Nursing leaders back shamed Rollers' action over sacking

By Kathleen Nutt

Publication Date: May 21 2000

FORMER Bay City Rollers drummer Derek Longmuir is to take legal action against the hospital which sacked him from his job as a senior staff nurse following a decision by the nursing licensing authority not to strike him off after he was convicted of possessing child pornography.

Longmuir's decision to take his case to an industrial tribunal is being backed by the Royal College of Nursing which believes Lothian University Hospital NHS Trust in Edinburgh removed him from his post without full consideration of the evidence presented in court.

Longmuir, who was a volunteer for the Red Cross before training as a nurse, worked for the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for nearly six years until his dismissal last month.

But last week, the UKCC, the nursing licensing authority, decided not to suspend the 49-year-old from its register after concluding that he posed no risk to patients or the public.

Explaining the reason for taking the hospital trust to an industrial tribunal, a source close to Longmuir said: "The trust acted far too prematurely. Its decision to sack him was based on sensational and inaccurate news paper reports and not on evidence presented in court."

A number of documents passed to the Sunday Herald contain dram atic discoveries about how the pornography came to be in Long muir's Edin burgh flat, how the police heard about it, and how detectives proceeded with the case.

A letter sent by an American friend of Longmuir's, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he left 22 videos and films and a number of floppy discs at Longmuir's flat while passing through Britain.

Some of the videos, Longmuir's lawyer, Robbie Burnett, confirmed, were purely for business and had no images of children, while others required specialised equipment run on the American NTSC system to be shown - which Longmuir did not have.

In addition, most of the films were 20-years-old and were bought legally at the time. The American friend also indicated that he was prepared to give evidence in court admitting possession of the items.

Further documents seen by the Sunday Herald confirm that the laptop computer on which four indecent images were found was on loan to Longmuir from an obsessed fan whom he had befriended. It was the same fan, whose friendship with Longmuir later soured, who initially tipped off the police about the items in his possession. The police also received further details about the items in Longmuir's flat from a long-term police informant with links to the Bay City Rollers who has served a jail sentence for underage sex with young boys.

It is understood the warrant the police obtained was based on information received from this man, who was excluded from a multi-million pound financial settlement between the band and a record company.

In legal notes passed to the Sunday Herald, Longmuir's lawyer considered whether to challenge the warrant on the basis that a senior Edinburgh detective appeared to be granting immunity for the man in connection with several other crimes in exchange for passing on information.

The lawyer's note states that Longmuir believed himself to be a victim of corruption which had emerged within the Lothian and Borders force. Despite the evidence, however, Longmuir decided he did not want to go ahead with a trial that could last days and instead instructed Burnett to deal with the matter in a way that would generate the least publicity.

In a letter to Gordon Wenham, acting chief officer for the Royal College of Nursing, Burnett argued that the conduct of the police in Longmuir's case was highly unusual. It emerged that within hours of police inter view ing Jorge Lourerio, the former drummer's Por tu guese foster son, detectives breached the Data Protection Act, giving Lou rerio's address to a reporter from The Sun news paper. Later, when the case came to court, one of the officers gave a television interview before the case had been dealt with.

"I have been a solicitor now for 26 years and I have never come across such misleading, inaccurate and sensational reporting," wrote Burnett. "The coverage of this case was disgraceful and I am very concerned that Mr Longmuir's employment is being decided on what the newspapers have said rather than the facts."

John Knape , communications manager for the UKCC, confirmed that officials had decided not to impose an interim suspension on Longmuir. "A UKCC committee recently decided not to suspend Mr Longmuir," he said. "We looked at the charges and nature of the supporting mate rials and decided he did not pose a serious threat to the public or to patients as such he is still free to work as a nurse."

Knape added that the case would later be heard by the UKCC professional conduct committee, where a final decision would be made.

Wenham said that an action was being lodged with the Employment Tribunal in Glasgow. He would not comment on the details surrounding the case or discuss the basis for the action, but he added: "Clearly the evidence from people, including consultants and colleagues of Mr Longmuir, indicated that he was a very good nurse and clearly is a great loss to nursing."

A spokeswoman for Lothian University Hospital NHS Trust said it would be inappropriate to comment on any legal action being taken by Longmuir.