Patrick Sookhdeo Supporters Make Case For the Defence

From the BBC News, February last year:

The founder of a Wiltshire-based Christian charity has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female member of staff.

Patrick Sookhdeo, from Barnabas Aid International, was also found to have intimidated two employees who were due to give evidence against him.

Sookhdeo continues to maintain his innocence (although he has declined to appeal for health reasons and due to the expense), and his cause has been championed in particular by David Virtue of Virtue Online:

The “touching” as it turned out was little more than brushing of one breast; the Rev. Albrecht Hauser, Chairman of Barnabas Aid International refuted the charges of intimidation. He wrote: “The alleged witness intimidation relates to a short extempore speech made by Dr. Sookhdeo to the entire UK staff and most of the trustees, at a meeting called by the board, which I pressed him to attend (against his inclination) and at which I urged him to speak (also against his inclination). There were over 50 people in a crowded room, and many of us saw no sign of any intention to intimidate witnesses.”

Virtue’s article (he has also written others on the subject) is headlined “In Sex Crimes One Must Prove One’s Innocence”, and I’m full agreement that that there is cause for concern about how the police and courts in the UK are currently handling “historic” allegations of a sexual nature in particular (see this post). However, I’ve also seen how Sookhdeo has a tendency to twist and misrepresent information, and this must affect how I regard any continuing “case for the defence”.

This case includes not just an alternative narrative of what actually happened (as put forward by Hauser), but also inferences about the court operated. It is suggested that the conviction was secured because the jury was white and mostly female, and that the sentence was lenient and as such indicates that the judge was sceptical. This is not convincing – Sookhdeo’s lawyers could have raised an objection to the make-up of the jury before the trial got underway, and the sentence was (as Mark Woods of Christian Today has pointed out) in the middle range for this kind of offence.

Virtue has also now, in my opinion, damaged Sookhdeo’s cause by promoting a bizarre screed by one Richard Carvath. Carvath denounces the assault complainant as “Jezebel”, and refers to the prosecution witnesses as the “Satan gang”. The rhetoric is extraordinary; discussing one witness who formerly worked at Barnabas, Carvarth writes that her

current Facebook profile photo provides a good example of the sort of dress and attitude which so concerned Sookhdeo, given the specific nature and focus of the Barnabas ministry.

In a ‘look at me’ photo, [redacted]‘s arms are uncovered and she wears a figure-hugging dress, her buttocks clearly presented to the beholder.

Carvath goes on to complain about Facebook links between complainants and Andrea Minichello Williams of Christian Concern.

Carvath has also been using Twitter to fire accusatory questions at Mark Woods, who has written a number of critical articles about Sookhdeo for Christian Today (not to be confused with the American evangelical Christianity Today, although Virtue is critical of that publication’s reporting on Sookhdeo as well). In a series of Tweets, he has asked whether Woods is working with Sookhdeo’s pro-Palestinian critic Ben White (reply: “No.”); what the “nature of the relationship” is between Woods and one of the intimidation complainants (reply: “None.”); and whether Woods has been in direct contact with any complainants (reply: “No.”). Despite this last reply, Carvath then pressed on with asking whether a new allegation was due to “your encouraging the complainant” (reply: “for the record: no.”).

Carvath was previously expelled from the Conservative Christian Fellowship for what he describes as his “views on homopervuality… and islam.”

35 Responses

  1. My mother, aged 96, says that modern women ask for all they get. That is one woman on another, and maybe there is something in this. Knowing what students are like I would say that I have been assaulted more than once and complaints-intimidated as well by them, since they have now been given rights. I do not know whose idea that was. St Trinians comes to mind.

    From the nature of the story it would it would seem that it is simply a question of one person’s word or view against another’s in a situation of very minor contact and that, in such circumstances, the prosecution has not in the mind of many overcome the burden of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ to the efffect that the contact, however minor, was intended. I do not know how convincing that sounds, but that is what many seem to think; a judicial system gone mad.

    • If you read the ‘right of reply’ piece on Carvath’s blog one of the prosecution witnesses says that it was not just a ‘he said she said’ case but that there was other evidence that she supplied in court. Sadly we don’t (yet) know what that was. Further on up in another piece in his blog it is stated that one of Sookhdeo’s party was reprimanded by the judge for lying in court.

