Even before Mrs Justice Pauffley read her judgement in the fact-finding case regarding RD’s children on 19 March 2015, she had issued a court order that was supposed to have kept the Hampstead hoax from exploding online.
Court Order ZC14C00315, issued on 15 February 2015, was quite plainly worded.
On page 1, it states in big bold letters that “Any person or body who knows of this order and does anything to breach its terms may be held to be in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined, or have their assets seized”.
It goes on to explain why the order was made:In other words, the court had become aware of the material about the case which Ella and Sabine had already posted online; Ella had elected to flee the country instead of showing up at court to attempt to regain custody of her own children; and the court had realised that further violations of the children’s confidentiality were likely to be released online.
Thinking back to the time when this order was issued, it all makes a great deal of sense. Mrs Justice Pauffley was concerned—and rightly so—that the online campaign begun by Ella and Sabine would escalate. She wanted to prevent that from happening, because she understood that it would have a catastrophic effect on the lives of RD and his two children.
This court order prohibits not only Ella and Sabine, but any other person or body from publishing or disseminating any information about RD, his two children, the court proceedings which were ongoing at that time, any information which might lead to the identification of RD, and any information about employees or representatives of the local authority.
It also blocked any attempts to harass RD, or to subject him to “unlawful and unwarranted psychological intimidation by posting articles and information upon any internet or social networking website accusing him of unlawful activity”.
If this one rather short and plain document had been adhered to and obeyed, Hoaxtead would have died on the vine. However, as we know, that’s not what happened.
In fact, the court order was violated literally thousands of times, as not only the two named individuals in it, but their followers, and their followers’ followers, published videos, images, blog posts, comments, online radio shows, Facebook and Twitter posts, and much, much more online.
The consequences for all of this frenzied violation of the court order? Almost nothing.
No one was ever arrested, and only a couple of people were spoken to by the police and persuaded to remove their material from the internet. Despite dozens of complaints from this blog and other outraged commenters online, the court order was almost completely ignored.
This strikes us as passing strange: why was the court order never enforced, even in the most perfunctory way?
To understand this, we need to remember that at the time the order was put into place, neither Sabine nor Ella were in the UK. They had fled the country, as each was afraid that their activities could have led to their arrest. Acting from the safety of Spain and Germany respectively, they kept pumping out material that violated the court order…and there was nothing any UK court could do to stop them.
However, that doesn’t account for the lack of activity against “[A]ny person or body who knows of this order and does anything to breach its terms”.
People like Araya Soma, Deborah Mahmoudieh, Henry Curteis, Jim McMenamin, Butlincat, John Taylor, Kevin ‘Wearechange’ Weaver, Neelu Berry, Penny Pullen, Belinda McKenzie, Jake Clarke, John Banks…all of them live in the UK.
All shared illegal material that had originated with Sabine and Ella. All could have been arrested for violating the court order. And yet none of them have been.
Part of the issue lies with the fact that a court order doesn’t activate automatically when someone violates it. The police don’t have someone on duty searching out violations so they can rush out and arrest people.
It’s up to the person or persons protected by the order to document the violation, contact the police, present them with the order, and ask them to act. Given the barrage of material that flooded the internet beginning in February 2015, it’s not reasonable to expect one person to have acted to stem the tide. It would have been a full-time job for several people, at that time.
Now, though, while illegal material is still being posted, the volume has slowed to a trickle, and it’s now much easier to trace its origins. For example, the other day one of our commenters noted that Jake Clarke had posted pictures of RD’s children, a clear violation of the court order.
It’s now a relatively simple matter for the respondents to take action…and we hope they will.