- Context and ‘Exclusion Clause’
- The Erosion of Justice
- This Scope of the Review of Celebrity Cases
- The Statistics for Celebrities and Politicians
- The Celebrity Cases
- Victim Compensation
1. Context and ‘Exclusion Clause’
I promised a further post in this series on sexual assault addressing accused celebrities. So, here it is – though my heart was not in it. It has not been an edifying exercise.
Like previous posts, and despite the title, this post covers sexual assault more generally than strictly just rape. Attention is confined to UK cases.
In common with the post on politicians, this post covers all cases, including cases of valid accusations as well as false accusations. (These posts therefore differ from Part 2, which addressed specifically false allegations amongst the general public). My hope was initially that, by looking at all cases for politicians and celebrities, I might gain some insight into the rate of false allegations. I now realise that was a forlorn hope.
Unfortunately, none of the cases I have reviewed can tell us very much about the prevalence of false allegations more generally in the public. In the case of politicians and celebrities this is, rather obviously, because their very fame renders them unrepresentative. Both might be said to have a target on their backs, and both will tend to attract additional accusers once any initial allegation is advertised in the press. But even the cases amongst the general public reviewed in Part 2 are unrepresentative because they are confined to cases reported in the press. Such cases will have a far higher rate of prosecution of false accusers than is typical, since this unusual element attracts press attention.
In particular, it is known that false allegations of domestic violence are endemic within private law family court cases (generally child contact disputes). In round terms about half of child arrangement cases in the family courts involve allegations of domestic violence of some sort. The statistical evidence is that most of them are false. There are roughly around 45,000 private law ‘Children’s Act’ cases per year in England and Wales. A significant sub-set of these will involve allegations of sexual abuse. These observations suggest a stupendous number of false sexual assault allegations originating from divorce/contact disputes alone. But my reviews have not covered these. Hence the need to appreciate that – lamentably – my reviews are not necessarily representative of the bulk of false allegations.
In addition – and perhaps related to this – are cases where it is the accuser who is the true perpetrator of the partner abuse. DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender) is a common phenomenon in domestic violence. The woman has a natural advantage over the man as regards credibility, so it is easy for her to turn the tables on him if he makes a (perfectly valid) accusation against her. James Barnett, of Barnett Survivors, has emphasised the prevalence of female perpetrators using false allegations as their main weapon. The point is well made, and its absence from my reviews reflects its lack of recognition by the only source to which I have access for information – namely the press. This is another reason to be very cautious about reading too much into the statistics of my reviews, i.e., the rate of false accusations here may be very different from that in the general public. Mr Barnett suggested a false allegation rate of perhaps around 20%.
That said, all these observations point in the direction of a distressingly common prevalence of false accusations, whatever the actual figure may be as a percentage.
2. The Erosion of Justice
The same conclusion follows from the qualitative characteristics of those cases which turn out to be false – whether against politicians, other celebrities, or the general public. What emerges from the case studies is a story of endemic poor practices within the police and CPS. Failures of evidence gathering and disclosure are now becoming recognised, though it remains to be seen whether the police review of ongoing cases will be better than a whitewash. What the case studies reveal is how shockingly bad this can be.
But the more fundamental problem is that the defence case has come to be so dependent upon unearthing such evidence. The reason for this is that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ has, de facto, been reversed in the courts. Were this still the true ethos, lack of evidence would disadvantage the prosecution, not the defence. It is now painfully clear that it is the defence in such cases that depends crucially on evidence gathering. Consequently, it is indisputable that it is the defence upon which the burden of proof now rests. Worse even that this, the mantra of ‘believe the victim’ – which really means ‘believe the accuser’ – goes beyond even ‘guilty until proven innocent’. This brave new morality admits of no defence at all.
One of the most egregious habits of the police in sex cases is the tendency for trawling for additional accusers – especially a feature of celebrity cases. Paul Gambacinni described it as being “used as human fly paper to encourage other people to come forward and make allegations against him”. At one time I would have assumed – like everyone else – that multiple accusers must surely indicate the accused’s guilt. No longer. Not when the police pro-actively seek additional accusers and even mention the possibility of victim compensation. In that respect, I wonder how many people are aware that victim compensation is often paid even when the accused is found not guilty – or when no suspected perpetrator is ever identified.
One of the universal features of sexual offence cases is the sheer length of time the police generally take with their investigations – even when the outcome is that no charges are brought. The accused frequently have their lives put on hold for a couple of years, and perhaps far longer. Famously, justice should not only be done, but be seen to be done. But there is another fundamental aspect of justice which appears to have been forgotten: namely to deliver Magna Carta’s promise that justice be not delayed.
