Tuesday 3 March 2015

Hampstead Horrors? Claims of ritualistic sexual abuse in a North London Primary School.

“Where is Esther Rantzen and her organisation? Where is the NSPCC? Where is the local MP, Glenda Jackson? Where is the national press? Nowhere to be seen (or heard) apparently.”

Whether vindicated or disproved, the children's allegations in the absence of a proper police enquiry, must be treated with the seriousness, rigour, dissemination and transparency that they warrant. If basically accurate, they mean that the children have been subjected to the most extreme violence and that other children may still be at serious risk of harm. In the light of other recent national scandals, this is a test case as to whether lessons have been learned. So far it appears they have not.

1. The history of education in Britain is impossible to disentangle from religious belief and practice. Until the late nineteenth century virtually all education was either sponsored by religious institutions or closely aligned to them. From the late 19th Century Education Acts that introduced universal state education, private education was retained for predominantly the wealthy and the involvement of religious sects (Anglican, Non-conformist, Quaker and Catholic) was retained. Even in the state system, a degree of religious and moral input was maintained. In recent years the role of “faith schools” has even been encouraged embracing in addition the Muslim faith. The advantages and disadvantages of this has been subject to much debate and a certain degree of controversy that has centred around indoctrination, encouraging extremism and the thorny topic of abuse. The well entrenched practice of predominantly wealthy families sending their children to boarding schools from eight years on, and the consequential emotional damage, has received recent attention, as has at the other extreme, the institutional abuse in the care system, currently subject to numerous national inquiries.

2. It is an understatement to say that the Catholic Church has not come out well in the abuse stakes. I have always thought it rather odd and a tad sinister, that children in Catholic schools were subject to such heavy emphasis on a transubstantiation theology. This includes the belief in human sacrifice and the literal ingestion of the blood and body of Christ. But in my wildest dreams I never imagined that in a Local Authority maintained CofE school, in an affluent area of London, a group of adults might engage in the murder of babies, consuming their flesh and blood, plus other violent sexual acts and forcing young children to do likewise, as has been alleged by two male and female siblings that attended it!

3. It is almost impossible to reconcile the completely convincing verbal reports by the two children and the official 2009 report by government inspectors attached below. (Reference 1.) They are clearly quite different worlds. The claims would be incredible were it not for the consistent, detailed and shocking testimony of the children. It is incumbent on us to listen to them objectively and even more important that the authorities do so. The approach must always to take such allegations seriously and act on them if, as in this case, they are credible and supported by independent evidence - until definitively proved otherwise. The failure to do so in this case, is as worrying and inexplicable as the alleged events themselves.

4. The world is full of misery and violence and tragically untold millions of innocent children are subject to its horrors but as Tony Blair was wont to say (or if not him another politician - it doesn't really matter) "Just because we can't do something about everything, doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't do something about something." Often the singular case in history has led to the general social advance, and so I hope it is in this case.

5. Such is the entrenched power of the amorphous 'State', that if its actions are negligent or perverse, the individual has little hope of success or protection. In innumerable cases this has been the sad story. In 'democracies', the law is intended to be the bulwark against this but we know from experience it may not work that way. There may be disbelief, disinterest, reticence to act, collusion, false evidence, even a biased Judge and while prosecutors have if necessary, unlimited financial resources, the defendant may have little or none, and consequently inadequate representation.

6. Sadly, as Rotherham and Oxford (to name but two) have proved, this is the situation in too many cases and why in this particularly 'iconic' one (I think the term is justified) these factors are so important, and why without the internet it might have gone the way of all the others. Where is Esther Rantzen and her organisation? Where is the NSPCC? Where is the local MP, Glenda Jackson? Where is the national press? Where are all the government departments and institutions repeatedly stating their commitment to preventing the abuse of children? Nowhere to be seen (or heard) apparently.

7. The State has a great advantage in such matters, namely 'organisation' and resources not available to the individual citizen. Public opinion can be powerful, outrage can be extreme but unless it is channelled, organised and competently represented, it can remain just that and the object of the outrage un-addressed and un-helped. This is where petition initiated by the child activist Sabine McNeill is so important and every effort should be corralled to swell it, hopefully to her target of one hundred thousand, that would require a Parliamentary debate. If the children's report is reliable, nothing short of a public outcry will do.

8. To date we have witnessed how the courts and police have outrageously frustrated both publicity and natural justice. The only hope, is that the High Court Judge in charge of the case, the Hon. Mrs Justice Pauffley, will be consistent with her public statements, and stand up for the best interests of the children in this case. (Reference 2.) This must be to return the children to their mother, or at least the loving grand parents, at the earliest opportunity. Longer term, if this case does not demand a swift and probing investigation of the police, social services and education department handling of it, nothing does or ever will.

9. So what were the specific but unproven allegations, powerfully made by the two children, before they were apparently “retracted” on the 17th September, 2014? They were as follows - and be warned, it does not make easy reading.

