Last Friday David Bryant, a 66 year old retired fireman with a distinguished record of brave public service was freed after spending 3 years in gaol for a crime that he did not commit. Yesterday his conviction was finally quashed.
His story is quite appalling, though not, I fear, in any way unique.
His accuser, unusually, has waived his right to anonymity so we know that he is a man called Danny Day. His accusation, which he first made in 2012, was that Mr Bryant and another fireman called Goodman (who is now dead) had raped him on some unspecified date between 1976 and 1978.
Mr Day explained how he came to make his accusation in an interview with the Sevenoaks Chronicle. He heard that Mr Bryant had become:
“Chief fire officer, a councillor and a freeman of the borough – a local celebrity practically. He had had a long and distinguished career and people looked up to him.
“The traumatic memories of the attack came flooding back, and [I] decided to ‘confront’ Bryant by posting a letter through his door.”
“All I wanted off him was an apology,” said Mr Day. “If he had said, ‘I’m sorry, I was misled’ that would have been fine.”
But when Mr Bryant complained to the police about the letter, Mr Day decided he now wanted more than an apology. He went to the police with his allegation.
His account was both vivid and shocking. There was plenty of extraneous detail which made his account believable. The two men, he said, had invited young Danny to the fire station to play darts on three separate days. On the third day they held him over the table and took it in turns to rape him, whilst simultaneously having sex with each other. He was screaming with pain. At the end of it all one of them gave him a £5 note.
Mr Bryant protested his innocence but the jury believed his accuser. He was convicted.
The judge, sentenced him to 6 years imprisonment. Mr Day was still not satisfied. He complained that the sentence was too short. Speaking to the Bournemouth Echo he said he was “very disappointed” with it.
With little obvious sense of irony he continued:
“I don’t think justice has yet been fully served in this case. It is as though because he has led an unblemished life since then that somehow makes up for it. But I do still want to encourage anybody who has experience this sort of thing to come forward. It can’t be left alone.
“I also want to thank the police and the Crown Prosecution Service who did a sterling job ….”
Explaining why he had waited nearly 40 years to report the offence, he said that he had been partially “inspired by the Jimmy Savile revelations.” The rape, he said, had deprived him of 35 years of his life, and was responsible for his two failed marriages, as the events were “always on my mind.”
The Attorney-General agreed with Mr Day that Mr Bryant’s sentence was unduly lenient. He appealed, and the Court of Appeal agreed too. It increased his sentence to eight and a half years, grimly observing that the trial judge had not given sufficient weight to the case’s “aggravating features.”
Mr Bryant was less successful. He tried to appeal his conviction on a point of law. He failed to persuade a single judge that his case was even arguable.
“He’s in the place he should be in. He keeps on trying but he’s been in court with me three times, and three times he’s lost.”
Having put Mr Bryant safely behind bars, Mr Day then turned his attention to obtaining compensation for the abuse that he claimed to have suffered. Mr Bryant by now was probably a ruined man, so just to be sure of getting some money he joined the Dorset County Council to his action, accusing the fire service of failing to protect him. He did not just want any old damages; he demanded “aggravated damages.” These are damages paid not just for compensation, but as a means of punishing a particularly egregious wrong. But the compensatory element was considerable nonetheless. Indeed, had it not been for the rape, Mr Day said, he would have been able to participate in the 1984 Olympics. He had a “better boxing record than Mohammed Ali,” and had given up his place in the British boxing team because of the trauma of the rape. Mr Day said he wanted “£50,000 to £100,000.”
What is more, Mr Day did not want to wait around for his money. He instructed solicitors to pursue his civil claim under a “no win no fee agreement.” Generally speaking, once somebody has been convicted of a criminal offence, success in the civil courts is something of a formality. After all, if a criminal case has been proved “beyond reasonable doubt” it is usually a simple matter to prove a civil claim to the lower “balance of probability” standard. So confident were his solicitors that he would win that they demanded interim damages of £30,000, together with legal costs of £30,000. By now a civil claim, Mr Bryant’s defence found itself in the hands of Rupert Butler, a commercial barrister more used to dealing with employment disputes and large personal injury claims.
By the skin of his teeth Mr Butler managed to persuade a judge not to award Danny Day his interim payment, or his solicitors their costs.
And Mr Day had made a mistake. His insatiable greed led to his downfall. Unlike his allegation of rape, where it was just his word against Mr Bryant’s, his claim of having been an Olympic standard boxer was demonstrably untrue. There was no evidence that he had ever so much as stepped foot in a boxing ring. Then he relied on the report of a psychiatrist to prove the extent of his suffering. But this led to his medical records – inexplicably perhaps overlooked or ignored by the police in the original investigation – being examined. It turned out that, to use the language of Mr Justice Singh:
“over a period from 2000 to 2010 the complainant in this case had to seek medical attention from his GP in relation to what can only be described as his being a chronic liar”.
When the case eventually made its way back to the Court of Appeal even the Prosecution conceded that the conviction could not possibly stand and Mr Bryant was finally set free.
The case raises any number of deeply disturbing issues, most of which I can’t begin to do justice to in this blog, and especially not late at night. But here are some of them:
First, had Mr Bryant not been believed in by his wife Lynn he would almost certainly still be rotting in Dartmoor Gaol. She eventually persuaded the commercial barristers, Rupert Butler (who originally smelt the rat when instructed to defend the claim for an interim payment), Peter Knox QC and Rachael Earle, all of 3 Hare Court, to work on the case for free. So shocked were they by what they found that they in turn persuaded a firm of hard-nosed investigators, ex-coppers more used to investigating company insolvencies, also to work on the case without payment. Most men convicted of such offences are not so lucky. As Mr Butler has told me, Mrs Bryant is an incredible lady.
Secondly, whilst Mr Bryant has been able to prove that his accuser was a fantasist at best, a gold digger at worst, other innocent people in his situation will not be so lucky. Without the cast-iron evidence of Mr Day’s absurd claims to have been close to being in the Olympic boxing team, and the evidence disclosed in his medical records he would no doubt still be able to portray himself as a “survivor” of appalling sexual abuse, and Mr Bryant would still be considered that most hated and despised of all people, the convicted and unrepentant paedophile.
Thirdly, the case raises deeply uncomfortable questions for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Looking at a complainant’s medical records ought to be absolutely fundamental in any investigation of a historic sex allegation. It is almost inconceivable that it was not done, yet, it seems the fact that Mr Day was being treated for a whole decade for what the Court of Appeal described as “chronic lying” did not feature in any way at the trial.
It would also be easy, and very possibly wrong, to blame his original defence team. Under rules introduced in the 1990s the defence are not entitled to look at all the “unused material” (which would probably include medical records) that the police collect in an investigation. Even if the police and prosecution had obtained the records, if they had insisted that they contained nothing to undermine the prosecution case it would have been very difficult for the defence to obtain the records to see for themselves. Ever more restrictive rules about what material the prosecution are required to disclose, coupled with ever fewer prosecutors to review the evidence that they do have, means that miscarriages of justice are much more likely to happen as a result of vital evidence of this sort simply being overlooked.
Mr Bryant’s case itself illustrates just some of the manifold reasons someone might have to lie: people lie for money, for revenge, for attention or because they simply can’t stop themselves. Mr Day’s problem with chronic lying seems to have come to the attention of his doctors, although as far as I know there is no known medical condition of “chronic lying” and sadly no very effective treatment for it. And of course “lying” in the sense of knowingly telling falsehoods is not the only problem: we also need to be sure that we can spot people who give accounts of crimes from decades ago that they believe to be true, but which in fact are not.
His case seems to have involved failures by some, at least, of those involved in an increasingly cash-starved and over-worked criminal justice system. Yet even if the police and CPS and defence all do their job to perfection, this case perfectly illustrates the fallacy at the heart of that system. It is this: that a jury of ordinary men and women, or for that matter a bench of magistrates or a single professional judge, can be relied upon, without extraneous evidence, to discern beyond reasonable doubt when someone is telling the truth.
Unfortunately, as we have learnt time and time again, neither jury nor professional judge can do anything of the sort. Liars sometimes look shifty and nervously play with their hair; but so do people telling the truth, especially when defending themselves in the witness box under extreme pressure. At other times liars are utterly believable. Think of the horrible case of poor, innocent (in both senses of the word) Timothy Evans, hanged for the murder of his wife and daughter largely on the testimony of Reginald Christie, who shortly afterwards turned out to be a serial killer and the real murderer of Mrs Evans and her daughter. Think of the succession of police officers who must have concealed the truth about confessions “elicited” from the innocent Birmingham six and Guildford four.
After each such high-profile outrage the legal establishment tends to do the same thing: inquiries are held, reports are produced and indeed sometimes great improvements are made to police procedures. Tape recorded interviews and written custody records, for example, introduced by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, have all but abolished the once common practice of “verballing,” whereby police officers would insist that suspects in custody said something incriminating. Judges and lawyers preen themselves for a few years that we have the “best legal system in the world” and politicians, nearly all of whom want to be considered tough on crime, lose interest until the next scandal emerges.
But while congratulating ourselves on advances of this sort, we are deluding ourselves if we think that we are now no longer in much danger of convicting the innocent.
Our experience of past errors, and our now much greater knowledge of experimental psychology ought to have taught us, but seemingly hasn’t, that without supporting evidence of some sort, it can simply be impossible for anyone safely to decide who is telling the truth when there is a clash of evidence. Of course the problem arises from time to time in non-historic cases too, but it is particularly acute in cases relating to the distant past because the chance of finding either corroboration or undermining evidence from decades earlier is very often non-existent.
Mr Bryant’s case bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Geoff Long who was falsely accused and then convicted of sexually abusing his own daughter. He too was cleared only after extraordinary detective work by his wife, and by evidence she found that demonstrated that the complainant may have been less than entirely honest.
It would be comforting to assume that Mr Bryant’s and Mr Long’s cases show that the system is working, and that innocent men are readily cleared by the system. But that would be complacent. The truth is just as likely to be that there are many more men – almost always men – wrongly convicted of historic offences, sometimes on the flimsiest of evidence.
The April 2016 edition of the (always excellent) magazine for prisoners, Inside Time, contained a powerful article under the headline: “We are surviving victims of a false accuser and wrongful conviction. Our family is in trauma.” It took the form of an open letter to the Prime Minister. Understandably the article gets some of the law a bit wrong, and of course it is perfectly possible that the writer is simply pretending to be innocent. But – for what it is worth – to me at least, the anger and raw despair seem genuine, and even if it is not then there are tens or hundreds of other families who seem to be telling similar stories: uncorroborated historic accusations, fantastic allegations, no proper attempts by the police to check or disprove those allegations; and then, once convicted, the almost complete impossibility of challenging a conviction unless you are lucky enough to somehow discover overwhelming new evidence (which is of course quite impossible when you are locked away in prison unless you are lucky enough to have a devoted wife willing and able to turn private detective for years on end), or some glaring legal error during the course of your trial.
Do read the article yourselves, but hear is a short extract:
“Prior to this horrific incident, we brought up our family to be kind, caring, human beings and to have morals and to trust in the police and justice system. We were so wrong. The first time me and my family ever needed the police to protect us, they completely destroyed us, without a second thought or care for the lifelong consequences. Ours was a historical case, allegedly 11 years ago. This crime did not happen, it was totally fabricated. All fantasy. There was no corroborative evidence, as it did not happen. The police and CPS did not conduct a fair and thorough investigation. I know this as I was present at all times and so was my stepson and the accuser’s sister. No one interviewed any one of us. All of us, key witnesses as we all know the truth. We were all present. The Merseyside Police were only interested in a conviction. It seems they are conviction chasers not truth chasers. When challenged about not interviewing key witnesses, they stated that they are guided by the CPS and the CPS did not require them to interview key witnesses. I would like to know why?
It seems the Appeal Courts require new evidence. Evidence that wasn’t available at the trial. Can you please advise me on how I do this? How do I get new evidence of a crime that did not happen 11 years ago? This is my task.”
The article, led to the Inside Time website being inundated with similar accounts from people in a similar position:
“Many say that men, often partners and fathers, were convicted with no evidence, except the word of one person; nearly always the cases relate to accusations of abuse many years, often decades, before and families despair when they are told they have to find evidence that proves innocence when there was no ‘evidence’ in the first place.
Disturbingly many of the accusers were known to police as serial accusers and many had a history of mental health problems. Neither of these, it would be claimed, mean the accuser is lying, but in the face of no supportive evidence their word is taken against that of a man, often in later years, with a history of a stable family and no previous convictions.”
This could almost be describing Mr Bryant’s case. It shows that it was not an isolated anomaly. Mr Bryant’s deeply disturbing experience ought to make us realise that the current vogue for prosecuting cases from the distant past, sometimes on the uncorroborated word of a single accuser, is so dangerous that it ought – save perhaps in vanishingly rare cases – not to happen at all.
Questioning whether there are now too many historic cases prosecuted will provoke a barrage of what might politely be called angry criticism. For even raising the issue you will be called a “paedo-apologist,” an “establishment stooge,” a sympathiser with child abusers and so on. So let me be as clear as I can: I do not support a statute of limitation. I readily accept that there are cases where there is sufficiently compelling evidence to justify prosecution after many years or even decades have elapsed. I can even accept, though only with great caution (especially in the age of social media) that the fact of multiple similar allegations from independent sources can sometimes, in itself, be compelling evidence. What I cannot accept is that criminal courts should be asked to decide cases from decades ago which depend on the word of one complainant against one defendant. Distressing though it may be for individuals who were sexually abused when they were children not to be believed, the danger that justice will not be done in such cases is simply too great.
In 20031 the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, quashed a conviction largely on the grounds that there was no rational way of deciding who was telling the truth in a case which turned on which of two people was right about an incident that allegedly occurred about 30 years earlier:
At the heart of our criminal justice system is the principle that while it is important that justice is done to the prosecution and justice is done to the victim, in the final analysis the fact remains that it is even more important that an injustice is not done to a defendant. It is central to the way we administer justice in this country that although it may mean that some guilty people go unpunished, it is more important that the innocent are not wrongly convicted.
The case in question has since been so thoroughly distinguished in subsequent Court of Appeal judgments that it is largely pointless to refer to it in court any more. You may get a contemptuous sneer. At best you will get a knowing smile from the bench which says:
“Woolf was a lovely old buffer but times have moved on now. We like to let juries decide who’s telling the truth these days, never mind that they have no sensible way of doing so. It’s better they make an educated guess than that we let possibly guilty old men get away with it. If I am wrong the Court of Appeal will put me right”
Except that the judge on the bench will be wrong and the Court of Appeal will hardly ever put it right. Indeed, in Mr Bryant’s case the Court of Appeal put it even more wrong.
