I have now received three further stories.
My husband of 30 years was falsely accused by 4 people of historic sex abuse which is alleged to have happened during the 1980s. Events at the place where he worked have attracted regular media coverage, and a local firm of solicitors is pursuing a civil group action claim against the local council. We have always been concerned that there may have been collusion between those who are bringing the claim.
He was accused by two males and two females. Three of the accusers were residents in his place of work during the same period. These three gave conflicting descriptions of his appearance and the clothing he wore. Despite this, these three were able to pick him out in a DVD ID parade over 30 years after the events of which they spoke. We were concerned about aspects of this procedure, particularly as he was the only person in the ID parade who had worked there, so he would be the only one they’d recognise.
He was first arrested in November 2013 and on police bail for 18 months. He was formally charged in March 2015, with the trial taking place a year later. We were concerned that the police investigation had not been fair and balanced, particularly because the detective constable leading the investigation said to my husband “How are you going to prove your innocence?” Well I thought that you were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in this country. And how can you prove your innocence when the police have all the resources to build a case against you and you are supposed to prove your innocence from something that never happened in the first place?
When we finally got to the trial, we kept thinking that we should have faith in the British justice system and that in the end truth will prevail. This was because descriptions of the alleged acts were either vague, bizarre or didn’t make sense. There were conflicting descriptions of my husband. There was evidence presented to confirm that he was not on duty at the time of some of the alleged incidents. With this we thought that, surely, the jury cannot think that this was beyond reasonable doubt but how wrong we were. The foreman of the jury delivering his guilty verdict on every charge haunts me to this day.
When I reflect now I realise that we were probably naive to believe that he was ever going to get a fair trial; too much was stacked against him. I believe that the CPS and the police were desperate to get a conviction no matter what. They were under scrutiny for an operation that had been running since 2010 with no prosecutions. Most of the logs/ running records were not made available until the week before the trial. This is when my husband found some crucial pieces of supportive evidence. There was no chance to call other witnesses to corroborate what he found.
The police had the luxury of continuing to look through these records during the trial and trying to find things that supported their case. The defence did not have that luxury, and I don’t think that had the police found something that supported my husband’s defence they would have shared it.
One of the accusers died before the trial. The CPS still went ahead with the prosecution, but obviously the defence could not cross examine this witness.
It is incredibly hard to defend yourself against something that happened 30+ years ago when no specific dates are given for charges. All you are really left with is saying “No, I didn’t do these things”. The prosecuting barrister was very theatrical and used a lot of emotive language, she was clearly the better performer. I was left feeling disappointed and let down by my husband’s defence barrister.
My husband is now sitting in a prison cell convicted of crimes he did not commit. My son and daughter have been robbed of their father, and I of my husband. This is a huge miscarriage of justice.
We are trying to put together grounds for appeal. This is already proving to be a costly process, with no guarantee that an appeal will be granted. I don’t know whether we will be able to afford the whole process but somehow we will have to for our children’s sake if nothing else.
My husband was given a 16-year sentence for historical sex offences he did not commit. There was evidence from social services and the police from 1981 of infatuation. This was not used in court, and they decided on the story she told that it had happened years before she said in a different place because we had proof that it couldn’t have happened where she said.
If someone you knew did bad things, you would not befriend them again, let alone go and work where they work. Our family have now got to cope without a husband, father and grandfather. The police spent six hours turning our home upside down and found nothing and left us with a lot of our children memories ruined, so much so I still cannot put my loft right because it is too upsetting.
Everybody that could have spoken up for us has died, and she knew this. Her statement was also led by the interviewer. We have no money to pay for an appeal, and the barrister told us we could not appeal, so another innocent person is in prison.
We are also victims of false allegations. My son was found guilty and sentenced to 8 years. We had the evidence that proved the allegations were impossible. I am unable to comment further as his appeal is in and I would not want to do or say anything that could jeopardise it.
I have also received a contribution from FACT, which is an organisation that supports innocent victims and survivors of false allegations of abuse in an occupational setting. This comment is so valuable that I think it worth including in a substantive blog.
Even though there have been many well-justified convictions in historic sex abuse cases, and these have brought a measure of comfort to those who have suffered abuse, and even if in some of the stories I have been publishing the jury was in fact correct in the conclusion to which it came, the sheer volume of complaints suggests that there is a serious problem here which should give rise to real concern and to renewed efforts to establish mitigating measures. One person in prison for many years for something he/she did not do is one too many.
The new book on Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse (see below) will be a very valuable addition to current writings on the topic. I see that its editor, Dr Ros Burnett, has just started to follow my tweets!
FACT is an organisation which has been supporting and campaigning for those falsely accused of sexual offences for almost twenty years. We have a plethora of cases and evidence which shows how often this injustice is happening and its devastating effects on families. It is now almost undisputed that wrongful accusations and convictions are made with some frequency, prompted by a host of reasons from false memory to compensation seeking individuals.
These spurious allegations are aided and abetted by the child protection squads and the police, who instead of investigating fully are always prepared to believe what they first hear and then seek a conviction. Today there are still solicitors who openly advertise in our prisons for ‘victims’ with the lure of compensation as a means of temptation.
As a result of the many false allegations which have been made our organisation has been very active in bringing this to the attention of Government ministers and other academics for many years. During this time many have had their family life destroyed and their children and grandchildren made victims of this unqualified epidemic which has run on without check or caution for many years.
The recent plight of some celebrity and other well known people (Sir Cliff Richard being just one) has helped to highlight the situation but as yet has had little effect upon the agencies who appear to ignore their errors.
A recent independent study carried out by Oxford University (available from our website or from firstname.lastname@example.org) gives an excellent insightful account and examples of the devastation caused by wrongful allegations and is essential reading for all those with a desire for justice in this area. For more information please see our website at http://www.factuk.org.