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COCAINE SHAME OF TOP TORY DOCTOR; EXCLUSIVE: NHS reform adviser exposed as junkie living a lie; Hypocrite Froggatt makes a living lecturing doctors about drugs.

A Middle-Aged man draws deeply on a cannabis joint...his pusher sitting next to him on a grubby mattress in a squalid bed-sit.

This is no ordinary victim of today's drug-raddled society.

It is Dr Clive Froggatt - a top Tory health adviser who was a major force behind NHS reforms and the man once dubbed "Britain's most politically powerful GP".

Froggat, 49, has plunged back into drugs two years after escaping jail for faking prescriptions to feed his heroin habit.

He has been spending hundreds of pounds a week buying and smoking crack- cocaine.

Yet this is the doctor who has been a guru to a succession of former Health Secretaries including Ken Clarke, now Chancellor; Virginia Bottomley, now Heritage chief; and William Waldegrave, now Treasury Chief Secretary. He also worked on a Tory health service think-tank with MP David Willetts, who was forced to resign last week for trying to nobble a Commons committee probing sleaze.

Froggatt, an advisor"on heroin movie Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, publicly claims he is now "clean".

He made the same boast in a series of lectures and articles about drug addiction. Only last Wednesday, he appeared on BBC2's Trust Me, I'm A Doctor, to talk about his fight against drug addiction, saying he had kicked the habit.

But our shocking picture above shows him puffing on a joint at a liaison near his home in Cheltenham, Glos.

He complained about the one-bar electric fire giving little heat and punctured his chat with four-letter words.

The doctor has been buying cocaine in crack and powder form from a dealer called John.

Every week for the last four months, he has fixed up meetings.

Wearing a hooded jacket at times, he goes to run-down bedsits to meet suppliers.

Last week, during one of his cocaine deals, he said: "I need a gramme of coke a week - that's all I can afford at the moment." Told that a regular supply could be set up for him, he spelled out his preferences and revealed the deadly nature of his addiction.

Froggatt wanted "rocks" - a reference to cocaine in the form of crack and one of the deadliest drugs around.

When asked what he was paying for the drugs, he replied: "About pounds 60 a gramme." Froggatt openly smoked marijuana during the deal and offered it around.

He looked around the flat and said: "I have to be careful. People recognise my face. I have a lot of trouble from the newspapers and TV." Froggatt was once known as "the most powerful GP in the country"." When he had an idea, he rang Tory ministers and they listened.

He was brought into the Conservative fold in 1983 by Sir Norman Fowler and quickly became an adviser to the powerful Downing Street policy unit.

He developed a close friendship with Virginia Bottomley and frequently dined at her house.

Froggatt even told friends that he advised her on everything from how she enters a room to how she does her hair.

Ken Clarke once asked him to stand in for him at an Oxford Union health debate - unaware that Froggatt was high on drugs.

As his connections grew, he helped prepare William Waldegrave's speech to the Tory Party Conference in 1991 and the following year he was seconded to Tory Central Office to advise on the General Election.

But his world fell to earth when drug-squad detectives spotted he had produced a series of unusual prescriptions for deadly drugs.

At his headline-hitting trial in 1994, he told how he had turned to drug abuse when his NHS reforms were savaged by critics.

He began writing out prescriptions for heroin - medical name diamorphine - using false names of patients who had recently died.

Froggatt was caught when a routine check of chemists' records revealed he had obtained more than 43 grammes of the drug in just two years. When arrested, he claimed he was using the drug as a painkiller for his close friend and Tory MP for Cheltenham Sir Charles Irving, who he said was dying of AIDS and has subsquently passed away from cancer.

But Froggatt had become addicted to the drug himself.

His defence team claimed he had been subjected to death threats for helping the Tory health reforms and that the stress had driven him to drugs. Sentencing him, Judge Carol Hagen said: "You have pleaded guilty to grave offences - particularly grave because of your position.

"In my view, they undoubtedly merit a prison sentence and the question for me is: `Does that have to be immediate?'

"It seems to me the fact that you tried to conquer this terrible addiction even before it came to light, and that you sought professional help, stands you in good stead now.

"I can therefore suspend the sentence I have to impose." The court heard how Froggatt had confessed to worried wife Paula, 53, a former air hostess and magistrate, before he was arrested.

After the case, when he was suspended as a doctor and unable to work, she went back to her career as a nurse to keep a roof over their heads.

But she was forced to quit as a magistrate and the family had to leave their luxury pounds 300,000 home and move to a more modest house.

A close friend of the couple, who have two children, Caroline, 22, and 19-year-old Edward, said: "Paula will be devastated by this. I'm not sure she will be able to forgive Clive again."

Froggatt has given a series of talks around the country since his downfall. He points out the perils of drugs and the depths to which he himself had sunk. Claiming to be "in recovery", he told his audiences that addiction was "a disgusting process of self-humiliation and self-deceit" to have to go through.

He gave a number of soul-searching interviews to newspapers earlier this year.

In one, he said: "When you are using (taking drugs), you are pressing the self-destruct button. Nothing deterred me - not the love of my family, not my medical knowledge and not the prospect of punishment. One lie led to another.

"I was even shooting up drugs before meeting ministers.

"When one of my patients finally rang my wife to warn her the drug squad were investigating, it was almost a relief."

Last night at the house he shares with his wife and two children Dr Froggatt confessed that he was still on drugs.

But he claimed: "I've taken cocaine in the last year on about six occasions. I have also smoked dope occasionally. I am a relaxing addict.

"But I won't be addicted for life. I'm sick to death of it but it is an extremely difficult problem to overcome.

"The craving just comes back."
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Author:Dillon, Ricky Sutton/David
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 15, 1996
Words:1129
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