If a week is a long time in politics, five years is sufficient to induce total amnesia.
About what? Here’s a hint: in Greek mythology, Soteria is the goddess of safety and deliverance from harm. I’ll come to that. And thanks to Mike for drawing this to my attention.
Bear with me, though, as I reprise the background before getting to the latest shenanigans of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Operation Soteria.
In late 2017 there were several rape prosecutions in which serious disclosure failures caused public concern. Only very late in the day was it revealed that the alleged victims’ accounts were unreliable, the cases therefore being dismissed or previous convictions quashed, including the cases involving Liam Allan, Isaac Itiary, Danny Kay and Samuel Armstrong (see here).
The most well-known was the Liam Allan case, in which text messages on the complainant’s mobile indicated conclusively that the sex had been consensual. The police had not bothered to search the phone, though it was in their possession – or, perhaps they had, but failed to disclose their findings. Mr Allan avoided a likely 10 year prison sentence only because the prosecution barrister insisted the police hand over the mobile to the defence council to examine.
It was later revealed that this glaring disclosure failure was not recorded as such even when the prosecution had been stopped as a result. Moreover, even months later, Alison Saunders, then the DPP, was unaware that the Liam Allan case had not been classed as a disclosure failure, despite it having become a cause célèbre.
All the cases against Liam Allan, Isaac Itiary, Danny Kay and Samuel Armstrong collapsed within a week or so of each other due to the very late disclosure of mobile phone evidence which disproved the complainants claims. Liam Allan, Isaac Itiary and Samuel Armstrong narrowly avoided long prison sentences. Danny Kay was not so lucky – the evidence which exonerated him came to light only after he had served four years of a four and half year sentence. But none of these men need ever have been charged if the police had done their job.
These disclosure failures led to the CPS being obliged to conduct an investigation. The resulting report was a disgraceful exercise in obfuscation (for details see section 19.7 of my book, The Empathy Gap). However, the Justice Select Committee, whose job it is to oversee matters independently of the Ministry of Justice, did very much better in their investigation. Here are some key extracts from the Select Committee’s report,
“…disclosure errors have led to miscarriages of justice and…some people have gone to prison as a result.”
“It is disappointing that we have heard the same issues raised throughout this inquiry as have been noted by inquiries as far back as 2011, and it is further disappointing that the Attorney General in place at the time of inquiry stated to us that he was aware of problems going back as far as 1996 but yet the problem had persisted and apparently worsened under his watch.”
“We conclude that disclosure failures have been widely acknowledged for many years but have gone unresolved…. This was not aided by data collected by the Crown Prosecution Service which might have underestimated the number of cases which were stopped with disclosure errors by around 90%.”
“The Code for Crown Prosecutors is clear ‘Prosecutors must be fair, independent and objective… Prosecutors must always act in the interests of justice and not solely for the purpose of obtaining a conviction’.” (my emphasis)
“It is fundamentally important that all police officers recognise both that they are searching for the truth; and that they have core disclosure duties which are central to the criminal justice process..” (my emphasis)
“It is important that those who come forward to report serious offences, particularly those of a sexual or otherwise sensitive nature, are treated by investigators with respect and sensitivity. Their personal information should be handled in the same way and in accordance with their rights to privacy, where that is consistent with the interest of justice. The law is clear in that the right to a fair trial is an absolute right which cannot be violated to protect the right to privacy.” (my emphasis).
“We expect the next Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to proactively address disclosure throughout their tenure.”
The Select Committee were to be disappointed in that last expectation. The DPP who replaced Alison Saunders in November 2018 was Max Hill. In his first public speech he said this,
“Rape complainants must have their personal privacy, including mobile phone records, protected.”
“We are very clear that seeking to examine the mobile telephones of complainants and witnesses is not something that should be pursued as a matter of course in every case. It is of vital importance that the personal information of those who report sexual offences is treated in a way that is consistent with both their right to privacy and with the interests of justice.”
Hill added that there needed to be a lasting change in culture when it came to disclosure but he insisted that prosecutors were not obliged to trawl through the mobile phone records of all rape complainants as they struggled to cope with the rise in the volume of digital evidence. (This is a peculiar assertion as it is the job of the police to do the trawling for evidence).
