Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by Dr William Thompson (CA 89)



  Before my current post—lecturer in Human Sexualities—at Reading University, I taught at Essex and Cambridge Universities.

  Since completing my PhD [Essex, 1987], which was supervised by Professor John Gagnon of New York State University (and author of Sexual Encounters Between Adults and Children [1970]), I have: conducted and supervised numerous research projects on sexual assault and various paraphiliac behaviours; presented a dozen international conference papers; published several articles; supplied commissioned submissions to the Criminal Law Revision Committee and the Law Commission; and published two books—on pornography content/effects, and the origins and nature of sadomasochism.

  Since 1988, my major research area has concerned Child Sexual Assault allegations, interview methodologies, and CSA models adopted by investigating agencies.

  Apart from advising and supplying Reports on both Interviews and case procedure for solicitors, I have lectured on CSA at several universities, advised Social Workers, Guardian Ad Litem, and Liberty on interview review procedures and case reviews. I was guest lecturer on the Post Qualifying Diploma in Child Protection course at Portsmouth University, teaching interview techniques, error avoidance, and review procedures. I was consulted by two legal teams during Lord Clyde's Orkney Inquiry, to which I also submitted evidence; and undertook the review of the Ayrshire Case interviews which led to the Court of Sessions Appeal.

  I have conducted numerous reviews of sexual assault allegations including a dozen major Care Home Convictions.


  It is my considered opinion that the way in which the investigations in Care Home cases has been conducted is merely the latest phase in a history of misguided investigative procedures into alleged paedophile rings. Some of the mistakes listed below are not confined to the issue under review but are endemic in child protection; but, they are more obvious in this area.

  I can come to no other conclusion than that many of the agencies charged with this work are badly trained in reviewing weaknesses in the evidence. As in all other cases: the problem stems from an obsession with securing prosecutions and convictions of the accused rather than assessing the viability of the allegations by examining their context.

Issue 1:  Trawling and Unreliable evidence

  Though I can not comment upon the exact figures regarding resources, it is quite clear to me that successive governments have wasted millions of pounds that would be better spent investigating real cases in particular and improving child protection in general. The knock-on effects of prosecuting innocent people is incalculable in terms of investigative, court, and penal resources; not to mention the problems it causes the accused and their families. And that is before we consider the incredible amount of "compensation" being paid to people who, far from being victims, are actually breaking the law by inventing false allegations.

  However, I can comment upon the phenomenal amount of unreliable "evidence". What passes for evidence in these cases, as in the infamous "Satanic cases" a decade ago, is absurd. My reviews have clearly shown that while sentiment may blind juries, those charged with collecting and presenting this evidence are either incapable of reviewing evidence or are by accident or design engaged in inventing it.

Issue 2:  The CPS

  As I write, a well known case in Canada has revealed the appalling role of Prosecution Services which proceed with cases despite knowing that the "evidence" is not only contradictory or weak, but demonstrably false. One needs to ask how it is that if I and others can uncover scores of cases of mal and dubious practices why:

    —  the CPS fails to see them; then

    —  proceeds with the case.

  Once again, it would appear that the agency involved prefers to convict people than assess the "evidence". While there may be other reasons, one explanation why their practice has not lead to an embarrassing array of failures—as happened in the Paulsgrove "riot" cases—is that most defence solicitors and counsel do not know how to prepare and construct a good defence (such as calling appropriate experts), and that those who do have to battle against the sentiments and prejudices that appear whenever someone is accused of child molestation.

Issue 3:  Time limits

  No: there should be no time limit on investigation of any crime, let alone those of sexual assault. This issue is a red herring and masks the key issue: poor investigative procedures and an unreliable set of criteria for assessing the "evidence" offered.

Issue 4:  The potential link between compensation and fabricated allegations

  From my review of the case papers I have seen, compensation is merely one of many motives behind false and fabricated allegations. However, it may be the most important and requires further investigation.

  Amongst the other motives I have been able to detect from the statements of the complainants themselves are:

    —  spite;

    —  excusing one's own crimes;

    —  attempts to justify failures and poor choices in life;

    —  eliciting sympathy;

    —  masking past voluntary and situational homosexual behaviour; and

    —  stigma reduction.

  These motives could be easily found in the complainants statements if one knows what to look for; and the police and CPS should possess such skills.

Issue 5:  Similar Fact Evidence

  I believe that there is a clear weakness in the current law; especially when my reviews to date reveal that what is regarded as similar fact is frequently very contradictory facts, especially when considering the accused person's alleged MO. Frequently the only "similar facts" are the allegation that several people have been sexually assaulted.

February 2002


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