Another aspect of the Common Law which is in the process of disappearing is the fundamental right to face your accuser. Increasingly, accusers are being allowed to present video evidence in court, to avoid the ‘trial’ of appearing in person to face their alleged abuser. For them, the trial is no longer to be a ‘trial’. The anonymity of the accuser is an aspect of this. Justice is not seen to be done when the accuser is not seen. The accused is forbidden the right to face his accuser in the public sphere when the accuser is hidden from the public.
Yet another fundamental aspect of law which is being undermined is Mens Rea. ‘Guilty mind’, or intent, used to be a key feature of legal culpability. But in sexual assault cases this principle is being eroded. Rape is defined by the (lack of) consent of the penetrated party. It is not the state of mind – i.e., the intent – of the penetrating party which matters, only the state of mind of the penetrated party. The burden rests upon the penetrating party to have “adduced sufficient evidence” regarding the other party’s state of mind, i.e., their consent. Increasingly, it is not intent which matters, but the way in which an action is perceived that defines culpability.
The appalling invention of the “microaggression” is the latest manifestation of this moral corruption. The microaggression concept permits an accuser to claim that an action, or a word, is aggressive despite the action being of a sub-trivial nature and there being no adverse intent. This has nothing to do with fairness or justice. It is the accusation of ‘microaggression’ which is itself an instance of situational aggression, not the alleged microaggression. The microaggression-accusation is a tool of control and domination, demanding its target be abject.
In sexual assault cases, all the fundamental principles of justice – hard won over centuries – have been, or are being, eroded. And this is happening with no public outcry – at least, until recently. It remains to be seen whether recent concerns will be sustained and encompass all the issues raised here – or whether the public will be mollified by some fine words but no corrective action.
3. This Scope of the Review of Celebrity Cases
The cases reviewed here are confined to UK celebrities. Who qualifies as a ‘celebrity’? That is a moot point. You may know of cases which I have not included but which involve someone you would regard as a ‘celebrity’. If so, let me know and I may include them, if I agree with their celebrity status. Broadly I define this as “a person of whom most people would have heard”. I include in this, for example, Premier League footballers. However, I have not included the football coach, Barry Bennell – who has been convicted of extensive sexual abuse of boys – because, prior to being accused, Bennell would not have been a well known name. Similarly, whilst TV personalities figure large in my list – following the post-Savile Operation Yewtree – former BBC producers William De’Ath and Ted Beston do not count since, again, they would not be well known names. (They, incidentally, were arrested at one point but not charged). Similarly, the ex-BBC chauffeur, David Smith, who killed himself before making a court appearance is not in my list, not being a celebrity.
Another not in my list is Radio DJ Mike Osman who was also arrested and later told he would not be charged. Similarly, I have not included Tam Paton, former manager of the Bay City Rollers, nor songwriter and music executive, Steve Jolley, since neither would be very well known (unless you happen to be a Bay City Rollers fan, in which case I hope you get better soon). Both men were arrested and investigated. Googling will bring up all sorts of lurid accounts of their villainy (‘sickening showbiz web of sex fiends’, etc.). However, neither man was charged with any offence.
It is a great wheeze to accuse celebrities. The police will find it ever so much easier to trawl for other willing accusers. And the police seem to have a particular delight in bringing down the famous, which is not entirely a post-Savile effect, though that is certainly a major exacerbation. It is also a great boon to lawyers when celebrities are accused, because they are the very people who can afford to pay their defence team six figure sums – pretty much the going rate to prove to the system’s satisfaction that a lunatic fantasist with no evidence is a lunatic fantasist with no evidence.
Which of the 45 celebrity cases reviewed below are false accusations? Opinions will vary, because it is not always clear. Just because someone is found not guilty does not mean they are truly innocent, as the rape activists will remind us on every such occasion. Similarly, if no charges are brought, could there be some fire corresponding to that smoke? Was there even any real smoke? This raises one of the most pernicious aspects of such allegations: once accused, a man’s reputation can never fully recover unless the accuser is prosecuted and shown conclusively to be a liar. Merely having no charges brought, or even being found not guilty at trial, still leaves an indelible taint. And many men will be sacked as soon as they are accused, and never re-employed even when exonerated. What more proof of the permanence of the taint do you want?
The form of words used by the CPS do not help: “‘We keep all our cases under constant review and in this case it was decided that based on the strength of the evidence there is no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction”. Note the “no longer”, suggesting there once was a realistic prospect of conviction. And this form of words is inevitably interpreted by the public as meaning “we think the bastard did it but we just don’t have enough evidence”. In truth it is more likely to mean there is not a shred of independent evidence whatsoever, and never was – and we’ve just been keeping the poor bugger on a leash for a couple of years in case some other accuser might turn up with some evidence.
Such is the nature of the animus directed at men now that it is not only the famous that ‘the system’ delights in bringing low, but also those whose reputation was especially pristine hitherto. Resentment is the driving force. The inquisition delights in exposing the most pious. So, the avuncular Rolf Harris was a big scalp. I remain less than convinced that he did anything illegal. Similarly, I find it hard to regard Dave Lee Travis as a public menace. After attempting 15 charges, and being cleared of 14, they finally nailed him on a breast squeezing incident.
