Friday, 3 January 2020

The Topsy-Turvy World of 2020

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

I was hoping to start 2020 on a positive note, looking forward to making progress with the reform of our dysfunctional criminal ‘justice’ system and a return to common sense over the way in which the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) handle the investigation of rape and sexual assault complaints. Sadly, however, it seems that the words above – by G. K. Chesterton – are more grimly appropriate in view of a series of recent events that are already spreading a sense of gloom over even the most optimistic of those of us who campaign to raise awareness of false allegations and on behalf of those suffering as a result of miscarriages of justice.

Nothing like a dame: Alison Saunders
The first blow of the new year came with the truly appalling (and incomprehensible) decision to award Alison Saunders, the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the high honour and distinction of an 'Order of the Bath' damehood in the New Year’s Honours List. While it is customary for an outgoing DPP to receive a knighthood or similar award, the conferring of one upon this particular individual can be seen only as a grossly disrespectful slap in the face for all those of us who suffered – and continue to suffer – as a direct result of the disgraceful and deeply unjust prosecution policies over which Ms Saunders (I will never bring myself to use her undeserved title) presided from 2013 until 2018.

While I acknowledge that the foundations of the descent of the CPS into the realms of ideologically-skewed gender politics were laid by an equally awful predecessor, Keir Starmer – of whom more later – Ms Saunders not only entrenched Starmer's utterly unjust ‘you WILL be believed’ dogma in respect of sexual allegations into daily practice, but she also championed such toxic policies with great enthusiasm. Her deeply ingrained view on so-called ‘social justice’, in fact, created hundreds, perhaps thousands, of true victims: those who have been falsely and maliciously accused of heinous sexual offences that never actually took place.

Encouraged by the ideological climate within the CPS, the ludicrous ‘you WILL be believed’ dogma gave police detectives licence to abandon the basic rules of policing – to investigate thoroughly without fear or favour – in pretty much every case of a sexual complaint. The most transparent lies and blatant inconsistencies in complainants’ statements were ignored, or else attributed to ‘trauma’. The most elementary detective work, such as confirming whether a former pupil, who was subsequently accusing a teacher of historical sexual abuse, had actually been a pupil at the same school at the same time as his target, were brushed aside and ignored. Highly relevant evidence, such as social media messages and phone texts sent by complainants, were at best not passed to defendants’ legal teams or, in the worst cases, actively concealed by police officers and prosecutors.

Keir Starmer: ex-DPP
Predictably, terrible miscarriages of justice occurred on Ms Saunders’ watch, just as they did under Keir Starmer’s. Innocent people – mainly men – were dragged through the courts; others were wrongfully convicted of the most appalling sexual crimes by juries on the balance of probability, in the absence of any actual evidence. Branded as perverted criminals and, in most cases, jailed for years, even decades, their lives, careers and reputations, as well as the lives of their families, including young children, were utterly ruined.

Even those of us who were falsely accused, and then either swiftly acquitted or never charged, faced the usual social media opprobrium and the inevitable ending of our careers. Some innocent victims have been driven to suicide by malicious accusations, very often made by evil chancers solely in the hope of being awarded undeserved monetary compensation for assaults that existed nowhere but in the warped imaginations of the liars and fraudsters themselves. Yet Ms Saunders and her like-minded cronies would have us believe that these imposters and perjurers were genuine victims and witnesses of truth. In the aftermath of Operation Midland, we all know where this blinkered approach led and the wicked injustices that have ensued.

Carl Beech: he was 'believed'
Convicted serial rape liar and fraudster Carl Beech truly is the poster boy for the consequences of indiscriminate 'believing’ within our criminal justice system, as promoted by Mr Starmer and Ms Saunders. Beech committed his crimes, but the legal and policing policies which enabled him were the work of ideologically-inspired politicians and bureaucrats.

As more and more appalling cases of false sexual allegations have come to light, the pressure on the CPS increased to boiling point. It was clear to just about everyone (other than the most rabid of the gender warrior cultists) that Alison Saunders had to go. Her clear inability to manage the crisis, let alone abandon the toxic policies that had created it, led virtually every national newspaper to demand she fall on her sword. Like so many others, I grew weary of seeing her increasingly sour and petulant attempts to defend her toxic legacy. Her formal departure from the post came as a relief.

And now this final example of how the powers-that-be decided to cock a snook at the CPS’ many innocent victims and, wider public opinion, by this disgraceful display of cronyism. If any unmerited award of state honours has ever brought the entire system into disrepute, then this is it.

Devalued: Order of the Bath
It is a mark of the deep revulsion over the conferring of this title upon Ms Saunders that so many of the CPS’ innocent victims have raised their voices in protest. We have witnessed the anguish of people such as student Liam Allan and teacher Kato Harris, whose lives have been turned upside down by false sexual allegations. What an absolute slap in their faces this damehood represents. It’s as if the establishment is determined to make it clear to everyone that those who campaign against false allegations, inept policing and wrongful convictions are of no account. Liam, for example, has repeatedly been sidelined or ignored by politicians and civil servants, despite it being his terrible ordeal that raised public awareness of the scandal surrounding the withholding of key evidence - such as phone and message records - from defendants’ legal teams. By speaking out and continuing to campaign, he is performing a great public service.

If Ms Saunders had the merest shred of public decency she would have quietly declined the offer of this high profile honour and retreated into well deserved obscurity.  It is of no surprise she did not. Her shamelessness and utter lack of repentance are shocking.

And as if that were not enough, 2020 has already delivered further blows. We have learned this week that it seems entirely likely that Ms Saunders’ predecessor as DPP – Keir Starmer (another ‘knight’ who shall not be addressed as such by me) – will be installed as the new leader of the Labour Party. So, we may have a new Leader of the Opposition who played a major role in institutionalising injustice within our criminal ‘justice’ system with his edict to all police forces that complainants of sexual abuse, whether present day of historical, must be BELIEVED automatically. How utterly misguided to make such a preposterous statement.

Cyprus: mobbed on social media
Finally, we are being treated to the unedifying spectacle of one of Britain’s oldest allies – Cyprus – being pilloried in both the national media and online for the heinous ‘crime’ of daring to prosecute a young British woman who has been accused – and who apparently confessed – of falsely accusing a group of underage boys and young men of gang rape. Her conviction for ‘creating mischief’, which could see her jailed for up to twelve months and facing a fine, has been adopted as a rallying cry by those who seemingly cannot accept that ANY woman could ever make up a claim of rape.

There is now a vociferous (and at times blatantly racist) campaign to boycott Cyprus – a member of the Commonwealth  – as a holiday destination, as a direct result of the court’s verdict in her case. Social media is abuzz with incendiary hashtags and examples of the sort of ‘mobbing’ that goes on whenever people who have no direct knowledge of an issue jump onto a fashionable bandwagon. Needless to observe, the fact that the boys and young men who were accused of rape happened to be Israeli citizens has brought the usual vile anti-Semitic slurs to the surface.

I don’t know whether the young woman in question is innocent or guilty of telling lies. Equally, I don’t know if the Cypriot legal system (which is based on the British model) is any better or fairer than our own. Indeed, there may be legitimate criticisms made and an appeal against the verdict is pending. She may be cleared by a higher court. However, I do believe that this tawdry affair reveals much about the cultish mindset of a very vocal minority who are patently willing to damage our long-standing strategic relationship with Cyprus in order to ‘punish’ an entire country, including trying to destroy the livelihoods of many Cypriots by wrecking the country's tourist industry, because an independent court handed down a verdict that has offended the ‘you WILL be believed’ cultists on social media and beyond.

