Melanie Shaw: Jury Finds that Woman Backed by Tommy Robinson and Gerard Batten Committed Arson in Prison

From news site ExaminerLive:

A jury has concluded that a prisoner repeatedly started fires in her cells in what she claimed was a protest at ‘abuse of her human rights’.

A two-day trial at Leeds Crown Court heard how Melanie Shaw, who was unfit to stand trial, started three fires in her cells at HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire and HMP New Hall in Flockton, near Wakefield.

At the conclusion of what is called a finding of fact trial [1] at Leeds Crown Court , a jury of seven women and five men spent less than an hour reaching the verdict that she committed three counts of arson being reckless as to whether property was damaged or destroyed.

Shaw had served just one month of a prison sentence at HMP Foston Hall for harassment and breach of a restraining order when she started the first fire.

The mother of one person harassed by Shaw gave her account in a 2016 video interview which can be seen here.

As I blogged just recently, Shaw is a cause célèbre among conspiracy theorists, and also now within the fringe-right: last month, Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll were seen waving “Free Melanie Shaw” placards outside the Old Bailey, while UKIP leader Gerard Batten used Twitter to promote a an article about her published by the website Politicalite, a self-described “independent populist news outlet read by thousands of readers per month” controlled by a man named Jordan James.

The Politicalite article announced a “World Exclusive”, in which it was suggested that Shaw is being held in prison as part of a cover up of VIP child sex abuse:

A VULNERABLE whistleblower of the horrific abuse of children which occurred at a county council-run home in Nottinghamshire in the late 1980s has been locked up, without a fair trial and has today been declared ‘Unwell’ to appear in court, Politicalite can reveal.

Melanie Shaw, who is a survivor of abuse at a children’s home in Nottingham remains in a high-security prison with no substantive evidence against her in a suspected “Cover-Up” by the Establishment.

…She says she is not being given her Valium. If so, this is of grave concern, as it will at best cause discomfort, and at worst cause seizures which could be fatal.

In fact, however, and as I noted previously, allegations relating to Beechwood Community House in Nottingham were first investigated by police as Operation Daybreak in 2010, which was followed by a wider investigation in 2015 called Operation Xeres and then Operation Equinox. Local media report that hundreds of statements have been taken (including one from the actress Samantha Morton), and the subject is currently being considered by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (despite Batten’s false claim in his Tweet that the inquiry “Seems to have gone quiet”). Further, Shaw is apparently still able to communicate with the outside world via her supporters. None of this would be the case if there were a “cover-up” going on.

As expected, the Examiner Live article – which also refers to support Shaw received from Robinson – has not been universally appreciated. Its author, court reporter Stephanie Finnegin (2), is currently being accused on Twitter of producing “fake news”, and she has fielded aggressive questioning from an account called @cupcake25831762 – Hoaxstead has screenshots. The account was created last month and has Tweeted just 61 times: it is obviously the creation of a troll farm (the same avatar appears on at least one other troll account), demonstrating that someone is deliberately trying to stir things up.

Footnote

1. A “trial of the facts” is a mechanism used in limited circumstances. As Matthew Scott explained in 2015:

There are, of course, circumstances in which the justice system has to wrestle with defendants who are too ill to participate in a normal trial, but too dangerous to be ignored. When that is necessary the law has no choice but to adopt an uneasy compromise between the defendant’s rights and the public need for protection.

There is no reasonable doubt that Shaw is mentally ill, and a risk to public safety.

2. UPDATE: Hoaxstead reminds us that Finnegan was the journalist who challenged reporting restrictions about Robinson’s imprisonment for contempt of court at Leeds Crown Court in May. Her reporting on the subject angered Robinson’s supporters, who in particular complained that she had referred to the street in which Robinson lives – a detail that LeedsLive has explained is included as standard practice in court reporting (“This information is given in open court for the media to publish, and is designed to ensure identification of the correct defendant in a case”). In an odd twist, however, it was afterwards discovered that Robinson had given the court an old address rather than his present home anyway. Some of Robinson’s supporters reportedly resorted to making threats against Finnegan, some of a sexual nature.

20 Responses

  1. I do not really understand what you mean by, ‘too dangerous to be ignored’?

    Too dangerous to whom?

    I was not aware that she has been charged with falsely accusing anyone?

    • I didn’t think it was that difficult to follow. Shaw is obviously dangerous because of her behaviour – harassing people, and setting fire to things.