But Lord Woolf was not just a lovely old buffer. He was one of the brightest and best judges of the last three decades, and he was right. We should have listened to him. If we had done so Mr Bryant, and I suspect many other innocent people, would not have been wrongly imprisoned in the intervening years. Until we accept that there are some cases of this sort in which proof beyond reasonable doubt is simply impossible we will continue to sweep up the innocent along with the guilty. It is a disgrace, it is an embarrassment at the heart of our justice system, and it ought to stop.
1R v. B  2 Cr. App. R. 13
173 thoughts on “The shocking case of David Bryant reveals the fallacy that we can always spot a liar”
And let us not forget the deep stain that was the wrongful conviction of Stefan Kiszko, 40 years ago to the day on which you write the above. I remember the demands from many that he be hanged.
Thank goodness at least for that.
But he died before his time anyway didn’t he ? Poor lamb !
Another goody Matthew and on the Savile ‘payday’ no less ! Words that could so easily and confidently be applied to his accusers, if anyone with any influence were brave (maybe not right word and I understand why individuals do not dare) enough to challenge !
But here Mr Day he seems to have made a mistake. Unlike his allegation of rape, where it was just his word against Mr Bryant’s, his claim of having been an Olympic standard boxer was demonstrably untrue.
‘Demonstrably untrue’ The dead cannot ‘demonstrate’ anything while their accusers don’t have to. I’m over the moon for this man, shame on whatever system put this man in prison !
I accept this site a place for ‘legal’ concerns, often with the input by legal professionals. As a true victim of the times and circumstance, having been falsely accused, lost career, honour, dignity etc,. I have spent much of the last three years following the discussions about judicial mistakes.
I fear the compensation culture has no bounds and I wish to support suggestions (one already made on this site). Sorry guys (lawyers etc,), if you make shed loads of money from ‘No Win / No fee’ as I am in all probability calling for a reduction in your employment. I believe the government imposed a ceiling on monetary compensation claims for whiplash injuries and the signs are that there has been a significant reduction in claims since. (I’m convinced that someone would put me right if this is not the case). In the same spirit the government could be placing ceilings on the monetary payout, for emotional ‘damage’ claims for those who pursue historical abuse claims. The ‘chancers’ among the so called ‘victims’ may well fall by the wayside, especially as ambulance chasers will no longer be interested as they cannot get top-dollar. Another measure I would support is that of using lie detectors on both the accused and their accusers.
Mean while for those thinking of making false claims here is a take on ‘What makes a good historical ‘victim’ in modern-day British Witch-Hunts?’
Some or all of these issues might help them get their ‘story’ heard. . . . .
• A desire to let NoWin/NoFee lawyers refer to you as often as possible, anonymously or not, saying you are broken, battered, unable to function, distraught, shell-shocked, will *never* recover, etc.etc.
• An ability to tell the most outrageous porky pies, with a straight face and when your evidence is determined as completely unsafe, you are guaranteed the protection of the Police and CPS forever to not prosecute you, when proved (in court) to be a ‘non-credible’ witness or just a plain bare faced liar.
• A history of obnoxious behaviour.
• Debt, including The ‘Full Bankruptcy’ bit.
• A deep desire for ( £) compensation, not justice alone. Loads of ‘ambulance chasers’ around!
• A willingness to do loads of interviews, shadow background of course with cameras showing your back, for (£) money. Or an ability to cry instantly when needed, especially to camera, or in front of a jury.
• Having an ability to blame absolutely ALL the mistakes you’ve ever made in your life on others, preferably, *just* the person you are accusing.
• A sense of absolute entitlement to AS MUCH (£ )compensation as you can possible get.
• A desire to pose (provocatively or sexily), for many media photos.
• A desire to be anonymous for life, or at least until conviction is achieved, when you drop anonymity for your many media appearances, or so that you can now write your story.
• A lifelong need for attention.
• Have a dysfunctional family.
• A terrible memory that can only recall ‘the abuse’ not where, when or how it happened, nor the year, nor your age.
• A willingness to change your story entirely mid-trial, whilst keeping a straight face. Blame the trauma of the ‘incident’ causing you confusion.
• An innate ability to con everyone, even your family.
• An earlier, failed, blackmail situation.
• A desire never to work if you can possibly help it, living off others, drinking yourself senseless and not giving a F*&^ about anyone, apart from yourself.
• A natural ability to sell stories you just make up on the spur of the moment, always ensuring your lies involve just you and the person you’re accusing, NEVER bringing in real witnesses, because you know there aren’t any, managing to get Loads-a-Money out of idiotic, sociopathic newspapers, whilst you laugh, all the way to The Bank of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. ‘Why let the truth get in the way of a good story!’
• A willingness to sign a Victim Impact Statement written entirely by someone else which makes out that your whole life has been the most ghastly, hellish existence of catastrophic proportions.
• A history of alcohol or drug abuse or mental un-wellness (including living in FantasyLand) helps prove how wretch life has become.
And finally . . . . .
• An OVERWHELMING DESIRE, nay, A DESPERATE NEED to get DEEP REVENGE on the person you accuse, be it that they rejected you in a relationship years ago, a relationship YOU started up and YOU controlled entirely throughout, or that they, or one of their family, REFUSED to give you the £money you asked them for, which you so desperately needed, let’s say £250,000, to fuel your now out-of-control drug and drink habit
So . . . . .
if you have any of the symptoms/reasons/desires/talents above, please contact Sod’em & Goodmorra’- lawyers for liars, cheats, blaggers, abusers and all round lowlife, who, I’m sure, will be more than pleased to help you achieve your life’s ambition.
I remember the Stefan Kiszko case and the TV documentary too
I also know that my husband & I are also “victims” of our farce of a justice system.
I have LOADS of evidence that proves the police officer in the case committed loads of crimes, yet nothing has been done to him and the CCRC will not take that, plus the criminal behaviour of the jury foreman as sufficient evidence to get us an appeal!!!
The whole system is totally WRONG, and not fit for purpose!!!
Stefan Kiszko was prosecuted and convicted despite forensic evidence proving it was impossible for him to have carried out the terrible attack on that poor little girl. The biggest miscarriage of justice was the failure to punish the people who suppressed the evidence and allowed an innocent and highly vulnerable man to endure years of torture and abuse in prison before the truth came to light.
Why the lie detector is not used when the first accusation is made is beyond me. Both sides tested would quickly pick up the false accusations and the false denials. Think of all that police time that could be saved. Think of all of those innocents in prison who would not be there.
Sadly Maureen, lie detectors aren’t reliable and are certainly not admissible in criminal trials in England & Wales.
I only mean for the police to use it as an aid. They took 2 1/2 yrs trying to find others to accuse my husband. Obviously they couldn’t, but then our side was blamed for the 2 1/2 years wait to bring it to trial. Think we had this hanging over our heads for this length of time and mistakenly thought British justice would see the lies. Mistake. Then try and mount an appeal absolutely impossible unless you are rich.
An EXCELLENT article Matthew.
(1) The law once HAD the same attitude to ‘evidence gained under hypnosis’ as they did to the use of ‘lie detectors’. In 1984 the Home Office sent out a circular informing the police of the dangers of ‘confabulation’ under hypnosis and that any evidence gained in that way was insecure and not to be used without secondary proof. The inference was that hypnotic evidence which lead to the discovery of material evidence to prove it was OK but that hypnotic evidence could not stand alone.
Yet almost all modern ‘victims’ in the current sex-abuse witch-hunt have gained recovered memories of their ‘abuse’ by using therapeutic methods which can only be described as hypnotic states. Moreover, once the memories are ‘etched’ into the ‘victim’s’ consciousness they are unquestioned and treated as Gospel by every court in the land. Ergo what amounts to the mediaeval idea of ‘Spectral Evidence’, long since banished from our courts, has been reintroduced into British Justice and is making a mockery of it.
(2) You infer that the court does not recognise Chronic Lying. There is a psychological syndrome of Chronic Lying. It is called Pathological Lying or pseudologia fantastica ( also mythomania) It was identified by Anton Delbruek in 1891. It is far more common than the public (or the courts) realise.
Prosecutions brought for ideological and socio-political reasons by moralists within the Justice system on the basis of sympathy for victims, many of whom may be lying to get compensation, lying to gain revenge, or lying because their memories have been indoctrinated with imaginary events, is bringing British Justice into disrepute and making it a laughing stock.
From this it is clear that your demand that the medical records of every ‘victim’ be exposed to the court is absolutely crucial to gaining a fair trial.
Matthew, this is terribly important. It’s a delight to read such passion and reason.
I’ve seen a number of people, recently, calling for a statute of limitations and just don’t understand the appeal of the idea. If the problem is that people are likely being wrongly convicted because of a lowering (or removal) of the requirements for corroborating evidence, surely the answer is to look at those requirements, rather than apply an arbitrary time limit. Perhaps someone will pop up to explain why they think a statute of limitations is the answer.
A lack of a statute of limitations only seems to apply to all these cases of alleged historic sex abuse.
When I tried to get the police to reopen a case where I was viciously assaulted by a maniac of a woman 20 years ago when I was having a mental breakdown, I had a pair of thugs in uniforms turn up on my doorstep telling me very bluntly that they would NOT be doing anything about this!
Now had I claimed she sexually assaulted me, they would more than likely have gone for it
Oh, add to this, when I reported to the police about a female prison officer groping me when I was visiting my husband (another victim of a false historic allegation and a farce of a trial when the Clown Prat was allowed to unlawfully add in an extra SIX charges and she was also allowed to unlawfully have an indictment changed) the police FAILED to go looking for other victims of this woman, even though I made it very clear that I KNEW I wasn’t the only one! Have I had justice for me?
None whatsoever 🙁
The limitation should apply for retrospective reporting only. I would be quite happy to see a man convicted of a rape 30 years ago provided it was reported at the time and there was credible evidence against him. This is very different from “Jimmy Savile touched by leg 20 years ago but I was too traumatised to talk about it until now” with or without a claim for compensation.
Well Misa, the requirement of a statute of limitations is clearly illustrated in the case of the 101 year old man who was found guilty and imprisoned unto death for allegations of abuse which he was alleged to have committed nearly 50 years before. The prosecution of a frail, confused and memory impaired Centenarian who is unlikely to be able to recall memories to put up a proper defence does British Justice no good whatsoever. Especially when the ONLY evidence to prove the allegation is the memory of the now middle-aged ‘victim’ and the memory of the 101 accused.
Secondly, the idea that people can recover memories from 40 years previous which have lain dormant through being emotionally suppressed and which are then winkled out by therapists goes against all known forms of psychiatry, yet is accepted as a fact in many of these prosecutions and is hardly ever challenged.
Psychiatry says that the more traumatic the memory the more firmly is it established and therefore the stronger it’s effect. Holocaust victims NEVER forget their experiences but learn to sublimate them. Medical conditions like Shell-Shock or PTSD are methods by which the mind AVOIDS recalling traumatic memories in order to displace the stress and torture of the memory. The problem these people have is in TRYING to forget.
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that traumatic memories are ‘forgotten’, just that they are suppressed so the victim can live as normal a life as possible. Obviously then with constant recall of their abuse any real victim is likely to try to obtain justice during the intervening 40 years by informing the police and making accusations at various times. In the genuine cases this nearly always happens.
It is almost impossible for any person to recall in detail what they did 40 years ago. Anyone accused of historical sexual abuse will find great difficulty in even remembering the place and time of the occasion when they were said to have been present and abusing. However in the case of a victim-impostor (who, after therapy may truly believe they’ve been abused and therefore make a convincing witness) their case against the accused is built up over time and because of this they will research a scenario which makes it appear that their recall is thorough and accurate.
For instance in the case of ‘Nick’, who accused Ted Heath of being a murderer of little boys, the police were convinced of his tale because he gave a description of an MoD installation to which the public did not have access. This convincing tale was shattered completely by Richard Bartholomew in his barthsnotes blog when he discovered evidence that ‘Nick’ had actually visited that MoD installation, now open for visitors, the year before he began making his allegations! If Edward Heath had still been alive, how would Ted have challenged ‘Nick’s’ original ‘memory’ in court? In many instances of false accusations it is only by sheer chance that the falsely accused can produce photographic or diary evidence to prove that he was not at the alleged place at the alleged time. For ordinary folk, like the 101 year old accused, it is almost impossible to counter a cohesive narrative from the prosecution.
A statute of limitations of say 20 years would ensure that any child who did have a grievance could take action to get justice when they became an adult, whilst removing the plethora of false-allegations which are now exceedingly common and which, more often than not, go back beyond the ability to recall.
In the last two years the SAFF has recorded 581 proven false allegations (i.e. overturned on appeal or discovered in court). There must be THOUSANDS of them still in process. A statute of limitation would stop the gold-diggers, the fantasists, the liars and the mentally imbalanced from warping the issue of child sexual abuse, stop many false imprisonments and save the State millions in wasted resources. I can’t see a good reason for resisting it.
I think there should be a statute of limitations, but 20 years is too long. 10 years is quite adequate. I also think that if those who are accusing make statements by video links so should the accused. Human nature says if they see someone on video link they must be telling the truth.
We need definite action as soon as possible as there are too many innocent people in prison even though there is no prooof whatsoever. A positive course of action is needed as getting an appeal is very difficult especially as there is no legal aid for it.
I think a statute of 14 days for reporting would be more than adequate except in child sex cases or exceptional circumstances. Here is how it would work.
A woman goes to the police and claims she was raped at a party three months ago. The station sergeant asks her why she didn’t report it the next morning.
I didn’t think I’d be believed, she says.
I don’t believe you either. Shut the door on your way out.
Scenario 2: A woman phones the police and claims to have been attacked in her local park. Plod turn up, make a thorough search, her clothes are examined, she makes a witness statement. No DNA, nothing.
The investigating officer believes her to be a flake but the incident is entered on HOLMES anyway.
Seven years later, a woman is attacked in another local park under similar circumstances. This time there is an arrest. They go back to the first woman, she says she is fairly certain this is her attacker, and the guy is charged with both offences.
Anyone see anything wrong with that?
