I read that 'Lee has lost his chance to study medicine'. I was robbed

of that long ago

I made a clear and conscious decision to enrol at school as it was the

only course of action

LET ME state first of all that I did supply Dundee University with

false information when I applied for entry to the medical course in

1994. Specifically, I presented myself as Brandon Lee, ne June 4, 1977,

whereas I was in fact born on June 3, 1963, and christened Brian Lachlan


I originally left school (Bearsden Academy) after my fifth year in

1980 and went up to Glasgow University to study medicine. I was happy

and I felt sure that medicine was the right path for me.

I cannot remember an exact date, but I remember that it was in the

winter of 1980 that I began to feel unwell. At first, I thought it was

some minor flu bug, but on the very few occasions that I had had flu, I

had usually felt heavy-headed for a couple of days, then taken a Disprin

and sweated it out of my system. However, these symptoms progressed

differently. I was thirsty much of the time; I was losing weight (almost

three stones until my lowest ebb). Increasingly I could concentrate on

neither book learning nor conversation; and most memorably of all I

seemed to want to sleep much of the time.

I remember first infectious mononucleosis and then a virus called

coxsackie being mentioned by my GP, but I do not believe that any blood

test was undertaken during that period. In any case, I chose, perhaps

mistakenly, to keep my head down and try and get on with things. I felt

that by broaching such a matter with my adviser of studies, in my first

year, would do me no favours.

In the summer term of the 1980/81 academic year, I failed all three of

my first MB Ch B Professional examinations. At that time, I felt

seriously unwell for the first time in my life and I was not sure what

would become of me. I think that what helped me most was being called to

the then Dean's office. He read me glowing excerpts from my school

report, smiled kindly, and told me to go off and show what I could

really do. His name was (Professor) McGirr, but mostly I remember his

eyes; old and wise and benign and framed under bushy eyebrows.

For the duration of the summer, I timetabled myself to take as much

sleep as I might. Beyond that, I devoted all the time I could to forcing

myself to study. Whereas before, I had been quick to learn, I now found

it almost impossible to focus on anything; but I was inspired by what

this old man had said and how he had said it. In September, I passed all

three resit examinations.

Shortly afterwards, and before the second year began, I have a vivid

recollection of being driven to Loch Fyne with my family. I am only very

occasionally given to strong emotion, but I remember crying to myself

when I saw the sea and the hills. I realised that I had seen neither all

summer and my heart felt low and I was sure that I would die.

However, I did not die. I sense that what saved me was that the

experience of the summer had somehow broken my will, thereby whatever

pathology afflicted me was able to run its course and eventually be

dealt with by my immune system, itself now unhindered by the stress of


I became like a zombie, still losing weight, enervated, and sleeping

for long periods.

From more or less the beginning of the second year I could not attend

classes. I do not remember much about the following year to 18 months,

although the memory of a few events stay with me. At one point I was

asked for an interview with the new Dean, Professor Jennett, and the

Adviser of Studies, Dr Holmes. Physically, it was a tremendous effort to

leave my house and go and see them, but I managed it; perhaps motivated

by the expectation that having seen how I actually was (and not just the

report from my GP) they would afford me the leave that I required to


It was immediately apparent to me that their adopted position was

quite in contrast to my expectations. They were aggressively

unsympathetic. What marks that interview out as one of the worst

experiences of my life -- worse even than the position in which I now

find myself -- is the frustration at not being able to defend myself

against the verbal equivalent of being set upon by hyenas. Before

becoming unwell, I had always been blessed with quick wits and strong

articulation; but these qualities were far removed from me at that time.

All I remember clearly was their repeated demand for me to withdraw

from the course and my oft-repeated ''No!''. In fairness to them, they

may have thought, on the basis of my lack of lucidity, that they were

dealing with a simpleton; but they surely knew that I was not well. They

were nevertheless insistent that if I did not voluntarily withdraw from

the medical course, I would be excluded on the spot with no chance of

future re-admission.

Unable to tolerate any more browbeating, I eventually signed the

document that they had put in front of me. Thereafter, I was shunted

first to a clinician (Mr Brebner), then a psychiatrist (Mr Cheyne), and

finally, far from fully recovered, I was excluded from medicine.

Some time later, I remember seeing another psychiatrist (suggested to

me, I believe, by a local politician -- I pursued as many avenues as I

might to redress the decision to exclude me) in order to try to gain

some manner of restoration of my position, following its dismemberment

by the university psychiatrist.

I had to travel by train to near Edinburgh in order to meet this man.

I do not recall his name but what he promised to be a most favourable

re-evaluation of my mental state is probably still on record at Glasgow

University Medical Faculty. I seem to recall that it was with him that I

discussed my horror at labelling me obsessional.

