Tag Archives: Hampstead Hoax

Transparency, debate and Satanists: A Plea to the Family Courts

I think it is important to challenge people who ‘are wrong on the internet’. Not because I am naive enough to think I will have much of an impact on individuals who are driven by something other than reason and logic. I will continue to crusade in defence of the general principle that evil will triumph if we just sit back and do nothing.

Further, I think challenge is important as many of those who obsessively campaign in aggressive and intimidatory ways on social media appear to rely on official indifference to their activities and the ease with which they can threaten others with apparent impunity.

There is a view often expressed that one should not give ‘the oxygen of publicity’ to such people and that attempting to tackle them is counter-productive. I understand and often agree with that view. But there is a significant subset of these campaigners who should be challenged as they have serious reach and influence. And they will not stop.

The Hampstead Hoaxers have the dubious accolade of being among the nastiest and most persistent of the obsessive conspiracy theorists which are abundant on the internet. If you don’t know what I mean by ‘Hampstead Hoaxers’ – I think you should. I commend the entirety of the Hoaxtead Research web site to your attention, and Anna Raccoon has provided a useful summary here.

In short, in 2014 allegations were made against individuals in Hampstead that they participated in organised satanic ritual abuse involving about 20 children. These children were routinely buggered at school and made to eat babies, who were turned into burgers at the  local MacDonalds. These allegations were obviously insane and found to be so at a fact finding hearing in the High Court. Mrs Justice Pauffley issued injunctions against named individuals to prevent them further publishing their false allegations – in particular to refrain from continuing to publish on line videos of two of the children. As is obvious, such activities were very harmful to the children, given the high probability that a good proportion of the millions who have so far seen the videos were deriving sexual pleasure from them.

Those injunctions were never enforced – apparently on the basis that to cause any further fuss would just encourage the conspirators to keep on going. That may have seemed a reasonable decision at the time. But with hindsight, it was a grave error. The conspirators kept on going.

An attempt was made to bring to book two of the most virulent and prolific campaigners in July by charging them with witness intimidation. That failed as although intimidation was the inevitable by product of their campaigning, this wasn’t sufficient to establish the necessary criminal element of intention. But happily, the Judge made indefinite restraining orders against both, to prevent any further publication of allegations which at the outset of the trial all lawyers accepted were false. Details about the hearing and the astonishing behaviour of their lawyer Aseem Taj can be found at Hoaxtead Research.

News of this seemed to reanimate the Hoaxers on line who popped up on my Twitter timeline to make all kinds of astonishing allegations, including the apparently popular assertion that I (or anyone who challenges them) is actually one of the Satanists masquerading under a false identity.

I can laugh this off. Although it really isn’t funny. And it represents just a tiny fragment of what the residents of Hampstead have had to face for over two years now.  In the face of an apparently indifferent and/or toothless Family Court that cannot or will not see its own injunctions enforced. I appreciate there are enormous difficulties in dealing with those who operate outside the jurisdiction – but many don’t. Many are right here, right now.

This is a personal tragedy for the individuals in Hampstead whose lives have been blighted and whose children’s safety has been compromised. But it is also a more general tragedy – for the robustness of our legal system, and the respect we are encouraged to have for it,

An issue of particular interest to me are the potentially damaging ramifications for the debate over transparency in the family courts. The Transparency Project – of which I am a member – has been commenting with increasing concern about the apparent stalling of the President of the Family Division’s ‘transparency agenda’, first announced in 2014. Apart from an increase in ad hoc publication of judgments from some individual judges, we seem no further forward in 2016. My worry is that this is due to the concentrated resistance to any increased transparency in family proceedings from certain groups of lawyers and social workers.

They fear that children will be the ones to suffer if there is any move to more openness in the way family court hearings are conducted and/or reported. Of course I understand that – it is a real and serious concern. But other jurisdictions are more open in what they will allow to be discussed and publicly available about family cases and we need to think more carefully about how they make it work and what we could be doing.

But it should not be allowed to stifle the debate to the extent that I am afraid it has. Because look what is rushing in to fill the gap we leave by our unwillingness to bring our practice and procedure out into the disinfecting sunlight. Look, and be worried.

We simply cannot go on ignoring these people and pretending this doesn’t matter.