Protesters targeting Cyprus
Some seem convinced that any court verdict (especially if abroad) can simply be reversed or quashed if enough vocal activists scream and shout loudly enough. This misguided campaign, shamefully promoted by certain national newspapers, appears to have all the hallmarks of ignorance and arrogance, mixed with racism and with a dash of old fashioned gunboat imperialism thrown in for good measure.

In part, at least, I believe that this current hoo-ha is being orchestrated deliberately by narrow, ideologically-motivated interest groups who are determined to intimidate anyone who dares to question the very fact that false sexual allegations ARE made. In today’s Britain we have become inured to the steadfast refusal of the police to investigate, and the CPS to prosecute, almost anyone who makes bogus sexual accusations, even where trials of defendants have collapsed due to compelling evidence of perjury or when convictions have been quashed after a complainant's lies have been exposed.

As those of us who have direct experience of being falsely accused know only too well, the vast majority of liars and fraudsters simply get away with the human devastation they have inflicted, just as long as their lies are sexual in nature. They even get to keep any compensation they have extorted from their victims, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or corporate insurers. When other countries, such as Cyprus, take a much harder line over bogus sexual allegations and seek to bring suspected false accusers to justice, the self-righteous mob engages in a feeding frenzy of hatred and denigration. It is a sad reflection of what those of us who campaign to raise public awareness of the false allegations industry face on a day-to-day basis. Welcome to 2020.  

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Vigilantes: Policing the Net?

Earlier this month, a young gay couple from West Sussex were left traumatised after they were targeted and physically attacked by group of violent self-appointed vigilantes, who wrongly suspected one of them of contacting via the internet, for immoral purposes, a female child, invented by the vigilante group.  As the 'sting' was carried out, the targeted duo were surrounded by a mob of around fifteen individuals screaming homophobic abuse and one of the innocent men was dragged from their car. Of course, as is often the case in these vigilante stings, the attack was filmed and live-streamed to over 30,000 viewers, many of whom doubtless 'liked' the footage on Facebook.

'Yorkshire Child Protectors'
In fact, the entire incident was an appalling example of mistaken identity by their assailants, who had misidentified one of the men from a poor quality digital photograph. Nevertheless, to add to their ordeal, the police still arrested the two innocent victims and they were held overnight in cells while their mobile phones were checked. It soon became apparent that the vigilantes had targeted the wrong people, not least because – even after the two innocent men had been taken into custody and their mobiles seized – the alleged online predator they were hunting was continuing to communicate with the non-existent child the group had created.

The following day, the two victims were released without charge by police and the vigilante group responsible, the self-styled ‘Yorkshire Child Protectors’, was obliged to make a public apology. Even so, the leader of the outfit still made an effort to put the blame onto others, rather than accept full responsibility for the appalling incident. He also defended the group's tactics in posting 'sting' videos on their Facebook site.

What was even more troubling was that the Yorkshire Child Protectors had been stalking their innocent victims for some time, as well as intimidating the sister of one of the innocent men. She had been pressured into luring her brother and his partner up to Hull, where she lives. Once there, they could be ambushed, attacked, abused and publicly shamed online. So much for ‘justice’ when a gang of violent, ruthless vigilantes can act – seemingly with impunity – as if they were detectives, prosecutors, judge and jury, as well as media broadcasters.

Innocent victims arrested by police
It remains to be seen whether the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will bring any criminal charges against members of this gang of thugs. Based on past experience, it seems highly unlikely. There has also been talk of the two men taking civil action against them, but that can prove ruinously expensive in legal costs for ordinary folk who are neither wealthy nor celebrities.

Vigilante groups have established a presence online over the past decade, especially here in Britain. Activists claim that they ‘police’ the internet and target paedophiles seeking contact with children in a way that UK police forces claim they lack the staff and resources to do. Activists also assert that their activities protect vulnerable youngsters from online predators, with evidence they gather being used by the CPS to support criminal prosecutions against individuals who pose a threat to children.

However, critics of these groups – including many senior police officers and lawyers – are warning that some of the vigilantes’ methods, such as live-streaming ‘stings’ on suspects in public places, or even on their own doorsteps, risk undermining the presumption of innocence, as well as the prospect of successful future prosecutions. To add to this, as we have seen in this appalling case of mistaken identity, sometimes these self-appointed vigilantes get it all horribly wrong. As this case highlights, innocent people can be mistakenly identified and accused publicly of being paedophiles – causing damage to their own reputations, and often to their families' reputations, that can never be undone. In some cases, following one of these vigilante stings, the trauma directly causes vulnerable targets to take their own lives.

So what motivates private citizens to set up, join or support online vigilante groups? One common thread seems to be the leadership of a forceful, confident individual, who is willing to gather around him (rarely her) a small number of like-minded people, often personal friends or family members, but in some cases ex-prison associates.

Kieren Parsons ('Stinson Hunter')
Some groups are led by people who claim that they themselves (or a close family member) have been a victim of sexual abuse, often of an historical nature. Others appear to be more motivated by the prospect of public accolades, online viewer ratings of their websites and, in certain cases, by opportunities to solicit cash donations online, particularly via crowd funding sites. One segment of these activists seem to maintain themselves by a combination of state benefits, supplemented by their online income from cash intended to support their vigilante activities. There is no doubt a sizeable tranche of these self-appointed vigilante types that simply take enormous pleasure in humiliating other people, while advertising their suffering and shame to the world.

As mentioned above, some vocal campaigners are themselves ex-prisoners, who have a string of previous convictions, often for anti-social offences such as assault, drug dealing, arson, robbery and fraud. As is well known, in prison culture, sex offenders – ‘nonces’ - are the ‘lowest of the low’, and those who have been convicted of abusing children at the bottom of the heap.

Most prisons segregate sex offenders from mainstream inmates to reduce the risk that they will be assaulted by other prisoners, or even murdered. It seems entirely possible that this prison culture of institutionalised revulsion for those suspected of being paedophiles or child abusers plays a key role in, at least, some of these vigilante groups.

There can also be a very strong undercurrent of virulent homophobia. For example, the young gay couple who were attacked in Hull were assaulted while being called ‘gay nonces’ and ‘poofs’ by members of the ruthless Yorkshire Child Protectors gang. Hardly evidence that ‘social justice’ of any kind is high on the group’s agenda. In fact, the details of this incident suggests that the real motivation is likely to have been an old-fashioned ‘gay bashing’, concealed for public consumption under a thin veneer of supposed child protection.

Some self-styled 'paedophile hunters' - such as Kieren Parsons (aka 'Stinson Hunter') – already have serious criminal records. Parsons is a convicted arsonist, who was previously jailed for ten years after he set fire to a local school, causing £250,000 worth of damage. As ‘Stinson Hunter’, he poses as a young girl online in a bid to entrap paedophiles, and was once lauded on Channel 4 in a documentary about online ‘paedo hunters’.

Dure: convicted criminal
Parsons' more recent exploits include vile behaviour towards his ex-girlfriend, including filming himself urinating on her clothing as a form of a bizarre revenge attack after she had left him. In subsequent interviews, Parsons has admitted having addiction and mental health problems. It might be thought that such a damaged individual is hardly a suitable role model for anyone who claims to be concerned about protecting children.

