One of the most startling features of the Hampstead Satanic ritual abuse hoax is the fact that two children were subjected to “relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse” by Abraham Christie, their mother’s new boyfriend, in order to extract “confessions” that they had been victims of, and had participated in, horrific sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism.
Even before the children retracted their claims, they were very clear that Abraham had hurt them.
In an early police interview, the little girl tried to soften her accusation against Abe by claiming he hadn’t really hurt her, but she said her brother suffered a great deal; and she pointed out that Abe had “pressed a spoon” into her chin so hard that it had cut the skin. The healing cut—or more accurately a burn, from a spoon which had been pre-heated—is quite visible in the videos Abe and Ella took en route from Morocco to London; in addition, the little girl had a large partially healed bruise on her forehead, which she also attributed to Abe.
Once the children had retracted their allegations about the so-called cult, it became clear that Abe had done much more than hit the children with spoons and pour water over them while they knelt before him in their underwear. He had also kicked them hard, while wearing heavy boots; he’d punched the little boy so hard on the side of the head that his eardrum had been perforated; he’d threatened the little girl with being buried alive in the Moroccan desert; he’d woken both children up in the middle of the night for prolonged questioning; and he and Ella had routinely deprived them of food, insisting that they eat a raw vegan diet which made their stomachs ache. And all the while, according to the children, their mother stood by and allowed a virtual stranger to hurt them.
We don’t think Mrs Justice Pauffley was incorrect to characterise this treatment as torture.
Does torture really bring out the truth?
Of course, those who wish to believe that a Satanic death cult is running amok in North London will claim that Abraham had to do this, in order to extract the “truth” from the children. Hoaxtead mobsters would argue that compared with the alleged sexual abuse the children were describing, a few punches or kicks or “spoon licks” were really a small price to pay.
The argument seems to be that torture is justified, if it helps to bring out the truth.
However, experts in the field of torture for military and strategic purposes are much less certain that “the truth” can be extracted, even from battle-hardened soldiers, through the use of torture.
In fact, the ideas that “everybody talks sooner or later under torture” or that “people will say anything under torture” have been thoroughly debunked by Reed College political science professor Darius Rejali, who has studied the use of torture extensively.
He states that the problem with torture as a means of gathering accurate information is that while those with real information will lie, whether they’re being tortured or not, those who know nothing will fabricate what they believe their torturers wish to hear—they will quite literally say anything to stop the torture:
In fact, the problem of torture does not stem from the prisoner who has information; it stems from the prisoner who doesn’t. Such a person is also likely to lie, to say anything, often convincingly. The torture of the informed may generate no more lies than normal interrogation, but the torture of the ignorant and innocent overwhelms investigators with misleading information.
Can we tell whether they’re lying?
Ah, say the Hoaxtead mob, but we can tell that the children were not lying in those videos. We know what lying looks like, and this isn’t it.
Not so fast, says Prof Rejali:
Not so — and we know quite a bit about this. For about 40 years, psychologists have been testing police officers as well as normal people to see whether they can spot lies, and the results aren’t encouraging. Ordinary folk have an accuracy rate of about 57 percent, which is pretty poor considering that 50 percent is the flip of a coin. Likewise, the cops’ accuracy rates fall between 45 percent and 65 percent — that is, sometimes less accurate than a coin toss.
Why does this matter? Because even if torturers break a person, they have to recognize it, and most of the time they can’t. Torturers assume too much and reject what doesn’t fit their assumptions.
So while Abe and Ella managed to convince their salivating acolytes that they had actually managed to drag the truth out of the children, and it confirmed everything Abraham believed about the existence and behaviour of “Satanic death cults”, in fact they were only subjecting two children to agonising brutality, until the children “broke” and said what they thought their torturers wanted to hear.
Once they were assured that they would not have to see Abraham again, the children felt able to talk about what had really happened. By the time they were seen by the psychologist, Dr Sturge, they felt able to express their distress over what Abraham and Ella had done to them. The judgment states:
Dr Sturge assessed the children on 5 November 2014. P related that Mr Christie would tell her that “for lying she would go to prison for 20 years and never see her grandparents or Mum again.” P commented, “Abraham loved my Mum so much. He even blamed her for being in the gang.” He had kept on asking her, “Any other people.” He had threatened her with the spoon and poked her so hard in the chin with it that she had a big mark. When Abraham had asked her about plastic willies in her bottom, she had denied this. He had said, “How come Q told me.” The Vaseline had been, said P, Q’s idea. He knew one of her friends used it (for her lips). P said, “Thing is, Abraham came up with stuff we didn’t know and came up with ideas too.” Abraham was always saying Q was a good boy for telling him things and that she was lying and would go to jail.
Dr Sturge asked P what the word ‘paedophile’ means. P replied that Abraham had said her Dad is a paedophile and explained what it meant. P had only a minimal understanding of ‘the facts of life’ and sex was “inappropriate stuff like touching each other in the privates.” Dr Sturge asked P about living with her mother. She said, not at the moment – “I feel angry with her, letting Abraham do all that stuff to us.” She had one question of Dr Sturge, could she live with her foster mother until she is 14 or 15?
Q responded immediately to Dr Sturge’s question as to whether he knew why she was seeing him. He said, “cos Abraham said something I never did and he forced me to say it, he was really mean to us.” Abraham had accused him of touching his sister in the private parts which he “never, ever did.” And he forced them to say their Dad touches them. Abraham had also forced them to say they kill babies. Q said he had wanted Abraham to stop hitting him, “I was scared for him to hit me.” At that Q’s face creased up and he began to cry quietly. “He kept asking us questions again, and again and again.” His mother had started to believe him. Q said, “It upsetted me” and he became even more distressed.
Q described how Abraham had been asking them all day. He had even woken them up and hit them. The hitting was if they didn’t wake up and talk. Asked how his mother had reacted, Q said “she didn’t mind.” He was asked about living with his mother and replied that “if she still believes it, (he) wouldn’t want to live with her.” Later he described with great vehemence that he would never live with his Mum while Abraham was still in the British Isles. She would just phone him and he’d come to their house. Q also said, spontaneously, that he hates Abraham, describing him as “the worst person I’ve ever met.”
Dr Sturge asked Q directly about Vaseline. He said, “He (Abraham) forced me to say my Dad puts Vaseline on my willy – plastic and normal ones.” Q added, as if puzzled, that Vaseline is used to rub on your hands when they are sore. He was clear that Abraham had used the Vaseline word first. Asked about seeing willies, Q said he and a friend at school had shown each other their willies in the toilet.
Q was distressed again when talking about having to stand when cold water was poured on him – “(dressed) just in our pants – he thought we was lying – when I cried and said my Mum never touched us, he said, ‘If you’re crying you’re lying.'” By then, according to Dr Sturge, Q was crying in a very distressed way.
We have no doubt that if the children hadn’t been removed from Ella and Abe’s care when they were, the torture would have continued, and the children might have eventually come to believe the lies they’d been forced to tell. As it happened, they were rescued by the police, who were able to identify what had been happening to them. The children were clearly relieved to be out of reach of their mother and her boyfriend—to the point where they felt able to say that Abe was “the worst person I’ve ever met”, and to ask that they not be made to return to their mother’s care while Abe was in the picture.
Once they were free of the torture they’d endured, both children understood that they no longer needed to lie, and that they were safe at last. Ultimately, all Abe and Ella’s “techniques” to elicit the “truth” from the children failed—just as one would expect, given what we know about the efficacy of torture to reveal the truth.