Saturday, 30 June 2018

“Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards…”

Just when it seemed as though public attitudes might just be changing towards sexual allegations, following the supposed abandoning of the ludicrous ‘you will be believed’ dogma, along comes another example of unthinking ideologically-inspired nonsense peddled by a senior public official. This time it’s the so-called ‘Victims’ Commissioner’, Baroness Helen Newlove.

Baroness Newlove, Victims' Commissioner
On her official Twitter account, the Baroness – or possibly one of her flunkies – has recently posted the following politically-correct twaddle, masquerading as concern for the amorphous mass known collectively as ‘victims’:

I strongly disagree with judges who demand that rape victims are referred to as complainants. A victim is a victim from the moment the crime is committed. They deserve to be treated with respect, sensitivity & feel that their pain is acknowledged. To do otherwise is a backward step. 

The Baroness obviously takes the view that everyone who claims to have been raped (or otherwise sexually assaulted) is telling the truth. She doesn’t seem to believe that any sane person is capable of lying about having been abused, which strikes me as naivety in the extreme.

As we have seen in a series of recent scandals over disclosure (in other words ignoring or withholding of evidence by police), the key issue is often whether any ‘crime’ has even been committed in the first place, or whether it merely exists in the imagination of a chancer or fantasist; the tall tale made up in a bid for revenge, or is solely a disgraceful lie emanating from the mouth of a compensation-hungry fraudster. Has it not occurred to Helen Newlove that liars, fantasists and fraudsters exist?

I put it to her in the strongest possible terms that they do and, wherever these people rear their ugly heads, it is the accused and his or her family who are the victims. Is she really advocating that we lurch back to the ‘you will be believed’ school of nonsense?

I find it extremely concerning that this very poor example of a palpably fallacious argument is being advanced by a well-paid public official, who also has a seat in Parliament: since 2010 she has been a member of the House of Lords.

Of course, no-one is suggesting that people who complain that they have been a victim of a serious crime should be treated with anything other than professionalism, kindness and respect by the police, prosecutors and court officials. However, prejudging the outcome of a contested trial by confirming ahead of a jury’s deliberations that a crime has indeed been committed is, in my view, a very backward step indeed, and one that is grossly unfair and totally unjust to any defendant.

What is the next step along this particular road to judicial hell? Judges and prosecution barristers referring to the ‘as yet unconvicted rapist in the dock’ rather than ‘the defendant’? Then, any pretence of a presumption of innocence in sexual trials would really be dead and buried.

It seems that the whole institution of the ‘Victims’ Commissioner’ is another of those ludicrous and expensive quangos established by the last Labour government and indulged by successive administrations. It seems that Baroness Newlove has no particular qualifications, nor expertise in criminal justice, beyond having been herself a victim of a particularly horrific crime when her husband, Garry, was murdered by drunken thugs in 2007. While having every sympathy for her loss, it does seem a strange criterion upon which to justify making a senior public appointment. And this is where the problem seems to lie: we are expecting someone with no legal background nor qualifications to act as a public watchdog and advocate.

The baroness’s ridiculous tweet reminds me of the famous court scene in Alice in Wonderland:

'No, no!', said the Queen. 'Sentence first—verdict afterwards.'
'Stuff and nonsense!', said Alice loudly. 'The idea of having the sentence first!'
'Hold your tongue!', said the Queen, turning purple.
'I won't!', said Alice.
Off with her head!', the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.

And yet, here in Baroness Newlove, we have the modern equivalent of the purple-faced Queen of Hearts, advocating that we should turn our justice system on its head solely to recognise the pain felt by ‘victims’… Baroness, some of your so-called ‘victims’ will be liars, fraudsters or fantasists, of this you can be sure.

Fortunately, despite her very grand sounding title and generous salary, Helen Newlove has no actual power over the courts. It can only be hoped that judges and sensible politicians will continue to ignore her dangerous, misguided, unqualified opinions.

In theory, at least, the office of the Victims’ Commissioner is supposed to offer:

Inclusivity representing all victims and witnesses, including the most vulnerable members of our community.

Yet, when it comes to the actual definition of what constitutes a ‘victim’, things become much more hazy. It appears that only certain victims actually qualify for such support and representation. For example, I have yet to hear the taxpayer-funded Victims’ Commissioner say one single word about victims of miscarriages of justice or those whose lives and families have been, and continue to be, destroyed by malicious, false accusations, propounded by the plethora of greedy, selfish, heartless liars. Employing a victims’ champion who only represents certain types of victim, while ignoring others, seems to me to be a very poor way of spending public money. What kind of message is this sending?

Are those who have had their life utterly destroyed by these malignant liars and fraudsters, Baroness, the wrong sort of victims?


  1. I was appalled to read these words from a so called Victims' commissioner and would have thought at present her thoughts should be with the victims of the many miscarriages of justice which we know to have taken place. These victims extend way beyond the person wrongly incarcerated, whilst their particular fate is too dreadful to contemplate. Families on the outside suffer agonies too.

