A Note on Sub Judice and the Worcester “Acid Attack” Case

From BBC News:

Father in court over Worcester ‘acid attack’ on boy, 3

The father of a boy who was the victim of a suspected acid attack is among five men who have appeared in court.

…The other men charged are [names redacted here].

The father cannot be named for legal reasons.

The mood on social media is that the BBC ought to have referred explicitly to the men’s ethnicity and residential status in the UK, although the former can be inferred from the names themselves. Further, before the charging decision, a joint Daily Mail and Mail Online article made claims about the boy’s parents and their domestic relations, from which readers continue to speculate – or rather, to make confident assertions – about motive and likelihood of guilt.

Inevitably, the allegations are also being used to draw wide-ranging negative inferences about the character of immigrants living in the UK, even though such expressions of contempt sit uneasily with supposed sympathy for the boy and his mother.

If the above reads as though I’m tiptoeing around the specific details, it is because I am mindful that the case is now sub judice, and as such discussion by law must be circumscribed, to ensure a fair trial. I may be overdoing it by redacting names that have appeared in the BBC report, but it is better to be overcautious in such matters. Trial by social media risks prejudicing the actual trial that we must assume will take place in due course: a situation in which jurors enter the courtroom with preconceptions of guilt, or in which potential defence witnesses feel intimidated by the public mood, is not conducive to justice, and if a judge believes that a fair trial is impossible then the case may collapse.

However, as was shown by reactions to Tommy Robinson’s contempt of court at Canterbury and Leeds, there is apparently an increasing belief that the temporary reporting and commentary restrictions that follow charging decisions – which many of us understand and take for granted – are actually a conspiracy to suppress important information.

Perhaps it doesn’t help that CPS warnings about sub judice appear to be ineffective, as I lamented in 2015, but as regards Tommy Robinson the public ignorance has weaponised by third parties in North America. And this is happening once again with the acid case: thus the Canadian activist Tarek Fatah falsely accuses the BBC of having “covered up for the father by not disclosing names of accused or the motive.”

A Note on JUST Yorkshire and Sarah Champion

From The Times:

An MP who received death threats after condemning the sexual abuse of girls by groups of British Pakistani men has been given increased security amid fears that hard-left and Muslim opponents are trying to force her from office.

…The strongest public attacks on Ms Champion, who campaigns for the victims of child sexual exploitation, have been made by a Rotherham-based racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire.

…In March Just Yorkshire published a report on Ms Champion that it said was commissioned by a “grassroots partnership” of activists and organisations.

…Co-authored by Nadeem Murtuja, the chairman and acting director of Just Yorkshire, it said that British Pakistanis felt “scapegoated, dehumanised and potentially criminalised” by their MP, who had “crossed a point of no return”. Its foreword accused her of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and acting like a “neo-fascist murderer”.

The Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion. Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unit increased her security risk level and she was advised to accept extra protection. The MP declined to comment.

The article – unsurprisingly – is by Andrew Norfolk, who won plaudits for his reporting on “grooming gangs” in Rochdale and Rotherham (like Maggie Oliver, he was depicted in the Three Girls Rochdale dramatisation), but whose more recent reporting of a fostering case in London involving a Muslim family became mired in controversy over sensationalism and distortions.

An accompanying Times editorial states that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has provided funding to JUST Yorkshire, is “implicated” in what it calls “the saga in which the Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, has received death threats”; in response to the main article, JUST Yorkshire has issued a statement along with links to

both our press release (published August 11, 2017) and Temperature Check report (published March 15, 2018) from which words have been taken and manipulated in creating this baseless and sensationalist front page Times story.

Champion wrote an article for the Sun last August under the headline “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls”. She later complained that the article had been “stripped of nuance” by editors, but she was forced to resign her shadow ministerial position (and to my knowledge, she has not explained in what ways exactly the editors distorted her article). Despite this semi-repudiation by its author, the article has often been cited as evidence of Champion’s willingness to speak out on a matter of public interest, and its critics as extremists who are weaponising false allegations of racism in order to suppress discussion of crimes against children.

The JUST Yorkshire report

The JUST Yorkshire report states that Champion, through her Sun aticle, “was sending out a message to the entire non-Muslim population of the country, whites especially, that our daughters are all at risk from males of ‘Pakistani heritage'”, although it concedes that its survey “does not provide evidence of any direct correlation between racist and Islamophobic attacks post the Champion article and media interviews and what Sarah Champion wrote and spoke in the media.” It does not dispute or criticise the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (the Jay Inquiry), and notes the inquiry’s findings that “people in state funded authority had turned a blind eye” to reports of abuse and that Asian girls were among the victims.

