The Airline Pilot's story.

All in the mind?

Miraculous escapes and horrific incarceration

This is the story of former British Aerospace Pilot Leonard Lawrence, who was right to fear admitting to physical symptoms of time distortion and disassociation during flight. The events which followed lost him his wife, children, home, personal assets and liberty.

Len both experienced fume events and recorded them. The first recorded was on 29 November 1991. Len was the Handing Pilot on an aircraft that had passed V1 (the speed at which the aircraft is committed to becoming airborne) during takeoff the flight deck suddenly filled with hot acrid fumes. Both Len and the captain were blinded by them. They lost all visual reference and could not see the cockpit instruments. Their skin was burning and they found it difficult to breathe, at the same time they were accelerating in excess of 160 mph.

The captain, also a British Aerospace pilot, with many years’ experience of the aircraft, felt his way along the instrument panel and located the dump valve, which lets air out of the aircraft. Within about three seconds visual reference was restored. The fume incident had lasted for about 15 seconds. They started their emergency drill and alerted Air Traffic Control that they were in a MAYDAY situation. The aircraft then made an emergency landing and an emergency evacuation was executed.

Len’s last recorded fume event occurred in 2004. The handling pilot was a recently retired UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) flight operation inspector, a senior position within aviation. He and Len (Co-pilot), noticed an oily smell on the flight deck. Disassociation synonymous with toxic chemical exposure, means that Len still can’t understand exactly what happened, but he knows that the aircraft descended to less than 500 feet above the city of Amsterdam. The only time it is ever safe to be this low is during takeoff and landing, but the pilots had not just taken off and were not planning to land. Although Len wasn’t actually flying the aircraft, it worries him greatly that he failed to intervene promptly and ensure the pilot corrected the course. Both men were still thoroughly confused when they eventually instigated a climb to 1,500 feet. The next day the same two Pilots were flying the aircraft to Italy, when Swiss air traffic control gave them an instruction to reroute over Switzerland. As Len puts it:

Both the captain and I were unable to process the information being given. That was my last ever flight before I resigned. Why did I resign? Because I could not, and indeed still cannot, think clearly enough to fly.

Len counts himself lucky to be alive. He certainly wasn’t lucky in what followed. Although the effects of breathing toxic fumes were made known to psychiatrists whose help he sought, this was ignored and he was falsely diagnosed with a mental illness and medicated. This is particularly problematic because ‘treatment’ for mental illness with pharmaceutical drugs only serves to exacerbate damage to cells already damaged through chemical exposure. (A known effect of organophosphate poisoning is that pharmaceutical drugs are negatively modified- creating a further toxic effect).

Len was held captive in the United Kingdom by the Official Solicitor to the High Court for almost eighteen months and medicated to the extent that he was incapable of legal discussion and understanding. During which time most of his assets were disposed of, by Solicitors and Barristers, whilst generating revenue for themselves, all without Len’s knowledge and consent.

Finally, without the knowledge of the Official Solicitor, the British Airline Pilots Association directed Len to Professor Gordon Turnbull, FRCP FRCPsych (Psychiatric adviser to the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority) who reviewed the evidence, stopped all medication and Len was referred to Neurologists for brain damage assessment. Thereafter Len received specialist toxicology treatment for poisoning by Organophosphates with additional support from the Royal British Legion, SAFFA and the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust.

For more information on the exposure problems in aircraft issue see here ;

  cover of Aerotoxic Syndrome book by John Hoyte


Leonard Lawrence Case files

File Number Dated REPORTS
165 28 January 2006

Professor Abou-Donia “Tau and MBP suggest the presence of moderate brain injury” Concluded “consistent with chemical induced nervous system injury.” Not disclosed to the Court by the Official Solicitor or Ratcliffe Duce & Gammer Solicitors.

166 6 February 2006 Professor Turnbull issues Court of Protection CP2 having not been told by RDG Solicitors or the Official Solicitors Office that:
1. Mr. Lawrence had been suspected of having moderate brain injury consistent with chemical induced nervous system injury.
2. The existence of the Court of Protection CP3 dated 27/1/05
3. The existence of the Court of Protection CP3 dated 24/2/05
Psychiatry continues up to September 2007 for PTSD then put on hold following neuro toxicology treatment.

168 13 February 2006

Breakspear Hospital to General Practitioner. Dr Petrie. Leonard Lawrence diagnoses: chemical-induced nervous system injury, suggests moderate brain injury.