      I also don’t see where “charged with falsely accusing anyone” comes into it. Why would she have been? No-one doubts that abuse occurred within the care system in Nottinghamshire.

    • Surely arson is dangerous to fellow prisoners. Shaw was also convicted previously of setting fire to a neighbour’s house late at night which could have resulted in the deaths of the occupants. While she clearly has mental health issues she is most certainly dangerous. Let’s hope she gets the help she needs. Apparently a charge of alleged sexual assault against her was dropped but the Robinson fanatics claim it was “trumped up” not that Robinson has ever bothered to attend a Shaw court case or visit her. Surely the fact it was dropped indicates the law was treating Shaw fairly.

  2. The Nottingham Post has quite a bit on the IICSA hearings with plenty about Beechwood here:
    https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/nottingham-news/live-coverage-iicsa-hearing-nottingham-2054551

  3. “Shaw is a cause célèbre among conspiracy theorists, and also now within the fringe-right……”

    “There is no reasonable doubt that Shaw is mentally ill….”

    Whether there is a conspiracy or she’s a nutter, surely there is something very wrong in with the way she’s being treated?!

    And she doesn’t need to be hauled off to a Consulate and dismembered for the authorities to be hiding something:

    They could be hiding it in plain sight and labelling it dangerous whacko, no?!

    By the way, is “fringe right” yet another name for the foreigner exterminating far or extreme right?

    Or are they on the fringe of even that degree of extremism, perhaps actively planning to eat the baybees after they’ve been put in the ovens without pre-gassing?!

    ‘a self-described “independent populist news outlet”‘

    I wonder how you usually introduce or describe the ‘self-described independent populist news outlet’ The Independent?!

    Perhaps the fact that you didn’t refer to ‘the self-described the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse enquiry’ gives us a clue?!

    As for ‘aggressive questioning’, was the reporter or her paper in any way related to the one that published Tommy Robinson’s family’s real name and address knowing full well (they are ‘journalists’, aren’t they?!) that they had received acid attack, arson, rape, and death threats, and that Robinson would not even be at home to try to defend his family?!

    And then when they found it wasn’t his family’s current address, and someone else’s family might be attacked, as has happened to other new occupants of his old addresses, had the bare-faced cheek to then attack Robinson again for HIM endangering the new occupants?!

    If they are in any way related, or even similar, why should you give such MSM rags any more credence than ‘conspiracy theorists’?!

    • Wow that was “joining the dots” and an expert weaving of disparate matters to produce something. Few facts though.

      • Wow, eric!

        It’s not a fact that: “Shaw is a cause célèbre among conspiracy theorists, and also now within the fringe-right……”?

        Or that the writer said that about her?

        Or that: “There is no reasonable doubt that Shaw is mentally ill….”?

        Or that he said that!

        Or are you disputing that:

        Whether there is a conspiracy or she’s a nutter, surely there is something very wrong in with the way she’s being treated?

        Or that the authorities could be hiding something in plain sight by labelling her a dangerous whacko?

        You didn’t really think your “reply” through before hitting post, did you!

  4. Leaving everything else aside, if this woman is too unwell to face trial, then surely she is too unwell to be kept in prison.

  5. Talking about Tommy Robinson and related legal issues, does the recent decision that the retrial of Mr Robinson has to be referred to the Attorney General indicate that the original “trial” judge should have done this in the first place instead of holding his kangaroo court drumhead trial?

    If so, what does this say about the commentary of various legal experts and other less qualified commentators on all the earlier proceedings?

    • Never mind the referral to the AG, the Secret Barrister held his hand up when Timmy’s appeal was allowed:

      “[Q] This shows that you know NOTHING, fake barrister. You were wrong, weren’t you?

      [A] Yes. My initial impression, based on the limited information available, was that the summary procedure was appropriate in the Leeds case. As the Court of Appeal explained, it was not.”

      https://thesecretbarrister.com/2018/08/01/the-tommy-robinson-judgment-what-does-it-all-mean/

      • A very prompt response!

        Are you The Secret Barrister?!

        But your “reply” is just a little “disingenuous”!!!

        That isn’t the “quote”, is it?

        It’s:

        “14. This shows that you know NOTHING, fake barrister. You were wrong, weren’t you?