Words, used skilfully, are tremendously powerful. Indeed I, myself, am

using them as best as I might here, in some tenuous (and probably

forlorn) hope that I might hold to the path that I feel, so strongly, is

right for me; however, few words hold such sway in our culture as do

psychiatric terms. Their connotations for the lay person are potent and

if one is even known to have visited (or in my case, in the first

instance, to have been, most conveniently, ''sent to'') a psychiatrist,

one is thereafter precluded from much.

The detail of our conversation now elude me, but I trust that I made

it manifestly clear to him that I was not interested in trying to ''be

someone'' -- Dr, Mr, Professor, or whatever -- I simply felt that in

considering my talents and my strong vocation to somehow help others

some area of medical practice was the destination towards which I ought

to head.

Three years later, in 1986, while working as a library assistant at

Glasgow University main library I heard that the university science

faculty had a dearth of applications. I took no pleasure in my work, but

I performed it diligently, and the head librarian was kind enough to

write me a glowing report, when I went for interview at the Science


I undertook the science degree (financing myself without grant for the

first two years) with the sole aim in view of performing well enough to

re-route back into medicine at the earliest opportunity, either at

Glasgow or elsewhere.

With the advantage of hindsight, I realise that this was foolhardy. In

previously refusing to acquiesce to the combined wills of Professor

Jennett and those around him, I had contributed to a situation in which

my name was mud. In any case, I performed very well throughout the first

two years, gaining certificates of merit (some first class), where

available. I had one fail in the third term of second year, in half

Higher Ordinary Chemistry.

Sometime before the exam, the chemistry department had encouraged me

to enter an essay competition run by Spillers Foods and open to all

undergraduates studying science subjects in British universities. I

suppose I spent too much time on researching and writing the essay and

somewhat neglected to study for what seemed to be a minor examination.

In any case, I passed the resit with flying colours and won (jointly)

the essay competition. I received #500 and had it published in Food

Science and Technology Today.

Despite my academic record and glowing reports from the science

faculty adviser of studies I still received no offers of a place in any

of the medical schools to which I applied. At the end of the second year

I applied to specialise in immunology, beginning the following term. I

imagined that this might be the subject most commensurate with going on

to study medicine. I was however, refused a place. The reason given was

that despite an otherwise outstanding academic record, I had failed half

Higher Ordinary Chemistry and it was not departmental policy to accept

students who had failed in any subject.

Hence, with third year soon to begin, I found myself with no place in

any course. I almost walked away at that point. However, via a meeting

with Dr Lackie, a cell biologist, I was introduced to Professor Whaley,

who ran the then newly-offered Experimental Pathology course. He was

glad to offer me a place. At the end of the third year one is simply

told whether one has passed or failed (no merit system). I passed.

Still, there came no interviews or offers of a place in medicine from

any of the schoools to which I applied.

In the fourth year, I applied again to Glasgow and other universities

and I think that it was in that year that Glasgow finally asked me for

interview. The aforementioned reality of my name being ''mud'' had long

since dawned upon me and my hopes of readmission were diminishing.

Today, I read from Wednesday's Herald, the headline '' 'Lee' has lost

his chance to study medicine''. I was robbed of that chance a long time

ago .

Approximately one month before my final exams I discovered upon

visiting the faculty office that my application had been unsuccessful. I

had not even received a letter from them. At that point I did give up

and informed Professor Whaley of my decision. Professor MacSween, the

head of pathology, called me at home soon afterwards and was insistent

that I take the finals, as a first or an upper second would yet provide

me with the possibility of going on to study medicine.

I took his advice and felt very good about my performance in the

finals. Immediately afterwards, by way of winding down, I went climbing

in Skye and then in the far North of Scotland (Ben Hope) with three


Upon calling home one day, my mother told me that Professor MacSween

had called and wanted to see me. At interview, he told me that there was

a problem with the comprehension of my handwriting in one of my papers.

I thought he was joking at first and that he had really called me to

discuss something else. However, he seemed to be in earnest. I conceded

that I had been up late studying the night before and I may have been a

little tired, but there was surely no way my handwriting could not be


Later, Professor Whaley spoke with my mother on the telephone and said

that aside from this point of contention, much else of my work in the

exam was of the standard of a good first.

Later in the summer of 1990, our car was hit by a driver who had been

drinking. My grandmother lost her eye and died 12 days later, my mother

had three fractured ribs. I had whiplash and was largely housebound for

some months.

During that time, I considered what else I might do with my life, but

nothing would come to me except to try to study medicine abroad. I

enrolled in a biosciences B Sc course at Caledonian University. I

performed well and Dr Kinsman, who organised the course, wrote me a

report. I applied to many universities around the world. Two showed

interest, but no firm offers were forthcoming.

During the spring of 1991 my father began to have problems with

swallowing his food. He was treated by his GP for indigestion, but the

problem worsened to the point where he could no longer retain his food.