Scenario 3 – A 10 year old girl needed some money for her father as he was always more loving when he got the money for looking after her and he was always having to sell the things people gave her, even the cloths someone whose daughter had grown out of. He suggested she could call rape on the man whose wife and he had been giving her a meal regularly which she loved, but she loved her father more. She went to the police and called rape by the man. He was arrested, but the doctor examined the girl and that proved no rape had occurred and as she had called rape against a different man a few years earlier doubted her and the case was dropped.
12 years later she bumped into the girl whose cloths she was given, they talked and the lack of money soon came up. The first girl said she knew of a way and persuaded the second girl to call rape against the man. The man was arrested again an now they had two people calling rape against the man. They tried to find other girls, but failed so they went ahead and the man was found guilty of rape between the years 1997 and 2000. He got 13 years which he is currently serving. The girls got their money and both are very happy and not caring that they have put an innocent man in prison.
You have my greatest sympathy. When people slate the SAFF for being ‘too radical’ or too vehement, I like to bring forth one of these terrible miscarriages of injustice to show them what is at stake.
Your’s is a shocking tale which further underlines the fact that the 1994 decision to change the law to enable prosecution based solely on the ‘victim’s’ testimony was an absolute and horrendous mistake which will have to be changed sooner or later.
As the SAFF has proven on its website and in many documents this change was striven for by an unholy alliance of greedy child charities seeking to expand their remit, and radical feminists who were making a conscious political attack on the structure of patriarchy. This was epitomised by the 1990 gingoism in some Rape Crisis centres
“Satan is the ultimate male rapist”
Of course, both of these lobbies know just how impossible it is to get the Justice system to admit to making ANY fundamental mistakes of judgement. Their ‘power-shadow’ will continue to incarcerate thousands of innocent men until the prisons are full of them.
What is required is a political initiative to change the law but that simply won’t happen because there’s no brownie-points in it now that the population as a whole has been indoctrinated with the idea that one in every four children are being abused, and the media lynch-mob can so easily trigger the hate in the public’s minds for an accused person.
Only after many years, when it becomes utterly obvious that the entire fiasco was a chimera of the stupid and all those who created it have retired to their fat pensions, will society sagely nod and admit that ‘there was a problem in those days’ which now needs looking at again.
Such is human injustice on a historic scale.
Until then we have to try to gain justice for each and every person like your husband, individually and check the flow of false cases as much as possible. There are plenty of people in the media in a position to work towards this end who remain silent for fear of intellectual retribution from their NSPCC or Feminist aligned colleagues but the SAFF keep kicking them in the butt to do something and lots of other intelligent people are now watching and taking notice so the damn of censorship is beginning to leak and will eventually crack as it always has done in the past with earlier witch-hunts. I am only sorry that you and many hundreds if not thousands of others have had their lives sacrificed to pay for this ridiculous state of affairs.
Thank you for your reply. I feel happier knowing that I am not the only wife trying to get my innocent husband free. I don’t want compensation, but justice. When I made a claim on my house contents insurance for a lost ring which my husband gave me on our 40th wedding anniversary, the company asked for my husband to claim as the insurance was in his name. On hearing that he was in prison for a sexual assault I had a letter the very next day cancelling the insurance. That is what you get for being honest.
I read all this with horror and sympathy. But whilst I commend Barrister Blogger for highlighting this kind of thing I, as an ordinary person, just don’t mentally or physically understand how it is possible under our legal system. What I think is being said is that our criminal courts will accept a case where it is simply a claim, an allegation, with no supporting evidence whatsoever?
The way it is described in your blog an allegation with no evidence managed to satisfy requirements of CPS, the defence barristers or lawyers were unable to demonstrate that this was simply an allegation with no evidence and a jury was asked to judge purely on whose story they preferred but with no actual evidence to consider?
How is this even possible? Could one of your blogs take us through the steps of how this can happen technically?
It feels that our justice system, if the above is true, is worse than a Pakistan or Afghan village where justice is administered by a mob or an Elder.
If you read the comments about these cases on the Inside Time website you will see that the often quoted ‘Appeal’ whether directly or by the CCRC is not possible for people in these cases. Because they are convicted ‘without evidence’ it is impossible to provide ‘new evidence’ for an appeal.
If you read comments people make and listen to Jonathan King’s case it is common in these cases if someone can produce an alibi either to move dates or say something happened within a time-spread (eg between January 2001 to March 2004) that is it impossible to counter the allegation. Surely if something dreadful happens to someone they would at least be able to remember the month.
Again reading the comments; the police and CPS are selective, edit statements and train the ‘victims’ before court – the very use of the immediate term ‘victim’ shows the attitude that a defendant is guilty before trial and the defence are very limited in their ability to question claimants because ‘they will always be believed’ and it is not possible to have robust questioning in case it ‘upsets the victim’.
For the wrongfully convicted they are treated as ‘in denial’ in prison and lose privileges because they cannot comply with Sentence Planning that requires them to admit guilt; they are refused parole and so serve longer than the guilty and if given a life sentence may well die in prison – a man of 84 has just been given a 20 year sentence from an allegation of half a century ago. Even the Prisons Inspectorate complain that prisons are full of ‘deniers’ and should do something to get them to admit guilt. Even after release they are hounded by the Sex Offender’s Register for life.
A problem for all, not just ‘celebrities’ is the name and shame culture before anything is investigated of which the Police, and BBC, actions with Cliff Richard are a glaring example
Finally, compensation, anyone can go on the government website and claim up to £20,000; often with nobody needing to be arrested, charged or convicted. the worse the claim the more the money. Enough for a house deposit or new car.
What is the answer? I would suggest that if a person is under 18 when an alleged offence happens they have until they are 21 to report it and provide the evidence. Once they are 18 then a three year limit on making the allegation. A reintroduction of the requirement to need evidence and all unused material available to the defence including a mandatory disclosure of medical records, criminal history and any previous allegations.
Thank you for the reply Paul.
But I still don’t understand how it is legal that I can just say something about someone and if they can’t prove that what I say they did didn’t happen it makes them guilty.
Does this only happen with abuse cases? Or does it happen with other things such as accusing someone of say, stealing money? It is abdolutely shocking.
Yes, this is only true in sex cases where the law was changed in, I think, 1996 to remove the requirement of corroborative evidence.
My partner was wrongly convicted of sexual offences. I stood trial as co accused , on charges of threatening and abusive behaviour, attempting to pervert the course of justice. It went all the way to trial with no investigation on behalf of the police in my defence. I wasn’t even in the area and could have proved it but nobody asked. Arrested, charged and bailed so stay away from my hone. On the streets with a ten year old. How is that allowed to happen????? I know people who have been falsely accused of gbh. Anything that carries compensation for the accuser
It was in 1994. Here are the details:
“The “memories” of today’s “survivors” of satanic abuse are hardly less fantastic than those of their 17th-century counterparts. But they are enough to convince many psychiatrists and social workers of the reality of a vast network of devil-worshippers in Britain today.They do not see the need for corroboration, and indeed question the motives of those who ask for it.
They would like to see rules of evidence changed so that it would be easier to get convictions for satanic abuse and have in mind something like the Criminal Justice Act of 1994, which abolished the requirment for corroborative evidence in child abuse cases. The result of that change is that you can be convicted – and many people have been – simply on the word of the individual who accuses you, even if the allegation dates back 20 years. The rationale for the change in the rules of evidence was simple: without it, it would be impossible to get convictions in most cases of child abuse. Its effect has been to lower the standard of proof: no one could say that a charge of sexual abuse based on one, unsubstantiated, recollection of what took place 15 years earlier has been proved “beyond reasonable doubt”.
The lawyers who piloted the change, like the psychiatrists and social workers who lobbied for it, argued the goal of punishing real child-abusers justified the risk – it is in fact a certainty – of punishing a number of imaginary ones. But relaxing the rules of evidence sets an alarming precedent. If those who believe in satanism get their way, the law will eventually be changed to make uncorroborated testimony of satanism sufficient for conviction. That is why we should be deeply alarmed – not about Satan, but about Ms Sinason.”
Excerpt from The Sunday Telegraph 13th February 2000.
Great article. As someone who has been the victim of false historical allegations of abuse and has followed this issues for 20 plus years I fully identify with what you say and fully empathise with the accused and his family. Knowing their pain, in my view, people who knowingly make false allegations of abuse (historically or contemporaneously) should be regarded as social terrorists. That is not too strong a description- they adopt the same methods of terrorists, have the same effect, insist their belief system is correct and must not be challenged, and make you fearful of virtually anyone (inc police, professionals cps, judiciary etc.) who give comfort to their lies.
I accept sexual abuse does occur (and has occurred in the past more so than perhaps we have realised) but now it is time those on the other sides of the argument (police, professionals, judiciary etc and the general public accepts that false allegations, particularly historical ones, are also much more frequent than generally believed or admitted. Its time this issue was under pinned by truth seekers rather than by those driven by the mantra that “the accuser must always be believed”.
This is true. I can vouch for that. every single word. Not a scrap of evidence as the crime did not happen. All fantasy. How do I know? because I was there. Police would not interview me, a key witness. Said they were guided by CPS and CPS did not require it. I am now forced to investigate myself. I don’t have police powers, but I am digging, just as this woman in the article did. There are many in my position. It is a national scandal. Many families in trauma, many innocent people sat in cells who need help. The justice System that should protect them, did this.
I know this is true- we too ate a family hard hit by false accusations and wrongful convictions. All were coerced in an attempt to cover up the crimes if others. Police, cps and others give credibility to those who abuse, commit perjury and destroy the lives of innocents
A complainant’s account of events is evidence. If that evidence is remotely compelling, the police will investigate it. An interview will be recorded and a written statement drafted. Various investigatory failures may take place. Nevertheless, it remains the case that in England & Wales an individual can be convicted on such evidence alone; the same goes for confession evidence. There is no requirement that such evidence be supported by other evidence. Compare this to eyewitness identification testimony, where supporting evidence plays a crucial role and where special directions are given to juries about the accuracy of eyewitness identification (e.g. they are told of a special need for caution, and that a compelling witness may often be a mistaken one). This came about following years of research regarding the reliability of identification evidence and the dangers of witness’ memories being altered after the event to remember things that they never actually saw. False memories are dangerous, and while the law has begun to tackle this problem in the context of eyewitness identification, historic offences have gained less attention.
In deciding whether to prosecute, the CPS will consider whether there is enough evidence to give them a reasonable prospect (at least a 50% chance) of conviction. With a compelling complainant and a defence case consisting almost entirely of a denial of the complainant’s allegations, it may come down to C’s word vs D’s word. If the CPS think they have a 50% chance of conviction they may consider that sufficient.
The CPS then has to consider whether it is in the public interest to prosecute the case. A number of factors will be examined, and there is guidance issued to prosecutors by the Director of Public Prosecutions outlining how the public interest test should be applied in particular kinds of cases (such as historic sexual abuse). If the CPS finds a prosecution to be in the public interest, the defendant will be charged and prosecuted.
Disclosure of evidence to the suspect (and his solicitors) during the police investigation is often very limited, and the police are rarely required to show their cards. It is not until after the case has been sent for trial to the Crown Court (a court date scheduled) that the CPS is required to turn over their evidence. The CPS will present the Defence with all the evidence they intend to use to prosecute the defendant. All the remaining evidence – the unused material – (i.e. the stuff they are not using to make their case) will be kept aside. The CPS then has to conduct a disclosure test – to look at each piece of unused material and ask: could this evidence reasonably be considered capable of undermining the case for the prosecution, or of assisting the case for the accused? If so, they must disclose it. The Defence will also receive a schedule of unused material, so that they can see what documents the prosecution have but which they are not providing. Prosecutors also have a continuing duty of disclosure, so if at any point in the trial they come across new evidence (e.g. medical records) they have to apply the test and, if necessary, disclose that evidence. But as Matthew outlined, if medical records are never looked at, the material may never be disclosed.
Where the Defence has reasonable cause to believe that there is prosecution material which is required to be disclosed that has not been, they can apply to the court to require the CPS to turn over that evidence. But it can be difficult to argue that material should have been disclosed when you are unable to see that material! The system thus depends upon prosecutors looking at all the evidence and making sensible disclosure assessments.
Reasonable doubt cannot, in my (nor I suspect Matthew’s) view, ever be established where the only evidence is the complainant’s version of events. The problem is that the legal system, following the Victims’ Rights movement of the 1970s and the punitive rhetoric of the tabloid media (and indeed of many politicians) has come to a different conclusion, allowing juries to consider which individual they believe more, rather than whether the evidence is strong enough that they can be sure of the defendant’s guilt. While psychological research into eyewitness memory (e.g. Loftus & Palmer) has effected considerable changes in our handling of false eyewitness identification, it is absurd that medical and/or psychological evidence was not considered relevant in the context of a historic sexual abuse case such as Bryant’s.
May I say a huge thank you to Bill The Barrister for the trouble he took to state the procedures for prosecution and defence so comprehensively. Really appreciated.
You are very welcome, Jim.
You know the real problem with this article. It’s actually *worse* than you describe, and it’s been going on for years ; Savile just brought it into the public sphere. There are an enormous number of people making lies up for money.
(As an aside, I think while Savile is probably guilty of something, about 95% of the claims against him are fabricated).
There is only one solution in my opinion. Nothing will happen to Day (probably) or those in the Police and CPS who will have known this was dubious.
The quoted author is correct, the police do not investigate, they are just after convictions for targets and personal advancement.
Unless these f**kers are prosecuted and jailed (sorry, but I have personal experience so I am very unhappy about the whole thing) nothing will change. Slaps on wrist will not do.
Anyone (especially male) who works in residential care, special education or fostering at the moment is asking to be jailed at some point down the line when one of their clients wants some money.
I have no problem with Barristers. It is their job to defend or prosecute. They are supposed to “take sides” so to speak.
The Police and CPS should be neutral and they aren’t.
Something you haven’t mentioned is corroboration, which is mentioned in one of the quotes I think.
This is actually worse. The Police “tout for business” ; they go round everyone they can find “inviting” them to make allegations (often telling them what others have said), which is then corroborative evidence.
It’s effectively establishing no smoke without fire as a legal position.
This is why, for example, the BBC were invited to film the raid on Cliff Richard, and William Roache had ridiculous allegations made against him in court (one supposed victim said that she was sure Roache abused her but couldn’t remember it)
What Plod does is collect allegations from the dishonest (easy to do if you’ve worked in Residential Care because there are lists, and many of the clients aren’t honest) and just simply snow the accused under with them.