Of course, some vigilantes go on to acquire criminal records in the course of their on- and off-line activities. Convicted criminal Stephen Dure (aka 'Stevie Trap') was jailed for fifteen weeks in 2018, after he admitted falsely accusing an innocent man of grooming teenagers. The victim lost his job, and his home was attacked by vigilantes as a result. Dure runs a Facebook site which has over 240,000 followers, although he claims that he was banned from YouTube 'for life' earlier this year.

In other cases, the motivation behind involvement in online vigilante activities can be even darker. This year alone, at least three separate individuals who had been actively involved in ‘anti-paedophile’ campaigning on the internet were themselves convicted of possessing child abuse images and were exposed as paedophiles. They had used their self-appointed roles as vigilantes to gather illegal abuse material for their own sexual gratification. How many more of these genuine sexual predators are actually hiding in plain sight within the ranks of the vigilantes?

Philip Day: jailed for 15 years
And then there are dangerous obsessives who are drawn into the world of violent vigilantism. In May, one ‘anti-paedophile’ vigilante, Philip Day of Runcorn, was jailed for fifteen years, plus a five-year extended licence, after he had waged an eight-year campaign of hatred and harassment against innocent local teachers. Day’s final act was to set fire to a school where he had falsely claimed pupils had been sexually abused. He had also falsely claimed to have been a victim of abuse himself and had, unsuccessfully, made a series of bogus allegations over a period of years.

Some other online activists seem to become utterly unhinged due to their obsession with the whole subject of child abuse, often involving weird and destructive conspiracy theories. In January, Sabine McNeill, aged 74, was jailed for nine years for repeatedly breaching court injunctions against her spreading baseless malicious rumours and smear stories online against local clergy, teachers and parents in Hampstead, whom she accused of sacrificing children in ‘satanic’ rituals. Since her conviction, a string of her supporters and cheerleaders have also been prosecuted for a range of criminal offences related to their campaigns; some were jailed and others fined.
Sabine McNeill: 9 years jail

In another case, a Newbury businessman, who has a seeming obsession with the sexual abuse of boys, has been running a Facebook site for years on which he actively trawls for allegations against members of the teaching profession. Making contact via his website, he seems to get unalloyed pleasure from encouraging alleged victims of childhood abuse to relate their stories to him. In some cases he meets up with those he has made contact with online and invites them to his home. In specific cases he has played a role in spreading malicious smears about teachers, totally without foundation, as well as leaking confidential material in a bid to destroy innocent professionals' careers. He is suspected of helping bogus complainants network with other ex-pupils to develop their false allegations before approaching police.

Even more disturbing, he has also boasted online that he has been asked by specific police forces to forward information to them – effectively ‘trawling’ on their behalf – as well as gleefully updating his online followers with news about arrests, prosecutions and convictions. Tellingly, his Facebook site also features a link to a personal injury solicitor who specialises in sexual abuse compensation claims.

Although official police representatives often attempt to warn against the activities of these vigilantes, some police forces seem more willing than others to work with them in order to boost their conviction statistics. Thames Valley Police and Suffolk Constabulary are just two examples of police forces that have made use of the Newbury vigilante’s online services.

It seems that all these vigilantes are prepared to ditch the concept of 'innocent until proven guilty' in a British court of law in order to expose anyone whom they suspect of being sexually interested in children. But they are always playing with fire and it is inevitable, as the awful story of the attack on the young gay couple in Hull shows only too graphically, sometimes innocent people are inevitably going to be seriously burnt.

Now we wait to see what legal reprisals the self-styled 'Yorkshire Child Protectors' will face following the recent fiasco. No one hold your breath.

Monday, 4 November 2019

No Rehabilitation for the Innocent

Danny Kay is a man entitled to be very, very angry. I think any one of us, in his position, would be absolutely furious. I know my blood would be boiling, because I’m fuming after just having read his story.

Mr Kay – like far too many people – is the victim of a wrongful conviction. He was charged with raping a woman with whom he had had a brief sexual relationship. He was duly convicted in 2013 and sentenced to four and a half years in prison, plus the obligatory lifetime registration as a sex offender. He served over two years in prison, seemingly forever branded a convicted rapist. Although he always maintained his innocence, his life has been permanently blighted.

Facebook messages
However, he didn’t give up the fight to clear his name and, with the assistance of his sister-in-law, he was able to produce evidence in the form of electronic communications between himself and his accuser that undermined her claims that she had been raped. In fact, it was established that she had ‘edited’ records of her contact with him, in order to provide a totally misleading account of their messages, after they had had, what he always maintained, entirely consensual sex. In short, this calculated dishonesty on her part suggested strongly that she was lying about being a victim of sexual assault, perhaps for reasons of revenge or jealousy, after Mr Kay had failed to stay in touch with her following their brief fling.

Of course, the detectives who dealt with the allegations against Mr Kay, prior to his being charged, could have found this vital evidence in a matter of minutes, because that is how long it took his sister-in-law to unearth the unedited messages via his Facebook account. But the police officers didn’t bother doing any investigation into his accuser’s very serious allegations, in order to verify whether or not she was telling the truth - they just presumed she was. I doubt anybody who has had an experience of these so-called police investigations will be surprised by this. At the time of Mr. Kay's trial, the jury did not see the full, unedited exchange of messages nor did it hear that the complainant had deliberately manipulated the evidence by deleting key sections that undermined her accusations.

Court of Appeal
Based on the compelling new evidence uncovered by his sister-in-law, Mr Kay’s case went to the Court of Appeal where, in December 2017, his conviction was quashed. He emerged from court as a man without the stain on his character of being a rapist. Yet – as he himself has pointed out – “it’s always going to smear my name… there’s always going to be people out there who have the doubt.”

How very true that statement is.

Innocence in sexual allegation cases, whether established by a jury’s verdict or via the Court of Appeal, means, in reality, next to nothing these days. Anyone accused of even the most preposterous sexual allegation is effectively branded forever. You and your biometric details will be on the police database for as long as you, as an unfortunate falsely accused, are alive (and even beyond) and discredited allegations will be disclosed to potential employers or voluntary organisations during any vetting and barring checks, thus smearing you and your previously good name again and again. To exacerbate matters, the noxious lies and smears of your anonymous accuser(s) will remain online forever, easily uncovered via Google, no matter how utterly false and baseless such allegations might be.

In reality, there is no prospect of any ‘rehabilitation’ for the falsely accused in our society. It’s the fact someone is the target of a sexual allegation that matters far more than the legal outcome. As Mr Kay has so rightly pointed out, the stench of your accuser’s vile lies will hang around you forever, regardless of any jury verdict or judgement in the Court of Appeal. As so many others have discovered, even if you have never been arrested or charged, the damage done to reputations, careers and to families is usually irreparable.

