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All the mad and dangerous views on Barrister Barbara Hewson’s words on Operation Yewtree and child abuse

Published January 17, 2015 by JS2

barbara-hewson

BARBARA Hewson is a barrister. She was awarded an honorary fellowship of the University of Westminster for services to law. On the website of her employers, Hardwicke, we learn:

Amongst her many achievements, her citation referred to her work for equality for women at the Bar and in helping found the Association of Women Barristers; her championing of the rights of pregnant women to refuse medical treatment (R(S) v Collins, St George’s Health Care NHS Trust & Anr [1999] Fam 26); and her work defending home birth midwives’ right to practise, in both Ireland and England.

She fought to prove that Gareth Oates, an autistic 18-year-old who killed himself in front of a train, “had been neglected by many agencies”. She has written about family courts and how the State can abuse to vulnerable.

She has a particular interest in reproductive rights, and was the first member of the Bar to receive the Lawyer’s ‘Barrister of the Year’ Award, for her pioneering work opposing court-ordered treatment of pregnant women.

Hewson has a record of speaking truth to power.  So. What do we make of her views on Operation Yewtree, the Met’s investigation of historical sex abuse sparked by revelations on Sir Jimmy Savile?

Hewson writes in Spiked:

I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did.

And with that a media shitstorm erupted:

Now even a deputy speaker of the House of Commons is accused of male rape. This is an unfortunate consequence of the present mania for policing all aspects of personal life under the mantra of ‘child protection’.

We have been here before. England has a long history of do-gooders seeking to stamp out their version of sexual misconduct by force of the criminal law. In the eighteenth century, the quaintly named Society for the Reformation of Manners funded prosecutions of brothels, playwrights and gay men.

In the 1880s, the Social Purity movement repeatedly tried to increase the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16, despite parliament’s resistance. At that time, puberty for girls was at age 15 (now it is 10). The movement’s supporters portrayed women as fragile creatures needing protection from men’s animal impulses. Their efforts were finally rewarded after the maverick editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, WT Stead, set up his own secret commission to expose the sins of those in high places.

After procuring a 13-year-old girl, Stead ran a lurid exposé of the sex industry, memorably entitled ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’. His voyeuristic accounts under such titles as ‘Strapping girls down’ and ‘Why the cries of the victims are not heard’ electrified the Victorian public. The ensuing moral panic resulted in the age of consent being raised in 1885, as well as the criminalisation of gross indecency between men.

By contrast, the goings-on at the BBC in past decades are not a patch on what Stead exposed. Taking girls to one’s dressing room, bottom pinching and groping in cars hardly rank in the annals of depravity with flogging and rape in padded rooms. Yet the Victorian narrative of innocents despoiled by nasty men endures.

What is strikingly different today is how Britain’s law-enforcement apparatus has been infiltrated by moral crusaders, like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). Both groups take part in Operation Yewtree, which looks into alleged offences both by and not by Savile.

These pressure groups have a vested interest in universalising the notion of abuse, making it almost as prevalent as original sin, but with the modern complication that it carries no possibility of redemption, only ‘survival’. The problem with this approach is that it makes abuse banal, and reduces the sympathy that we should feel for victims of really serious assaults (1).

But the most remarkable facet of the Savile scandal is how adult complainants are invited to act like children. Hence we have witnessed the strange spectacle of mature adults calling a children’s charity to complain about the distant past.

The NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police Force produced a joint report into Savile’s alleged offending in January 2013, called Giving Victims a Voice. It states: ‘The volume of the allegations that have been made, most of them dating back many years, has made this an unusual and complex inquiry. On the whole victims are not known to each other [sic] and taken together their accounts paint a compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender. We are therefore referring to them as “victims” rather than “complainants” and are not presenting the evidence they have provided as unproven allegations [italics added].’ The report also states that ‘more work still needs to be done to ensure that the vulnerable feel that the scales of justice have been rebalanced’.

Note how the police and NSPCC assume the roles of judge and jury. What neither acknowledges is that this national trawl for historical victims was an open invitation to all manner of folk to reinterpret their experience of the past as one of victimisation (2).

The acute problems of proof which stale allegations entail also generates a demand that criminal courts should afford accusers therapy, by giving them ‘a voice’. This function is far removed from the courts’ traditional role, in which the state must prove defendants guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

What this infantilising of adult complainants ultimately requires is that we re-model our criminal-justice system on child-welfare courts. These courts (as I have written in spiked previously) have for some decades now applied a model of therapeutic jurisprudence, in which ‘the best interests of the child’ are paramount.

