Yesterday we talked about the original allegations that formed the basis for the Hampstead SRA hoax, how the allegations were invented, and how they were investigated by police. That, believe it or not, was the easy part.
Today we’re going to delve into how those allegations, seemingly a private family matter, burst onto the internet in early 2015, and how that was seized upon by the existing community of “truthers”.
We’re going to tackle this in the form of a timeline, and as always, if we forget anything, we ask our readers to help us out and let us know.
Ready? Let’s begin.
Prior to May 2014
Ella Draper and her ex-partner Ricky Dearman had been to court more than 9 times, as RD sought to have access to their two children. Ella used every possible means to avoid this, including making several false allegations against RD in an effort to cut him off completely from the children. This is alluded to in Mrs Justice Pauffley’s fact-finding judgement of 19 March, 2015:
Over the course of the next six years (after 2008), there was never a time when the children’s contact with their father proceeded smoothly. Countless returns to court achieved very little. If there was an attempt to achieve judicial continuity it failed miserably. Between November 2010 and August 2014 when the case was pending at First Avenue House, High Holborn it drifted between no fewer than seven different judges. None of the nine hearings resulted in a considered judgment on the basis of oral evidence. The essential cause of the problems was never the subject of judicial determination.
As we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, RD had contact with his children for the first time since the previous October. That same month, Ella Draper met Abraham Christie, who has an extensive criminal record, and is a known child abuser.
A woman named Belinda McKenzie, who runs an organisation called the Association of McKenzie Friends, and who had been deeply involved in promoting the Hollie Greig sexual abuse hoax in Scotland, wrote to her followers that her ‘special operation is about to commence’. This came at a time when the Hollie Hoax was winding down.
In June, Abraham Christie became involved in an altercation with the staff at Christ Church School, in which he shouted at them that they were “poisoning” the children by allowing them to eat “off-limits” food. Abe and Ella were both very keen raw food advocates, and the children often complained of being hungry. They were often seen rummaging through the bins at school, looking for food.
In early August, Abe called and left messages for his brother-in-law, Special Constable Jean-Clement Yaohirou, saying he had information regarding the abuse of children. At that time, Jean-Clement said, Abe was not offering specific information, but was trying to “give him justification”. Abe claimed that a church, a school in Hampstead, and a police station in Haringey were involved. Jean-Clement asked whether he had evidence, and Abe said he had, but did not disclose it.
Abe and Ella travelled with the children, first to Gibraltar and then to Morocco, where they stayed on a farm belonging to a friend of Abe. According to Mrs Justice Pauffley’s fact-finding judgement of 19 March 2015, while they were there
…the children’s minds were filled with ever more elaborate, fantastical and sexually explicit stories. Over time, more and more detail was supplied to the central core of the fabricated story. ‘Brainstorming’ brought about expanded versions of events. More and more individuals were named as participants within the cult. Venues for abusive activities grew in number, spread across Hampstead and Highgate. Ever more sexually explicit details were woven in to the fabric of the fantasies in an attempt to make the children’s accounts believable and seemingly authentic.
By the time the children arrived at the airport for the journey back to England, at Mr Christie’s and Ms Draper’s instigation, they were able to ‘speak to camera’ about the stories concocted during the brainstorming. The obvious purpose of the film clips was to provide ‘proof.’ It was part of a deliberate plan by Mr Christie and Ms Draper. The children do as they are told. They do so forthrightly, without inhibition and with apparent conviction.
The children described the abuse they received from Abe during the time they were in Morocco. In addition to waking them in the middle of the night to interrogate them about alleged sexual abuse, he hit them with spoons which he had heated on the stove; he kicked them “as hard as he could” in the privates; he threatened to bury the little girl alive in the desert; he hit the little boy so hard on the head that he ruptured his eardrum. He made them kneel in front of him in their underwear, while he poured water on them. In the videos made en route home from Morocco, both children look tired; bruising and a cut are visible on the little girl’s face.
