To ban or not to ban?
We have had a debate about our ‘ground rules’ for the conference on 1st June.
We have all agreed that, if there are people we have serious grounds to suspect don’t share our aims and objectives and those people are likely to try and disrupt the conference, we are entitled to refuse them entry. Because a lot of people are travelling long distances and paying money to come; they are entitled to some value back for that time and money, not to have the event hi-jacked by people pushing one narrow agenda.
Discussion has gone back and forth about what we should do about people who may appear to be willing to abide by our terms and who say they will participate sensibly – and yet have been involved in activities outside the conference which cause significant unease to one or more of the organisers.
This problem has been encapsulated only yesterday with the publication of the judgment in the case of P and Q (Children) .
This has already been the subject of thorough comment by suesspiciousminds if you require more detail.
In a horrible nutshell this was a case where children were forced to make lurid allegations on film that they were involved in a satanic paedophile ring and forced to murder babies. These videos were posted on line and have been seen by millions of people – at least some of whom must have been experiencing sexual arousal at the sight of young children talking about these matters.
The allegations spread to involve a local school and its teachers who were subject to threats of harm. The fires of these allegations were fanned repeatedly and ethusiastically on the internet by a number of people who adhere to the more extreme of the conspiracy theories that surround the family court.
The Judge summarised her findings at paragraph 165 of the judgment which she delivered in open court.
Neither child has been sexually abused by any of the following – Ricky Dearman, teachers at Christchurch Primary School Hampstead, the parents of students at that school, the priest at the adjacent church, teachers at any of the Hampstead or Highgate schools, members of the Metropolitan Police, social workers employed by the London Borough of Camden, officers of Cafcass or anyone else mentioned by Ms Draper or Mr Christie.
• The children’s half brother, his father and stepmother – Will and Sarah Draper – are likewise exonerated of any illicit or abusive acts involving the children.
• There was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.
• All of the material promulgated by Ms Draper now published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense.
• The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper.
• Both children were assaulted by Mr Christie by being hit with a metal spoon on multiple occasions over their head and legs, by being pushed into walls, punched, pinched and kicked. Water was poured over them as they knelt semi-clothed.
• The long term emotional and psychological harm of what was done to the children is incalculable. The impact of the internet campaign is likely to have the most devastating consequences for P and Q.
Attendance at the conference by people who participated in the campaign which is likely to have ‘devastating consequences’ for children.
Some of those named in the judgement as part of the mother’s campaign to prove her children were satanically abused want to come to the conference.
I don’t want them to come. I cannot see how they have anything to offer the necessary debate about how to make the child protection system better. Because they don’t want to have that debate. They want to set insane hares running about satantic cults and teachers at primary schools who murder babies. And to satisfy their desires to be proved right about this, they will use and exploit children to get what they want.
To share a room with people who would do this is something that profoundly I cannot do. I cannot respect their right to do this as a legitimate exercise of their freedom of speech in a democractic society. I am not interested in exploring why they think what they do. I think that any attempt to engage with people like this runs a serious risk that I will become tainted by that exposure.
These are my own personal views, not necessarily the views of any other member of the Transparency Project, unless they state so for themselves.
I say this because I think the conference is very important. For the first time we are trying to bring together a variety of voices and perspectives. Some will have very critical things to say about the child protection system. And they may well be right. But they will not have abused and filmed children then sent the videos into cyberspace for millions to see to prove their point.
So those people I am prepared to listen to and engage with. The others, no. This is my line in the sand moment.
I would be interested to know what others think.
NB: Sadly, this case isn’t a one off. Have a look at what happened in Scotland when allegations of organised padeophilia spun out of control.