Should we always prosecute people who make false allegations?

What should happen to people who make false allegations?

The issue has been put into stark focus by the publicity given this week to the case of Geoff Long.

Mr Long had a daughter called Tina from an unsuccessful first marriage. In 2010 she went to Brighton police and claimed that he had systematically abused her over thirty years earlier when she was aged between 8 and 16.

There was apparently no corroboration to her allegation, but it led to Mr Long’s prosecution. The jury believed Tina, and he was convicted. He received a sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

To rub salt into his wounds Tina then gave her story to a magazine, which published it under the headline “34 years on I finally made him face up to his hideous crimes.” Continue reading Should we always prosecute people who make false allegations?

Free the Naked Rambler

It is rare for anything in Fly Fishing and Fly Tying to make much of a splash. Articles such as “How to tie a Hairy Hotchkiss” or “Agostino Roncallo demonstrates how to tie an extended body dry fly purely from cul de canard feathers” emerge (if at all, because the latter is sadly paywalled) onto the surface of the general public’s consciousness with all the fanfare of a mayfly hatching on a misty morning in a quiet meander of the Itchen.

But fishermen are patient, so it is not surprising that having cast his damsel onto the limpid waters of the letters pages of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying last November, eventually the wider press took an interest in Nigel Bond’s complaint about skinny dippers in the River Dart. According to Mr Bond, there is a growing “scourge” of swimmers disturbing the peace of Devon rivers:

On a recent visit to Black Pool upstream of Buckfastleigh, I found the peace of the river shattered by several very aged, lily white and scrawny humans cavorting stark naked in what is one of the best pools on the lower river.”

It was not the effect on the fish that he objected to, but the effect on his own peace and quiet:

I don’t think that the fish would have been too disturbed – the passage of an otter would have disturbed them more – but to an angler, having paid good money to enjoy a little tranquillity by the river, the sight was altogether too much.” Continue reading Free the Naked Rambler

Rugby World Cup: a festival for lawyers too

The laws of Rugby are notoriously incomprehensible to most spectators, many players and top referee Craig Joubert.

But if you thought the rules about behaviour in the scrum were murky, spare a thought for the maul of rugby loving lawyers who administer an equally complex set of disciplinary rules. Continue reading Rugby World Cup: a festival for lawyers too

Exaro has created nothing but misery and confusion. It’s time for it to shut up.

I had not really wanted to blog yet again about Exaro. There are many other subjects about which I would prefer to write. The subject matter is unpleasant, to express any opinion invites a torrent of abuse, and I would, frankly, like this blog to move away from the rather sterile trench warfare that has now developed between Exaro and its voluble supporters and those, like myself, who think that its influence has been malign.

And yet … Continue reading Exaro has created nothing but misery and confusion. It’s time for it to shut up.

Where now for Exaro?

Is Exaro News on its last legs? The online news company faces a number of difficulties.

The fundamental difficulty may be financial.

Exaro has been largely funded by the entrepreneur and hedge-fund manager Jerome Booth. In 2013 Dr Booth was named the 425th richest person in Britain in the Sunday Times rich list (at £189M his wealth was slightly greater than Rolling Stone Keith Richards). Sadly (according to the rich list), he has been losing money recently – £73M last year – reducing his wealth to a mere £112M, and relegating him to a disappointing 847th= in the 2015 list (in the same period, for what it is worth, Richards has increased his wealth to £210M). As we shall see, Dr Booth’s involvement with Exaro does not seem to have eased his cash flow problems.

It all started in 2011 when he was approached by the journalist Mark Watts, and PR man Tim Pendry. Their objective was to set up a news gathering organisation that would, as Exaro’s mission statement now puts it, “hold power to account.” Continue reading Where now for Exaro?

Charlotte Proudman has over-reacted to her sexist suitor

The top solicitor Alexander Carter-Silk has been made to look a bit of a plonker by human rights barrister Charlotte Proudman.

Charlotte Proudman
Proudman: Delicate porcelain beauty

Ms Proudman is an accomplished barrister, an academic and a successful, albeit amateur, politician (she is an active member of the Fabian Society). She is also a beautiful woman.