Juries assume there is no smoke without fire and don’t realise how they claims are created (even when the claims are word for word identical ….)
The police couldn’t be bothered to go looking for corroboration when I told them I had been sexually abused by a female prison officer, despite the fact that I advised them that I KNEW I wasn’t the only one who was a victim!
One rule for them and another for us ….
A brave article for Matthew Scott to write with the argument set out in an objective, rational manner. One hopes it might lead to genuine debate whatever one’s view of prosecution of historic crimes, rather than “rape is different” hysteria.
Though I do not do the work, civil practitioners who defend compensation cases on behalf of the church, local authorities and the estates of dead rich men accused of child abuse will say off-record that there are very many false claims, often demonstrably so, clouding amd shrouding the genuine allegations amongst them. Should we worry about effective application of the criminal (beyond reasonable doubt) standard of proof. How can juries convict in these criminal cases with a certainty of guilt that require the collective wisdom of the jury to be “sure”? Are judicial summing ups sufficiently effusive as to the difficulties of conviction on one person’s word against another? Do we go back to the days of requiring some sort of corroboration, even of a watered down type?
Very interesting and shocking story, but to us at Inside Time very familiar. Appreciate your mention of our letter and follow up article. We are still getting comments posted.
I’ve always admired Inside Time and that particular article made a lot of waves.
We would love to use a shortened version of your blog in our September issue.
Could you please contact our editor Erwin James firstname.lastname@example.org
and he can fill you in
Also, dozens of domestic trials where the victims account is accepted without any corroborating evidence. I have come across many verdicts where the justices trot out “we find the complainant to be a credible witness ” based on what ? telepathy ? tears whilst giving evidence
Excellent post. If only the police and the CPS had more people like you and Anna Racoon working for them…
Well written piece and at last that poor man has his life back but it will never ever be the same will it all because some joker jumped on the band wagon in the hope of getting a pay out.
We are effected with these false allegations my son being sent down for 6 years on nothing but unsubstantial hearsay. No evidence, no nothing we dont even have any *unused evidence* either because there was nothing full stop!! He was stitched up by the Police, CPS and even his defence council whom never did anything to help towards my innocent sons defence may as well have sat with the prosecution!!
*Also, dozens of domestic trials where the victims account is accepted without any corroborating evidence. I have come across many verdicts where the justices trot out “we find the complainant to be a credible witness ” based on what ? telepathy ? tears whilst giving evidence* never a truer word said !!!
My son is due in court in January, and the only “evidence” is a concoction of lies, brought forward by a twisted, jealous teenager, who wants to smash her mums family to pieces, and will see her step father in prison, to get what she wants. She has given the story of historic sexual abuse, based on her word only, despite the fact that her mother was always there, and she never was alone with her stepdad in that way. Left home at 14, and never mentioned a word of it then, but due to the fact that she resents her half siblings and thinks they are having a better life than she had, will see their dad in court to make her feel better. Only left home because she couldn’t take discipline and guide lines, and knew she would get an easy life living with her grandparents. But now we have the story of how she has been upset for years and that it has affected her since she was a child, and used to cry in class every day. This same person was so disturbed and upset, and affected by the “trauma” that she managed to leave school with a stream of straight A’s with credit. So much for the depressed and suicidal individual, but still it goes to court. Let’s hope that sense will prevail and she will be seen for what she is. – a minipulative, scheming liar who, in her own words, wants to have more money to spend on holidays and clothes xxx
This is happening to many many decent families. I should know my family is one of them. The first time we ever needed police and Justice System to protect us, it destroyed us. We will never trust them again!!! Why is this happening? Why does the Justice System allow this? I refuse to be collateral damage. I refuse to be sacrificed. How on earth does this help those that are true abused? Grandparents, parents, Grandchildren and children all in trauma. I am now forced to be a private investigator. I thought thats what the police did. I was wrong. I am digging and digging and I am almost there but I don’t have the police powers or funding. I will never give up as I know the TRUTH, I was there and I want Answers!!!
Medical records are ‘excluded material’ within PACE and following the logic in the decision in R v Central Criminal Court ex parte Brown (1992) 30 July; Times, September 7, 1992, they cannot be the subject of a schedule 1 production order. If the accuser refused to consent to his medical records being provided then the police might not have actually have had them.
Mr Bryant has been the victim of an appalling injustice, and yours is an excellent article, but we should not rush to criticise the police and prosecution without more evidence of complicity.
Rob obviously doesn’t live in the real world. Like many at the sharp end of Jurisprudence everyone gets a sympathetic hearing except the ‘pervert’ who has been accused.
He should look at the SAFF website to see how the police have been complicit in building the historic sex-abuse witch-hunt since the 1990 Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic.
And how the man at the Met who ran the Yewtree/Savile investigation promoted the idea of Satanic Ritual Abuse in training seminars for all child protection officers.
The gullible belief which drove the SRA myth is at the root of ALL the recent sex-abuse panics.
In my case, I was never interviewed , questioned or anything else and it went all the way to trial. It wasn’t historic- all my “crimes” took place over a 10 day period. I had people who could prove I was not in the area at the time of the offences but were they interviewed? No. I wasn’t even asked for any names of anyone who could defend me.
It simply didn’t suit there agenda to prove that my accusers were lying scumbags.
How can this happen ?? people ask. Simply because it can, and it does- all too frequently.
At trial, after the first witness, the fiscal “Took a view” and dropped all the charges. In other words he threw in the towel , no doubt to save face.
A brilliant and important piece with lessons for all of us in the criminal justice system -lawyers, judges and investigators. Well done Matthew
This Test has come up as “Your comment is awaiting moderation” unlike the previous ones?
Have they disappeared into the ether, been rejected, or still in moderation limbo?!
Not sure. I’ll check.
Thanks, but it looks like it’s a problem my end: for some reason I can’t post from Microsoft Edge on my laptop, but I can from Firefox?!
I’ll try and repost what I’d written earlier in Firefox.
I think those who have some real knowledge of law have been concerned about this issue (historic accusations) for some time. But I think you won’t get very far having a rational conversation with anyone without that knowledge, or direct experience of being on the wrong side of such accusations. I’ve tried it a few times, and the accusations fly fast and furious.
What others have said above about statutes of limitations are the correct approach. We don’t need time limits, we just need a sensible approach to corroborating evidence. How can it be right that a accuser makes a loose accusation, where the accused has lost the ability – through the natural course of time – to provide an alibi (I was on holiday that week/at a wedding/sick in bed…)?
This is an important commentary (even within the confines only of news reports) on a shocking case, which is, as Matthew has suggested, only one of an unknown number of unsafe convictions of a similar ilk.
The evidence of innocence did not emerge as a result of the ‘safety valves’ of the normal workings of the CJS. That system works, by decree of the CPS guidelines, which include minimising disclosure, to ‘support’ not investigate allegations through ‘case building’ not testing, it decrees that the reliability of the complainant should not be an issue at trial, but ‘the credibility of the allegations’ which when they rest solely on the uncorroborated and untestable evidence of a complainant, makes no sense at all.
But even back in 2003 when Lord Woolf made his sage comments about the unfairness of such trials, the rot had long since set in.
It went back to the post-Cleveland era when the courts considered the fairness of trying ‘delayed’ cases on oral testimony alone. At first it was suggested there were special rules for sexual offence trials – an echo of the witchtrial concept of ‘crimen exceptum’. But this was dismissed and in fact the divisional court suggested that it would be unfair and an abuse of process to try a case such as Bryant where there was a single allegation by a single complainant about an alleged offence many years ago. This ruling was watered down by the Court of Appeal in a landmark case Attorney General’s Reference (No 1 of 1990)  Q.B. 630, CA which has provided the template of go-ahead and escalating unfairness ever since. (as a point of interest the original cases were in the divisional court because at that time there was the additional safety valve of pre-trial committal hearings in the magistrates court where the evidence was aired)
The key point were that it was for the defendant to show, on a balance of probabilities that it would be unfair and an abuse of process to try the case
and that stays of execution would be an exception because prejudice could be dealt with by the judge through restricting the admissibility of evidence and legal directions.
That’s history now because the rules of evidence became more permissive and legal directions – in particular the corroboration warning- were dispensed with by statute or accumulated permissive precedent
So this is where, I would suggest, the safeguards should be reimposed.
There is no need for an arbitrary statute of limitations.
Rather arguments to stay for permitting such cases should be for the prosecution to prove, if raised by the defence, to the higher standard of proof, not bop, that a fair trial is possible.
This might mean re-adopting some of the procedures of the ‘old style’ preliminary committal hearings (first called ‘old style’ because of live evidence, which was abolished, then committal hearings themselves got the chop)
At the same time some of the better consequences in terms of checks and balances of the corroboration warning should be reconsidered and given effect. (mandatory warning abolished by statute in 1994)
It is no argument to suggest that necessary reforms would result in ‘injustice to victims’. Not withstanding, for all sorts of reasons, reluctance to report sexual offences, there is a public duty, I would argue, to report dangerous sexual predators in order to protect others – for minors this should be as soon as they reach majority.
The prevalence of sexual offences and concern for victims has been a high profile priority for over 30 years. During that time an increasing number of unreliable cases have been prosecuted and resulted in conviction which has, in turn, led to a further and escalating distortion of the ‘knowledge base’ and false confidence in the safety of the criminal justice system in acquitting the innocent (of, this may also mean that false negatives slip the net as well as false positives because of the paucity of good judgement).
At the same time, a parallel universe of judgments in the civil courts has greatly widened access to civil compensation for flimsy claims. The two systems have become a mutually reinforcing machine for manufacturing suspect allegations and claims with defendants in criminal trials unable for the most part to use compensation as a motive in defence because, on advice from the police and prosecution, claim applications are withheld until after the criminal trial. (this includes CICA claims)
This is why the full implications of the Bryant case need to be studied and understood in the wide and not merely as an ‘exception’.
Well done Matthew, Linda and all those helping highlight this disgraceful state of institutionalised injustice in Britain today. The Court of Appeal cannot be relied on to rectify the damage it has done so much to perpetuate and extend. This is a political problem demanding a political solution.
As Matthew knows, this happened to me 16 years ago; long before Savile I was the “test case” for this new method of convicting celebrities for crimes that never took place. Before me the same police force tried it with Mick Hucknall of Simply Red and Paul Weller but those heterosexual claims of rape were dropped and my homosexual false allegations pursued instead. My arrest in 2000 was two days before the UK government were forced to equalise the ages of consent; probably co-incidence but disturbing. For 16 years I’ve gone on and on about this situation; mainstream media ignored me but thanks to the internet, millions know my story. I’ve described it in a free-to-watch film on http://www.VilePervert.com. Celebrity cases get publicity (which, of course, provokes more false allegations). But I met dozens of other victims of the False Allegations Industry in prison. Make no mistake; it is an industry. Claimants make money in compensation and media interview fees (often disguised by “a fee has been paid to a charity” – but in reality the “expenses” delivered to the claimant are massive). Police get praise, promotion, increased budgets. Lawyers earn fortunes (even for allegations against dead people). Media get “great stories”. Judges can preach about morality and look strict. It is absolutely shocking.
Mr King doth protest too much. The investigation into his real crimes was very low key; furthermore, he has shifted ground. Compare with Rolf Harris – totally stitched up; Max Clifford – fantasy victims; Nigel Evans – one of his “victims” admitted he went to bed with Evans but said he didn’t expect to have sex. For real?
You have my every sympathy Jonathan. As you probably know we here at the SAFF have been fighting the prejudice of the Child-Abuse-Industry for the past three decades, ever since they invented and promoted the fictitious idea of Satanic Ritual Child Abuse to shock the public into believing that child-abuse was endemic in the U.K.
We have specifically criticised and exposed the NSPCC for being at the forefront of the misuse of statistics and for rushing to make unsubstantiated claims about child-abuse in concert with the media and leading-edge feminist radicals in an attempt to gain more publicity and funding for a threat which never existed.
It is the heightened hysteria which grew out of the SRAmyth which has created the witch-hunt climate today where informers abound and false allegations are made by the thousand. Please note that in all the major multiple cases (e.g. Savile, Jersey, VIP abuse etc) it was the same NSPCC who worked with the police to ‘trawl’ for further ‘victims’, often taking out advertising space in local newspapers to do so. This extract from the Guardian says it all:
” The [NSPCC] press release claimed that children throughout Britain were being exploited by a highly organised and planned sexual abuse, involving not only sex rings and child pornography but satanic rituals and rituals and bizarre ceremonies such as using masks or costumes, drinking blood or urine, bizarre use of animals, invocation of satanic powers and sexual activity in front of or involving children….
But the NSPCC made these claims about satanic practices without any firm evidence. There is no corroboration for any of it; the police officer in charge of the Scotland Yard unit Investigating child sex rings says he’s had no evidence of such ritual abuse of children.
To make such claims without proper evidence is, to put it mildly, exceedingly unwise and ill advised…
[The NSPCC] themselves seemed belatedly embarrassed by their own presentation; references in their briefing notes to human sacrifice and a baby in a microwave were deleted from their remarks, although the Daily Mirror got hold of them and duly plastered them across its front page. The charity’s press manager said these claims were “uncorroborated” — but since all the other claims were similarly unsubstantiated. what’s the difference?
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this was the NSPCC’s latest publicity stunt to raise funds in a viciously competitive financial climate for all charities.
Melanie Phillips: COMMENTARY: Guardian 16th March 1990 ”
The entire sex-abuse witch-hunt is a fictional construct by the Child-Scare-Industry who drain child-protection of funds and resources by the million. But just as nobody would believe David Bryant, few have had the guts to believe what the SAFF has been saying for the past 30 years. For some reason nobody dare criticise the scaremongering of the NSPCC or the NCH and other charities who are all involved in this gravy-train. Until the Child-Scare-Industry is challenged for it’s excesses and prejudices, the false-allegations will keep on flowing.
I know the feeling I was convicted on the word of two grown up sisters who claim they were abused 20 to 30 years earlier the police withheld psychiatric reports and medical reports on the accusers which I have recently found and am discussing with my solicitor. My witnesses, my daughters, one who lived with me throughout the whole period, I was a single parent, was ignored and never interviewed.
This case sounds so familiar. Like Bryant, my husband’s false accuser is a liar and fantasist – a self confessed one. As yet we have not been able to overturn the wrongful conviction as our counsel was mocked at appeal in the way you describe for bringing up lurking doubt and the fact the jury so clearly got it wrong. The fact the trial judge disagreed with the jury and was well aware of the miscarriage of justice meant nothing as LCJ et al said that was her business – but it wasn’t for her to comment as juries are infallible!