        Yes. My initial impression, based on the limited information available, was that the summary procedure was appropriate in the Leeds case. As the Court of Appeal explained, it was not……….”

        ie the last point after 13 earlier self-justifying ones reached after 4,236 words!

        And if you’d managed to wade through all those (s)”he” continued:

        “…I would plead in mitigation…Whether the sentence was appropriate was not decided…my position on that was neutral – I observed simply that the sentence was not out of the ordinary for *serious* [my *emphasis* and later] contempts of court.)

        “So I hold my hands up – *imperfect* *information* *makes* for imperfect predictions. But is there a wider issue here, among me and other legal commentators? *Were* we too quick to dismiss the case with a “nothing to see here” wave of the hand, blinded by the *unappealing* *nature* of Robinson’s supporters and the *organised* *maelstrom* *of* *fake* *news* stirred up here and abroad? *Maybe* we were. *Maybe* we could have – should have – cleared our ears and browsers of the *white* (*pride*) *noise* and paid greater heed to the arguments of due process. *Maybe* a little more humility is required in these difficult cases. I am normally conscious in all legal blogging to couch in terms of conditionals – if this report is accurate, then the explanation might be X. *Was* *I* too quick to assume, wrongly, that the judge had acted correctly?
        I think *I* *may* have been. ***But*** looking back over the *litany* *of* *plainly* *false* *statements* circulated between May and now – that Robinson’s *“reporting”* was nothing more than the BBC had done; that he was targeted by the deep state; that Robinson’s original barrister was an “unqualified duty solicitor”; that TR was never in contempt of court as the trial was over; that the courts were “covering up” serious crimes by *certain* *racial* *groups* [Japanese hairdressers and Chinese manicurists?!]; *the* *dishonest* *framing* of the debate as one of “free speech” rather than interfering with justice; and the other *hundreds* of *fantastical* theories clogging my Twitter notifications today – I’d suggest, self-servingly, that an *inaccurate* *but* *well-meaning* prediction – such as *we* *all* make in the courts *every* day – is *lesser* *a* *social* *evil* than the *deliberate*, *racially-tinged* *misinformation* *campaign* that *we* do our best to counter.

        So not actually holding “his” hand up at all!

        Just lining up another (numerous) dig(s) at Tommy Robinson and his supporters!

        Looks like it is only the Free Tommy lobby that is entitled to use the excuse of:

        “I hold my hands up – imperfect information makes for imperfect predictions”

        But if there is there a wider issue here, it is:

        “among [her] and other legal commentators”

        Were we had the:

        “blinded…unappealing…organised maelstrom of fake news stirred up here and abroad”

        Against:

        “white (pride) noise”

        “the litany of plainly false statements circulated between May and now”

        “the dishonest framing of the debate”

        “the other hundreds of fantastical theories clogging my Twitter notifications”

        “a social evil”

        “the deliberate, [reverse] racially-tinged misinformation campaign”

        By the Secret Barrister and others of her non-judgemental, non stereotyping, tolerant, “liberal” elite commentators!

      • Worst formatting ever.
        Un *(read*)**ab(*le*).

      • Apologies, Bandini, yes, you’re right, I missed reinserting the para break back into the middle of your heroine’s screed:

        “So I hold my hands up – *imperfect* *information* *makes* for imperfect predictions. But is there a wider issue here, among me and other legal commentators? *Were* we too quick to dismiss the case with a “nothing to see here” wave of the hand, blinded by the *unappealing* *nature* of Robinson’s supporters and the *organised* *maelstrom* *of* *fake* *news* stirred up here and abroad? *Maybe* we were. *Maybe* we could have – should have – cleared our ears and browsers of the *white* (*pride*) *noise* and paid greater heed to the arguments of due process. *Maybe* a little more humility is required in these difficult cases. I am normally conscious in all legal blogging to couch in terms of conditionals – if this report is accurate, then the explanation might be X. *Was* *I* too quick to assume, wrongly, that the judge had acted correctly?

        I think *I* *may* have been. ***But*** looking back over the *litany* *of* *plainly* *false* *statements* circulated between May and now – that Robinson’s *“reporting”* was nothing more than the BBC had done; that he was targeted by the deep state; that Robinson’s original barrister was an “unqualified duty solicitor”; that TR was never in contempt of court as the trial was over; that the courts were “covering up” serious crimes by *certain* *racial* *groups* [Japanese hairdressers and Chinese manicurists?!]; *the* *dishonest* *framing* of the debate as one of “free speech” rather than interfering with justice; and the other *hundreds* of *fantastical* theories clogging my Twitter notifications today – I’d suggest, self-servingly, that an *inaccurate* *but* *well-meaning* prediction – such as *we* *all* make in the courts *every* day – is *lesser* *a* *social* *evil* than the *deliberate*, *racially-tinged* *misinformation* *campaign* that *we* do our best to counter.