It is depressing, but true, that many reforms introduced in the name of child protection involve sweeping attacks on fundamental Anglo-American legal rights and safeguards, such as the presumption of innocence. This has ominous consequences for the rule of law, as US judge Arthur Christean pointed out: ‘Therapeutic jurisprudence marks a major and in many ways a truly radical shift in the historic function of courts of law and the basic purpose for which they have been established under our form of government. It also marks a fundamental shift in judges’ loyalty away from principles of due process and toward particular social policies. These policies are less concerned with judicial impartiality and fair hearings and more concerned with achieving particular results…’

The therapeutic model has certain analogies with a Soviet-style conception of justice, which emphasises outcomes over processes. It’s not difficult, then, to see why some celebrity elderly defendants, thrust into the glare of hostile publicity, including Dalek-style utterances from the police (‘offenders have nowhere to hide’), may conclude that resistance is useless. But the low-level misdemeanours with which Stuart Hall was charged are nothing like serious crime.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

Ordinarily, Hall’s misdemeanors would not be prosecuted, and certainly not decades after the event. What we have here is the manipulation of the British criminal-justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle.

It’s interesting that two complainants who waived anonymity have told how they rebuffed Hall’s advances. That is, they dealt with it at the time. Re-framing such experiences, as one solicitor did, as a ‘horrible personal tragedy’ is ironic, given that tragoidia means the fall of an honourable, worthy and important protagonist.

It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest. Adults and law-enforcement agencies must stop fetishising victimhood. Instead, we should focus on arming today’s youngsters with the savoir-faire and social skills to avoid drifting into compromising situations, and prosecute modern crime. As for law reform, now regrettably necessary, my recommendations are: remove complainant anonymity; introduce a strict statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and civil actions; and reduce the age of consent to 13.

Right, then. What reactions did that get?

Daily Mail: “Outrage at barrister who called Stuart Hall’s crimes ‘low level’”

Miss Hewson, who is an abortion rights specialist, said the arrests of Rolf Harris, Dave Lee Travis, Jim Davidson and Max Clifford were driven by the need to produce ‘scapegoats on demand’.
But Susan Harrison, 61, who was indecently assaulted by Hall when she was 16, said it was wrong to make light of his crimes.

‘To call them low-level misdemeanours is not only incredibly hurtful to all the victims it is also utterly ridiculous,’ she said. ‘I don’t think Miss Hewson understands what it is like to be on the receiving end of this kind of abuse from a man who is trusted by your family and by society as a whole. What he did to me went on to ruin my life and I am still dealing with the aftermath now and to call it low level is just offensive.’

Alan Collins, of Pannone Solicitors, which represents many of Savile’s and 83-year-old Hall’s victims, called her comments ‘crazy’ and ‘ignorant’.

And worse still:

Hardwicke Chambers, where she is a junior barrister, expressed shock and said they were investigating.

The Mail then ads for reason not entirely clear:

Miss Hewson, 52,  lives in a £1million home in Islington, North London…

India Knight (Times):

I care, actually. I am uncomfortable with people’s names being bandied about before they are charged, and uncomfortable with the McCarthyite vigour with which those names are offered up to the public’s slavering maws, though, of course, the counter-argument is that naming names helps other victims come forward. I am also uncomfortable with the question of proof decades after an alleged event. But I care a lot.

Last week a high-profile barrister called Barbara Hewson wrote an article that called for the age of consent to be lowered to 13, on the basis that some of the Yewtree crimes were “low-level” and led only to “the persecution of old men”. What this amounted to, she wrote, was “the manipulation of the British criminal justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle.”

Hewson got both barrels for her article (which you can read at spiked-online.com), but the piece put forward a reasoned and intelligent argument. I know from conversations I’ve had that many people agree with her on the “low-level” front, if not the age of consent part; and I know that many people think that some of the women coming forward are opportunistic, in it for the money and possibly either exaggerating or lying outright.

I strongly disagree with Hewson, though I can understand why she makes some of the points that she does. And despite the outrage her remarks have provoked, she speaks for more people than her detractors imagine (I’m ignoring the age of consent part because it’s just mad — a rapist’s charter).

Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline:

These outdated and simply ill-informed views would be shocking to hear from anyone but to hear them from a highly experienced barrister simply beggars belief. Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty to abusing children as young as nine years old, we think most people would agree that crimes of this nature are incredibly serious. Thankfully the law, and most people, are very clear on this matter. To minimise and trivialise the impact of these offences for victims in this way is all but denying that they have in fact suffered abuse at all. Any suggestion of lowering the age of consent could put more young people at risk from those who prey on vulnerable young people.”

Hardwicke Chambers:

We are shocked by the views expressed in Barbara Hewson’s article in Spiked (8 May 2013).

We did not see or approve the article pre-publication and we completely dissociate ourselves from its content and any related views she may have expressed via social media or any other media outlets.

Fleet Street Fox (Daily Mirror):

But there is a third option if we want to rid the world of paedophiles. It would be easier, and quicker, but it would take a bit of selling to the voters.

We could legalise it.

She quotes Hewson. Then:

We could do all that, but we probably won’t on the basis that it’s ABSOLUTELY BARKING MAD. If we have a time limit on some of the most serious crimes it’s possible to commit, we’ll need one on everything. Nazi war criminals? Oh, forget them. Genocidal Serbs? Too long ago. Fred West? Look, it was the 1970s, things were different then.

If we lower the age of consent we’ll be making adulthood happen faster. Sex at 13, driving at 14, let ‘em vote and marry and pay taxes and leave school and oh look at that, it’s the 19th century again. And anyone who goes to the police or their teacher with a complaint of sexual abuse will have their name and face plastered on posters all over the neighbourhood under the phrase ‘STUPID CHILD’.

There would be no rapists, no paedophiles, no victims, and the police could get back to the important business of arresting journalists who’ve embarrassed the rich and powerful.

The long-term effect would be that the TV presenters, dirty old men, perverts, and local oddballs of the future would be the only people to go unmolested…

When I was 13 I had thick NHS specs, braces, acne and a mullet. I communicated by slamming doors and overdoing the eyeliner.

Sex was not only the last thing on my mind, it was terrifying and utterly impossible. I couldn’t consent to being looked at, never mind anything more.

Yet as bonkers as all this sounds someone has suggested it.

Barrister Barbara Hewson says Operation Yewtree is akin to the Spanish Inquisition, that do-gooders tackling child abuse is similar to making homosexuality illegal, and that ‘low-level misdemeanours’ such as those Stuart Hall confessed to last week should not be prosecuted.

Except no-one is burning paedophiles alive, paedophilia is nowhere near the same as sexual activity between consenting adults, and Stuart Hall did not just touch someone’s bum.

He confessed to assaulting girls aged nine to 17 in a variety of ways, some minor and some more serious. Not a single one of them consented to it, regardless of whether they were legally able to.

One told how ‘ I was never aroused, so there was a lot of blood’ .

Eilis O’Hanlon (Irish Indy):

There must have been people who felt uneasy as Operation Yewtree, set up initially to investigate crimes committed by the late paedophile Jimmy Savile, transmuted into a sort of big-game hunt, with TV stars instead of elephants as targets – but they said nothing, because to show any doubts about the conduct of the investigation is to invite accusations of belittling child abuse…

…the vehemence of the reaction against Barbara Hewson demonstrates that she was certainly right to compare the public mood around this issue to a witch-hunt, since it is in the nature of witch-hunts to not only shout down opposition, but also to attack what you think someone said, or what you wish they’d said, rather than what they did say.

Some of the more hysterical reactions to Hewson’s Spiked article even said that she was trying to protect child abusers from prosecution, or that she was blaming victims for not being streetwise enough to resist rapists, which is crazy.

All she said was that it is important to draw distinctions between acts we morally disapprove of and those which are actually criminal.

Rape Crisis England & Wales:

Rape Crisis (England and Wales) is shocked and deeply concerned by the offensive, ill-informed and damaging on-line article from barrister Barbara Hewson regarding Operation Yewtree.

Her opening assertion – that ongoing legal investigations pose a ‘far graver threat to society’ than a prominent public figure who raped and sexually assaulted women and children across decades – suggests a cynical attempt to self-publicise by generating controversy for its own sake. This impression is supported by all the comments that follow in the rest of the article.

From the range of objectionable points Ms Hewson makes, Rape Crisis is particularly concerned by her apparent attack on and dismissal of the experiences of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This betrays not only a complete lack of empathy but also an ignorance of the long-term impacts of sexual violence that is particularly dangerous in a legal professional.

