First thing this morning, HHJ Sally Cahill QC gave a stern lecture to those of us in the public gallery, reminding the small group assembled that this trial has reporting restrictions to protect the identities of all children involved in the Hampstead matter.
She reminded us in pointed terms that the restriction includes “any speech, writing…or other communication in any form of address to the public at large”. This includes emails, to one or to many.
“This order must be strictly observed”, she said. “If not, I will invite the Crown to take appropriate proceedings”.
Witness 5, continued
Michael Scott, the forensic computer analyst who testified yesterday afternoon, took the witness box.
Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, asked Scott whether the documents he had found on Sabine McNeill’s Google Drive corresponded exactly with any of the documents which had been found on her computer. He said that no exact copies had been found, but that there were documents which appeared to be earlier derivations of the documents on the Drive.
He explained how Google Drive works, noting that its default setting is “private”, but that users can share the files they store on their Drive with others, in various ways.
Users may choose to share individual files, entire folders, or all the contents of their Google Drive. They can also choose levels of sharing, from completely private to freely available to the entire internet. They can also decide whether they wish to allow those with whom they share to only look at their material, or to “organise, add, or edit” documents, files, or folders.
Users can keep their files, folders, or entire contents completely private, accessible only via a username and password. If they choose to make some or all of the contents of their Drive public to the internet, or to make some or all of the contents open to anyone with a link, no sign-in or password is required.
Scott also explained how Twitter works. He said that in addition to posting links on Twitter manually, one could set their Twitter account to do automatic processes. It is possible, he said, to program a template so that one’s tweets always contain a particular set of information. This is very easy to do, and takes a matter of minutes.
Similarly, Scott said, reversing this process—that is, taking a template out of one’s tweets—is very simple and not time consuming.
Moore asked, “What would one do if one were minded to stop people getting into one’s Google Drive?”
“Simply remove the sharing option”, Scott said. “You can do a search for all shared documents within the Drive, right-click the list, and change the status to ‘not shared'”. Alternatively, you could delete the documents in question from the folder, but this would be more time-consuming.
Moore asked Scott what he had found on the files on Sabine’s Google Drive. He said he had found 16 sub-folders containing a total of 119 files, all of which were configured to one of two possible settings: “anybody with a link can view” or “available to the internet”. They were all accessible and required no login or password to view.
Moore asked whether, if one could see the various “tiles” (sometimes known as “thumbnails”) of Sabine’s Google Drive contents via a link from Twitter, this meant that all of those files were accessible without a password. Scott said that this was correct.
Scott said that like Twitter, Facebook has options which enable users to put templates into their posts. It is straightforward to put automatic links into a document produced on Facebook, he said.
“If I wanted to link a WordPress site to Twitter or Facebook, how easy would that be?” Moore asked.
“Very straightforward”, Scott said. It is possible to set WordPress to automatically post to Twitter, Facebook, or other popular social media sites using a simple plug-in. He said, however, that without having the site’s login details, it would be impossible to forensically demonstrate whether such auto-generation was taking place or not.
Scott also explained the basics of Vid.me, a video sharing site similar in many ways to YouTube. He said that it is very easy to embed a Vid.me video in a document, either via a link or by dragging and dropping. While he could not say whether Vid.me has privacy settings, he said that anybody who didn’t wish to share a Vid.me video could simply remove it from the site.
Tana Adkin QC asked Scott whether it is possible to say when the sharing settings had been placed on Sabine’s Google Drive.
“Yes, but you would need the username and password to look at what was configured at what time”, Scott said. “You wouldn’t know if a file had been shared, then unshared, then shared again”.
“You get the last time it was set up?” Adkin asked. Scott agreed that you would see the most recent setting.
Scott also said that while he had only been able to access one folder containing the 16 sub-folders and 119 files, there could very well have been more folders, or no other folders, on Sabine’s Google Drive.
Adkin asked Scott whether he had used a link acquired from the Wayback Machine to access the Drive; he said he had.
She asked whether he could have entered the Drive via links from other sites, and he said that because his investigation had started with the Whistleblower Kids site, this is what he had examined.
“If there is to be a proliferation of material via a video site”, Adkin asked, “is there something on that site that links you to other similar videos?”
Calling this a “massive question”, Scott explained that social media companies guard their algorithms closely, but that in general, one might be able to post a video and then find that other, similar videos come up.
“If you put in ‘Hampstead’,” Adkin asked, “is there an algorithm to put up other videos of interest?”
