The Guardian reported this:
The Telegraph had the following:The fantasy life and lonely death of woman hailed as heroine of July 7 bombing
Mystery of troubled New Zealander who died after newspaper revelations
Owen Bowcott and Bernard O'Riordan in Sydney
Monday August 29, 2005
The extraordinary fantasy life and lonely death of a New Zealand woman hailed as a heroine after the July 7 bombings in London may be a parable of our celebrity-obsessed times. Or it may be the tragic story of an earnest young woman afflicted by chronic ill health.
However her career is judged, Richmal Oates-Whitehead - whose body was found 10 days ago in a flat in Shepherd's Bush - has left behind a confused and contradictory trail over which former friends, colleagues and the medical establishment are still puzzling.
The police appear to have discounted rumours that she committed suicide. The British Medical Association, at whose Tavistock Square headquarters she worked as an editor, yesterday confirmed it had held an inquiry into how she came to be given a job, but declined to reveal the outcome.
Ms Oates-Whitehead gained national prominence in her native country thanks to media coverage of the suicide bombing which destroyed the number 30 bus in Tavistock Square, outside the headquarters of the BMA. She was employed there as editor of Clinical Evidence, an online edition of the British Medical Journal. After the blast she appears to have left the building, alongside medically trained staff bringing first aid assistance to survivors.
Precisely what her role was that morning remains uncertain. The 35-year-old always carried a stethoscope in her handbag. She later told the Weekend Herald, a New Zealand paper, that she had been helping the injured in a makeshift hospital set up in a hotel next door to the BMA when two firefighters approached her for help.
"They needed one doctor to assist as firemen cut two badly injured people out of the wreckage. Would she come? They would understand if she declined," the front page article said. It reported Ms Oates-Whitehead as saying: "There was no room for hesitation - I wasn't thinking at that level. It was the moral and ethical thing to do." Her account included a controlled detonation of a second bomb. "Outside, there was another enormous bang as police detonated the 'bomb' - which turned out to be a false alarm."
The problem was twofold. Police had no record of a controlled explosion in Tavistock Square; moreover she was not a doctor. Her name does not appear on either the UK or New Zealand medical council registers.
Coverage of the London bombings - in which another New Zealander died - triggered suspicions. Intrigued, the Auckland papers began their inquiries. On August 15 the New Zealand Herald published a story headlined: "Doctor status of NZ bomb heroine questioned." It disclosed that the BMA was investigating her qualifications. Other papers published similarly sceptical stories.
Their reports unearthed a bizarre pattern of behaviour. Ms Oates-Whitehead, it emerged, had claimed to be the victim of a stalker, had described herself in some emails as a professor, told some friends she had been diagnosed with cancer and informed others that she had lost twins, born prematurely, who lived for only a day. She had placed a death notice in the NZ Herald which read: "Two beautiful girls, Jemima Josephine and Molly Niamh. Born 7 August 2004, died 8 August 2004. Taken away from Mummy and Daddy too soon. Two more beautiful angels in heaven."
Challenged by the BMA about her status, she resigned. On August 17, alerted by concerns from her family, police went to her flat in Shepherd's Bush, west London, and found her dead. Initial suspicions focused on the belief that, faced with the humiliation of her exposure and the loss of her job, she might have committed suicide - the victim of a media witchhunt.
But a postmortem report found that she had died of a "pulmonary embolism", or blood clot on the lungs. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper dubbed her the "bogus doctor who became the 53rd victim of 7/7". The death toll from the four bombings that day stands at 56, including the four suicide bombers.
Scotland Yard yesterday would merely say yesterday that her death was "non-suspicious". The BMA declined to go beyond the brief statement it issued earlier this month: "It is with great regret that the BMJ Publishing Group has heard of the sudden death of Richmal Oates-Whitehead. Our thoughts are with Richmal's family and friends. The BMJ will be making no further comment."
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, where she first worked after coming to Britain in 2001, could not be contacted yesterday. At least one London medical paper published on the internet during her time there carries an acknowledgement thanking her for providing "valuable information" in assembling data. In fact, she did have a medical background. She trained for a year as a radiation therapist in 1991, which included an internship at Auckland hospital. She had a postgraduate diploma in health service management.
