Esther Baker case: How the child sex abuse inquiry itself abused survivors’ trust and privacy

Alexis Jay at the Rotherham inquiry Pic credit BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

UPDATE: Since the publication of this blog the Crown Prosecution Service have responded to my questions. A spokesman said the CPS does not investigate allegations of a crime, including perverting the course of justice. Any allegations coming to them would be referred back to the relevant police force. In this case this would appear  to be Staffordshire police.

Esther Baker is one of the few child sex abuse survivors who went public  about her allegations that she was abused by her father and other people.

The only other case I can think of recently is  46 year  old Andi Lavery who went public to the Scottish Sun but that followed a trial in Glasgow which led to the conviction of  paedophile Father Francis Moore after Lavery gave evidence anonymously.

Therefore it is rather surprising that independent child sex abuse inquiry should publish  considerable detail naming Esther Baker  in an adjudication in a case they themselves decided was ” highly contentious”. Even more given she had not asked them to re-investigate the case which has already been investigated by Staffordshire Police and could lead to separate civil proceedings. And then they published a false statement against her that they had to retract.

The ruling by Alexis Jay is worth quoting in some detail: This is what she said :”On behalf of Esther Baker, it was submitted that the allegations which she has made
should form part of the Westminster investigation.

Ms Baker alleges that she was sexually assaulted by her father and by persons of public prominence associated with Westminster and that there were institutional failings in connection with that alleged abuse by police and law enforcement services.

She says that her father introduced her to a paedophile ring which included persons of public prominence associated with Westminster. She also says that she was abused from the age of 8 to around age 12 and that the abuse was organised and sometimes ritualistic, that it was filmed, and that the police acted in a security role.

She says that at various times she tried to report the authorities, and as such there were institutional failings.”  I have decided that the Inquiry will not investigate the issues that Ms Baker has raised that relate to her own alleged experiences of child sexual abuse…

“Ms Baker’s allegations are highly contentious.They are the subject of both contested civil proceedings and an ongoing police investigation. I am also aware that Mr Hemming ( former Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham, Yardley) is reported to have made a complaint to the CPS that the allegations that MsBaker has made about him amount to perverting the course of justice.

“The fact that both the police investigation and the civil proceedings are ongoing is a factor that weighs strongly against the Inquiry attempting to investigate these matters. Even if it were appropriate for the Inquiry to investigate these matters before the conclusion of the other proceedings, such an investigation would be extremely resource intensive and would be likely to distract the Inquiry’s attention from the six core issues set out above.”

Now this statement has led Graham Wilmer, himself a former member of the first child sex abuse inquiry, to lodge a complaint which is now being investigated.

He wrote to them”Your decision to publish incorrect information about Esther Baker requires a robust independent investigation. The very idea that the IICSA would publish such incorrect information about a vulnerable victim of child sexual abuse is incomprehensible, and I am now asking you to investigate how this can about under your policies to protect vulnerable witnesses who come forward to the IICSA, regardless of the route.

“The below article in the Daily Mail is yet another example of why vulnerable victims of CSA/CSE should NOT come forward to the IICSA, without absolute assurance that they will be protected at all costs, which in the case of Esther Baker, you have failed completely so to do. As you are well aware, there are ongoing proceedings involving Esther, myself and others, and we will endeavour to expose the truth behind the lies, smears and malicious campaigns that have been waged against us, simply because we spoke out and disclosed what we had suffered. ”

An inquiry spokesperson did not want to comment.””The Inquiry does not comment on private correspondence it receives, nor on ongoing investigations.”

Now apart from releasing this information involving a named person – in other cases the person would have been anonymous -there is a serious flaw in the information that has been released. It implies that she could be investigated for perverting the course of justice for being as the Daily Mail put it ” a fantasist”. Worse their original public statement which was put up without Esther Baker’s knowledge  stated ” I understand that the police inquiries are now focused on whether Ms Baker should be charged with  perverting the course of justice.” 

I am told this was withdrawn after Staffordshire Police contacted them to tell them it was untrue and defamatory and it is now deleted from the website. The inquiry confirmed they had deleted it. Instead there is a reference to a complaint by Mr Hemming to the CPS.

