Talk:John Bodkin Adams

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Former good article nominee John Bodkin Adams was a Social sciences and society good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
September 3, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed
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This article uses British English dialect and spelling.
According to the relevant style guide, this should not be changed without broad consensus.


There's still far too much waffle in this page. The Why interfere section is unconvincing to say the least--Cunningham 16:28, 20 February 2007 (UTC)


I'm a little reluctant to accept this man's homosexuality, but could be convinced otherwise :) According to the article, we have one memo from a journalist to go by - which isn't a reliable source. Are there any other references to back this up? I haven't read Cullen, and know nothing about Adams, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks! -- SatyrTN (talk | contribs) 14:20, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

  • This article probably needs a dedicated section for sexuality. Basically though, according to Cullen, Adams was almost certainly a closet homosexual. He was popular with his older female patients because he knew how to 'pass' - he would flirt with them and he was unmarried, allowing them to feel that his attention could even lead to a marriage proposal. However, he was incredibly close to Roland Gwynne, a renowned homosexual who had many affairs with men. Adams and Gwynne went on frequent holidays together and Gwynne would visit Adams daily in the morning at 9 am (according to Adams). While this certainly isn't cast iron proof, it gives the journalist's memo much more credence than one would usually give such a thing. It should also be mentioned that Adams was at one point engaged to be married in 1935 (a fact that should also be added to the article) but broke off the engagement at the last moment after the bride's father had already bought them a house. He therefore flirted with the idea of trying (to pretend) to lead a 'hetero' life, but couldn't bring himself to do it.Malick78 11:06, 27 June 2007 (UTC)


Please see this section of the Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Ireland-related articles) talk page. Northern Ireland did not exist when Adams was born, therefore it's Ireland. As for the cats - Category:British serial killers - no. It's a violation of NPOV to label him as a serial killer. Category:Doctors convicted of murdering their patients - convicted of murdering who? Absolutely nobody! One Night In Hackney303 19:51, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

I quite agree. He was acquitted, and not even struck off in the end! --Counter-revolutionary 19:54, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
  • The info box tells us where he was born and where that place is now - quite clearly it is in Northern Ireland. Just because he was born before it's existence does not mean that the town has to be described as being where it was 'then'. Was Boudicca from Brittania or Britain? Your policy would lead to absurd descriptions. For the record, wikipedia reads:
"Boudica (also spelt Boudicca, formerly better known as Boadicea) (d. AD 60 or 61 ) was a queen of the Iceni people of Norfolk in Eastern Britain who led an uprising of the tribes against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire."

As for NPOV issue of calling him a serial killer, there is a 650 page book cited (Cullen, 2006) which says he was one. It also details how his trial was scuppered for political reasons. Scholarly consensus must therefore take priority over biased justice.

Finally, re: Category:Doctors convicted of murdering their patients, the cat name originally didn't mention 'convicted', but if you look at it the intro has a caveat mentioning the difficulty of proving guilt in medical murder, and therefore those considered by scholars to have killed are allowed. You therefore should take the issue up on that page, and leave Adams in it via the link here until the issue is cleared up there, since Adams fits the criteria as discussed there. Malick78 22:17, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