She had always dreamed of being a doctor, the New Zealand Sunday Star-Times told its readers. It quoted an interview with a Sydney forensic psychiatrist, Dr Anthony Samuels, who suggested that she may been suffering from borderline personality disorder, and may have posed as a doctor to satisfy a psychological need.
"People with borderline personality disorders often get into caring professions because they have so much need themselves and it distracts them from their own pain."
On news of her death, tributes flowed in the New Zealand press. A schoolfriend described her as someone who always wanted to work in medicine. Natasha Delgarno, from Gisborne on the North Island, said: "Richmal was a real sweetie. She was very, very sensitive, caring and highly-strung." She also suffered from epilepsy.
She contacted her by email after the first articles appeared. "Richmal was a real dreamer - she was very interested in the medical profession and talked about marrying a doctor, becoming a nurse or other type of medical professional, and having children. It is terrible to think that she did not find happiness in life."
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondo ... 98,00.html
From the New Zealand Herald:Pathos of the bogus doctor who became '53rd victim' of 7/7
By Andrew Alderson and Nina Goswami
A woman has been found dead at her home in London two weeks after her bogus qualifications as a doctor were exposed because she had falsely been hailed as a heroine of the July 7 terrorist attacks.
Richmal Oates-Whitehead, 35, appeared in newspapers in her native New Zealand after she told how she bravely treated some of those seriously wounded in the Tavistock Square bus bombing.
died of ‘natural causes’
Such was the level of publicity following her supposed heroics that at least one New Zealand newspaper looked into her background and found that she was not a qualified doctor as she had claimed.
She initially disputed the paper's claim saying she would sue for defamation, but she later resigned from her job at the British Medical Association after it launched an investigation. Miss Oates-Whitehead cited ill health for her decision to step down from her role as an editor on one of the BMA's publications - a job that did not require her to be a qualified doctor.
Miss Oates-Whitehead, who always carried a stethoscope in her handbag, was found dead at her flat in Shepherds Bush, west London, 11 days ago amid fears that she had committed suicide. Scotland Yard and the local coroner were alerted but it now appears that she suffered a blood clot, possibly induced by her stressful double life.
Some friends see her as effectively the 53rd victim of the bomb attacks on three Tube trains and a bus on July 7 which left 56 people, including four suicide bombers, dead and more than 400 injured.
After the bombings, one of which took place outside the BMA headquarters, she gave an interview to New Zealand papers. She described how she had been tending the injured in a makeshift hospital next to the BMA building when two firemen approached her for help because they were cutting two badly injured people out of the wreckage. The firemen supposedly said that they would understand if she felt unable to assist.
"There was no room for hesitation - I wasn't thinking at that level. It was the moral and ethical thing to do," she said, before going on to describe how police then carried out a controlled explosion on a second suspect bomb. Scotland Yard, however, said there was no record of a second, controlled explosion at Tavistock Square.
An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph since Miss Oates-Whitehead's death has uncovered evidence that she led a fantasy life, telling others that she had travelled to Iraq to work as a doctor and Indonesia to treat victims of the tsunami.
Friends in her native New Zealand say that at various times she also claimed to have been stalked, that her partner was a retired professor in obstetrics, that she had given birth to twins who had died, and that she was being treated for cancer. Most, if not all, her claims appear to be fictitious - an apparent appeal for attention and sympathy.
Miss Oates-Whitehead, who suffered from epilepsy as a child, moved to London from New Zealand in 2001 and began calling herself a doctor. About three years ago, she started signing her e-mails as an epidemiologist - a specialist in controlling epidemics. She was, in fact, working as a clinical effectiveness co-ordinator at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in London.
Earlier this year she elevated her status further when she started signing e-mails as Prof Richmal Oates-Whitehead.
In fact, she had begun work as an editor for one of the BMA's websites dealing with clinical effectiveness.
Last August, she sent an e-mail to friends in New Zealand saying that she had given birth to twins but that, because they were premature, they had died after a day.
She even placed a death notice in the New Zealand Herald saying: "Two beautiful girls, Jemima Josephine and Molly Niamh. Born 7 August 2004, died 8 August 2004. Taken away from Mummy and Daddy too soon. Two more beautiful angels in heaven."
Inquiries have, however, produced no evidence of birth or death certificates for the girls and friends in Britain say that she lived alone and had never claimed to have been pregnant, let alone to have given birth to twins who died.
