Tragic tale of a mentally disturbed woman now facing jail for misusing and over using the NHS

Judge Rebecca Brown’s wig on display at Milton Keynes Museum

A very poignant hearing for contempt by a mentally disturbed woman was held at Milton Keynes County Court last week presided over by Her Honour Judge Rebecca Brown.

Gillian Marriott was facing a committal hearing brought by Thames Valley Police for breaching a court order made two years ago which banned her from contacting the emergency services or attending Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury except in a genuine medical emergency. She is now facing two six month prison sentences and the possibility of a much longer prison sentence if she breaches the order for the next two years. She had already been remanded in custody before the hearing.

The judge took the decision in her absence and without any statement by her in her defence but she was represented by a lawyer.

I am highlighting this story because it neatly encapsulates in one episode what is going wrong with mental health treatment, what is happening to a pressurised NHS in the current crisis and the desperation of public authorities to deal with disturbed people by deciding that incarceration in a prison is the only solution. I don’t know the woman concerned but her situation is very well summed up by the judge in her ruling.

114 calls to 999 and 217 calls to the 111 services

Thames Valley Police who brought the case say she “has made 114, 999 calls and 217, 111 calls reporting various medical episodes. These
have all been triaged and checked causing demand on the service unnecessarily” and had attended ” Stoke Mandeville Hospital on occasions which were not for genuine medical need. It is alleged that the defendant attended Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the 23rd of March 2022 claiming an overdose but all her vitals we checked and found to be normal.”

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Pic credit: BBC

The court were told she turned up at Stoke Mandeville claiming to have taken an overdose on “7th of April 2022 , 11th of April 2022 , 13th of April 2022 , 15th of April 2022 , 21st of April 2022 , 26th of April 2022 , 22nd of May 2022 and 3rd of June 2022.”

She also turned up at the accident and emergency department claiming she had taken an overdose on the 15th , 19th , 21st 27th , 28th and 29th of June 2022 and the 18th of July 2022.

She admitted turning up but claimed she had genuinely thought she was ill and needed treatment

Her psychiatrist, Dr Srikanth Nimmagaddam said in a statement to the court that she had ” a history of being brought up in an overprotective environment in the context of the death of her brother. She also feels that she suffered from emotional abuse, as her parents regularly adversely compared her with her deceased brother. She gives a history of problems at school and being sent to a special school. She gives a history of being severely bullied and discriminated at school, as she went to a special school. She gives a history that at the age of 11, she was raped by a person, who later blackmailed to harm her father. She had to withdraw the case and that resulted in being accused by the police of wasting their time. All this seems to have been extremely traumatic for her given her young age. She did some farm jobs
until the age of 25, when she was married. One of her daughters was taken into care.”

He said “I believe there is clear evidence to suggest that she has a personality disorder – an emotionally unstable personality disorder of borderline type. The features of her personality disorder include impulsivity, including acting impulsively without considering the consequences; severe mood swings; chronic feelings of emptiness; uncertainty about her aims, objectives and goals in life; chronic low self-esteem; difficulties in sustaining relationships with a constant fear of rejection and abandonment; maladaptive coping mechanisms in the form of numerous acts of deliberate self-harm and of substance abuse.”

He ruled she was fit to plead and recommended a treatment programme that would not require a hospital admission but would require residential accommodation.

Some of the care plan unavailable because of resources

But Leanne Manning, Community Psychiatric Nurse, told the court: ” Some of the suggested aspects of the care plan are not available in terms of resources such as a residential placement. Ms. Manning thought supported accommodation would assist Ms. Marriott because it she may feel more supported and less isolated.
Ms. Manning informed the court that Ms. Marriott could attend a number of courses at the Whiteleaf centre such as mindfulness classes, managing mood classes and managing and understanding your diagnosis classes. Ms. Manning also told the court that instead of telephoning 999 or 111, Ms. Marriott should first try to consider whether she really needs medical assistance by going through a checklist that she has. She can then telephone the Whiteleaf centre to speak to Ms. Manning or another worker or telephone a “social prescriber” who is based at the GP.”

The police’s lawyer took a hard line against her. Mr Garnett said: “the breaches were a deliberate flouting of the order and the breaches were serious and egregious.”

He argued that there was a high degree of culpability. No real mitigation has been put before the court because there is no evidence from Ms. Marriott. The evidence is that Ms. Marriott has refused to engage with any treatment plan which would
assist her in her impulse control which would stop this conduct.”

Ms Marriott’s Lawyer, Mr Killen, said she would agree to go on the course but not move into residential accommodation.

He said” she values her independence too much and has lived in her current accommodation for a long time.”

The Judge said she had considerable sympathy and compassion for Ms Marriott but ruled that her actions amounted to a criminal standard that Ms. Marriott knew that she was making unnecessary calls and as such continued to add unnecessary burdens to the NHS whether it be A and E, ambulance drivers and other medical staff. But she said she had not done it out of malice more because of her vulnerability.

People may die because ambulances are being diverted to Ms Marriott – judge

There is immense pressure on the NHS and emergency services and people may die because an ambulance is not available because it
has been diverted to Ms. Marriott. I am satisfied that Ms. Marriott understands the terms of the injunction and knows that the number of callouts is unacceptable.”

Her judgement concluded: “The court therefore orders that Ms. Marriott serves a term of six months for the 999 and 111 calls and a further sentence of 6 months for the visits to Stoke Mandeville, each sentence to run concurrently and be suspended for two years until 22.8.2024. This court specifically warned Ms. Marriott that if she appears back before this court, has made no sustained attempt at engaging with work to address her behaviour and has carried on breaching the order, she is likely to receive a significant custodial sentence as well as serve the activated suspended sentence.”

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Exclusive: The horrendous painful death of a Met Police communications officer in St Helier hospital

Robert Sheppard, a civilian Met Police communications officer, who died in agony at St Helier Hospital.

Near death and shouting, in pain all night and day, being totally  confused and hallucinating a nurse said “he will just have to deal with it.”

