Now that a second nurse from Stepping Hill Hospital, Victorino Chua, l has been arrested for allegedly tampering with medication, I wonder whether those who attacked Rebecca Leighton so viciously will reflect on their actions.
Ms Leighton was arrested last year shortly after the police inquiry began into a number of suspicious deaths at the hospital. Her arrest led to a media feeding frenzy as newspapers scrambled to unearth ‘dirt’ on her and portray her as a rather sleazy party girl. Meanwhile, Facebook pages sprang up containing shocking threats and incitements to violence against her and calling for punishments last seen in medieval Britain.
While Facebook eventually took down the offending pages I am yet to hear of any individuals being arrested for posting such malicious content. It seems that, while teenage boys indulging in riot fantasies from their bedrooms must be given long prison sentences, it’s OK to threaten to kill a nurse - so long as she’s suspected of wrongdoing.
Even when Ms Leighton was released without any charges related to tampering with medication, social media saw plenty of comments about her having ‘got away with it’. If she had the means to do so, I suspect she could have successfully sued hundreds if not thousands of people who libelled her in their rush to judgement.
Nurses are entrusted with caring for people at their most vulnerable, so it is not surprising that there is an outcry when they abuse this position - regardless of whether this abuse is serious enough to be deemed criminal. However, they are entitled to the same treatment as anyone else when suspected of abusing their position - they are innocent until proven guilty. I hope Mr Chua receives better treatment than Ms Leighton.