To catch a sex offender: the making of a new genre of miscarriage of justice
"On 16 October 2002, Claire Curtis-Thomas succeeded in holding a Commons debate to discuss the committee report, in which the Conservative shadow attorney-general, Edward Garnier QC, acknowledged the risks of miscarriages of justice, citing the cases of two of his own constituents. It appeared that the dangers of false convictions were beginning to be recognised by both main parties."
To catch a sex offender: Institutional amnesia
"Finally, in the autumn of 2012, Greenwood advised his clients to stop cooperating with Operation Reno, the criminal inquiry which he had himself triggered. The immediate result was that 53 separate police case files, which had been close to completion, had to be withdrawn from consideration by the CPS. More than 20 full-time CID officers had been working for years on inquiries that had now proven futile. The cost, needless to say, was immense.
Yet this was not the end of Operation Reno. Indeed, in the wake of the documentary that claimed to expose Jimmy Savile as a serial paedophile, as the issue of historic abuse began to occupy ever more news airtime and space in newspapers, both the St Williams civil action and the criminal inquiry continued to grow in scope. Noel Hartnett told me that by the summer of 2014, the action had attracted well over 200 claimants."
To catch a sex offender: The flight from reason
"Hysteria is the right word. On some days now, when one opens a newspaper, one will find half a dozen articles about some aspect of alleged child sexual abuse. It is as if child abuse has become our greatest social ill, especially if it took place long ago.
But since the Savile and ‘Nick’ allegations, public discourse has had few, if any, limits. Richard Webster concluded The Secret of Bryn Estyn by warning that without action ‘to reintroduce reason and restraint into our system of justice,’ future historians would come to view the hunts for actual witches in the early modern era ‘as nothing’ compared to the contemporary child abuse panic. It seems to me that since he wrote those words in 2005, and especially since his tragically early death in 2011, we have come significantly closer to making that baleful vision a reality."
"The most fervent modern advocates of reason and of science have often suggested or implied that we are no longer generally susceptible to dangerous delusions such as gripped the minds of learned men in the great European witch-hunt of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is, I believe, but another example of the dangers of rationalism. For if we accept and allow ourselves to be guided by a view of cultural history which denies the very possibility of a witch-hunt taking place in our midst, we have created the ideal conditions for one to take place in front of our eyes without our even noticing what is happening.
My own investigation into police ‘trawling operations’, which occupied me for a number of years, was not, in one sense at least, a diversion from the theory of cultural history which is worked out in other parts of this website. It was an attempt to apply that theory in practice."
Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse
"While there has been a welcome increase in policies which address child abuse, rape and other sexual offences, these tend to neglect or disavow the diametrical problem of false allegations of such offences. It is inherent in the, typically, unwitnessed and physically uncorroborated nature of these ‘hidden’ crimes that they are difficult to prosecute; but also to disprove if no crime has been committed.
Tackling an under-researched and under-discussed area, Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse offers thoughtful and thought-provoking discourses around an understandably difficult and sensitive area."
Ros Burnett @rosburnett https://twitter.com/rosburnett
(Embedded tweet - click date)Excellent contributors and chapters in new book: Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse @rosburnett (ed).OUP pic.twitter.com/dKuHSeppcu— Ros Burnett (@rosburnett) September 6, 2016
Two trials, three jailhouse snitches, a four-part documentary – but no evidence
"By the end of the series, MWT has highlighted merely the opposite of what he intended to establish – not that he has the intellectual courage to concede this. His year-long investigation has exposed the absence of any evidence that Causley murdered his wife and, by extension, the intrinsic weaknesses of the UK criminal justice system. Causley has now served 20 years in prison for a murder for which there is simply no bona fide evidence whatever.
This series could well be used by university media departments as a study in how television documentaries seek to mislead and conceal. Had it been attempted in the days when scrupulous standards still applied at ITV, it would have been deemed untransmittable and junked."