This is a tragic story of the treatment of the last days of Robert Sheppard. It is a tale of medical error, bad treatment, appalling hospital facilities, mistakes, bad nursing care and a potential cover up of a hospital acquired infection. It could have been completely different if the hospital hadn’t blocked him from being transferred to a local hospice so he could have spent his last days in peace. His widow found out later that the hospice would have taken him.

His widow, Wendy, came forward when she read the story on this blog of the ” avoidable death” of Mr P, a heart patient , a couple of months before at the same hospital. This came out during an employment tribunal hearing brought by Dr Usha Prasad, a cardiologist, when the former head of cardiology, Sr Richard Bogle admitted the hospital should have reported his death to the coroner and the Care Quality Commission three years ago. The judge handling the case Tony Hyams-Parish, airbrushed all the details of the death from his judgement.

The story also reveals the timidity of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Robert Behrens, who when he examined Mr Sheppard’s treatment, avoided investigating wider safety issues at the hospital.

Daniel Elkeles former chief executive of the trust

The facts in this story are stood up by two confidential letters from the former chief executive of the Epsom and St Helier University Hospital Trust, Daniel Elkeles to his widow.

Mr Elkeles was full of apologies about his treatment but played down the issue of a hospital acquired infection there – which would have had to be reported by law..

Mr Sheppard, who was well treated as a cancer patient at the Royal Marsden Hospital,- was admitted to St Helier’s emergency department with an obstructed bowel on October 10, 2018. A mistake was made when a nasogastric tube was inserted to drain fluid from his stomach but had to be repeated after it became clear it had not reached his stomach. The Ombudsman absolved the hospital from the initial mistake as there are no national guidelines about inserting nasogastric tubes.

Mr Sheppard was put on the Mary Moore Ward in an old building. He was given by mistake a blood stained pillow, he had no bedside lamp and another patient’s damp possessions had been left on his bed.

He picked up a bacterial infection called klebsiella which attacks people with a weak immune system but was discharged on October 22.The hospital insisted that nobody else admitted at the time had the infection.

He was readmitted the next day to ward B1 with a chest infection and tests were carried out and he had got the bacterial infection. From there until his death on November 13 he remained with a fever and back pain and also became hypoglycaemic.

The ward facilities were not much better than Mary Moore ward. Brown water came out of the taps because of a rusting 82 year old water main but the hospital insisted the water was safe. Again he did not have a bedside lamp that worked and bandages were found in his bedding. He requested a wheelchair but the hospital said it didn’t have one for his ward. Also hand sanitiser was not replaced.

As his life ebbed away the chief executive apologised for the ” insensitive ” way the medical staff treated him over his wishes to be resuscitated .

Doctor was ” Grim Reaper”

Wendy said “One morning a Doctor came into Robert’s room  and stood at the end of his bed rather akin to The Grim Reaper and read out a list of the areas Robert had his Cancer in his body. Robert already knew about everything. It was just the way it was done he felt they had written him off.  It was a point of justification by the Hospital without mentioning the Hospital acquired infection Robert had caught courtesy of St.Helier Hospital telling him the Cancer was going to kill him instead. “

The weekend before he died was the worst. He was visited by his 92 year old mother and brother who found him unconscious. His wife stayed with him but found nurses were not bothered to see him and finally workman came in to repair taps just he was about to die.

The chief executive has apologised for this. ” I am extremely sorry that we did not respond with compassion and understanding to your request for nursing support at the end of Mr Shepherd’s life. I am very disappointed that you endured this situation alone and can only apologise that we failed you”.

Even after his death mistakes were made. His initial death certificate airbrushed out the bacterial infection and his cremation notice described Mr Sheppard as retired when he was still working for the Met Police.

” I will never forgive St Helier hospital “

Wendy said:” Dying with dignity was something not given to Robert. I will never forgive St.Helier Hospital. It’s failures towards Robert were ‘swept under the carpet’ by the Hospital management.  My complaints were misconstrued to make St.Helier look in a better light and incidents that happened weren’t recorded in Robert’s medical notes so I am told. “

The Ombudsman’s report concluded: “We have found failings with the support doctors and nurses gave to Mr D[Robert Sheppard] and Ms N[Wendy Sheppard] in the final stages of his life, and that Mr D’s privacy was interrupted in the final moments of life. We also found a failing with how nurses responded to Ms N’s requests for hand sanitiser. What happened led to a loss of dignity for Mr D and made his death even more upsetting than it already was for Ms N.1

The Ombudsman rejected Wendy’s concern about the hospital bacterial infection – weakly citing that for data protection reasons it could not investigate other people. It also said it had no power to investigate mistakes in death certificates. Another example of the weakness of the Ombudsman system.

St Helier Hospital

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A right wing aristocrat to fight ground breaking £180,000 tribunal ruling against him for “arrogant and misogynistic” treatment of two pregnant staff

Sir Benjamin Slade

The Court of Appeal is expected to hear an extraordinary case soon involving a wealthy aristocrat who says he is descended from Charles II and his treatment of two of his employees who were sacked from his upmarket wedding business at his stately homes after they became pregnant.

Since the case the wedding business has been closed down after Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service issued two prohibition notices on one of the venues, Maunsel House, because of “inadequate means of escape from first and second floors due to lack of escape signage, lack of emergency lighting and lack of fire separation.” He has been ordered to install fire escapes.

Surcharge of 25 per cent imposed on compensation package

Sir Benjamin Slade is now appealing a ruling from an Employment Appeal Tribunal which not only ordered him to pay compensation for unfair and constructive dismissal , injury to feelings of the two women and aggravated damages, but imposed a 25 per cent surcharge on the awards for breaching the employers’ code of practice by ACAS. The total compensation for both women came to just short of £180,000. The surcharge ruling is particularly significant as it lays down rules for similar surcharges in other cases.

Maunsel House Pic credit: BBC

The two women, Melissa Biggs and Roxanne Stewart worked on his wedding business where people could hire Maunsel House and Woodlands Castle near Bridgewater and Taunton in Somerset. Roxanne Stewart, was a deputy manager and Melissa Briggs, an admin assistant. Both became pregnant at about the same time.