In Victorian times a woman could ruin her reputation simply by allowing herself to be left alone with a man. Following #MeToo, are we nearing the point where the same is now true with the sexes reversed? It is becoming common for men to avoid being left alone with a woman or girl – especially in schools and universities. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a male GP seeing women patients.
4. The Statistics for Celebrities and Politicians
Of the 45 celebrity cases listed below, in my opinion 12 men were guilty, 29 men were innocent, and in 4 cases the matter is not clear. You may judge it differently. However, it is clear that the innocent out-number the guilty by some considerable margin.
When people talk about the frequency of false accusations, it is never clear what exactly they mean. Do they mean the percentage of reports to the police which are untrue? Or do they mean the proportion of those prosecuted who are innocent?
The 45 celebrities whose accusations are reviewed here join the 25 politicians I reviewed in Part 3, making 70 in all. The latter broke down as follows: 4 guilty and 21 not guilty (IMHO). Combining politicians and celebrities this suggests 50 innocent men out of 70 accused, a false allegation rate of a staggering 71%. As emphasised above, we cannot conclude that this applies to the general public. Perhaps I have missed a great many cases?
In May 2015 the Telegraph wrote,
“Some 261 celebrities and politicians, including sports, TV and music stars, are being investigated for alleged child sex abuse, police have revealed…The rogues gallery includes 135 TV, film and radio stars, 43 musicians and seven sports figures as well as 76 politicians, the officer in charge of the issue has disclosed.”
Well, 261 is far bigger than the 70 I have identified. One presumes that the other 191 – or at least the vast majority of them – were never progressed very far, i.e., they turned out to be unreliable accusations. Have we really ended up with only 20 guilty out of 261? I hardly dare suggest a false allegation rate quite so extreme as that.
5. The Celebrity Cases
Jimmy Savile (BBC personality): While some had suspicions during his lifetime, the allegations were not properly examined until after Savile’s death, so he was not tried in court. However the 2016 Dame Janet Smith report does not leave any room for doubt that Savile was a prolific serial abuser of children. He was probably a necrophiliac as well.
Stuart Hall (BBC personality): Hall’s activities were also addressed in the 2016 Dame Janet Smith report. He pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to 13 girls between 9 and 17 years old and was imprisoned. His sentence was doubled on appeal to 30 months. He has now been released.
Gary Glitter (Paul Gadd): Gadd had already been imprisoned in Vietnam for obscene acts against minors when he was found guilty in England in 2015 of sexual offences including rape of girls between 10 and 13 years old. He was sentenced to 16 years. Aged 71 when imprisoned in 2015, Gadd may die in prison.
Ian Watkins (Lost Prophets singer): Watkins was gaoled for 35 years in 2013 for a string of sex offences against children, including attempted rape of a baby. Two of the mothers of the children involved were also convicted and sentenced to 14 and 17 years. The case “plumbed new depths of depravity”, said the judge.
Max Clifford (Publicist): Clifford was convicted in 2014 of eight counts of indecent assault on females aged between 15 and 19 committed in the period 1966 to 1985. (Clifford would have been 23 in 1966). Sentenced to eight years, Clifford would most likely have been released this May (2018) but died after a heart attack in his cell last December (2017) aged 74.
Jonathan King (TV presenter): In September 2001, King was convicted of child sexual abuse and sentenced to seven years in prison, for having sexually assaulted five boys, aged 14 and 15, in the 1980s. In November 2001 he was acquitted of 22 similar charges. He was released on parole in March 2005. He has insisted throughout that he was “totally 100% innocent” but has been told to shut up. In June 2017 he was again in court charged with historical sexual offences. That King also insists that Jimmy Savile was innocent does not enhance the credibility of his own claims to innocence.
Fred Talbot (TV weatherman): Talbot denied the allegations but was convicted in 2015 of indecent assault on two boys aged 14 to 17 during school trips in 1975/76 when he was a teacher. It seems his teaching career came to an end for that reason. He was sentenced to 30 months.
Adam Johnson (footballer): The former England footballer was jailed in 2016 for six years for grooming and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old schoolgirl. He was stripped of his 12 England caps.
Chris Denning (BBC Radio DJ): In 1974, Denning was convicted of gross indecency and indecent assault but was not imprisoned. In 1985 he was jailed for 18 months for gross indecency. In 1988 he was gaoled again for three years for indecent assault and possession of indecent images. In 1996, he was imprisoned again for 10 weeks for publishing indecent articles. He was arrested in the Czech Republic in 1997 and jailed in 2000 by a Prague court for four and a half years for having sexual contact with underage teenage boys. In 2016 he was already serving a 13-year jail term for sexual assaults against 24 victims aged nine to 16 from the 1960s to 1980s when he pleaded guilty to 21 further child sex offences committed between 1969 and 1986.