And Mr Kay’s ordeal was far from over. Following the quashing of his rape conviction, he claimed compensation from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for the more than two years of his life that had effectively been ‘stolen’ from him by his anonymous-in-perpetuity, deceitful accuser - who, needless to note, has faced absolutely no legal action whatsoever. As is so often the case, the person making the allegation was aided and abetted by the police officers who systematically believed her and then utterly failed in their duty to investigate her allegations without fear or favour. Last week, the Ministry turned down Mr Kay’s claim on the following grounds:

The Secretary of State for Justice has concluded that the conviction was not reversed as a result of a new or newly discovered fact that shows beyond reasonable doubt that you did not commit the offence.
Convicted: Carl Beech

In recent years, this kind of sophistry has become the standard response of MoJ bureaucrats to any compensation claim following the quashing of a wrongful conviction, especially when the original accusation involved sexual assault. Victims of miscarriages of justice – such as Victor Nealon, who served 17 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence later proved he did not commit – have not just been kicked out of the prison gate penniless, but have even faced demands that they pay MoJ legal costs for having had the temerity to pursue their compensation claims. Absolutely sickening, especially in an era where millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash is routinely handed out by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) to a gallimaufry of liars, fakers, hoaxers, fraudsters and fantasists, such as the criminals Carl Beech, Jemma Beale and the rest of their repulsive ilk.

If we accept the fact that we are supposedly living in a fair, just society, then surely the denial of appropriate redress to victims of miscarriages of justice must end. Not only does the current practice reek of injustice towards those who have been railroaded into prison by an unholy alliance between partisan police officers and prosecutors, but it makes it almost impossible for the wrongly convicted ever to clear their names. After all, if the MoJ doesn't consider that they deserve recompense for their lost years in jail, why should members of the public believe their protestations of innocence? This is simply a case of justice being denied and responsibility for mistakes being shrugged off by politicians and bureaucrats.

Victor Nealon: free but life ruined
Following my own experience of our so-called ‘justice’ system, I have often reflected on the significant resources that are devoted by various charities and other organisations to support the rehabilitation of convicted criminals (many of whom subsequently go on to re-offend, regardless of whatever assistance is offered), yet absolutely nothing is provided for those who are innocent, who have been falsely accused or wrongly convicted. Many emerge from the courtroom or from the prison gate homeless, jobless, financially ruined and effectively unemployable, forever manacled to their anonymous accuser’s lies.

Where are the charities, think-tanks and social enterprises queuing up to help those blameless folk whose lives have been utterly devastated by cruel and calculating liars, fantasists and fraudsters? Why should the innocent – like Mr Kay, Mr Nealon and many others – face an unrelenting battle to re-establish themselves back into society?
No support from VS

And where is the voice of the Victims’ Commissioner in all this? Or usually vocal organisations such as Victim Support? I’ve heard nothing beyond a deafening silence.

It strongly suggests that anyone who has had his or her life trashed by an allegation of sexual assault by an unscrupulous, devious opportunist is 'the wrong kind of victim' of what is a very serious crime. And, unlike actual criminals, such innocents will never be offered any support or be helped in any sort of rehabilitation programme.

What a cruel society we can be when dealing with unfashionable minority groups, such as the falsely accused.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Cowardice and Chicanery

The concepts of accountability and modern-day policing seem to exist in parallel universes. This is the main lesson to be learned from the belated publication of a still-redacted version of the Henriques Report into the ill-fated fiasco known as Operation Midland – probably the worst scandal in UK policing since the exposure of widespread organised corruption in the Flying Squad and elsewhere back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when over 250 London police officers resigned in the wake of Operation Countryman (another damning inquiry report that has, by the way, never seen the light of day).

Sir Richard Henriques
This is not the first edition to be released to the public of former high court judge Sir Richard Henriques' report of an inquiry into the Metropolitan Police’s conduct during Operation Midland. An even more heavily-edited version was grudgingly circulated back in 2016. However, despite repeated promises by Met chiefs that the Henriques’ report would appear in full after the trial of Carl Beech (aka ‘Nick’), the key hoaxer and fraudster behind Operation Midland, there are still substantial parts of the document that remain redacted. Why? What else – beside professional embarrassment – are the police still trying to hide from the public? Perhaps we’ll never know, although the very fact that some of the inquiry findings are still being withheld inevitably fuels suspicions of an ongoing whitewash.

So what are the main revelations – laughingly referred to by the Met top brass as ‘learning points’? Perhaps one of the most serious issues is that the inquiry concluded the search warrants used by the Operation Midland team to search the homes of suspects such as Lord Bramall, Leon Brittan and Harvey Proctor had been unlawfully obtained because officers had misled the district judge, Howard Riddle, about Carl Beech’s consistency of claims and his overall credibility. These searches – which caused catastrophic distress to the men and their families – appear to have been nothing more than a police ‘fishing expedition’, designed to add weight to a very flimsy case. (My own home was raided in 2012 by the Suffolk police and I've since wondered how on earth they managed to convince a district judge or magistrate that there was a good reason to invade every area of my private life simply on the word of a repugnant fantasist, without a smidgen of actual evidence).

DS Kenny McDonald
The Henriques’ Report also focuses on the infamous statement made to the media by Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald that ‘Nick’ (as Beech was then known publicly) was making claims that were “credible and true”. What the latest version of the report reveals is that McDonald’s boss, the Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Steve Rodhouse, personally authorised confirmation that the police believed ‘Nick’ in order to show the public that they were out to nail anybody, no matter how rich and famous, who was accused of historical abuse. They were collectively embarrassed after having failed to prosecute Savile and they were now going to show everyone that they were going to make good their previous errors. This authorisation from Rodhouse blows sky-high any attempt to attribute the disastrous claim to a slip of the tongue by McDonald. In fact, we now know that it was official Met policy.

As Henriques observes in his report, “I cannot conceive that any fully informed officer could reasonably have believed ‘Nick’. Yet they did. And they said so very publicly.

In fact, Henriques points out that the investigating team behind Operation Midland should have recognised that Beech’s various accounts, including his blogs and personal writings of what he claimed he’d experienced, were full of inconsistencies and of claims which were palpably incredible. Sir Richard highlights the fact that there was no factual evidence of any kind to support Beech’s lurid allegations that he was regularly abused in the most violent physical manner by his ‘torturers’: no medical evidence, no scars, no bruising or cuts that would surely have been noted by his own mother at the time. Nor was there any evidence that he had been absent from school frequently. There was no sign of any missing, murdered boys as Beech claimed. There was absolutely nothing.

Liar: Carl Beech (aka 'Nick')
Reading the report, the extent to which police seem simply to have accepted the most preposterous nonsense and perverted sexual fantasies being spouted by Beech as credible evidence of an organised VIP paedophile ring becomes painfully clear. Yet none of the supposedly trained and experienced detectives appears to have spotted that they were dealing with a compulsive liar and fraudster. Or if they did, they didn’t dare to speak up and risk challenging the ‘you will be believed’ dogma imposed by successive Directors of Public Prosecutions. There was a culture of collective mindset, with no room for any ostensible doubt.

And then there was the malign role played by Beech’s cheerleaders, including specific journalists and the disgraced Exaro agency. In fact, the Henriques’ report goes as far as stating that Exaro and its team actually ‘misled’ the police during Operation Midland. There was also evidence of active interference during the investigation, including reporters showing Beech photographs of suspects and taking him on a tour around London to identify specific locations where he had claimed he’d been abused, thus wholly contaminating the case. Sir Richard Henriques names names and it remains to be seen whether any of those he singles out for criticism will ever face any legal consequences in court. I won't be holding my breath.

Tom Watson MP (Labour)
This latest, less redacted, version of the report also shines a very unflattering spotlight on the political pressures that were being brought to bear on the Met, especially by the now Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson MP. Although at the time of Operation Midland Mr Watson was only a backbencher, he had met Beech personally and then proceeded to pass ‘hundreds of pieces of information’ to the Met, according to the report. I presume much of this was perverted twaddle and lies that the MP was being fed by Beech and his enthusiastic supporters at the Exaro news agency. It should be remembered that Mr Watson was responsible for the vicious and vile ad hominem attack launched against Lord Brittan shortly after the former Conservative Home Secretary's death in 2015. Now, why would Watson want to traduce a prominent Tory in this ruthless manner? It doesn't take much working out.