        Hope that helps you to produce a reasoned logical response in lieu of ad hominem!

        Or is your problem with the fact that blog doesn’t have a facility for highlighting or emphasising salient points in comments?

        In which case you should have addressed your “reply” to WordPress.

        By the way, the (curved) brackets within the quotes are your heroine’s brackets as quoted.

        The [square] brackets are my use of the standard method of indicating my insertion of my note into someone else’s words.

        Is it any wonder you struggle to understand anything?

      • Would you not be better off using bold?

      • Yes, indeed, but there is no bold option when I reply.

        Does html or similar work on this blog?!

      • Yes, I realise that something clearly does, but what is the secret?!

      • Html.

      • Test B

        Test B

      • And neither your reply, nor the Secret Barrister’s “hands up (don’t shoot?!), clarifies whether ANY procedure, summary or not, was appropriate without prior referral to the Attorney General!

  6. For Bandini’s benefit:

    A very prompt response!

    Are you The Secret Barrister?!

    But your “reply” is just a little “disingenuous”!!!

    That isn’t the “quote”, is it?

    It’s:

    “14. This shows that you know NOTHING, fake barrister. You were wrong, weren’t you?

    “Yes. My initial impression, based on the limited information available, was that the summary procedure was appropriate in the Leeds case. As the Court of Appeal explained, it was not……….”

    ie the last point after 13 earlier self-justifying ones reached after 4,236 words!

    And if you’d managed to wade through all those (s)”he” continued:

    “…I would plead in mitigation…Whether the sentence was appropriate was not decided…my position on that was neutral – I observed simply that the sentence was not out of the ordinary for serious [my emphasis and later] contempts of court.)

    “So I hold my hands up – imperfect information makes for imperfect predictions. But is there a wider issue here, among me and other legal commentators? Were we too quick to dismiss the case with a “nothing to see here” wave of the hand, blinded by the unappealing nature of Robinson’s supporters and the organised maelstrom of fake news stirred up here and abroad? Maybe we were. Maybe we could have – should have – cleared our ears and browsers of the white (pride) noise and paid greater heed to the arguments of due process. Maybe a little more humility is required in these difficult cases. I am normally conscious in all legal blogging to couch in terms of conditionals – if this report is accurate, then the explanation might be X. Was I too quick to assume, wrongly, that the judge had acted correctly?

    I think I may have been. But looking back over the litany of plainly false statements circulated between May and now – that Robinson’s “reporting” was nothing more than the BBC had done; that he was targeted by the deep state; that Robinson’s original barrister was an “unqualified duty solicitor”; that TR was never in contempt of court as the trial was over; that the courts were “covering up” serious crimes by certain racial groups [Japanese hairdressers and Chinese manicurists?!]; the dishonest framing of the debate as one of “free speech” rather than interfering with justice; and the other hundreds of fantastical theories clogging my Twitter notifications today – I’d suggest, self-servingly, that an inaccurate but well-meaning prediction – such as we all make in the courts every day – is lesser a social evil than the deliberate, racially-tinged misinformation campaign that we do our best to counter.

    So not actually holding “his” hand up at all!

    Just lining up another (numerous) dig(s) at Tommy Robinson and his supporters!

    Looks like it is only the Free Tommy lobby that is entitled to use the excuse of:

    “I hold my hands up – imperfect information makes for imperfect predictions”

    But if there is there a wider issue here, it is:

    “among [her] and other legal commentators”

    Were we had the:

    “blinded…unappealing…organised maelstrom of fake news stirred up here and abroad”

    Against:

    “white (pride) noise”

    “the litany of plainly false statements circulated between May and now”

    “the dishonest framing of the debate”

    “the other hundreds of fantastical theories clogging my Twitter notifications”

    “a social evil”

    “the deliberate, [reverse] racially-tinged misinformation campaign”

    By the Secret Barrister and others of her non-judgemental, non stereotyping, tolerant, “liberal” elite commentators!

    Hope that’s clearer for you!

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