Claire Lawrence, 25, the co-owner of A Taste Of Home, a shop close to Miss Oates- Whitehead's home which sells New Zealand food and produce, was shocked this weekend to learn that her regular customer had died.
"The doctor," she said sadly. "She used to come in all the time. She was lovely. That's terrible."
Mrs Lawrence said the "doctor" seemed to have led an eventful and accident-prone life. On one occasion, she said she had suffered a broken arm after suffering a "mini heart attack" and on another occasion she claimed to have delivered a baby when a woman in her block of flats went into labour.
"She said flippantly that she was a doctor anyway so was used to doing things like that," said Mrs Lawrence. "Recently - the last few months - she hadn't been coming in as much. She told my husband that she'd been working abroad - in Iraq. "
Miss Oates-Whitehead was born and raised in Gisborne on New Zealand's North Island, where she attended the local high school. "She was a real sweetie. She was very, very sensitive, caring and quite highly strung," said Natasha Delgarno, a former school friend.
After the July 7 bombings, Miss Oates-Whitehead claimed to have qualified as a doctor at Auckland University, but it later said it had no record of her graduating. Neither is her name on the New Zealand Medical Council register.
She did, however, train as a radiation therapist and worked on a study of how to prevent blood clots - a final irony given that her cause of death was a "pulmonary embolism" - a blood clot on the lungs.
The coroner's office at Hammersmith and Fulham said there will be no inquest as her death was from "natural causes".
And, just as I was writing this, this appears on the UK 911 forum:The colourful life and sad death of a fabulist
By Julie Middleton
The email arrived at the Herald two weeks after the July 7 London bombings. The sender, anonymous but for the address "obsandgobsfitzy", wrote:
I thought you would like to know one of the heroines from the Tavistock Sq bus bomb was a Kiwi.
She was one of the medics working at the British Medical Association who immediately rushed out to help people. When police decided they needed to move people immediately, she was asked if she would board the bus to provide medical support.
She agreed, despite being told the device could detonate ... she then joined other emergency services in the courtyard of the BMA and treated casualties for around three hours.
When asked, she just said that it wasn't brave, it was just the "ethical and moral thing to do". She won't accept any praise, but I feel New Zealand should be proud.
It was something a closely involved, admiring colleague might write. At that point it wasn't obvious that the sender of the email was also the subject, the beginning of a final act of a deception that would end with her lonely death in her Shepherd's Bush Rd bedsit last week.
Richmal-Marie Oates-Whitehead was born in February 1970 in Gisborne, where she attended Lytton High School before beginning training as a radiation therapist in 1989. The course ran for three years: one in the classroom and two as a trainee at Auckland Hospital.
The hospital didn't keep her on afterwards, so Oates-Whitehead sought work elsewhere.
She spent some time working in a junior management role for the Waikato health authority and gained a post-graduate diploma in health service management from Massey University in 1997.
Odd behaviour surfaced in the late 1990s. Oates-Whitehead, apparently an epileptic, started seeing an Auckland doctor, but things ended badly after the doctor suggested she needed psychological help. One day while the doctor was overseas, Oates-Whitehead turned up at her church, where she had a spectacular fit.
The doctor feared she was being stalked when their paths crossed again in 1999.
Oates-Whitehead attended a training workshop which taught volunteers how to do reviews for the Cochrane Collaboration, an international grouping of health professionals, of which the doctor was a member.
Working in groups, members collect and analyse research to help doctors put it into practice. Non-doctors work alongside experienced medics.
Another Cochrane member, a psychologist, says Oates-Whitehead didn't claim any qualifications other than those she had, and threw herself into the reviews, the first on blood clots.
"It was all high-quality work," she says. "She was an intelligent woman."
Eventually she became an editor of groups on respiratory infections, breast cancer and gynaecological cancer. Her mother Marilyn, who suffered from cancer, and a nurse cousin are cited as helpers in several reviews.
Oates-Whitehead "probably felt quite included and accepted" by Cochrane members, says the psychologist: the atmosphere is collegial, supportive and non-competitive.
Although Oates-Whitehead was "charming", she says there was something "odd" about her. "One minute she would be your best friend, the next she wouldn't even speak to you. You felt you had to take everything she said with a grain of salt."
She complained of numerous miscarriages and other health worries: she was having chemotherapy, a treatment for cancer, she had heart problems, she had multiple sclerosis, she had suffered renal failure, she had undergone a double knee replacement.