      In one of Virtue’ s pieces he states that Sookhdeo could not have committed the crime because he was with his wife Rosemary at the precise time that he was supposed to assaulting the woman. This, I conclude, was not believed by the court for some reason. Maybe it ties in to the above points concerning lying and ‘ other evidence’ ?
      In any case it seems to me to be slightly inconsistent to claim both that it couldn’t have happened and that Sookhdeo’s story of an accidental brushing are both true.

      If you visit the daretostandalone site you will read a crtique of Virtue’s pieces by someone who, I suspect, may have been in the court or who has a connection to someone who was. It is there stated that the defence testimonies were shown to be inconsistent by the prosecution. Again, sadly, we are not yet in possession of any more detail.

      Now that the employment tribunal matter seems to be settled out of court we may come hear fuller and more explicit information from the prosecution witnesses side.

      • If the boss comes on to you at work – and I am not implying that he did in this case – you give him a slap round the face, and that is that; you do not clog-up the court system with trivia. Girl students are as bad as some bosses. So what do you do about that? Slap them on the backside! That is quite legal: it is known as self-defence. You do not become a cry-baby to Human Rights legislation unless you want everyone to laugh at you, which is what they are probably doing. Still, lawyers and journalists have to ‘earn’ a living.

      • How is she supposed to carry on working for him as his personal assistant knowing what he has done and may do again if all he can a expect is a slap on the face? He might even be the type who likes that! Some men, of course, can’t believe that they have just been told no! It’s a very common phenomenon.

        There has to be a way of making sure it doesn’t happen again. She went first to her colleagues but they failed her.

        Furthermore someone like him could try his luck on every woman when the opportunity arose if all they did was slap him. You could have a situation where he has attacked dozens of women but nobody sees that because they give a slap and don’t report it. That may actually be the case by the way. Remember there are now new allegations.

      • If there is a course of conduct on this sort of thing then, yes, it is much more serious. However, let us hold fire on this and await the outcome of any further allegations and investigations, remembering that the accused – and it could be you one day – is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

      • Remember ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ is the standard for the court case that has already taken place. Many people are taking David Virtue’ s account of things as the only truth of the situation. Virtue himself has been shown on a many occasions to be dishonest and devious in his reporting. I’m not talking about just this Sookhdeo case.
        Virtue is a dubious character, type ‘who is David Virtue?’ in on Google and you will find a website which examines various aspects of his behaviour. One of the most interesting is his , apparently, self awarded D.D. There is no indication where his doctorship comes from. Personally I think he is one phony defending another (Sookhdeo).

      • I am not in a position to judge Mr Virtue, although I do know that Canon the Rev’d Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is a very well thought of, and highly respected Minister, of the Church of England; and highly qualified and acclaimed both spiritually and academically, both here and abroad. He has written a number of very informative studies on Islam from which he is a convert, and as a Guyannan by birth he is wedded to an English girl who stands by him; which to my mind says a great deal in his favour. Courts do err, and in today’s climate of intolerant correctness they have frequently done so. So, without wishing to be swayed either way, I am happy to pray for both sides in this dispute or misunderstanding

      • You ARE in a position to judge David Virtue!
        If you read his article ‘Will Christian Today…’ you will see a number of his arguments for the innocence of Patrick Sookhdeo. The main thrust is the idea that the judge did not really agree with the verdict. If you read the comment by Gavin Drake, he totally demolishes everything that Virtue says. Drakes comment depends on being factually correct. He can be easily refuted by showing that he has got his facts wrong but that has not happened. Both Virtue and his sidekick Atkinson totally ignore Drake whilst replying to everybody else.

        Virtue repeats over and over his claim that the judge did not agree with the verdict without ever showing that Drake is wrong. His inability to accept information (about his bible college friend) that confirms the verdict of the court does not speak well for his impartiality! In fact it shows a clear bias and, frankly, dishonesty.
        By the way Sookhdeo’s wife is a New Zealander as is Virtue.

  2. On another case, not unlike this one, someone raised the point that the complainant was ‘volenti’ (agreeable) to the contact, however minor, or gave the impression to the defendant that she was so: in which case this would negative the mens rea (state of mind) needed to prove that the contact was a battery. I do not know how convincing that sounds.

  3. I do not go in for this idea that the jury was all white in skin colour and that this somehow affected the outcome; my experience is that though many British people are against immigration, they do not allow skin colour or national backgroud to intrude into the merits of the case especially when it comes to justice. That is only my opinion however.

