March 17, 2021
A quick search online for “latest scams” will confirm what the ladies on RipOff Britain have been showing us for some time:
“Where there’s money, there are scammers”
Let us look at some examples from a long list
- Council tax refund scam; Energy scams; waterboard scam
- Phone scam; Mobile messaging scams
- Fake Ukraine (or other charity) fundraisers
- Medical alert system scam; Fake NHS Covid-19 PCR text; Covid pass scam; Track and trace scam
- Loft insulation scam; roofing scams
- Pension pot scams
- Fake insurance letters
- Green Homes Grant scam
- Forex trading and brokerage scams
- Legal scams – letters claiming to be from X & Y Solicitors
- etc. etc….
What makes a scammer?
What characterises and links many of these scams is that they often target vulnerable people, often elderly, and con them into believing the scammer is someone they’re not.
Some of the varied methods they use to extract money are to:
- scare them into paying – e.g. by pretending to be someone ‘official’ like a lawyer or the local Council and say that if they don’t pay £xxx, they will be punished in some way.
- con their victim into thinking they need something (e.g. their roof needs mending, or there’s a time-limited Government initiative on some modern heating system) and that they, the scammer, can fix it for them at a very good price.
- con their victim into thinking they are doing a good deed by helping a charity.
Scammers rely on the fact they what they say COULD be genuine. Someone genuinely raising funds for a worthwhile charity may knock at your door. In that case, the victims are not just you but also the real charity.
Such people are happy exploiting the fears and weaknesses of vulnerable people to scam them out of money they may not be able to afford. They have no morals, no sense of right or wrong, no empathy for their victims. They are cold-blooded predators who think only of what they can get out of a situation.
If such a person thought that there was an almost surefire way of obtaining lots of money with very little risk, what do you think they would do?
Sadly, there are many people who have been the victims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse as a child. And anyone with a conscience can only have sympathy with genuine victims of such crimes.
Unfortunately, however, it serves as extremely attractive bait to this type of unscrupulous people that victims (and those who claim to be victims) are able to claim what can be very substantial financial compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and /or via a civil case against the alleged perpetrator.
The CICA will generally pay compensation to anyone who claims to have been a victim of sexual assault/abuse and have reported it to the police. It is not necessary for the accused to be convicted for this to happen.
The complainant/scammer will get lifetime anonymity and the support of the police who have been told to “believe the victim” (complainant).
If, by some good fortune (for the false accuser), their victim is found guilty, the scammer has a great chance of getting an even bigger payoff by going to a no-win, no-fee law firm and starting a civil case against his victim.
However, even if the case is dropped and, even if the police suspect that the allegations were fabricated, the chances of the false accuser being prosecuted are very small, unless the police find hard proof that they lied.
As we have seen, scammers are prepared to research, act a role, and go to a great deal of trouble, often for much smaller amounts of money. Why would such people NOT be attracted by making false allegations if the possibility was there?
The Numbers Game
Whether it concerns rape, other forms of indecent assault or historical abuse, many people will blindly declare that the numbers of genuine victims far outweigh the number of false allegations. Some may even put a figure on it – such as “only 1% or 2% are false.”
There is no justification for these claims and they are wrong.
When so-called ‘evidence’ is quoted, they often cherry-pick the figures to suit their argument.
For example, they will point to the low number of successful prosecutions of false accusers – and yet the same people complain of the low rate of successful prosecutions of sexual assault as a failing of the justice system.
Add to this, the reluctance to prosecute former complainants, no matter how dubious their claims and it is easy to see why successful prosecutions are so low.
What little research has been done points to much higher figures of false allegations.
Even from a purely avaricious standpoint (without considering other motives), it would be remarkable if there were not a large number of them.
And yet, it should not even be about numbers. Even if the statistics were as low as those claimed, it should make no difference to the fundamental principle of justice that the protection of the innocent is more important than the prosecution of the guilty. It is exactly why the burden of proof should always be on the prosecution.
This principle should be engraved into the minds of all those working in the justice system. And that applies equally to the Court of Appeal.
Society, the criminal justice system and genuine victims of sex crimes have to accept that making false allegations of sexual assault or abuse is a genuine problem. There are many possible motives for doing so but financial motivation is a big one.