Having browsed the report, it seems to me that its call to frame what happened more in general terms of “predatory men” – with comparative references to Jimmy Savile and Harvey Weinstein – is not conducive to properly understanding the specifics of the “grooming gang” scandals, but there is nothing here that can be reasonably blamed for inspiring death threats. It is noteworthy that Norfolk feels the need to bolster his article by referring to “recent Tweets” by “the charity’s leader”, a “radical academic” named Waqas Tufail. Norfolk conveys the grave news that Tufail regards the royal family as epitomising “white privilege”, and that he

mocked the England football team during the World Cup, describing its three lions emblem as a colonial legacy that would more appropriately be of “three hedgehogs”.

The JUST Yorkshire report also contains a couple of references that are critical of the older Times reporting – a detail that gives Norfolk a personal reason for polemical coverage.

The Alleged Death Threats

There were previous media references to Champion receiving “death threats” soon after her Sun article’s publication, although details were scarce and there was no reference to any police investigation. And this seems to be the pattern once again: it is not clear why The Times merely “understands” that there have been new threats since March, or on what basis it believes that the JUST Yorkshire report is what “led” to them. There is also again no reference to any police investigation; one might speculate that details are being withheld so as not to alert a potential suspect, but that if that is the case then surely no article ought to have been published at all?

Champion also declined to provide any information in a follow-up article in the Guardian, although she provided more general quote which suggested she is vulnerable due to statistical probability:

Champion said she didn’t want to comment in detail on her case but said: “The real story is that at least nine women MPs have convictions against people planning to murder them (and one succeeded in Jo Cox’s case). Where is the outrage? Think how many have threats, I’m far from unique. Femicide accounts for two murders a week in the UK.”

“Where is the outrage?” is an odd complaint given that such cases receive widespread publicity and condemnation.

UPDATE: Extrapolating from the Times report, the narrative on social media is that Champion has been targeted for simply having “spoken out” about grooming gangs, or even for having “exposed” them, rather than because of criticism over how she framed the issue in her Sun op-ed.

Excursus

Champion’s “campaign[ing] for the victims of child sexual exploitation”, which Norfolk juxtaposes with “public attacks” by JUST Yorkshire as part of his monstering, includes the view that complainants should always be believed. This was shown in a Tweet of support she sent to Esther Baker, after Baker complained about sceptical Daily Mail coverage of her allegation against the former MP John Hemming of (satanic?) ritualistic sex abuse in woodlands decades ago.

Elon Musk Still on Twitter Despite “Pedo Guy” Jibe

From the Independent, last week:

Elon Musk has apologised to the British cave diver he labelled “pedo guy”.

…Mr Musk… attacked Mr [Vern] Unsworth on his Twitter page, claimed it was suspect that Mr Unsworth lived in Thailand, labelled him “pedo guy” apparently without any grounds at all and suggested that the diver had invited the attack on himself.

…Mr Musk had initially doubled down on the tweets, despite intense criticism. “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true,” he wrote to one user who questioned him over the posts.

As was widely reported, Musk lashed out after Unsworth contemptuously dismissed his suggestion that the group of trapped boys that Unsworth had rescued from a flooded cave could instead have been brought to safety via a mini-submarine designed by his company.

The offending Tweets have now been deleted – but there is no indication that Twitter took any interest in the controversy, despite reports in June that the platform was cracking down on abuse.

The implications of Twitter’s inaction are disturbing. “Pedo” is not a mere insult, like “bastard” or “wanker”; the term is always meant literally and substantively, to indicate an inappropriate and disturbing sexual interest that is synonymous with serious crimes against children. The word’s deployment is highly stigmatising, and someone so labelled is in danger of personal destruction and perhaps even of physical harm. It does not matter whether such an allegation is merely spat out as a casual jibe in a fit of petulance (as in this case), or is made as a serious proposition – it takes very little to stir up a mob, or to put a cloud over someone’s reputation.

Twitter could have sent a strong message that this kind of rhetoric is unacceptable, by suspending Musk for a period. Instead, it has colluded in the normalisation and trivialisation of false child sex abuse allegations.

Perhaps someone who is not a public figure would have been treated differently, but if so then we are in an even worse situation. If anything, a Twitter account with a blue tick verification symbol ought to be held to a higher standard – to instead give such users extra license to bully and abuse is dystopian.

A Media Note on “Police Whistleblowers” and the Conspiracy Milieu

From the Daily Express, December 2017:

POLICE whistleblowers are calling for an independent body to be set up where officers can expose corruption without being bullied out of their jobs.
By JAMES FIELDING

MP Andrew Bridgen has written to the policing minister Nick Hurd asking him what support is currently available to officers who raise concerns over criminality within their force.

In the letter Mr Bridgen told him that those who “dare” to speak out are often “put under pressure to back down and keep quiet.”

…The letter added: “Any new body should act as an ombudsman and be a point of contact for serving officers who wish to come forward with information. 