  • That the natural father was the local leader of a (satanic) cult in that area of North London
  • That this was based on and located in the premises of a Local Authority primary school and Anglican Church but not excluding other locations and times

  • That the Vicar and school staff were aware of, or actively participated in, “parties” during school hours or after them, and predominantly on a Wednesday, devoted to “sex, sex, sex” involving the participants, which beside those referred to above, included a select number of parents and children.

  • That there were twenty specially selected children of complicit parents all distinctively marked with some form of emblem

  • That at these parties that could last “for hours” the children were given both sweets and money as reward and warned not to say anything at the threat of serious harm

  • That at the “parties” the children were forced to subject themselves to specific acts of sexual abuse, including plastic dildos and other objects being forced into their anuses and vaginas, being forced to carry out oral sex on male and female participants and with one another, and to otherwise being masturbated and penetrated.
  • Specifically in a harrowing statement, the claim is made that after these attacks, the victim bled from the anus and in another that if he cried his father would hit him on the head with a metal spoon, If he cried more he would be hit again and harder. If this also failed a participant that he names, would inject him in the back of the hand, convincingly demonstrating how it was done, before sending him off to sleep!

  • Perhaps most disturbing of all, both children make specific reference to “killing babies”, “eating their meat”, “drinking their blood”, “using their skin to make shoes”, boiling or otherwise cooking their bodies to eat, “dancing over their skulls” and hanging the babies inverted to drain and catch their blood in a bowl. Although these claims may appear to some to be fantastical, the fact that small children might even be able to imagine them, describe them in such graphic and accurate physiological detail and that they do in fact replicate known satanic procedures, behoves us to take them very, very seriously and not dismiss them out of hand. Perhaps it should be added that these children are objectively very eloquent and level-headed children that have demonstrated that they know the difference between telling the truth and a lie. No evidence has ever, as far as I am aware, has been produced to suggest they have been coached to say things they have, apart from the permission to do so in response to questions posed. Furthermore there is independent verifiable evidence to support their stories that will be enumerated below that convinces their accounts are substantially accurate.

  • Supporting their allegations are spontaneous physical action and throw away lines that can only indicate truth and would be comparatively easy to substantiate or otherwise. They include, but not exclusively, a demonstration of how they allege they were forced to literally “saw” into a baby's neck by their father placing his hand over theirs to provide the sufficient force necessary; very specific detailed descriptions of otherwise hidden birth marks and skin conditions of adult private parts and locations; drawings of these with named persons attached; detailed drawings of bodies hanging; detailed descriptions such as the heads not being completely severed that no fabricated story could be expected to include; reference to “feeling strong” after eating the flesh – a well known satanic belief – that only an initiated child could be expected to know; the mechanics and detailed descriptions of plastic or rubber dildos; the procedure and location of injecting the back of the hand as earlier described.

  • Claims that named individuals supplied the babies for sacrifice. Despite statements that the babies were already dead, this is contradicted by their claims that they “killed babies” and perhaps even more importantly, from the description of draining and drinking the blood, which of course could only happen in a recently terminated life. This may require some explanation but of course if the children are to be believed, and I see no reason unless proved otherwise, they should not be, we are talking about young children before the age of moral awareness, witnessing what appear to us to be extreme and perverted acts as if they were the norm, and compounded by multiple events over time. It is therefore possible theirs are compound descriptors containing aspects of multiple events on different occasions.

  • Descriptions of further sexual activity in the local public baths and other premises carried out by the father and others

  • Aggression between the siblings that they put down to their mistreatment by their father and others and from the tension and physical violence between the parents. This is corroborated by the attendance of police at the time and subsequent separation of the parents after they had effectively been 'arrested' by the Metropolitan Police and Social Services Department.

  • At no time do the children allege any mistreatment by the mother or latterly the grandparents. Indeed the very opposite is the case. They strenuously protest their mother's non-involvement in the described scenarios and her beliefs and actions, though by some might be regarded as verging on the obsessive and bizarre, support the view that she has been at all times a caring and protective mother, who upon realising the proclivities of her husband, sought to prevent his access and any further alleged abuse. The violence he has shown to his wife and children, leaving aside the further specific allegation of satanic abuse, would lead any sensible person to conclude he is not to be trusted to be alone with children including his own. It is this that makes the Social Services and Family Court decisions to afford him twice the access of the mother so incredible. The role of the new partner appears to be a more nuanced one with some suggestion of minor physicality that rather strangely appears to being blown out of all proportion by the departments of state since the allegations came to the surface. The role of the partner in the initial videos is clear and although appearing somewhat aggressive in his questioning technique, his motivation cannot be questioned.