What followed was that both of them found themselves dismissed without full statutory maternity and holiday pay and wages after first being transferred to a new company – without their knowledge- which only employed both of them and had no money to pay them. Their pregnancies were said to be ” highly inconvenient” for Sir Benjamin .

The tribunal used unusually strong language against Sir Benjamin including accusing him of refusing to hear Melissa Biggs grievances and subjecting Roxanne Stewart to a ” spurious and vindictive disciplinary process” on ” trumped up ” charges. Sir Benjamin was said to have made ” entirely fanciful” allegations against her. They were also critical of his agent, Andrew Hamilton.

” one of the most egregious acts of discrimination possible”- tribunal

The first employment tribunal hearing described the process involving Roxanne Stewart as “one of the most egregious acts of discrimination possible”. The timing of the suspension, in the advanced states of her pregnancy, was “designed… with her then vulnerability in mind, to have maximum effect on her” The suspension and dismissal were then pursued with the “motivation… of driving her out of employment”.

She gave birth prematurely and within the weeks following that birth ,her baby was in intensive care”.

When giving evidence to the ET, Sir Benjamin “made wide-ranging and lurid allegations about the claimants and their relatives, without any substantiation whatsoever, in respect of their character, financial position and other matters”. The ET found that these allegations were “entirely fanciful and prompted by a desire on his part… to ‘throw some dirt’ at the Claimants.

The appeal tribunal held in London and president over by a High court judge, Mr Justice Martin Griffiths, threw out a case from Sir Benjamin to say he should not pay the surcharge. He said he would appeal.

He told me: ” The sum I am being asked to pay is totally disproportionate given the staff were paid about £20,000 a year. I am not against people getting pregnant, indeed I have been helpful to other staff who became pregnant. I think the judge was left wing.”

The Sun ran a flattering article on him after he ” auditioned” for a ” breeder” to get him a son and heir

Sir Benjamin has a controversial back story. He is 75, a hereditary baronet, but has no heir. He recently advertised for a young wife as a” breeder” as he wanted two sons – an heir and spare – to succeed him.

He listed his requirements for the perfect ‘breeder’. She should be taller than 5ft 6in – ‘preferably 6ft 1ins or 6ft’ – aged between 30 and 40, and possess a gun licence. ‘Scorpios, drug users, lesbians, communists and Scots need not apply,’ he told the Daily Mail.

His quest for a wife led to a big sympathetic feature in The Sun by reporter Georgette Culley who ” auditioned” to be his wife and stayed overnight in Maunsel House. The feature is here.

He let out his other property Woodlands Castle only to find it then became the centre of a massive police investigation when a huge cannabis farm was found in the roof. Questioned by the police he denied any knowledge about it.

A Vietnamese man, Trung Nam Pham, 39, of no fixed address, was arrested after the drug bust. He appeared before Taunton Magistrates’ Court last June and was remanded in custody pending a crown court hearing.

Sir Benjamin with Daniel Hannan, then an MEP. at Woodlands Castle. From his old website

Sir Benjamin is on the right of the Conservative Party. During the Brexit campaign he hosted a lunch for Daniel Hannan, then a Tory MEP for 84 people in Woodlands Castle to promote Vote Leave.

Now he is waiting his appeal – has not paid the two women any of the compensation – though he says he has made up their wages and the statutory maternity pay. His wedding business – at £3000 a time -has collapsed – first hit by Covid 19 and then by the prohibition order from Devon and Somerset fire services.

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A “shocking and horrifying” report into child sex abuse at residential schools

Schools should be safe places for children. They also unfortunately make good targets for paedophiles.

The latest report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, published this week, focuses on residential schools- from specialist schools for aspiring musicians to boarding schools and residential schools for vulnerable children

As the report chillingly said: “According to Operation Hydrant,[a police investigation]approximately 40 percent of reports of non-recent child sexual abuse involving an institution, organisation or person of public prominence had connections with schools.”

Sexual abuse antithesis of what should happen at school

It went on: “The instances of the sexual abuse of children presented in this report will shock and horrify.
They represent the antithesis of everything that a school should be. For many victims and survivors, the impacts have been profound and lifelong. Some perpetrators have been brought to justice, but many have not. Some of those in positions of authority and responsibility have been held to account for their failures of leadership and governance in varying degrees, but many have not.”

Some of the examples where child sexual abuse has been proved are indeed horrifying.

Another example:

“Hillside First School was a maintained school for children aged four to eight in Weston-super-Mare. For 15 years from 1995 to 2010, teacher Nigel Leat had his “favourites”, young girls many of whom were vulnerable in some way. From September 2006, there was evidence that in each school year Leat selected a different girl to sexually abuse, doing so in various locations in the school. Police discovered 454 original videos in which Leat had filmed himself abusing his pupils. He was charged with 36 separate offences, including a count of attempted rape, eight counts of sexual assault by penetration and 23 other counts
of sexual assault, all against girls under 13, the youngest of whom was 6. He pleaded guilty.”

And a third.

Jonathan Thomson-Glover Jailed for sex offences

Clifton College is an independent boarding school in Bristol, offering a range of educational provision, from nursery to sixth form. In 2008, a former teacher, Stephen Johnston, was convicted of buggery and indecent assault of a pupil over a three-year period in the early 1990s. He had invited the boy to his flat to drink and watch pornographic videos. When other staff had complained of teenage boys going into the flat, the headteacher responded that “what happens in a private house which is not part of the School is nothing to do with me as Headmaster”. Between 1998 and 2014, what the respected housemaster Jonathan Thomson-Glover did in both his private house and in a boy’s day house at the school was to hide cameras – including in the showers, toilets and bathrooms – to film 2,500 hours of videos of boys undressing, showering, using the toilet and engaging in sexual acts. “

What emerges here – there are other examples – is that perpetrators are not involved in an isolated act – it is the industrial scale of abuse by individuals or groups of people.

ignorance and reluctance to report sexual abuse

The report said there is still either ignorance or reluctance to believe that children are sexually abused in residential schools and cases are not always reported to safeguarding officers either – even though there are dedicated officers to handle complaints. Inspections of schools are haphazard and standards in schools vary enormously.

