Yesterday we heard the opening of Sabine McNeill’s defence, as Tana Adkin QC questioned Sabine about how she had become involved with Ella Draper, and had helped Ella with preparing court documents. Sabine stated that she had believed Ella’s story at the time, but that having heard witnesses during this trial, she now felt that she had been naïve and “too trusting”.
Today, Tana Adkin QC, defending, took Sabine chronologically through the various social media posts, blogs, and videos which form much of the evidence in this trial.
They began with the February 2015 petition in which the videos of P and Q were first made available. Adkin asked why Sabine had felt it necessary to start a petition regarding the Hampstead matter.
Sabine said that then-MP John Hemming had advised her to start a petition regarding another case in which children were in foster care, as a way of reaching the public. As she had become aware of the site Change.org, Sabine said she felt the public interest would be better served by an online petition.
She said she believed this route was necessary, as “the secrecy of the family courts was being used to cover up criminal activities”.
“Why did you put up a petition to have the children returned to their mother?” Adkin asked.
Sabine said that when Mrs Justice Pauffley had come out of the family court hearing on 26 January 2015, it was clear that she had no intention of returning the children to Ella.
“They had always lived with their mother; she had a residence order; and the report from the foster carer said that the children were having nightmares about their father”, Sabine said. Thus, she felt it important that they be returned to their mother.
“Why not just accept the court’s judgment?” Adkin asked.
“What I knew from the mother was not favourable”, Sabine said.
Adkin outlined the early chronology of events:
- On 4 February, the parents received an email from Christ Church Primary School;
- On 5 February the parents began to find information online about themselves and their children. This information seemed to be coming from two blogs: Tap NewsWire and Aangirfan.
Sabine said that the posts on Aangirfan had been beyond her control. She said she was aware of that blog, which was run by two women, but since she could not find an easy way to subscribe to the blog, she did not follow them.
Looking at the P and Q videos on Sabine’s Google Drive, Adkin asked whether she could explain how they had been uploaded.
“Jein—that’s German for ‘yes and no'”. Sabine said that while she knew how to set publication settings on the files and folders in her Drive, she did not know how the sub-folders were accessed. “I guess…someone would have had to see the email [to Theresa May], but I don’t know what the link said”.
“The link was in the hands of Henry Curteis”, Adkin said. “If he put the link in an email, would that allow access to your Google Drive?”
“I don’t know”, said Sabine. She added that the file was set to “only people with this link”.
Moving on to the document found in Pastebin, Adkin said they had seen evidence that this had come from Ella.
“It was Ella’s document”, Sabine said. “I never knew about it. I had no Pastebin account”. She said that Ella had never told her about that document, and that she had deposited the document there two months before meeting Sabine.
Looking at a screenshot of Change.org from 13 February 2015, Adkin asked Sabine to identify it.
Sabine said this was a petition update. She explained that just as one updates a blog with new posts, one can update Change.org to provide more information for those who have signed the petition, as well as for the target individuals—those to whom the petition is addressed. In this case, that would have been Theresa May, the Minister of Justice, and the CEO of Barnet Council.
Adkin asked whether Henry Curteis or Aangirfan had signed the petition, which would have resulted in their receiving the update.
“I have no idea”, Sabine said. “I don’t know how the witness saw this update”.
Adkin read out Sabine’s Change.org update, in which she wrote of packing her bags and leaving for Germany. In it, Sabine asked whether she should be prosecuted for sending an email to Theresa May.
“I don’t remember the content of what I sent”, Sabine said.
Adkin asked whether Henry Curteis ought to be prosecuted for publishing the P and Q videos.
“I don’t remember, but I think I suspended the link to the videos on my Google Drive”, Sabine responded.
Adkin pointed out that the content of Sabine’s 12 February Change.org update had indeed been visible to the witness who had made a screenshot of it.
Sabine replied, “After what I’ve heard this past week, I’m puzzled about why the school only notified the parents in February. I don’t know what triggered this”. She added, “It was just my stupidity. I did not think of the parents, I’m sorry to say”.
Referring to a Change.org update on 14 February, which notified supporters that she had left the country, Sabine said she had taken a plane to Berlin. “I was addressing the people who had signed up on Change.org”, she said.
Adkin asked about a link to a YouTube video, but Sabine said she didn’t recall the video in question.
“Were you aware of the other comments posted online?” Adkin asked; Sabine said she didn’t know about them.
Nor had she seen comments on YouTube, she said: “I did not watch much. I was more concerned with putting the right information out, according to my understanding of the case at that time”.
Noting that this had all occurred prior to the Pauffley judgment, Adkin asked Sabine what she had meant when she said that the petition had been made available online as a last resort.
Sabine said, “That was our one and only hope to get the children back to their mother”. Asked why that was necessary, she said, “That’s where the children speak for themselves. The mother and her partner drew it out of them”.
“Did it occur to you that the children had named other children?” Adkin asked.
“My job was to get the children back to their mother”, Sabine said. “We had both fled, and I didn’t want to be imprisoned”.
Adkin asked when Sabine had come back to the UK.