Of the 60,000 women and girls our Rape Crisis Centres provide specialist support to each year, over 60% have come to us because of an incident of sexual violence that happened more than three years ago and we know that around a third of those sexually abused as children reach adulthood without having told anyone about it. The women we work with tell us that prominent amongst the numerous reasons for this, as well as the power and control wielded by their abusers, are shame, self-blame and a fear of not being believed, all of which are perpetuated and reinforced by the kinds of views Ms Hewson so aggressively presents in her article.

In this context, Rape Crisis (England and Wales) also finds it incomprehensible that a legal professional would call for the removal of sexual violence victims’ right to lifelong anonymity. When we know that only around 15% of the estimated 85,000 women who are raped and 400,000 who are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year ever report to the police, it is unjustifiable to suggest that adding to the stress and trauma of the experience for victims can do anything to improve levels of justice.

Another Angry Woman:

Let me tell you, Ms Hewson, victimhood is not something to be fetished or enjoyed. As many have already said your remarks represent the fear that all victims have of being disbelieved and the accusations of being attention seeking liars who enjoy victimhood. Abuse is something that haunts and damages you for the rest of your life, effects all the decisions you make, the friends and relationships you choose, the relationships with your family and how you feel about yourself. It will have you awake screaming & crying in the middle of the night, make you afraid of your own shadow and make you hate yourself and the body you live in. It can make you want to hurt yourself, cause resentment and anger towards others and makes it hard to trust anyone. Your remarks show just how much you, as a supposedly impartial party, know nothing about the experience of a victim.

I am one of the victims you seem to know so much about. I have twice been subjected to the selfish actions of a man, a family friend, in a position of power who wanted to rape a trusting little girl, initially aged just 11 and then 13, who didn’t understand what was going on…

I am still living with extreme feelings of worthlessness and the urge to hurt myself because of the damage sexual abuse has done to me…

Ms Hewson, the fact that you as an esteemed barrister in a position of authority see it fit to perpetuate the rape apologism and victim blaming that is already so prevalent in our society and prevents victims coming forward, speaks volumes about how out of touch you are and how little you understand about sexual abuse. It’s all very well from your privileged position to fire off soundbites about “fetishing victimhood” and “persecuting old men”, but you cannot even begin to understand how damaging, disrespectful and false those statements are.

Delusions of Candour:

I no longer work in the field of law enforcement but I believe that it is still the case that in order for charges to be brought the CPS must consider that they have a reasonable chance of obtaining a conviction. I agree that the media’s habit of gleefully naming every individual arrested as part of Yewtree is unpleasant and unnecessary, and perhaps gives credence to the suggestion that those accused of rape should also be granted anonymity. However this is no reason for stripping rape complainants of their right to anonymity.

Ms Hewson continues “It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest. Adults and law-enforcement agencies must stop fetishising victimhood. Instead, we should focus on arming today’s youngsters with the savoir-faire and social skills to avoid drifting into compromising situations, and prosecute modern crime.”. It’s almost as though she’s claiming that with the right skills and knowledge sexual predators can be avoided – a common theme of victim-blaming. But as a barrister surely Ms Hewson knows that rape and sexual assault is never the fault of the victim? I agree that young people should be taught what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of sexual behaviour but that in no way means that assault can be avoided if one has the appropriate “social skills”.

Although Ms Hewson’s article has moments where it is interesting and thought-provoking it is also ill-considered and her employers, Hardwicke Chambers, have been quick to distance themselves from it. It is a shame that this article seems likely to overshadow her reputation as a passionate advocate for abortion rights and her opposition to the court-ordered treatment of pregnant women. I hope that Ms Hewson’s views aren’t widely shared among her fellow legal professionals; meanwhile I imagine there are few victims of sexual assault or rape who would want her in their courtroom.

Hewson says critics have called for her to be raped.

by ANORAK

Using the Inherent Jurisdiction to Disrupt Child Sexual Exploitation

Published December 30, 2014 by JS2

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Heather Popley, barrister of No 5 Chambers, examines the innovative use of civil injunctions in the recent Birmingham case.