Yet unless it happens to you – you wouldn’t think it possible. As for trial by media and misreporting – don’t get me started on that.
Yes, in theory the Court of Appeal can quash a case because of a “lurking doubt.” In practice it never does, or rather it never admits to a lurking doubt. The jury’s verdict is sacrosant.
My partner is in jail serving a 15 yr sentence for something he didn’t do. The police chose what evidence to use and disregard. They made sure the story fitted correctly and even admitted it in court. The whole system is a joke! How can you convict someone on their word over another. Legal system needs a kick up the watsits and take the compensation factor away! It’s all about the money. If that was removed maybe not so many people wouldn’t feel need to make these vindictive stories up! And innocent people wouldn’t be torn away from their families and lives wouldn’t be destroyed
Get your husband to send you ‘Inside Times’. Start with Gans & Co. My husband got 13 for something he did not do. After phoning a lot of solicitors these people have said they may be able to help, but I need to get more info. The first thing you must do is get the paperwork from the solicitor that defended him. From this you learn a lot. I then sat down and listed what went wrong If you wish to e-mail me I can tell you how far we have got, prepare for a long trek. Good luck
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As a concerned citizen, I ended up writing now three books on Amazon Kindle. My latest is “Jimmy Savile Why I believe He Is Innocent” by John Marsh. I have attempted to cover the latest legal challenges as a non lawyer. And the issues here are covered in the latest book. The three books really in many ways were an eye opener to myself.
R v Lee, 1983! I actually saw him sentenced.
A related issue that I’ve never seen addressed by anyone else, or rarely even discussed when I’ve raised it on various forums, is the Savile hospital scenario, and closely related issue of dentists facing misconduct, or criminal, proceedings, due to alleged sexual abuse, or worse.
Just before the Savile scandal blew up I heard an unrelated medical ethics programme on Radio 4* where it was pointed out that half of people recovering from general anaesthetic experience such vivid hallucinations they can’t distinguish them from reality.
More significantly, in half of those cases, ie in a quarter of all people recovering from general anaesthesia, the hallucinations, which can’t be distinguished from reality, are of a sexual nature!
Regardless of whether Savile was guilty in some cases or not, clearly, as he was (this will be hard for “youngsters” to believe, but in his time he was the kind of person who appeared on posters on people’s bedroom walls!) a flamboyant, touch-feely, celebrity pop and TV superstar, who spent a lot of time looking after patients who had just had surgery, it wouldn’t be surprising if he “starred” in dozens, if not hundreds (thousands?!) of these sexual hallucinations, that patients could not distinguish from real life.
Which would explain why “everyone” had heard rumours of what he had been up to in hospitals, but there was never true corroboration (ie independent witnesses of any individual claims).
In fact, I’ve only read of one single nurse who actually claimed to have seen anything, but it turned out that she had seen it while a patient herself, though I don’t know if she had been anaesthatised.
This could also explain the cases of dentists being accused by patients, who claimed they had come round from treatment under general anaesthetic, to find the dentist engaged in, sometimes bizarre, sexual activity with them, and when they were prosecuted, or reported to their professional bodies, and the case publicised, lots of other patients came forward to claim similar experiences.
It should also be remembered that when claims of UFO sightings, or even alien abductions, are made, lots of other people come forward with corroborative “evidence”!
* For anyone wanting to track down the Radio 4 programme it was about an autistic child that had to have an oxygen mask, that terrified him, and he kept trying to tear off. The alternative was to give him a general anaesthetic, but it’s bad to keep people under long term, so he would have to be periodically brought round while still needing the oxygen mask, which meant the terror from the mask wouldn’t happen as often, but he would suffer the hallucinations as well.
A number of dentists have been convicted. Whether through post anaesthetic hallucinations or reality. Just part of of the – thousands – I do not exaggerate – of iffy convictions with long custodial sentences over the last 25 years. But doctors and health professionals are increasingly at risk. Especially if ‘foreign’. Though of course there are rogue health professionals too. It’s not perfect but usually an independent history of character is a guide.
The criminal justice system is so bizarre in its wish to ‘believe’ and of course in this there is a public & media reciprocity – that I can only marvel at the fact that so many juries buck the trend. And there are also good judges – and prosecution counsel – but the independent bar has been much compromised by instruction and desire to be on the side of the ‘angels’. Even when defending.
Given this black farce has been going on for 25 years (media and victim group pub ‘so difficult to prosecute’ – actuality ‘ no real evidence necessary, just rely on compelling/emo complainant and/or a numbers game’ ) it’s a crying shame that the legal profession as a whole has raised no sustained objection and has airbrushed into existence the chronic delusional (to be charitable) state of the Court of Appeal. (There’s no succour in the Supreme Court either)
The radio programme is still available here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ksc3b
“Oh that’s very common indeed. When I worked at Addenbrookes we used to go and see all the patients who had been discharged from intensive care and about 50% of them had some form of delusional memory that probably came from that period and in some it was seriously distressing to them. A lot of them were to do with murder, theft and the importance of these memories is they are as real as I am sitting here with you today.”
Of course the ‘memories’ of murder & theft can more easily be shown to be delusions than a ‘memory’ of a sexual assault, and those of alien abduction will be treated as the nonsense they presumably are.
HI it was a brilliant article,many have gone down that road to expose this mess everywhere but some of us got off the merry go round and went digging for the truth and new evidence/ perjury etc. I get hit by those who have gone out there way to blacken me as i shoot rockets at them facts supported by evidence. My partner come wife and i both decided to go alone a different way as so many go down the same road trying to get help.We went back to where it all started these false allegation and within days the phone rang a solicitor got in contact.It has been going on since the mid 1990s when false allegations started to rise sharply.Over the years i have seen it rise out of control these cases.I have never been afraid to speak out the truth although those in authority tried to murder me leaving me with a bad back and neck etc. I come from a masonic family and has cost the loss of 2 by suicide plus a family completely destroyed false allegation.it is a P.I.I. case had a special court hidden from the public eye where all the defense was hidden from the jury and court,i was being used as the fall guy to protect the guilty.The lot has gone to ground of the net etc.plus fled abroad but i found them all. Would i ever trust a copper or solicitor or barrister you must be joking for what they did to me and are still doing.
This is an excellent article, Matthew. It illustrates well the need for organisations such as FACT, which works for a fairer justice system in this area of the law (www.factuk.org) and has numerous falsely accused on its books – some facing allegations, others in jail and some victims of accusations which have not led to a court appearance but which have, nonetheless, destroyed their lives. I doubt the present Government will have the time or desire to the examine such matters in a balanced way, especially in the current climate but I hope that the experiences of those in the public eye will continue to change opinion in the UK.
What needs explanation is what sort of purported evidence persuaded the jurors. If some bloke says “this happened to me forty years ago” and has no evidence to support the claim, it shouldn’t even reach a jury; if it does the jury should reject it. Detecting that he is a liar should be neither here nor there: no evidence should equal no trial.
With its requirement for corroboration, Scots law is much superior to English on this point.
Oh dearieme, you’ve caused me leap into the murky pool of prison statistics to see whether I can find anything to suggest that Scotland is failing to keep up with England/Wales in locking people up for sexual offences. At the moment all I can be sure of is that there have been impressive increases in total prison population both north and south of the border over the past 20 years; increases in number of convictions and length of sentence for sexual offences are recognised as one of the significant factors (but by no means the only factor) both north and south; England and Wales’ increase in prison population has been most impressive – basically doubling over 20 years – but Scotland’s increase has been significant too.
The Story of the Prison Population 1993 – 2012: England and Wales – What has caused the changes? p23 shows an impressive increase in both the length of sentences (1993-2004) and the numbers sentenced (post 2003 Sexual Offences Act) for sexual offences, leading to more than three times as many people being in prison for such offences by 2012. I’ve not managed to find comparable figures for Scotland. If different requirements for corroboration are causing differences in the numbers of people being locked up, it would be very interesting to see some directly comparable statistics.
However…The House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number SN/SG/04334, 4 July 2016, Prison Population Statistics pdf download notes on p12 that for England and Wales:
“It is clear that the prison population made up of offenders aged 50 years or over increased proportionately more than any other age group. As at the end of March 2016 the number of prisoners aged 50 or over was 161% higher than the number in 2002.”
And for Scotland (p20):
“The proportion of those aged 45-54 increased 4 percentage points compared to 2005. The proportion of those in categories 55-64 or 65+ increased by a small amount or stayed the same compared to 2005.”
I’m in some danger of comparing apples and oranges here, but the Prison Reform Trust tells us that “42% of men in prison aged over 50 have been convicted of sex offences. The next highest offence category is violence against the person (26%) followed by drug offences (12%).”
These figures seem to come from the MoJ Offender Management Caseload Statistics *for England and Wales*
So tentatively, and in the hope that someone rather sharper than I am might be able to put me straight, I would suggest that:
Over the past 20-odd years there has been a much greater increase in the numbers of older men serving prison sentences for sexual crimes in England and Wales than in Scotland.
My point was limited: the demand for corroboration seems to me to be an excellent defence of our civil rights. It won’t be perfect, but then nothing human is.
I’m sorry, I have no idea whether the stats shed any light on my point: but my point anyway covers only one aspect of criminal trials (and not just for sex crimes either). So any stats would be capable of supporting many interpretations.
A different point of superiority of Scots Law (unless changed by the devolved government since my time there) is the impetus to get criminal trials started and finished in a reasonable timely way.
The classical position is set out in the first few paras here.
Aha! And it seems, as conjectured above, that the devolved government has been nibbling away
I appreciate you were making a measured point, and my rooting around in statistics probably doesn’t help matters that much. The 80-day rule, and the (now) 140-day rule seem most sensible but appear to be coming under pressure, as it seems is the requirement for corroboration, though it survives in Scotland for now.
Plans to abolish corroboration in Scottish cases dropped
Why would a government want to abolish the requirement for corroboration, and extend or abolish the time limits for trials? It’s a mystery. A puzzle. An enigma.
dearieme, it’s a mystery indeed. I suspect that some might point to the steady increase in the number of people behind bars and the steady decline in the number of crimes committed. But that’s the kind of reasoning usually more welcome under authoritarian regimes.
I see no reason to take seriously any claim about crime going up, or down. How would they know? Maybe a few crimes that are hard to ignore if the body presents itself: murder and other homicides, perhaps. Otherwise phooey.
Further, how many possible crimes exist, as the statute books grow and grow?
Numbers in jail should be countable; whether you’d trust civil servants to do it properly is another matter.
This has happened to my Husband. He has been in prison for two years for something he has not done. He was charged with Historic Allegations from 45 years ago. There was no evidence only word of mouth. It’s unbelievable that something like this can happen in this day and age.
I don’t think it was a fair trial how can it be when my husband had nobody to stand up for him. We had a rubbish solicitor and Barrister.
I think they should put a time limit on historic Allegations. Also stop the compensation money.
The so called victims at the trial were very good Liars.
I am supporting my husband because I know he would never do anything to anybody. The Allegations were ridiculous.
He was sentenced to 20 years which is very harsh considering he has never done anything wrong in his life. It has got to stop too many innocent people going to prison.
I miss my husband so much. We will carry on fighting this together. We will not be beaten by liars!
Good luck to David Bryant justice has been done. Have a good life.
Not all juries get it wrong.
The problem from my perspective is that the police investigate the allegation looking for some evidence to support it. The prosecution work this into a case and the defence try to show that it is wrong. Nobody at this point is attempting to figure out what actually happened.
When it gets to court, the jury have the job of trying to figure out what actually happened, and sometimes they can. It isn’t easy as questions of the right form are hard to ask and evidence is missing because nobody thought to look for it as it doesn’t fit the narrative that they are trying to prove/disprove.
You have to start out from a position of believing the victim, but then examine all the elements of their story, some of which may be true even if others are not. The victim may have been assaulted, but perhaps not when they said, and sometimes not by the person they thought assaulted them. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Danny Day had actually been a victim of something similar at some time, maybe years earlier and this memory was transferred into another narrative he constructed. When the complainant’s memory puts the wrong person in the dock there is nothing much the jury can do about it other than return a not guilty verdict and hope that someone else one day figures out what happened and gets the victim some justice.
I don’t agree with this Alan. For a start, you don’t need to start from ‘believing the victim’. Firstly because in many of these cases you don’t know whether they are ‘the victim’ of the alleged offence (or if it existed) and secondly because it’s not necessary – just take seriously. If you start by believing then your objectivity in investigation is already compromised and how do you row back from the ‘belief’? You are invested in a one-sided outcome which is unjust and unfair.
Nor do I accept the ‘allegation transfer’ account which appears to be the consequence of your ‘victim belief’. All false allegations have a cause, but in over 20 years of scrutiny of such cases I can’t think of one where there has been a straight transfer of ‘mistaken identification’. Yes, many accusers have had horrible things happen to them in life – but it’s often unrelated to the allegations as such. It’s usually things like divorce and loss of a parent in early life – things that hurt and messed up their development of personality and integrity and were never put right until it was too late. By and large they are not ‘criminal offences’ but the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Other people suffer the same but learn to advantage – not the disadvantage of others. And for some of the accusers, manufacturing a simplistic ‘victim narrative ‘ one where the real and shameful hurts in life are concealed becomes an attractive – and compensatory – subterfuge. Some, encouraged by others and/or emotionally unbalanced really believe the ‘story’ – others have so lost track of truth and lies they ‘believe’ anything that comes to mind if they can convince others – which is of course why you should never kick off from the presumption of belief, without more. Some know they are lying, but feel forced to go through with it so as not to lose face. And this is not made easier by precipitate ‘belief’. Just as genuine offenders need to be allowed some slack to confess, so do false accusers. Once the accused is banged up and you are in receipt of compo it’s all the harder to own up. In this way many lives are ruined – false accuser as much as the accused. Beware of unwitting complicity and the corruption of pity.
perhaps I should rephrase that, I think you should start with taking the account of the complainant seriously, and work on the basis that they believe their own recollection to be true. Then examine each element of their story and if some bits don’t add up, that doesn’t mean that the remainder is false or that it is an intentionally malicious allegation (it could be, but that isn’t a conclusion to race towards). In any event, it doesn’t make much difference as you don’t get to find out, they were just the first witness, been and gone and never to be seen again. Once you have established that the timeline is wrong, the alibi is wrong, two events at different times and with different people have been conflated and half the actors are in the wrong positions and talking about the wrong event you don’t get to go back. You just know that the police didn’t finish investigating, the CPS figured it was good enough to work with and the defense just pushed back at what the CPS had. So yes, this kind of failure does make a victim of the defendant and absolutely ruins lives, it is something that should and could be figured out before it gets to a court room.