Recommendations

Their chief recommendation to government said:

The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should:
• require all residential special schools to be inspected against the quality standards used to regulate children’s homes in England and care homes in Wales;
• reintroduce a duty on boarding schools and residential special schools to inform the relevant inspectorate of allegations of child sexual abuse and other serious incidents, with professional or regulatory consequences for breach of this duty; if the recommendation above is implemented, residential special schools will automatically be subject to this duty; and
• introduce a system of licensing and registration of educational guardians for international students which requires Disclosure and Barring Service and barred list checks to be undertaken.

Chair to the InquiryProfessor Alexis Jay said:

“Day and residential schools play a key role in keeping children safe from harm, but despite 20 years of enhanced focus on safeguarding they are not as safe for children as they should be. This must change. The seven recommendations in this report must be implemented to vitally improve the current systems of child protection in schools.”

This is the last investigation report from the inquiry. A final report on all its findings will be published later this year.

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Revealed: The secret child sex abuse scandals at Dolphin Square

An amazing new book by ex MP Simon Danczuk and author Daniel Smith

New book published today reveals child sex scandals dating back to the 1980s and a thwarted Met Police investigation that wasn’t the discredited Operation Midland

An amazing new book today reveals the notorious history of one of London’s iconic block of flats – the 1930s built Dolphin Square overlooking the Thames- home over the last nine decades to the rich and famous, spies, Fascists, entertainers and glitzy film stars and even the unofficial home of the Free French army during World War II.

The authors chronicle the lives of about 300 people who lived there from Oswald and Diana Mosley who were interned in World War Two, the Vassall Russian spy and Profumo sex scandals of the 1960s to murders down to an amazingly discreet character, Major Monty Chidson, who smuggled diamonds out of Amsterdam in a daring do operation during the German invasion of Holland. It kept them out of Nazi hands in the Second World War.

This book has been well covered by the Daily Telegraph magazine and other national media with one extraordinary exception. Not a single word has been written about the groups of men who used Dolphin Square for child sex abuse despite two chapters in the book devoted to their alleged crimes.

I am going to concentrate on these stories because you won’t read them anywhere else – I suspect because both the police and the media have been bruised by the activities of Carl Beech, a paedophile who posed as a survivor and fed elaborate and detailed stories of the rich and powerful abusing children and is now in jail for perverting the course of justice.

The terrible heart rending tale of David Ingle

The first story dates from 1982 is of David Ingle, described as an articulate and handsome youth from Lincolnshire, who was taken to Dolphin Square by a Lincolnshire farmer, Gordon Dawson,, after being repeatedly raped by him.

The authors write “According to David, he suffered abuse in three locales: in Lincolnshire, at Dolphin Square and in guesthouses close to the spectacular Blickling Estate in Norfolk. All the while, David’s life away from Dawson was unravelling. He became withdrawn and his previously high performance at school dipped steeply. His only real peace came in the company of the horses he loved to ride”

Dawson took him to London while on church business where he sub leased a flat in Dolphin Square. He took him to dinner with “important people” from the Church of England and MPs. Later he was taken back to the flat. The authors write: “He does have memories of waking up in the flat the next morning, sometimes hearing the voices of men milling about the apartment. He frequently experienced pain in his body that he knew did not correspond to the physical effects of the rapes that Dawson had perpetrated. In other words, he was assaulted by some person or persons other than (or in addition to) Dawson on these weekends. Unable to recall the specifics of the attacks, he would feel ashamed, stripping the bed of soiled sheets, removing the very evidence of his abuse in his anxiousness that no one should know what had been done to him.”

It took him to 2007 to go to Lincolnshire Police to complain about Dawson. The police told him that he was not the first to complain about him. They went to arrest Dawson but once he knew about David’s complaint he went into the woods and was found dead with a bullet to the head.. An inquest gave an open verdict.

The case was raised again in 2015 under the Met Police’s Operation Fairbank but because he couldn’t name anyone it was dropped. Lincolnshire Police also re-opened their inquiry but could not progress the case further.

“It felt to David as if he would only be listened to if he could come up with the name of a ‘big-hitter’ to investigate, or else he would need to produce a signed confession from one of his abusers, or perhaps a videotape.”

William van Straubenzee

The second story comes from the late David Weeks, Tory leader of Westminster about the role William van Straubenzee, a Tory minister who was solicitor to the Dolphin Square Trust and also a paedophile. Weeks said van Straubenzee was a gatekeeper to getting a flat in Dolphin Square. Straubenzee himself lived in a grace and favour flat in Lambeth Palace. The authors write, using evidence given to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse:

William van Straubenzee in 1970. Picture credit :BBC

‘In 1982, MI5 received information that suggested that William van Straubenzee engaged in sexual activities with young boys whilst in Northern Ireland [he had been Northern Ireland minister
between 1972 and 1974]. This information was shared with the Cabinet Office, who shared it with the Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher).’ MI5 confirmed that if this intelligence had been received today, under current policy it would be passed to the police.”

Incendiary evidence

The third story is the most dramatic. The authors write:

“Among the most incendiary evidence of wrongdoing at Dolphin Square came in a statement taken from a former police officer identified only as GB. It was entered into evidence only at the end of the last day of hearings in IICSA’s Westminster investigation and the witness did not appear in person to give evidence, nor were they seemingly provided with questions by the inquiry to which GB would have been
legally obligated to give answers. The statement adduced in evidence dated from 20 December 2016 and was given as part of Operation Winter Key, the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into allegations of
non-recent abuse.”

He revealed another investigation called Operation Mileshogue.

“GB’s statement was wide ranging. It included allusions to surveillance of a London MP who was suspected of hosting young people overnight in his constituency office. But it also included significant detail of police operations concerning Dolphin Square in the 1990s.”

