BY HOOK OR BY CROOK ….
I was sent a really interesting article earlier, written by a Mr. Simon Warr, who was arrested in 2012 after being falsely accused of sexual abuse at a Suffolk boarding school.
Mr Warr was subsequently charged and completely cleared at Ipswich Crown Court in 2014, effectively ending, what must have been an indescribable ordeal for him, and one which had hung over him like the sword of Damocles, for no less than 650 days.
He lost his home, his job and his friends after being maliciously and falsely accused of the offenses, which were alleged to have taken place at two boarding schools, and has written two books, one of which ‘Presumed Guilty’ examines our countries ‘deeply flawed justice system, and makes an impassioned plea for us to reconsider the way in which our police handle cases of historical child abuse, to protect innocent people against further false claims’.
In his article, Mr Warr has drawn attention to the police’s habit of ‘Trawling’ for complainants, in order to secure a conviction when either evidence is lacking, or the original complainant’s personal history is suspect, or cannot be relied upon on it’s own.
Two paragraphs appeared very familiar to me, inasmuch as their content is remarkably similar to something that Mr Warr may, or may not be aware of, and will show that Mr Warr’s story, although harrowing, and must rank among one of the worst things that can happen to an entirely innocent person – and is unfortunately, not even uncommon.
‘It was such a belief that was held by those who triggered the massive police inquiry into alleged abuse in North Wales which was launched in August 1991. Largely, as a result of this investigation and the extraordinary stories of wholesale abuse which emerged from it, the approach used by the North Wales Police was adopted by other police forces in neighbouring areas. Similar concerns were entertained by social workers and police officers, who, in 1994, launched an even larger investigation in Cheshire, just over the English border.
This investigation in turn spread to Merseyside. Instead of waiting for allegations to be made spontaneously, the police began actively to look for them. They did so through massive ‘Trawling’ operations in which they deliberately sought out former residents of care homes and invited them to make complaints – sometimes against specific workers. Thousands of young men and women were contacted.
Many of them were damaged and highly suggestible, and a significant proportion had criminal records which included offences of dishonesty and deception.
Although the vast majority had never made any complaint about their time in care, hundreds now made allegations of serious physical or sexual abuse, describing incidents which they said took place, ten, twenty or even thirty years beforehand.
By 1998, police trawling operations had been launched not only in North Wales, in Cheshire, and on Merseyside, but also in South Wales, in Manchester, in north-east England and a number of other regions.
By the end of 2000, these investigations had spread from police force to police force until almost a hundred were in progress, and practically the whole of Britain was covered by a police trawling net’
The other paragraph in Mr Warr’s article highlights examples of the ‘cross-contamination of evidence, and blatant collusion between individuals who as adults, claimed that they were sexually abused years earlier when they were children’.
‘This second statement was taken from [redacted] at the beginning of May. Three days later, the police visited [redacted] once again.
On this occasion they apparently asked him specifically whether he had been in contact with [redacted].
The history of the contact between [redacted] and [redacted] (or part of it) now emerged.
About three weeks after after he had his first police statement, [redacted], who had been drinking, came round to [redacted’s] flat with a bottle of sherry. They talked about Bryn Estyn and [redacted] says he asked [redacted] to tell him what happened there; ‘I tried to convince [redacted] that whatever his problem was he was not the only one and others had made complaints. [Redacted] told me that the police had asked him questions and [redacted] said “What do you want me to say, that he’s fucked my arse?” I then asked gentler questions about what happened.’
It would appear that [redacted] had actually discussed with [redacted] complaints which had been made by others, and that he felt that he was being put under pressure to go further than his original complaint and make an allegation of buggery.
The reason why [redacted’s] highly significant words had been preserved was that [redacted] had actually tape recorded part of the conversation: ‘[Redacted] also knew that I was taping the conversation. I did this because I wanted to play it back to [redacted] at a later date. if he should deny anything happened and also to assist the police in their investigation.’
The Grey-Haired man had not at this stage been identified. However [redacted] evidently met up with [redacted] again, and on this occasion he had showed [redacted] a photograph of [redacted]….’
The extracts I have published for comparison with the paragraphs in Mr Warr’s article, were taken from a book that was published in 2005 about the allegations of child abuse in and around North Wales, during the 1960s to the 1980s, and lead to the deeply flawed Waterhouse Inquiry, which concluded and published it’s findings in 2000, at the cost to the British taxpayer, of an eye-watering £13.5 million.
Has anything really changed?
And can we really expect things to change any time soon, while essential evidence gathering ‘methods’ like police trawling, and obviously colluding, and dishonest complainants and witnesses continue to be used?
‘Trawling and Trickery’ – Simon Warr (2018)
‘The Secret of Bryn Estyn’ – Richard Webster (2005)