Rolf Harris (BBC personality): Harris was convicted in 2014 of a first tranche of offences against girls and given a prison sentence of 5 years and 9 months. He was subsequently cleared of a second set of charges. He has now been released from prison. The case was reviewed here. I continue to have doubts.
Dave Lee Travis (David Griffin, BBC Radio Disc Jockey): On trial on 15 charges, Travis was cleared of 12 charges at an initial trial. A further trial on three charges cleared him of one, failed to reach a verdict on another, and declared him guilty of the final charge. He was given a 3 month suspended sentence in 2014. There is room for doubt about the Travis case in my opinion. He was financially ruined by the trials.
Bruno Langley (Coronation Street actor): Langley pleaded guilty to groping two women and was given a one year community sentence.
John Leslie (TV Presenter): Mr Leslie was charged with two counts of indecent assault against the same woman in 1997 but cleared in 2003 when the prosecution offered no evidence adding that “The prosecution gladly acknowledges that he will leave this court without a stain on his character from this investigation”. Leslie lost his job with Granada as a result and did not get it back. In 2008 he was accused again, this time of a rape dating from 1995, but no charges were ever brought. In 2016 he was accused yet again of sexual assault in the previous year, but again no charges were brought. He lost his job again, despite not being charged. But in November 2017 he was arrested again after having been alleged to have put his hand up a reveller’s fancy dress tutu in a busy club. The outcome of this is awaited. Rather too many accusations, one feels – but who knows?
Ched Evans (footballer): The footballer was initially convicted of rape in 2012 and given a 5 year sentence. The case was reviewed here. He served his sentence to the due parole date. Public opinion prevented his return to his old club. Two years later his conviction was quashed. The case has ignited renewed controversy about allowing the evidence about the accuser’s history or habits of behaviour to be allowed in trials.
Clayton McDonald (footballer): Cleared of charges in 2012 at the same trial which saw Ched Evans initially found guilty and imprisoned. It was always very odd that one was guilty but the other not guilty. That McDonald is black and Evans is white is an observation we are not permitted to regard as relevant.
David Goodwillie and David Robertson (footballers): Denise Clair made rape allegations against the two men which the Crown declined to prosecute. She then raised a private suit in which the judge ruled the men had raped Clair and ordered them to pay her compensation of £100,000 each. I believe this sets a precedent in respect of a judge declaring men guilty of rape, a criminal offence, without the men having the benefit of a criminal trial. (Note that in Civil Courts the “balance of evidence” standard applies). The men claimed the sex was consensual, the woman claimed that she was rendered incapable of consent due to her alcohol consumption.
Carlton Cole and Titus Bramble (footballers, Chelsea and Newcastle United): A 17-year-old girl accused the two Premiership footballers of raping her at a hotel. The CPS decided in 2004 that there was insufficient evidence to proceed against the men and no charges were brought. Nor were charges brought against two other men who had also been accused. One of them has said that all four men had sex with the girl but that it was consensual, adding that “such behaviour was common amongst footballers”.
Jody Morris (footballer, Leeds): A 20 year old woman alleged she was attacked and raped in a lay-by near Leeds by Morris and his friend, Kristofer Dickie. Both men were initially charged. After nearly four months investigation, all charges were dropped after new forensic evidence came to light.
Pete Townsend (Guitarist with The Who): Townsend was cautioned and put on the sex offenders’ register for five years in 2003 for looking at child porn on the internet. He insisted he was looking at the website only while conducting research for a campaign against internet porn involving children. He had paid a £7 charge for a child pornography site, which he cancelled immediately. He described his actions as “insane”. When police subsequently confiscated his computers and files they found nothing incriminating.
Freddie Starr (TV Comedian): Between November 2012 and January 2014, Mr Starr was arrested 3 times as part of Operation Yewtree, and spent 18 months on police bail. In May 2014, Starr was 71 when police decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. His lawyer, Dean Dunham, accused the police and prosecutors of a flagrant breach of Starr’s human rights over their handling of the case. He said: “There was simply never any evidence in this matter that was anywhere near sufficient to keep his client on bail for so long. You can see the toll it has taken on him. He is a man of good character and remains a man of good character and I would ask the public to now stand by this man. There can be no doubt about it – his innocence has been proven.”
Jim Davidson (TV Comedian): In 2013 Davidson was arrested by the Yewtree detectives over alleged historic sex offences. The public voted him as the winner of Celebrity Big Brother as the charges were being investigated. Ultimately the police declared “no further action” – the title Davidson chose for his book describing the experience. Mr Davidson learnt the hard way, as many others have before and since, that British justice does not operate how you might have expected. Mounting his defence almost broke him both financially and emotionally.