Do note how flagrantly Max Hill’s stated position – and hence that of the CPS – conflicts with the statement quoted above from the Select Committee’s report: the right to a fair trial is an absolute right which cannot be violated to protect the right to privacy. Moreover, note that this statement is not merely the Select Committee’s opinion, but a statement of how the law stands. The DPP’s position is, therefore, contrary to a fundamental principle of justice.
The Select Committee did their job. But making progress against the feminist state is like brushing water uphill: inevitably it comes right back again. The public’s memory, and hence concern, rapidly evaporates. Having given it a couple of years, the feminists were on the march again, demanding that more men are sent to prison. Enter Vera Baird, committed feminist, one time Solicitor General, one time Police and Crime Commissioner of Northumbria, and then the Victims’ Commissioner. She suggested to Ministers that they take rape prosecution decisions out of the hands of the CPS. The Prime Minister, then Boris Johnson, all but acceded to Baird’s demands. He promised that the cross-government crime and justice task force, which he led, would impose targets on the police to refer more “high quality” rape cases. He also promised to impose targets on the CPS to prosecute both a greater volume of cases and a greater proportion of cases. Absolutely no political interference in the justice process there then.
What is a “high quality” rape case? It is one with a high probability of gaining conviction. And how, exactly, are the police supposed to improve the “quality” of rape cases? Well, that’s simple. They try hard to build a prosecution case, but they put no effort into finding exculpatory evidence. In other words they revert to the negligent practices which led to the debacles of the recent past – disclosures failures. And whilst this is strictly a police failure, one sees clearly now how the political system pushes the police in that direction. In this instance by a Prime Minister with insufficient wisdom or awareness or the balls to stand up to the feminist lobby – powerfully represented by the Victims Commissioner. In that respect he differs from the rest of Parliament not one bit.
And so we come to…
2022: Operation Soteria
In Greek mythology, Soteria was the goddess of safety and deliverance from harm.
In July 2022, the DPP, Max Hill, with Chief Constable Sarah Crew, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Rape and Adult Sexual Offences, issued a press release. I include extracts below. In reading these, bear in mind the conclusions of the Select Committee in 2018, above.
Quote: “Close joint working from the very start of an investigation means we can build the best possible cases more quickly. With police going to the CPS earlier in the process and more often, the rise in charging decisions will lead to more trials and more convictions. Early advice in these cases has been key in helping us use our joint resources more effectively and narrow the gap between the number of offences reported to the police and cases going to court.”
Note how flagrantly this contravenes the Select Committee’s guidance. The clear intention, openly declared here, is that the prosecution service shall direct the police investigation in order to “build the best possible case”. This means the best case for the prosecution. The Select Committee make abundantly clear that that is NOT what the police should do. I quote again: “It is fundamentally important that all police officers recognise that they are searching for the truth”. But political pressure, acting through the CPS, impinges upon the police and is instrumental in encouraging their failure to investigate or disclose exculpatory evidence. This is political corruption of the criminal justice process.
Quote: “An ambitious programme of work called Operation Soteria is testing new ways of working to transform how the CPS and police handle rape investigations and prosecutions, centring on the conduct of the suspect as opposed to the victim. It is already in action in five police force areas and work is ongoing to roll it out to a further 14 forces with the aim of this being complete by March 2023.”
Sexual assault cases hinge upon consent. Is the conduct of the alleged victim relevant to the issue of consent? Clearly the answer is “yes”. Indeed, because the DPP has already stated his reluctance to investigate IT equipment thoroughly, the complainant’s behaviour and conduct is about all there may be to go on – beyond the testimony of the two involved parties. The defendant is already being placed in a position of having to demonstrate his innocence, despite this being contrary to the accepted principle of justice, and now all means of doing so are being denied him – deliberately.
Quote: “Operation Soteria drives a strong focus on closer joint working between the police and prosecution teams across the country to drive up the number of successful prosecutions. A wide-ranging plan of action is underway to improve this crucial relationship, working together closely from the very start of an investigation to advise on lines of enquiry and actions to strengthen the evidence.”
Here ”successful prosecutions” means convictions. The CPS has adopted a policy which is directly contrary to what the Select Committee directed, namely to act ‘in the interests of justice and not solely for the purpose of obtaining a conviction’”. Similarly, “strengthen the evidence” means strengthening the prosecution evidence only, in order that the prosecution be “successful”.