Heather Popley, barrister, No 5 Chambers

On the 15th December 2014 Mr Justice Keehan handed down his fully reasoned judgment in six connected cases involving child sexual exploitation (reported as Birmingham City Council v Riaz and Others [2014] EWHC 4247).  Earlier media coverage in November 2014 had drawn attention to the orders he had made granting civil injunctions against 10 respondents and naming the men involved in child sexual exploitation.

He refers in the judgment to the applications brought by Birmingham City Council as being a “bold and innovative approach” stating that the injunctive orders will protect the child who was the subject of the hearings and other vulnerable young females.  His judgment concluded:

“I hope that the approach I have taken in this case and the orders I have made will send a powerful message to those who engage in the CSE of young females or are considering doing so.  I very much hope that the stance taken by Birmingham City Council, in close co-operation with the West Midland’s Police, will be considered and followed by other local authorities in cases of CSE.”

Child sexual exploitation
Unfortunately CSE is prevalent within the UK. There is increasing awareness, both professional and public, of the damage that sexual exploitation inflicts upon children and vulnerable young adults irrespective of gender. The impact is not restricted to their childhood and adolescence; there can be lasting consequences throughout the victims’ lives.

If there was any doubt on these points, then reference only needs to be made to any of the recent reports including:

Practitioners will be aware of the struggle to take effective steps to protect victims of CSE and to disrupt and stop the perpetrators. The challenges faced are even greater when the victims are in their mid to late teens, one reason being that often these victims do not appreciate and realise that they are at risk of or are being sexually exploited. This feature was clearly acknowledged in the judgment with the court identifying that “all too often they have suffered abusive and neglected childhoods and are attracted to and flattered by men who seek them out.  They are seduced by the attention given to them whether by way of compliments, gifts, drugs or alcohol.”

This often comes at the stage of their lives when establishing a degree of self-autonomy and independence from carers is an essential part of growing up.

Inherent jurisdiction
Keehan J granted the permission, necessary pursuant to section 100(3) of the Children Act 1989, to enable the local authority to pursue the applications for injunctions against the men believed to have sexually exploited the child in their care.

He drew attention to Practice Direction 12D from the Family Procedure Rules 2010 rehearsing that:

1.1 It is the duty of the court under its inherent jurisdiction to ensure that a child who is the subject of proceedings is protected and properly taken care of. The court may in exercising its inherent jurisdiction make any order or determine any issue in respect of a child unless limited by case law or statue. Such proceedings should not be commenced unless it is clear that the issues concerning the child cannot be resolved under the Children Act 1989.

1.2 The court may under its inherent jurisdiction, in addition to all of the orders which can be made in family proceedings, make a wide range of injunctions for the child’s protection of which the following are the most common: –

a) orders to restrain publicity;

b) orders to prevent an undesirable association;

c) orders relating to medical treatment;

d) orders to protect abducted children, or children where the case has another substantial foreign element; and

e) orders for the return of children to and from another state.

He stated at paragraph 46 of the judgment:

“I am of the firm view that the use of the inherent jurisdiction to make injunctive orders to prevent CSE strikes at the heart of the parens patriae jurisdiction of the High Court. I am satisfied that none of the statutory or the ‘self imposed limits’ on the exercise of the jurisdiction prevent the court from making the orders sought by the local authority in this case.”

The injunctive orders
The detailed terms of the injunctions are set out in full in the judgment.  They include prohibitions on the men having contact with the child herself (which includes not only physical contact but also via social media even if instigated by the child) and approaching in public places or having in their vehicle any other females under the age of 18 years with whom they are not previously associated.

Mr Justice Keehan explained his inclusion of this extension beyond the subject child by reference to the findings of fact he made against the individual men which drove him to the conclusion that he was  “satisfied, that unless prohibited from doing so, there is a real risk that each of them would seek to sexually exploit other vulnerable young females under the age of 18. Accordingly I am satisfied that the terms of the proposed order……… are fair, necessary, and proportionate to the risk I have identified and are clear.”

Whilst successful criminal prosecution of the perpetrators would represent the strongest public sanction for sexually exploitative behaviour, it is not always possible, nor always appropriate, to leave the protection of vulnerable children and young adults to the criminal process alone. In many cases orders restricting the liberty of the child, such as a secure accommodation order, are seen as the first step.   Sometimes it is an essential and unavoidable step in securing the child’s safety and longer-term wellbeing but when taken in isolation, can be felt to be inappropriately punitive as reflected in paragraph 158 of Keehan J’s judgment: “whilst that action is taken in the best interests and to protect the young victim, it strikes me as wrong and unfair that no action is taken against the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation.”