190 13 September 2007 From: turnbull@doctorsorg Subject: What to do?
Thu, 13 Sep 2007 09:12:28
Dear Len, I think that Dr Jamal at the Breakspear Hospital is intending to follow you up by pursuing neurological investigations. I think it's very likely that we are pursuing the same problems but through a different line the psychological and behavioral line. There is a point where psychological issues meet up with physical issues and I think that is what's happening here. I think you need to decide which way to go really if you decide to go down the Dr Jamal route then I think you should 'park' the psychological treatment for that time and see where the physical investigations lead? The opposite is also true, that if you decide to go down the psychological route then the physical route should be parked for the duration. It's a matter of being at an interface. Let me know what you want to do. Best wishes, Gordon

200 6 March 2008 Hospital Medical Director Report reference: Leonard Lawrence:
1. He was then medicated to the extent that he lost mental capacity.
2. During the period the Official Solicitor of the Supreme Court acted as his Guardian ad Litem, three Court of Protection medical certificates (CP3s) had been obtained but not registered with the Court of Protection.
3. He was, therefore, for nearly 18 months regarded as a mentally ill patient without access to the Court of Protection. During this time considerable amounts of his assets went missing.
4. Test by Professor Abou-Donia in January 2006. Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and of Neurobiology (Paid for by British Airline Pilots Association)
Tau and MBP suggest the presence of moderate brain injury. Consistent with chemical –induced nervous system injury.
5. Associated Neurological Defects
1. Cerebral Cortex Weakness
2. Limbic System. Learning, memory defects

236 January 2009 Deterioration in Mr. Lawrence Neurological and Mental Health BUPA and GP authorized more sessions with Professor Turnbull

241 March 2009 Documentary Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines given to every member of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

It shows Mr. Lawrence at the controls of a airliner, thereafter sitting with a Court of Protection Medical Certificate CP3 dated 27 January 2005 who’s existence had been denied to Mr. Lawrence doctors by Steve Piper and Helen Clift Senior Medical Family lawyer in the office of the Official Solicitor.
Likewise the documentary shows the Court of Protection Medical Certificate CP3 dated 27 January 2005, that was never disclosed to the District Judges at Slough, HHJ Elly at Reading and the Legal Service Commission by Sarah Benfield RDG Solicitors.

266 7 September 2009 National Health Service FACE Overview Assessment.
Brain injury due to Organophosphate poisoning.

275 30 November 2009 NHS Neuropsychology & Physical Disability Service Medical Report.
Aero-toxicity is a relatively new area of neuro-psychological research. Leonard clearly has had difficult experiences in the past with healthcare professionals not taking his concerns seriously. This pressure undoubtedly affects his performance in neuropsychological testing and has led to a complex interplay of neurological factors, particularly around memory.
It is important for all those involved in his care to be understanding of Leonard's difficulties whilst encouraging him to regain confidence in his own abilities.

Ten record boxes containing lever arched files are released after Access Request

On 13 October 2014 Ten Record Boxes containing Lever Arch Files were disclosed to Leonard Lawrence following a Subject Access Request copied in to a High Court Judge.
On the 15 October 2014 Leonard Lawrence was informed by the Royal Courts of Justice that he could file an Appeal.

Apparently lost files appear showing unauthorised individuals making key decisions

Opening the box it seemed like packing but all the case files had been crumpled so that they could not be used

After inappropriate treatment for alleged mental illness the fact that organophosphates damage the brain and its thought processes are realised at last.

Organophosphates can seriously damage the brain

For an excellent video report on fume events in aircraft and scientific explanations for the adverse health effects experienced by pilots, air crew and passengers alike please go to this external link at
Click Here

For a PowerPoint presentation of the evidence given by Leonard Lawrence to the Cranfield University Click here.
N.B. If not installed you may need a Powerpoint viewer, available from the Microsoft web site and as an optional extra with some Word software.

For a PowerPoint presentation of the evidence given by Pilot Leonard Lawrence at a Conference on the Abuse of Psychiatry in the United Kingdom Legal System by pilot Leonard Lawrence – 23.4.16 Click here.

For more Scientific Reports on the Cabin Air issue see




Dr Nigel Dowdall
Head of Aviation Health Unit Medical Department
CAA Safety Regulation Group
Aviation House
Gatwick Airport South
West Sussex

Ref: A new path in NHS care for pilots and passengers affected by organophosphate fume events.

Dr Dowall, the former Civil Aviation Authority, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sally Evans and the Civil Aviation Authority adviser in psychiatry Professor Gordon Turnbull FRCP FRCPsych were instrumental in releasing me from the Official Solicitors custody.

A word of warning

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) external lawyers Simpson Millar LLP Solicitors.

In 2013 Mrs Justice Pauffley instructed His Honour Judge Simon Oliver to send my case to the Court of Appeal, it was later established in 2015 that Simpson Millar LLP had withheld from both the Court of Protection and Court of Appeal, Ten Box Files containing my case files.
BALPA failed to take any action. I personally would not seek a referral to Guy's Hospital without first speaking to those in the farming community that have been exposed to organophosphate poisoning, like Richard Bruce.

Kindest Regards

Leonard Lawrence


To see a video depicting the neurological effects on health of fume events on aircraft please view the video "Air Fears" here.

Dated 26/09/2014.   Updated 04/03/2020

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