Jimmy Tarbuck (TV Presenter and Comedian): Tarbuck was also arrested under Operation Yewtree in 2013, subject to a ‘dawn raid’ by 14 police officers who confiscated every video, every diary, every computer. After a year of investigations, Tarbuck learnt that he was not to be prosecuted. He referred to the allegations as “false and malicious” and called for accusers not to be anonymous. Mr Tarbuck said a group of women ‘jumped on the bandwagon’ after his arrest became public. “They claimed I had made inappropriate sexual advances during Top of the Pops in 1963. But not only have I never met these women, I have never appeared on Top of the Pops – which in any event didn’t start until 1964”.
Cliff Richard (Pop Singer): Richard was investigated for two years as one of those accused during Operation Yewtree, but ultimately, in 2016 when the singer was 75, no charges were brought. He complained that he had been ‘hung out like live bait’ and joined the ranks of those calling for anonymity for the accused. Like many before and since, Richard was baffled as to why it had taken so very long to decide to drop charges when there could not be any evidence of something which had never happened. It must be particularly galling that all the CPS ever say in these circumstances is that “there is insufficient evidence to prosecute”, thus leaving the public with the impression that a guilty man has got away with it on a technicality. The treatment meted out to Sir Cliff was egregious even by the now-familiar appalling standards of heavy handed police ‘swoops’ on the accused. The BBC had been tipped off the day before and had an outside broadcasting unit stationed outside Richard’s house the night before the police raid. During the raid, the BBC had helicopters over Richard’s house filming it all. This takes lack of anonymity to new heights. The original allegation was made by a man who accused the singer of molesting him at a Billy Graham Christian rally in Sheffield in 1985. It later transpired that the man had attempted to blackmail Sir Cliff and had been arrested for the offence prior to making the allegations. Ultimately the publicity resulted in four men making accusations, dating from as far back as 1958. The police investigation cost £800,000 and Sir Cliff’s legal bills are reputed to be in excess of £1M. Richard is now suing the BBC for £1.5M.
Paul Gambaccini (TV Presenter): Gambaccini was another of the Operation Yewtree victims. His story followed the now-familiar course: arrested in the dead of night, under investigation for a year, many tens of thousands of pounds spent on defence lawyers, a six figure sum in lost earnings, being bailed and re-bailed, and finding out about the developments in his case first from the media. Like Freddie Starr he has written a book about his experience over that period Love, Paul Gambaccini: My Year Under the Yewtree. He remarked that he could have been dissuaded from writing the book if it hadn’t been for commissioner of police Bernard Hogan-Howe and DPP Alison Saunders choosing not to be “decent, honest people”. No charges were ever brought. Like so many others he called for anonymity for the accused – but he also called for more strenuous prosecution of those responsible for false accusations.
Matthew Kelly (TV Presenter): Kelly was arrested by police as he left the stage after performing in a pantomime in 2003. The allegations made by a single individual dated from the 1970s. No charges were made. Kelly chose to end his career shortly after as he never felt the same afterwards.
Zach Kibirige (England rugby player): Mr Kibirige, 21, met the woman on Tinder and exchanged a very large number of messages with her before they finally met up at her flat. She accused him of rape. The jury took only 20 minutes to decide the sex was consensual. The woman was apparently not pleased that Kibirige had to leave to get sleep before a training session.
Michael Le Vell (Actor, Coronation Street): In 2013 Le Vell was accused of raping a six year old girl. He was ‘rested’ from Coronation Street while investigations continued, but returned after a jury cleared him of the charge.
William Roach (Actor, Coronation Street): Roach was accused in 2013 of raping a sixteen year old girl in 1967, some 46 years earlier. Following the publicity, four more accusers came forward making sexual assault allegations. Roache denied knowing any of his accusers and said he had never had a sexual interest in under-age girls. One charge was dismissed outright by the judge. Roach was cleared of the remaining charges after many inconsistencies in their testimony were exposed.
Dana (Singer and Irish Politician) and John Brown (her brother): This case was covered here. The fabricated allegations appear to have been motivated by financial fraud.
Lord McAlpine (Businessman and one-time Treasurer of the Conservative Party): BBC’s Newsnight programme ran a story in 2012 alleging a “senior Tory” had been involved in sex abuse at the Bryn Estyn children’s home in North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the programme did not name McAlpine, during widespread speculation about the identity of the alleged perpetrator, Mrs Bercow, the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, wrote on Twitter: ‘Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*.’ He sued her and won substantial damages. He also sued ITV for similar reasons and went after high-profile Twitter users who had repeated the unfounded deformation. All told he was awarded £310,000 damages, all of which he donated to charity. The accusation was a case of mistaken identity. When the former care home worker who was the source of the allegation saw a picture of McAlpine he realised his mistake. McAlpine died aged 71 in 2014.
