“We are surviving victims of a false accuser and wrongful conviction. Our family is in trauma” – The public speak
Following the publication of the letter “We are surviving victims of a false accuser and wrongful conviction. Our family is in trauma”, in our April issue, our website has been inundated with comments from people in a similar position. Many say that men, often partners and fathers, were convicted with no evidence, except the word of one person; nearly always the cases relate to accusations of abuse many years, often decades, before and families despair when they are told they have to find evidence that proves innocence when there was no ‘evidence’ in the first place.
Disturbingly many of the accusers were known to police as serial accusers and many had a history of mental health problems. Neither of these, it would be claimed, mean the accuser is lying, but in the face of no supportive evidence their word is taken against that of a man, often in later years, with a history of a stable family and no previous convictions.
Section 32 (Part III Course of Justice: Evidence, Procedure Etc) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 states that judges no longer have to warn juries about convicting the accused on the uncorroborated evidence of the accuser where the person is charged with a sexual offense. This has given rise to situations like that related in one comment which said; “We too have had our family ripped apart by false accusations, with witnesses giving evidence of what the so-called victims told them; nobody had any evidence.” Is it, as one person put it; “Convict, convict, convict is the mantra and hide anything that might make that less likely. Those accused often don’t even know what they are being accused of.” Another person says; “Nobody seems to want to rock the boat. What did happen to ‘innocent till proven guilty’ … now it seems it’s ‘guilty unless you can prove where you were every second for the last 10+ years.”
People commenting describe whole families ripped apart and ordinary people’s faith in British justice ‘shattered’. Many are the stories of people making the allegations apparently for financial reward or to ‘get even’. Men describe allegations being made to stymie contact with children after messy divorces: As one poster put it; “Decent people, both in and out of prison, have a moral duty to speak out if they have information that could help these suffering families.”
There are stories of police trawling; acting on the word of one dubious witness, claiming they are ‘believable’; arresting, searching, and leaking information to the tabloid press. Beneath the ‘celebrity’ stories, where the accused has resources and friends to assist, are hundreds, if not thousands, with no such resources. A spokesperson from INNOCENT posted; “Similar cases are brought to INNOCENT with depressing regularity, and have been coming to us for years. Apart from giving basic information about the appeals system obtaining documents etc., and pointing them to excellent help organizations, we struggle to say anything helpful. I wish we could do more.”
A poster says; “There must be so many wrongly accused and wrongly convicted victims in prison now; who will help them?” The problem is that when you mix ‘sex’, ‘abuse’ and ‘children’ even the most strong-willed turn away – just in case. As another person says; “Unfortunately, for many, the answer is ‘no one can or will help them. They are screwed.”
And so the comments keep coming, powerful, distressing testaments to fundamental failures; “We put our trust in the justice system, especially when the judge stated (only when the jury was not present) that he believed that the witnesses had ‘sat around the kitchen table to get their stories straight!’”. “So how can we have a justice system that allows a court case to progress with just one person’s word against another?”
“What has happened to the law we once looked up to, where is the true justice, when anyone can lie and then be paid for it in compensation money?”
Of course, many will say that the families are delusional and too quick to believe their husband, brother, or father; they will not believe that people can and do lie. Quite rightly they will say that abuse is wrong and perpetrators must be apprehended and dealt with. As one of our correspondents pointed out; when a man is wrongfully accused, imprisoned because he cannot prove his innocence, then that man’s children are suffering also, and isn’t that a form of abuse? JP says; “It seems as if I could have written this letter myself as I too am dealing with this same situation. My husband is locked away for charges he was convicted of with no proof, no evidence, nothing, claimed to have taken place years and years ago. Our children are suffering incredibly over this.”
We will give the last word to J; “No one ‘in power’ wants to help people like us, as it does not look good on them. I have contacted my local MP with no joy. The establishment knows what is going on as in the failed operation Midland when the Met ended up apologizing (of sorts) to Lord Brittan’s widow. That poor man went to his death bed not knowing that all along there were no charges made against him.”
If you have been affected by false allegations there are several organizations offering advice and assistance:
FASO False Allegation Support Organisation www.false-allegations.org.uk
FACT Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers www.factuk.org
PAFAA People Against False Allegations of Abuse www.pafaa.org.uk/wordpress
SAFARI Supporting All Falsely Accused with Reference Information www.safari-uk.org