio slots about his book, life and decisions during his tenure as MP and Ministerial roles. Not once has Kenneth Clarke shown respect to victims of vcjd or their families or an ounce of guilt regarding his culpable and ongoing decisions allowing BSE infected material to flood the human food and medicine chain.
Kenneth Clarke was responsible for the nation’s health during the most lethal phase of the BSE scandal .
While he was Health Secretary, infected material was constantly being recycled into the food chain.
(The highest levels of toxicity for BSE in the food chain was 1990-1991 (Professor John Collinge)
The highest risk came from MRM (mechanically recovered meat) which was up to ten times cheaper than meat destined for supermarket shelves and food outlets.
MRM resembles a puree or white paste . It’s made from vertebral column, ribs, and scraps of meat from the head such as cheeks and tongues. MRM was not only used extensively in pies, burgers and sausages, but also in many vegetarian dishes and chicken meals. These toxic meals were then supplied to some of the most vulnerable in society. They went into schools, hospitals and nursing homes and the elderly through the meals on wheels service.
Prisoners were fed MRM. It was served-up to members of the Armed Forces, and to students in colleges across the country.
This vile mix of animal parts, often cross-contaminated with brain material, was never meant to reach the wider consumer. Supermarkets, food outlets and shops would not risk their customers’ disgust . Instead it was regularly fed to schoolchildren, soldiers, sailors, airmen, patients in hospital and to the elderly all who were seen as very much at the end of the “food chain”.
Scientists JD Cooper and SM Bird reported that “The greatest BSE exposure period (for consumers) was 1980-1996.”
Research by another expert, Dr J T Hester, highlighted the danger of eating MRM . She said: “Our results are consistent with diet having been the major route of transmission of the vCJD agent thorough contaminated beef and products containing MRM/head meat.“
As late as 1995 slaughterhouses were still allowed to mechanically recover meat even though the end-product contained the most dangerous BSE infected parts of the cow. (The Guardian, 2001) Professor Will of the Edinburgh Surveillance Unit told the Independent on Sunday that “mechanically recovered meat and the amount that was consumed by infants and children in the 1980s was one explanation why so many young people develop vCJD.“
When he was at Southampton General Hospital, Andy’s consultant Mr McMonagle told me and his colleagues that “A stray burger did not cause this” (Andy’s condition).
I have had countless discussions with experts and scientists, I’ve read through thousands of pages of scientific data, and I have seen enough Government memos to understand that Andy’s terrible symptoms were due to regular exposure to BSE via infected meat products containing MRM.
This is what caused my son to develop vCJD. Pat Fellows, the National Chairman of The Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) whose members were responsible for producing and serving more than four million school meals every day during the crisis, she told the BSE Inquiry. “British Beef and British beef products had to be discarded and the USE OF RECLAIMED MEAT DISCONTINUED.“
By the time MRM was removed from school menus my son was already infected and incubating the avoidable, lethal, disease that would kill him at just 24. Some local authorities resisted. It was still on the menu in some areas as late as 1995.
Kenneth Clarke was responsible for health. During his term of office MRM, with its infected brain bits and head meat, was being fed daily to our children and infants, but Clarke refused to take any responsibility..
He told the BSE Inquiry “There was a clear split of responsibilities, my department being responsible for public health and MAFF being responsible for food.” Yet in his book “The Politics of BSE“ published 2006 Richard Packer (see profile) states that Clarke’s department hindered public health .
Packer says: “In 1986/88 there was nothing DOH could have done to protect the human population indeed as we have seen all they achieved when they were informed was to delay action necessary to achieve that end.”
During Clarke’s tenure, cattle material such as tissue cultures extracted from foetal calf serum, bovine serum albumin, or bovine brain and spleen were still being used in the production of childhood immunisations. (see list vaccines).
With a country full of worried consumers, Kenneth Clarke knew that BSE was a highly-political issue.
At the same time many medical experts found themselves directly opposed to the polices being followed by MAFF. They spoke of an environment in which withholding of vital information, cover-up and buck-passing became second nature.
Within his own department there was in-fighting and day-to-day friction, but the DOH turned a blind eye to this discord. It did not isolate the origins of BSE, resulting in a disastrous loss of young life.
Kenneth Clarke told the BSE Inquiry that he relied on “scientific and medical experts advice” listing the three most influential members of that group – all from the Department of Health: Sir Donald Acheson, Chief Medical Officer (see profile), Dr Jeremy Matters, Deputy Chief Medical Officer (see list) and Dr Hillary Pickles Principal Medical Officer (see list).
Christine with baby Andrew 1984
Outspoken and never remorseful he loftily told the inquiry “The day to day handling and decision making on other issues (he was busy restructuring the NHS) were delegated to other ministers.” Once again the responsibility and accountability was passed over to someone or something else. Kenneth Clarke was criticised by the Phillips inquiry over the issue of the safety of offal for adults.
They stated “As Secretary of State for Health Mr Clarke needed to be in the position to answer the questions “If offal is not safe for babies (re the banning of offal in baby food which was not effective, see Meldrum) why is it safe for adults?”
His answer was “we had no scientific advice that was strong enough to propose a ban of offal”. Yet dozens of Scientists had stood up and declared their fears for many years .
Kenneth Clarke is a QC with a sharp mind and is rarely anything other than ebullient . But when asked by the Phillips Inquiry into the BSE epidemic and its human victims, to defend his apparent lack of judgement his attitude was combative. He said “I am not convinced you have the faintest understanding how decision making goes on in Government“.
What did that mean? Did his reply highlight that he knew only too well what was happening? Did he worry more about departmental politics and Whitehall manipulating the facts, than public health?
Whatever the answer, the Department of Health shored-up, condoned the Conservative Government’s dangerous food policy during the BSE scandal instead of helping to prevent the avoidable death of people like my Andy. Kenneth Clarke was more concerned about his career and government policy than the population’s well being.
NOTE: On 2nd August 2007 a cow over 30 months was slaughtered and entered the food chain where it was consumed without being tested negative for BSE. This is the eighth cow that the Food Standards Agency is aware of that has passed into the human food chain without testing since 2005.
In his witness interview the Phillips Inquiry asked Kenneth Clarke about his decisions and judgements during the BSE crisis. He said “my recollections of the events have faded” and “original copies of submissions received by me are no longer available.”
Kenneth Clarke became Secretary of State for Education from 1992-1993 and became Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1993-1997.
Kenneth Clarke is now MP for Rushcliffe.