|Supt Sean Memory, Salisbury 2015|
It is interesting that this unfortunate incident took place in Salisbury, the beautiful Wiltshire city where the late Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath had lived. It was outside his former house, in 2015, that Superintendent Sean Memory of Operation Conifer appealed via the media for anyone who had ‘been a victim of any crime from Sir Ted Heath’ to come forward. Clear echoes of the infamous ‘credible and true’ assertion made in 2014 by Superintendent Kenny McDonald of the Operation Midland fiasco.
What a contrast this week’s approach is to the unprofessional, myopic way in which sexual accusations (often historical) are ‘investigated’ by our ideologically-obsessed police forces. So what are the reasons for this starkly different modus operandi? Why are police detectives able to conduct perfectly professional investigations in some cases and yet seem averse to doing so in others?
Having lived through my own lengthy nightmare of false sexual allegations in 2013-14, made by a couple of compensation-chasing perjurers – their lies dismissed unanimously in a matter of minutes by a Crown Court jury, yet since totally ignored by the state authorities – I have met with dozens of other victims who have had their lives trashed by liars, fraudsters and fantasists, not to mention the associated misery and trauma it has caused their family members. I have discovered that there is a marked similarity in respect of almost all of these cases – a seemingly determined approach by the police officers concerned to ignore completely any evidence which might hinder them in getting ‘a result’ – i.e. a criminal conviction in court.
And I have since discovered that when they did interview one former colleague of mine, apart from the usual ‘we believe the accused to be guilty etc at the start of the interview, they failed even to ask him the critical question on which their whole case eventually collapsed when it reached court nearly two years later: had I ever taught junior boys PE? The answer was no. I had told them ‘no’ at the outset, but the police officers realised that any confirmation of this fact could wreck the vile fantasy being spun by the two liars, who were both hoping to make a quick buck at my expense. Professional policing? Hardly....
My conclusion is that some of the present generation of police officers, particularly those investigating alleged child abuse, are allowing themselves to become involved emotionally with those who make the complaints. At the very least, they may indulge the complainant by conveying the message from the outset that they believe the allegations and he or she can rely on the police’s total support. Once this message has been made clear, there is no going back. If the complainant subsequently turns out to be an unalloyed liar, the police, having already compromised themselves, are now unable ‘to change sides’ and investigate the false accuser.
This ‘emotional investment’ in complainants makes it much more difficult for police officers to approach any criminal investigation of sexual offences in a fair, objective and dispassionate way. Some people who make false allegations are notoriously adept at manipulating others, including detectives, and, once hooked, it seems that certain police officers are credulously willing to swallow any tale, no matter how fantastic or improbable.
Added to this, some detectives deliberately avoid interviewing anyone who might cast doubt on the complainant’s claims. This can include ignoring the evidence of estranged members of the accuser’s own family, who are fully aware that the person making the allegations is a notorious liar and/or fantasist, based on years of personal experience; or else declining to interview key witnesses whose evidence might well undermine the allegations under ‘investigation.’ Perhaps this is the real reason why even the most outlandish and bizarre claims seem to go completely unchallenged by investigating officers, as was the case in the farcical (and ruinously costly) Operation Midland.
In the aftermath of my own nightmare, I seem to have become a repository for many other people’s ordeals, a number of whom are at the end of their tether because either they themselves have been falsely accused or else they have a family member suffering. Some of these cases should be causing serious concerns, especially when innocent people have been wrongfully convicted and sent to prison, often for years.
In another case, a former teacher has been jailed for decades partially on the evidence of a prosecution witness who had spun a very detailed tale of historical sexual abuse in a boarding school. The story involved him and another named pupil, with an assertion that both had been sexually abused by the accused teacher at the same time. The man on trial was duly convicted and is currently in prison. However, I have since seen contemporaneous documentary proof that the second complainant, who, it was alleged, was a victim during the same assault, didn’t even join the school until a term after the teacher had left. They could never have met. This fact alone must raise serious doubts about the safety of some of the other convictions in that trial.
It is high time we woke up to the danger of police officers being ‘groomed’ by devious fraudsters, liars and attention seekers, who seem able to manipulate detectives (and others) emotionally. Surely it goes without saying police officers who work on cases involving sexual allegations must maintain a proper professional distance and resist the temptation to get involved in the often chaotic lives of complainants, some of whom are driven by either financial or narcissistic reasons. The ludicrous mantra ‘you will be believed’ must be rejected for good. As I have stated repeatedly, it is NEVER the police officer’s job to believe either the complainant or the defendant. Their duty is to investigate without fear or favour.
It is hard to accept the common excuses now being offered for the lengthening list of collapsed prosecutions as a result of disclosure failures or other types of police misconduct, which are: under-staffing and/or a lack of resources. As the current massive operation in Salisbury clearly demonstrates, thorough and professional investigations are perfectly possible when the political will is present.
On a personal note, I think I have made it clear why I am convinced the two liars who had me dragged me to Court in 2014 will never be called to account by the State. Is this British justice to be proud of?