…Two former detective constables, John Wedger [sic – should be “Jon Wedger”] and Rochdale whistleblower Maggie Oliver told the Sunday Express how their lives were made unbearable once they reported police corruption to their senior officers.

Oddly, it seems that Bridgen’s enquiry was informal: it does not appear on the list of Bridgen’s “Written Questions and Answers” on the Parliamentary website, nor is it mentioned on Bridgen’s own website. I have been unable to find any report about Hurd’s response, if there was one.

I noted Wedger and Oliver just a few days ago; Oliver is a mainstream celebrity, based on her involvement in exposing the Rochdale “grooming gang” case, while Wedger claims that he was forced out of the Metropolitan Police after raising a concern that evidence about a paedophile ring had been covered up – more recently, his allegations have come to include claims about Satanic Ritual Abuse (as noted by Hoaxstead Research), and he appears to have introduced Oliver to a conspiracy-theory milieu that includes the likes of Robert Green.

James Fielding, the author of the above article, wrote about both Wedger and Oliver in November 2017 (here and here); previously, Oliver had said that she had resigned in 2012 over how the Rochdale case was being handled, but in Fielding’s piece she re-framed her experience as “bullying”, explaining that she had not spoken out until now “so as not to detract from the way in which the young victims were let down by the police.”

Bridgen is a backbench MP who frequently obliges journalists with rent-a-quotes on a range of topics (1), and given his intervention just a couple of weeks later it is very reasonable to suppose that he was brought in at Fielding’s request to generate an easy follow-up article that would give a sense of the November stories moving onward and upward. (2)

A couple of months later, in February 2018, Wedger undertook a canal walk from London to Manchester, to raise awareness of his “whistleblowing” cause and to raise money for a drug rehabilitation centre; according to his Justgiving crowdfunding blurb:

Support has also come from morally focused MPs who have faced resistance from their peers for supporting us, as well as victim and survivor support groups and members of the public. Well-wishers have included the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham; Cardinal Vincent Nichols; and the original and most famous police whistleblower, Frank SERPICO.

The canal walk was also reported by Fielding, this time for Mail Online, but the journalist focused on the detail that Wedger was being accompanied by Chris Lambrianou, a former East End gangster and associate of the Kray Twins who is now a Christian after having had a conversion experience in prison.

Manchester was also the location of the mysterious “police whistleblowers’ meeting” attended by Wedger and Oliver that I noted in my previous post; in a short video, Wedger said that the meeting was taking place somewhere in the north of England, but an associate then gave the game away by complaining that it had taken him an hour to get to the venue from Manchester Airport, when the journey should have taken just two minutes.

Several other short “to-camera” videos from the meeting were uploaded to YouTube, but for some reason some of these have now been removed. In one of them, Wedger complained about an unnamed individual who was causing “unlimited damage”; and just yesterday he used social media to announce his immediate withdrawal from campaigning, supposedly due to “threats”. This is despite having recently launched a line of merchandise, including t-shirts bearing an image of his face and the words “I Stand with Jon” (3).

From context, it is obvious that the person Wedger says is causing “unlimited damage” is the former pop-singer Brian Harvey. However, it is difficult to see how this can be substantiated: in a recent YouTube video, Harvey spoke respectfully of Wedger, but appealed to him to disassociate from Bill Maloney, a self-styled activist who has made extravagant allegations of sex abuse and murder against politicians. Wedger says that he has known Maloney for eight years.

Harvey at one time worked with Maloney, and he has video clips, apparently from late 2013, that show Maloney “coaching” an obviously vulnerable adult in a way that is disturbing and demeaning, and asking this same man to confirm whether he had been abused by various celebrities. Maloney’s list of names also included a private individual known to Harvey, and Harvey very reasonably believes that this name was included to manipulate him (4). There is also a clip in which Maloney tells Harvey and the vulnerable adult that his life is in danger, and warns them that theirs may be as well.

This brings us back to James Fielding. Harvey claims that Fielding travelled with him and Maloney to meet this man; he says that Fielding was not present when Maloney read his list of names to him, but that he conducted a separate interview that yielded a sensational headline about supposed abuse by an unnamed politician. This was during a period when posthumous allegations against Jimmy Savile and the ongoing farce of Operation Midland meant that any lurid “VIP abuse” allegation would be published uncritically, although details were often kept vague to skirt libel laws and evade proper scrutiny.

Was it through Maloney that Fielding came into contact to Wedger? And if so, what does this tell us about the interactions between rabble-rousing conspiracy activists, journalists seeking sensationalist scoops, and publicity-hungry politicians?

Notes

(1)

As I have previously noted, the media has faithfully conveyed Bridgen’s view that it is “totally inappropriate” for the National Trust to be promoting gay rights; that he has “no idea” why John Lewis is selling children’s clothes as gender neutral; that police have “more important things to investigate” than a car being accidentally splashed with water from a watering can; and that “people will be shocked” by the proportion of National Lottery grants that go to Scotland. Etc, etc.