It could not be clearer: there is a deliberate policy to operate directly contrary to the Select Committee’s guidance. Their guidance was specifically to avoid disclosure failures, as well as serving the wider interests of true justice. Operation Soteria is the name given to the CPS’s drive to implement this process of undermining true justice. What lies behind this is a feminist organisation of that name which we have imported from the USA.
Quote: “The Operation Soteria pathfinder projects will give clear evidence of which approaches have the biggest impact. We will evaluate good practice then work with police forces to roll them out across England and Wales ahead of a new national operating model from June 2023.”
Again, “biggest impact” means largest increase in convictions. Whether the man convicted is guilty or innocent is irrelevant.
Quote: “A key shift has been a move to increase early advice where police can consult a prosecutor on investigative strategy from the beginning to talk through the evidence needed to build and strengthen the case. While the data cannot yet be broken down, it is expected that the increase in referrals from the police will reflect increasing take up of early advice as well as requests for charging decisions.”
Yet again: consulting a prosecutor “to talk through the evidence needed to build and strengthen the case” will not relate to exculpatory evidence, will it? They are setting up a process to drive disclosure failure. This is knowing and deliberate. And note that it is the CPS exerting this pressure on the police, albeit upon a police force now very willing to comply, led in many cases by female chief constables. (15 of the 46 chief constables are women as of July 2021).
It is quite staggering that neither the DPP nor the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset seem to have grasped that what they are doing is profoundly wrong.
A familiar feature of totalist regimes is their capture of the justice process. Totalist regimes are generally held in power by an ideology which permeates the whole culture. This is necessary if the justice process is to be corrupted, because the enactment of injustice in myriad cases requires many individuals to comply. Ideology is the means by which this is achieved – including the knowledge that ideological alignment is key to promoting selfish interests. To this end, feminism will serve just as well as Marxism.
The name “Soteria” has a significance beyond Greek mythology. There is an American organisation named Soteria Solutions whose ethos aligns with Operation Soteria. A legal professional in the USA has advised on Soteria as follows,
“Soteria Solutions comes out of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and was funded by grants from the Department of Justice for ‘Bystander’ and ‘Know Your Power’ training. The people running the program: Sharyn Potter and Jane Stapleton are feminists. Partnered with UNH is the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence who work with police and prosecutors to create the narrative for state wins.”
(I interpret “state wins” here to mean convictions. Note that the MO of feminist organisation Soteria Solutions aligns precisely with the CPS’s press release and declared policy).
The American contact continues,
“Soteria Solutions is sold to the UK and appears to be tied to Soteria Mutual- a financial holding company dealing in Binance Bitcoin which is tied to a company in Luxembourg. It’s a for-profit company that was recognized for entrepreneurship using federal grants.”
“The UK authorities must look into Soteria and whether or not it respects UK laws for criminal procedures including due process. Contrary to popular narrative, due process protects victims and those accused.”
“If the police’s goal is to increase successful prosecutions, it is important to expose all financial incentives and rewards.”
I have not been able to confirm a link between Soteria Solutions and Soteria Mutual.
A Suggestion Regarding Process
The formal position is that the prosecution is in charge of disclosure, though the prosecution is obliged to pass everything disclosed to the defence council. That, however, is grossly insufficient if the prosecution has directed the police (who do the leg work) to focus entirely on prosecution evidence.
The solution is simple. Take disclosure out of the hands of the prosecution. Either put the defence in formal charge of disclosure – or have an independent body charged with that responsibility.
Quote from a Solicitor
I include below what solicitor Matthew Graham wrote about disclosure failures in January 2018 because it is especially revealing given that it comes, as it were, from within the system. (The link now points to a version updated in 2021 and now bearing the name of Stone King solicitor Nicholas Wragg).
“This isn’t a story of a few rogue cops gone bad, or a crumbling, underfunded criminal justice system overwhelmed by national austerity (though both get blamed daily in courts and the press to cover a wider, more difficult truth). This is a story of a state funded system designed with political ends in mind to convict those accused of crime, because once a person is charged they must be guilty, if only the Crown can prove it.