Louis Walsh (Pop Group Manager): Leonard Watters was jailed for six months for wrongly accusing Mr Walsh of groping him in a Dublin club in 2011. Walsh sued Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers when The Sun newspaper printed a false story about the allegations. He was awarded half a million Euros.
Lionel Blair (Entertainer): In 2016 Blair was questioned by the police who had been told he had frequented the Elm Guest House, the alleged favoured crime scene of the alleged VIP paedophile ring involving Cyril Smith and others. Blair had never heard of the place. No charges were brought. Blair has refused to work with children over fears about false accusations.
David Easter (Actor in TV soap, Emmerdale): In 2013, a woman accused Mr Easter of rape some 17 years previously. The police dropped the investigations, deciding there was “not enough evidence to prosecute”. It’s a lovely expression which nicely gives the impression of a guilty man who got away with it. Mr Easter told how he lived like a hermit and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown during the investigation. The ordeal hit him so hard he couldn’t leave home for three months, during which time all work offers dried up. There is a video of Mr Easter talking about his case here.
David Tweed (former Ireland rugby international): Mr Tweed was convicted in 2012 of 13 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency with a child. He was awarded 8 years in prison. When he was just short of the four years which, with parole, would have seen him released, Tweed’s convictions were quashed, citing flaws in the character evidence put before the jury. Unjust conviction, or not? Who knows.
George Glendon (M/c City footballer): Mr Glendon, 22, was accused of raping a 19 year old woman. It was a classic case of drunken sex later claimed to be non-consensual. The jury thought otherwise and Glendon was exonerated.
Mick Hucknall (singer, Simply Red): Hucknall was luckier than most – it was only 24 hours after his arrest for rape in 2000 that the police dropped the investigation. But the damage was done as the allegation had already made headlines around the world. Like so many others, Hucknall spoke of the trauma of being accused of rape, including contemplating suicide. He said, “Even now I think it’s disgusting that the law meant my name was brandished around the world, even though I was entirely innocent, never charged or prosecuted, and the accuser was allowed to stay secret. It was beyond belief.”
Paul Weller (rock musician, The Jam and solo): Weller was arrested for rape in 2000, the alleged incident being four years earlier. The investigation was dropped without charges being made. Mr Weller said, “My name has been tainted, even though there is no substance in the allegation. Rape is despicable and to be accused of this crime has been one of the most depressing moments of my life. I doubt very much that the news of my innocence will make the same headlines as the story of my arrest.” Staggeringly, Weller’s accuser has spoken (anonymously) agreeing it is wrong that he was named. What the hell did she expect? She said, “I wasn’t aware that he would be so exposed. Naively perhaps, I was shocked by the amount of coverage it got and I felt bad about that. I’m left in little doubt that people view me as some sort of vixen. That’s for them to decide. I did what I felt I had to do and I can live with that. What I can’t accept is that he had to be named. To me that wasn’t justice.” She would be unlikely to think that way if her rape allegation were true, I suggest.
Roy Harper (folk musician): First accused in 2012, Harper faced a financially crippling three year battle to clear himself of historic sex offence charges. Aged 74 in 2015 he was initially cleared of claims he sexually abused an 11-year-old girl in the 1970s and indecently assaulted a 16-year-old girl in 1980. The jury failed to reach verdicts on other charges relating to the 11-year-old, but the CPS finally dropped the remaining charges. Harper said he was incredibly angry at the delays in the justice process: “This case should never have gone as far as this, or taken so long to resolve. The psychological and personal cost to my wife and myself has been enormous, and in addition to that, the financial cost is hugely unfair. I spent my savings – and more.”
Lewis Linford (Lewis Smales, Emmerdale actor): In 2009 Mr Linford was involved in an argument with a woman due to a disagreement about who was first in a queue to use an ATM – so she accused him of fondling her bottom, putting his hand up her skirt and asking to have sex with her. He went through the usual 20 months of anguish before a jury of seven men and five women took just 7 minutes to clear him of the charges. Defence lawyer Nick Freeman commented, “This was a wicked lie fabricated by a misguided young lady. She has been entitled to luxuriate behind a veil of anonymity….whilst Lewis has been exposed to the full spotlight of the media…I cannot see how exposing people in this way serves the course of British justice”.
Richard Westwood and Leonard Hawkes (The Tremeloes): The pair (73 and 70 years old) severely criticised the police for putting them through 3 years of nightmare. They had been accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old in a hotel after a gig in 1968. But prosecutors ultimately announced in 2016 that new evidence had come to light. After reviewing inconsistencies in the now-adult woman’s evidence, the single count of indecent assault faced by each man was dropped.