“I was encouraged to come back to the appeal hearing by my solicitor who I had passed on to the mother”, Sabine said. She had flown into London on 4 August for the appeal hearing on the 5th.
Adkin confirmed that during her stay in Germany, between February and August 2015, Sabine had sent all her posts and emails from Germany. Sabine said this was correct.
Referring to an email Sabine had sent to the councillors at Barnet, Adkin asked whether Sabine remembered when that was.
“No”, said Sabine.
She said that she had “expected everybody to be in shock of disbelief” over the details of the Hampstead matter. “The fact that the petition was popular proved that the videos were true”.
Adkin asked, “Did you have any questions over whether they were true?”
Sabine said there had been so much graphic detail in the videos, she had not questioned them. “The details don’t matter”, she said. “Children need to be heard before adults….It was important to let the children be heard”.
“Did it occur to you that other children would be harmed?” Adkin asked.
“I introduced Ella to several people” including an EU official who said that the children were gone, and they would not be back. “I didn’t want to believe that”, Sabine said.
Showing a screenshot of a Change.org update from 28 February 2015, Adkin noted that Sabine was urging people to look at the videos, and to “question all the sceptics”, and that she had said that “extreme situations require extreme actions”.
Sabine said that she would have been receiving information via email, and that “quite a few people had made videos” supporting the belief that P and Q had been ritually abused.
Adkin pointed out a comment in which Sabine had suggested building a “super-channel” for videos, either on Vimeo or Vid.me. She asked about Sabine’s recommendation that people watch a playlist put together by Code2222.
“I can assure you that I would not have looked at these videos”, Sabine said, adding that she looked at “supporting” videos “only when the spirit moved me”. She said she did not seek out videos on YouTube, but that videos were often sent to her by email.
“The next step was to put pressure on Pauffley and the Barnet Council”, Adkin said. “Was the hearing under way at this time?”
“It must have been”, Sabine said.
Asked whether this was all part of the same update, Sabine said, “I can’t tell, can I?” She suggested it could have been an update from 1 March 2015.
Asked who else could have seen the Change.org updates, Sabine said, “Well, once you’ve seen the URL, you can go back and look at the site without signing up”.
Referring to the 11-page document produced by Ella, containing the class list of parents and children, Adkin noted that Sabine had written that the document had been reformatted, with the parents’ names in bold, businesses bold and in red, and so forth. “When was this done?” she asked.
“I don’t know, there were many versions”, said Sabine. “It still reflects my state of mind at the time”. The document was kept on her Google Drive, she said, and not attached to the petition.
“Did you post it to anybody else?” Adkin asked.
“I don’t think so”.
“Did anybody else have access to it?”
“Maybe Ella, but I’m not sure”.
Referring to a document in which she had talked about having “assisted the mother from November 2014 until February 2015”, Sabine said, “I think this was from the Blackfriars case. I honestly don’t know who I made that update available to. Arrests are such a harrowing experience, and I was permanently in a state of justifying and defending myself”.
Sabine elaborated on why she had prepared the Excel spreadsheet in which she had colour-coded and numbered the adults, teachers, and others: “This is because Ella had written in such a convoluted fashion, and I wanted to make it clearer. I was wanting to count: she had mentioned 50 parents, but I didn’t know if the teachers were parents, if the police were parents, and I wanted to know!”
Following a brief break, Adkin showed a slide of the “Hampstead Cult Action Plan”. This had not come from Sabine’s site, but from a New Zealand blogger named Bronwyn Llewellyn. Llewellyn had shared the idea for the “Hampstead Horror Action Plan” involving the Barbie dolls painted in red nail polish.
Adkin asked Sabine whether she had published this plan. “No, it was the idea of someone who put it on the MeetUp group”, she said. “It was awareness raising. I don’t think I called it ‘Hampstead Horror Action Plan'”.
“But you said you were impressed and amused by the plan”, Adkin said.
“Amused because it was so unrealistic, and impressed because it was so original, so bizarre, so far-out—it was just an idea that was passed on”, Sabine said. In any case, she had taken it down, as there was “too much negativity” about the idea. Commenters made it clear that it was “not a savoury idea”.
Adkin referred to a document header reading “Voluntary Public Interest Advocacy”, put out by the Association of McKenzie Friends, which discussed “using the secrecy of the family courts to cover up criminal activities”.
“This was an emergency petition to the EU Parliament”, Sabine said.
Adkin asked whether this document contained the video “Papa Kills Babies”. Sabine said it could have.
“Why were you uploading this video to the McKenzie Friends site?” Adkin asked.
“I had seen reports on the EU Council about family rights, and about the practices of social services….We had already tried John Hemming’s suggestion, and it was suggested by Ella to start an EU petition, so I followed that route”.
Asked about her 16 March open email to the Home Secretary to “uncover cover-ups”, in which she stated that the “case concerns some 20 children raped and tortured by an unknown number of adults”, Sabine said that the Pauffley fact-finding hearing was still going on. This update would have gone to the Home Secretary and to people who had signed the petition.