  4. Bob West (I’ve read five of your comments and feel I know you well enough to call you Bob). Your comments are all couched as though you were uncertain of your opinion. Till you make up your own mind, I’ll ignore them for the reflex regurgitatory nonsense retrieved from the spilt bile of others that they seem to be.

    I’m more concerned that your mother’s opinion of half of the human race is so bitter. Particularly having seen and experienced so much since 1920. I hope she appreciates that, even at 96, she still has time to learn and progress beyond the 19th century, and thereby win the respect of the people she would otherwise keep in their stations.

    • You are entitled to your opinion and I can only give my opinion on a case which has been reported in the press, but which I do not have direct knowledge about. As for Mother’s opinions, based on many years experience, during which time the human race seems to have fallen further in terms of its civility and depravity, we need to show a degree of respect, deference and tolerance; that is quite a Biblical attitude to older women.

  5. Remember ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ is the standard for the court case that has already taken place. Many people are taking David Virtue’ s account of things as the only truth of the situation. Virtue himself has been shown on a many occasions to be dishonest and devious in his reporting. I’m not talking about just this Sookhdeo case.
    Virtue is a dubious character, type ‘who is David Virtue?’ in on Google and you will find a website which examines various aspects of his behaviour. One of the most interesting is his , apparently, self awarded D.D. There is no indication where his doctorship comes from. Personally I think he is one phony defending another (Sookhdeo).

  6. It all boils down to this: the complainant says that she believes that the contact was intended, and the defendant says that the contact was not intended. How does either side prove their version ‘beyond reasonable doubt”? How can anyone know or judge on this one. It is just a question of who you believe. In a case of rape it would be different because, obviously, penentration must be intentional. But no one is alleging that. So, why are we wasting our time?

    • Let me quote from the BF document “Hard pressed on every side”, this was published on 15 Jan 2016,
      “….that Dr Sookhdeo had introduced an
      open door policy (he would keep the door open if he met
      a female on his own)..” (page 38)
      It is the testimony of one of the prosecution witnesses that the complainant was in Sookhdeo’s office with him alone on the day of the incident. Furthermore the door was closed, ie, Sookhdeo had broken his own rule on that occasion. This witness also saw both of them shortly after the ‘meeting’ and that both were in a distressed state. Coupled with the fact that the complainant had in the time shortly before all this fought on Sookhdeo’s side (to the point of sickness and exhaustion apparently) against the BF trustees who were trying to oust him and therefore displayed unquestionable loyalty we are left with this; a very loyal employee suddenly accuses PS with sexual assault on a day that he had her alone in his office. Why should she do this? And why was the door closed against his own rules? Why would Sookhdeo intimidate witnesses if he was innocent? (If you want to know more about that there is now more detail available).
      No one directly saw the assault but then we are faced with a shortcoming applicable to many crimes. Many (most?) robberies and murders and definitely sex crimes are not directly witnessed by anyone other than those involved. We either say that the law simply cannot handle any situation of this nature or we can look at all the evidence available and see what we can see.
      Anyway it looks very likely that he will have to answer to a new set of allegations. Sookhdeo must appear in Thames magistrates court on 4 april and hear if he is to have another crown court case.

  7. Patrick Sookhdeo is not a priest in the Church of England, and he is married to Rosemary, a New Zealander, not an English girl. He was ordained in the Church of Pakistan, and was made a Canon of Lahore Cathedral. He has not had a position as a minister in the CoE. The diatribe by Barnabas Fund in his defence has had one gracious response from the Evangelical Alliance pointing out untruths in it; so far the others blamed, including the diocesan bishop wher Sookdheo was based for many years, have not commented.

    • Judging by recent cases decided against Christians, for example, for giving prayer books to Mohammedans, one cannot help but suspect almost any court or tribunal proceeding, as being subject to a mindset that will not do justice or equity. Discernment and impartiality seem to have fled both jury and bench. Next time it could be you on the receiving end. Think about it.

      • It is therefore important to pay attention to the particulars, the details of each individual case rather than to deal in broad generalities. You wouldn’t want an innocent man to be condemned on prejudice nor would you want a guilty man to walk free because of laxity or carelessness.

      • I was not at the trial, and in any case I am in sympathy with Rev’d Canon Patrick Sookdheo’s beliefs and value system, and am very thankful for all his work on the facts of Islam.