He sent her a private Linked-In message complimenting her on her profile picture.

Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture !!!

You definitely win the prize for the best Linked In picture I have ever seen

Always interest to understand people’s skills and how we might work together


It was indeed horrendously politically incorrect. Continue reading Charlotte Proudman has over-reacted to her sexist suitor

Harvey Proctor, Exaro and the pursuit of justice

Harvey Proctor’s news conference on Tuesday was either a chilling display of hypocrisy, or the moment a brave man finally took on the combined might of a misguided Metropolitan Police and a small but nasty and highly influential section of the press and internet. By so publicly denying the appalling allegations that have been levelled at him, Mr Proctor has ensured that his accuser’s claims – that he and other boys were raped and tortured, and in three cases murdered by a paedophile ring that also included Leon Brittan, Ted Heath, various Generals and the heads of MI5 and MI6 – can no longer be ignored.

The allegations come from a man with the pseudonym “Nick.” Amongst many other appalling sexual crimes Nick says that Mr Proctor threatened to castrate him with a pen-knife and was stopped from doing so only by the intervention of the former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath. And worse even than this, Nick accuses Mr Proctor of murdering two boys, and implicates him in the murder of a third. No bodies have been found and the identity of the boys allegedly murdered – though the subject of considerable online speculation – is unknown. Continue reading Harvey Proctor, Exaro and the pursuit of justice

WIltshire Police were wrong to name Sir Edward Heath

On 3rd August 2015 Wiltshire Police made an extraordinary announcement:

Sir Edward Heath has been named in relation to offences concerning children. He lived in Salisbury for many years and we would like to hear from anyone who has any relevant information that may assist us in our enquiries or anyone who believes they may have been a victim.”

The context of the appeal for witnesses was that the Independent Police Complaints Commission were investigating Wiltshire Police over an allegation that a 1992 prosecution of a Salisbury woman, Myra Ling Ling Forde, had been dropped after she threatened to drag Heath into the case.

Earlier this week she insisted through her solicitor both that Heath was never one of her clients, and that she never threatened to name him. I was surprised to hear of the allegation, because I was her barrister in that case and it certainly never crossed my mind that Heath had anything whatever to do with her acquittal. Continue reading WIltshire Police were wrong to name Sir Edward Heath

We shouldn’t draw the wrong conclusions from Ben Fellows’s acquittal

The acquittal of Ben Fellows on a charge of perverting the course of justice by falsely alleging that he was “groped” by Ken Clarke during the making of a television programme is in danger of being misunderstood.

The allegation was that he had falsely told the police that after he had been plied with alcohol at a party, Ken Clarke had groped him, by touching his genitals over his clothing. Mr Fellows was described in the prosecution opening speech as a “an inventive and sometimes persuasive fantasist”. Continue reading We shouldn’t draw the wrong conclusions from Ben Fellows’s acquittal

The Government’s Policies on the Human Rights Act and the EU are an incoherent muddle

The vast majority of Conservative MPs are united in the belief that Parliament should be sovereign and the British Supreme Court should be supreme. Yet the Government has embarked on a plan which (if it succeeds) will effectively entrench the precise opposite of what its MPs actually want.

The problem arises from a misunderstanding of the Human Rights Act and a failure to address the constitutional realities of EU law.

On the Human Rights Act, the Prime Minister has instructed Michael Gove to press ahead with preparations for its repeal and replacement by a British Bill of Rights.

Any sensible Conservative ought to realise that the repeal of the Human Rights Act is not just unwise but, if you are worried about Parliamentary sovereignty and the supremacy of our courts, entirely beside the point. The Act requires the Supreme Court only to “take account” of Strasbourg decisions, not to follow them; and it gives courts, whether British or European, no power to strike down Acts of Parliament. Under the Human Rights Act the Supreme Court is supreme and Parliament is sovereign. Continue reading The Government’s Policies on the Human Rights Act and the EU are an incoherent muddle