Barbara Hewson, writing for The Barrister magazine, has adddressed the issue of false allegations, in a substantial article that examines how and why they are made. In an environment in which the authorities reagard it as imperative that alleged victims of abuse be believed even if their claims fail to meet even the most basic requirements of credibility, she said we need to address a new type of victim, to whom sympathy is rarely given: the falsely accused.
Even a nascent rebellion against the fashionable ideology of “believe the victim [of sexual abuse]” supported by former DPP Keir Starmer QC is out of step with current CPS practice. A Manchester barrister who prosecutes allegations of sexual assault for the CPS was recently quoted as saying: “Rape has become the bread and butter of the Crown Prosecution Service. Basically if someone complains, we prosecute.”
Various victims of false accusations, of whom the most high profile and outspoken is the well-known BBC radio presenter Paul Gambaccini, have voiced dismay at the authorities’ willingness to entertain complaints that in the past would have been seen as outlandish, even vexatious.
She dissects Operation Midland – the VIP sex abuse ring that has excited the pages of the tabloid press without providing any evidence – and the story laid out by its main informant, ‘Nick’.
Professor Jenkins, an eminent historian, has patiently explained that the evidence for Nick’s claims has been weak to non-existent. In two recent articles for The American Conservative, he points out that, conspiracy theories about a dastardly group of child-raping, boy-murdering VIPs is a rehash of 1980s scare-mongering:
The “elite pedophilia” charges circulated very widely in tabloid media of the 1980s, usually in the context of lunatic theories of Satanism and supposed “ritual child abuse,” sometimes linked to anti-Masonic hysteria. Then as now, these fevered rumors Named Names, including Cabinet members and members of the royal family, as well as prominent Jews, like Brittan himself.
Why are such preposterous tales taken so seriously today? Jenkins argues that this is because those hearing them have an ideological need to believe in a litany of horrors: “When I say that X is ‘credible,’ what we mean is that I find what he has to say believable, and that fact depends as much on my willingness to accept his statement as on any quality in his character or demeanor.”
Yet Sir Keir Starmer and the present DPP Alison Saunders have both popularized the idea that it is possible, indeed desirable, to separate the credibility of an allegation from the credibility of its maker.
A copy of the full article can be found in number 68 of The Barrister magazine. http://www.barristermagazine.com/