“MH was … an intelligence gathering operation revolved around a guy called [NAME REDACTED] … He had been a rent boy himself, living in Greenwich at that time. He had a series of young boys. One was [WM-A118] another was (WM-A119] and another 5 or 6. Those boys I interviewed on tape several times. suggested that these children were thirteen or fourteen when they were speaking to them but that their abuses had started when they were as young as 8.]
“They claimed one another had been abused by other people, were taken to parties and things by [NAME REDACTED] himself he was like a modern day Fagan [sic]. He also had them doing robberies and burglaries but he was also an informant for the police, inform on them and then turn up as their appropriate adult. These were kids all from local Children’s Home”.

GB then referred to the ‘Fagin-figure’, saying: ‘He also mentioned Dolphin Square he had been there as a child himself, been abused.’
GB discussed how they had made requests for additional investigative resources to senior officers but their requests were repeatedly refused or bounced back as it was ‘too difficult to do at this time’ and ‘we weren’t regarded as a priority of the Paedophile Unit at that time, GB said: ‘They didn’t want to know about a mass operation with loads of kids to interview. They didn’t know how to deal with it.’
I asked the child sex abuse inquiry their reaction to this. A spokesman denied the inquiry had not weighed up GB’s evidence and pointed instead to an inquiry by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into GB’s allegations. and evidence from Met Police Commander Catherine Roper about the operation. She gave evidence on a number of child sex abuse investigations in London to the inquiry.

Whatever the disclosures both the inquiry and the book conclude there was never a specific VIP paedophile ring.

But they do say: “it is fair to conclude from a wealth of evidence, powerful individuals who did abuse children in Dolphin Square and who got away with it because of who they were and who they knew: in other words, they abused because they knew they could.”

Scandal at Dolphin Square: A notorious history . History Press £20

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Are the police and social workers unwittingly aiding child sex exploitation gangs by denying their existence?

Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry

Yet another disturbing report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse highlights a national failure to tackle gangs sexually exploiting vulnerable children.

The findings of this investigation led me to me to pose the question in the headline. The report’ s conclusion is damning: “Children are sexually exploited by networks in all parts of England and Wales in the most degrading and destructive ways. Each of these acts is a crime. This investigation has revealed extensive failures by local authorities and police forces to keep pace with the pernicious and changing problem of the sexual exploitation of children by networks.”

The question is why. The report took evidence from six diverse areas in England and Wales – Durham, Swansea, Warwickshire, St Helens, Tower Hamlets and Bristol.

What was particularly alarming is that in two – the London borough of Tower Hamlets and Swansea – there was a denial of the existence of any gangs at all. I would really be surprised that such organised gangs did not operate in the borough or elsewhere.

Indeed the report cites two instances where complaints were not taken forward.

“In Swansea, there was a police investigation into serious sexual assault against CS-A25 which led to the arrest of two males but no further action was taken due to evidential difficulties.
• In Tower Hamlets, in the case of CS-A22, the child made disclosures of assault and rape but these allegations did not lead to prosecution. Although a number of named potential perpetrators were added to a crime report and suspects database, the report was closed. Some information was passed to the local force but there is no evidence of any arrests.”

Perpetrators finding new way to exploit children

The report says: “Parental neglect, substance misuse, domestic violence or mental health issues may increase the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation. Around half of the case study children were in care and more than a third had complex disabilities or neurodevelopmental disorders.
“It is widely recognised that alcohol, drugs and actual or threatened violence against the child, their friends and family are often used as a means to groom and coerce children.
Perpetrators are finding new ways, including through mobile phones and other devices, social media and dating apps, to groom and abuse ever younger children.”

It goes on: “Research suggested that many complainants report dissatisfaction with the responses
of local authority staff and police officers to the sexual exploitation they faced and these themes were reflected in some of the experiences of the case study children. Some felt unprotected by care home staff failing to intervene when they knew or suspected that the children were being sexually exploited. Others were frustrated that those who had sexually exploited them were not held accountable through the criminal justice system.”

The report also highlights a worrying lack of data on who the exploiters are which has led people to blame South Asian males behind the gangs because of some high profile cases.

Poor data collection on the ethnicity of perpetrators

The report says: “Some of the high-profile child sexual exploitation prosecutions have involved groups of South Asian males. There has been heated and often polarised debate about whether there is any link between ethnicity and group-based child sexual exploitation. Poor data collection on the ethnicity of perpetrators or victims fuels that debate and makes it difficult to identify whether there is any such link. It also hampers the ability of police and other services to provide culturally sensitive responses, interventions and support.”

The report recommends that the law should be strengthened so that when two or more people found guilty of sexual exploitation they should get an aggravated sentence.. It also wants both English and Welsh guidance strengthened and tool kit to handle sexual exploitation should be updated and strengthened.

Professor Alexis Jay, who chaired the inquiry, said: “The sexual exploitation of children by networks is not a rare phenomenon confined to a small number of areas with high-profile criminal cases.

“We found extensive failures by local authorities and police forces in the ways in which they tackled this sexual abuse.”

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Finally shopworkers to get more protection: Tougher law for those who attack them

In the dying days of last week’s Parliament the government finally quietly agreed that shopworkers alongside other workers who serve the public should get greater protection from abusive customers.

USDAW campaign poster

Ministers are using the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill to make it an aggravated offence to assault or abuse people who are serving the public. At present it is up to the judges’ discretion whether it is under the present sentencing guidelines.

It follows years of campaigning by USDAW, the retail workers union, to get more protection for shopworkers and growing evidence, sadly, of more violence, abuse and threats, from customers to staff.

The government chose the House of Lords to amend the bill last Wednesday night.

Baroness Williams., minister of state at the Home Office: Official portrait

Baroness Williams of Trafford, a junior home office minister, said: “The amendment places in statute the aggravating factor applied by the courts in cases of assault where an offence is committed against those providing a public service, performing a public duty or providing a service to the public.

…..”This includes assault occasioning actual bodily harm, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, malicious wounding and threats to kill, as well as an inchoate offence in relation to any of these offences. These are the assault offences most likely to be experienced by front-line workers. Importantly, the provision also allows the court to apply the aggravating factor to any other offence, where the court considers this factor relevant.”