In the aftermath of the strident criticism made in the Henriques report, Mr Watson’s continued role in political life must surely be called into question. Yet, he seems determined to play Pontius Pilate and wash his hands of the whole sordid affair, in which we now know he played so central a part. Any chance of a resignation? I very much doubt it. An apology? No chance.

Despite the Met claiming that 'lessons will be learned' from the Operation Midland fiasco, senior officers are still determined to reject some of Henriques' key findings. There seems to be no genuine awareness of the reputational damage that the Met has suffered, nor any acceptance that the cultish dogma of 'believing' each and every complainant - and referring to them as 'victims' from the outset - undermines the presumption of innocence of the person accused.

Met Police: New Scotland Yard
How can a so-called investigative team conduct a fair, balanced investigation if it takes sides from day one? All this is not rocket science. Yet the College of Policing, which is the professional body responsible for police training, as recently as last month reconfirmed, in an official policy document, that anyone making a claim of sexual abuse should be considered as a 'victim' from the start. It goes even further and states that in the event an investigation ends with no charges being brought, ‘victims should not be left feeling they have not been believed’. Presumably, unless they are Carl Beech… or Jemma Beale… or any of the other notorious liars and fraudsters who have been caught lying their heads off and are now serving time in prison - not to mention the myriad liars and perjurers who have got away with their deceit. This is the reason the two friends who accused me have not faced any consequences for their false allegations, despite it being obvious they lied and lied to the police and then committed perjury at Ipswich Crown Court in 2014.

Sadly, it seems that the police have learned nothing whatsoever from the whole shameful Operation Midland fiasco. What does shine through is the invincible, damnable arrogance of the Met's most senior officers, some of whom have been promoted, despite their roles in the Beech affair. Perhaps they really don’t care. The sad thing for me is, through my own unfortunate experience, I am not in the least surprised by any of this cowardice and chicanery.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Media Report for F.A.C.T. Autumn Conference

Report delivered at the F.A.C.T. Autumn Conference in Birmingham on 28th September 2019

Before I deliver my report on recent media activities that relate directly to F.A.C.T., I’d like to preface it with a few observations about current trends of reporting false allegations in the mainstream national and regional media. I think there can be no doubt that times – and attitudes – are changing. That stated, we shouldn’t ignore the counter-attacks being launched by vocal anti-sexual violence campaigners, who seem determined to resist recent positive developments, such as greater scrutiny of complainants’ electronic communications and devices before charging decisions are made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

There is finally a greater readiness on the part of journalists, at least from certain national print titles and television channels, to tackle the controversial issue of malicious false sexual accusations and the devastating impact these can, and do, have on innocent victims and their families. I'll come to BBC 2's Victoria Derbyshire Show in a short while. I would highlight the Daily and Sunday Mail titles in particular, owing to their investigative work on exploding the so-called ‘VIP paedophiles' myth – including the motives of those who have made some palpably preposterous claims.

Jailed troll: Sabine McNeill
In part, at least, this increased readiness to confront liars, fraudsters and hoaxers has undoubtedly arisen in the aftermath of the Carl Beech (‘Nick’) scandal, following the disastrous Operations Midland and Conifer, but also in the wake of the conviction and jailing for nine years in January of the notorious ‘Hampstead Satanic’ troll, Sabine McNeill.

Her case should be of particular concern to members of F.A.C.T., given that her innocent victims included local professional people – teachers and clergy – whose lives have been turned upside down by the vicious lies spread online by McNeill and her coterie of followers. It is high time that the criminal justice system caught up with these false accusers and, at long last, it seems that the police and CPS have acted to end this vile pantomine. McNeill herself recently lost her appeal against sentence and it is also gratifying to see that members of her gang are now also being brought to justice.

Let’s hope that this will be just the start of a much tougher response to the peddlers of lies and misery, although we all know, if I may borrow a phrase from Peter Saunders' lexicon, false accusers being brought to justice are still, here's his phrase, 'vanishingly rare'. More on Mr. Saunders in a few moments.

Convicted liar: Carl Beech
Of course, the highlight of this year so far must be the trial and sentencing of serial sexual abuse fantasist and compensation fraudster Carl Beech, whose cruel, patently outrageous lies have done a lot to highlight and strengthen the work we do here at F.A.C.T.. I attended a significant part of Beech’s trial at Newcastle Crown Court, including the summing-up by both the prosecution and the defence barristers, as well as the judge’s instructions to the jury. I also went back up to Newcastle for the sentencing.

During these days in court I took my place in the press box and live tweeted the proceedings in order to capture the highlights for a much wider audience. Apart from a reporter from Sky TV, Jordan Milne, who attended from time to time, I think I was the only person who was reporting an accurate account of proceedings, as former Exaro journalist Mark Watts, also present, seemed to have misread much of what was being said in court, judging by what he tweeted. I subsequently wrote several articles about the wider ramifications of the Beech case for Spiked Online, as well as doing a number of national radio interviews, including Radio 2, 5 and LBC. I thought the most powerful of all these interviews was the evening of the Beech sentencing, on the Stephen Nolan Show on Radio 5, on which I shared a platform with Daniel Janner, Q.C.

I believe that the extensive national media coverage of the Beech case has alerted the general public to the devastating impact that malicious false allegations, particularly of a sexual nature, have on the victims. For too long the mantras of ‘no smoke without fire’ and ‘you WILL be believed’ held sway. Most of the mainstream media was simply too cowed – cowardly – to present an alternative view of the way in which false allegations have become weaponised – either for personal revenge or as part of child custody cases – or else monetised in the form of a quest for undeserved compensation.

I have just completed my second novel Swinefest, the story of a fictitious teacher targeted by a trio of lying opportunists, and the 120.000 word manuscript is with a publishing agent. I await progress and it will be interesting to see if a publishing house is brave enough to support it.

Last month I was invited to be a guest as a panellist on the Jeremy Vine TV show on Channel 5, filmed at the London ITN studios. I fully expected to be discussing the topical issue of malicious false allegations. Unfortunately, just before broadcast, the topic was changed to a discussion Brexit-related. Thank you to those F.A.C.T. members who attended the recording, sitting in the audience, having travelled from such places as Birmingham and Ipswich: much appreciated.

Serial liar: Jemma Beale
There are few things that the average British citizen likes less than seeing compensation fraudsters getting their greedy hands on public money. Just look at the popular outrage over the myriad cheats and imposters who have been brought to justice after having made claims in the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster. Judges are coming down hard on these vile individuals and, in the same way, those who make false sexual allegations with financial gain in mind – such as serial rape liar Jemma Beale – must surely, in a supposedly just, fair society, face the consequences of their criminal actions.

Part of F.A.C.T.’s media outreach should be to highlight these cases, and others which might have been reported only in the local or regional press. I continue to do this with studiousness and dedication on my twitter feed @bbcsimonwarr. Contrary to the oft-quoted assertion that false sexual allegations are ‘vanishingly rare’, as propounded by Peter Saunders, the erstwhile chairperson of NAPAC, we need to demonstrate that this is simply not true. In contrast, what is rare, are actual prosecutions of the liars, fraudsters and hoaxers who make false claims.