    Jon Robins' recently published book " Guilty until proven innocent" highlights significant cases of people whose innocence could not be clearer, yet which has never been acknowledged, and where wrongly convicted people have suffered years of imprisonment and cruelty. I am sick to death of these women who can see no further than their own gender, and believe it is all about them and no one else. This Commissioner sounds to me entirely uninformed and we need to get past the stage where being a victim is seen as a qualification in itself.

    Men who have been falsely accused are treated as guilty from the start. They lose their jobs, homes, reputation and friends. Just one allegation can result in Social services asking the man to leave the house prior to any court case or even charge. And it doesn't matter how crazy, how stupid, how downright impossible that allegation may be.

    We have got to stop rewarding victimhood. As things are going we are soon going to have children whose one ambition in life is to be a "Victim" and where there is a victim, there is usually a perpetrator. Unfortunately as recent cases have shown, there is often serious confusion as to which is which. Women have now been proven as false accusers in so many rape cases now and both men and women have made false accusations of historical abuse. Often the real victims here are simply expected to "get over it" and rare are the prosecutions of the obvious liars and fantasists who have been given a free field in creating terrible harm.

  2. In the case of Danny Day who was wrongly incarcerated, his pregnant girlfriend married someone else whilst he was in prison so that his daughter sees another man as her father and has done since birth. How much more tragic this can be is hard to imagine. Yet the Victims' commissioner shows no awareness or even interest in his case whatsoever.

    Eddie Gilfoyle's case can only make you gasp with horror and the case of Ben Geen sounds about as unlikely as you can imagine. There is no one who really believes he is capable of what he has been convicted of. Nor does there appear to be any proper evidence whatsoever, and experts who have stated that "just being there" does not make him guilty have been singularly dismissed. Then we have all the cases of joint enterprise and people convicted simply for being allegedly part of the same gang, when they were not even present at the event.

    Principles of "Equality" fall down badly where we have people in position who are neither intellectually nor morally equipped to do the job. If we continue to build a society which rewards victimhood with status and money, how long is our country going to last? We need to reward hard work, deeper knowledge and understanding, and people who have basic reason and common sense. The race to be a "victim" has already been a disaster and can be even more so.

    And if we are going to make being a victim something to be aspire to, let us at least make sure we are defining the right people as the victims. We have teachers who are accused of historical abuse by people who have been criminals or drug addicts all their lives and it is the latter group who are believed. We have GPs imprisoned on the word of a psychotic patient.

    Can the General public not see that we have gone terribly wrong? We all think "it will never happen to me" until it does. That is why everyone of us has to care. Do not see these people as something separate to yourselves. They are good, ordinary, decent people just like anybody else. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you. I urge everyone to take this seriously, because it is so very serious for every single one of us.
    Thanks as ever to Simon Warr whose very existence gives many of us strength.

  3. I agree with you 100% Liz. There is no denying that many innocent people have been wrongly convicted. There needs to be a fundamental re-balancing of the way that cases are being so called "investigated". Well let's face it, they are not really being investigated at all ! Every short cut is taken to make sure that a conviction is secured. So a word of warning to everyone out there - we don't have a justice system , for it does not exist .

  4. We arrived home after a visit to the garden center. My wife and I. We were met at the garden gate by two men. They were police detectives. They entered my home and arrested me. After forty years of church ministry, at sixty-nine years old, like Joseph in the Old Testament, I learned that I was being accused of sexual assault. It was a false accusation. But I was the only one who knew it. But surely, you may think, my accuser also knew it. I was to discover much later that not even my accuser knew she had been making a false allegation. She was not well.
    I was told that a female member of my church congregation had made a series of allegations. Initially, the Crown Prosecution Service offered fourteen counts of sexual assault that I had committed against this woman. For the next twenty months, the nature of the truth would not be disclosed to anyone. It was complex. My accuser had been experiencing multi-sense hallucinations resulting from PTSD – symptoms from some early trauma she had suffered in the past. Since then, she had been regularly confabulating in all five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch). She had undergone numerous periods of incarceration for treatment in various psychiatric wards and institutions for her condition. She was seriously psychologically disturbed. Her allegations had not been an intention to deceive. But because this medical history was not admissible as evidence to the court, this would later prove to be an insurmountable barrier for my legal team.
    My false accuser was unaware she was making a series of false allegations. So far as she was concerned, her delusions were as real as the sun in the sky. Her personal testimony both to her legal team and counsellors, and in the court would therefore be completely convincing. She believed herself to be truth-telling. Who were the jury to believe? It was her word against mine.
    But I was a man and a priest, and she was a vulnerable woman and a parishioner. According to the legal language being used in court and all proceedings, she was the ‘victim’ and I the ‘perpetrator’. Not only had a crime been committed, the guilty party had already been discovered according to the language being used. The shortened slang, ‘Perp’, similar in construction to that other sexually-descriptive derogatory term, ‘Perv’ was a word I was to become accustomed to being applied to me. After fifteen harrowing months, the police apologised to me for a wrongful prosecution. I was innocent.
    Even so, our lives have been, and remain, devastated.