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Entries in false allegations (7)


FNF Scotland comment on Dumfries false rape allegation case

In a judgement issued recently from Dumfries Sheriff court the sheriff concluded that a mother had made a false allegation of rape against a father in connection with a contact dispute (para 76).

Comment by FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell:

"This is a thorough analysis over 61 pages by Sheriff Mohan of the facts and circumstances of the events which led to the relationship between a father and his children being abruptly severed and fundamentally damaged.

While we understand that the mother in this case was suffering from severe depression, it is regrettable that her own family, friends and professional agencies saw their role as supporting  "her plan to leave with the children" and adding to it, rather than finding ways in which both parents and children could be supported to deal with her depression and other material stresses.

However, in the context of the current Scottish Government review of family law, this case illustrates the importance of early findings of fact where serious allegations are made by one parent against the other.  It also stresses the importance of objectively assessing the authenticity of the expressed views of children about contact with their parents after separation, especially where extremely hostile views have replaced a previously comfortable and affectionate relationship overnight. Sheriff Mohan questioned the credibility of the letters written by the children in this case.

This is not the first case where the intervention of a support agency has been found by a sheriff to have added to the sort of psychological and emotional damage on children that it was purporting to protect them from.

Sheriff Mohan has ordered that contact between the father and his extended family and his children be restored and we wish all of those involved well in recovering from the damage they have suffered.


Children were harmed by professionals failure to test false allegations of abuse

A recent English family court judgement criticised the actions of various professionals in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse made by two children in a cross border contact case. The children had been living in Scotland but were retained in England by their mother after holidays in summer of 2014. She had moved to England to live with a new partner.

Mr Justice MacDonald found that the actions of certain professionals on both sides of the Border actively contributed to the difficulties in assessing the evidence, 'materially prejudiced the welfare of both children' and contributed to the "significant" emotional harm the children had suffered.

These breaches included:

  • The social worker unquestioningly accepted the mother's account and her failure to make enquiries of the father, the extended families, school, doctors or local authorities "was particularly egregious in circumstances where such enquires would have revealed a fundamentally different picture to that being painted by the mother."
  •  A failure (by social workers, Detective Constables, Detective Sergeants and teachers) to keep accurate records of what was said by the mother and the children, resulting in accounts of what the children said that were diametrically opposed.  This included both Scottish and English police officers.
  • A repeated failure by numerous professionals to interview the children in accordance with the ABE [equivalent of Scottish Joint Investigative Interview] Guidelines, in particular repeated questioning of one child in the presence of the other child and their mother, and the repeated use of highly leading questions.
  • A failure by agencies to coordinate their intervention: between 11 August 2014 and 29 July 2015. Taking the CAMHS [Child and Adolescent Mentl Health] intervention into account, the children were questioned by no less than nineteen professionals on 44 occasions.
  • That ahead of any findings or criminal convictions in respect of the allegation, the CAMHS intervention extended to therapeutic intervention for one child by three psychiatrists and over 29 group therapy sessions and six sessions for the other child on the basis that they had been abused as alleged.

Mr Justice MacDonald quoted the conclusion of the children's guardian surveying the conduct of professionals in this case that "'It is as if a sort of hysteria took over and prevented people from asking certain questions'.  I cannot help but agree."

The woman had asked the court to rule that the man who raised the action to return him to Scotland where he had been the boy's primary carer had raped her and abused the children.

The judge concluded that every allegation the woman and children made against the man was false. She had 'told lies' and 'coached or influenced' the children - now aged 10 and six - into making false allegations. 

"In August 2014 the mother manufactured alarm using a falsified version of past events in an attempt to avoid returning the children to Scotland.  Using a combination of emotional pressure, inappropriate exposure to adult discussions and, on occasion, coaching, the mother proceeded to recruit the children to her cause. With the aid of repeated and persistent poor practice by a range of professionals the mother further succeeded in enclosing the narrative she had created within a hermetically sealed bubble, thereby succeeding in preventing professionals carrying out the checks that would have revealed that the allegations that were being made first by the mother, and then by the children required, at the very least, a critical and questioning appraisal.  Indeed, by reason of their almost entirely unquestioning approach towards the mother, a number of professionals simply acquiesced to their confinement in that bubble.  Had professionals adhered to well established guidance and procedure they would have discovered that the allegations lacked credibility.

