This latest article by Christopher Booker in The Telegraph does illustrate what we, as supporters and investigators of institutionalised child abuse, are up against:
Last month, I twice reported on the strange case of Vicky Haigh, a former racehorse trainer, who was appealing against her three-year prison sentence for breaching a “non-molestation order”, after she encountered her daughter by chance at a petrol station. This was by far the longest sentence ever given for breaching such an order, and she was given right to appeal by a High Court judge on the grounds that it was “manifestly excessive”.
The appeal court reduced her sentence by nine months, the maximum possible, short of releasing her immediately. Having served nine months as a “model prisoner”, she and her younger daughter, aged 15 months, were due to be released from her open prison last Monday.
Following my reporting on this, however, Miss Haigh was permitted by her prison to give a long interview to another newspaper. This so angered higher authorities that, as a punishment, she was told that she would not be released on licence as arranged. She was returned instead to the high-security jail where she served the first weeks of her sentence.
All this followed the unusual actions taken last year by Lord Justice Wall, head of the family courts, when he took over the case involving Miss Haigh’s older daughter, who had been removed from her in 2010 after she accused her ex-husband of sexually abusing the child. Wall took what he described as the “unprecedented” step of publishing a judgment highly critical of Miss Haigh, based on the findings of a lower court judge that she had coached her daughter to make allegations against the father. After taking a swipe at me for giving a “one-sided” view of the case, Wall also issued a press release, which led to widespread publicity, including a long interview with the father putting his version of the story. Three months later, Miss Haigh was given her record sentence, after a trial in which Wall’s judgment was used in evidence against her.
Wall had based his view of the case entirely on the findings of two lower courts, which he also ordered to be published. At the time I welcomed this because, I suggested, it would give the public a chance to see whether the other judges had made a plausible assessment of the “coaching” claim – for which, as the judgments show, there was no direct evidence. Despite Wall ordering their publication, it has taken nearly a year, and a long succession of emails between me and the courts, for the two judgments finally to be made available on the website of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute.
After Miss Haigh was punished for giving an interview to the same newspaper which published her ex-husband’s version, a shadowy body called Mappa (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements), which advises on the treatment of “dangerous offenders”, emphasised that she should not be released as planned. But this was overruled by the prison governor on the grounds that she was not “a danger to the public”.
Last week, therefore, Miss Haigh and her baby returned home, to be happily reunited with the baby’s father and with his other children, to whom she has been a loved stepmother for the past six years.
This article as well as A judge attacks my ‘one-sided’ child protection stories – but it cuts both ways is a clear proof of the absolute necessity for publicity when there is injustice.
It should also be noted that MAPPA has been used to ‘restrain’ Vicky. I came across MAPPA thanks to Maurice Kirk and learned that it’s also used to check Chiwar Musa in HMP Pentonville. Once again: a mechanism for use against innocent prisoners above all.