The use of injunctive orders should be seen, therefore, as an essential piece of the jigsaw. They enable both the immediate protection of the child from the person involved in CSE they should also act as a deterrent to dissuade and disrupt the abusive and exploitative practices of the perpetrators.

As with secure accommodation orders, the use of injunctive orders should not be regarded as a ‘one size fits all’ approach nor should their granting prevent active pursuit of other steps to build a larger protective network either for the individual child or for children and vulnerable young adults in the wider community.  Local authorities and police forces should consider the other available civil and criminal remedies and powers.  These injunctions themselves were drafted with an eye towards the provisions in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (anti social behaviour orders) and the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (sexual offences prevention orders and risk of sexual harm orders). [Note that these orders themselves will be replaced by sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders when the relevant provisions of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 are brought into operation.]

Education (not limited to the children seen to be at risk) and engagement of the community and local businesses with the issues should also be regarded as important tools in the process of disruption and prevention.

As all lawyers will recognise, the obtaining of a court order is just the start.  His Lordship referred to the need to demonstrate that there is a real prospect that something will be gained from the orders.  He was satisfied that the local authority and police can and would ensure that the orders were obeyed and in his eyes the gains would be:

i) the protection of the child and other vulnerable young females;

ii) the prevention of the 10 respondents from engaging in CSE; and

iii) the deterrent to other adult males from engaging in CSE.

Background to this specific case
Unsurprisingly the child in this case had a turbulent upbringing. She was a looked after child, although it should be noted that in theory the use of the inherent jurisdiction in this way is not limited to a child who is in the care of a local authority. She had a significant past history that demonstrated that she was a vulnerable young woman at a continuing risk of sexual exploitation. She had come to the attention of the police as a result of repeated incidents where she was reported as missing.

Due to her repeat absconding and association with older adult males, her situation became increasingly difficult and was causing extreme concern to the police and local authority, provoking the desire to find another way to secure protection for her.

The ten male respondents to the local authority’s applications were identified as having been connected with this one child in the following circumstances:

  • three of the respondents were found with the child at a hotel;
  • two of the respondents were apprehended in the early hours of the morning after the child was observed leaving their vehicle;
  • two of the respondents approached the child in the early hours of the morning in their car and arranged to take her to a hotel where she was subsequently found with one of them;
  • the child was found in the vicinity of another respondent’s car in the early hours of the morning;
  • as found by the judge, one of the men had sexual intercourse with the child; and
  • the final respondent, who did not appear at any hearing, was found by the court to have been seriously involved in the sexual exploitation of the child with a history of him having driven her to another part of the country; the child having been located at his address when missing; and he having bought her gifts.

Save for one of the men, the age difference between the child and the men involved ranged from 10 to 23 years.

Balance of probabilities
In reaching the factual conclusions that he did in the case of each of the respondents Keehan J confirmed that the standard of proof to be applied was the balance of probabilities as defined by the Supreme Court in Re B [2013] UKSC 33.

The evidence presented in support of the applications included social work and police statements reflecting the multi-agency co-operative approach in the preparation of the case.   Inevitably the local authority applications relied heavily upon direct observations of various police officers and their written and oral evidence.

Whilst the child was the connecting link between each of the cases, save where the hearing was limited to the principles of reporting, the cases were heard separately from each other with the evidence provided to each respondent restricted to that involving him or his direct co-respondents.

The child did not give evidence in the proceedings but was at various stages separately represented.

At an early stage directions were given to place an onus on the respondents to individually set out their connection with the child, how they came to be in contact with her and to explain the circumstances of the events which brought them before the court.

Keehan J found that the men had been engaged in the sexual exploitation of the child; that they were grooming her and preparing to engage in sexual activity with her.

Reporting restriction orders and publicity
Whilst initially commencing in chambers with private hearings, in the light of the clear public interest in the subject matter the hearings soon moved to open court.  Until findings of fact were made and final injunction orders granted, reporting restriction orders prevented the identification of the respondents.  The child was subject to wider protection and consideration will be given in a further hearing to the issue of whether the protection should be extended beyond her minority.

This case attracted widespread media interest not only due to the content of the injunctions but also due to the impact of the discharge of the reporting restriction orders (RROs).   There are now no reporting restriction orders limiting what the media can publish about the respondents.