The job of the police is to investigate whether or by whom an offence has been committed. They have a legal duty to investigate all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether they point towards the guilt or innocence of a particular suspect. It sounds simple, but if you are a suspect in a criminal case you need to understand that this isn’t how it works…..
Inconvenient evidence that would undermine a prosecution or assist a suspect doesn’t achieve either of those aims, so it doesn’t have any real importance. As soon as the police think it is their job to catch the criminals, the system goes wrong, because it is they, not a court or a jury or anyone independent, who is deciding on who is a criminal and then setting about proving it….
Pity those, and there are many, who didn’t get the disclosure they deserved. Pity those suspects where the police hold or could hold evidence that helps their case that they don’t know about. An extra witness here. A useful 999 call there. Social services records. School reports. Text messages. Emails and social media content. And ever on. And more fool those who expect a court to help their quest for fair disclosure. Expect to be met with apathy at best, more likely positive resistance. Expect to be told you are simply fishing for a loophole. Expect to have to justify the relevance of the material you have never seen. Expect the court to wholly accept a bland assurance of a prosecutor in court that never comes to fruition. Expect excuse after excuse after excuse and expect no one in authority to care one bit. And when you reach the day of trial without having received what the law says you should, expect the trial to carry on all the same. Because this is what happens in cases every day, all over the country, in magistrates and crown courts.”
Under the influence of feminist lobbying, the political process puts pressure of the CPS which in turn directs the police, with the result that justice is undermined in the service of an ideology which is defined by its sex-based prejudice.
It is useful, I think, to address the psychology that underpins these “regret rape” cases. What causes a woman to be happy about destroying a man’s life, and perhaps putting him in prison for ten years, when she knows she was consenting and fully engaged with the act? To simply dismiss such women as wicked lacks explanatory depth. And yet such behaviour has become more common in our so-called liberal society.
Young women are now raised to believe they are free to behave however they wish, whilst simultaneously they will be universally regarded as fragile innocents. So, what happens when a woman – perhaps inebriated, perhaps not – indulges in behaviour which, despite her upbringing, she feels at a deeper level to be wrong or shameful? A profound cognitive dissonance arises between the shame and her self-image as innocent and perpetually blameless.
The moral woman’s response to this would be to accept that her self-image was always false, that she is, in fact, a flawed individual, as we all are, and to move on with the intention of behaving better in future. But women are now immersed in a culture which promotes an alternative response. This is to continue to insist that she is indeed innocent and blameless, and to deal with her negative feelings over the incident by projection. If she is blameless, but something bad must have happened for her to be feeling bad, then the man must be to blame. Agency, and hence guilt, is projected onto the man. It can only be that she was not truly consenting. Such a woman will convince herself that this is the truth – the new truth she has constructed to ease her cognitive dissonance and re-establish her pristine self-image.
Note that the origin of the problem lies in the flouting of the first moral principle: that the line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every man and woman; we are all capable of wrongdoing. The focus on identity, be it sex or ethnicity based, has smuggled this ethical corruption into our society.
The task of third parties, that is society as a whole, should be to counter such tendencies to project guilt by an insistence on objective truth. But the growth of these cases has occurred because the mythology of stain-free female virtue is encouraged by society. It is encouraged by two separate groups who, together, comprise the large majority of the population.
The largest group are the hopelessly gynocentric. These are people, men and women both, who have as deep a visceral need to prop up the image of women as fragile innocents as the complainant herself. The sociological imperative to protect women, especially from nasty men, has evolutionary origins. It is both genetically hardwired and culturally reinforced. Just as the complainant wishes to protect her own self-image, so too society at large acts to protect its image of women generically. There is therefore a willingness to believe the woman’s new reality. This is the tendency of the judiciary, the media and society generally.
Feminists comprise the second group. They are rather easier to understand. They are motivated by extreme prejudice. They take delight in seeing a man punished – any man. The crime, in their eyes, does not lie in any particular wrongful act but in being male. Unfortunately, as we know, this lobby has cunningly utilised the gynocentric tendencies of society as a whole to have their prejudices codified into law (de jure and de facto). This is what Operation Soteria is.
We are used to the vilification of men. What receives less attention, but is actually even more destructive, is the refusal to accept that femaleness does not confer blameless innocence; women and girls are just as flawed as men and boys. I shall take up that theme in a following post.