Why We Need A Statute Of Limitations

Why We Need A Statute Of Limitations

  By VennerRoad, 14th Oct 2014

The truth about historical sex crimes and paedophile rings.

Jimmy Savile photographed in 2006.

Earlier this year, a petition was created on the Government Petitions Website to bring in a statute of limitations for sex crimes. This was prompted by Operation Yewtree and what some (rightly) perceive as the persecution of ageing celebrities in the wake of the Jimmy Savile revelations, or perhaps that should be the claims made about Jimmy Savile, for while the public perception of the dead DJ is of the most prolific paedophile, serial groper and occasional rapist these islands have ever seen, those who have taken the trouble to read the official reports from various health authorities may wonder what all the fuss is about.

A detailed discussion of this phenomenon including the trials of Max Clifford and especially Rolf Harris can be found at the Internet Archive, but the bottom line is that all historical allegations and especially those unearthed by the process of trawling for victims are inherently unreliable and result overwhelmingly in terrible miscarriages of justice. It might also be argued that they are disproportionate, not only in their outcomes but in their tieing up of court and most especially police time which could be used productively elsewhere.

The people at the CPS have made the bland statement that they will pursue historical cases whoever is the alleged offender - ie however high and mighty - and whenever there is both sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, they will prosecute. The problem is that historical evidence (so-called) is not evidence in the proper sense of the word unless it is supported either by physical evidence or contemporaneous documentation. This relates to all crimes, not simply sex crimes. There are many reasons for this, not the least being the fallibility of human memory. While some people delight in seeing celebrities and politicians fall from grace, what they don’t seem to realise is this can affect them too. The Operation Yewtree cases are far from unique, and indeed there are at the moment ongoing trawling operations relating to inter alia the Chetham’s School of Music. This operation has resulted in convictions including that of Nicholas Smith who pleaded guilty to an indecent assault on a student who reported the alleged attack 36 years after it happened.

The details released to the media are scant, but frankly implausible; the victim told the court this single instance of groping had “ruined her life”, a claim that is even more implausible when one considers how some victims of truly horrendous sex attacks put their experiences behind them and go on to lead normal or even exceptional lives, like Elizabeth Smart who as a teenager was raped repeatedly, and Natascha Kampusch, who was kidnapped at the age of 10 by a psychopath and locked in a cellar for eight years.

Another person who taught at Chetham’s is currently facing a far more serious charge; violinist Wen Zhou Li has been accused of raping a teenage girl in the 1990s. The fact that he is Chinese - ie an outsider - makes that claim all the more implausible. (Mr Li was cleared in March 2016; the girl who accused him had apparently falsely accused another music teacher in another country).

Although there have been occasional well-documented cases of teachers and others in authority abusing their positions, stories about paedophile rings operating in schools and care homes have no basis in fact. Twelve years ago, the Home Affairs Committee heard evidence from a number of men falsely accused of such offences, and frankly it makes disturbing reading. Because girls in care homes are largely in the trust of women, the sexual offences alleged tend to be of a homosexual nature. Here is what one victim of such a trawl said. He was questioned about alleged historical offences at a police station, then: “The two officers then went upstairs for approximately 10 minutes—I can only presume to have a refreshment of some sort. They then came back downstairs and charged me with buggery of a 12 year old and buggery of a 14 year old. These offences were meant to have occurred some time between 1977 and 1980. That is as precise as we got.”

The case was discontinued before it reached the Crown Court. This man worked as a teacher in a secure unit that housed some of the country’s most dangerous and undoubtedly disturbed young offenders. The allegations against him dated back more than twenty years. Here is what another man said:

“On 4 January 1995 I was charged with statutory rape and the police told me then that the allegations stemmed from 1979, at which point I took my solicitor to one side and pointed out to him that not only do I deny this, but it could not have happened because the young woman who made the allegations was not even in care at that time. Nevertheless, I was still charged. On 4 April 1995 I was re-arrested and allegations were put to me from two young men with whom I had worked at another care home on Merseyside. After the police had finished the interview they asked me, did I want to ask any questions, which I did. I pointed out again that even under re-arrest that one of the complainants against me who said the allegations were from 1982-83 did not enter the care system until 1984, and these were fundamental flaws within the system which are still going on today. Again, I was charged and I was re-arrested for a third time, and further allegations were put to me from another care home. This was all part of the trawl. In June 1996, I was tried at Liverpool Crown Court with regard to the allegations made by the young woman. It was only at that trial that she admitted that she had put a claim in for a massive amount of compensation some eight months before the trial. She had actually been interviewed by the police over two months on five or six occasions before she made the allegation against me. After a week and a half’s trial I was acquitted unanimously, and then faced a second trial with regard to the two young men. I was tried in Liverpool Crown Court again in January 1997 and again, after a week and a half’s trial, I was acquitted unanimously.”