4 September, 2014
Immediately upon returning to London, Abe took the children to Jean-Clement’s house. Ella returned to her own home for a shower, and joined them later. Jean-Clement recorded the entire conversation. Alarmed about what he heard, Jean-Clement called Scotland Yard the following morning. He gave the audio recording to a friend for safe-keeping. This friend, upon listening to the recording, recognised the name of one of the parents who was being accused of belonging to the ‘cult’.
According to Detective Inspector Cannon, who testified during the fact-finding hearing, “This friend had looked at the video and recognised one of the parents when they had said the name of one of the parents that they were talking about, and he called up this chap who then took a copy of this video and contacted us. He also contacted, I’m not sure if it was his lawyer or someone, but then we got the copy of that from him“.
This means that from the very beginning, one of those accused by Abe and Ella proactively contacted the police and gave them a copy of the Jean-Clement recording. Hardly the actions of a person who fears investigation.
5 September, 2014
Barnet police launched their investigation into the allegations. An important point: Abe and Ella did not initially go to the police with their concerns; the police, alerted by Jean-Clement and the above-named person, went to see them. You can read more about various elements of the police investigation on the FAQ.
8 September, 2014
A person named Finbarr, with a Northern Irish accent, visited Abe and Ella. While he was there, he talked to the little girl, secretly filming their conversation as he did so. During this visit, Abe is audio-recorded discussing his concern that DC Steve Martin was involved with this case. DC Martin, it seems, knew Abe as a child abuser, having dealt with him when he assaulted his own teen-aged son. In the audio recorded by Finbarr, Abe can be heard trying not to panic.
11 September, 2014
On 11 September, both children were made the subjects of a Police Protection Order, and were removed from Ella’s custody.
The same day, Abe and Ella emailed Brian Gerrish of the UK Column, in hopes that he would pick up the case and help them with publicity. Abe also contacted Bill Maloney, another “truther” would-be filmmaker. Neither Gerrish nor Maloney would agree to touch the case at this stage, which later led to Abe alleging that they were “shills”.
14 November, 2014
Sabine McNeill, a colleague of Belinda McKenzie with a reputation for leaving a trail of doomed and/or botched family law cases in her wake as a McKenzie friend, created a Dropbox file in which she posted a “witness statement” which Ella had made, in which she named the children, parents, teachers, clergy, and businesses in Hampstead that she and Abe wished to target. This list gives personal information about the targetted individuals, including telephone numbers, street addresses, places of work, and email addresses.
Sabine identified 14 November as the day she was “(c)ontacted by Russian mother of two, then 8 and 9-year-old children, taken into care [custody] by Barnet Police on September 11, 2014 allowing contact with father whom they accused of being the leader of a ‘strange culture’ at a church and school in Hampstead, London”.
On the same day, a conspiracy blogger named Charlotte Ward published an autobiographical e-book called Illuminati Party! under the pseudonym “Jacqui Farmer”. She also took down her relatively successful blog, Conspirituality, at around this time.
10 December 2014
Ella fired, then re-hired, then fired her legal team. They turned over a bundle of materials to her, including the video recordings of the police interviews which DC Martin had conducted with the children in September. Ella approached Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie to act as her McKenzie friends in her care proceedings as she tried to regain custody of her children.
26 December, 2014
Sabine McNeill posted on a now-deleted blog, “Regarding my social life with meaning, I can only hope that this case will become the breakthrough we’ve been working towards. It took me quite a while to get my head, heart and strategic thinking in line with the necessities to respond to calls for court proceedings in the case of a Russian mum whose two children were taken by Barnet police on 11 September 2015 (sic)”.
2 January, 2015
A friend of Sabine’s and a Director of at least one of Belinda’s companies (the former Knight Foundation) was witnessed handing out leaflets regarding the Russian Mother on 2nd January 2015 at Southwark Crown Court. This seems to be the earliest known evidence of the campaign, and it predated any court decisions.