Peter Saunders
On Friday 28th of June, the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC 2, afforded myself, Ros Burnett (on film) and Sister Frances (in the studio) a sizeable tranche on their programme to make our case about false allegations. Also in the studio with Sister Frances was Peter Saunders, who made efforts to stymie our point of view at every opportunity and, of course, now we know why. He has been for many years, as the saying goes, 'economical with the truth' about his personal experiences when it comes to this topic. While pleading vociferously on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2, when I was on with him earlier that week, he followed this up on the Derbyshire Show by aggressively putting forward the argument that campaigners like us are over-zealous and we should give the police a break as they go about their difficult job of investigating sexual complaints.

We now know, thanks to David Rose at the Mail on Sunday, all along Peter Saunders was concealing the fact that he himself was arrested in 2008 for the alleged rape of a woman, (who, disturbingly, had been abused in childhood), in the public toilets of a restaurant. His arrest was not, at the time, publicised. No wonder he's been supporting the police's standpoint during the intervening years. Many of us in this room were not as lucky as Mr. Saunders. The press/media destroyed my reputation within 24 hours of my arrest. Mr. Saunders claimed from the start he was the target of a false allegation, which makes his subsequent stance on the topic all the more bewildering.

DPP Max Hill QC
Mr. Saunders is (was?) part of a vocal lobby that seeks to minimise both the scale of false sexual allegations and the damage caused to innocent victims. Indeed, there is a vigorous backlash against what is being achieved in terms of greater scrutiny of evidence by the CPS under its new Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC.

Over the past few months there have been regular opinion pieces and some tendentious news articles that aim to turn back the clock in respect of analysis of complainants’ mobile phones. These dangerous arguments must be countered with facts and with calm, reasoned responses. We here at F.A.C.T. have an important role to play in this.

As an organisation, we must be prepared to be criticised for our advocacy for the falsely accused and wrongly convicted. Greater media exposure, especially in the national print titles and on television, will inevitably make F.A.C.T. a target for those who wish to see prosecutions and convictions increase for purely ideological reasons, rather than for any genuine concern for justice. Changing public opinion towards false allegations is an achievable goal and I believe that 2019 will come to be seen as a pivotal year in F.A.C.T.’s outreach via the media.

As always on these occasions, I'd like to honour our dedicated Secretary, Brian, who certainly inspires me to work tirelessly on behalf of this superb organisation. Brian, we salute you.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Why Anonymity Matters

Last month, in the aftermath of the Carl Beech trial, I took part in an item on BBC 2's Victoria Derbyshire programme, discussing the impact of false sexual allegations and the need for anonymity of suspects, at least until the point of charge. One of the guests in the studio was Peter Saunders, the spokesman for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), a charity that supports victims of abuse.

BBC's Victoria Derbyshire
After they had played an interview I gave from my home in West London, Mr. Saunders stated the following: "False allegations are pernicious and horrible but it is massively rare [for someone] to make these things up.'' Sympathising with my own ordeal, he continued: ''I can't get my head around how awful it must be for Simon to have faced a false, malicious allegation (of sexual abuse).''

We now know, courtesy of the Mail on Sunday, he could indeed get his head around just how awful it is to be accused of this most heinous crime because Mr. Saunders himself was just such a target in 2008, something he has omitted to mention during the intervening eleven years. That omission matters.

Mr Saunders has always forcefully opposed anonymity for any adult accused of sexual assault, although he himself benefited from anonymity following his arrest on a rape complaint after an incident in a restaurant lavatory. These latest revelations in the Mail on Sunday concerning Mr Saunders’ arrest do suggest a certain hypocritical approach to this very important topic and they also raise important issues of public concern. The fact that his arrest and interviewing by police have only just been reported – some eleven years on – is a very strong argument in favour of legal anonymity for suspects in rape and other sexual offence investigations to be restored (it did exist between 1976 and 1988), at least until charge; although some – myself included – would extend it further until a guilty plea or the point of conviction by a jury.
Peter Saunders

In his response to the Mail on Sunday reporter, Mr Saunders states that he was falsely accused of rape by a woman following a meal at which a considerable amount of alcohol had been consumed by both parties. He emphasises that he believed the incident – in the restaurant lavatory – was entirely consensual, although he does appear to shift much of the blame onto the woman involved, whom we are told was a victim of sexual abuse in childhood and vulnerable. There is no doubt that this was a distasteful affair, but it is important to note that Mr Saunders was released without charge and the matter was never taken any further. He asserts his innocence of rape and I am willing to believe him. There is a possibility he has been the victim of a false sexual allegation.

Either way, Mr Saunders has undoubtedly benefited from the fact that his arrest and questioning by the police following the rape complaint over a decade ago have remained unknown to the general public. He has enjoyed what amounts to anonymity and the unfortunate, albeit unsavoury, incident has not – until now – impacted negatively on his life. It seems not to have damaged his family, nor does it appear to have ended his career as a vocal advocate for people abused as children. Tellingly, since the Mail on Sunday published its article, he has felt obliged to step down from the Victims and Survivors Panel of the Independent Inquiry into Childhood Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the ongoing public inquiry into sexual abuse. That, perhaps, highlights the ongoing negative impact of false sexual allegations, even after many years.

However, it is also important to note that when he appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, Mr Saunders was adamant that such anonymity should not be granted to suspects of sexual offences even if they've not been charged. It is difficult to reconcile the two positions, yet, as an innocent man who was falsely accused and arrested without that fact being trumpeted all over the press and social media at the time - something which I, and many others, have had to endure - one would have hoped that Mr Saunders could have taken a more nuanced view. As it is, he seems to have benefited from a police approach that he would deny to others.

His situation also raises the important question as to whether people who have been falsely accused of a serious sexual offence, but never charged nor convicted, should be compelled to disclose that fact for the rest of their lives. One would assume that Mr Saunders’ arrest and questioning in 2008 would have been disclosed as part of any enhanced vetting checks, although the IICSA official response is that he did not do so when he joined its panel. Surely, it would also have been a required disclosure had he travelled to the USA or other countries that require information about police arrests, even when there has been no charge nor conviction.

There needs to be a much wider public debate about the plight of innocent victims of false allegations. As celebrities and public figures have discovered during the course of recent cases, including the Carl Beech scandal, merely being suspected or accused of a sexual offence can be utterly devastating, even when no-one has been arrested, especially when such police investigations are turned deliberately into an international media circus in the hope of ‘flushing out’ fresh accusers in order to bolster weak cases. False allegations, particularly of a sexual nature, are always life changing. I hope that Mr Saunders will now feel able, perhaps after a suitable period of reflection, to contribute to this debate from the position of one who has been falsely accused and is now coming to terms with the continuing fallout.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Carl Beech: He Didn't Do It Alone

The tawdry saga that has surrounded the ‘VIP paedophile ring’ fantasist Carl Beech has finally been brought to a close with him being sent to prison for a total of eighteen years (of which he must serve at least half). There was a loud gasp from the public gallery as sentence was pronounced in Court 1 at Newcastle Crown Court, but Beech himself remained impassive and emotionless – as he has throughout the trial – while standing in the dock listening to his fate. 

