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'Child abuse police left me a broken man'

by David Rose Sunday, Jun. 12, 2005 at 11:45 AM

"It was the destruction of my past, my present and my future: an enormous disturbance to every aspect of our lives," Mackay said. "My son had to take a year out from his degree course at Oxford to support me."

'Child abuse police ...
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UK: Operation Aldgate was supposed to uncover a paedophile ring. In fact it snared innocent people. Now the inquiry is to be investigated amid allegations of incompetence and perjury.

Two years ago Ben Mackay, a former head teacher in Humberside, was accused of indecently assaulting three former pupils of St William's community home school for boys, at Market Weighton. The charge was to have a devastating impact that nearly wrecked the life of the 61-year-old widower.

Mackay had lost his wife to cancer in 1995 and was bringing up his two sons alone. Following his arrest, he was suspended from his job as a supply teacher in Southsea and remains without work despite the dropping of all charges against him last December, months before his trial was due to begin. Not surprisingly, Mackay's experiences have left him bitter and angry. Several times during our interview, he broke down recalling details of his ordeal.

"It was the destruction of my past, my present and my future: an enormous disturbance to every aspect of our lives," Mackay said. "My son had to take a year out from his degree course at Oxford to support me."

"I lived in fear and distress of a freak conviction which never left me all that time. It was only the love of my boys which stopped me from taking my own life. They talked of trauma on the part of these former pupils. They have no idea of what it did to us, and I don't think they cared."

Nor was Mackay alone. The cases of four other staff, who were all charged with similar offences, are to be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is to review claims that incompetence by detectives working for the troubled Humberside police service, which was probing cases of alleged child sexual abuse at St William's, wrecked the lives of these five innocent men. The inquiry team will be composed of officers from an external force, probably West Yorkshire, and will be led by an assistant chief constable. But it will be 'managed,' as opposed to merely 'supervised,' by the new Commission, which means its staff will have day-to-day operational control - a level of involvement reserved for the most serious cases.

Nicholas Long, the complaints commissioner who is overseeing the probe, said, "I take the allegations very seriously, and it is important for all concerned that they are robustly investigated." He said he was aware that they had arisen from a broader, national context - a long series of police inquiries into so-called 'historical abuse' said to have occurred many years ago in care homes and in residential schools.

The investigation's subject is Operation Aldgate, a Humberside inquiry into alleged abuse in the 1970s and 1980s at St William's, which closed in 1992. Run by a Catholic lay order, the De la Salle brotherhood, it took child offenders, including murderers. Its former principal, James Carragher, who had already pleaded guilty to similar offences in 1993 and served four years of a seven-year sentence, was convicted and jailed for 14 years last year. Two of his former colleagues were acquitted by juries and the cases against a further three, including Mackay, were dropped.

These men say the police and Crown Prosecution Service pressed ahead with uncorroborated charges which depended entirely on the word of former pupils with convictions for serious crimes of dishonesty and violence, and, in some cases, who were suffering from severe mental illness. With their names and addresses published by the media and their lives and careers derailed, the acquitted men say the police failed to make elementary checks which would have shown that the stories told by the supposed victims flew in the face of easily established facts.

One complainant also alleges that a detective who played a central role in Operation Aldgate lied in the witness box, and that his earlier efforts to get Humberside police to investigate this were deliberately stifled.

Several cases have been exposed where 'historical abuse' inquiries have led to wrongful convictions, and a 2002 Commons home affairs committee report said that, without stringent safeguards, they could easily generate miscarriages of justice. Operation Aldgate will be the first such inquiry to be the subject of external investigation.

In a separate development last week, Colin Inglis, the chairman of Humberside Police Authority, was arrested and questioned about claims that he abused children at a Hull children's home in the 1980s.

Inglis, who denies the allegations, last year triggered a constitutional battle with the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, when he resisted Blunkett's order to fire his chief constable, David Westwood, over his role in the case of the murdered Soham schoolgirls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Humberside had destroyed files on previous sex attacks by the girls' killer, Ian Huntley, so that when he applied for a job at Holly and Jessica's school he appeared to pose no risk. Meanwhile, the force was dubbed one of the country's five worst by Her Majesty's Inspectorate. Westwood was eventually allowed to retire two months ago. His successor, Tim Hollis, appears to share the Commission's view of Operation Aldgate.

In April, days after taking over at Humberside, Hollis took the extraordinary step of phoning Mackay at his home in Southsea, saying he viewed the complaint with concern, and that he would deal with it "with honesty and integrity". Three days earlier Mackay - who had been a teacher at the school from 1974-7 - had sent him a 150-page dossier about his case. According to Mackay's notes of the conversation, he added: "I just wanted to ring you to give you a reply from the heart."

In a later letter to Mackay, Hollis wrote: "I am grateful to you for drawing your concerns to my personal attention. Whilst we cannot turn back the clock, we can take active and positive steps to learn the lessons from this case as they emerge and to ensure that police investigations in such cases are carried out dispassionately and with absolute integrity."

Police documents suggest that Operation Aldgate, which began under Detective Chief Inspector (now Detective Superintendent) Richard Kerman in 2001, was trying to unearth a 'paedophile ring' - evidence not merely of abuse in private by one or more individuals, but of institutionalised abuse where victims were shared. In case after case, historical abuse inquiries into schools and care homes have sought such rings, although none has ever been proven to have existed.

