Barnet Police

Here are just extracts from the Witness Statement by a former constable who analysed

  1. the quality of the video interviews of the children, with respect to Achieving Best Evidence (ABE):
  2. the Police reports: Crime Report Information System (CRIS)

Regarding the ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) INTERVIEWS by Barnet Police

24. People in positions of authority have a history of eliciting false
confessions, withdrawals and admissions throughout the adversarial process of law.
There have been many miscarriages of justice in UK legislation where this has
occurred.

42. In the majority of cases, the victims are not lying. They are telling you what they
have come to believe has happened to them.

50. The accounts themselves may be far fetched and in some cases physically
impossible, however given the current prevalence of child abuse enquiries that have
been unearthed in recent years due to the Jimmy Savile scandal and subsequent
allegations of ritualized group activities including senior politicians and police being
involved in high level cover ups it is not surprising that a parent may get swept up
into believing there is some truth to an apparently articulate account given by a
child.

52. In the first interview of Alisa on 05/09/2014 conducted by Steve there is little in
the way of rapport building, in fact family structure appears to be used loosely to
build rapport. This is not a suitable rapport topic. The style of interviewing is very
closed. There are very few open questions and the interviewer interrupts or talks
over Alisa regularly. There is very little apparent structure to this interview and
topic hopping is apparent. There is a forced choice question and a leading question.
There is some use of minimal encouragers, silences and summaries, however a lot
of the minimal encouragers are yes or okay and these are poor minimal
encouragers that seem to leak that the interviewer is impatient, does not really
want to listen to what is being said or perhaps has a particular specific agenda for
the interview.

a) In the interview of Alisa on 11/09/2014 the interview is conducted by Steve,

b) After this interview, at 19:50 with children were taken into Police Protection

c) In the interview of Alisa on 17/09/2014 again conducted by Steve it is clear
he appears to adhere to pre-planned topic structure. There is a good
opening topic question followed by minimal encouragers and summaries and details passed to Social Services and an Emergency Protection Order was applied for and obtained.

from the opening conversation that there have been conversations about
what will be discussed on the car journey to the interview suite. Steve talks
about what they have discussed and Alisa states “Abraham told us to tell
some things which are not true.” Steve says “You mentioned about Zorro and
about heads being cut off in that film and obviously I wondered whether or not
that…is that how you knew about the babies.” Alisa replies “Yes because I had
an idea, so then I told to Abraham and then Abraham said “good, then do that
and tell that to the Police”. This is a very leading question from Steve and it
would appear this is either due to this subject having been discussed outside
of the interview (of which there should be a record if this was so) or an
assumption by Steve that then leads Alisa into agreeing. I have reviewed the
film the Mask of Zorro and Alisa was able to describe the plot clearly.

d) Alisa also says that she has no idea why she had any scarring to her bum.

53. Some of the detail is age and education inappropriate, it would indicate
that Gabriel has witnessed these incidents in some form or another. For
example, Gabriel’s description of sniffing the white powder off his own hand that
Mr Dearman gives him, and the little bags that it comes in.

The interview of Gabriel on 17/09/2014, he is very confused as to what happens.
When asked by Steve “we talked in two other interviews…was what you told me
the truth?” Gabriel responds “yeah” Steve replies “so all that stuff about the
babies, and the church and all that” Gabriel replies “no, well the babies, the
babies…there is some of the babies killed yeah” are you sure “yeah, but not much,
not every single day…” Steve says “because I heard you watched a film Zorro…and
there was someone killed…there, ‘cos of the way it sounded it sounded to me similar
to the way you told me about the babies and that’s why I was…wondering are
babies actually killed or that’s what you were made to say, so are babies actually
killed or is it something that you have been made to say” Gabriel responds “it’s
something I have been made to say” Steve says “so are babies being killed” Gabriel
responds “no, not much but there is…” Steve replied “by who” Gabriel says “by my
dad, but not much”. Steve then goes on to ask if it is true and Gabriel says no and
that he was made to say it by Mr Christie “accusing” him. When asked if there
are secret rooms Gabriel says there are secret rooms, followed by not much, then
there are no secret rooms and that he was made to say it. He indicates that Mr
Christie was asking questions and he had to think of a response and just said
things.