Carl Beech: 18 year sentence
His sentence, handed down by Mr Justice Goss at Newcastle Crown Court, includes fifteen years for the twelve counts of perverting the course of justice, while the additional three years were given in respect of the sexual offences he’d previously admitted to at Worcester Crown Court (possession of indecent images of children and voyeurism), as well as one count of fraud (£22,000 claimed falsely from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)) and the offence of jumping bail to go on the run to Sweden). There will also be financial restitution required, although it remains to be seen what assets the disgraced nurse, turned NHS manager, still has in order to satisfy the order. 

As the judge told Beech before he pronounced sentence: “You are a highly manipulative and devious person'', adding that: “You maintained your lies of having been abused and you have not shown any remorse''. 

‘You will be believed’ 
Although the prosecution has proved its case against Beech to the satisfaction of the jury and he has been led off in shame to the first of what will doubtless be many cells he will inhabit over the next decade or so, many issues remain unresolved. Ironically, it was left for the defence barrister to raise at least some of them during mitigation, before Beech was sentenced. 

The first matter is the policy imposed on police and prosecutors that complainants in sexual allegation cases ‘will be believed’. As Beech’s counsel rightly pointed out, “With another approach, Mr Beech’s allegations would have been dismissed.” 

Sir Jimmy Savile
And there is much truth in this observation. Had there not been a radical shift towards a so-called ‘victim-centred’ justice system, perhaps malicious and calculating liars and fraudsters such as Carl Beech could not have wreaked so much havoc, wasted police time and resources, and – most importantly – ruined so many innocent people’s lives. As soon as Beech’s allegations started to evolve into what became a multi-tentacled elite paedophile conspiracy theory, embracing not only former politicians (mostly Tories) but also senior military men, ex-intelligence service chiefs and others – including, as one has come to expect, Jimmy Savile – experienced Met detectives should have smelt a very large rat.

Instead, no doubt encouraged by all the attention he and his preposterous claims were getting, Beech started to invent child murders, in which he somehow featured. We also had pet dogs being kidnapped and horses being shot, not to mention a whole host of fellow victims mentioned by Beech but none of whom able to be directly contacted. It should all have seemed much too far-fetched, precisely because that is exactly what it was. There can be no doubt that this ridiculous dogma of 'believe instantly all complainants', imposed from above for ideological motives, created a fertile ground in which fantasists and fraudsters could sew their toxic weeds, some of which – like Beech’s – blossomed into vast, dense forests of lies and conspiracy theories that eventually consumed millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and enormous amounts of police time and resources. 

In the aftermath of the Beech scandal, it’s clear that the preposterous policy of  believing without investigating thoroughly needs to be ditched, both in theory and in practice. The police should be mandated to listen to complaints professionally and to investigate them fairly, without fear or favour.

The Role of the Media 
Long before he came to the notice of the police, Beech was an inveterate and emotionally incontinent online blogger. He shared what we now know were his own lurid, perverted fantasies with others via various internet accounts. He made contact with those who claimed to have had experience of childhood sexual abuse. In some cases, he even misappropriated excerpts from the real life testimony of genuine victims in order to bolster his own fabricated tales. He's not the first to do this. Doubtless, Beech did this because he felt it might reinforce his own credibility, as well as, in his case, of satisfying his perverted obsession with the sexual abuse and torture of children.

Carl Beech when he was blogging
Several people who had been genuinely sexually abused also began to suspect that Beech might be a fraud. I’ve had communications from some individuals who've told me how they found him creepy and disturbing. They say that they tried to warn others about Beech at a time when he was being supported – even lionised – by others within the wider support community for abuse victims. However, their warnings seem to have gone unheeded and Beech became increasingly vocal with his extravagant allegations of sex, torture and murder. 

Inevitably perhaps, Beech’s burgeoning online presence attracted the notice of journalists, some of whom were quite clearly looking for major ‘splash’ stories to plaster over their tabloid front pages. One example is the Sunday People (as it then was), which ran with Beech’s rape and murder claims, although it maintained Beech's anonymity. Nevertheless, beyond the fantasist's own claims, there was simply no evidence to back up what he was alleging. 

'Evidence-based journalism'?
It was the involvement of the online Exaro news service (‘exaro’is Latin for ‘I dig up') that really turbo-charged Beech’s tall tales (and those of other fantasists, all referred to by pseudonyms such as ‘David’ and ‘Darren’). Beech himself became ‘Nick’, although he'd previously hidden behind names like ‘Stephen’ and ‘Carl Survivor’. Exaro, under its editor in chief, Mark Watts, whipped up a frenzy by slowly drip-feeding sensationalised parts of Beech’s increasingly bizarre and extravagant claims to the world. These allegations were often picked up by the national media, which then magnified the preposterous tales. However, it should be noted that Exaro had already been pushing ‘celebrity sex ring stories’ before Beech came along. 

Beech's own stories – in some cases later shown to have been ‘harvested’ from the internet or from books already published in the USA about child abuse – were promoted by Watts and Exaro as confirming the accounts of VIP paedophile rings. In reality, this was simply a case of one liar echoing the lies being told by others. In evidential terms, it signified nothing, but because of the use of pseudonyms and the often opaque way in which the allegations were being reported, it was difficult for outside observers to understand how the stories were being generated. It would take evidence given at Beech’s recent trial to expose Exaro’s true role in the affair.

The Political Dimension
At the time Beech started making his false allegations about a VIP paedophile ring operating in, and around, Westminster, there was already a febrile atmosphere. Stories were circulating about dead politicians, such as Sir Cyril Smith, a former Liberal MP.  A book, ‘Smile for the Camera: the Double Life of Cyril Smith, M.P.', had been published in 2014, written we now know largely by Matthew Baker, but also carrying the name on the cover of controversial Labour MP Simon Danczuk. Mr Danczuk’s colourful background is now much better known, but at the time he wasn’t as notorious as he later became. However, he undoubtedly used the book and the concern it generated about historical sexual abuse of children at the hands of  a popular parliamentarian as part of his shameless mission of self-promotion.

Simon Danczuk
Danczuk was not alone. Others were already riding on the rolling bandwagon, including Labour’s current deputy leader, Tom Watson. We know that he met with Beech in July 2014, but as early as 2012 he'd been fuelling the fire over rumours of a Westminster ‘paedophile ring’, even speaking about the issue in the House of Commons. Watson appeared to have a particular animus towards the former Conservative Home Secretary, Leon Brittan. Indeed, the Labour M.P. quoted directly from Beech (then called ‘Nick’) to brand the peer “as close to evil as a human being could get.” By October 2015, Watson was expressing his regret for quoting the phrase, but, by then, much of the damage had been done.

From Tom Watson's Twitter 
Watson had also launched an extraordinary attack against Lord Brittan via Twitter. In one tweet from February 2015, he proclaimed that he had met those accusing the former Home Secretary of rape and believed they were sincere, adding: ‘I think I have made my position on Leon Brittan perfectly clear. I believe the people who say he raped them. Can’t add much else.’

In addition to Watson, other Labour MPs joined in the promotion of sensational paedophile scandals. In December 2014, John Mann was in full flow, demanding that police investigate the alleged murders which he claimed had been committed in order to cover-up a Westminster-based paedophile gang. 

According to the politician, he had handed detectives a dossier involving 22 politicians, including 13 former ministers. By January 2015, the MP for Bassetlaw was confidently predicting that “tens of thousands of victims” were likely to come forward to give evidence to the inquiry into sexual abuse.

