Ambush Predator has a long pedigree in bringing false complaints and the ludicrous side of our CJS to attention. Lying is somewhat neglected in our social analysis. I could fill a page with academic references – there is even consideration of the epistemology of testimony (women were once excluded because they couldn’t cling to their own testes while giving it – word’s origin). A classic in philosophy is the Cretan who tells you all Cretans are liars. Psychologists more or less agree all but a tiny number of us (this is subject to criticism) are useless at telling truth-givers and liars apart. The ‘weight’ of academic review suggests the way the credibility of witnesses is ‘established’ in court is bollox. This is perhaps at is most farcical over police evidence – importance is given to the consistency of the statements of officers involved – the farce being that they have been allowed to collude in preparing their accounts – as at Hillsborough.
Much of the lying going on is much more sophisticated than that of the ball-brains AP exposes. Many liars are capable of laying complaint that is resistant to being tumbled by practical investigation. Claiming to have lost a baby due to a rape when one was not pregnant at the time is not bright. In one case I dealt with the innocent bloke was lured to a scene in order to screw any alibi he might have had. The woman laying the complaint was supported in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by her criminal family. Had the complaint been against police these criminal connections would have destroyed the case – but knowledge of this was excluded from the court – a court in which a female judge took revenge against an innocent man. Two months on remand saw the already slim innocent guy lose 2 stones in weight. Eventually told by another judge he had no case to answer, there was no apology and no investigation into the clear criminal conspiracy or vile telephone harassment of the guy’s teenage daughter, including death threats.
Men are probably as vulnerable to false claims of rape and sexual abuse as the community is to the vile perpetrators of real crime. Any cop trained in cognitive interviewing and experienced in real detection (this is a minority of our stout people in blue) will know just how difficult it is to piece together evidence from even direct witnesses to a crime. We over-value the accuracy of the eye-witness. Television CSI even warms up juries to over-value forensic evidence – which is often more dubious than we suppose and frankly far too often bent. We didn’t believe Monica Lewinski as a public – but rather Bill’s semen on her dress. There have been a number of similar cases leading to conviction in our courts in which DNA evidence was presented as equally conclusive against the defendant when it was not.
Good DNA evidence is convicting real perpetrators and demonstrating that we have been incarcerating innocent blokes. Is there a case against Assange (not on the drivel I’ve heard – but is there more?) – or is this a case brought by the powers that be as malevolently as in any of the many cases raised by Ambush Predator? Was Max Clifford or any of the dead or past-celebrities he might have represented ‘dirty old men’ – or are they victims? Are the Aussie pranksters responsible for the death of a nurse in the UK? Would their jerk behaviour have caused any future death caused by copycat hoaxers ‘having a larf’?
One can make a good case that false complaints ’cause’ the deaths of people like Fiona Pilkington and the vast misery entailed. It’s the presence of such liars in the system that makes it hard for officers of various agencies on the ground after all. 17% of 999-type calls in the 40% of relevant police business are hoax or ‘discontinued’. Authorities themselves engage in vile smearing of people with a genuine case they are letting down.
I’m in favour of a modern public flogging of the recent Aussie pranksters. Maybe something like ‘having a larf’ at any future weddings they might have and ruining them – real justice might be served by suing the shit out of the radio station and giving the proceeds to the nurse’s kids. Remember the case of the lad convicted (quashed on appeal) for ‘threatening Robin Hood Airport’? He was just expressing his love for a young woman. Some argue that the Aussies didn’t mean to cause the death – but our laws include recklessness. Anyone who listens to ‘radio zanycrap’ is guilty of encouraging copycat hoaxing. Anyone making false complaint also makes dismal treatment of genuine victims ‘happen’.
There are no easy answers (and sadly public flogging other than as thought experiment isn’t one of them) – but it is clear we have a real problem in our courts and society with lying and our inadequate detection equipment for it. Politicians can talk about austerity as though it works like tightening your household belt for a while. This is lying – there is a long history of its failure in economics and lots of evidence the problems we are having are a result of high-level fraud and dumping debts on the public purse by thieves. They get at our simple little minds with the red herring of homily.
We seem to have forgotten the old JB Priestly play ‘An Inspector Calls’. Liberals who dismiss the Aussie pranksters as such could do with recalling the play. It’s inspector was a fake – and there lies our problem in terms of what is going on in our societies – we lack reliable investigators we can trust to gather and present all the evidence. We in turn are not interested and prefer zany pranksters and sanctimonious (guilty!) gossip. The lines of causation are not as easy as one can make out in fiction. We can even detail people who made false allegations becoming ‘expert witnesses’ in later cases and farces like ‘ritual abuse’. In fact, we don’t even know if Saville and Smith were paedophiles on publicly available evidence – we can just say it because they are dead and beyond libel.
It’s time we bottomed false complaining and its role in preventing proper examination of abuse. But how?