54. Other named suspects are mentioned in the interviews, none of these appear appear “>to
be
recorded as suspects on the Crime Report.

55.To state categorically that the children had been coached (which is written on
the Crime Report) which I understand is the assertion from Social Services, is
simply not feasible.

To find a lie in a conversation without some other comparative evidence to
contradict such an assertion from a witness is extremely difficult and not generally
admissible on its own, but merely opinion. Even a confession from a child to
coaching would not in itself be conclusive evidence that this was in fact true,
corroboration of some kind would be necessary support this. In fact in this case
both children indicate they gave in to the mistaken beliefs of Mr Christie and made
up their stories, neither actually say Mr Christie invented accounts that he then
forced them to say.

60. The ABE interviews should have probed further topic areas that would have
allowed further investigation or ability to corroborate or disprove elements of the
accounts.

The ABE interview on 17/09/2014 should have probed further the reasons why the children have lied and how they felt about this.

64. It is clear from the retractions that Alisa and Gabriel are not giving the same
account in their retractions. They do not give the same sources of material as to
where they got their ideas from for touching, whether they touched or not, where
the idea for plastic willies came from etc. Gabriel’s retraction is particularly
confused and he appears to be led through it by the police interviewer.

The police interviewer Steve appears from the start of these interviews to have pre-
conceived ideas that the accounts are untruthful, for example there is a large amount of challenging within the first interviews when the interviewer asks how and why.

This is not appropriate at that stage of the interview process and should be saved to
the end of an interview.

66. I do not feel it was suitable to close this investigation at this point without
further enquiries and corroboration being sought.

 

Regarding CRIME REPORT by Barnet Police

25. Initial allegation was not treated as initial complaint and recorded duly.

26. …should not be a reason to disregard an allegation.

27. Early consultation with Forensic Managers is advisable in any event.

28. It is vital and clearly outlined in ABE that Planning and Preparation should be
conducted.

31. The Crime Report would appear to infer that policy was not followed in this case
and form 3320 was not completed.

32. Page 8 of the Crime Report DC Rogers states the suspect Mr Dearman has been
circulated on the Police National Computer (PNC) as wanted. the interviews have
not been completed and extensive further enquiries would need to be considered

33. On page 10 of the Crime Report DI Cannon’s review cancels the PNC wanted
circulation of Mr Dearman so as to not frustrate the enquiry.

35. On page 20 of the Crime Report it states “…this could be a malicious allegation.”
Due to previous allegations. This comment on its own is inappropriate and
shows early disbelief in the allegations being made without proper due process.
Whilst it could be a malicious allegation there are several other variable
possibilities that have not been considered here.

36. On page 23 of the Crime Report DI Cannon states “Strat Meeting
8/9/14…Professionals have been invited that include representatives from the
school. This arrangement was made prior to Police notification.” As members of
staff had been implicated in this offence it is clear that at this point the
allegations were not treated as true by Social Services.

37. On page 25 of the Crime Report DC Martin makes an entry about the drive round conducted by Ms Draper and Mr Christie, this is also mentioned in the ABE
interview of Alisa and she explains this was in a taxi owned by Mr Christie’s
friend Rob. Identification, and an interview with Rob would have been
appropriate in these circumstances to try to obtain some corroboration as to
what was said to the children. Especially considering whether Mr Christie had a
spoon with him and whether he swore at the children.

38. On page 35 of the Crime Report DS Fernandez states “There were some
discrepancies which are being explored.” However no discrepancies are listed in
the Crime Report nor are the actions considered listed.

39. This is agreed as true by all parties, however it is not contextualised here as to
why this occurred, all parties state this was due to the children being caught
touching each other sexually. This is important given that this assault and the
assumption of mental health issues, which have not been formally diagnosed, of
Ms Draper are the reasons the children were taken into Police Protection and
that this was then the basis for the Emergency Protection Order.

42. On page 41 of the Crime Report DS Fernandez states “DS Fernandez gave account
of Mothers Statement and opinion of her mental health.” Whilst DS Fernandez is
entitled to their own opinion, I would question if DS Fernandez is a qualified
mental health professional with the ability assess a person’s mental health for it
to be taken into consideration in care proceedings.

