In yesterday’s discussion of Ian Josephs’ repudiation of his soon-to-be ex-friends Belinda and Sabine, the topic of the Vicky Haigh case came up. As usual on Hoaxtead Research, the comments section yielded much food for thought.
Commenter JW pointed out that on Sabine’s Victims Unite! blog, she published a 25-page synopsis of the Haigh case, written by Elizabeth Watson (who served 9 days in Holloway before begging to be released and saying she was very, very sorry for her actions). Here’s the cover page of that synopsis:
As always, Sabine’s dedication to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth shines through.
Crime without (much) punishment
In our article last fall on the Haigh case, we briefly touched on Sabine’s involvement: she acted as Watson’s ‘publisher’, putting material on her website in defiance of the law against publishing Family Court cases.
As Sir Nicholas Wall pointed out in his judgement on Watson’s application to purge her contempt of court proceedings,
The mischief of the publication, as Ms. Watson now appreciates, is that the publication of allegations which I and two other judges held to be without foundation not only puts the identity of the child into the public domain and renders it accessible to anybody who cares to look for it or to read it; but equally, Ms Watson has put herself in the hands and the power of the internet provider [Sabine]. The omens do not altogether look good.
Sir Nicholas described this email from Sabine to Watson’s solicitors:
Why on earth does the Guardian who has NOT acted in the child’s interest request me to remove the page about [the earlier fraud?]
Re Inquiring Minds [her blog] I wrote to Malcolm & Co. and cc him for your convenience. – [That is another matter on the website] – I am happy to cooperate but I am not happy destroying all the evidence that Liz [Ms Watson] has found and was just not sufficiently able to present effectively. The same evidence will help to get Vicky [that is the mother] her daughter back after all and the Guardian CERTAINLY has no right/authority/jurisdiction to tell me anything.
Sorry, but you will have to fight for the fact that Liz has undug more than ‘they’ would have liked her to.
With best wishes, Sabine
On the basis that she had repented, Sir Nicholas did decide to suspend Watson’s sentence, but noted,
I would be entitled, if I wished, to keep her in prison until such time as the blog to which I have been referred and which is the one outstanding matter has been investigated and those responsible for it have been given the opportunity to remove the e-mail. I have considered that option very carefully. I have decided, however, in the end not to do it. I am satisfied that Ms. Watson has had a very unpleasant experience in prison. I am willing to accept her undertaking – which has the force of a court order – to use her best endeavours to remove the offending e-mail from the blog and I am satisfied that to keep her imprisoned would serve no real purpose as far as she is concerned.
In other words, Sir Nicholas decided against further punishing Watson for the crime that she and Sabine had committed together—Watson having provided Sabine with the material and Sabine having published it.
Punishment without crime
However, two people who had committed no crime wound up being punished quite severely in the Haigh case.
One was Vicky Haigh’s ex-husband, the father of her little girl.
In this 2011 Daily Mail article, David Tune described his anguish as his “world fell apart”:
The article describes how, with Watson’s help, Vicky Haigh sent emails filled with vile accusations, “slurring not only David but accusing almost every professional involved of corruption, and worse”:
Sickening statements of a sexual nature, made by the little girl about her father, were submitted to a British court. Versions of these accusations found their way online, leading to a powerful internet campaign to get Vicky’s voice heard.
Of course, anyone familiar with Hoaxtead will know all about ‘powerful internet campaigns’ and the harm they can do, whether to individuals or to entire communities.
What crime had David Tune actually committed? Apparently, the crime of wishing to have contact with his daughter. The crime of wanting to play a full and meaningful parental role in his child’s life. In fact, it’s the same crime RD committed in 2014, when he told Ella he wanted increased, regular access to their two children.
The other person who suffered punishment without crime was Vicky and David’s daughter.
Sir Nicholas pointed out that Haigh’s actions “were ‘wholly contrary’ to her daughter’s interests, to the point that it was she who was harming her daughter, not David”.
Further, like RD’s children, the Haighs’ daughter, who is now on the verge of adolescence, will need to make sense of what happened to her.
Why did her mother force her to tell lies about her father, not just once, but on 5 separate occasions? Why can she no longer see her mother or her young half-sister? Why is her family’s story—her story—splashed like an indelible stain across the internet?
Confusing questions for anyone to answer; even more confusing for a young person at the centre of a storm that she had no part in causing.
We wonder: when people like Ian Josephs and Sabine McNeill bray loud and long about ‘no punishment without crime!’, do they ever spare a thought for the true victims?