10. The allegations relate to activities at the school and other premises for a period of at least four years, namely 2010 to 2014, when the children first started retelling their accounts at the behest of a mother concerned about her children's aberrant aggressive and overtly sexual behaviour. In September 2014 it was referred to the Police when interviews were held at Barnett police station by a Policeman called “Steve”. Although following national guidelines and undertaken in what appears to be a very considerate and caring way, I find it quite incredible that this was left to a police constable with no assistance from anyone specifically trained in child psychology or indeed with any adult in attendance to provide moral support and guidance for the child being questioned.  We are not in a position to know what prior, or in-house, experience or qualification the policeman has received, but it cannot be right to subject an eight year old, alleging sexual abuse from an adult male, to be in a room with another who he does not know, and be subjected to gentle but persistent questioning on highly emotive and potentially terrifying personal experiences can it? This linked to the absence of any effective investigation into the allegation poses a huge question of competency over their approach and raises a much wider issue of public policy over cases of alleged child abuse, subsequently reinforced by the forced and unjustified removal for more than four months (and continuing) from the natural and caring mother.

11. This 'retraction' and 'case closed' response by the police, is itself deeply worrying after such serious and credible allegations. The watchword in child abuse cases, painfully learned from so much past experience, is now supposed to be to listen to them with an open unbiased mind, to believe them unless and until they are proved to be either exaggerating or lying. I am in no position to know precisely what steps were taken by the police, other than what has been made public, but the speed with which they dismissed them, it certainly appears that the children's words were NOT taken seriously, and even more ominous that appropriate steps were not taken to investigate the very specific allegations before steps could be taken by the alleged perpetrators to potentially destroy incriminating evidence. If correct, this is so damning as to require instant, high level investigation. Needless to say the allegations require the reopening of a criminal investigating utilising, even at this late stage all the legal and technological powers available to them. 

12. If this case does not require it, none will.

Reference 1.  

From: http://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/schools/105804/christ-church-primary-school-hampstead

The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors and one Additional Inspector. Inspectors evaluated the overall effectiveness of the school and investigated achievement and standards, the personal development and well-being of pupils, the quality of provision, and leadership and management. Inspectors met with staff, governors and pupils. Parts of some lessons were observed; parents' questionnaires were examined; and school information, including self-evaluation, was scrutinised. Other aspects of the school's work were not investigated in detail, but the inspectors found no evidence to suggest that the school's own assessments, as given in its self-evaluation, were not justified, and these have been included in the report where appropriate.

"Text from letter to pupils explaining the findings of the inspection 14 May 2009 Dear Pupils Inspection of Christ Church Primary School, Hampstead,London,NW3 1JH Thank you for the very warm welcome you gave us when we visited your school. As you know, we talked to many of you throughout the day in order to help us decide how good Christ Church School is. I told some of you that I would write to you all to tell you what we found out. We think you have a fantastic school. Most of you and your parents think the same! Here are just a few of the things we really liked about it. ■ It is a very happy place, where you enjoy your lessons and get on well with each other. Your behaviour is excellent and you work and play together happily. ■ You are rightly very proud of your school and enjoy coming to school each day. ■ Your teachers and teaching assistants really care about how well you do. They do their jobs extremely well, work very hard and make you all feel included. ■ You also work very hard and make very good progress. ■ The school is very well led by your headteacher and her team. They want the very best for you and are determined that you should make as much progress as you can in lessons. As well as identifying what is good about the school we are also making one suggestion to help it become even better. ■ Continue to improve the outdoor area for the Reception class. We wish you every success in the future. Keep up the very good work! Yours faithfully Kekshan Salaria Her Majesty's Inspector."

Reference 2.

From: http://researchingreform.net/2014/02/21/judge-of-the-week-mrs-justice-pauffley/

"With more than just a little courage, Mrs Justice Pauffley has condemned the overt practice of social workers being too hasty in taking children from parents without proper evidence.
The High Court judge even goes so far as to say that judges and social workers have been conspiring to remove children unjustly from parents and goes on to condemn family court judges for taking part in what she is calling ‘clandestine arrangements’. Mrs Pauffley found that rulings by family judges were simply  ‘cut and pasted’ from recommendations emailed to the court by social workers."
"Clandestine Arrangements
Mrs Justice Pauffley has noticed the practice of judges rubber stamping the wishes of social workers without even so much as checking the information they provide or examining it through a fair hearing. And whilst some may argue that judges rely on ‘experts’ to provide information and guide them on outcomes, the reports provided were never meant to be taken ‘as read’. That has become common practice in our courts and factors such as time pressures and resources are irrelevant here. Breaking procedure is simply not an option."
"Quotes from Mrs Justice Pauffley
What this judge is saying about the family courts and its current murky practices:
  • “The practices I have described are not confined to this area but are widespread across the country”. (Yes, we know, we see it every day in our pro bono work)
  • “It is difficult to view the justices as having been independent and impartial if, as happened here, they simply adopted the local authority’s analysis of what their findings and reasons might comprise.”
  • Just because there may be tacit acceptance on the part of many professionals within the family justice system that the practice which operated here exists, that does not mean it is right. It is patently wrong, must stop at once and never happen again.”
Sir James Munby has backed the Order, which calls for the end of collusion between judges and social workers.
For her bravery and for reminding the system what law is really meant to be about, we make Mrs Justice Pauffley our judge of the week. Hats off to you, madam." END.

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