Making false allegations of sexual assault or abuse, whether recent or long ago, against innocent people is considered fair game to unscrupulous people who will go to great lengths to lie and deceive their way to money, while riding on the back of the suffering of genuine victims.
It is not rare; it is common. Considering what is at stake, it would be extraordinary if it were not.
That is also why it is actually in the interests of genuine victims that the police investigate their claims fully and even-handedly.
If it was much harder and less profitable to make false allegations and get away with it, there would be fewer of them and make it easier for genuine victims to get the justice they deserve.
August 20, 2019
In recent times, discussions about justice regarding allegations of sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape have drawn unfortunate battle lines, with those representing the interests of “victims seeking justice” versus those representing “victims of false allegations”.
Reacting against police policy in the past in which victims (mainly women) justifiably felt that they were disbelieved and badly treated, campaigners who have fought for their rights seem mostly not only against any such progress that has been made being eroded, but insist that much more still needs to be done, such as with newer challenges such as the use of mobile phone data as evidence.
On the other side of the equation there are those who have been victims of false allegations and, though they may have sympathy with genuine victims, they feel that they are now in the position the complainants were before, with police prejudice stacked against them.
In other words, politicians and the criminal justice system, the police in particular, have succumbed to such pressure but, rather than aim for a more balanced approach, have merely switched sides, so that all the former bias is still present but now in favour of the complainant and against the defendant.
So the battle lines tend to be drawn as follows:
COMPLAINANTS (Genuine victims and False accusers) vs ACCUSED (Genuine offenders and Falsely accused)
This is sad for several reasons.
- If there were no such thing as false accusations, it would be easier to believe complainants. The fact that the claims of complainants cannot be always assumed to be true is precisely because there are people who make false accusations.
- False accusers not only harm those they accuse but also genuine victims. Apart from their abusers, the biggest enemy of genuine victims are therefore the false accusers, not falsely accused people justifiably campaigning for their own rights.
- False accusers, like sexual abusers, are predators who care nothing for their victims and prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve their objectives.
The true battle lines should be as follows:
VICTIMS (Genuine victims and Falsely accused) vs OFFENDERS (Genuine offenders and False accusers)
However, until the truth about false accusers and the damage they do is acknowledged, the current situation is unlikely to change. Sadly, while most falsely accused have sympathy for genuine victims, this is not generally reciprocated, and those who represent ‘victims’ rarely seem to show concern for those whose lives are ruined by false allegations. It is therefore difficult for victims of false allegations to fight for their rights without appearing to oppose the rights of genuine victims.
A case in point is the (so-called) Victims Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, whose concept of the victims she is supposed to represent is so narrow that she seems not to care one jot for victims of false allegations, and chooses to focus solely on the interests of complainants, whether they are genuine or not.
The mobile phone issue
Following the case of Liam Allan in which he narrowly escaped conviction for rape when a late disclosure of text messages on his accuser’s phone proved his innocence, there have been calls for data on accuser’s phones to be handed over as part of the investigation.
Vera Baird and others opposing this policy have termed this request ‘digital rape’. Quite how someone supposedly supporting victims of sexual assault and rape can equate being a victim of such a dreadful crime with a request to hand over one’s phone is something I find not only puzzling but a little shocking…
The fallacy of ‘digital rape”
- Unlike the possessions of the accused, mobile phones are not confiscated – they are requested.
- Only data which is relevant to the case would be used, not irrelevant personal messages.
- If the allegations are genuine, there is nothing to fear, but may deter false allegations.
- If the handing over of such data would help the inquiry and provide a greater chance of conviction, you would think victims would glad do so.
- “Victims groups” complain of a lack of convictions for rape and similar offences but juries cannot be forced to convict.
- If, either the complainant refuses to hand over their phone, or if the law is changed such that police cannot request it, the defence could argue that data which may have proved the defendant’s innocence was withheld or made unavailable.
The fallacy of ‘rare false allegations’
The claim is often made that false allegations are rare – as if that should make any difference! – but such claims are completely groundless.
While victim groups refer to reported rape as if they were all genuine and complain of the fact that only a small proportion result in a conviction, the same people point to the small numbers of convictions for false allegations as if they were the only ones. Nor do they take into account the fact that false accusers are rarely even prosecuted. It is a claim that is based entirely on double standards. It is impossible to know how many false allegations there are, but more serious research has tended to show that they are very far from rare.