There is NO investigation into Esther Baker about her perverting the course of justice. It is itself a fantasy. Staffordshire Police in a carefully crafted statement said she was a ” victim of crime ” and they are still supporting her. When I asked the police force whether there were further investigations into Esther Baker – after Mr Hemming is said to have complained  about the ” false accusations” against him – they made it clear there are none.

The reason why this is important is that the inquiry is already not trusted by a number of survivors who don’t believe they will get justice. Part of the reason is that survivors think the inquiry will  provide definite proof of sexual abuse against them. But that  is not the purpose of the inquiry – which is instead concentrating on the institutional failures of people not acting when they were told about sexual abuse. The inquiry in the Rochdale case was not afraid to pin people down for not doing their duty but they did not list or name fresh perpetrators.

In these circumstances you would expect the inquiry to be very sensitive about handling vulnerable survivors. Alexis Jay has already – rightly in my view – asked both survivors and those  representing people   who have been accused – to tone down their language.

Her previous ruling ends: ” I would …make a final plea that all those who report on the issues with which this Inquiry is concerned, and all those who comment on those issues using social media, should do so exercising a level of restraint and respect that is commensurate with the sensitivity of those issues, and the vulnerability of many of the individuals involved.”

Sound advice. She needs to take it herself.

: ”

 

 

35 thoughts on “Esther Baker case: How the child sex abuse inquiry itself abused survivors’ trust and privacy

  1. Pingback: Esther Baker case: How the child sex abuse inquiry itself abused survivors’ trust and privacy | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE : SUPPORTING FRESH START @FSFtruthjustice

  2. I’m confused as to why you think the Inquiry shoudn’t have named Esther Baker. She had the option of being anonymous as a core participant, and she chose not to.

    1) She publicised her CP status on Twitter, up to a week before this was formally revealed by IICSA on its website.
    2) The notice of determination with regards to her CP application and outcome was published on IICSA’s website and named her.
    3) During the Westminster strand preliminary PUBLIC hearing earlier this year she was also named, and by her own lawyer.

    So why should the Inquiry not name her now? She had her chance for anonymity during the process from the start and declined it.

    As for your last paragraph, yes, sound advice indeed. You do realise that the comment was partly as a result of comments made in that hearing by Esther Baker’s own lawyer don’t you? Speaking of which, why didn’t her lawyer take up the complaint to IICSA? As the legal representative of a core participant that is surely his job?

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    • You misunderstand me. I have no issue at all about Esther Baker being named in the inquir, as that is her choice. What I do take issue with is putting information in the public domain which is incorrect and the detail revealed. Staffordshire Police have never said that it was her father who abused her even though they interviewed him under caution. As for putting in the public domain that she was being investigated for perverting the course of justice which is not true, that is seriously wrong and they should have checked with Staffordshire Police to find it whether this was the case rather than relying on the word of a person who had been accused of allegedly abusing her.

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      • Thank you for clarifying, and I agree that if not true it was very bad form and does need to be addressed.
        With regards to her father however, that was already in the public domain and from 2015. It was put there by Esther herself via a “tweet longer”.
        Whether the IICSA should have published that (and other details) however is another matter. I’d say it was uneccessary.

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  3. ”The Inquiry does not comment on private correspondence it receives, nor on ongoing investigations.” How does this square with the fact that it WAS IICSA that made the issue public? Who at IICSA gave Ms Jay this information about perverting the course of justice? Isthat person connected to Government i.e. Home Office. I think Ms Jay should disclose the IICSA official’s name who gave her this information. Seems only fair to do this as Ms Jay seems to have named every other party involved in this matter.

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  4. Pingback: Esther Baker case: How the child sex abuse inquiry itself abused survivors’ trust and privacy | David Hencke – leftwing nobody

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  6. Esther Baker, who appeared in the 60 Minutes documentary claiming to have been raped during woodland rituals by a group that included a politician. Although Baker is not discussed in the Media Watch segment, that police investigation has also since ended without charges being brought, and the politician concerned, John Hemming, has now gone public with his account of how the allegation has affected his life.
    Despite this outcome, and the inherent improbabilities in Baker’s account (not least of which is the fact that Hemming happened to be in a dispute with one of Baker’s associates when she accused him), Baker is now a “Core Participant” in the Westminster strand of the IICSA.