43. On page 43 of the Crime Report it states “everything she has said about her
father was untrue, she had been pressurised into saying these things by
Abraham…she stated this was initiated when she was caught with her brother
touching each other in a sexual way…she had learned this from another child
called Sophie who she had engaged with in a sexual way. Abraham declined to
believe this and repeated a number of times who showed you and persisted with
this. He has then said that he knows who showed her and that it was her father,
she refuted this a number of times but eventually gave up and agreed that it was
his (sic) father, she has been asked a number of other questions and is not
believed by Abraham until she gives an answer that fits what he wasn’t (sic) to
hear.” This shows that rather than being coached into making disclosures which
is what has been alleged that Mr Christie appears not to have believed the initial
account Alisa gave and has asked if it was Alisa’s father who had taught her, as
children often do Alisa has acquiesced and then acquiesced again to further
questioning. Undoubtedly as is the nature of someone who has started rolling
the snowball of lies further disclosures came in order to please Mr Christie.

There is a similar account given by Gabriel.

45. On page 72 of the Crime Report DC Martin states “a video of Abraham and the
mother “helping” the children recall their account has been obtained…DS
Fernandez. He has informed me that the style of questioning towards the
children is very loaded and it appears that a level of coaching has been given to
the children to provide certain answers.” It is incredibly difficult to state
categorically that a child has been coached and there is no listing of any
indicators and how this decision has been made in regard to the video that has
been obtained.

46. Ms Draper states she had previously offered her recordings of the children to
Police but that these were not taken. It does not state how these recordings were
obtained in the Crime Report. I have however reviewed the recordings made by
Ms Draper that she supplied me with and the behaviour and language of Ms
Draper and Mr Christie is asking the children what they mean and asking who is
involved and not of a jovial nature.

47. The Mask of Zorro, which I have reviewed as part of this report, is a
swashbuckling sword-fighting movie. There is a scene where a head is cut off,
however this is off camera. The only particularly gory scenes are ones where a
head is a apparently in a hessian sack with blood dripping from it and another
where a head and hand are floating in liquid and a cup is dipped into the liquid
and drunk. There are no sculls to be seen or satanic type ritualism, nor is there
anything involving children or babies.

50. A psychiatric assessment of the children in this case would be appropriate,
indeed some ongoing support in this area is probably vital to their future mental
health especially given the comments by DI Cannon at page 76 “This has had a
massive emotional impact on the children and will affect them for life.”

51. If the retractions are considered to be truthful (and since this came after the
children were taken into Police Protection and an Emergency Protection Order
applied for) consideration should have been given to identifying and
interviewing Sophie. Who if this is correct, has over sexualized behaviour and
access to pornography. What actions have been taken in this regard with the
school, social services and police in regard to safeguarding this child?

52. If this retraction is not considered truthful then it would appear that the children
are making up accounts that differ still whilst not under the influence of Mr
Christie or Ms Draper and therefore the issue of coaching by Mr Christie must be
re-examined.

53. Other named suspects who are professionals were not formally interviewed.

54. Identification and interview with Rob the taxi driver to corroborate or not the
events regarding the drive round they conducted.

57. Planning and preparation and the consideration of investigative strategies
appear to be lacking in the initial stages of the report.

58. Evidence pointing to and away from an offence must be considered.
Investigators should not make assumptions that due to the unlikely or seemingly
ridiculous nature of the allegation that it is untrue. If an account appears to be
untrue corroboration should be sought for this also.

59. Some investigation has been conducted into proving or disproving, however
most appear to be slanted towards merely disproving the offences occurred from
the physically impossible such as secret rooms where there is no possible space
for rooms.

60. This investigation does not look at the fact that the children are giving accounts
of abuse and how they came to use such language other than to suggest Mr
Christie coached the children.

61. Policy was not adhered to correctly in regard to Achieving Best Evidence in the
Police Interviews regarding the building of rapport.

62. The Crime Report does not appear to have an appropriate set of considerations,
actions or reviews. It is possible that such notes are held elsewhere in the
restricted parts of the report but those considerations do not appear in the
Details of Investigation section and therefore cannot be commented upon.
Certain conclusions appear to have been drawn as to the mental health of Ms
Draper and how she should conduct herself without a mental health assessment.
However, even if Ms Draper and/or the children did have mental health issues
that should not influence the investigation of offences.

Social Services input may have had an influence on investigators.

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