There has been a movement towards ‘victim-centric’ justice but I believe this is wrong. While the suffering of victims is always a factor to be taken into account, the wider principles of justice, from the investigation stage through to sentencing after conviction, should remain paramount – especially the protection of the innocent.
For a more detailed explanation of the importance of this, please read this post:
The First Principle of a Just Legal System
July 14, 2019
Background History – Bad Treatment of Complainants
In the 1980s, a woman was raped. She was shocked, traumatised and took steps to try to ensure that she would not see the person ever again.
But she did not go to the police. Why not?
The main reason was that the police had a very bad reputation concerning the way that women who reported sexual assaults were treated by them. (Much worse than it is today).
The perception was not only that they were ‘disbelieved’ but that there would be little, if any, sympathy and she would not be taken seriously.
There was a perception that women who reported such crimes were made to feel that, if it happened at all, then they themselves were probably largely to blame. Furthermore, there was the impression that many men in the police thought that they should “just get over it”.
Naturally, and justifiably, women felt that this was an unacceptable attitude and an intolerable situation but we need to be more specific and ask “What exactly was wrong with the attitude of the police?”
I’ll give my answer to that question a little later but, for now, let’s move on.
Switching sides – “Believe the victim”
Women’s groups’ campaigns against this treatment; a similar trend was happening in the United States and, gradually, the self-described ‘victims’ became a powerful minority group.
Our justice system listened and responded – and made a big mistake.
In 2014, the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the UK, Keir Starmer, changed the policy of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of which he was the head, encouraging the them (and by extension the police) to start with the assumption that the complainant is telling the truth. ‘Victims’ were encouraged to come forward with the assurance “you will be believed”. One effect of this change was that complainants were called ‘victims’ from the outset and, by extension, the accused person must therefore be the ‘perpetrator’.
Genuine victims of sexual offences may understandably think that this is a great step forward. However, it creates one huge problem:
The assumption that a complainant is telling the truth which automatically creates the assumption of guilt for the accused person flies in the face of, arguably, THE FIRST Principle of British Justice – the presumption of innocence.
[See my post: The first principle of a just legal system].
Victim or Complainant?
Sir Richard Henriques, in his report of the Met Police handling of Operation Midland concluded:
“I have a clear and concluded view. All ‘complainants’ are not ‘victims’. Some complaints are false and thus those ‘complainants’ are not ‘victims’. Throughout the judicial process the word ‘complainant’ is deployed up to the moment of conviction where after a ‘complainant’ is properly referred to as a ‘victim’.
Since the entire judicial process, up to that point, is engaged in determining whether or not a ‘complainant’ is indeed a ‘victim’, such an approach cannot be questioned. No Crown Court judge will permit a ‘complainant’ to be referred to as a ‘victim’ prior to conviction.
Since the investigative process is similarly engaged in ascertaining facts which will, if proven, establish guilt, the use of the word ‘victim’ at the commencement of an investigation is simply inaccurate and should cease.”Sir Richard Henriques
Furthermore, it leads inexorably to a condition of Confirmation Bias.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.” – Wikipedia
In other words, the police and the CPS are likely to be led down a path of searching for and finding only evidence which confirms their belief.
So let me return to my earlier question.
Q. What exactly was wrong with the treatment of complainants in the days before the ‘believe the victim’ policy?
A. The police took sides before any investigation had taken place.
If women were correct in thinking that they were disbelieved, then what was wrong was the fact that, before any investigation, a pre-existing prejudice against the complainant led to the police already siding with the accused.
It was the prejudice that was wrong, not which side they picked.
For the police now to ‘believe the victim’ (or rather, the complainant) before any investigation, which automatically means ‘disbelieve the accused’, is to make exactly the same mistake but having switched sides.
That was wrong before and it’s still wrong now.
It is not for the police to decide in advance, before a full, impartial investigation, who is telling the truth and who is not. It is their job to investigate the facts fully on all sides and attempt, through those facts, to discover who is telling the truth.
The Correct Course Of Action
What SHOULD have happened to correct the appalling situation which existed before was for the police to show respect for the people who made allegations; to treat them with the sensitivity that a genuine victim deserves (because they may well be one).