"I got the impression that everyone had a few doubts about the health stories, but put up with it," says the Auckland doctor.
In 2001, Oates-Whitehead moved to Britain, intending to stay long-term. By December, she was apparently working for the NHS Wales in an analyst role, but kept up her Cochrane work.
From April 2002 to November last year, she worked for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's research arm as clinical effectiveness co-ordinator, managing the process of appraising evidence-based clinical practice.
"This was responsible and demanding work, but did not require a medical qualification," says a spokesman.
A British doctor with an inside view of RCPCH said opinion of Oates-Whitehead's work was "very positive. She worked incredibly hard - even overworked. She was doing it to the exclusion of everything else".
But Oates-Whitehead's fantasy was taking flight. She started signing herself "doctor" and "obstetric epidemiologist" to outsiders.
Epidemiologists, who study the incidence of disease, are generally medical doctors or have at least masters or PhD qualifications.
Doubting New Zealanders who queried the new title were told of British medical qualifications gained through cross-credit study. Their doubt increased when Oates-Whitehead said she was doing a doctorate and a master's degree side-by-side - an arrangement few universities, if any, would sanction.
The curious claims were not just limited to her professional life. A posting on www.babiesonline.com announced the birth and death of twins after 20 weeks' gestation.
"To Richmal, Michael, big sister Sophie and grandma Marilyn, in London. Two beautiful angels, Jemima Josephine and Molly Niamh. Born by caesarean section on the 7th of August 2004, passed away in Mummy's arms on the 8th of August 2004. Now in heaven."
A similar notice appeared in the Herald two weeks later and two more the weekend after. Sympathy poured forth but the babies never existed. Michael Fitzgerald, said to be a hospital obstetrician, and a stepdaughter, Sophie, never existed.
The nurse cousin visited Oates-Whitehead in London last year but realised something was up the day she tried to find Fitzgerald, without success. She told Richmal by phone, jokingly, that her fiance needed to introduce himself to colleagues so people would recognise him.
"She got all upset, and said 'I've got to go'. Then she rang me back five minutes later: 'I've just found out Michael's been lying to me and he's been off work for the last six months because he's had a heart attack'."
The cousin saw no sign of a significant other in the studio flat where Oates-Whitehead lived alone - no pictures, no men's clothes. Her niggles became major worries, and once home, she shared them with her parents but not Marilyn Oates.
"I thought: nobody's life is that complicated and this exciting. Something was a bit fishy, but I had no proof."
Oates-Whitehead's London life appeared quite sterile. "All she does is sit there and read ... because she's got no life ... that's why she's created this wonderful life."
In November last year, a jubilant Oates-Whitehead reported she had been awarded a personal academic chair and the title professor, and had started a job with Euro RSCG Life Medical Education, a marketing agency, with the title clinical obstetric epidemiologist.
She emailed a friend in New Zealand:
Last week I was in Italy for work but came home for the weekend, and on Monday I flew to Switzerland, also for work, and came back yesterday, so I really need some sleep. I keep thinking that as I have got my chair (being a prof was always in the game plan), and have got the 'wow' job, and I'm still only 34, life's great and all the work has paid off. However, I would swap it all for Molly and Jemima being alive.
Early this year, using a document claiming she was a medical doctor, Oates-Whitehead landed a well-paid, non-doctor job at the British Medical Association's BMJ Publishing Group.
She joined a team of editors on the publication Clinical Evidence, which summarises medical knowledge. In her office she kept a stethoscope and a blood pressure kit.
When terrorist bombs claimed 14 lives in Tavistock Square outside the BMA building on July 7, it triggered what would be her final deception.
After sending the anonymous email to the Herald, Oates-Whitehead was initially hesitant when contacted by a reporter, but eventually spoke for more than an hour.
She was friendly and spoke plausibly of helping as firefighters hurriedly prised survivors from the wreckage. There was "no room for hesitation", she said.
The day after the story ran, the disbelieving calls about her qualifications started. Challenged, Oates-Whitehead became defensive and then threatened legal action. But she stuck to her story.
However, her wildly varying justifications for medical degrees didn't stack up. Oates-Whitehead has never been registered in New Zealand or Britain as a doctor. What, then, was her role on the day terrorism visited Tavistock Square?
The Herald understands an emergency staffer did approach in search of a medic while Oates-Whitehead was standing with her immediate boss, GP David Tovey, and BMJ editor Fiona Godlee outside the BMA building.
