Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 191-199)




  191. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. You have all been present, I think, at the earlier session, is that right?
  (Mr O'May) We have.

  192. You know what we are about. Can I just ask each of you to state, first of all, where you practise, your field of practice and how you became interested in this subject, starting with Ms McDonald?
  (Ms McDonald) I am a partner in the firm of Kingsley Napley in London. My main practice is serious fraud or serious general crime. My experience in this area is limited to the extent that I defended David Jones when he was charged within Operation Care. He was the then Southampton Football Club Manager. He was interviewed during 1999-2000 on a trial which began in December 2000 but was stopped within the prosecution case. That is my experience in this area.

  193. Mr O'May?
  (Mr O'May) I am a partner in the firm of Bindman and Partners here in London. I head the Criminal Law Department there. I have done a number of cases where I have defended individuals who have been accused of this kind of case. I defended Dr Reeves who gave evidence earlier and I have defended in a number of other care home cases and abuse cases generally.

  194. Mr Saltrese?
  (Mr Saltrese) I am a sole practitioner and I practise in Southport, Merseyside. I have been involved in this area of the law for about six years representing care workers and teachers caught up in trawling operations. Also I represented a number of alleged abusers at the North Wales inquiry.

  195. How did you get started in this line of work?
  (Mr Saltrese) I got started in this line of work because a friend of a very close relation of mine was convicted and I was asked by the family to look at the papers. That was in April 1996. I was extremely concerned at what I saw. I had known the convicted man about 20 years. The evidence did not accord with my knowledge of the man. When I began to look at the papers in the case I saw there were some fundamental flaws in the methodology of the police.

Mr Singh

  196. What are your major concerns of police methods in investigating cases of past child abuse?
  (Mr O'May) Shall we speak individually?

  197. Yes.
  (Ms McDonald) I think much has been said of trawling but I think that is the first thing which comes to my mind and the police methodology in that approach. With the David Jones case, the way that witnesses were trawled was by way of dip sampling, which I think was referred to by those giving evidence last week. In my case a number of ex residents were written to by the police. It states quite clearly on the face of the letter what they are investigating and asks them to come forward to give information. That is at the very start, and that is the danger, you have really set up the problem because people know, therefore, what is being investigated and what evidence the police are looking for. Certainly in my case we had evidence to suggest that at least two if not all of our complainants were doing this for financial compensation. You are starting from a flawed basis, I would say. My main concern would be from the trawling aspect of the police operation.

  198. How many complainants were there?
  (Ms McDonald) There were five altogether.

  199. How many were there originally? Were four from the trawl?
  (Ms McDonald) There was one original complaint and from the trawling, and also from the publicity in my particular client's case, people were coming out of the woodwork, if you like. From starting from one it then became five.


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