However, at that point, they must bear in mind that no crime has yet been proven and the suspect also deserves the respect due to someone who may be innocent; in which case, they are actually the victim. That, after all, is the basis of our justice system. A person is deemed innocent until proven guilty.
This applies whether the complainant or accused is female or male and whether the alleged offence is a contemporary one or a historical one.
Therefore, the police should have taken the allegations seriously and made a full, fair and even-handed investigation, exploring all avenues which may lead them to who is actually telling the truth.
If there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations, the case should be handed to the CPS who should also behave in a fair and even-handed way. They have a duty to prosecute only those cases where there is sufficient evidence to suggest a good chance of conviction and a continuing duty to monitor that situation.
(N.B. “a good chance of conviction” is not the same as “a good chance that the accused are guilty”, but more of that in another post),
If there is not sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the case should NOT proceed, no matter what the pressures are to do so.
The ‘victim-centric’ justice system that we have in 2022 shows that the pendulum has indeed swung much too far in favour of complainants, which is in conflict with the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence at the very heart of our justice system.
All complainants should certainly be treated with sensitivity and their accounts taken seriously, but a full and fair investigation of the facts must nonetheless take place, with facts in favour of the accused given as much weight as those for the complainant.
Only if and when the facts point to the truthfulness of the allegations should a prosecution take place.
That is in accordance both with the fundamental principles of our justice system and with the stated principles of the Crown Prosecution Service.
If, on the other hand, the police find sufficient evidence to believe that the complainant has fabricated the allegations, they should be charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. As the requirement for sufficient evidence would now be applicable, it should not deter genuine victims from reporting an assault.
June 7, 2019
The launch of FAIR – Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform – stimulated a debate with passionate views on both sides.
FAIR was created by Daniel Janner QC, son of the late Lord Janner who was falsely accused of sexual crimes, and has the aim of changing the law to prevent the publication of the identity of people accused of sex offences until charged.
FAIR’s campaign is to have the law changed so that those accused of sexual crimes were given anonymity until they are charged by the Police. At present, while complainants claiming to be victims of alleged sexual crimes are given lifelong anonymity, the accused are given no such protection.
The campaign launched a petition and was given added media attention by the support of, among others, Sir Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini and Harvey Proctor, well-known people whose lives were ruined by the public disclosure of allegations which were without credible foundation.
The case for…
- People falsely accused of sexual offences, particularly those involving children can have their lives, careers and reputations permanently damaged, if not completely destroyed, by having their names published merely on the basis of allegations which may have no foundation and, in dome cases, are subsequently dropped by the authorities.
- As those leading the campaign have said repeatedly, they have suffered significant psychological damage, loss of sleep and much more, due to the media coverage from cases involving allegations for which they were never even charged.
- The salacious gossip printed in the press and on tv has a stronger tendency to be repeated than other crimes
- The widely iterated expression “there’s no smoke without fire” is applied more readily to sexual allegations than other alleged crimes.
The case against…
Those who are against the proposed changes include those who campaign for the rights of victims of Sexual Offences. Their arguments may be summarised as follows:
- They say it is important that the names are able to be published so that other ‘victims’ may come forward
- They ask “Why should there be a distinction between those accused of sexual offences and other crimes who are not entitled to such protection?”
- They claim that the numbers of those falsely accused are so low that it would be wrong to change the law on their behalf to the detriment of the majority of genuine victims.
- In considering the case of Sir Cliff Richard, they say that the fault lies not with the law but with the nature of the Press coverage and that their campaign should directed at that instead.
Refuting the case against
(Numbers relate to the numbered points above).
- The problem with this argument is that it also encourages more false accusers to come forward, confident in the knowledge that their allegations are even more likely to be believed because of the existing ones. That trend increases and becomes self-fulfilling. False accusers know that each new person that comes forward is more likely to be believed because of the others, which makes the success of their claim for compensation ever more likely, which encourages even more… That’s how you get a number of liars falsely accusing the same person, as has happened with various celebrities.
Unfortunately, this does not work in reverse. If no one else comes forward despite wide-ranging publicity, or if others come forward in support of the accused, it counts for nothing.It also reverses the true priorities of the justice system. It is a fundamental principle of justice that protection of the innocent comes before prosecution of the guilty. (See this post for reasons why).
