Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Address to the FACT Conference

Address delivered at the FACT Spring Conference held in Birmingham on 12 May 2018

Photo courtesy of Allan Shipham
The past six months have been an eventful period for those of us who are concerned about false allegations and their impact upon innocent men and women, especially those of who work, or who have worked, in the caring professions. We carers and teachers are the most vulnerable groups in modern Britain, which is still reeling from the 'Savile Effect'. Despite the fact society depends on us, it is nevertheless quick to cast us asunder as soon as one of the myriad opportunists/cranks/liars accuses us of either a recent or historical sex allegation.

Historical allegations are generally favoured by the liars because they are harder to disprove. These reprobates are tempted to tell their lies because they are all too aware it is immensely lucrative and there isn't a chance of them facing any sanctions if they are exposed as lying: all to gain and nothing to lose.

If someone complains that another person has threatened him or her with a knife and the complainant is subsequently proved to be telling lies, he or she will be punished, at the very least with wasting police time. Make a false SEXUAL allegation and the authorities will do nothing: no one will care a fig, or will lack the courage to care a fig.

Despite repeated claims that false allegations of rape and sexual assault are 'very rare', recent - almost daily - reporting of just such crimes in the national, and on social, media is revealing to the world the sheer scale of the crisis within our palpably dysfunctional justice system. All of us here who have been involved for a number of years in FACT's work have been bleating about this crisis for some time and it is a relief to know that, at last, the wider public is getting the message: false allegations are not rare and they destroy innocent people's lives, even when the lies are exposed.

We, as members of FACT, must strike while the iron is hot: it would be a dereliction of duty to sit back and allow these vile opportunists to continue to behave so recklessly, some might say diabolically. We have a duty to speak up for all those suffering - whether they are waiting for a CPS charging decision or waiting for an appearance in court or if they are spending time behind bars.

What have been the recent key events?

Firstly, I mention 'the failure by the police to disclose evidence' scandals. Those of us who have already been through the criminal justice system, or who have a family member who has experience of it, or who represent individuals who have been falsely accused or wrongly convicted, are all to aware of the serious impact of failure to disclose evidence that could assist the defence.

With the collapse of the Liam Allen case late last year, we have been beset with a steady flow of 'abuse in procedure' cases, proving once and for all that the statement uttered last year by our DPP, Alison Saunders, 'I do not believe there are any innocent people in prison' is as infantile as it is alarming.

The CPS Inspectorate's recent report on disclosure found: 'There has been a culture of disclosure failures among police and prosecutors and this has inevitably led to a steady stream of miscarriages of justice'.

Photo courtesy of Allan Shipham
We here at FACT are part of a campaigning organisation and we need to ensure that this serious issue of wrongful convictions arising from withheld or concealed evidence is discussed widely among politicians/legal practitioners and investigative journalists and, as FACT's media spokesperson, I make daily efforts to spread our concerns. FACT's publicity and outreach continue to bring specific cases to the wider public attention.

The role of social media is key to engaging with the public: some of my own tweets concerning the whole tawdry world of false allegations and their impact on innocent people's lives are regularly seen by more than 6,000 readers. I would request that FACT members who use social media re-tweet and circulate FACT's official tweets to as wide an audience as possible. Any ideas for media initiatives, please don't hesitate to contact me.

The on-going case in the Supreme Court about compensation for those who have been wrongfully convicted and jailed for years - including Victor Nealon, whose solicitor Mark Newby is a long-standing pillar of FACT - also has the potential to raise public awareness of the awful injustices being perpetrated within the once highly respected British justice system.

Another recent development has been the publication of new books, which highlight the ubiquitousness of false allegations and wrongful convictions. Gurpal Virdi has recently had his book, 'Behind the Blue Line', published by Biteback Publishing, a house owned by LBC presenter Iain Dale. 'Biteback' is leading the way in the publication of these accounts - my own book, 'Presumed Guilty', was published last year and hot off the press this week is Jon Robins' 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent'.

FACT continues to fulfil its role as a support and information hub for those who have faced, or are facing, false allegations. We now have an opportunity to step up pressure on the police and CPS by sharing our stories, working with sympathetic journalists, lobbying politicians, telling the world the devastation that being wrongly accused can have on an individual's life.

Please support FACT in any way you can.

1 comment:

  1. Well written Simon as always. You are so right we need to keep speaking out and making people aware that false allegations and wrongful convictions do happen. The fallout from being falsely accused/wrongly convicted is devastating and life changing.

    This awful situation has been going on for years - and it can't be allowed to carry on any longer. Those who make false allegations needs to be held to account for their actions - many of whom have committed the crimes of Perverting the Course of Justice and Perjury.

    Journalists are starting to write many articles on the subject of false allegations and that is a positive step forward. The issue is being raised as in the recent Panorama programme "Fair trial" , that showed how easy it was to make a false allegation, that lead to a wrongful conviction.

    My innocent loved one is now sitting in a prison cell. False allegations that were believed. Throw in police corruption well.
    He always has and always will maintain his innocence - because no "crime" took place.

    Only by speaking out and pushing for changes to the law can we hope to put an end this type of injustice.