“This amendment will reinforce in statute the seriousness with which the courts should treat these offences. It will send a very strong signal to the public that assaults of this kind are totally unacceptable. The Government want to ensure that all those who serve the public can feel protected from abuse when working.”

Baroness Trafford added: “

“During the pandemic we have all seen some appalling stories of how shop workers have been treated. USDAW has been really good in standing up to that.

I pay tribute to John Hannett, the former general secretary of USDAW, to Paddy Lillis, the present general secretary, to the staff and to the many hundreds of thousands of USDAW members who have not let this issue rest. I also pay tribute to some really good employers, the supermarkets that understand the problems their staff have. The Co-op, Tesco and many others have stood up and backed the union and its members. This amendment has also been led by the work of Daniel Johnson MSP in Scotland. He got his Private Member’s Bill through last year. “

Lord Vernon Coaker, official portrait

The move was welcomed by all peers include Lord Coaker, who as Vernon Coaker was Labour MP for Gedling in Nottinghamshire, and an USDAW member, who proposed a specific offence to protect shopworkers resulting in one year’s imprisonment.

The union itself described it as ” a step in the right direction” after years of campaigning for it.

Former Tory minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: ” That is against a background of 455 security incidents a day, according to the BRC,[British Retail Consortium] and very few prosecutions.

Inadequate police response

“The police response to these incidents has historically been inadequate. We need to ensure that the police have the right resources and can put a higher priority on prosecuting these retail crimes. This is particularly important given the role of retail workers in enforcing Covid restrictions such as masks, but also in addressing knife crime and shoplifting23>

She succeeded, in getting a promise from the minister to review how the new measures were working in a year’s time.

This was backed up by Lord Dholakia, a Liberal democrat peer, who said: “forces such as Thames Valley Police inform local shops that they will not send out officers to deal with shoplifters who steal less than £100-worth of goods. How can this foster trust and build confidence? It cannot; it means that many businesses feel as if they are alone in this fight—a fight that is a risk to their very business.”

Natalie Bennett Green P:arty peer

Green Party peer Baroness Natalie Bennett also pressed the minister whether the change in the law would cover threats over the phone or on line. The minister thought it would.

One extraordinary omission in this debate was any reference to the fact that Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, is about to submit an application from the United Kingdom to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s new convention outlawing violence and harassment at work.

This change in the law speaks directly to both the spirit and letter of the new convention and will certainly be used as an example that the UK is complying with it. Yet it seemed to have passed ministers and peers by. Perhaps this government is so disjointed that Therese Coffey has not talked about it with Priti Patel, the home secretary. Given all the furore on everything else perhaps she forgot to tell her.

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The cheapskate botched and useless investigations into child sexual abuse by Leicestershire Police that led to no timely prosecution of Greville Janner

Child Sex Abuse Inquiry keeps private more detailed report to protect victims

Another coruscating report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has condemned Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire County Council for their handling of allegations from survivors of abuse.

Following damning reports by the inquiry into Rochdale, the London borough of Lambeth, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, a picture is now emerging across many parts of England of failures among the police, social services and the churches to tackle this problem with thousands of survivors being let down by authorities that should have protected them.

The national press and the BBC have rightly highlighted the failures of the police and the council to adequately investigate claims by survivors yet again in cases of historic child sexual abuse.

However it is in the mind blowing detail of the report that exposes how incompetent the police and council were in handling the investigations. It reveals a picture of quarrelling under resourced police officers, hiding of key evidence, and a difference of approach to investigations into a VIP figure, Lord Janner, from other less prominent people.

Police incompetence

The report shows there were two separate police investigations into child sexual abuse by Leicestershire Police – one in 2000 Operation Magnolia – into abuse at two children’s homes and the second -Operation Dauntless in 2005 – into specific complaints against Greville Janner. The first also involved Lord Janner though it was mainly directed at suspected staff in the homes.

The initial budget for the first operation was just £10,000- and it kept being paused as investigating officers were put on other police work including murders.

The inquiry reports: “Detective Constable (DC) Nigel Baraclough, one of the team of officers involved in Operation Magnolia, told us that the Operation was a low-priority investigation, allocated to the least experienced SIO[senior investigating officer]and Deputy SIO, and was poorly staffed. The Operation was classed as a Category C investigation, the lowest of three gradings for a major investigation.”

During the investigation two residents alleged they had been sexually assaulted by Lord Janner which would normally trigger a reference to the assistant chief constable. This does not appear to be have been done and one officer thought the allegations were “lies”. Lord Janner was never interviewed. Nor were the two cases ever referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The rest of the allegations against staff of physical or sexual abuse led to no prosecutions by the CPS. The statements given by the two children against Lord Janner were locked away in a drawer at Market Harborough Police Station.

They only resurfaced after fresh allegations were made against Lord Janner in 2005 when Operation Dauntless was launched. Even then no attempt was made to reinvestigate them or even find out whether the children were still alive. Officers argued whether Lord Janner should be arrested and his home searched.

“Staggering, bewildering and disappointing” a policeman’s verdict

Detective Sergeant Swift-Rollinson told the inquiry it was “incredible that an individual such as Lord Janner should be treated any differently by not interviewing him, not arresting and searching” his properties. He stated that the fact that Lord Janner “was not allowed the opportunity to dispel those allegations or provide a reasonable account is staggering, bewildering and disappointing”.

This time the CPS was informed but before any further investigations took place. The CPS advised not to interview Lord Janner or pursue this any further. The inquiry describes the view as complacent. The case was wound down despite protests from some officers.

It was not until 2012 when Leicestershire Police launched a further investigation, Project Enamel, that Lord Janner was finally charged when 33 former children came forward. By then Lord Janner was not well and died before any trial could take place.

This has left a situation where all the complainants have no resolution to what happened to them and Lord Janner’s family are left denying the charges but cannot challenge them in court. Daniel Janner, his son, has however been wrong in trying to stop the inquiry investigating the circumstances as this report will remain a permanent guide on how not to investigate child sexual abuse cases. Without it other police forces could be tempted yet again to dismiss such allegations.