WP:IMOS states how the naming of Ireland is dealt with, if you wish to change that guideline please start a discussion on that page. Until you do so, the consensus is "Ireland".
Scholarly consensus must therefore take priority over biased justice - I'm sorry, but you don't understand the NPOV policy at all.
Category:Doctors convicted of murdering their patients - caveat removed per the CfD. If it's added back, I'll be glad to take the category back to CfD to make sure that's enforced. One Night In Hackney303 23:01, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Please copy the relevant para from WP:IMOS here so I can see what you mean. The problem I have is that the info box says where he was born - and the country is where this town is now. Why refer to where it was then? That's not actually the info being referred to. Does WP:IMOS say info boxes should say where a place was or where it is? I think the latter is meant and I can't see where this admittedly subtle issue is discussed on that page. Thanks. Malick78 09:52, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
  1. Prior to 1920, use only Ireland. C6 and C26 did not exist.
  2. After 1920, use island of Ireland for C32 where there is possible confusion with C26.
    1. Where needed to emphasise C32, use all-island rather than all-Ireland as some Unionists dislike the latter.
      1. Use all-Ireland where official, as in All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, Primate of All Ireland.
  3. Post-1920, use Northern Ireland for C6.
    1. Use Ulster where official in names, as in Royal Ulster Constabulary, Ulster Unionist Party. Do not describe Ulster as "incorrect" when referring to C6; avoid using it and alert readers to its contentiousness if it is necessary to use it, but it is POV to describe it as incorrect. (If "Ireland" can be 26 or 32 counties, "Ulster" can be 6 or 9 counties).
  4. 1922-1937, use Irish Free State for C26
  5. 1949-present, use Republic of Ireland for C26
    1. Use Ireland in official titles as President of Ireland.
    2. In alphabetically-ordered lists of countries, list under I for Ireland, not R for Republic.
    3. Use [[Republic of Ireland|Ireland]] when Ireland is needed for C26.
  6. Do not use Irish Republic for C26. The article describes a historic term applicable to C32.
  7. Do not use Éire for C26. It is not used within C26 except in Irish language.
  8. Do not use Southern Ireland for C26 except in the specific historical sense described in the article.
"the info box says where he was born" - yes, and he was born in Ireland not Northern Ireland. "Why refer to where it was then?" - because it's talking about where he was born? "That's not actually the info being referred to" - yes it is, it's talking about where he was born, which was Ireland not Northern Ireland.
See for example Muhammad Rafiq Tarar, who was born in Gujranwala, British India. That's now in Pakistan, and in fact he was President of Pakistan, but he was still born in British India. When talking about people's birthplaces we talk about them in the correct historical context, which for this article is Ireland. One Night In Hackney303 10:40, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Yet this only mentions what to call the country at a particular date. It doesn't state unambiguously that an info box stating a town must have the country's name as it was then rather than as it is now. And that is my point. See Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq for this interpretation. You're version has the added problem of being unnecessarily confusing by implying to those unaware of Northern Irish history's subtleties that the present Randalstown is in Ireland, which is highly problematic and indeed false. 'British India' though, is obviously dated and unlikely to cause problems.Malick78 14:05, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, and the date being referred to is 1899. Considering 6 counties of Ireland became Northern Ireland before part of British India became Pakistan, you've just contradicted yourself. IMOS is quite clear. One Night In Hackney303 15:04, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

"An Adams Apple"[edit]

The lines cited from the poem "Adams and Eves" include "If they touch an Adam’s apple". Surely this should be "Adams apple"; the whole poem is about how Adams poisoned people. Does anybody have access to a source for the poem? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

  • The source is here and it says "Adam's". May not be logical but it was a scurrilous poem for underground circulation... Malick78 (talk) 19:29, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Paris Match[edit]

Just come across the following: Mikeo1938 (talk) 15:12, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:John Bodkin Adams/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

I am reviewing this article for GA. On my readthrough I discovered numerous uncited statements. I have put in about a dozen citation tags, up to the poem, at which point I gave up - there are no doubt more needed. Also, making 35 different citations to an entire book is unacceptable; these need to be broken down, and page numbers indicated. You need also to remove POV words, such as "amazingly" in the "Obstruction" section. You should not use bold characters within the general text.

In general the prose looks OK, but the above issues must be attended to before the article can be considered for GA. I have put the review on hold for seven days to give you the opportunity to respond. Please contact me on my talkpage if you have any queries. Brianboulton (talk) 17:28, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Detailed review comments[edit]

I appreciate that a lot of work has gone into this article, much of it since I posted my first GA review comments. I understand that this is the main editors’ first GA nomination, and it is by no means a bad effort, but I have to say, however, that the article is not yet ready to be promoted GA. The main reasons for this are listed below.