At my mother's insistence, he was sent for tests at Glasgow's Western

Infirmary. There, a stricture was discovered and his oesophagus was

widened by mechanical means. The pathology report (of the biopsy) from

the department where I used to study came back negative. My father was

sent home and my mother told to stop worrying, as ''there was absolutely

nothing wrong with him''.

As you know, I have no medical qualifications (although I did study

oncology, as part of the experimental pathology course), but even I

could see that there was something seriously wrong with him. One week

later, my father was again sent for tests at the Western accompanied by

a letter from his GP ('' . . . at the insistence of his wife I am

sending him for re-examination''). The following day we were told that

he had cancer of the oesophagus. One can only conclude that the

diagnosis had been missed first time around.

A prognosis of three months' survival time was intimated to my mother

-- he died 11 months later. With respect to what I have done since then

I feel that there are three events relating to this episode which

provided me with the impetus to proceed as I did.

In the first instance, I lived with my parents in a sheltered housing

complex at 15 Jedworth Court in Bearsden, after I returned from Canada.

There my mother worked for some 16 years as warden. When the dosage of

morphine given to control my father's pain was increased to a level

where he became bedridden, we converted the downstairs room, adjacent to

the living-room, into a bedroom for him. The onset of my father's

illness coincided with the time of my mother's retirement. Shortly

before his becoming bedridden they were offered a flat up two flights of

stairs. At this time my father, who had already had a hip replacement,

could walk on flat ground only with difficulty. Stairs were


Soon afterwards representatives of Strathclyde Regional Council came

to visit my mother. I was sitting by my father's bed and through the

thin walls I overheard them serve an eviction notice on her -- this in

spite of her having, earlier in the conversation, explained that my

father was dying of cancer. As it was, she later successfully resisted

the eviction action at Dumbarton Sheriff Court and won reasonable

accommodation at 11 Whitehurst. My father died before he moved here.

In the second instance, my mother was concerned that my dad should not

be told bluntly of his prospects. There was little doubt that he knew

his cancer was inoperable (a bypass tube was fitted around part of his

oesophagus, as a temporary measure), but having been married to him for

more than 40 years she knew how his plight should be managed.

The consultant surgeon was sensitive to this, but when she phoned to

discuss the matter with one of the GPs in the local practice he was

adamant that any inquiry from my father, as his condition worsened,

would meet with a forthright response.

These first two events moved me to consider that the so-called

''caring'' professions -- my mother worked for the social services

department of SRC -- were populated by many people who were neither

caring, nor particularly professional.

I determined to make one last attempt to study for a medical degree;

however, aged 29 and with my particular background I realised that there

was no realistic possibility of my so doing in straightforward fashion.

It was at that point that I undertook to employ essentially dishonest

means to achieve this purpose.

''Falsification'' always has an unsavoury ring to it. I was willing to

falsify documents in order to clear a way on my chosen path, which had

hitherto been blocked by a bludgeoning and unconcerned system. Medical

ethics, however, constitute a code of conduct for those who have been

afforded a fair opportunity (as I believe I have not) to complete their

medical studies.

My resolve along these lines was consolidated by a third important

event during this time.

Shortly before morphine finally robbed him of his ability to

elucidate, my father started to speak to me about confidence. He was

rambling somewhat, but he said that he had never lost confidence, except

once. It was the morning after the Cheapside whisky bond disaster when,

as a fireman coming on early duty, he discovered some of his friends'

bodies in the aftermath of the explosion.

Our natures were so different in several ways that I could not fully

understand what he meant. I asked him if he thought that I might yet

fulfil some purpose in life which was meaningful for me. He replied: ''I

think that everybody has their day''. To the outside listener this might

have been interpreted as meaning that I had already had mine. But I

would stress that I was intensely cognisant that I was having my final

conversation with my Dad and hence I was listening more with my heart

than my ears. I saw with clarity that I should proceed with this idea

that I had been entertaining. Much of the rest is a matter of record.

There remain of course a number of points which I feel obliged to

clear up:

(A) I made a clear and conscious decision to re-enrol at school as I

felt it was the only course of action left open to me to resume my

studies in medicine.

(B) Of the secondaries within reasonable commuting distance none

seemed interested in taking pupils from outwith their catchment area.

With May drawing to a close I had no option but to return to my original


(C) I do not possess two passports, I did not have a brawl in a

Tenerife bar, and I was not and have never been arrested.

I am truly sorry for any adverse effect caused by me to the university

and Bearsden Academy. I appreciate the kindness shown me both at the

school and at Dundee University. My family have been, and as I write,

still are, under siege by the media -- I was on holiday abroad when this

story broke and returned as soon as I could -- and to put an end to this

I have decided to speak to one newspaper -- for no payment.

[CPYR] Caledonian Newspapers Ltd 1995 and Brian MacKinnon 1995. All

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