Slightly startled Alan as you seem to have changed tack but but still on a strange trajectory. It’s all protective of the accuser and then you postulate alibis etc which in vague historical cases are a factual not a legal fiction. Are you a police officer or ex by any chance? Or just a wannabe wouldhavebeen? If so, or even if not, you are in need of remedial reeducation as to truth and justice and not just your wishful thinking. If you are a ‘victim advocate’ then I can supply you with ‘victims’ – though not as you maybe know them Frankly I’d rather you just exit the field until you debriefed yourself from romantic fantasy.
No, not a pro, and I don’t think I changed tack, I was saying you start with the complainant because theirs is the first story you hear, you don’t get a choice of where to start. Even when the jury spots what is going on, and gets it right, it is a deeply unsatisfactory situation. Yes, I was being vague, sorry about that, I can’t help it.
The victim in this case is the accused. The accuser is the complainant!
yes, totally agree that the falsely accused is a victim in this case and all similar cases.
I would really love a follow up post by BarristerBlogger to explain the role of the Defence in these cases. Surely it cannot be down to the individual to defend his or her innocence alone. In a court setting, why can’t a defence lawyer or barrister show the absurdity of a charge – for example, “my client was not in the area at the time of the alleged offence”?
That’s a pretty good idea for a post actually, Jim. I hesitate to blame the defence in this case for quite a number of reasons, chief amongst them is that I simply don’t know what happened. Secondly, I know the defence counsel concerned – she is (not in my chambers) a very good, dedicated and conscientious advocate. Thirdly, the ultimate responsibility where there have been disclosure failures lies with the prosecution. Fourthly, with the constraints of legal aid it is virtually impossible for the defence to conduct the sort of in depth investigation that eventually revealed the dishonesty at the heart of this case. It should be the police that do it, but they often don’t.
I agree with Matthew, Jim but would also add that over the past 25 year or so years there has been a co-ordinated campaign by volorgs, social services, police and prosecution that has been government sponsored and endorsed to support the notion of ‘victims’ real or imagined and denigrate the accused and their legal representatives. This has been supported by the media with only ‘exceptional’ cases of injustice highlighted – and that only for a blink of an eyelid. Most defence solicitors deal with criminals – that is their bread and butter. Even if a person didn’t commit a particular crime he probably did others. These cases were completely foreign to their experience and expectations because it was people of good character with a hitherto faith in the integrity of the criminal justice system. Actually many cash-strapped legal aided firms do a pretty good job in the circs. So do counsel often but sometimes there are things like last minute changes – and also a bit of a defeatist attitude ‘Can you be sure etc’ rather than a positive defence. What gets me though is that there has been so little by the law profession in countering the public and media perception. Neither the Criminal Bar nor the Law Society have provided any lead on this. Never mind the obvious suspects such as Liberty. It’s a cultural calamity.
Thank you Margaret and Mathew. I accept everything you say with regard to culture and the cuts in legal aid. It’s just that, from a layman point of view, you have described a situation which seems absurd to a layman. That someone can be jailed on the unproven word of another. As a layman I am still puzzled how this can be so (in other words have you given a very selective account of what actually happened?) and how, regardless of cuts to legal aid etc how can a judge not want to ask the defence team if they would like to answer the charges or ask the prosecution for evidence.
Maybe I’ve been watching too many “Judge John Deed”!!
The simple fact is that the law allows the jury to be sure on one person’s word against another with no corroboration. You may think that’s absurd, I might too, but the law doesn’t and clearly juries consisting of “laymen & women” often don’t either.
An excellent piece and for the incredulous posters I think it actually understates the reality of the cjs today. Other posters draw attention to domestic allegations. I too see cases where allegations are made and the phrase “we find x’s evidence credible” underpins a finding of guilt as if just saying it makes it so. What the courts fail to do (even when challenged by this advocate) is to state what they find INCREDIBLE from the defendant. The reality is nothing, but to say so would necessitate a finding of not guilty, which does not fit the current narrative. I genuinely believe courts have lost sight of the burden and standard of proof because of things like disclosure rules and cpr rules requiring the defendant to take on the burden of explaining their innocence rather than the way it should be.
So pervasive is this now, I can personally recount cases where even when faced with inconsistency and an inability to come close to getting facts straight and then confronted with actual dishonesty (the alleged victim admitted she had told the police things that weren’t true) the court excused the things that should instantly lead to acquittal as “common amongst traumatised victims” in some way using that to bolster status as a genuine victim.
When I have asked those who work at courts I’ve been given some horrifying tales of the training given to magistrates on specialist domestic violence courts. It amounts to “if they assert their account firmly then they are a genuine victim. If they don’t and become upset, irrational or even aggressive, and can’t recount their story rationally, then that’s because they’re a victim as well”
Sadly I fear nothing will change. The most common current perversity of the DV system is to find someone guilty based on flimsy and uncorroborated evidence and then despite the seriousness of the allegations supposedly proven, to impose a ludicrously lenient sentence of conditional discharge.
Anyway rant over, a chance to share with some like minded people who still cling on to the hope this system could provide justice
Three points: the word is historical, not historic.
Timothy Evans was guilty; Jonathan Oates has published an excellent biography of Christie; if you allow for the coincidence of two murderers living under the same roof, there is not much more to be said for the Evans case.
And Lord Woolf is still very much alive, in spite of you alluding to him in the past tense.
Will add the Bryant case to the false rape database in due course. Anyone wants to send me further cases for inclusion, a link or better still a printed source will be welcome.
Of course Lord Woolf is alive, sorry if this post gave the wrong impression.
As to Evans being guilty: I completely disagree. He blamed Christie. It really stretches credulity to believe he was wrong, given that Christie unoubtedly was a mass murderer. The last inquiry correctly concluded that he was innocent.
There was no “last” inquiry; the Court of Appeal simply proclaimed him innocent. There are many possibilities here; Hume said Christie strangled the baby while Evans watched. John Eddowes pointed out that Christie was out all day on the day of the murder. Almost everyone connected with the case believed Evans guilty; he confessed no fewer than five times even shaking the copper’s hand. It was only when the enormity of his position hit him that he looked around for a scapegoat, and who else was there.
If you study the original papers at Kew as I have done you may well reach the same conclusion.
Could I make some points about the David Bryant case that are consistent with what I have seen in practice?
1. It is apparent that the “sea-change” that the Court of appeal talk about in criminal justice is a change of emphasis from the old saw that it is better for a 100 guilty men to go free than one innocent one to be convicted. I would go as far as to say that effectively an risk/accounting exercise has been done where “re-balancing” the system means it is acceptable collateral damage for innocent people to be convicted in the interests of the efficiency (read cost-effectiveness) of the system.
2. This is supported by the approach of the Court of Appeal by “re-balancing” the tests in favour of whether the convcitoin is safe rather than whether the point of law is valid enough to affect the safety of the conviction. In effect this means the CA, in the old words, is usurping the function of the jury, and deciding the factual case.
3. This is reflected in the giving of leave. The test is whether it is arguable to be safe rather than if you have a point of law that may affect safety. This is so extreme that in a recent case on renewal the CA acknowledged my point of law was correct, the judge had made a significant error, but they could correct that by considering evidence he had not considered to make the case safe. To add insult to injury they did not give leave.
4. A further discernible trend in the CA is that increasingly they are applying discretion to almost every avenue of judicial decision-making, and applying a Wednesbury test rather than the more limited discretion found in older cases (e.g. on s.78) so that the decision could be appealed as a question of law. The net effect of this is that judges feel secure in their decision not being challengable whether it is right or wrong. I recently had confirmation of this in a robing room where a recorder who had been on a JSB course was re-assured by a HC judge that he need not be nervous as he would be “looked after” by the higher judiciary.
5. I am sure all of the above would be re-inforced by finding out the leave and allowed appeals in the CA (they used to be pinned up next to the CA office but I don’t think they are there any more).
6. I believe all of the above are a moving away from the English Common law tradition of balancing society’s needs against individual liberty, and more to the French system.
7. In the context of historic sexual cases the trend towards supporting the complainant irrespective of the corroborative evidence or likelihood reflects un unwillingness to look at the legal and factual reality of these cases (including that on a level playing field it would be very difficult to convict many of the defendants being one person’s word against another). The most egregious form of this is the covert “oath-helping” given by judges in their standard directions that the complainant cannot be expected to remember all the peripheral details or even most of them surrounding the event because of its age. This direction effectively means ordinary cross-examination which is very often on the peripheral details is undermined. That of course is on top of disclosure being ever more restricted and useless under BCM and the PTPH system, re-inforced by non-payment for interim hearings before trial.
I have not had a sense of the CBA being fully aware of what is going on on the ground in terms of defendants being railroaded into being found guilty, particularly because the leadership of the CBA tends to be senior, well-respected, and listened to by judges. I have been asking for years that a survey be carried out about what is the everyday criminal barrister’s experience of the system (e.g. Disclosure, preparation by CPS/police, genuine trial readiness at trial, proper statement-taking, proper investigation (especially into the defence/defence accounts/DCS) ,etc. Maybe another could be done of judge’s experience of routinely seeing unprepared cases they are expected to get convictions on by assisting the prosecution have time to get the evidence, ignore any prejudice to the defendants and rule against any defence motions. Most barristers and solicitors I talk to believe the majority of the current system is a joke, they are railroaded into presenting unprepared cases that both sides have to try to deal with in the face of a judiciary more interested in speed of disposal than fairness (whether the defendant is thought to be quilty or not), and the loss of fairness is collateral damage to a system designed to produce quick convictions and save money – rights but they have to live with it.
Sadbar you say:’I have not had a sense of the CBA being fully aware of what is going on on the ground in terms of defendants being railroaded into being found guilty, particularly because the leadership of the CBA tends to be senior, well-respected, and listened to by judges.’
I puzzled a bit over this. Because notwithstanding the recent declines the ‘railroading’ in these types of cases has being going on for 25 years – albeit at an accelerating rate. Many of the ‘well-respected’ seniors, judges and even those in the CA were at the coalface on alternating sides throughout this era.
I remember some barristers, then junior ,now senior, being very concerned about the erosion of justice, particularly the abolition of the mandatory corroboration warning in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The CBA might even have opposed this at that time, but if so they were drowned out.
But if anyone remembers those far off days, the passing of this Act was subject to massive protest – but not so far as the corroboration warning. No, it was the Public Order clauses which enraged – it placed restrictions on demonstrations, informal rave gatherings and travellers’ encampments.
The bien pensant civil liberties lobby were up in arms, and to a man and woman, they supported the abolition of the corroboration warning. Including Liberty.
From the leading ‘well-respected’ left liberal civil rights barristers – including the eminences of the Birmingham 6 miscarriages etc and luminaries such as the subsequent DPP ‘victim’s charter’ barrister Keir Starmer, there was not a peep in protest. Funny how it is that ‘well-respected’ careers blossom.
The problem was not lack of knowledge but lack of hinterland of support. Take the catholic church.
It was Cardinal Hume who was a leading light in the campaign re the IRA miscarriages. Despite the fact that, when convicted, these unfortunates were seen as terrorists and enemies of the State, it was not inferred that Ludovic Kennedy, the Cardinal and others were ‘IRA apologists’ or worse.
Contrast this with opprobrium and marginalisation of supporters of truth and justice in relation to the sex cases. Name me one person whose career has flourished when having taken a stand? Even David Cameron, who was minorly vocal in support when tucked into the Home Affairs Committee damning report on the children’s homes historical trawls saw fit to overlook this when PM and the great post Savile ‘crackdown’ was inaugurated with all its unsung appendages such as the ‘risk of sexual harm order’.
I mention the catholic church in particular because any moral leadership it might have given on this matter was muted by concerns within. And this of course was a pattern replicated across the establishment. It’s a classic witchhunt fear and ignorance mentality.
It ripples right down. In Mark Lawson’s excellent novel The Allegations, one of the protagonists, whose stellar media and academic career is suddenly jack-knifed by historical allegations of sex offence against women, is also a supporter of his clever but uncelebrated academic friend and colleague who faces anonymous disciplinary ‘verdicts’ of ‘bullying’ and ‘insubordination’. One of the statements’ authors cannot be decoded. It makes general comments about his use of language and casual putdowns as being ‘his problem.’ It is of course by the stellar supporter, unbeknown to his friend. The stellar ‘accuser’ eventually confesses this betrayal to an old school friend who is a priest.
When asked if he knew why he says:
‘Yes I think so. Probably. Because, by the laws of both gratitude and statistics, it reduced the chances of the bastards coming for me. And because there’s some awful human instinct to tell the soldiers what they want to know. We often think the really revealing historical what-if is: would I have been Nazi? Or: Would I have hidden Jews in my attic? And those are good enough test. But I think the hardest one is: would I be an informer.”
The thing is, none of us adults are ‘innocent’ in life. We’ve all done things we ought not to have, or rather would not have in retrospect. But what better way to protect one’s own back, than to side with the accusers, least one be accused?
Can’t recommend the Lawson novel highly enough, a black comedy that is topical, thought provoking and chilling.
Part of the reason for there being little opposition to the abolition of the corroboration rule was that it was perceived as being an ancient part of the patriarchical justice system that automatically regarded a woman accusng a man as requiring corroboration (though also it is the easiest allegqaiton to make and the hardest to determine the truth). This got mixed up with the so called low conviction rate which in turn has been confused between the the cases that get to Court and those that are reported. In fact the conviction rate now of cases that get to Court is about the same as other crimes but the overall rate compared to reported cases is still small.
The real problem, as Matthew says, is that it is essentially one person’s word against another, even if it is a recent allegation. If you tinker with the evidential rules and try to undermine the criminal SoP, and put all the cards i nthe hands of the Prosecution, then inevitably you will have a higher conviction rate which is politically expedient for the state, if not good for accused individuals. The judiciary were always supposed to be the mediator between individuals and the state, and the guarantors of individual rights, but I am not sure that that is now how they see their role – apart from their confusion as to whether they are operating in an adversarial system or an inquisitorial one.