The Press Association addressed the court in support of the lifting of the RROs protecting the identity of the respondents due to the fact the they are exceptional orders to have in proceedings heard in open court and given the clear public interest in proceedings concerning child sexual exploitation. The respondents and the West Midlands Police objected to the publication of the respondents’ names. The police submitted that there was a risk to the respondents if their names were published and this risk could extend beyond the respondents to their families. The respondents supported this argument.

The judgment provides a helpful analysis of the impact of the competing human rights pursuant to Articles 2, 3, 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and their application in this case. The judge was not satisfied that there was a real risk to lives of the respondents on the evidence presented to him. Furthermore, the respondents’ right to respect for private and family life did not outweigh the public’s right to know about the proceedings pursuant to Article 10 of the Convention.

At paragraph 152-153 Keehan J notes:

“The sexual exploitation of young females by much older men attracts very considerable and widespread public interest. The extent of such activities around the country is only now emerging. I am satisfied that there are exceedingly powerful arguments in favour of the public knowing the details of cases of child sexual exploitation and in respect of proceedings held in open court.

“I have considered the competing rights and the arguments made in support of each. I am in no doubt that the balance in this falls clearly and decisively in favour of the article 10 rights of the press and broadcast media. Accordingly I discharge the RROs in respect of each respondent. There are no restrictions on what the media may report about any of them.”

Multi-agency approach
In the instant case the local authority and the police worked closely together to establish the whereabouts of the child when missing, to flag up the risks at multi-agency meetings and to draw together and make available the evidence and witnesses from various sources necessary to pursue the applications.

The interim and final injunctions have all been served upon the West Midlands Police, with the approval of the court, to act as a further deterrent and enforcement aid in the event of a breach of the injunctions. This does not mean that there is a power of arrest.  Breach of the orders will need to be dealt with as a contempt of court.

Such multi-agency co-operation is crucial in combating CSE. The need and ability to share information across professional borders and geographical boundaries to protect vulnerable children and young adults is vital. It is a unifying recommendation within the reports and enquiries highlighted above. The close working in this case between the police officers, social workers and legal teams has underlined for those involved the benefits that flow from face to face discussions between differing disciplines.

The court acknowledged the efforts behind the scenes in the concluding paragraphs of the judgment in this manner:

“I wish to praise…the degree of close and effective co-operation between the police and the local authority.  It has been a model of its type and has played a crucial role in bringing these proceedings to a successful conclusion.”

___________________

Heather Popley

With contributions from Lorna Meyer QC and Stefano Nuvoloni. All three authors are members of No 5 Chambers and acted for the local authority.

30/12/14

Disgraced police officer jailed for indecent child images

Published July 15, 2013 by JS2

temple

 

A FORMER barrister and police officer has been jailed for a second time for downloading indecent images of children.

John Temple, a father of four, previously had distinguished careers in the Navy, police and at the Bar but Judge Clement Goldstone QC, the Recorder of Liverpool, branded him a “sick man”.

“As your life history makes clear you are an intelligent man and have served your country with distinction but you have a dark side,” the judge told the 54-year-old, of Satley Plough, County Durham.

“You have a perverted interest in pornography, particularly images of young children engaging in sexual activity with other children, adults and on occasions animals.

“You are what may be described as a sick man but there is no name for the illness which causes you to download and store such filth.”

Liverpool Crown Court heard that a computer Temple had owned for just a month contained more than 1,000 images of children – a third of them illegal. The judge said this indicated an unhealthy interest in children.

Damien Nolan, prosecuting, said police who raided Temple’s home on April 19 this year also found indecent images of children in his pockets and on his bedside table.

In mitigation, Ian Harris said Temple had lost everything and leaves behind the ruins of three professional careers.

Temple pleaded guilty to 19 pornography offences, including some in the more serious categories, and was jailed for 16 months.

A lifetime Sexual Offences Prevention Order was made, restricting his internet use and banning him from working with children. He is already on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

In 2005, Temple was jailed for eight months for downloading more than 3,700 indecent images of children from the internet and distributing some of them.

Temple had previously served with North Yorkshire and then with Northumbria police forces but retired after suffering serious head injuries when he was beaten up by suspected car thieves in North Tyneside in 1992.

He retrained and became a barrister in Durham in 1998 but developed gambling and alcohol problems.

His online activities initially came to light during an operation to bust a 1,300-strong paedophile ring.

 

The Northern Echo