Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360-379)
MR PETER GARSDEN AND MS FRANCES SWAINE
TUESDAY 11 JUNE 2002
360. Have you ever come across a client who has been exaggerating or lying among that 700 to 800?
(Mr Garsden) There will be examples of that, there must be examples of exaggeration. Statistics demand that that must be a realistic possibility, do they not? There must be examples of injustice in the criminal courts and there must be examples of people who have exaggerated to make claims. We live in a compensation culture, we see adverts every day because the Government has abandoned the Legal Aid for personal injury, which is the biggest mistake it has ever made, but when it did, the insurance companies jumped in and these claims companies have taken their place, so is it any surprise that people are cajoled into claiming compensation? All we can do
361. Well, we will come to those points in a minute. What I want to extract from you is whether, amongst these 700 or 800 cases that you have dealt with, you have ever caught out anybody either lying or who is completely wrong?
(Mr Garsden) I have not caught anybody out, no. To answer your question, I have not caught anybody out. There have been examples of cases, one or two perhaps, where the medical evidence tests, the complaint that they have made, do not tally against the symptoms they display. What tends to happen, sometimes, is psychometric tests are done. I do not know whether you are going to ask any questions of expert psychologists who have examined victims in this field, but if not you should do, for the simple reason that they conduct psychometric tests and in those psychometric tests there are things called validity questions, and those validity questions are designed to catch out the liar and the unwary exaggerator. Those questions, if they are answered in a certain way, can indicate, and it is not an exact science, that the symptoms do not necessarily match up with what they are being told. That can be for a number of different reasons. It can suggest an inaccuracy of history and we have one or two of those cases and they do not proceed. I know you are concentrating on the narrow area but it simply is not representative of the whole.
362. Just sticking very briefly with the psychiatric evidence, I have read an interview with Lesley Cohen, who is very experienced in this area.
(Mr Garsden) Yes, she is one of our team.
363. She says that the tests which are used are not infallible.
(Mr Garsden) No, they are not.
364. She goes on to suggest anybody who says they are is misleading.
(Mr Garsden) Yes, that is right. It is only part of the whole picture. I am a lawyer, I am not a psychologist, and that is why I prefaced this answer by saying you should be asking the experts in this field. They will tell you it is not a lie detector test and it cannot prove one way or the other, but it can match up a history and symptomology with the end result, and sometimes those match and sometimes they do not and it is as simple as that.
365. Okay. Just sticking with this point about whether sometimes among your 700 or 800 clients you have ever come across anybody who is plainly either making something up or completely wrong, when someone makes an allegation to you, you go away and look for the documentation, do you not?
(Mr Garsden) Yes, we do.
366. Has it never happened that you have discovered the person against whom the allegation was made simply was not at the home at the time in question?
(Mr Garsden) I am very glad you have raised that point because it is an important point and you have mentioned it more than once.
367. Witnesses we have had have mentioned examples of that.
(Mr Garsden) I know they have.
368. You will be aware of that.
(Mr Garsden) Witnesses who are the victims of alleged false allegations, I appreciate that, who have managed to succeed in going through the criminal system and are now not the subject of convictions, if I can put it that way. I appreciate that. We have come across examples of this. If I have heard this argument from the abuser's side once, I have heard it a hundred times. There were examples in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s of cases where, although the care worker had left the employ of the home, he still kept in touch with those at the care home and was invited back to the care home as a visitor.
369. But that is not the explanation in all these cases, is it? A visiting abuser?
(Mr Garsden) No, but that is one very good explanation as to how the argument that the man was not at the care home at the time can be defeated. There are examples, and I can think of ten in the cases I have dealt with, where that has happened.
370. Are you saying there are cases amongst the 700 or 800 that you have dealt with, where you have looked at the documentation and found it contradicts the assertions which have been put to you?
(Mr Garsden) No, I would not say that.
371. You have never found one?
(Mr Garsden) No.
(Mr Garsden) No.
373. That is what is puzzling me, why we should have a number of these cases brought to our attention but none of them should have come to your attention when you make your entire living out of this.
(Mr Garsden) I will tell you why.
(Mr Garsden) Maybe those people have never graced our doors and want to claim compensation.
375. That is true but
(Mr Garsden) It would be realistic, would it not, if your case had gone to the Crown Court and you had given evidence and had been thoroughly discredited because you were telling lies.
376. Yes, I see that.
(Mr Garsden) I am not saying this has never happened. You would not go to a compensation lawyer and risk finance and stress and the effect that abuse may have on your family and what people think of you in the street and in your family to claim compensation.
377. I do accept that, but all of your 700 or 800 have not been to court, have they, and have not been through this rigorous process you are describing, have they?
(Mr Garsden) Most of them have.
378. Most of them have?
(Mr Garsden) Yes.
(Mr Garsden) Yes.