        But, for all those reasons, many are biased against him, and seek to attack him on any handle or lever that they can get; that is politics. That should make us wary, especially as we are aware that the state does inflitrate movements with agents who seek to bring down, or damage, those deemed to rock the boat. We have had this in Britain, and also in Germany recently.

        However, it is true that there is afoot a dreadful bias emerging in the police, the courts, and the indoctrinated public against all the values that Western society has been brought up on. And such generalities are relevent, believe you me, in how cases are decided.

      • I would recommend that you read the ‘Right of reply’ section of Richard Carvath’s blog.
        https://carvath.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/patrick-sookhdeo-story-more-benedict-parsons-right-of-reply/

        I do not at all agree with Carvath or his quite shocking treatment of the prosecution witnesses but I value his sense of fair play in allowing them to talk back. We have all heard the voices of supporters of Sookhdeo (mostly journalists who have never had to work with him close up) but in the ‘Right of reply’ you finally hear the other side. It is a long piece but it gives detail of the prosecution evidence.
        You surely understand that the loudest voice is not necessarily the honest one. Just because Sookhdeo has yelled “Conspiracy!” it does not mean that it is actually so. One of the uses of claims of racism or conspiracy is that they can trump evidence. If it is believed that witnesses and/or authorities have plotted together then it doesn’t matter what they say, it is false. The proper order is to first listen to evidence, evaluate witnesses and then see if various plot theories fit with it or not.

      • Thank you for that piece. It is very dense, I have to say, and I do not see any way easily through all the evidence or claims and counter-claims.

        In cases such as these, I have to stick with things that I know, the scholarship of Rev Dr Sookhdeo. That is the only thing that will come out of this unscathed. For me it is significant that Mrs Sookhdeo has stood by the Canon; that must say a lot for his character since wives do not usually have any truck with the kind of behaviour alleged. And perhaps there is too much male/female mixing at work due to equal opportunties instead of girls attending on the home, where they should be.

        My experience of women is that they are far, far too amorous; and that is a further reason why they should be kept out of the work place once wedded.

      • What can I say……?

      • No one is alleging that any item of clothing was removed or that any penetration was effected or even attempted. Women do use their sexualality or emblandishments on men – and that should, must, be borne in mind – and they then blame the men when something goes wrong. If Mrs Sookhdeo finds the Rev’d Dr Canon Sookhdeo blameless, then I am bound to give that all due weight. Barristers are quite biased and make you say, or seem to say, what they want. I think that as long as we have women in the workplace then we will always get allegations of this sort of thing. Courts can believe them, if they want to, but I am not convinced; and until I am convinced I cannot deem him guilty, whatever others may think.

      • You could equally say that men use their, normally, superior physical strength and aggression and desire for dominance and greater sexual drive and higher status and position to take what they want from women. That should be also borne in mind.
        There was a barrister on the prosecution but also one for the defence!

      • You can believe the court, if you want to, but I find the scholarship and professionalism of the Rev Canon Dr Sookhdeo very compelling, together with his many years in the Ministry, and particularly the support of his wife in the face of such imputations made against him. I cannot see why the women went to court, anyway, in the light of some of the details I related above – no clothes removed and no attempte penetration. Some may think that they had an agenda.

    • Thanks for the info John. Have you followed the articles about Sookhdeo on Virtueonline and Christian Today?

    • Hello John
      I would really like to contact you about something (to do with Sookhdeo). Would that be in any way possible?

      • There is a good article in this week’s Spectator on the thin-skinned and censorious nature of young folks, 7th June 2016, and this may be of relevance to all this nonsense and time-wasting. It is I think called the Snowflake Generation.

  8. Am I to conclude that if some female relative of yours, wife, daughter, mother, sister, etc were to tell you that they had been assaulted but that no clothes had been removed or penetration had occurred that you would regard the incident as of no consequence or importance?

    • If a man ‘assaulted’ a woman, as they frequently used to do when the boss got a bit tipsy, the women of yesteryear had a bit more gusto about them, and would slap the boss around the face, or even do a bit more. I imagine that would settle it. Why do they not do the same now? An agenda? The question is why did the boss get a bit familiar? Women are responsible for the messages they give and should stop crying wolf. Will all know what happened in that tale. And it will be repeated with the growth of Islam in this country. Stop promoting feminism and start concentrating on a real issue.

  9. Alistair Allen, revjohnoliver@btinternet.com will get me

  10. Patrick Sookhdeo´s game of trumps
    https://textualintercourt.wordpress.com

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