One issue the inquiry has decided I find rather difficult. This comes from the decision to produce two reports – an expurgated report-now published – and a much longer and more detailed unexpurgated report. The inquiry’s explanation is that they have to protect the anonymity of those who allege were sexually abused for life. They did not answer my questions on whether the survivors will see the report, whether they also took this decision to prevent any litigation from Lord Janner’s family who have been opposed to the inquiry and would find the details of the allegations pretty damning.

A spokesman told me: “In order to protect the identity of complainants, who are entitled to lifelong anonymity under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, a part of the public hearing for this investigation was held in closed session, reflecting the necessity for a restricted report.  The Inquiry took steps to ensure that as much evidence was heard in public as possible, and the same approach was taken in regard to the unrestricted report. Whilst the restricted report cannot be publicly published due to anonymity issues, it will still be used by the Chair and Panel to inform findings and any recommendations they choose to make in the Final Report. ”

Professor Alexis Jay, Chair of the Inquiry

Chair to the Inquiry Professor Alexis Jay said:“Despite numerous serious allegations against the late Lord Janner, police and prosecutors appeared reluctant to fully investigate the claims against him. On multiple occasions police put too little emphasis on looking for supporting evidence and shut down investigations without pursuing all outstanding enquiries.”

“It was a similar picture for Leicestershire County Council, which had a sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care over several decades. A number of council staff had concerns about Lord Janner’s association with a particular child in residential care, and further enquiries should have been carried out.”

“This investigation has brought up themes we are now extremely familiar with, such as deference to powerful individuals, the barriers to reporting faced by children and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, regardless of the prominence of the alleged abuser.”

Previous Blogs https://davidhencke.com/2017/04/11/independent-child-sexual-abuse-inquiry-will-investigate-the-late-greville-janner-and-whether-there-was-a-cover-up/

https://davidhencke.com/2016/10/16/why-the-children-of-greville-janner-believe-he-must-be-innocent-of-33-child-sex-abuse-allegations/

https://davidhencke.com/2016/09/11/abuse-of-trust-a-horrible-reminder-of-a-child-sex-scandal-as-the-jay-inquiry-prepares-to-examine-greville-janner/

https://davidhencke.com/2014/12/13/police-re-open-child-sex-abuse-investigation-into-labour-peer-greville-janner/

https://davidhencke.com/2016/09/06/daniel-janner-is-wrong-to-say-all-allegations-of-child-sex-abuse-against-his-father-must-be-fabricated/

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Former Minister X v. Ryan Giggs and Sir Philip Green : Parliamentary hypocrisy or protecting a complainant?

Parliamentary Privilege: All right for some

Today I am reproducing a blog by Alistair Parker, a solicitor, with the firm, Brett Wilson LLP, a specialist media and professional litigation solicitors, on the issue surrounding the former Tory minister under police investigation for the alleged rape and sexual assault of one of his female staff.

My position has been that he should not be named – solely to protect the claimant who requested anonymity not to spare him embarrassment. But what this article highlights is the hypocrisy over the use of Parliamentary privilege by MPs – they use Parliamentary Privilege to name other prominent people, whether it is a famous footballer or a well known businessman, knowing they cannot be sued. But when it is one of their own the shutters come down and Parliament protects them as they are supposed to be honourable members.

The irony is that probably every MP and every lobby journalist knows his name but keeps quiet – perhaps only telling curious close friends. Thanks to Brett Wilson LLP for giving me permission to reproduce the blog. The link to their media blog is here.

Suspect anonymity: The hypocrisy of parliamentary privilege – Alistair Parker

1 August 2020 marked the parliamentary revelation that a sitting MP had been arrested by police on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and controlling and coercive behaviour. All offences were alleged to have taken between July 2019 and January 2020 against the MP’s former staffer. Police confirmed the suspect was a male Tory in his 50s, and a former minister. Subject to police guidance, the name of the man was not revealed. This is because he has not been charged and is still under investigation, with a police bail date now extended until early November 2020. 

A man suspected of a serious sexual offence therefore remains a serving MP. He has not had the Tory whip removed or been sanctioned at all, (apparently) for fear that this would identify him. Indeed, his anonymity has been carefully guarded by all sides of the House. Is this a proper observance of the right to pre-charge anonymity, or can we detect a whiff of hypocrisy?

Parliamentary privilege, which by Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689 guarantees that “the freedom of speech and debates of proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament”, has long allowed members of Parliament, be they in the Commons or the Lords, to name criminal suspects in these situations.

Both peer and MPs have on occasion exploited this privilege, even identifying individuals who were protected by court injunctions:-

In 2011, then Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming named Ryan Giggs as the footballer who secured an anonymised injunction to prevent publication of allegations he had an affair with a former reality TV star.

Also in 2011, Mr Hemming revealed that the banker Sir (as he then was) Fred Goodwin had obtained a super-injunction protecting his identity in relation to an alleged extra-marital affair. The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Stoneham poured oil on the fire adding “How can it be right for a super-injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague?” he asked. “If true it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would know about it.”

In October 2014, Labour MP Jimmy Hood used parliamentary privilege to make serious accusations against Sir Leon Brittan (both have since passed away). Mr Hood said “By the way, the current expose of Sir Leon Brittan, the then home secretary, with accusations of improper conduct with children will not come as a surprise to striking minors of 1984”. Sir Leon was posthumously cleared of any wrongdoing once it was finally established these allegations were among the prolific lies of Carl Beech. 

In November 2018, Labour peer Lord Hain used Parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip Green as the ‘anonymous businessman’ who had used Non-Disclosure Agreements in settling numerous claims of bullying and sexual harassment with five complainants. This was despite the fact the High Court had maintained the injunction preventing publication of Sir Philip’s name and also that two of the five complainants supported this. We wrote about this matter at the time

The past decade therefore shows that UK politicians, in both houses, have been prepared to use Parliamentary privilege even when it:-

– Breaches civil court orders with impunity,
– Reveals personal details such as extra-marital affairs of high profile individuals, and
– Names a suspect in a serious criminal investigation, where the allegation turned out to be provably false.