By June 2003, when they arrested Mackay, the officers of Operation Aldgate were convinced that there had been a ring at St William's. Before they interviewed him, they gave a document to his solicitor, saying: "The enquiry has established the systematic and organised abuse of boys by a group of staff." In his complaints dossier, Mackay wrote: 'Such "establishing" was made before hearing the evidence of myself and others accused. It must have been decided that whatever was to be said by the defendants in their interviews was to be discounted as untrue, evasions or lies."

The legal protection given to anyone who alleges they were a victim of sexual crime means that the three men who accused Mackay cannot be named. The first, who was serving life for aggravated burglaries in which he tied up and beat elderly couples in their homes, made only generalised allegations that Mackay had abused him, without saying where, when or how. They were dropped before the rest of the case, after the judge in the trial of the admitted abuser James Carragher told the jury it could not convict on his evidence, because it had been generated through collusion with another former pupil in prison. This pupil was a convicted paedophile.

The second man, who had convictions for burglaries and stealing cars and had been investigated for raping his girlfriend's eight-year-old daughter, claimed he had been sexually assaulted more than 14 times in teaching hours in a walk-in stationery store cupboard in Mackay's classroom. In fact, as Mackay told the police in his interview, no such walk-in cupboards existed anywhere in the school, and the only stationery store had a glass front.

Later, Mackay discovered that a detective watching his interview through a video link had a copy of the school plans, which proved he was telling the truth.

The second man also claimed that Mackay abused him in the bathroom. But at Carragher's trial last autumn, he made the same claim about him, and then was asked if any other teacher had also abused him there. He replied that none had.

A third man, who had been convicted for crimes of violence as a football hooligan, claimed that he had been abused at night during patrols of the dormitory. Mackay was able to trace nine members of the same school house who made statements saying that no such abuse took place. As with all the alleged victims, there was no corroboration of the man's claims.

One of those who was acquitted at trial is Noel Hartnett, who was charged with several physical assaults at the school. At his trial in December 2003 he was able to show that medical records and other evidence disproved former pupils' claims, none of which were corroborated. One man said Hartnett opened a 'second mouth' in his chin with a table-tennis bat. Hartnett's complaint dossier says the trial judge was highly critical of some of the Operation Aldgate officers' work, saying that they had 'not investigated professionally' and 'have not investigated to discover the truth'.

His dossier includes a claim that, when he was interviewed after his arrest, Detective Constable Brian Coates reassured him that the allegations against him were trivial, and would not come to court. Another officer present confirmed this in his evidence, but Coates denied it under oath.

Hartnett says in his dossier that when he complained of Coates's alleged perjury while Westwood was still chief constable, the police failed to take the basic step of obtaining a transcript of the relevant parts of his trial and tried to deal with the matter through 'informal resolution'. The IPCC commissioner, Nicholas Long, said that getting the transcript would be one of the new investigation's first steps.

A factor common in historical abuse cases is that alleged victims have been paid tens of thousands of pounds in compensation, sometimes even when supposed abusers are acquitted. This, the Commons committee said, was liable to taint criminal trials.

In December 2004, after the last Operation Aldgate acquittals, an advert appeared in the prisoners' newspaper Inside Time. Placed by Jordans solicitors of Dewsbury, it asked: 'Were you at St William's care home 1970-88?' The firm, it went on, was coordinating claims by former residents, and it was 'important that potential claimants enforce their legal rights as soon as possible. Especially those who have been contacted by Operation Aldgate at Hull Central police station'.

Ed: Seems that unethical lawyers put an ad in 'Inside Time' to encourage prisoners to dog on former schoolteachers for sex abuse. Even if the alleged abuser is aquitted the supposed victim is eligible for compo and so the lawyer can earn a fat fee.

Note that the ad was placed *after* the police investigation was shown to be an utter disaster that ruined the lives of innocent people.


Jackson jurors deliberate for week without verdict

Jurors in Michael Jackson's 'lies innuendo and exaggeration' sex-abuse trial' have completed a full week of deliberations without reaching a verdict, prolonging the culmination of a trial that should free the pop star.


JACKSON TRIAL Or Inquisition

"Ye shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall

William J. Wagener does a weekly Libertarian TV show in Santa Maria since October 1, 2000, which is sometimes bicycled around the nation. Libertarians believe in individual freedoms and rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Wagener has been a court "watcher" since 1992 in Santa Maria, and especially of Judge Rodney S. Melville, and his tendency to give Prosecutors leeway, not usually afforded to public defenders, or private defense attorneys.


Michael Jackson Innocent: Fan Club!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They Told Him Don't You Ever Come Around Here. Don't Wanna See Your Face, You Better Disappear. The Fire's In Their Eyes And Their Words Are Really Clear. So Beat It, Just Beat It.......


Jackson hospitalised from court therapy

Jackson's spokeswoman Raymone Bain said on Friday the back complaint had been exacerbated by the air conditioning system in the courtroom, where the pop star has been sitting through six hours a day of testimony, five days a week.


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