Reg Traviss (Film Producer): Here is an example of the headlines that will greet you as an innocent man: “Mr X raped sleeping friend and kept her underwear then told her: I always wanted to do this to you”. A dozen articles like that will remain accessible via Google long after you are exonerated. Reg Traviss, former partner of Amy Winehouse, had consensual sex with a woman who later claimed she was too drunk to consent. This was another case of disclosure failure. The jury was told that the alleged victim was “so drunk she couldn’t stand up or walk — and was experiencing blackouts and memory loss”. The police spent months refusing to release CCTV footage which they claimed held nothing of interest and would only show the ‘victim’ stumbling around drunk. When the defence finally gained access to the footage it showed quite the opposite. The woman was walking perfectly steadily, in high heels. Traviss was cleared of the rape charges.
Simon Warr (actual and also celebrity TV teacher): Mr Warr had the usual dawn-call from five police officers. He had been accused, whilst a teacher, of asking a boy to part his buttocks after a shower to check they were dry, and also of once touching his genitals. The boy was 11 at the time. This was 30 years previously. Not only had Mr Warr never met the boy, he had never taken a PE lesson at which the events were supposed to have occurred. One might have thought these simple factual conflicts would have been sufficient to avoid such heavy hand police action. You would certainly have thought that it would not take nearly two years and a jury trial to clear him. But it did, and the jury took just 4 minutes to do so.
The Right Reverend Michael Perham (former Bishop of Gloucester): Strictly this case should have been included in Part 3 (Politicians), but I omitted it by mistake. The Church finally got around to clearing the former Bishop for continued ministry some seven months after the police declared there would be no further action on allegations against him. Less than two years later he would be dead, at 69. He had been accused of indecent assault on a woman and a girl under 18 in 1980 and 1981 when he was a curate in London. He immediately “stepped down” from his position as Bishop, including relinquishing his seat in the House of Lords. We do not know whether “stepped down” means “sacked”. Either way, it was on the basis of an allegation which never resulted in charges being brought. Given the zeal with which the CofE in the shape of Archbishop Justin Welby threw Bishop Bell to the wolves, one assumes that Michael Perham must indeed be innocent. (Decorum prevents me from repeating the sobriquet used of our esteemed Archbishop of Canterbury by that delightfully naughty rebel priest, Jules Gomes). As Bishop, Michael Perham had been a strong supporter of the ordination of women and also of women Bishops. No doubt he was pleased, then, that his misfortune cleared the way for the Venerable Rachel Treweek to take his place and become the CofE’s first female Bishop. She would never refer to God as “he”. We must rejoice. No, we MUST. This is yet another case of a man in a political position being displaced by a false allegation and replaced by a feminist woman. Just saying.
6. Victim Compensation
Victims of crime can claim compensation from the publicly funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Some solicitors offer specialist assistance in making such a claim, for example Winston Solicitors LLP run the site https://abuseandassaultclaims.co.uk/. They operate a “no win, no fee” service, but take 25% of any successful claim. Alleged victims claiming compensation must have reported the alleged crime to the police and have the relevant police record numbers. The claimant is obliged to cooperate fully with the police in catching the criminal and bringing him/her to justice. However, there is no need for the perpetrator to be prosecuted, or even identified, to make a claim for compensation. And if an alleged perpetrator is prosecuted and found not guilty, this need not invalidate a claim for compensation. Levels of award you may expect for sexual assault or rape claims, obtained from the above site, are,
|Minor sexual assault, non-penetrative, over clothing||£ 1,000|
|Sexual assault with penile penetration, one incident / one attacker||£11,000|
|Sexual assault with penile penetration, more than one attacker||£13,500|
|Sexual assault with penile penetration, repeated pattern of incidents for 3 years or more||£22,000|
|Sexual assault with penile penetration, resulting in severe and permanent mental illness||£27,000|
|Sexual assault with penile penetration, resulting in severe and permanent mental illness and serious internal injuries (adult)||£44,000|
|Sexual assault with penile penetration, resulting in severe and permanent mental illness and serious internal injuries (under 18)||£52,100|
Alleged victims may also be able to obtain compensation by taking out a Civil law suit against the alleged perpetrators, as was the case against footballers David Goodwillie and David Robertson for which the complainant received a total of £200,000 – so this can be a more lucrative route, though less certain and a great deal more work by the complainant. In contrast, filling in a CICA application takes 15 minutes.
Of the 45 celebrity cases listed above, 12 men were mostly likely guilty, 29 men were almost certainly innocent, and in 4 cases the matter is not clear.
Of the 25 politicians I reviewed in Part 3 I judge 4 were guilty and 21 not guilty.
Combining politicians and celebrities this suggests 50 innocent men out of 70 accused, a false allegation rate of a staggering 71%.
As emphasised above, we cannot assume this applies to the general public: the famous are likely to be particular targets of false accusers. In addition, the police have also targeted entertainers recently due to Jimmy Savile.
However, there are motives for false allegations which operate frequently within the general public but are not so apparent in the celebrity cases, especially motives connected with the family courts and with DARVO (deny, attack, reverse victim and offender).