“but the overall rate compared to reported cases is still small”
But what does “reported cases” include?
I’ve seen recent statistics that the current estimate for rapes is something ridiculous like 86,000 a year (yes, just in the UK!).
Especially ridiculous as not so long ago I was seeing figures of 55,000.
But they came from a “study” that included things like women who were “forced” to accept “unwanted” sex with their husbands or partners because they were “afraid” that if they didn’t “surrender” to them they might cheat, stray, or even leave them.
I did a bit of googling and found that the kind of women that were behind the “study” were arguing that if a woman, years later (say on a mature student women’s studies course), decided that a previous partner, or even husband, had only said they loved them/married them in order to have sex with them, and they felt that they had been conned into sex, then it was rape!
Presumably the latest “studies” include questions on scenarios like that in their “surveys” (in women’s studies classes?) and that’s where we get the latest estimates of 86,000 rapes a year?
Or perhaps they are now including male victims!
I was lucky (I have only become ‘collateral damage’, angry, lost my career as a trusted person and suicidal) . Police raided my house in Devon occupied by a house sitter – (discount rented to him on the basis I might stay there for 6-8 weeks a year). He was arrested under a suspicion of viewing indecent images. I was arrested 300 miles away in my home in Yorkshire ‘to preserve any evidence’. No warrant was issued and I was subjected to the standard ‘raid’ and search protocols. Just because of the suspicion (and vagaries of perverted minds) that I ‘might’ be in possession of indecent images. My arrest in the residential college took place in front of a colleague. Arrested without any evidence, I was then subject to degrading treatment by North Yorshire Police whilst in custody. The arrest was called for by Devon & Cornwall Police. I was detained for 14 hours and denied food and water. I was then, whilst they tried to ‘fish out’ evidence, placed on Police Bail for 4 months. No evidence was ever found to support the calling for my arrest, nor did they find any images on my computer equipment. Once released I was abandoned to the torment of professionals, who provided zero support; I lost my dignity and honour through the torment of my local community; I lost my job (from suspension) in 10 days as my employers were eager to get rid of me. DCP have never been able (even through their own complaints inquiry process) to signify the reason for my arrest, other than I owned the house. The handling of me by NYP was addressed through an inquiry which led to 2 officers being disciplined and another officer being suspended. When you cannot secure employment, you do not have the resources to spend on pursuing civil action against the police for what was wrongful arrest. It appears that I am left in a position, bestowed on me by the police, of serving a life long sentence for doing nothing improper.
I thought Wednesbury was for civil cases only; most of these historical cases could be trashed on those grounds alone.
As well as a statute of limitations, we need to see a few prosecutions of outright liars.
Police use the evidence which supports their case and withhold evidence that would assist someone in their defence. For example if CCTV supports the innocence of the defendant the police can just not submit it as evidence preferring to increase their chances of a conviction by letting the jury guess who’s lying. Additionally, the rules on unused material mean the police can search your house on arrest and confiscate any documents or material they can find which you could use in your defence to prove your innocence. Unbelievable that we call this a criminal JUSTICE system. The rules on unused material must change.The way this man has been treated is grossly unacceptable.
There is a way to stop these lies and the number of innocent men in prison, of which my husband is one, follow the Americans and use the Lie Detector. It is so sophisticated now only an extremely good lier can fool it. This will instantly show who is lying, thus freeing the justice system for real crimes. I would also like to know how many of these accusers are in the courts for lying. Seldom is there any reports of those people being convicted. Why not?
I also disagree with these people being allowed to give evidence over a video link. The jury instantly thinks the truth is being told if the person is giving evidence over a video link. If they are allowed to have a video link so should the accused to be a ‘fair’ trial.
My husband was made to sit in court on a very hard chair where his extremely bad back got progressively worse through the trial, so by the time he had to defend himself, he was in so much pain that he obviously looked bad and to the jury, obviously guilty.
I’m very sorry to hear about your husband, but most interested to read your comment. I don’t think this had ever occurred to me:
“The jury instantly thinks the truth is being told if the person is giving evidence over a video link. If they are allowed to have a video link so should the accused to be a ‘fair’ trial.”
Matthew, I wonder whether you could explain the effects of a witness giving testimony by video link. Presumably, if you are able to question a witness by live video link, it’s not quite the same as having them in the courtroom. It would be interesting to know how serious the impact of this might be. But do you recognise the point Maureen is making? Do you think the simple fact of appearing on a video screen can itself increase the credibility of a witness?
There is no such thing as a lie detector. Check out the International False Rape Timeline for cases in which police have hidden evidence. To be fair though, there are quite a few in which they’ve exposed false rape claims including through CCTV.
The jury are directed as to this. But generally live in-court evidence is more compelling than video link. The real problem is with the pre-recorded ABE/VRI of evidence in chief . Won’t begin to stage the prejudice here and inability of the complainant to gainsay. But, should anyone be interested here’s a provocative case commentary link https://www.chrissaltrese.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Misconceiving-the-evidence.pdf
Margaret, I’m not surprised to learn of difficulties with pre-recorded evidence, but thank you for the link to such a troubling, but nonetheless fascinating, article.
Are the jury are directed to treat video evidence from a live video link as equal in force or weight to evidence given in person, in court?
I’d imagined that evidence given live in court, as you suggest, ought to be more impressive than video evidence, hence my interest in Maureen’s comment. But given that television has been such an authoritative medium for, perhaps, the past half century – that not only has it been for many people perhaps the main source of news, but has also bestowed ‘significance’ upon people and events portrayed – could it perhaps be that for many jurors it does add to the apparent truthfulness of testimony?
It may be that the authority of television is being steadily undermined anyway, and it may be that the appearance of a witness on a video screen in court does not carry anything like the impact of a TV appearance, but I’d be interested to know more. At the very least, I wonder whether it might be more difficult for a barrister to examine a witness effectively over a video link, and would be very interested to hear from Matthew whether he feels a video link affects the process, either positively or negatively.
This isn’t a very helpful reply because I can’t find the study, but I think there has been a recent study by psychologists suggesting that a witness’s credibility isn’t much affected either way. I’ll try to find it or perhaps someone else can.
Isn’t that an interesting piece from Chris Saltrese?
Matthew, I’ve just had a bit of a dig about for such a study but I’ve only found Ross et al (1994) pdf which is obviously not that recent. It shows no great variation in impact of evidence given in open court, behind a screen, and by video link, in an experiment using university students as mock jurors, but perhaps someone could recommend more recent studies.
Do you often have to deal with witnesses by video link, and do you have any gut feeling about how/whether it affects proceedings?
Witnesses by video link are very common indeed, in fact it is far & away the commonest way of giving evidence in sexual cases. I think much depends on the case and I have to say that I don’t really have a gut feeling as to how much, if at all, it effects the “credibility” of the witness.
This is not achieving best evidence it is achieving most incriminating evidence. For some excellent videos on child abuse cases, check out the Lorandos website and Youtube channel.
This is truly appalling, and I oppose the “compensation culture” but paradoxically, without the compensation claim we would not have discovered that the accuser was a chronic liar.
Anyone who wants his case reported on the International False Rape Timeline, please contact me direct. I’m interested only in genuinely false cases, specifically those that result from an acquittal or quashed conviction, preferably with documentation.
Lie detector – my first thought and preempted many times by others above, but dismissed in the LSG iirc – but on what grounds? One might suggest it’s one thing to dsmiss it for confessions etc but another for proving truth of an accusation.
“Thiopental (Pentothal) is still used in some places as a truth serum to weaken the resolve of a subject and make them more compliant to pressure.”
In this day and age I very much doubt that truth cannot be elicited by numerous other scientific methods. Analogy: isn’t there something about testing psycopathic tendencies by changing retinal response to images of varying horrific and benign character?
All of these tests and similar should be applied pre-charge to any case where it’s simply word-against-word, particularly in ‘historic’ abuse cases. ‘Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.’
If I were in the dock I’d raise all this myself. Isn’t part of the problem that counsel’s first duty is to the court not to the defendant and that includes to the panoply of apparently illogical if not idiotic “rules [statutory? practice?] introduced in the 1990s” your article mentions? At whose instance were they introduced, why, and for whose advantage were they perceived to be?
You might try to raise such matters as lie detectors & “truth drugs” but I can assure you you would be wasting your time. Even if they weren’t largely junk science (although it’s possible that in good hands a lie derector may be a bit better than chance at detecting lies), there is absolutely no chance that a court would order anyone to take a lie detector test, or, if they had taken one to admit the results in evidence. On that, at least, I think the law is quite right.
Lie detectors are no longer a ‘quack’ science as you are trying to make it. A lot of checks have been made and very few people can beat it. I was not saying use it in court, but the police use it before they side with the ‘victim’ as they currently do and thus send innocent people to prison. With historic sex crimes you do not have a chance to prove your innocence as no date is given, you are lucky to get a year. At least with a date you have a chance to prove innocence.
An interesting follow-on from this post can be found here:
good evening we are looking for some help my husband has been sent to prison for 9 years for a crime he didn’t do there was no evidence the police didn’t talk to any body that was with my husband at the time of the crime plus i was with him at the time of the so called crime and they didn’t even talk to me, we are trying to find a solicitors/barrister to take the case on as we keep getting told theirs no grounds for an appeal can any body help us?
You are very welcome to email me with further details. email@example.com
Good afternoon and thank you i have emailed you
It is being suggested on other sites that Mr Day has acted as a paid police informer in the past.
I sense a lawyer fest and a busy week for Dorset Police.
Let’s not get too carried way about one case in which it appears these allegations were false. The recent exposure of an extensive child-pornography consumer network in Scotland is one more proof that there are a lot of adults who have these tastes and the images can only be produced by carrying out CSA.
Dear Clare, I not well written.
I am still re-building my life after a false allegation that came to nothing; except my loss of dignity, completely dis-honoured, loss my career, temporarily lost my freedom and became disconnected with society, friends, family and colleagues. I am plagued by trauma and I am often on the cusp of suicide.
Support mechanisms just aren’t there and those accused will find that friends, family and colleagues distance themselves – as doubt about them as a person sets in. Even after they have been exonerated (as I was). Lengthy bail periods add to the ‘falsely accused’ persons trauma. When no evidence is found there go to find that there is no redress.
In early 2014, a UK Professor in Criminal Law at ‘Exeter University’ highlighted the basic position (to me) that . . . . “It is notoriously difficult to salvage a reputation after an erroneous arrest, and there are few, if any, opportunities for redress.”
A position which was supported by a former Conservative government minister, describing to me much of the battle I would endure, if I wanted to challenge the Police’s actions. He said “You never get any redress with the Police and if you do, it will be insignificant. It is likely to be a massive feat of endurance along the way” He went on to ask did I have “the stomach to persue the police. As they will pull out all stops to protect their colleagues and position, refuse to divulge information under the guise of ‘data protection’ and will delay and delay responses in the hope that statutory time limitations would come into effect, even if they were entirely in the wrong”. . .”The worse case scenario was the retirement of officers placing themselves beyond questioning in complaints procedures”.
‘Boy-oh-boy’ How right they were. As far as I could afford it I employed a barrister, but ran out of money. This is a plain iniquity and an affront to any natural justice and any fairness.
https://www.false-arrest.co.uk/index.php?id=police-operations-lessons-never-rarely-learned – these pages (my website) describe just two of the large scale arrests for the alleged possession of indecent images, showing the poor prosecution rate from the lack of evidence. Accepting that there seem to be (according to the press) 30 million images in the possession of the police in Scotland, with 10 million of these being from one computer, then hopefully the police have finally got it right. What is appalling is that society is accepting the 75 deaths in the last 15 years, of those falsely accused as they saw no future, no redress and took their own life. This ignores the affect on their family.
I have gone from being the naive ‘joe’ much ready to ‘hang the buggers’ the moment someone is arrested for a serious offence, to being very very considered (and even skeptical) in my judgement to the truth that lays behind an arrest.
Thank you for sharing all that with us Roly. Your story is as heartbreaking, and typical of the thousands of innocent people who have had their lives destroyed in this evil witch-hunt. Your last comment:
“I have gone from being the naive ‘joe’ much ready to ‘hang the buggers’ the moment someone is arrested for a serious offence, to being very very considered (and even skeptical) in my judgement to the truth that lays behind an arrest. ”
hits the nail on the head.
Joe Public is fed hate by the media which is consolidated by opportunist Xists in the political machinery so that a few trigger-words such as: ‘paedo’, ‘pervert’, ‘deviant’, ‘ degenerate’ , ‘ debauched’, ‘depraved’, ‘disgraced’ ‘nonce’ and so on become code for what the Nazis used to call ‘Untermenschen’ (roughly translated as sub-human). This provides the justification for the unconsciously-trained lynch-mob to do their absolute worst, including beating one innocent man into unconsciousness and then pouring fuel on him and setting him on fire to burn to death (case of Bijan Ebrahimi here: https://bit.ly/2jEcxM5 .
This is the classic case which highlights the problem because the police who were called by a neighbour who falsely-accused Bijan because of her hatred for ‘paedos’ (no doubt having the News of the World’s ‘Name and Shame Campaign’ still lodged in the recesses of her tiny brain) not only cemented the abuser lie by publicly arresting him in view of the neighbours who eventually killed him, but, when they quickly discovered he wasn’t an abuser, the police returned him him with equal display without bothering to have a word with his accusers. This gave them the impression Bijan had somehow ducked the charge and they took the out the ultimate retribution on him – publicly burned him as though a witch.
For 27 years the SAFF has campaigned to portray the truth of this long process of continued hysteria against people who have been falsely accused. It started with the 1989 Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic. I can already hear groans from the audience about ‘past history’ but the fact is that when they actually take this fact as the incontrovertible truth then everything else in this manufactured campaign will fall into place and we can go some way to unraveling it all.
The SAFF know who created the hysteria, we know why, we know how and we know when, where and with whom, but it serves the interests of the Media, The Police, The Politicians, The Radical Feminists and particularly the detestable child-charities who spawned, promoted and benefited from it, to make us out to be extremists so that those ‘ordinary’ people who have been crucified by the witch-hunt don’t connect with us and see the truth.
After 27 years it is a convoluted and complex train of events but at least there has been one NGO actually logging and investigating it for when society wakes up and takes notice. Ironically it was an organisation ( The SAFF :Sub-culture Alternatives Freedom Foundation) which was started by, has been run by, and is still funded by the first detested tranche of society who were accused and persecuted by the myth – the pagans, hermeticists, and other esotericists who knew the allegations were bonkers right from the start but who had the social conscience to campaign against it for the benefit of ALL.
