Furious Eljamel campaigners react to Jason Leitch’s key role in investigation

Angry Eljamel campaigners have told of their “disgust” after The Courier revealed Professor Jason Leitch’s key role in a major investigation into all of the disgraced surgeon’s cases.

The high-ranking national clinical director was assigned to oversee the organising of one-to-one reviews for Sam Eljamel’s victims.

But Prof Leitch is now facing widespread calls to quit due to damning evidence from the UK Covid inquiry hearings in Edinburgh.

Eljamel campaigners branded his behaviour “appalling” and insisted he should resign from his post altogether.

“I’m just absolutely disgusted,” said lead campaigner Pat Kelly. “He should go without a doubt.”

Pat Kelly has been a relentless campaigner for a public inquiry into Eljamel’s time in Dundee. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

Mr Kelly added: “I just find the whole thing absolutely appalling, especially for the families who lost loved ones.

“He should do the honourable thing and resign, but he’s not going to do that.

“He’s going to try and fight his way out of this, and hope the public just shrugs their shoulders.”

Texts between Prof Leitch and Humza Yousaf showed him advising the then health secretary how to dodge Covid mask rules.

Prof Leitch also came under scrutiny over previous comments he made that deleting key WhatsApp texts about the pandemic was a “pre-bed ritual”.

Glenrothes grandmother Theresa Mallett.

Glenrothes grandmother Theresa Mallett, another Eljamel victim, gained national headlines when she heckled Mr Yousaf last June.

She said: “I was shocked when I was listening to the Covid inquiry.

“When I found out he was going to be involved with the reviews, I was horrified. I couldn’t believe it.”

She added: “It wasn’t professional at all, what was going on behind the scenes. That was not what was being portrayed.

“He should definitely go. I don’t think the majority of Scotland would trust him after they watched that, and those that do, they’ll learn.

“I felt for the bereaved families. It must have heaped trauma on them.”

SNP health chief Michael Matheson. Image: PA.

SNP health chief Michael Matheson told Jules Rose, another Eljamel victim, that Prof Leitch would be involved in the one-on-one reviews for patients.

The Kinross mum said she was told that the national clinical director would be the top official facilitating the investigation, which will run alongside a separate public inquiry.

Ms Rose discovered this in a meeting on September 7 last year, on the same day the long-awaited inquiry was ordered by First Minister Mr Yousaf.

Yet concerns over Prof Leitch’s actions during the pandemic have raised further concerns among patients over his suitability for the role.

Mr Kelly was especially disgusted with the latest revelations given his own family experiences during the pandemic.

He told us: “I never got to my sister or my aunt’s funerals during Covid – and to hear these clowns now.

“I should have driven up and sat in the car nearby, but I was worried I’d get arrested.”

Lead Eljamel campaigner Jules Rose. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

Campaigner Ms Rose said on Tuesday: “Appointing Mr Leitch to oversee the long-awaited clinical one-to-one reviews would only continue the government’s legacy of secrecy, and their inability to understand the word transparency.

“On behalf of all butchered patients, this is not a professor that we welcome to instil trust in these pending clinical reviews.”

The Scottish Government insisted the chair of the patient reviews, once it began, would be independent.

A spokesperson said: “Planning for the independent clinical review of individual cases, for those former patients of Mr Eljamel who would like to participate, is now well underway.

“This will be chaired by a person who is independent of both the Scottish Government and NHS Tayside.

“Further details will be shared publicly as soon as possible and, as with the announcement of the public inquiry, we will ensure that former patients are informed directly wherever possible.”

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