A Note on Operation Midland’s Nick, Sub Judice and Anonymity

Stern words from Mark Watts:

Amid highly prejudicial reporting of charges against Nick re indecent images of children and voyeurism, remember that no one in media yet knows truth of any accusations against him. [here]

Double standards still on display in today’s newspapers. Proceedings are active re Nick, so Contempt of Court Act applies. Will anyone enforce the law? [here]

This is rather hard to take from someone who uncritically promoted Nick’s false allegations of historic sex abuse by various “VIPs”, rebuked Harvey Proctor for daring to protest his innocence (a “shameful performance” that “distressed” his accuser), and impugned the motives of journalists who took a more critical perspective. We must also recall his gleeful Tweets about “green bottles” falling when two critics of another of his informants were investigated by the police for alleged stalking – the matter was eventually dropped without charges being brought.

Despite this, though, there is a real issue here: the media now regularly refers to “Nick the fantasist”, when we don’t know why he told so many falsehoods. Perhaps “Nick the fantasist” is less damaging than “Nick the liar”, but neither term reflects well on him, and if the sex-offence charges come to court it will be difficult for a jury not to draw inferences about his character from his “Operation Midland” tales and their outcome. Judges can direct juries to disregard things they may have read ahead of a trial – but how effective is this in practice, given human nature?

However, “Nick” would hardly be the first person who is already publicly notorious to appear before a jury; and it would be unjust to silence those who were falsely accused by Nick, particularly given that so many old media reports about them remain online and there is even a bone-headed “I believe Nick” movement that continues to abuse those he accused and their supporters (e.g. “Who’s that cow bag saying Bramall is an innocent man?”, as asked by Esther Baker, a core participant in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse).

There is also the matter of whether Nick will stand trial for attempting to pervert the course of justice over his falsehoods – the matter is under investigation, but one can’t help speculating that Metropolitan Police would prefer that this not happen, to avoid embarrassing disclosures about police credulity and bias. Perversely, some of Nick’s supporters argue that it is wrong to state that those he has accused are innocent, because to do so is to assert that Nick is a liar when this has not been proven. But this does not follow. There is no sensible reason to credit Nick’s stories, and therefore to do so is unjust (and for any reasonable person, impossible). However, we don’t yet know why he told his false stories to police. If he really is a “fantasist”, then he may be not guilty by reason of mental incompetence – if so, the real blame may in fact lie with his therapist.

Meanwhile, there are calls for Nick to be stripped of his anonymity, which he currently enjoys due to his status as a sex-crime complainant. One can understand the court’s reluctance here: anonymity is seen to facilitate justice by allowing genuine victims to come forward without fear of stigma, but such complainants must have confidence that the authorities will abide by their promise to protect their identity. This confidence will be undermined if Nick is named, especially if in due course the charges are dropped or he is acquitted.

On the other hand, though, it seems to me that those who have been falsely accused by Nick should allowed every means to thoroughly discredit his claims – yet at the moment it is not possible to properly scrutinise his life history and to draw attention to how this may be inconsistent with his abuse claims. Those who write about Nick are even obliged to tip-toe around information that Nick himself has published online. It seems to me that his use of the right to anonymity has been selective and manipulative, and that as such it should be reviewed. Or must we wait decades before the public record is definitively put straight?

7 Responses

  1. The police may well be less than keen on seeing their gullibilty highlighted by the prosecution of ‘Nick’ for PCoJ but one also wonders how much real enthusiasm there would be in the ranks of the media for such an investigation; although they occasionally mention in passing that ‘Nick’ was a Savile-accuser they never seem to take the next logical step and question THIS outrageous allegation… perhaps because it was no more outrageous than many others they have happily profited from.

    When ‘Nick’ made those lurid & deranged claims of being victim of Savile’s sadistic abuse at VIP sex parties he did so via the telly programme ‘Crimes That Shook Britain: Jimmy Savile’; I tried watching it in its entirety yesterday (available on YouTube) but ended up skipping whole chunks in order to make it to the finishing line with a tiny bit of sanity intact.

