Today we remember all those who suffer the long-lasting pain, anxiety and consequences of wrongful allegations. For every story told there are families and friends who are deeply affected by the injustice of a false accusation against a loved one.
Some innocent victims of false allegations are in prison, some awaiting trial, some on suspended sentences, some did not get to trial. All have suffered immeasurably and unjustly. Many continue to suffer because their careers are ruined or unfair restrictions have been placed on them.
Here are just a few, out of the many, whose stories have made it into the press. There are many whose stories are not public, but their pain is nonetheless very real.
• Hilary Green’s son, now 22, falsely accused of raping a woman at a party
went through a 15-month ordeal and was cleared in under an hour by jury.
• Mr Paul Fensome spent 36 days in custody after false claims were made against him
• A former law student cried rape because she was ‘too ashamed’ to tell her family she had been kicked out of university. Police arrested a man who matched her detailed description of the tattooed black ‘rapist’. Three other men were questioned during a major investigation involving forensic examinations and door-to-door inquiries.
• Vindictive and damaging false allegations destroyed Brendan O’Brien who, had been an exemplary teacher for 16 years.
• Roy Shuttleworth convicted and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in 1996, on the evidence of eight former inmates who said he abused them in the 1970s. “My colleagues and I were able to cast factual doubt on every allegation against him”(David Rose).
• In 2009, Glasgow teacher Jimmy Boyle had a conviction for historic rape overturned at the Court of Appeal. Jimmy had served five years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But six years on from being cleared of wrongdoing, Jimmy’s life is still in ruins and he is locked in a fight with the General Teaching Council, who refuse to let him return to his career.
• For two years Sir Cliff Richard endured the night-mare of being wrongly and very publicly accused of child sex-abuse.
• Carolyn Keeling, retired home tutor, has been found not guilty of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old pupil in the 1990s. The mother-of-two, who had an unblemished career, was accused of having sex with the boy on at least 100 occasions between 1993 and 1996.
• “In July 2015, my partner was arrested & charged with a false accusation of sexual activity motivated, we believe, by revenge. We are desperately looking for an Appeal and have now instructed a new legal team but we know it is hard to find new evidence for a crime that wasn’t actually committed.”
• DJ Neil Fox and his wife have opened up about the enormous impact the false sex allegations against him had on his family life. Known to millions as Dr Fox, he was found not guilty of eight indecent assaults and two sexual assaults dating back to the 1980s following a ten-day trial at a central London court last December.
• A former nun, Nora Wall, was wrongfully convicted of rape and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999. Wall’s case was especially shocking, because the prosecution used a witness whom the Director of Public Prosecutions had said should not be called. Yet the prosecution went ahead and called the witness, whose fabricated tale succeeded in convicting Wall. She had only served four days of her sentence, when she was released on bail. The witness admitted lying.
• Kevin Callan spent four years in jail for the killing of his girlfriend’s four-year-old daughter. But the court heard that expert evidence at his original trial was flawed. He was freed by the Court of Appeal.
• Jay Cheshire. He was a sensitive teenager, and prone to depression. A fellow teen accused him of raping her. Police interviewed him. He was devastated. He experienced bullying as a result of the claim. Two weeks later, his accuser retracted the accusation. Cheshire was found hanging from a tree in a local park. Karin, his mother, has now hanged herself, aged only 55. Two lives lost, and a family destroyed, as a result of a false accusation.
• Matthew Norman, firefighter, committed suicide over ‘false’ allegations.
• Simon Warr. “When I stood in the dock, in a glass cage, and heard the jury utter the words ‘Not Guilty’, after less than 40 minutes’ deliberation – I was later told that the jury had made their decisions within 15 minutes – it brought to an end a two year living nightmare”.
• Paul Gambaccini, the victim of a false sex crime accuser. The DJ was arrested and taken to Charing Cross police station. A man who he could not ever recall meeting had accused him of sexual abuse. After several hours in a police cell he was released on bail and within hours his arrest and the allegations he faced were splashed across the national media. The BBC immediately dropped him from their schedules and so began what he describes as the “darkest year” of his life.
• Former Speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans, 58, who was also cleared of a string of sex abuse allegations after a number of prosecution witnesses suggested they “felt pressured” by police into appearing as alleged victims.
• Javed Ahmed, who trades under the name Mr Whippy, was wrongly accused of “trying to kidnap a child”. He claims he has suffered a year of intimidation after being wrongly brandished a paedophile by his business rivals.
• Thirteen individuals were wrongly arrested in 2015 while others were visited by police after errors in acquiring communications data according to the Interception of Data Commission.
• Danny Major, police officer. Wrongly convicted.
• A devastated Louise Long spent four years reviewing evidence when Geoff was convicted – and was vindicated when his daughter admitted her story was a lie
The man she loved was jailed, social services threatened to take her children away and her business folded.
She was even beaten up on the school run by an angry fellow mum who branded her a “paedophile lover”. Tina, who is Geoff’s daughter from his first wife, crumbled under oath and confessed her rape claim was a lie.
• Rev Walter Masocha, pastor at Stirling-based Agape Ministries International, was cleared of sex abuse.
• Warren Blackwell, 40, spent three years in jail as a convicted sex attacker until his ‘victim’ was unmasked as a fantasist.
• Jurors took less than five minutes to acquit Peter Singh, 37, after he told them how he had reached out to usher her out of the flat.
• 1999, Darryl Gee was arrested on suspicion of raping a pupil. His conviction was overturned – four years after he died in prison.
• Shane Copson, bouncer, wiped away tears after he was cleared of a sex attack in the toilets of Nottingham club Stealth after a two-and-a-half day trial.
• A former mental health nurse has been cleared of raping three women in the prison where he worked. A jury decided the case against Peter Barrowman, 35, was not proven following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
• Former fire chief, David Bryant, was sentenced to six years for allegedly raping fourteen-year-old Danny Day in the mid-1970s. He and another fireman, now deceased, had allegedly raped Day over a pool table in the fire-station. When the Attorney General complained the sentence was too lenient, the Court of Appeal increased it to eight-and-a-half years. Bryant was eventually released on July 15th after serving three years of his sentence.
• Sister Frances Dominica. Sister Frances Dominica ASSP was told that abuse allegations against her were no longer under police investigation. But she remains cut off from the hospice she founded.
• The former Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Michael Perham, has been given the green light to continue serving as a Church of England cleric after being cleared of indecent assault allegations.
• The many wrongfully accused in the USA and other parts of the world.
• All those whose stories I have not included or have not been made public.
May justice come soon.