It is important to recognise that the professional failures I have set out have had consequences. By reason of the failure of the relevant agencies to follow the clear and well established guidance and procedure the children were not only left in a situation where a parent was permitted to persist in conduct that was harmful to their emotional welfare but, by their omissions, those agencies actively contributed to that harm."   

Mr Justice MacDonald made the ruling in February but its publication was delayed until this month because the father was facing criminal charges connected with the allegations in Scotland. The Crown Office has indicated proceedings against the man have been dropped.



Sheriff gaols mother for false allegations of domestic abuse


At Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 29 June 2015, Sheriff Kevin Drummond QC sentenced a mother to two months imprisonment and imposed a Community Payback Order on her mother after the two accused made false allegations of domestic abuse to prevent a father getting contact with his child.

In his sentencing statement Sheriff Drummond refers to the public prosecution policy (joint protocol) relating to domestic abuse: "Where there is a deliberate attempt to manipulate the application of that policy by the making of false allegations of criminal conduct; that is behaviour which strikes at the system of justice itself."

The mother in this case lied to the police, asked her mother to lie to the police to support this original lie, and even stated that her solicitor told her to invent a story.

She only admitted to these lies a number of weeks after the child's father had been detained by the police, interviewed, charged, spent some 16 hours in custody and was brought before the court.

Families Need Fathers Scotland knows that this use of false allegations happens frequently in child contact disputes.  Many fathers find their contact is frustrated for months or years because of such allegations.

Ian Maxwell, national manager of FNF Scotland, said today, “We welcome Sheriff Drummond's robust sentencing decision and clear explanation for it.

This may be an extreme example of a fabricated allegation in order to discredit and criminalise a former partner and the father of their child but, unfortunately, this kind of manipulation of the current public concern over domestic abuse is not rare. We hear similar examples at most of our group meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Aberdeen.

Sheriff Drummond commended the Crown Office for its investigation of the facts and circumstances in this case that led to the father being detained, handcuffed, held in the cells overnight and appearing in the dock as an accused person. Unfortunately, we know of many cases where no halt was called to the process and a non-resident father has been convicted for what was in effect no more than protesting at the attempts of his former partner to reduce or deny his time with his children.

The Scottish Government has recently concluded a consultation into whether current laws on domestic abuse are sufficient to incorporate what is known as 'coercive control'. FNF Scotland has urged the government explicitly to include the willful denial or disruption of parenting time as a serious offence within the criteria of coercive control.

We will also be seeking further discussion with the Crown Office and Prosecutor Fiscal Service about the joint protocol in relation to malicious allegations of domestic abuse." 

When domestic abuse is committed by fathers or mothers it should be treated extremely seriously, but false allegations of such abuse are just as serious and deserve equally severe treatment.


Father facing malicious allegations fully vindicated

An English family court judgement has completely vindicated a father who faced horrendous false allegations of satanic abuse that were aimed at stopping his contact with his children.

Mrs Justice Pauffley's judgement has been published to set the record straight and because the children concerned have been named repeatedly on the internet.

Many of the fathers we hear from have suffered from malicious allegations.  This case is particularly dreadful and shows up failings in the way the police dealt with initial allegations, but at least the allegations have been cleared.  The father is now back in touch with his children.

Ricky the father was interviewed on the Victoria Derbyshire TV programme and a Radio 4 programme "The Report" covered the satanic abuse story.


Judge reverses residence after mother made false allegations

An English Family Division Judge has replaced a shared residence order with sole residence for the father of a five-year-old boy, the mother to have regular contact.

This drastic move follows a "finding of fact" in which the mother's allegations about the father's drinking, violent behaviour and failure to protect his son from sexual abuse at the hands of the father's brother were all found to be false.

Judge Keehan also strongly criticised the child abuse investigation carried out by police and social services, stating: " ... the interview of the 23rd May 2012 conducted by Mr. Muchekeza and DC Sutcliffe was, by any standards of child abuse investigations, woeful."

"That they conducted the discussion at the child's home with the mother present in the house might well be excused.   But they questioned the child for 30 minutes without him making any disclosure and were at the point of calling it a day and leaving, which is understandable, but that they permitted the mother to speak to the child in their presence which was, "Tell them what you told Mummy about the bath", is quite incredible."

"It is a plain good ABE practice never to ask a child to repeat what they said to somebody else, simply to ask them to tell what has happened to them or what they have experienced.   To continue the discussion in the presence of the mother with the child being from time to time held by the mother is, in my judgment, wrong and improper."