    A fellow fantasist – Guy Marsden, Jimmy Savile’s nephew or summat – was also given free reign (or ‘encouraged to’) fabricate easy copy for a morally bankrupt media with his tales of, er, VIP sex parties in which his ‘Uncle Jimmy’ would play some ill-defined though hideously evil role. Fleet Street loved it! Couldn’t get enough…

    With a little more ‘encouragement’ Marsden returned to keep things ticking along:

    “Exaro can reveal: Jimmy Savile’s nephew, Guy Marsden, claims that Sir Edward Heath sexually abused a friend – a 14yo boy in around 1969.
    — ExaroNews (@ExaroNews) August 6, 2015”

    Although Exaro briefly teased that there’d be more on the story it seemed to die on the vine and not even the occasional nudge of their “senior investigative reporter” (and later replacement ‘Editor-in-Chief’) David Hencke could elicit any more mad morsels. I now fear that the files may have been forever lost when a big hammer accidentally fell on the hard-drive, accidentally falling again and again and again until there was nothing left but smashed platters and splinters (which were then inadvertently blown into a nearby furnace by a freak gust of wind).

    Let’s not be too hard on Exaro when the BBC, ITV, Times, Telegraph, Guardian and assorted red-tops have all been playing the same game but with a more supine target. Did Louis Theroux, the BBC which transmitted his interview with the ‘victim’, the media which lapped it up, or indeed the writers of the NHS report REALLY believe that the following took place?

    “Between 1978 and 1983 Victim 24 was systematically abused by Savile in the Hospital chapel presbytery during services. During a five-year period Victim 24 attended the chapel in the hospital grounds every Sunday with her family. When the abuse began Victim 24 was 11 years old. Her family
    were devout Roman Catholics. Victim 24 used to pass round the collection plate which she had to collect from the presbytery. On a regular basis, at least twice a month, Savile would attend the chapel. He would stand in the presbytery and watch the service from behind a curtain and this is where the abuse took place. He systematically abused Victim 24 for a period of five years. He was often accompanied by another man, described as wearing a suit, who watched…”

    Seriously…

    P.S. Small matter, but on the subject of the ‘green bottles’ (“two critics of another of his informants were investigated by the police for alleged stalking – the matter was eventually dropped without charges being brought”) I think it was the case that one ‘bottle’ WAS charged only for it to be later dropped.

    • Sam/’Nicky’: “… because we used to go to church on Saturday evening which is where he [Evil Jimmy] used to go, ’cause that was on the hospital premises.”

      Theroux: “It was the Stoke Mandeville Chapel in effect.”

      ‘Nicky’: “Yeah.”

      Then Evil Jimmy would “do whatever he wanted to do” as “the service was going on”. Twice a month for five years. At that famous Saturday evening service (though could have been a Sunday!).

      Cheers, Louis! You’re the tops!

      • ^ ” I now fear that the files may have been forever lost when a big hammer accidentally fell on the hard-drive, accidentally falling again and again and again until there was nothing left but smashed platters and splinters (which were then inadvertently blown into a nearby furnace by a freak gust of wind). ”

        Bandini, you’re on form today!

  2. Many rape trials have been stopped because, it seems, that when a victim reports the crime, their emails, texts, internet photo’s etc are investigated, but that information was not being handed over to the defence.

    If follows then, that if I had reported being raped by a High Court Judge, or an MP, my emails texts etc would be looked at?

    And as the person who I was accusing was ‘important’, no doubt the secret services would also be looking at my online downloads texts etc?

    If they had that information about me at the time, they would have to keep it secret, as seems to have been the case with many recent rape cases, or there would be no chance of a prosecution?

    The secret services might also try to discredit me?

  3. In 2014 the Home Office’s top civil servant told MPs that 114 files detailing allegations of child sex abuse in Westminster were probably destroyed.

    Mark Sedwill also confessed he did not know the titles or the content of the documents, which dated from 1979 to 99.

  4. […] Richard Bartholomew’s similar article to this today details one of Sheahan’s many such attacks: http://barthsnotes.com/2018/02/10/a-note-on-operation-midlands-nick-sub-judice-and-anonymity/ […]

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