CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM
Last month I highlighted Ben Emmerson’s opening address to the Goddard Inquiry in which the leading counsel raised the argument of examining false accusations of child sex abuse and finding against those who made them – effectively putting ” survivors on trial “.
I wrote: “this threat …must be very real for survivors who may want to give evidence in highly contentious cases. If it does – sometime down the route – look at the Westminster paedophile ring – will ” Nick ” be expected to testify and face questions from lawyers for Harvey Proctor who is alleged to be his abuser ( and vociferously denies it)- at the risk that a ” court” will decide he could be publicly condemned for going to the police in the first place.”
Now Lowell Goddard has confirmed this in an otherwise finely balanced statement issued surprisingly on All Fools Day ( but then she is a New Zealander and may not have known).
In it she says:
“. I am committed to ensuring that we hear all relevant testimony, including from victims and survivors as well as from those affected by false allegations of abuse. As I announced in November last year, the Inquiry intends to explore the balance which must be struck between encouraging the reporting of child sexual abuse and protecting the rights of the accused.
I am determined to get the process of the Inquiry right.
I will ensure that all relevant evidence is considered. As is standard practice in public inquiries, questions to witnesses will normally be asked by Counsel to the Inquiry whose role will include, where necessary, the exploration of witness credibility. Affected parties will not ordinarily be permitted to ask questions of witnesses directly, but as I said in my Opening Statement in July 2015, affected parties are entitled to make an application to ask direct questions and I will grant those applications if fairness requires it. “
Yes there is a point here but the press seem to have immediately interpreted this to mean that Harvey Proctor will have his day in court so he can condemn ” Nick” and ” Nick’s ” credibility will be judged by Lady Goddard and Ben Emmerson.
I am not going to comment further on Proctor’s case but draw attention to another scenario.
Dame Janet Smith’s conclusion on the Jimmy Savile scandal at the BBC concluded that paedophiles were both very clever and manipulative ( Harvey Proctor’s lawyers please note this is not a reference to him).
Now just imagine if Bishop Peter Ball had appeared before Goddard after he had been first cleared but well before his recent conviction as a sex offender in a fresh police investigation.
Justice Goddard and Ben Emmerson would have heard what a decent and well respected chap he was from George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, Tory Mp, Tim Rathbone, Lord Justice Lloyd and ex Tory minister Sir Tim Renton. What chance would any survivor have against such a phalanx of the great and good to be ” credible” let alone ” credible and true”. I can just imagine the line of questioning from Ben Emmerson and he wouldn’t be hauling the former Archbishop of Canterbury over the coals.
And how utterly stupid Lowell Goddard and Ben Emmerson would have looked when a subsequent police inquiry found the Bishop guilty.
The pitfalls of handling the Westminster paedophile allegations in such a way should be clear to see and the inquiry better think very carefully about how they are going to do it. And survivors again the Latin words ” Caveat Emptor” – buyer beware – should be utmost in their minds before taking part in such an inquiry.
Why just “Nick” David? Why not mention “Darren” and the other one who was the source for several of Exaro’s early stories? You know, the one who appeared on Panorama?
Goddard has already stated she will not compel any survivor to give evidence. You’re scaremongering, pure and simple. Are you, Mark Watts, Tim Wood and Mark Conrad expecting to be asked to testify by the way?
Not a word has been said to us from the inquiry.
As a survivor who has reported historic rape to the police, I have been advised by officers not to go to this tribunal. They think this forum is potentially damaging to any survivor who has had any mental health issues in the past, which let`s face it, is most of us! So, just don`t go!
As a survivor who has reported historic rape to the police, I have been advised by officers not to go to this tribunal.They think that this forum could be potentially damaging to any survivor who has had previous mental health problems, which, let`s face it, is most of us! So just don`t go!
I am concerned how much the `legal framework` Goddard has set up can empathise with the impact of deep trauma and the effect on the behaviour of survivors. Without that it’s often easy to discredit and dismiss important testimony and as you say, further damage the individual.
It will be a whitewash and we all know it, but I sincerely hope all your hard work does not go to waste David. Let’s face it, if they were going to do it properly, they would have doneit by now. 😦
It will be a whitewash and we all know it. Let’s face it, if they were going to do it properly, they would have done it by now. I just hope all your hard work does not go to waste Dave.