“YouTube makes recommendations, but it gets complicated”, Scott said. “It logs your behaviour, and recommends videos based on the contents of your browser. It might recommend something it’s seen you look for previously, based on your entire browsing history”.
On re-examination, Scott confirmed Moore’s suggestion that to see whether the privacy settings on Sabine’s Google Drive were set to public or shareable with a link, it would make sense to rely on the witnesses’ evidence that they had indeed visited the site.
He also confirmed that a folder called “ED videos” which had been shared on Sabine’s Google Drive in 2015 was the same one he had been looking at.
“You were asked about when privacy settings were changed”, Moore said. “Could you get into them all?” Scott said he could, and that he could see the date of upload, the name of the owner, the date last modified, and the name of the author.
Judge Cahill asked Scott, “If I set up a Google Drive, what is the automatic default setting?” Scott said the default is that nothing is shared.
“And on Twitter?” Judge Cahill asked.
“If you don’t tweet, you don’t share anything”, Scott said.
Asked about the default setting on Facebook, he said that this changes often, so it would be difficult to say.
Witness 6: PC Chris Wall
Statements were read from PC Chris Wall, a police officer involved in the case from 2015 on. The jury heard that when the defence and prosecution agree on the contents of a witness’s testimony, it can save time and money for the testimony to be read aloud rather than have the witness come to court in person; this evidence has the same standing as evidence provided in any other format.
Wall’s statement included a number of pieces of evidence, including:
- A post from Sabine’s Facebook dated 5 April 2015 saying that the “whistleblower kids” need to be rescued from their father ASAP;
- A post from the Whistleblower Kids site dated March 2015 stating, “Meeting this Sunday outside Christ Church Hampstead London”, to “put a stop to Satanic ritual abuse”, and urging people to sign the petition on Change.org;
- An article from March 2015 on the same site, posting the full medical report from Dr Hodes;
- An article from the Tap Blog dated 2 February 2015 titled “Children describe Satanic murders they were forced to take part in”, and containing an email to then-Home Secretary Theresa May, along with a list of videos of P and Q;
- An update on Change.org by Sabine McNeill dated 24 February 2015 in which she introduced “this remarkable video” made by a person later identified as “Jacqui Farmer”, urged readers to “share, share, share”, and said that “once this is over, I can go back to my flat and continue publishing” about the Hampstead case;
- A post on Change.org dated 3 March 2015 called “Hampstead horror action plan” in which Sabine suggested people paint dolls with red nail polish, attach tags directing people to Whistleblower Kids, and post them to businesses in Hampstead;
- A post from Whistleblower Kids dated 10 April 2015, titled “What if [redacted] took a selfie?” This post contained a link to details of Neelu’s arrest, along with a list of people involved in the case;
- An article on Victims Unite! dated 21 February 2015, in which Sabine stated, “If I could publish the videos I would, but these are part of the secret court proceedings”. This article contained a comment from an anonymous poster saying that Abraham Christie had been their step-father, and that he had forced the poster to tell lies about their father. Sabine replied that she did not like Christie either, but that she would “upload the police videos for consistency”;
- An update on Change.org dated 28 February 2015 talking about the number of views the videos had received online;
- A post on Tap Blog dated 25 September 2015 talking about the “testimony of two child witnesses that set the internet alight”. This listed videos including “Cutting heads off”, “Wednesday is big sex day”, “Lots and lots of sex”; and others.
Witness 7: DC Steve Martin
DC Steve Martin took the witness box and stated that he had first become involved in this case in September 2014, when he had been involved with the original interviews with P and Q.
Following this, he changed to the case related to the activities of people who had involved themselves in the Hampstead matter.
Martin confirmed that part of his job included going online and checking that he was able to get to evidence provided by witnesses in the same way that they described having accessed it.
He confirmed having visited sites such as Whistleblower Kids, and said that he was aware of the Change.org site, where he found a link to the McKenzie Friends website. In April 2017, Martin said, the site still had links to the Hampstead parents.
Martin confirmed that he had seen a post from Sabine stating that Neelu Berry would be in court the following day, and that Sabine had published Neelu’s witness statement.
Martin had checked various links from Victims Unite and Whistleblower Kids, and found that Sabine’s Vid.me account was still live, and that it had had over 19,000 views. Other sites included “Hampstead Abuse: This isn’t over”, with 119,000 views.
He described a GoFundMe page set up for Rupert Quaintance, where Sabine had donated and made comments like, “Keep going” and “Can’t wait to hear some success stories from your London activities”.
