A few weeks back, Belinda McKenzie made some vague threats about going to Wandsworth Prison to visit her protegé Rupert Quaintance, currently serving a nine-month sentence for Harassment 4. So we were a bit taken aback yesterday to discover that Rupert’s first visitor was not to be Belinda after all. Instead, Rupert’s friend Charlie Veitch has volunteered to do the honours.
The irony here, of course, is that Belinda and Charlie aren’t exactly the best of friends, having had a bit of a shouting match during a 2011 demonstration:
Readers might remember that Rupert visited Charlie in Manchester in the summer of 2016, before he travelled to London. He and Charlie seem to have hit it off, though from the sound of the following video, Charlie might have got hold of the wrong end of the stick as regards what Rupert was really up to while he was at large. Let’s look at some of his misconceptions:
Charlie should know a few things about Rupert’s case:
- Rupert might have come to the UK “on a whim”, but his expressed purpose in coming here wasn’t just to hang out, look around, and take a few pictures. As revealed during his trial, he made statements on various videos which were calculated to instill fear into the parents who had been falsely accused of belonging to a “Satanic death cult” in Hampstead. He said he would be coming to “kick down doors and take blood samples”; he said he “didn’t want to kill them, just beat them up real bad”; and he took a photograph of himself outside the school involved, posting it on the first morning of school in September 2016, along with suggestions that indicated he was armed with a knife. And he kept Excel spreadsheets on his computer, containing the names of those he harassed. These pieces of evidence formed the nub of the prosecution’s case, but we have identified numerous other points during which he made substantive threats against the parents. Incidentally, it was later confirmed by someone who’d been in personal communication with Rupert that he habitually carried a knife.
- Charlie is right when he says that the Hampstead case was “bullshit, it was not real”. However, it was shown in court that while Rupert might have got in an argument with “a bunch of trolls”, he was unable to demonstrate that any substantive threats had been made against him. The prosecution was able to prove that Rupert’s threats were not aimed at those whom he considered trolls, but were directed toward the parents named in the case. We can assure Charlie that this blog, which opposed Rupert’s travelling to the UK from the outset, made absolutely no “death threats” toward him. We did warn him repeatedly that he should not come here, as we could foresee that his plans could only end in tears. He chose to ignore us, to his detriment.
- Charlie is absolutely correct that we were able to identify Rupert’s location in Erith by carefully examining his surroundings in one of his videos. He should keep in mind, though, that this was after Rupert had posted the picture of himself outside the school. The parents, understandably, were very shaken by this and had asked the police to arrest him; we got wind of it and decided to help by locating him.
- Yes, the United States has constitutionally protected laws regarding free speech. However, as in the UK, the laws in America make a distinction between “freedom of expression” and speech that instills fear or terror in individuals. American Nazis, for example, have the right to march past synagogues, distasteful as that is. However, stalking or threatening individuals is just as much against the law there as it is here. Bottom line: Americans can say what they like about groups of people, but they cannot make specific threats. Several types of speech are “unprotected” by the First Amendment: obscenity; fighting words; defamation (including libel or slander); child pornography; perjury; blackmail; incitement to imminent lawless action; true threats; and solicitations to commit crimes. What Rupert did here would be just as illegal if he’d done it to people in the United States.
- While Rupert may very well be telling his friends that what he did was really nothing (and we know he’s said this, as our reporter at the trial overheard him saying to Belinda McKenzie that he “had no idea how it got this far”), people who allege that they are critical thinkers ought perhaps to look past his superficial claims, dig a little deeper, and realise that Rupert might have his own reasons for minimising his behaviour. As he said prior to his first morning in court, “I will say anything to get out of this. I would call my mother a whore on television”.
Let’s be clear: we have no issue with anyone choosing to visit Rupert in prison; like any other prisoner, he has the right to receive visitors while he’s paying off his debt to society. While it’s very admirable to remain loyal to a friend, particularly when they are in trouble, we think Charlie should be aware of the full picture. Rupert terrorised a group of innocent people, who feared for their own safety and that of their children because of his actions.
He was warned, more often than we can count, that he was following a foolhardy path. He chose to keep doing it anyway. We find it hard to summon up much sympathy for him in his current situation.