(2)

Last October Bridgen received a pre-publication copy of Wiltshire Police’s underwhelming report into Edward Heath, for which he provided positive publicity before the rest of us could see it and judge for ourselves. In the same month, he spoke supportively of  Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale, when it announced that Veale was facing a disciplinary investigation on an unrelated matter. Fielding wrote this up for the Express in an article that carried the headline “Edward heath chief investigating constable victim of ‘ridiculous’ accusations” – the single quotes around “ridiculous” serving as cover for the obvious editorialising in such an announcement.

(3)

The items are for sale via a shopify website called “resistanceclothing”, apparently based in Thornton, Wirral. Alongside the “Jon Wedger Whistleblower collection”, the site sells “Clothing etc for patriots (rebels) with a cause whilst helping fund the patriots cause!” The items for sale mostly carry designs based on the Union Flag; there are also mugs advertising bacon, and a range of items promoting a Tommy Robinson supporter who goes by the name of “The Pissed Off Patriot”.

(4)

Harvey suffers from a bipolar disorder, and has in the past made something of a spectacle of himself (e.g. turning up outside Downing Street in 2014 and demanding to be seen by Davd Cameron). His broader narrative involving phone-hacking and police statements is difficult to follow, and some of his inferences are arguable. He also appears to remain invested in conspiracy theories. However, the Maloney material speaks for itself, and it’s a shame that journalists show no interest in it while running trivialising “weird news”-type articles about Harvey’s reduced circumstances and supposed mental state.

Harvey most recently gave his account in an interview with a London-based activist who goes by the name “Eddie Is OK” (var. Eddieisok, Eddie Isok). “Eddie Is OK” is a black Briton who, from his various videos, appears to be supportive of Tommy Robinson and of Anne Marie Waters’s For Britain party. He believes that immigration to Britain by Muslims is a conspiracy, and the blurb on one of his YouTube videos directs readers to a book by William T. Still entitled New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret Societies.

High-Profile Former Rochdale Officer Attends “Police Whistleblowers’ Meeting” Involving SRA Conspiracy Theorists

A Tweet from independent journalist Anna Brees, 11 July:

I have been told that 30 police whistleblowers are meeting in Manchester tomorrow and I’ve been told @itn will be there along with @thetimes Thankyou I have hope

Informal pieces to camera recorded during the “meeting” have been posted online by Brees and by a YouTube channel called Battletv, although for a gathering of “whistleblowers” details are oddly thin on the ground. Brees has highlighted the involvement of Jon Wedger and Maggie Oliver, while Battletv also refers to “Robert Green, Anthony Carlin amongst other heavy hitters”, as well as Gareth Slinn and Darren Cox. There is no sign of coverage from ITN or The Times.

As a Detective Constable with Greater Manchester Police, Oliver played a significant role in bringing the Rochdale “grooming gang” to justice, since when she has become something of a celebrity: she was portrayed by Lesley Sharp in last year’s Three Girls BBC dramatisation, and earlier this year she was a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother. She resigned from the force in 2012, and last year she told the Daily Express that this had been because of bullying. It was stated that previously she “not spoken publicly about her bullying so as not to detract from the way in which the young victims were let down by the police.”

Wedger, meanwhile, claims that he was bullied out of the Metropolitan Police for uncovering paedophile rings; when he came forward in 2016 Oliver expressed support, and the two have since made joint appearances. A nuanced discussion of Wedger’s account can be found on the Hoaxtead Research website.

However, the Hoaxtead author also points out Wedger’s association with Bill Maloney, which of course takes us deep into the conspiracy milieu: Maloney has made numerous videos alleging VIP abuse, and in 2015 he gave a speech at a rally opposite Downing Street in which he accused David Cameron of being a “paedophile protector” and alleged that refurbishments at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster were being undertaken to conceal evidence of ritualistic child abuse and murder by up to 76 MPs. Wedger has also come to include Satanic Ritual Abuse in his own claims, in discussion with Maloney about the notorious “RAINS list“, and in interviews with Lou Collins for David Icke’s website and with the alt-right “Red Pill Phil“.

Maloney was not apparently at the “whistleblowers’ meeting”, but the name of Robert Green (not an ex-officer) will be familiar as the continuing promoter of the Hollie Greig hoax and of SRA claims, while Anthony Carlin is a “common law” (similar to US “sovereign citizen”) theorist who was imprisoned for contempt of court after attempting to arrest a judge during civil litigation in which he was involved.

UPDATE: More here.

UPDATE 2: Brees has made a Tweet that strongly indicates that she supports the American “QAnon” conspiracy theory.