13 January, 2015
High Court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley became involved with the care proceedings.
26 January, 2015
Sabine wrote a Position Statement for Ella to present at her 26 January hearing. This statement contained a thinly veiled threat as to would happen if the children “were not returned to their mother and grandparents with immediate effect.” The consequence, according to this statement, would be “high level embarrassment.”
Sabine also wrote an open letter to Theresa May, then Home Secretary. This letter explicitly stated that the Position Statement was “our offer NOT to expose this scandal in exchange for returning the children.”
Sabine claims that she “accidentally” BCC’d this email, which contained the videos of the children making their initial allegations, to conspiracy blogger Henry Curteis of The Tap Blog. Curteis published the videos on the internet, and they quickly went viral, with more than 4 million people having viewed them by 10 March 2015.
2 February, 2015
During a contact visit with the children, Ella provided them with pens and paper and asked them to write a letter to the judge saying they wished to return home. Both children refused to do this. Ella was overheard swearing at the children in Russian, and the children appeared upset but still refused to co-operate with her plan. As a result of her behaviour, the Local Authority chose to suspend contact with the children for seven days.
9 February, 2015
Ella published a “witness statement” online, in which she revealed a great deal of false information about the children’s school, their teachers, and other pupils and their parents. In this statement she claimed that the headteacher was leading a “Satanist” cult from the school, and that children at the school were being regularly sexually abused.
10 February, 2015
Ella failed to attend court when “mandatory and prohibitory injunctions” were made against her. The injunctions specified that she and Sabine were not to continue harassing and defaming RD.
12 February, 2015
According to Mrs Justice Pauffley’s judgement,
On 12 February, police officers attended at Ms Draper’s address. Her car was on the driveway. A gentleman spoke with the police through the letter box and indicated that he was the mother’s lawyer. The police explained they were there to discuss possible offences committed under s.4 of the Harassment Act 1997. They were denied entry to the property. Whilst the police were waiting for the means to secure a forced entry, three people climbed out of a first floor window, ran along the roof line of three or four houses and climbed down onto some nearby garages where they disappeared from sight.
Ella appears to have fled the country at that point, quite likely to Spain.
17 February, 2015
Abe was seen outside the front entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice, as part of a group led by Belinda McKenzie, which was campaigning for the “return of the Whistleblower Kids”. A witness summons was issued requiring his attendance to answer questions on February 20. However, attempts to serve the summons were unsuccessful. He later fled to Spain as well, where he and Ella have been holed up for the past year and a half.
19 March, 2015
Mrs Justice Pauffley read her judgement at the High Court. Her final summary of findings was:
- Neither child has been sexually abused by any of the following – Ricky Dearman, teachers at Christchurch Primary School Hampstead, the parents of students at that school, the priest at the adjacent church, teachers at any of the Hampstead or Highgate schools, members of the Metropolitan Police, social workers employed by the London Borough of Camden, officers of Cafcass or anyone else mentioned by Ms Draper or Mr Christie.
- The children’s half brother, his father and stepmother – Will and Sarah Draper – are likewise exonerated of any illicit or abusive acts involving the children.
- There was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.
- All of the material promulgated by Ms Draper now published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense.
- The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper.
- Both children were assaulted by Mr Christie by being hit with a metal spoon on multiple occasions over their head and legs, by being pushed into walls, punched, pinched and kicked. Water was poured over them as they knelt semi-clothed.
- The long term emotional and psychological harm of what was done to the children is incalculable. The impact of the internet campaign is likely to have the most devastating consequences for P and Q.
19 March, 2015 to present
A group of people—some of them mentally ill, some criminals, and some merely unbelievably gullible and foolish—have picked up this story and spread it online, complete with threats and allegations that anyone who disagrees with them is a paedophile and/or a cannibal and/or a member of a cult or of one secret service or another.
There is much, much more to say about this, but this post is already more than 2,000 words long, and so it will have to wait for another day.