I had not thought when I first put pen to paper on the Savile affair, that it would still be lustily gorging every spare moment of my time months later. I doubt very much that the handful of 70s Duncroft girls had any idea where or rather what their allegations would lead to.
Eight months later, the main stream media take every opportunity to denounce a man who has never had the opportunity to defend the claims. Amusingly, today, the same media, the same journalists, are dusting off tired old phrases like ‘Stalinesque show trials’ as they denounce the Russian judicial system for at least having the grace to hold a post-humous trial in respect of the deceased lawyer Sergei Magnitsky before denouncing him – an event which has apparently ‘dragged the Russian judicial system into territory that remained uncharted even at the height of Stalin’s 1930s show trials’.
Savile wasn’t granted a post-humous trial, nor a post-humous investigation – merely a post-humous collation of tawdry allegations that allegedly gave ‘Victims’, if not ‘Veracity’, a ‘Voice’.
Since those first blog posts, now read by some 90,000 people, I have been inundated with e-mails. One memory stick alone contains over 5,000 of them. I didn’t know I would end up spending my pension on ever larger memory sticks. I have had e-mails, it would seem, from just about every girl who ever set foot in Duncroft, in the 60s, and the 70s; from old staff, parents of girls, people at the BBC, NHS staff, lawyers, other journalists, academic researchers, friends and relatives of Jimmy Savile himself, and a glorious and eclectic range of every nutter on the Internet. Mr G no longer even raises an eyebrow at some of the people he has found himself answering the phone to.
I have amassed so much information, that I admit I have been overwhelmed at times – and a tad despondent. So much to collate, just one woman to do it. Yesterday was one of those days when I woke up wondering why I didn’t just put up the shutters and get on with my life.
‘I’d say so publicly myself, but I’ve still got a career/mortgage to think of – please don’t mention my name’. £1 for every time I have heard a variation of that phrase – roughly translated by me at times as ‘please stick your head above the parapet on my behalf Ms Raccoon’.
Today I woke up and found that someone else has – most successfully – stuck their head above the parapet. A one man band; if he did ever whine as I have, that it was all too much for one person, no one heard him. He just got on with the job. I salute him.
First my thanks to the indefatigable Dr. Ros Burnett of http://www.annaraccoon.com/politics/some-positive-progress-for-a-change/www.factuk.org for bringing it to my attention. (If you have any spare pennies, donate them to F.A.C.T, they are an organisation dedicated to supporting Carers and Teachers who find themselves on the wrong end of false allegations. Even false allegations can ruin a career, and leave a man or woman treated as a pariah in their community). Ros sent me details of some work that David Rose has been doing. I hesitate to describe David as a journalist, that word is virtually a low grade insult these days, so I will call him an investigative researcher and author. A damn fine one too. David, in turn, had brought up to date word to a conference Ros was organising, of a case he had previously investigated and the work of Noel Hartnett.
It is Noel Hartnett who has really earned my admiration, though David Rose comes a close second. Noel was the deputy head master of another approved school, St William’s, in the village of Market Weighton. If you want to read the full version of the long saga of false allegations of sexual abuse by the staff, the millions spent on legal services to investigate them, the thousands of wasted police man hours giving these spurious ‘victims’ a ‘voice’ – a voice which bellowed its way through no less than five intense inquiries into the allegations – then you will find the salient details here in an earlier article by David Rose.
What cheered me today, was the role Noel Hartnett has played in these events. Because he had been under suspicion, indeed charged, during the course of the second (‘Aldgate’) inquiry – which resulted not just in a ‘not guilty’ verdict, but the judge making a point of saying that he left his court ‘an innocent man without a stain on his character’ – Noel had a huge cache of documents amassed during his own trial.
As the fifth inquiry ‘Operation Reno’ took hold and some of the same people were arrested yet again, this time on even more serious charges, Noel Hartnett turned to his papers from the Aldgate inquiry – and noticed something odd.
I have no doubt he no more wanted to involve himself in this unhappy period of his past than I did in the Duncroft saga – but whilst the St William’s saga differed somewhat from Duncroft in that there had undoubtedly been some genuine physical abuse to one boy, a matter Noel Hartnett had tried to report initially, and for which the Head Master, James Carrager pleaded guilty and was jailed for seven years, he was quite sure that the new allegations were false. He didn’t turn his back on the matter. He sat down with his immense pile of papers and achieved quite dramatic results.
Noel went to the solicitors in charge of defending the claims against the De Salle Brotherhood, the Roman Catholic organisation that ultimately controlled St. Williams, and was allowed sight of all the documents and claims that the ‘ambulance chasing’ personal injury lawyers – Jordon’s – were sending them.
He compared them to the register of staff and pupils that had been assembled during the Operation Aldgate. That quickly dismissed some of the near 200 claims that had amassed as a result of mass advertising on the part of Jordon’s – some of the pupils alleging sexual assault simply hadn’t been at the school at the same time and the staff they were now accusing! Whodathoughtit?
Turning to the remaining claims, he discovered that some of them belonged to people who had claimed to have been the victim of physical assault in the earlier trial – and their claims dismissed as lies after exhaustive investigation; but were now claiming to have been the victims of serious sexual assault. He was able to trace the evolution of the claims and discredit them.
He did a lot more than that. He made a complaint to the Legal Aid Agency. Smart move. Jordon’s had a ‘block contract’ for legal aid – as do Pannone’s and some of the other firms involved in the Savile saga. It allowed them to do their own ‘due diligence’ as to whether there was any merit in a claim before getting a legal aid allowance for yet another client. They are supposed to ‘take appropriate steps to ensure that there is a sound foundation to the allegations being made’. By now it wasn’t too difficult for Noel to show that Jordon’s patently hadn’t shown such due diligence.
In some cases the alleged ‘abuser’ didn’t even exist, never mind wasn’t there at the same time. Jordon’s web site goes to the trouble of pointing out to prospective claimants that they mustn’t ‘worry’ about having to go to court and swear to tell the truth because ’98% of cases don’t go to court’. Jordon’s are believed to have received an estimated £2 million of tax payers money to represent these spurious victims.
Noel turned to another retired teacher, who in turn put in a complaint regarding Jordon’s to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority who are doing whatever it is that they do behind firmly closed doors. We don’t know the result yet.
Still not finished. Noel took himself off to the Police – and demanded that they investigate some of the ‘vulnerable victims’ for fraud, perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The Police listened. As a result, three people involved in compensation claims have been arrested, and 17 more referred to the Legal Aid Commission. A small matter that only the local paper has cared to report. Several of the suspects arrested under Operation Reno have already been informed that the Police do not intend to take any further action – their lives can return to peace and quiet.
It is a quite remarkable achievement for one man; a man with a dogged determination and the skills of a true investigator who was simply offended by the lies being told.
A man who had already shown himself to be a friend of the abused, since he was the person who reported the original and genuine abuse which resulted in the head master being jailed – despite being threatened with the sack for doing so.
I take my hat off to Noel Hartnett – and thank him for giving me the fillip I needed to boost my spirits.
Part of the material I am working on involves just such an allegation in the Savile saga that the claimant has committed fraud, perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The Police are investigating at the moment, so I cannot tell you more than that right now, but I too shall keep going.
Upwards and Onwards with renewed vigour.