John Mann MP
Unsurprisingly, these grandiose claims appear to have gradually petered out. The prosecution, conviction and jailing of Beech is likely to have put the final nail in the coffin of the conspiracy-in-high-places theory. Yet none of these assiduous promoters of the lies and sexual fantasies of Carl Beech and others, such as ‘Darren’ and ‘David’, have made formal public apologies for the wild accusations that they were spouting, nor taken any real responsibility for the damage their irresponsible and presumptuous behaviour has caused, both to individuals and to our national institutions. 

Social Media
As became clear from the evidence given in court during his trial, Carl Beech – under various pseudonyms – first started peddling his fantasies concerning sexual abuse online long before they came to the attention of the national media. He quickly recruited a wide circle of followers, supporters and promoters who were convinced that he was a genuine ‘survivor’ of extreme abuse, both physical and sexual. No doubt the vast outpourings of praise and encouragement he received online for his ‘bravery’ fuelled his desire for attention. 

His followers on Twitter soon formed a protective circle around ‘Carl Survivor’ (among other names he was using). His claims – no matter how bizarre or preposterous – were promoted as gospel truths and anyone who dared to criticise him, or even question his tortuous accounts of abuse, was mobbed by his followers. I, and many others, who raised the possibility that Beech’s claims might be fantasies or lies, were smeared and attacked. Some of us were labelled ‘paedo apologists’ by Twitter users we’d never even met, many of whom were cloaking their real identities online.

Vast conspiracy theories were developed by the most extreme of Beech’s online cheerleaders. Totally unrelated snippets of information, much of it misquoted or downright false, were laboriously threaded together in a bid to smear those who dared to call out the increasingly fantastical lies of ‘Carl’/’Nick’. Online campaigns were run targeting critics or those campaigning against false allegations and miscarriages of justice. In the most extreme cases, there was actual real world harassment of certain individuals, involving the police and the making of malicious false allegations to people’s employers and even the intimidation of their families. In essence, the #IBelieveNick support group had become an irrational and dangerous cult, in which facts and truth were disregarded. 

Carl Beech's video interview
I believe that many of these extremists acted in this way because they wanted the allegations that Britain was being ruled by an elite group of predatory, murderous paedophiles to be true. They harbour a deep hatred of authority – the police, the armed services, politicians, journalists, the intelligence services – and cannot resist any opportunity to de-legimitise our national institutions. So what better tool to weaponise than stoking fears of paedophilia. During the period 2012-2019, it seems that it was no longer the old ‘Reds under the beds' conspiracy theory, but the ‘paedos in high places’ that people could be made to fear.

As more and more people get their news – accurate or inaccurate – online, it became a fertile hunting ground for the #IBelieveNick mob. Misguided, often vulnerable, people were being groomed and recruited via the internet. Some of these folk are genuine victims of childhood abuse and a couple have told me how they were initially taken in by ‘Nick’ and his supporters. In some cases, they later discovered that their personal histories were being looted by Beech and others to construct false narratives of sexual and physical abuse. Yet another example of the deceitful way in which Beech and his ilk exploit and misuse innocent people.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the online #IBelieveNick cult is that it's still going on, albeit in a much weakened form. There have been notable ‘defectors’ who have tried to distance themselves from the Beech crew. Twitter timelines have been purged and a few people are even proclaiming loudly that they were duped and are among his ‘victims’. However, to date, there have been very few genuine apologies for all the unjust smearing of reputations, verbal attacks and actual threats that were made online. 

Some of the victims whom Beech has injured most, including Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor, are still being attacked and defamed online by the die-hard extremists, who continue to maintain that Carl Beech is innocent and is now being ‘silenced’ by the state, in order to prevent others from coming forward. Utterly preposterous as this falsehood is, it is being still being circulated via the internet.

Other Institutions
It should not be forgotten that Beech worked for many years for the NHS, initially as a nurse, later as a manager. He also worked for the Quality Care Commission, as well as being a volunteer with the NSPCC. Moreover, he served as a governor at two schools. He continued to contribute to NAPAC publications. Pretty much all of the above organisations have announced that there is no evidence of misconduct by Beech in any of these roles. However, given that we now know his sexual offending spanned a significant period in time, including during the years 2012-2017 when he was with the NSPCC, giving hundreds of primary school age children talks about how to keep themselves safe from would-be abusers, serious questions do need to be asked. Surely there needs to be an independent inquiry that looks at any institution where Beech held positions of responsibility? 

Even though Beech had no criminal convictions until January of this year, there should have been concerns about some aspects of his conduct. His obsession with the sexual abuse, torture and killing of children should have been obvious to anyone who came across his endless blog posts and social media accounts. I would suggest that the alarm bells should've started ringing back in 2007 when he published – under the pseudonym ‘Nurse Lucy Samuels’ – his trashy account of his work for the NHS entitled ‘Nurse, Nurse!’ The fact that the marketing of this book was linked online to Beech’s sex shop ‘Lucy’s Delights’ should have caused some internal consternation. But, as so often in the scandal of Carl Beech, no-one seems to have done any investigation. Was any patient confidentiality breached by the book? Again, seemingly no concerns. 

Perhaps the most important lesson that must be learned from the Carl Beech affair is that there should never again be unquestioning belief in those making complaints to police, particularly concerning allegations of a crime where is no direct evidence. Misguided policies, such as ‘you will be believed’, must be ditched forever. All complaints must be treated with respect and professionalism by police officers, as should those who are accused. The new Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, does seem to understand the challenges facing the police and the CPS in the post-Beech era. 

As I’ve said many times before, the job of the police should be to believe neither the complainant nor the accused before a rigorous investigation has been conducted. All relevant leads should be followed, no matter where they may go. All evidence should be shared with the CPS prior to a decision as to prosecute or not. And during that investigation, no names of suspects – save in rare cases where there may be a risk to the public or to specific individuals – should be released to the press. In fact, there should be a presumption of anonymity until, at the very least, the point of charge. Personally, I'm campaigning for anonymity until conviction or a guilty plea in the case of sexual allegations, given the far-reaching damage that can be caused immediately names of the accused are publicised.

Beech in the dock
When Northumbria Police was called in to investigate Carl Beech for perverting the course of justice and fraud, its detectives showed how a thorough, professional police investigation should be carried out. Every lead was pursued, every witness who could be traced was interviewed, even those who had known him as a schoolboy were interviewed. Beech’s estranged family and relatives were questioned. His communication devices were examined forensically and his possession of illegal images of children were discovered. Every lie he'd told in his previous police statements was tested against the testimony of others or documentary evidence. His copious online ramblings under various identities were sifted through to highlight the strands of his noxious fantasies. In short, Beech was – as they used to say – ‘banged to rights’.

And when he went on the run in a bid to evade the legal consequences of his criminal activities, he was tracked down to Sweden, apprehended and then extradited to face justice. Now he is where he belongs: behind bars for at least nine years and then under probation supervision for a further nine years, so prevented from causing any further misery or havoc. 

We mustn’t become complacent. There are other Carl Beechs out there and at least some of them are quite capable of telling the most outrageous lies about crimes that have never taken place. Innocent people are already rotting in jail because of liars, fraudsters, revenge-seekers and fantasists with unscrupulous moral codes and perverted imaginations. We owe it to all their victims to reform our criminal justice system and to make the appeals process fit for purpose. If this takes significant financial investment, then that’s what will be needed. Perhaps we could reduce or eliminate the amount of taxpayers’ money that is currently being claimed by fraudsters like Carl Beech and serial rape liar Jemma Beale. We mustn’t let this opportunity for change pass us by.