Fast forward to the present day: The complainant of ‘Former Minister X’ has apparently been lobbying for his identification by urging MPs and peers to use parliamentary privilege to put his name into the public domain. If this is true, she is doing so despite the strong chance it will result in her own identification.

However, this led to an unprecedented response last week, when the Speaker of the House stepped in to urge MPs not to do so. Sir Lindsay Hoyle warned MPs that “while the investigation is ongoing, I believe that it would be wholly inappropriate for any further reference to be made to this matter in the House, including an attempt to name the member concerned.”

Sir Charles Walker MP: Former chair of the procedure committee which ruled MPs who are arrested should not be named Pic credit: Twitter

Indeed, back in February 2016, the cross-party Procedure Committee voted to end the tradition of the automatic naming of any MP who had been arrested. Its Chairman at the time, Tory MP Charles Walker said that MPs “should have the same rights to privacy as any other citizen, and in future their names should not be put in the public domain if they were arrested, unless this was directly connected to their role as an MP”. It seems Mr Walker had not considered the irony that the right to privacy of “any other citizen” can be trampled on via the use of parliamentary privilege. 

The conclusions we can draw are that, in the last decade, various parliamentarians have been happy to use parliamentary privilege to name and shame those being investigated for crimes and those embroiled in personal civil proceedings – even where they have court orders protecting their anonymity. However, when the ‘shoe is on the other foot’ and the accused party is himself a parliamentarian, it seems the House of Commons is a zealous believer in the right of pre-charge anonymity.

In simple terms, if you are being investigated of a crime, then any parliamentarian can publicly name you without any consequence to themselves. But if you name a parliamentarian who is in a similar predicament, get ready for formal legal consequences.

Although the identity of “Former Minister X” remains a mystery, surely the pattern of politicians protecting themselves could not be any clearer.

Cocaine,Guns and Wads of Cash: The double life of criminals from Bromley and Berkhamsted

Harry el Araby pic credit: Met Police

One criminal was brought up in his parent’s £1m house in Berkhamsted and runs a vegan supermarket in Hackney

Last month the Metropolitan Police revealed they had arrested 113 people as part of huge Europe wide operation against serious and organised crime. Altogether in the UK some 746 people were arrested after the National Crime Agency working with Europol cracked an encrypted phone network called EncroChat used by criminals.

What emerged was that many of the criminals were not based in the cliched inner city housing estates but in the leafy suburbs and posh, respectable towns in the Home Counties.

At the end of last month two of the criminals who were arrested in May were convicted in the courts after pleading guilty to firearms and drugs offences. Jody Hall, 46, of Carters Hill Close, Mottingham was sentenced to 12 years and Harry El Araby,33, now of  Palmers Road, Bethnal Green, to six years.

Jody Hall; Pic credit:Met Police

A picture of the two characters emerged in the Met Police’s report. Jody Hall lived with is partner in a respectable flat in Mottigham in the London borough of Bromley.

The police who must have been monitoring their phones staged a stake out near his home. They saw Hall leave his flat and go to a lock up garage.

The Met Police report goes on :

“A minute or so later he left the garage carrying a bulky item wrapped in a white carrier bag, which also had yellow and green on it. He carried the item in his right gloved hand to his car where he placed it inside the driving seat area. He then closed the car door and walked away towards his home address empty handed.

A short while later, Hall walked back to the car where he briefly parked in front of his garage and made a phone call before driving to the exit of the close.

Once there he parked and was met by El Araby who arrived on a bicycle with a rucksack on his back.

An exchange took place and El Araby cycled off while Hall returned to his car.”

Then the police pounced. El Araby was stopped and the contents of the bag seized. In it were £10,000 in cash, a Glock hand gun, a silencer and 50 rounds of ammunition.

Cocaine and guns seized by the police Pic credit: Met Police

Hall’s home was raided and police found 11 kilograms of cocaine and £4000 in cash. They checked his garage and found  a revolver concealed in an old washing machine. A specialist search team then conducted a more thorough search and found a Berreta handgun with six rounds of ammunition in the clip.

Neither of them would disclose to the police why they had guns but the suspicion must be that someone was going to be killed.

Detective Constable Gio Antoniazzi, the investigating officer, said: “These guns, and every individual bullet, represent a life that could have been lost or changed forever and so I am delighted that we were able to remove them from streets of London.

“This was a fantastic team effort and the evidence gathered resulted in Hall and El Araby having no option but to plead guilty. I hope this makes people think twice about procuring dangerous weapons.”

On the surface Harry El Araby appears to be a very respectable person. He was brought up in Berkhamsted . His parents house is in a respectable leafy cul de sac in Berkhamsted where house prices have gone up ten fold in the last twenty years. El Araqby registered one of his companies there.

He also runs the Plant Based Supermarket in Homerton, Hackney where last July he gave an interview to East London Lines as a pillar of the local community.

The friendly vegan supermarket in Hackney. Companies House lists Harry Anthony Robert el Araby as a sole director since 2017

He claimed then to be living in New Cross and told a reporter:

“I have been vegan for more than four years and I have tasted a lot of stuff; I try to pick things that I know are good and I try to hit every angle. I feel we have the widest range of vegan products and all are very good quality”.

 “We believe in the little man,” says El Araby. “Most of our suppliers are English, so we support the local economy and we impact the environment less”.

“we contribute to charitable purposes” – El Araby

“There are a lot of smaller brands in here and we try to help them as much as possible, we use coffee from Climpson & Sons, a local coffee place brewed in Hackney that has a better-than-fair-trade policy, we get the bread from Better Health Bakery, which is a charity that helps people get back into work. We try to be local as much as we can and contribute to charitable purposes”

He also tried crowdfunding to raise enough money to create a national website to sell vegan food on line – but only raised £150 towards a £3000 target. He now has a website.

One can only imagine what drove this man brought up in respectable Berkhamsted ( the house last changed hands in 1998 according to the Land Registry) and running an eco friendly shop to a life of crime with guns and bullets and wads of cash. Might make a good crime story for TV and I suspect this won’t be last exposure to come from those 746 arrests last month.