“Dr Michelle Haslam’s contract was terminated due to gross misconduct.”
Public Interest Note:
Dr Haslam has published and widely distributed a report entitled ‘A Psychological Report on the New Kadampa Tradition’. In it she makes claims about my interactions with statutory authorities and has also plagiarized the work of others. It is therefore in the public interest that rebuttals to her claims about me are made publicly available. The statements made within this website are neither inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant, or excessive. They are accurate, well referenced, supported by direct evidence, and relevant since she is still publishing and distributing her report.
My name is Dr Robert Harrison. On June 5th 2019 I was contacted my one of my colleagues who was concerned about the state of mind of a fellow mental health professional, Dr Michelle Haslam due to several videos she’d posted on YouTube. The videos chronicled experiences of her time within a UK Buddhist organization called the New Kadampa Tradition and her subsequent adjustments to life outisde the organization.
On 28th June 2019 Dr Michelle Haslam’s secondment contract with Hertfordshire County Council was terminated due to gross misconduct. Dr Haslam’s employment with the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust was also terminated due to her professional conduct and ongoing mental health problems which led to her inability to perform her duties in a safe and appropriate manner.
Dr Haslam stated that she was suffering from a mental illness which she self-diagnosed as having the symptomology of complex post traumatic stress disorder and would require several months to recover.
Of the videos I watched there were some in particular where Dr Haslam filmed herself sitting on a toilet attempting to parody a meditation instructor. Of concern was her behavior which exhibited signs of hypomania and disinhibition. Michelle seemed unaware of the implications for her clients should they see any of the videos.
By the time of my viewing she had published in excess of 60 videos within a brief two month period, averaging one every other day. Her behavior was variously manic and depressive and at times exhibited signs of high anxiety. I was surprised Dr Haslam was choosing to air her condition publicly on YouTube rather than seeking support from fellow professionals as she would advise clients to do.
Safeguarding in Action
After watching several of Michelle’s videos the warning signs became apparent that she may be undergoing the early stages of a nervous breakdown. Dr Haslam, stated on one video she was traumatized by the failure of a close relationship several months previously and was employed in a high-pressure environment. Such a volatile combination rarely has good outcomes and as such I contacted her line manager, Dr Claire Norris to raise my concerns out of both a professional courtesy and a legal obligation.
Within hours of my contact I began to receive a barage of threatening and abusive emails from people I had no prior knowledge of. I later discovered that Dr Norris had forwarded my email in full to Dr Haslam and Michelle had decided to publish it online without redacting any of my personal information.
Given Dr Haslam’s fragile state of mind Dr Norris should have anticipated that she could recklessly disregard her legal and professional obligations to ensure the security and confidentiality of my email. When people informed her they were sending me abusive emails her response was to encourage them with comments such as ‘Linda you really crack me up!!’
It was over twelve hours later that Dr Haslam removed the email and this was only out of concern for her own welfare having been instructed to do so by Dr Norris.
Dr Haslam accused me of having a malicious intent in flagging my concerns about her conduct and state of mind. She directly accused me of defamation and publicly threatened me with legal action if she received any disciplinary outcomes from the event.
In private her friends also threatened the same and one in particular, Tenzin Peljor threatened that unless I withdraw my statements to Michelle’s superiors I would be sued and he would ‘ensure that the media would cover the story’ through his ‘contacts in the Office of His Holiness’ the Dalai Lama’
As the incident escalated Michelle published a second version of a document which she refers to as a ‘psychological report’ about the New Kadampa Tradition in which she again accused me of defamation. Dr Haslam then began to distribute said document widely throughout the mental health profession and sought to gain coverage of my interactions with her superiors in the UK national media.
Advice from my attorney directed me to implement a strategy of non-engagement with Michelle and her friends. I had never engaged with any of them prior to this event and I certainly wasn’t going to engage with them now.
Despite this approach Dr Haslam continued to accuse me of defamation and intimidation. At one point Michelle even claimed I was trying to ‘make her mad’. To this day she continues to publish false allegations against me and I have no option other than to publish this statement to the contrary.
My intention in contacting Dr Haslam’s superiors was to draw to their attention indications that she may be in need of support and help. I am duty bound to pass on information of this nature and it would be unethical for me not to, especially when the individual involved has a duty of care for vulnerable minors. I had expected that Dr Norris would have dealt with the matter discretely and professionally not forward my email to Dr Haslam.
Dr Haslam’s ‘Psychological Report’
Unbeknown to me the precursor for Dr Haslam’s paranoia was the release of a document she refers to as a ‘psychological report’ on the New Kadampa Tradition. I use speech marks as the document falls far short of being a psychological report and I will explain in more depth later my rationale and reasoning to support this point of view.
One or two days before I was aware of her, Dr Haslam published this document and stated she was highly agitated and waiting for a response. It is a case of unfortunate timing that I was directed to her videos at or around this time and she sees my actions through this lens of paranoia. At that time however I was not even aware of the document.
Vindication from the NHS and Dr Haslam
Following a joint investigation into Dr Haslam’s welfare and professional conduct carried out by Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust her employment with both organizations was terminated.
Both Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust thanked me for bringing the issue to their attention and both organizations apologized profusely for Dr Haslam’s conduct which they found fell significantly below the professional standards required by them.
In their findings Hertfordshire County Council stated that Dr Haslam had breached several of their policies including their Data Protection Policy and their ICT Acceptable Use Policy which ‘covers the use of social media’. At least one of the breaches amounted to gross misconduct.
Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust sincerely apologized ‘for the distress caused by Dr Haslam’s actions’ and stated that ‘robust and appropriate steps’ were being taken in relation to Dr Haslam’s professional conduct.
Dr Haslam also admitted that she was, and still is, battling with a mental health disorder and that she is in the process of recovery and rehabilitation.
Had the situation been handled in a more professional manner the outcome may have been very different.