    Baker also claims that she recognised from details in “Darren’s” story that she had been taken by night to Dolphin Square in London; however, that particular claim did not feature in “Spies, Lords and Predators”, and she hasn’t referred to it since the collapse of Darren’s credibility. It wasn’t even mentioned by her lawyer, Peter Garsden, when he represented her at a preliminary IICSA hearing in January.

    I fear a bit of elaboration on the story on both sides. The problem is that elaboration weakens the case as people will see through it and the facts do not match. Not to be unkind to Esther or Nick, but too much focus as been placed on them and not other more well documented cases. One which went to court and the small fry went to prison and others may have been airbrushed out. including Jim will Fix IT according to my source. Unfortunately having learning difficulties he be ripped apart by our Legal System and he was not abused himself. Justice in the UK is there to protect property rights and property rights only.

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  7. Pingback: Esther Baker and the “Perversion of Justice” Claim | Bartholomew's Notes

  8. Can you put Into a nutshell, for all of us barrack room lawyers, what does your CPS reply mean? What if there is any the fallout for IICSA/Ms Baker?

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    • Yes I will try. As I understand it means that John Hemming’s complaint to the CPS about perversion of the course of justice has been sent back to Staffordshire Police who last September told me they were not investigating it. Of course the CPS cannot comment on individual cases but they gave me a full explanation of what happens when they receive a complaint and are asked to investigate it. They do not do investigations themselves.

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      • So the ball is in the Staffordshire Police Service ‘in-tray’. So when can we expect their recommendations to the CPS? Will those be made public by Staffordshire PS or will the CPS issue a statement? I ask this because like it or not this matter will impact on other CSA investigations far from the allegations of Ms Baker and Mr Hemmings

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      • Well it is back to square one in this case and I very much doubt if Staffordshire Police are investigating. If they are the people accused would surely by now have been approached and interviewed and nothing like this has happened. Indeed the opposite the people alleged to have done this are still getting support from both Staffordshire and Merseyside Police to my knowledge.

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  9. Dear Mr Hencke

    Whilst all this too-ing and fro-ing about who said what has been going on, another man has been jailed for apalling “historical” abuse in Lichfield going back to the 1970’s and 80*s.
    https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/9265/Lichfield-man-jailed-for-22-years-for-historic-sexual-assaults-on-young-girls
    This man was able to be jailed because of the work of the Staffordshire Police.

    I find it very strange that you don’t mention the work of the Staffordshire police in this case, seeing as you obviously hold them in high estimation. I find it even stranger given that the victim of the now jailed mans abuse described herself as “going of the rails” as a teenager, just as the person who you write so much about. Wouldn’t it be usefulto draw a parrallel here?

    Yet you du do not mention this case at all. Why is is not relevant to you?

    It seems apparent to me that the Stafforshire Police care about victims of sexual assault, however long ago they happened. and are working hard to investigate and deliver justice.

    It also seems to be that you are very selective in the cases you cover, and prefer to report on cases that are seen as “contentious” rather than reporting cases when abusers have been successfully jailed. This does not seem to be very helpful for victims of CSA, who would prefer to be informed about successful sentencing of abusers.

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    • Thanks for this and the links to the case. You are right I do think Staffordshire Police do handle child sex abuse in a sensitive way. I was not aware of this case myself but there must have been a lot of good detective work to get a successful prosecution from cases dating back to the 1970s. I would add it is impossible for me to cover all the child sexual abuse cases on my blog because there are sadly far too many and it is just one of the subjects I cover on this blog which also covers Westminster, Whitehall and some politics. Also I can only handle so many investigations properly and have rather a lot to investigate for the future.

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  10. Interesting to hear if the IICSA knock on the door of the now identified Nos 10 civil servant who was privy to all. I doubt it.

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  11. Pingback: IMPRESS dismisses complaint of intimidation, malice and invasion of privacy from child sex abuse survivor named in blog on Esther Baker | David Hencke

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