Of course, just as Xist society doesn’t really give a toss for innocent people who’ve suffered abuse by being falsely accused (using that evil phrase, ‘No smoke without fire?’) they and most other people conditioned by Xism in the Media also rebuff SAFF impeccable research and documentary evidence precisely because of the prejudice against those who believe in the religion of Neo-paganism and other alternative esoteric beliefs. Whilst at the same time sucking in the lies of nutters like ‘Nick’.
The problem as the SAFF sees it is that after 27 years just laying out the appalling human affect of imprisoning thousands of innocent people will not change the status quo because not only are the lies now irrevocably engraved into the popular mind, but after a while listening to hundreds of appalling stories of persecution creates ennui and lessens the impact. The ONLY way of combatting the witchhunt is to identify the people who started it and focus on the people in the police and in the political arena who helped them do it. After the public see those truths they will then clamour for a change in legislation to reinstate the law as it was before 1994, ( the impetus for which was created by the anxiety caused by the Satan Scare itself ) and overturn the idea that all accusers must be believed without corroborating evidence. The Xists started the witch-hunt, the brainwashed plebs act it out for them, but it is the police and the judiciary who actually continue this nightmare as Roly will testify.
The Media could stop and change this witch-hunt virtually overnight, because they started it virtually over-night. Many hundreds of journalists know the score because the SAFF has provoked them with the facts time after time in private and public disseminations over the years – yet they remain stubbornly quiet to avoid any damage to their nice careers if they supported those despised loony pagans who are so awfully strident at demanding justice. Says it all doesn’t it!
Anyone wanting to play catch-up, especially those like Roly whose life hs been destroyed by this myth should pore over our web-site to fully understand who it is that actually caused their stigmatisation and why. They can then save some of their ire and focus it where it is really needed. https://saff.nfshost.com
It is about time you came into the real world. This is NOT an isolated case. There are too many people (mainly men) in prison for a sex crime they did not commit. Innocent men are also pleading guilty to get a lesser sentence which they will get as they cannot fight the accusations as NO date is given. That is a crime in itself.
This one will be interesting, to put it mildly.
All the assaults were in hospitals, but were they patients, and, if so, were they surgery patients, and anaesthetised?
If so, could the “victims” have false memories based on hallucinations experienced during recovery?!
There is a considerable literature on this. Probably what happened is one woman claimed to have been raped, and she sounded convincing. The police have then trawled back through the records and persuaded other women they were raped.
Check out my false rape timeline for a few cases – hopefully more to be added.
Having said that, there was a nurse awhile ago who raped two women in the John Radcliffe. We know that happened because he videoed it. But a nurse would be more likely that a surgeon because a surgeon is in and out while a nurse or orderly…
Why is Mr Day not being charged with Perjury ? Is this to protect the reputation of the original investigating officers. Mr Day also sent me a facebook message [ ] . This has been passed on the the police who have done nothing.
(Part of this comment has been edited for legal reasons)
Dorset Police has no record of you contacting us. We would like to speak with you about the Facebook messages you have received. Please call us on 101 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please quote reference number 55160123178.
thank you for your reply – the screen shots of the message has been resent.
the message is from Mr Day facebook page to one I use .
I am a British Citizen who resides in Croatia . However if it helps will state in affidavit that this message was received from Mr Days Facebook page.
if you put Danny Day Animal Sanctuary into google you find he was claiming mysterious thefts from his operations a few years back.
He was also a paid police informer. Dorset police provided the court with a plan of the fire station which they knew was incorrect as was a photograph of a pool table to support Mr Days allegations, which they knew was installed in the 1990s.
My guess is that the CPS will use Mr Days alleged mental condition to avoid a perjury charge and claim it is not in the public interest. So Mr Day will get to keep the 50,000 compensation he was awarded.
Recently I made a short video about the Operation Yewtree scam. Am currently working on a slightly longer one about corroboration. Anyone wants to take part in a “beta” by watching a few short clips, please contact me direct:
How about a follow-on video about the number of men in prison for historical sexual abuses which they did not commit. The figure is around 45%. I am willing to pass on information that I have on this. Those false accusers get paid for their statements (one of the first questions the police ask them is are they going to claim). Where I do not condone any sexual abuse i believe it is worse to be in prison for something you did not do and continue to suffer for the rest of your life. A night mare that never finishes.
Some one please put me right, if I am wrong about prosecuting those making false allegations and accusations to later be found flawed. There cannot be any prosecutions, because it falls as tort and not as a criminal action, ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tort ), then becoming a civil issue between the those accusing and the accused. It could be the major factor in the non-credible witness, who then later retracts everything (having destroyed someones reputation), never having their collar felt by Old bill!
As for false allegations made soley by ‘credible’ Old Bill themselves . . . . . .
Making a false statement can be perverting the course of justice (a crime) and giving false evidence in cohrt is generally perjury (a crime). Many crimes are also torts (civil wrongs). Malicious prosecution springs to mind, although it’s very difficult to prove.
Not a good idea to rely on Wikipedia except as a very general pointer to other sources. The bottom line is that there is never “sufficient evidence” for police perjury. On the few occasions there are, the prosecution will sabotage the case or the judge will sum up in defence of the bent filth in question.
A barrister working on my behalf did raise some interesting questions during early discussions (and exploration) of pursuing a civil case, against Devon & Cornwall Police.
He pointed out that there might be an burden placed on us to prove the sound or otherwise mental state of the officers, on the day of calling for my arrest.
Bonkers world I live in!
My mantra (scripted by me, but not subject to copyright) is “When madness rules, then the absurd is not far away!’
Why is the Crown Prosecution Service not bringing charges of perjury against Danny Day?
Is it because [ EDITED ] and it might bring other cases into question?
There is a clear prima facie case against him . Its clear that he lied about facts such as the pool table.
People are often jailed for submitting false evidence before the courts on what are minor cases such as driving points.
Yet the CPS are going to come up with some false pretext to avoid bringing charges against Danny Day.
See this example of person jailed for submitting false material to a court http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760083/
Maybe we could have a competition to come up with the best reason the CPS are going to come up with to claim its not in the public interest to prosecute Mr Danny Day for perjury.
Speeding, in fact driving itself, is very non-PC, so even wimmin get done for lying about it!
Rape is also very un-PC, so wimmin can lie as much as they want about it!!!
The speeding judge is even more hilarious.
New video on rape for thinkers:
Rape trauma syndrome debunked:
I can’t believe I’ve just read a barrister writing the words ‘stepped foot’.
The phrase is ‘set foot’, which would never have been called into question if half-deaf Americans hadn’t been writing the wrong phrase since the internet began. (They also write ‘all intense and purposes’, and other offences against sense).
What is often overlooked is that poor innocent Timothy Evans was a serial liar, and repeatedly confessed to the murder of his wife. Perhaps it would be unkind (albeit true) to point out that he was partly the author of his own misfortune and if he had steadfastly maintained his innocence his chances of being hanged for a murder that he did not commit would have been rather less.
It’s this type of Xism which really get’s my goat.
Some little man suffering from a shifting reality (pseudologia fantastica) is used as a patsy by the police who are FULLY aware of the false-confession phenomenon where compulsive liars, for whatever cause, insist on confessing to high-profile murders. It is a COMMON occurrence frequently sifted out by the police yet Jon G. relies on the good nature and honesty of the cynical policemen in this case who were fully aware of it yet allowed Evans to go to the gallows because it was politically convenient.
Does Jon G also believe in ‘Nick’s ‘ fantasies about Ted Heath?
Again, Evans was guilty. And I don’t mean Ched:
Of more relevance, I have now added the David Bryant judgment to the False Rape Timeline. Anyone wants to contribute – cases or $$ – please contact me direct. I need proper documentation or at least a link to a bona fide news website. Any case anywhere in the world from 1674.
Yes, Alexander – the remarkable thing about the Timothy Evans case was that several judicial inquiries concluded that he had probably murdered his wife (the crime for which he was not prosecuted or convicted) and the inquiry by Mr Justice Brabin of August 1966 is available cheaply in print and I daresay you’ll have read it. But it is Ludovic Kennedy’s version of events that took hold of the public imagination, together with the Richard Attenborough movie that took great liberties with the facts, and eventually Evans’s sister and half sister obtained an award of £250,000 compensation from the public purse because our judges were keen to do what they thought was the right thing. A realistic dramatisation of the Rillington Place story would have focused rather more on the evidence that damned Evans and the folly of the police in changing the timeline in the evidence given by the tradesmen who had carried out work to the house at about the time of the murders which made Evans’s conviction unsafe irrespective of the murders Christie was later found to have done. But the evidence of the pathologists was clear that Evans’s wife was not killed by gas, that she was strangled and that she was punched in the face causing a lot of blood and bruising about her face. When Evans told the police that he had hit her and strangled her because he was fed up with her nagging, that certainly had the ring of truth.
Hm, sounds like you’ve read John Eddowes, or perhaps you are John Eddowes? Yes, difficult though it is to credit, Evans and Evans alone may have been responsible for both crimes. Life is full of coincidences though. Robin Gecht was once briefly employed by John Gacy; he went on to become a serial killer himself. And the details of the Australian shark murder are totally unreal, yet true.
I’ve read the Brabin Report, or most of it, and the Scott Henderson Report. And seen the autopsy and exhumation photos. Nasty business.
Early next year I’m off back to Kew for the first time in ages; the files in the case of Ram were opened earlier this year. Yesterday I spoke to the victim’s sister. She says she has no objection to my adding the autopsy photos to the site:
Yep and on and on it goes..the runaway gravy train..free rides for the dellusional liars and a hefty financial bonus at the end , but mowing down and ploughing through innocent family lives..on the way!! My husband was immediately interviewed after my niece made a rediculous allegation decades ago. He was NFA’d within days..only to be hauled in again and now facing prosecution?? Is this what is called “abuse of process”. Oh forgot to mention we have recently retired and come into some money..says it all!!
Does anyone have a copy of that Home Office Circular – HOC 66/88?
Lie detectors are junk; in the US they fail the Frey standard and the Daubert standard.
Maureen, can you give me a citation for that, and anything else I can add to the False Rape Timeline?
I am not exactly sure what a citation is. I have most of the paperwork scanned in and quite willing to send you anything if you let me know what you want. We have the first bit of his appeal around 26th February and this Judge will send it to the 3 Judges. I hope I will be representing my husband as he is now a in a wheel chair and is only getting 1/2 the amount of Thyroxin that he has to take and no painkillers at all. I have been trying to get his medical notes which should show he could never have done what they said he did. I applied on 27th July and it should have taken only 40 working days. I complained and they should have answered that in 40 days. My MP has tried to get them for me and still I have not got them. I have now got to get the Appeal Court to demand them which is rediculous.
Explain what you want and I will send it to you.
A citation would be the transcript of his successful appeal, or any finding of fact that a particular accuser has made a false rape claim:
Why is it people can make up horrific stories and be belived, my farther is serving 16 years for historic abuse that did not happen. The man who started the allegations had been sent to prison for burglary on my parents home. While in prison he spoke to a solicitor
tried to make allegations, told there wasn’t enough evidence, he recruited another man in prison , then his girlfriend put things about my farther over lots of social media sites to ask others to ckme forward, they all have a serious drug problem, the police were useless didnt investigate things that would prove their lies, we have so much evidence to prove my farthers innocence but unfortunately we dont have the money to fight but we are lucky enough to have the innocence project on our side, they have had compensation a d snorted up their noses , now they are prob6looking for their next innocent victim to get more finacial game. Our justice system is a JOKE.
I’m so sorry to read this Kirsty. I am glad you have the support of an innocence project. You might also contact the good people at http://www.factuk.org
Dr Julian Gojer of Toronto Convicted of Drugging and raping two woman and killing a third one with the drugs he used to render his victims unconscious before raping them. Date fall of 2000. Psychiatrist gets off with a slap on the wrist and works as a psychiatrist regardless of criminal negligence against him.
Amy your noted statement here I can not find anything about via google; I have found a Dr Julian Gojer noted as an expert witness in a number of media reports. That’s it.
“Amy’s” post, or very similar ones (usually with the Dr’s middle names omitted) appears under a lot of blogs about rape for some reason!
This seems to be a comment spammed across many blogs!
Is it even true?
And if it is, what is its relevance?!
& only reason the victim was saved here was because he had a wife that managed to persuade all those people to work for free? good lord…..I have no one and I don’t even have papers as state stole my identity, effectively not even a citizen in this cuntry anymore + I’m on the no fly list (5 years before they even called it the no fly list) and no country will grant anybody from England asylum anyway…..
so what hope have i got? if i stab a non physical entity in the leg or soemthing will they finally let me have day in court (i.e. they wd have to give me my papers back as you can’t prosecute somebody who isn’t a citizen surely?) or more likely implement the threat of internment for life in mental prison where gang rape, chemical labotomies and electrodes into the brain is common torture passed off ‘it’s for your own good/ medical attention’….? best hope is to top myself but apparently that’s illegal…
another ‘strange coincidence’…i post the above and shortly after this appears in my twitter feed? from somebody i don’t even follow….this is what happens when so called authorities/ non physical entities do these things and end up driving people to take desperate measure… I know a little of Sabine and some of the victims she supports, in gaol herself now….I certainly believe her to be a genuine decent person and same with most of the other victims that frequent her site…..the underlying problem still seems to be we don’t have an actual police force capable of investigating allegations and choose instead to repress the victims and cover up more crimes by committing yet more violent crime…
as for his so called confession…how can u even believe that? i know nothing on this particular case but seen it numerous times when the accused has supposedly confessed, no evidence provided, do away with the sham trial and severely punish said accused all under the pretext of saving themselves money, when it’s not even their money anyway… 🙁
Poor Sabine: stratospheric IQ and no brains at all. One of the true believers has used my article about her:
It’s ‘set’ foot. You don’t ‘step’ with any other part of your body, so ‘foot’ is superfluous.
‘Set foot inside…’ or ‘stepped inside’.
But for pity’s sake, not ‘stepped foot’.
I do not drop a comment, hhowever after looking at through a
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fallacy that we can aleays spot a liar – BarristerBloggerBarristerBlogger
| Mobile Version. I do have 2questions for yoou if it’s allright.
Is it onmly me orr does it look as if like somee of these remarks come across like
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all your shared pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?
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