The Philpotts, a Tragedy of Our Time?


The tragic case of Mairead and Mick Philpott will be discussed for many years, probably long after I am gone. We all hope ‘lessons can be learned’ but what lessons?

Mick Philpott had a previous conviction for almost killing an ex partner, was known to be violent to Mairead and several other ex-partners and was recently involved in a road-rage incident. His defence team tried to claim he was NOT violent, and was a good father. I don’t know in which universe this would hold true, nor how these people trot out this rubbish and sleep at night… Mick seemed to have been involved in ‘performance parenting’, ie when the cameras were around when he was involved in a documentary, and being seen driving his children to school, but it was his wife and his live in girlfriend who did the actual grunt work of the parenting apparently.

He tried to set up a dangerous fire, so he could be shown to rescue the children, and show himself to be a ‘hero’ just in time for a court case where he was asking for custody for the children by his girlfriend, who had recently left the home, with the children. Had sprinklers been fitted as standard, as with all new houses in Wales, it may have saved them. On the other hand, he may just have been the type of psychopath who would have found a way to disable the sprinkler system.

As others have said, the tragedy is not just of its time. Psychopaths have always existed. However, as Ann Widdecombe  said, these events did not occur in a vacuum. The fact that he was able to father 17 children mostly subsidizes for the state, is uncommon, but still a subject for concern.

To quote Ann Widdecome, “Philpott saw his children as meal tickets and his women as possessions and it is daft to suggest that those who observe this are branding the entire body of unemployed persons as child killers. The State allowed him to live the life of Riley on the taxpayer and is responsible for the continuation of his fecklessness and cynical manipulation, which it was powerless to stop under the law. It is not responsible for the reckless, senseless deed in which he, his wife and accomplice Paul Mosley engaged of their free will”.

Much of the money available to him was for the children. A civilised society looks after its vulnerable, and it is unfair to penalise the children to punish the parent. Had Philpott had his benefit withdrawn under the new working for benefit system, the children would still have had to be provided for, and he would simply have used that to live on. Here was a man who controlled all the money, and both women handed over their benefits and their wages as cleaners to him.

I find myself wondering why Lisa Willis the ex-girlfriend was able to escape the situation, when Mairead was not or was unwilling to. I think it is a strong possibility that Mairead at least was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, where people feel a strong emotional bond with their abusers, and find it difficult or impossible to see a way out. All the hallmarks are their, financial abuse, physical abuse, a belief that the abuser cared about her… Abusers are supremely skilled at giving their partners a little bit of what they need psychologically. I am not excusing Mairead Philpott’s part in this. Very few people who have been abused end up in a situation where they have colluded in the death of their children.

I feel tremendous sympathy for Philpott’s remaining children, having to live with the notoriety and knowledge of whom and what  their father was.


4 responses »

  1. I have been really interested in this case? Am not sure if you are in the UK? If so, there as a good panorama documentary on BBC1 the other day (I put it on my wall, but apparently its not available outside the UK)… in the comments there are further links where he was on tv.

    I think that Philpott was classic charismatic sociopath. What concerns me though is his wife is also now in Jail. Yes, what she has done is wrong. But she was clearly a victim and abused herself. I don’t know if you are in UK and saw the panorama programme, but they were heard on police recording with him forcing her to give Mosley (his best friend) oral sex after all 6 of her children had died.

    She still describes him as her ‘guardian angel’…. or something like that, he is her saviour. she is so brainwashed that she believes that he is her rescuer.

    What is also a shame is that the government is using this case to justify their welfare benefit reform. Which is wrong, as there is probably more correlation with some politicians as high functioning psychopaths,….. and Philpott as a low functioning one, than there is between him and the average person on benefits.

    I do think you are right with regard to Stockholm syndrome. And as for the other children, they have lost another mum, dad, and 6 of their siblings in a horrific fire…. I cannot think how awful things might be for them (and Lisa)…

    This is them on Jeremy Kyle in 2006.

  2. Really good blog (as per usual). All-in-all, a terrible story, with people apportioning blame all around when really it lay almost exclusively with one person.

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