She needs to investigate the The Dransfield Vexatious BS GIA/3037/2011,which is being used on a daily basis to cover up sex crimes
I posted information to her before she left New Zealand. her office replied that they were ‘very interested’. having heard nothing since, I emailed the inquiry in London. They just said that my email had been logged !
Reblogged this on disabledsingleparent.
Must admit I saw this from a different angle; that Goddard wants to control questions put to the “accused”. I watched chunks of the Leveson inquiry and was frequently amazed that the counsel failed to push home issues and let witnesses of the hook. This is going to be a whitewash, plain and simple.
She isn’t Lady Goddard, btw.
yes you are right I’ll call her plain Lowell! Though officially you can refer to a judge as Lady Justice etc just like Lord Justice.
“Counsel to the Inquiry, Ben Emmerson QC, noted at the Inquiry’s first preliminary hearing that the Inquiry will need to remain sensitive to the particular needs of vulnerable complainants without unduly privileging their testimony. At the same time, he said the Inquiry will need to recognise the damage that can be caused by false accusations of sexual abuse, without hesitating to make findings against individuals and institutions if justified by the evidence. I agree with that analysis. I am committed to ensuring that we hear all relevant testimony, including from victims and survivors as well as from those affected by false allegations of abuse. As I announced in November last year, the Inquiry intends to explore the balance which must be struck between encouraging the reporting of child sexual abuse and protecting the rights of the accused.”
Goddard is careful to date her analysis of the Inquiry’s objective back to November, ensuring that no-one could imagine that the Inquiry might have been influenced to take on board the Proctor-Dacre agenda. Nevertheless, what she is actually doing is abandoning the original basis of “her” Inquiry – the need to investigate the failure of UK (“England and Wales”) institutions to protect vulnerable children entrusted to the care of the State – in order to grant the (allegedly) falsely accused their say on an equal footing.
The Inquiry was not set up to inquire into the issue of the damage to the reputation of individuals accused of offences for which they were not ultimately found guilty. That is a distinct issue, that can hardly be dealt with in isolation from a wider context extending from rape accusations to benefit fraud, for example.
Goddard, in line with Emmerson, appears to be altering the focus of the Inquiry away from its primary concern in order to allocate time and effort to examining the failure of institutions to ensure justice for a group of what might be called “secondary victims” seeking to substantiate their own claims of injustice. Moving the Inquiry’s focus away from the fundamental issue of institutional failure sends out the message that the betrayal of vulnerable wards of the State is no longer an over-riding concern, and they must now fight to defend their corner again, regardless of how discouraged we know that past experience is likely to have made them.
The exaggeratedly legalistic language Goddard and Emmerson have been using has been a straw in the wind as to the direction the Inquiry is taking. They are remoulding the Inquiry. It’s not the Inquiry many of the people who tolerated Goddard/Emmerson as a necessary compromise believed they were agreeing to after what now looks like the “see-how-much-they-will-put-up-with” dummy runs of Butler-Sloss/Emmerson and Wolff/Emmerson.
David, are you as an ex-Guardian man able to hazard a guess whether the Guardian have spontaneously offered Goddard its so-called “Comment is Free” slot unencumbered by “below-the-line” comments or would disallowing public input have been something the Inquiry would have negotiated prior to publication?
There gave been two stories over the last ten days or so that have appeared on the web and in local press, and that were also picked up on TV. These are the cited failure to provide information re Kincora on the grounds of “National Security” and the revelation that Lord Janner clearly lied to the Kirkwood inquiry, and that Kirkwood agreed to exclude certain elements of Janners evidence from his report. Neither have had any prominence in the mainstream press. Is there some sort of reporting restriction or is it purely editorial policy?
It reinforces my amazement at the way commentators at certain papers, we know who they are, have shamed their profession in their attempts to make all this go away. The awful abuse of young children was the one area where I thought, particularly family people, would never put their job ahead of their principles but we see it every day.
I am starting to feel like the local fruitcake about all of this, but to me it is all so blatant as to be almost comical if it were not so serious.
No you are not crazy. The atmosphere has changed and the emphasis is now more on assuming these stories are untrue or the people coming forward credibility must be challenged. So stories that contradict this are not getting such a high profile – though the BBC Ten O’Clock News did run the Janner stuff.
About time for some photos?
Better not post?
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