In spite of this, his career has (obviously) been trashed.

Anyone who reads this and similar accounts will, with a little knowledge of human nature, understand what happens during such trawling operations. The police do not follow a trail of evidence, instead they approach people, some of whom are psychologically damaged, and invite them to make allegations against either specific individuals or people generally. At times the lure of compensation is waved at them, and it is hardly surprising that if hundreds of them are questioned in such a manner, a few will indeed make allegations, especially if they are told the police “know” there were serious offences being committed by teachers and others.

Some convictions in such cases are warranted, but these are almost always minor, and even those who plead guilty - especially to offences of indecent assault - may do so not because they are in fact guilty but to avoid a trial which may see their lives trashed in public, things they have said twisted out of context, and may encourage even more “victims” to come forward. This may be the truth about the Nicholas Smith case.

Although generally the police act properly in such historical abuse investigations, there are times when they do not. The recent high profile “raid” on the home of Cliff Richard was clearly designed to prod more “victims” into coming forward after he was accused by an (of course anonymous) man of a sexual assault dating back to 1985, doubtless another tortured soul who has found the “courage” to come forward after all this time.

If at times the police have behaved inappropriately, the same can be said for ambulance-chasing lawyers. There are at least two law firms that are currently making big bucks out of this witch-hunt.

Another point that should be addressed is the claim of “cover-up” that often arises when allegations of abuse are not vented in the full light of day. What appears to happen is that allegations that are clearly false and are proven so are consigned to the memory hole in order to protect the reputations of those accused, and rightly so. They are then unearthed years or decades later by either muckrakers or politicians who don’t bother doing proper research, or in some cases any research at all. Here is another lengthy quote so the reader can take in what has actually been happening as opposed to what the media and Liz Dux tell us has been happening:

“In one case in South Wales the original complainant made a series of wholly implausible allegations which included the claim that he had been sexually abused by a train driver, one Brian Green, in the cab of his train while he was driving it. It was eventually established by the police that Brian Green did not exist. By this time, however, a massive investigation had taken place. Its purpose was to gather as many allegations as possible against the members of a paedophile ring which had no more reality than the spectral train driver. As a result of this investigation seven men found themselves facing a total of some three hundred separate allegations. These included a claim that one residential social worker had impaled a boy on a cucumber and that the same social worker had witnessed a murder, and protected the murderer by his subsequent silence. So little faith did the police have in the veracity of their own complainants that they did not even dig up the patch of ground which had been indicated as the site where the alleged murder victim was supposed to be buried.”

But in spite of this “the police pressed on with the prosecution. Six of the seven men were charged, four of them jointly. In a process which lasted more than three years, the cases were brought to trial at Cardiff Crown Court where they eventually collapsed spectacularly in February 2001. A set of allegations made by a complainant who was eventually shown conclusively to be a fantasist and a compulsive fabricator, had been allowed to trigger a massive trawling operation which had in turn led to the collection of some 300 false allegations, and which had cost the taxpayer several million pounds.”

Now put yourself in the place of someone who had been accused of impaling a boy “on a cucumber”, would you really want the police or the local authority to issue a press release denying this had in fact happened?

The current proposal for a statute of limitations is arguably too restrictive, but there is no reason allegations of all offences (with the exception of murder) should not be statute barred. The exception should be, as stated, when there is either physical or contemporaneous evidence, especially documentary evidence that a crime has been committed. Will this come about? It needs to. If currently there appears to be little enthusiasm for it, in view of the fact that not only celebrities but politicians and even senior police officers are now being targeted by this witch-hunt, our masters may eventually see the light.

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