  • The article is over-detailed. I thought this when I first read it through, and I see it has since been increased by about 1,000 words, which aggravates the problem. Wikipedia articles should be written in summary style, that is, the main facts presented without too much small detail. Also, reinforcement by repetitious examples should be avoided. The following sections are those which I think are most in need of trimming:-
    • Observation
    • The meeting
    • Search
    • Morrell
    • Hullett
    • Suspicious cases – this section especially so – it’s more than a quarter of the article.
  • General prose problems: the prose on the whole isn’t at all bad, but needs a fair amount of polishing, something that can really only be done through a full copyedit. Here are a few examples of awkward prose – please note they are examples of style faults that tend to occur throughout the text:-
    • "These were received by Adams at the rate of 3 or 4" – what does this mean? Also, single numerals should be written "three or four"
    • How can a phone call be described as "anonymous" when followed immediately by the name of the caller?
    • "Professional Secrecy" does not need to be capitalised
    • "...the charge had been reduced to just Morrell, with Gertrude Hullett held back..."
    • "Dr Macrae took the report to the President of the BMA and returned it the next day" – returned it to whom?
    • "Adams’" should be written as "Adams’s" (and "Downs’" as "Downs’s")
  • There is a vague POV tone evident throughout the article, almost as though it were subtitled: "We think Adams got away with it". Sometimes, distinct POV statements are evident, despite the citations. The worst cases of this are:-
    • (Suspicious cases) "It is worth quoting some of the evidence..." etc. Who says this evidence is worth quoting?
    • (Concerns of prejudice) "There is considerable evidence..." Who says there is?
    • (Historical views) "Surtees prefers to sit on the fence..." Whose judgement is this?
  • Conjecture, even by sources, should not be presented as though it were fact. I am referring here to the "Reasons for interference" section. None of the "reasons" given seem remotely plausible, especially the "Suez Crisis". I would get rid of this section lock, stock and barrel.
  • There are numerous MOS violations.
    • The blockquote format should not be used for quotes less than 4 lines (approx 100w) in length
    • There should not be boldface in the general text except in section and subsection headings. Emphasis, where necessary (and I don’t think this applies here) should be by italics.
    • Bullet point formats should generally be avoided except for simple lists. There are four bullet-point sections in the article, three almost in succession. These need to be shortened and converted to prose.
    • Dates should be consistently wikilinked, or consistently unlinked. There are linked and unlinked dates in the article
    • Single sentence paragraphs should be avoided
    • There are numerous minor violations of non-break spaces and of references given before rather than after punctuation, also of single-digit numbers given as numerals.
  • References: a great many have been added in the past week or so, almost to the point of overkill, but at least that’s erring on the right side. However:-
    • The very long list of references could be reduced by further combinations in close page ranges
    • There are still references to whole books ([6], [15], [17], [124], [125])
    • The on-line citations are not properly formatted. See {{Cite web}} for how to do this.
    • Why the lengthy footnotes, which are cited anyway? Just the citation will do.
    • Ref [128] reads as pure editorial opinion, and shouldn’t be there.
  • Other points
    • I don’t think the "Adams and Eves" section adds anything to the article – I’d call that non-encyclopedic material
    • The "Subsequent cases" have nothing to do with this article, and should be omitted.
    • The information about a 20-year-old TV docudrama doesn’t warrant a section to itself. If you think it should be mentioned, stick it in the "After the acquittal"

My general advice to the editors is not to be disheartened, but to continue to work on the article, using the above comments as guidance rather than a set of rules. When you feel you have done what you can, before bringing it back to GA I would strongly recommend a peer review, where other editors will give their comments in a non-judgemental environment. Brianboulton (talk) 22:32, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Overall GA result: Fail

GA criteria

  • Prose, MoS etc: Fail
  • Verifiability: Pass
  • Breadth: Pass
  • Neutral: Fail
  • Stable: Fail
  • Images: Not considered at this point

