Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category
Julia George interviews Peter Reynolds of CLEAR, following publication of the report ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’. Nick Rijke, of the MS Society, comments on using cannabis to treat multiple sclerosis and how Sativex, the only licensed cannabis medicine, is very difficult to obtain on prescription.
Capone is only nine, going on 10 but I know that his time is approaching quickly, far too fast for me.
He saved me when I escaped London from a woman and a destructive lifestyle. We used to walk five miles every day – at least. Now he has to be encouraged every step, at best half a mile then I have to take him home and Carla and I go out again for exercise
He has a strong, stable, self-contained personality. He is loving, obedient but independent. He is my guide as much as I am his master.
He has severe arthritis in all four legs, particularly around the elbows but he also has some sort of spinal problem and you can see it clearly from the way he walks. For some months anti-inflammatories seemed to help but no longer. Now he is on 300mg gabapentin twice a day and there has been an improvement, without evident side effects.
He also developed epilepsy a few years ago and about every six months he has a cluster of about a dozen seizures over 24 – 36 hours.
I shall be by his side until the final moment and that will be a very difficult decision to make. As long as he is happy and enjoying life I will look after him. When he finally goes to that neverending walk in the sky his legs won’t ever hurt again, the sun will always shine and there will be deer and rabbits to chase around every corner.
There is real momentum building in Parliament on the issue of medicinal cannabis. The first thing George Freeman said this week when he welcomed us to the Department of Health was: “There is a lot of discussion going on in government about this subject”.
This is extraordinary progress, unimaginable as recently as 2012. Undoubtedly, developments in the US have raised cannabis up the political agenda. Through 2014, CLEAR has been well received by the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Health Select Committee and just before Christmas I met with Baroness Meacher and Lord Howarth in the House of Lords. They are chair and treasurer, respectively, of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform. They are determined to push reform through to make medicinal cannabis available and have briefed one of the UK’s leading psychopharmacologists to prepare a review of existing evidence on the subject. Armed with this they have a plan to meet with key individuals in both Houses of Parliament and I have no doubt that they will succeed in changing minds.
Also this week, I met with advisors to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, in the very heart of government at the Cabinet Office. The Liberal Democrats are planning towards another coalition after the General Election and determined to see drugs policy form part of a new coalition agreement. Right at the front of their priorities is medicinal cannabis for which there is strong support from existing ministers, Lynne Featherstone at the Home Office and Norman Lamb at the Department of Health. Expect announcements in the run up to the election.
George Freeman is the Life Sciences Minister, responsible for medicines, NHS innovation, research, development, the MHRA and NICE. His role is as important as any other minister in achieving the reform we seek. He is another ally and has asked me to submit a paper setting out our proposals. Of particular importance is how medicinal cannabis could be regulated, either with a full Marketing Authorisation from the MHRA or possibly registration as a Tradional Herbal Medicine. The very fact that we are now discussing such detail is a measure of how far we have come.
So there is great cause for optimism at the start of 2015. We are closer than we have ever been before and this has been achieved by moving away from the old ‘protests’ and outdated campaigning ideas. I am confident that early in the new parliament we will see substantial progress.
A Life Well Lived
15th January 2015
To William and Ethel, a son.
Husband. Father. Brother. Grandfather. Uncle. A mentor, benefactor and example to so many.
He has had a wonderful life.
It is a wonderful life, alive in the hearts and memories of all who knew him, especially those of us that love him.
For us it is as a legend, almost a fairy tale of romance, nobility and triumph against all the odds. That is why, though very emotional, I can feel no sadness at my father’s story; only joy, pride, satisfaction at a life so well lived. Would that we could all cross the finish line in first place, for my father has the gold medal around his neck and he is our champion.
Until the build-up to war in 1938, William, my grandfather, could not get regular shifts at the steelworks in Newport. There was no food on the table and my father was severely malnourished. 50 years later after winning a scholarship to Oxford, in union with the woman he adored every minute of his life, he was at the top of his profession: one of the leading commercial lawyers in the UK, an extraordinary achievement, a measure of our time.
Yet nothing mattered to my father except family. That’s not that it was more important than anything else. It was all that mattered.
So we have had our fair share of petty squabbles and division but never, not once, has he, nor my mother, been diverted from a deep and abiding love for each one of us. For his five children, he provided the total security, material and emotional, that enabled us to go out into the world and make our own mistakes, achieve our own successes in which he took so much pride.
My earliest memory is of him hopping down the path of our bungalow in Gorleston to a waiting ambulance having put a garden fork through his foot. Hugh was not yet born, so I was younger than 18 months old but I remember it like yesterday.
We all have special memories. It is impossible to pick between them. I recall him taking me on my first visit to the cinema, the Acocks Green Odeon, to see Zulu – and the great Welsh pride in that. Later, I recall seeing James Bond films with him and he introduced me to the books, including the naughty bits, so risqué and daring at the time.
In 1970, I accompanied Dad as a VIP guest to the Alcan Open, a golf tournament in County Dublin. We were both mischievously plied with drink, me having just passed 13, and we nearly missed our plane home.
In the past year of his life he endured the tragedy of Jonathan’s untimely death. With great dignity he has led this family to where we are today. Nothing has ever given me more pride than to take him to his last formal occasion in October when he saw my son, Richard, called to the bar. I know he was equally overjoyed a few weeks later to visit Jacob at his college in Oxford.
What characterises my father’s life throughout is enormous generosity, both of spirit and in material terms. Even to those who had wronged him or against whom he had just cause for complaint, he has always been there, always a ready hand to those in times of need.
Indivisible from my father’s life is his union with my mother which transcends death as much as any relationship ever can. I believe his love and legacy will sustain her forever. They deserve each other as much as the night deserves the sunrise. Nothing will ever extinguish what is between them.
Dad often used to speak in French. I’m not sure why but I fondly remember being called John-Pierre or John-P. So I will never say goodbye to him. Instead, the French express it so much better: au revoir mon pere.
There is little else that needs to be said about this. It is self-explanatory and is a total vindication of my action against De Hoedt to stop his lies and abuse.
I was forced to take legal action against four people with regard to the hate campaign that was launched against me back in 2012. I reached a settlement agreement with Alun Buffry. A consent order concluding my claim against Sarah McCulloch will be published shortly and De Hoedt is now restrained from repeating or causing to be repeated any of his lies on pain of going to jail.
The ringleader Chris Bovey is still to face justice. Whether I can succeed against his great wealth and army of solicitors and barristers remains to be seen but the issues are the same. Bovey is probably the most malevolent, dishonest manipulator I have met in my life and he is responsible for encouraging the other defendants into the conduct that led them to the High Court. He has a great deal to answer for both to those he has misled and to the massive damage he has caused to the cannabis campaign in the UK. I particularly regret the way he turned Greg De Hoedt against me. I counted Greg as a close friend and it causes me great heartache that I had to pursue him to this extent.
Bovey has had my claim against him struck out on procedural grounds. My appeal will probably be heard in the autumn. Given new case law that has arisen in the meantime I have good grounds for optimism. If I succeed and the substantive issues in my claim are heard then he will be looking at a damages award well into six figures. Bovey’s biggest problem is that if an award is made against him, he has the assets which the Court can seize.