Quite some time ago we wrote about Marie Black, a Norwich woman who was convicted of running a paedophile ring in 2015 and is currently serving a life term. Our first mention of Ms Black was in the context of her having fled to France to give birth, with the aid of Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie’s friend Ian Josephs, who has a habit of financing “mums on the run” from social workers.
Our concern when we wrote that first post was with Mr Josephs’ indiscriminate funding of parents who wished to avoid having their children seized by social services—and nothing has happened in the interim to assuage that concern.
However, when we mentioned Ms Black in a more recent blog post, we received a rap on the knuckles from Margaret Jervis. (Alert readers might recall that Margaret was one of the journalists who risked prosecution for publishing the suppressed JET report which detailed the joint police/social worker investigation into the Broxtowe false SRA case in 1990.)
When we mentioned Marie Black’s conviction in an article a couple of weeks ago about some of Brian Gerrish’s dodgy friends, Margaret commented:
While you are right to say Gerrish and the other fruit loops ‘cherry pick’ cases they want to use to support their cause, it is the case that innocent people may be persuaded to support – and misguidedly welcome the support of – the ‘conspiracy theorists’.
And yes the Marie Black case had no more ‘real evidence’ than Hoaxtead – and strangely included ‘ritual abuse’ allegations (murdered baby/drinking blood) that the prosecution decided not to rely on – even though there was nothing to differentiate this evidentially from the evidence relied on to convict – which was a progressive narrative through foster carer suggestion and inducements with children who had been ‘alienated’ from their mother and relatives (the majority of whom were acquitted at trial).
There was no physical evidence. No independent witness evidence. Just the foster care diaries re times past (ie no contemporaneous evidence) and video interviews with leading questions and suggestion of vulnerable children who were induced to fantasise via carrot and stick and fantasy ‘reenactments’. The defence were not permitted to adduce expert evidence as to the unreliability of the this process which echoed – both in process and the nature of the ‘claims’ the notorious McMartin/Kelly Michaels/Shieldfield cases in methods of production and unreliability.
Desperate people may readily be persuaded as to ‘conspiracies’ etc when the reality is more mundane – but no less – and I would venture – even more chilling concerning the potential injustice of the criminal justice system.
So while you are entitled to castigate Marie Black in the terms of her conviction, (she maintains her innocence) I would be wary of using it as a stick to beat the ‘mob’ with. There are plenty of appalling child abuse cases that are real, but Marie Black is not a good example.
The conspiranoid link
When we began to look more closely at the Norwich paedophile ring case, it became clear that the news reports on which we had based our original blog post had not told the entire story. This gets a bit complicated, but bear with.
We have written in the past about Rainer Kurz, the self-styled SRA expert who presented a paper titled “From Hampstead to Norwich: Ritual Violence or Coaching?” at the European Congress of Psychiatry in September 2017.
While Kurz accepts holus bolus the web of lies which constitutes the Hampstead hoax, as Barthsnotes put it in a blog post at the time:
…[T}here’s an unexpected twist: the “Norwich” part of his title refers to the case of Marie Black, who was convicted of running a paedophile ring in 2015 and is currently serving a life sentence. Suddenly, Kurz discovers some scepticism:
‘One allegation was that Marie ostensibly put a baby that her friend had ‘run over’ into a bag, carried it into her house and made her children drink its blood! What is the credibility of these allegations when the friend did not own a car and did not have a driving licence either? No baby was reported missing and no dead baby was found. Without any physical evidence a criminal case ensued against 10 defendants most of whom were members of Marie’s family while the remaining 30 ‘alleged abusers’ were not even interviewed! In extremely dubious circumstances Marie and two former partners were found guilty of sexual abuse’.
Frankly, we wouldn’t take Kurz’s word for much, particularly when it comes to distinguishing fact from fiction.
However, BarthsNotes echoed some of Margaret Jervis’ concerns:
There are some grounds for concern about the Black verdict, from what can be gleaned from media reports, although one should of course be cautious with such limited information: six defendants were acquitted; lurid SRA-type allegations were not substantiated; the way that social workers coaxed the allegations from children was controversial; and Black was perhaps not well-served by her legal representation (1). The Chief Constable of Norwich Police described the case as just “the tip of the iceberg”, although the force doesn’t seem to have located the rest of it so far.
And when we looked at some of the links suggested in the Barthsnotes post, we found serious concerns had indeed been expressed about the social workers in the case:
Gail Barnard, a senior social worker with Norfolk County Council, told the court the children had described being abused at sex parties and rewarded with certificates carrying slogans such as “secrets are good” and “do not tell anyone”.
However, the court heard the trial had originally been due to start last year only to be delayed when prosecutors raised concerns over changes made by social workers to statements taken from the children. This resulted in Norfolk Police launching an investigation into alleged misconduct.
Miss Barnard denied the claim she told another social worker Malcolm Blissett to “tidy up” documents by removing leading questions.
Kurz, who describes himself as a “volunteer” for Ian Josephs’ website Forced Adoptions, seems to be able simultaneously to believe that thousands of babies are delivered by courier to Hampstead, to be slaughtered, roasted, and eaten; but he cannot bring himself to believe that one of Ian Josephs’ protegées could have forced children to drink blood.
However, we’re not immune to similar, equally irrational blind spots. While we weren’t aware of the details of the Norwich case when we wrote about it, believing it to be an open and shut case, it is entirely possible that our laxity in researching the case was prompted in part by Ms Black’s connection to Ian Josephs (whom we still regard as irresponsible at very best).
Ultimately, while we don’t have enough knowledge of the case to decide for ourselves what, if anything, Ms Black was guilty of, we do realise that eagerness to believe in a person’s guilt or innocence merely on the basis of their associations is unworthy of us. We would quite correctly be extremely critical of anyone else who did that.
We thank Margaret Jervis for pointing it out, and apologise for our short-sightedness.