'He lived with his mother and cousin', followed by only 1 name. Was his mother also his cousin? Is that even possible? (talk) 19:17, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Details, details[edit]

A couple of things. First, I'm not convinced the inclusion of his minor pilfering is really necessary, given he was charged with murder. Second, I'm less than sure the inclusion of claims/accusations of homosexuality are appropriate, even if it was an offense in Britain in 1956, because we then get a "Basic Instinct" "gay = murderer" implication, which is obviously indefensible. (It also gives rise to the appearance of trying to dirty him.) Finally, "He was told to give doses of 10 cc of Megimide every five minutes, and was given 100 cc to use. The recommended dose in the instructions was 100 cc to 200 cc." Can somebody who actually understands this clarify what it was supposed to mean? TREKphiler hit me ♠ 21:36, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Hi, 1) Pilfering is important since if he was a serial killer, then they often take mementos of their kills. Cullen points that out, so I can add a ref if you think it requires one.

2) His being gay is important since he was in a relationship with the once Mayor of Eastbourne, Roland Gwynne, and he was rumoured to be linked to an officer in the police force - so these two may have protected him to some extent (again pointed out by Cullen).

3)He was given 100cc of Megimide and told to give 10cc every 5 mins. He only gave 10cc thinking it was 'enough' - even though 100cc is the minimum to give - 100 to 200cc was the usual dose.

Hope that's somewhat clearer now:) Malick78 (talk) 16:42, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Historical views[edit]

Adams was acquitted but general opinion, it seems to me, is coming round to the conclusion that he was in fact guilty. It may be helpful therefore to collect quotes of those writing recently for use in the article:


A quick count reveals 104 out of 143 citations to the one book: Cullen. 73% of all the references are to the one source. Seems a little unwieldy... I appreciate that this may be the main work on the subject, but then it effectively means that this article is nothing but a synopsis of the research contained within that one book. (talk) 12:36, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

  • When I added many of the citations, I used the Cullen book which was to hand - though another book such as Devlin's or Hallworth's could have confirmed some of the same general uncontroversial material (ie 'Adams was born in Ireland...'). So those citations could be swapped. Cullen is necessary only for stuff which was found in the police archives. I, however, wouldn't say it's a big cause for concern and it doesn't render the article unreliable. Furthermore, I don't have the time to change them myself at the moment - but feel free to if you know the subject. Malick78 (talk) 17:44, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Missing content[edit]

The section #Eastbourne states that he was unconventional, undesired by other doctors to work with, a "reputation as a bungler" and his mother died. The next sentence starts "Adams's career was very successful..."

There's significant omission here. What was his practice like? What did he do? How did this "success" come about? Extra paragraph needed. FT2 (Talk | email) 22:13, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

Professional skills[edit]

Up until the para starting 'Adams's career was very successful...', every reference to his professional performance indicates an average or below-average rating. I think we need at least a couple of sentences in between, to explain how and when his standards and reputation improved. (talk) 20:38, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

His standards never really 'improved'. He was successful because old, friendless patients who had outlived their relatives and circle of friends fell for his 'charms'. He paid attention to them and they were happy to repay that - in fees and bequests. Malick78 (talk) 22:23, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

Alternative view[edit]

Ignore the police slander of this man; see

which also covers the claim of fraudster. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:33, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

The article seems to have been written before the police's archives were opened. Besides, any author who writes "When Dr Leonard Arthur was tried for murdering a Mongol baby a quarter of a century later..." has got to be viewed as having a weird take on events, surely? "Mongol" went out decades ago... Malick78 (talk) 22:20, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

Grossly overdetailed[edit]

Like so many WP articles on crime and criminals, this one is grossly overdetailed and linguistically flabby. Beyond the lead it's almost impossible to get a sense of the material without slogging, slogging, slogging through interminable side detail. EEng (talk) 13:01, 3 November 2013 (UTC)