A NURSING regulator "monitored" a grieving father for several years as he sought answers over the avoidable death of his son at the hands of the so-called "musketeer midwives".

The Nursing and Midwifery Council kept tabs on what Dalton dad James Titcombe said in public and on social media sites about his fight for an investigation into the death of his son Joshua from a treatable infection in 2008.

They reported the information they found about his speaking engagements and social media use internally.

The information came to light on Tuesday within heavily redacted internal NMC documents released to Mr Titcombe through the Data Protection Act.

Mr Titcombe, 38, said he was disappointed to discover the NMC had been monitoring him for several years.

He said: "They seem to be quite obsessed with their own reputation rather than concentrating on conducting investigations that could keep patients safe.

"There are also lots of emails reporting on when I have spoken at events and what I have tweeted that they have discussed."

Bosses within the NMC then went on to pay an undisclosed sum to a team of lawyers from legal firm FieldFisher for advice on how much information they could block from documents they were forced to hand over.

Some A4 size reports had all but 10 words removed, while others were left with incomplete sentences.

One email entitled "Twitter chat - key points" read "keep an eye on his feed".

The covering letter sent to Mr Titcombe, who helped uncover the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal which led to the deaths of 16 babies and three mothers, also stated NMC bosses considered a number of the documents to be "insensitive", though the nature of their contents was not listed.

Mr Titcombe added: "I've never seen documents redacted like this before. It's extreme. These are not the actions of an open and honest organisation."

Other information collected by the NMC and kept on file included a list of news stories linked to the investigation into the death of Joshua Titcombe that they considered to carry a "negative sentiment" towards the NMC.

It comes just a month after NMC chief executive Jackie Smith launched a "lessons learnt" review into the way her organisation handled the cases of midwives involved in Barrow's maternity scandal - emphasising her commitment to "openness and transparency".

A spokesman for the NMC said the cost for legal advice over the redaction of the documents was "not available".

She said: "We have a duty to protect the personal data of other people who may also be mentioned in correspondence.

"Given the importance of this request and the need to ensure we captured all personal data relating to Mr Titcombe and his son - over an eight year period - we instructed our external lawyers to undertake this work.

"This is common practice for organisations. Given the scope of the request, it was inevitable there would be a need to remove some personal data from the emails that related to other individuals. The chief executive was aware of this."

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