Martin confirmed that a computer seized from Sabine contained an Excel spreadsheet which had been found not only on Sabine’s computer but on Rupert Quaintance’s. This sheet listed the parents named by Ella Draper, including first and last names, children’s names, and details such as whether they had been injected or not. The list contained a total of 155 names.
Martin said he had been asked to look online and determine how proficient Sabine claimed to be. He found various posts from sabine describing her ability to create computer software. She listed her first and only job at CERN, and said she had co-founded something called “NetReach”. On her LinkedIn page, she claimed software expertise, and experience in analysis of complex systems. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computing.
The missing BCC?
Describing his investigation of a second computer belonging to Sabine, Martin said he could see an Outlook email from Sabine which had been sent on 2 February 2015. This email was addressed to the private office of the Home Secretary, and was cc’d to Ella Draper, the Royal Courts of Justice, the family courts, and Belinda McKenzie, among others. The email demanded the return of the “whistleblower kids” to their mother.
Moore said that Sabine claimed to have bcc’d a blogger, and asked Martin whether anybody had been bcc’d on this email. “The information in this email does not say he was included”, Martin said.
Martin also described an email he had found, dated 21 December 2014, to a person named Brad. In the email, titled “How many hours of footage?” Sabine said that she was asking for support. She said she was sharing the videos and wanted to know how to make a trailer for them; she also mentioned having contacted a police officer who she felt would confirm the credibility of the mother’s story. “Russian TV will come on 11 January”, she said. “I may persuade Ella to pay for it”.
Martin said he had looked at Sabine’s Skype messages. In a message to Belinda McKenzie, dated 28 March 2016, Sabine said, “Oh, Rupert has a gang!”
In an email thread in between Sabine and others, Sabine noted that she would “like to present our solicitor with as much dirt as I can find on the witnesses”—referring to the witnesses in her upcoming trial with Neelu Berry at Blackfriars Crown Court.
Sabine was interviewed by police a number of times, Martin said. While some of these interviews were “no comment”, in two interviews questions were asked and answered.
During a July 2017 interview with PC Griffiths, Sabine was asked about three alleged breaches of her restraining order. She stated that these were “not breaches…(but) the unintended consequence of automation”, and stated that she found the allegation of a breach of restraining order “offensive”.
Asked about a Twitter post, she said, “I didn’t post it, but if I did it was automatic” and “beyond my control”. Her Tumblr account, she said, was “not one I know about”.
“Links lead to links in a completely unpredictable fashion”, Sabine told Griffiths. Regarding her tweet which contained a link to a post about the Russian mystic Anastasia, she said, “This is another example of WordPress publishing rather than me….I did not know that WordPress would publish that link”.
Sabine acknowledged that there is an option on WordPress called “Publicize”, and said she would have to look into this on each of her blogs. In relation to the restraining order, she said, she was “as strict as I can possibly be”.
In another interview with DC Martin, which took place on 16 February 2018, Sabine discussed her recent attendance at the Church of England Synod. She said she had received a phone call from someone named Chris Alexander, who said he had core participant status with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
“I thought I could go and get core participant status”, she said, noting that Alexander had suggested she speak to solicitors Richard Scorer and David Greenwood, who would be present at Synod.
Sabine said she had prepared three or four copies of two documents: one containing a description of “how I had been hounded as a whistleblower” and an article by Linda Stalley of the Maranatha Community. She said that she would have conversations with people, and then to back up her conversation she would give them these documents.
“Could someone have interpreted this as giving out leaflets?” Martin asked her.
Sabine was adamant that she had not been leafletting. When Martin asked whether someone might have misunderstood what she was doing, Sabine answered, “Misunderstanding is British slang for framing me, right?”
She called the allegation that she had been leafletting an “outright lie”, and said that she “did not believe” that the material she handed out contained any reference to any person named on the restraining order.
“How was I supposed to know what leaflets were okay?” she asked, adding that Jake had handed out his own leaflets on A5 paper.
Sabine said that she and Jake Clarke had attended the event individually, and had met while they were there. However, she said she had told him about it.
“Could this be interpreted as having invited him?” Martin asked.
“He’s free to come or not”, Sabine said. “I don’t know when or where he was leafletting”.
Martin concluded his description of this police interview, and as it was 4:30 p.m., court adjourned for the weekend. Martin will continue giving evidence on Monday when court reconvenes at 10:30 a.m.