A recent victim of false allegation, Patrick Graham, has reviewed the problem in quantifying the rate of false allegations within the public. I will summarise what I know of such attempts in a subsequent post.
The qualitative features of the total of 216 cases reviewed in Part 2, Part 3 and herein, provide ample reason to expect the rate of false allegation – and false conviction – to be alarmingly high, despite quantification continuing to be elusive.
Not only the disclosure of evidence, but also the effort to unearth evidence, has been endemically woeful. This problem is wider than just sexual assault cases. More than 97% of criminal lawyers in England and Wales have experienced disclosure of evidence failings in the last 12 months, according to a BBC survey. (That link includes details of yet another groundless accusation against a school teacher, a Mr Williams, who was eventually cleared by CCTV evidence which the police had refused to divulge on six occasions, saying that the footage was of too poor quality to pick him out). Of the 1,282 lawyers surveyed, almost a third said they believed that such failings had led to possible wrongful convictions or miscarriages of justice.
But the problems with sexual assault cases are more fundamental, being exacerbated by the nature of the crime and the intrinsic difficulty in obtaining proof. The collapse of the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is apparent in most of the 216 case studies examined here and in Part 2 and Part 3. Instead the de facto position is that the burden of proof is being placed on the accused. This is particularly egregious due to the nature of the offence making proof so problematical.
The feminist lobby with their mantra of “believe the victim” is culpable for undermining the proper due process of law and replacing it with an identity political presumption of guilt by decree. In this brave new feminist jurisprudence, you are not guilty for what you do, but for what you are.
The question of how many innocent men are in prison remains unanswered – except that it is clearly many hundreds and possibly in the thousands for sexual offences alone.
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I like the powerful point you make in that the ‘believe the accuser’ concept is a “brave new morality admits of no defence at all”.
Similarly, the taxpayer-funded ‘victim compensation’, which has recently been increased, is not really what it says, because it is actually an ‘accuser’ compensation, or even more accurately ‘claimant payout’.
“The microaggression-accusation is a tool of control and domination, demanding its target be abject.” Yes, indeed. Pushed as it is by feminists who so often complain of being victimised of power and control, they have invented a method of power and control over the innocent.
In discussing what is, or is not, a false accusation, it should also be noted that just because an accused is found not guilty, even assuming that this means they are not guilty, does not mean that the accusation was false. It might have been mistaken identity, or a borderline case (though few such ever result in a ‘not guilty’ verdict). Not every accuser whose alleged attacker is found not guilty is a false accuser.
Thank you for your time compiling such usable data.
A number of the cases of quite minor celebrities from soaps illustrate, what is I think, from experience the most common scenario for accusations. Usually the accusation is a means to “get back at” a man for something else entirely. So it’s not at all surprising to read about the accusation following a row about an ATM or Paul Weller’s case where the complainant was clearly attempting to put the wind up Paul but not expecting the circus that followed. There is a really big mismatch between the “reports” of 40K a year and the cases going to court 6k. Though this gap is often talked about in fact it’s really hard to get information of what these are and what happens. By far the largest number are “no crime” in fact but there are other categories that are unhelpfully vague. Part of this is because, contrary to TV drama, most of what is “reported” comes from the same messed up ” Jeremy Kyle” world that also generates most other crime. A closer look would reveal the complete nonsense the Police deal with day in day out.
For the unscrupulous looking to meet “targets” these present an opportunity to get easy arrests and convictions , but for most they form the irritating everyday dross of Policing our “sink estates”, accusations often made by and about people “known” to the police .
You seem not to have carried out much research into the Savile allegations or the Dame Janet Smith BBC report. You may wish to consider the attached findings http://bit.ly/2dybGYs http://bit.ly/2mMrQza
Thank you for this! …It really belongs in a book.
Another great piece, as always.
I will add, the 97% statistic you quote has since been removed from the BBC article. It was removed within the first few hours, which I find peculiar.
The first line of the article now says:
“More than 1,000 criminal lawyers in England and Wales have experienced disclosure of evidence failings in the last year, according to a BBC survey.”
BUT, an archive shows it originally said:
“More than 97% of criminal lawyers in England and Wales have experienced disclosure of evidence failings in the last 12 months, a BBC survey suggests.”
A link to the archive is here: https://archive.is/6Du6n
So, the statistic has fallen from 97% to about 78% which is still startlingly high.
Hmm, curious – I’ll leave my text unchanged as it was what I read when I read it. However you turn it around, it’s dreadful.
I suspect some of these men were advised by their lawyers to plead guilty, to avoid the risk that if they pleaded not guilty but were later found guilty, their prison sentences would be longer. A bigger factor for the older men, perhaps, not wishing to die in prison? Anyway, a factor meaning the proportion of men who are innocent of the charges is even greater.
Time and again we hear of the alleged victims suffering when convicted men continue to deny their guilt. The fact they deny their guilt because they weren’t guilty never seems to occur to these people.