The senior pair were diverted on to other tasks at that moment, and there is no proof that Oates-Whitehead boarded the bus.
The BMA refuses to clarify. But post-bomb accounts of its staffers' heroics published on its website did not name her. A source said there was "considerable doubt what her role was on the day".
Family members were confused. "I don't know what to believe any more," said one.
Six days after the original story ran, "obsandgobsfitzy" sent the Herald an angry email:
I am furious and distressed at what has unfolded. I have told Richmal the roll [sic] I played in this story because I felt terrible about how upset it made her.
In her true style she has been exceedingly forgiving. To persecute someone who's acted with such courage and selflessness in unimmagineable [sic] circumstance [sic], and who did it while so incredibly ill, is unforgiveable.
I have been a friend of Richmal's for years and I was there on that dreadful day. When the police ask [sic] her if she was a first-aider or health professional and she answered yes, and they asked her would she then come to the bus ... she didn't hesitate to go, after all she was an amazingly talented health professional, despite me begging her otherwise (I had heard the full exchange).
The extra stress you have put on her by your inexcuseable [sic] behaviour has caused the illness which she has been so bravely battling to deteroriate [sic], and she has today spent the day in hospital. I hope you are very proud. I know I'm not.
An hour later, a New Zealand colleague received an email which Oates-Whitehead said she was writing from hospital where she had been diagnosed with an alarming raft of problems, including the bleeding disorder von Willbrand disease, an auto-immune condition and multiple sclerosis.
I think I must have been very bad in a past life, killed lots of mongolians or something.
After that, silence. But allegations had reached her employers' ears. Two days later, Oates-Whitehead's employer confronted her. She resigned on the spot and left immediately, claiming ill-health. The BMA launched a fraud investigation.
On Wednesday, August 17, police responded to a call from Marilyn Oates who, unusually, hadn't heard from her daughter for 24 hours. Officers found her body at her flat.
The Fulham coroner carried out a post-mortem the next day. Oates-Whitehead apparently had multiple medical problems, but the cause of death was pulmonary embolism. Blood clots had travelled from both legs to lung arteries, blocking oxygen supply. Her last breaths would have been struggling gasps.
Some colleagues jumped to the conclusion it was suicide. Corrected, they were surprised. One admitted to some guilt at having ignored the constant complaints of ill-health.
Oates-Whitehead's mother and an aunt flew to Britain, arriving last Tuesday morning. They hope to bring her body home.
Colleagues speculate that Oates-Whitehead had a severe personality disorder. Clinical psychologist Nick Wilson says sufferers are often liars - telling people what they want to hear to be liked.
Although practised at displaying a polished face, they are fragile, have poor self-esteem and are often lonely: they allow certain people to see slices of their lives. But no one sees the whole, lest they are exposed and rejected.
"People with severe personality disorder learn to survive on superficial engagements," says Wilson. "They might go out for coffee with friends from work, and in their own mind will turn that into a date. They live off the crumbs, and in a Walter Mitty way will turn that into a full meal."
Oates-Whitehead got away with it because her lies were largely successful in a place where she knew few people and was unlikely to be challenged.
For several years she maintained her grip, fashioning a life of medical drama, academic success and anecdotes of family activities with "Michael and Sophie". The doubters kept their silence and the lies swelled.
In one chatty email back to New Zealand, Oates-Whitehead cheerily signed off with the line:
I personally find that life can be improved if you're not quite in touch with reality!
All too soon, that reality caught up with her.
- additional reporting by Derek Cheng
Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/author/story. ... D=10342653
And, seeing as New Woman is published by EMAP, who also employ our favourite Cross Media Communications Manager and July 7th spokesperson, it is left as an exercise for the reader to determine whether the New Woman hatchet job on Richmal Oates Whitehead confirms or denies the notion of her being a fabulist and fraudster.I read the story of Richmal, who it is reported died of natural causes; she seems to have had a sad and lonely life and she did suffer from a borderline personality disorder. It was suggested that she killed herself as a result of her lies about her heriosm and her job beign found out but it tuened out that she had a medical condition, possibly exaserpated by stress, there was a feature on her story in New Woman magazine recently called 'LIAR LIAR' about how Richmal's life.
Rachel, North London
I think you can guess where I might stand on this one....