In my own view, victims should not be ‘encouraged’ to come forward if they have not already done so through their own volition. It does not necessarily help them if they have moved on from their ordeal only to have the whole thing brought back into their lives. If they have been abused and feel strongly that they would like to see their abuser face justice, they should come forward without prompting and not require a bandwagon to jump onto.
Furthermore, the criminal justice system does not have the resources to handle contemporary cases satisfactorily and I see no point in adding historic cases to the burden as well – let alone prioritising them.
- The reason is because there IS already a difference in that complainants of sexual allegations have anonymity and because of the public perception of sex offences compared to other crimes. Even murderers are not subject to the level of bile and hatred aimed at alleged sex offenders, especially where the alleged sex offences concern children. Moreover, one gets the impression that people almost WANT to believe in them – it is as if people like to be shocked, and so the worse the allegations, the more ready to believe them they are likely to be. This is perhaps even more so if the accused is deemed to be successful or important.
- The claim that false allegations are rare is baseless and such claims are only ever justified with nonsensical logic and cherry-picked data. In fact, there is no reason to believe that false allegations are rare and every reason to believe that they are not.
There is simply no way of obtaining accurate figures which indicate how many allegations are false. The figures quoted by those who claim it is rare do not stand up to scrutiny. Research in other countries (which are unlikely to be radically different from the UK) shows that numbers are far higher than claimed.
Nonetheless, truth and justice is not about playing the percentages – the wrecking of innocent people’s lives should not depend on numbers and those who oppose that view would think differently if their loves ones were affected.
- The idea of changing the way the press behave is simply naive. The press will chase whatever is newsworthy and will not change their ways as long as the law permits them, even encourages them, to behave as they do now.
Does the FAIR campaign go far enough?
It is Daniel Janner’s view that the campaign as it stands is difficult enough to persuade the public and the government to change and for this reason has stopped at “before charge” and this would have helped those mentioned above who are supporting the campaign.
However, there are, of course, many people who have been the victims of false allegations who were charged and for them, the campaign does not go far enough.
Campaigning figures such as (sadly, the now late) Simon Warr argued that, given that the damage suffered by those who are not charged increases dramatically after being charged, and that the protection of anonymity should apply until conviction.
They claim that the lives and careers of innocent people falsely accused and charged would still be ruined even if the policy for which FAIR are campaigning had been in place.
One of the relatively few women to have been accused, Lady Lavinia Nourse, the widow of the late Sir Martin Nourse, an eminent judge, was cleared in May of all 17 counts of Historic Sexual Abuse (HSA) for alleged events in the 1980s and takes it further still, believing that complainants should lose anonymity after a trial in which the accused has been acquitted.
In a Woman’s Hour interview with Emma Barnett, Lady Bourse said:
“I know who accused me but of course I can’t say who accused me.
And this makes conversations … very difficult because I can’t be honest and frank. That’s what makes it so appalling. And makes things like this so difficult because I can’t be truly honest about him…
“What’s been said, what’s been written will live with me forever. And yet the person who has made these accusations walks free, and can continue to say whatever he likes for the rest of his life.”
For cases which make the national press, it is also likely that members of the jury will already have read the allegations and been unduly influenced before having heard any evidence at trial. The salacious nature of such cases makes this far more likely than other crimes, such as armed robbery or murder. Even if the jury was not previously aware of any press coverage, any directions by the judge that members of the jury must not look at them is likely, in many cases, to have the opposite effect, knowing damn well that such an instruction is unenforceable and the breaking of such rules undiscoverable.
The problem with Lady Nourse’s view is that many would say that it can’t be assumed that every time there is no conviction, the complainant must be lying, even if many of them are and that it would prevent many genuine victims reporting it.
I do think that, in a fair system, there would be anonymity until conviction, but I can also see that the FAIR campaign will still be an uphill struggle; adding the extra level might make it impossible.
I also believe that, where there is good reason (evidence) to believe that allegations are false, rather than just unproven, accusers should be prosecuted and lose their anonymity. Genuine accusers should not fear this as there would not be any evidence to suggest they were lying.
To sign the petition visit this link:
FAIR’s website shows a video of Sir Cliff Richard talking about the campaign.