In the aftermath of Carl Beech’s false allegations, for which he is now behind bars for 18 years, is it time for sexual crime suspects to retain anonymity? Our polygraph examiner in Liverpool explores the pros and cons.
Few people will have missed the media firestorm surrounding the Carl Beech case last week but if you did you can catch up by clicking here. A convicted paedophile, Beech managed to pull the wool over the eyes of police officers, politicians and journalists not to mention thousands of social media users. He spun a web of lies about an alleged Westminster paedophile ring that existed only in his perverted mind.
As a polygraph examiner in Liverpool I deal with false allegation cases regularly. Invariably I am the last port of call for those wishing desperately to prove their innocence. Their lives have been torn apart maliciously. Some have appeared in headlines and others not but whether you are high profile or the ordinary person in the street the effect is the same.
Some of those accused by Carl Beech have died knowing that their reputations were destroyed based on one person’s false testimony. Others are still alive and finally have a little justice. However, their lives will never be the same again. One such person is Harvey Proctor. Below you will find his reaction to Carl Beech’s conviction for perverting the course of justice and fraud.
In 2016 Harvey Proctor was exonerated but not before his name had been publicised in every national newspaper up and down the country. Not before his career was finished and his reputation in tatters. A quick search of “Harvey Proctor” on YouTube will still produce the most scathing attacks on him. Among the myriad of videos denigrating him, I found the one below in which he states emotionally what happened to him after these false allegations became public.
Another case that wasn’t so high profile was that of Simon Warr who spent most of his career as a teacher. Arrested in 2012, he was accused of “inappropriately touching” a former pupil after a PE class, some 30 years previously. Broadcast on the BBC, the details of his arrest were seen by millions of viewers.
When accusations of historical sexual abuse are made, the argument has always been that publicising the name of the suspect will encourage other ‘victims’ to come forward. The police most certainly went to the nth degree to find other ‘victims’ in the Simon Warr case. It took the police 6 months to come up with another alleged ‘victim’ who coincidentally was also a friend of the first. Both accusers had received compensation for an unrelated abuse case that had taken place at the same school in which Simon Warr had worked.
Where the police failed Mr Warr miserably was by not investigating the case thoroughly before approaching other pupils. Had they done so they would have found that Mr Warr had never conducted a PE class, something he told them at the time of his arrest.
Almost 2 years after his arrest, Simon Warr was exonerated by a jury. It took them just 40 minutes to return their verdict. However, it wrecked his career and during the course of his trial he was subjected to death threats and threatening emails. For Simon Warr, as with Harvey Proctor, the false allegations created life changing results and not for the better. For more information about this case click here.
The case against sexual crime suspects to retain anonymity
In 2016 Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (former Metropolitan Police Commissioner) caused controversy by suggesting that the policy of automatically believing victims of alleged sexual abuse should be “reformulated”. Support groups such as the NSPCC were quick to disparage any such measure calling his comments “disturbing”. The reaction has not been very different following the imprisonment of Carl Beech.
Since 2014 the guidance from HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary) has been that when a crime is reported, “the presumption that a victim should always be believed should be institutionalised”.
Support groups maintain that others will be encouraged to come forward if the suspect’s name is made public. They may be reluctant to do so otherwise.
Attaining balance with lie detector tests
As a polygraph examiner in Liverpool I have to wonder how we have got to the stage where one victim takes precedence over another. What has happened to the “presumption of innocence” that has been the bedrock of our legal system?
There is no doubt that a person who has genuinely been sexually abused will carry the burden of that for life. But so will a person who has been falsely accused of sexual abuse.
Police currently use lie detector test mainly for monitoring a range of criminals on probation. It is my submission that they should use them when allegations of sexual abuse are made. If Harvey Proctor and Simon Warr had taken polygraph tests, with results showing no deception found, the police investigations would have taken a different course. It would have prevented the destruction of two lives that the ensuing publicity caused.
This course of action would allow sexual crime suspects to retain anonymity and achieve a thorough investigation of the allegations against them.
We welcome readers’ comments on this controversial issue.