Kiwi fake doctor's London bombings lies

23:06, Jan 26 2011
London bombings
TERRORIST ATTACK: The destroyed number 30 double-decker bus in Tavistock Square in London, which Richmal Oates-Whitehead falsely claimed to have boarded.

A fake New Zealand doctor who claimed to have treated the victims of London's 2005 bombings lied almost systematically about her role on the day of the attacks, an inquest has heard.

Richmal Oates-Whitehead, 35, formerly of Gisborne, was working at the medical publication BMJ Knowledge in central London, when the number 30 bus was blown up opposite her building on July 7.

The explosion was the fourth that morning, part of a coordinated rush-hour attack on the London transport system which killed 56 people, including the four suicide bombers.

Richmal Oates-Whitehead
RICHMAL OATES-WHITEHEAD: Her lies about the bombing were part of a fantasy life created after she moved to London from New Zealand in 2001.

Oates-Whitehead - found dead in her flat from natural causes five weeks after the bombings - told police that she rushed to help, tending to the injured and even pronouncing one patient dead.

Her involvement was lauded in New Zealand, including a front-page article in the Weekend Herald.

However, the 7/7 inquest at London's High Court yesterday heard that she had played no part in treating the dying - and her claims to being a doctor were fake.


She told her employers she had a medical degree and had been a doctor for 15 years, but after her various media appearances they found she had lied about her qualifications.

Yesterday's hearing heard that Oates-Whitehead gave police a statement following the attacks in which she said she was on the third floor of the British Medical Association's (BMA) office when she heard an "enormous bang", the Daily Telegraph reported.

She went to the nearby County Hotel, which had become a makeshift field hospital, and helped treat about 12 injured people, she said.

A police officer asked her to board the devastated bus and help and she said she had to pronounce someone on board dead.

"I could see organs and body parts," she said.

"I remember seeing clearly a whole liver and what I believed to be four right arms."

But the inquest heard nobody remembered seeing a woman matching her unusual description, wearing a pink top, purple skirt, red shoes and carrying a green stethoscope.

Oates-Whitehead also said she helped evacuate victims to the BMA's courtyard.

"I clearly remember a plane flying overhead and all of us looking up fearing the worst."

But the Telegraph reported that Neil Saunders, a barrister for some of the Tavistock Square victims, said "there was no reference to a lady fitting her description on the bus".

Dr David Tovey, BMJ Knowledge's editorial director and a former GP, said someone came to him with information about her past on August 5.

"It looked highly suspicious; she didn't have a medical degree," he said.

"We had early contact with Richmal at which she offered her resignation. We collected more information but hadn't discussed the findings with her."

The lies about the bombing were part of a fantasy life Oates-Whitehead created after she moved to London from New Zealand in 2001.

She began signing her emails as an epidemiologist although she was actually working as a clinical effectiveness coordinator at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in London. 

Other manifestations included claiming to friends that she had been the victim of a stalker, had multiple sclerosis and had lost twins, born prematurely, even placing death notices in various newspapers.

Oates-Whitehead was actually a radiation therapist. She trained for a year in 1991, which included an internship at Auckland hospital, and had a postgraduate diploma in health service management.