Adkin asked about the video made by Charlotte Ward, in which she went through a list of “alleged abusers” and their Facebook pages. She asked if Sabine had been involved in the production of this video.
“Not at all”, said Sabine.
“Did you look at the videos she made?”
“I guess so”.
“What did you think?”
Sabine paused, then said, “It’s very hard to remember. These were adults they were looking at…They called it ‘tunnelling'”.
“Did the videos affect you?”
“Did you question what they were doing?”
Sabine said she had not, as the narrator in the videos had said, “We don’t know” that these people are involved in anything sinister. She said she found the video “helpful to support and rationalise what the children had said”.
However, she said, “This was my big mistake. I never ever considered the position of the parents. I didn’t put myself into their shoes….I had reached a state of too-muchness”. She added, “When I discovered the secrecy of the family courts, I talked to Ian Josephs, and he told me, ‘Expose, expose, expose!’ and then John Hemming alerted me to the issue of secret prisoners of the family courts…”
“Were you thinking clearly?” Adkin asked.
“I never had problems with the police before”, Sabine said. “I did not know to what degree fear influences one’s thinking. Was I thinking clearly? At times less, at times more”.
Looking at a link to the blog Crimes of Empire, Sabine said that this contained the link to the videos of the “supposed retraction in the police interviews”.
She said that she had sent the blog those videos, and that she “never knew” who was in charge at that blog.
“Why did you sent the videos to them?” asked Adkin.
“I don’t remember”, said Sabine.
Referring to her Whistleblower Kids blog, Sabine agreed that the domain had been registered on 16 March 2015, but said she had begun publishing the blog before that.
Adkin asked whether she had published a video titled “CCPS” on her Change.org petition. Sabine said she could not remember what “CCPS” stood for.
Asked whether she had posted and re-posted the video and Ella’s witness statement to her site, Sabine said, “I don’t know”.
Adkin asked asked whether she remembered publishing a “flyer for local activists”.
“I remember thanks to the prosecution”, Sabine said. She said she had received the flyer by email.
“Looking at that flyer, we can see the names of (witnesses), teachers, ‘members of the Satanic witches’ coven'”, Adkin said. “In posting that link to your site, who would see it?”
“Everybody on Whistleblower Kids“, Sabine said.
“Have you read the flyer?” Adkin asked.
“I glanced at it”, said Sabine. “I did not read it closely”.
Adkin asked about a video by Deborah Mahmoudieh, which had been linked to the Whistleblower Kids site.
“She was one of our supporters”, Sabine said.
“Was that video on a site you directed people to?” Adkin asked.
“I don’t remember”.
Sabine said that Mahmoudieh had responded to her EU directive, and that they had talked a lot on the phone.
Adkin pointed out a Change.org update titled “All alleged abusers come forward to be examined”. “Why was this on the Change.org update?” she asked.
“That was to me the most clear, rational approach”, Sabine said, adding, “It was not my idea”. She said the idea had come from Araya Soma, who had put up a petition asking for alleged abusers to be examined.
Adkin asked about a “leaked medical report” that would “end all doubt about the children’s claims”, which had been published on Crimes of Empire. Sabine said she could not remember who runs that blog.
“Where did the copy of the report come from?” Adkin asked.
“My Google Drive”, Sabine said.
“How did Crimes of Empire get the report?”
“It might have been me, or it might have been someone else”.
Adkin asked about a post by Hampstead Research called “Fact-Finding Online—Presence of Alleged Abusers”. “Were you giving Hampstead Research direct access to your Google Drive?”
“I don’t know”.
“Could someone go to your Google Drive and make those links available?”
“That’s hard to say”, said Sabine. “The Google Drive was made available to anybody with a link”.
Adkin asked about a post from Tap NewsWire in which a commenter named “Truth” was cited as proposing a vigil outside Christ Church Hampstead. “Was this anything to do with you?” Adkin asked.
“No”, said Sabine.
“Did you attend?”
“No, no, no. I was in Berlin!”
Asked why she had linked videos produced by Hampstead Research to her Whistleblower Kids site, Sabine said, “They confirmed that I’m not the only one who believed the children. Knowing these children were having these experiences and I could not act, I had to act on it! It is not in my nature not to act!” She became tearful.
Describing the demonstrations outside Christ Church, Adkin asked whether Sabine had known who would be there.
“Christine Sands and Neelu Berry were there”.
“Did you tell them what to do or what to say?”
“What was your understanding of what would happen?”
“It was a vigil”, said Sabine. “It was right after the judgment”.
Noting that this had occurred in April, Adkin asked whether Sabine had planned to come back.
“No”, she said. “I was afraid of being imprisoned by the secret courts”.
Adkin asked Sabine about her interview on Radio 4 with Melanie Abbott. Sabine described this as a “very very unfortunate experience”. She said she had never been told the title of the piece, and when she found out and attempted to withdraw her consent to publish, she was told this would not be possible.
Adkin described a post on Sabine’s Victims Unite blog, which included the mother’s position statement; drawings supposedly by the children of their abusers’ ‘distinguishing marks’; a video of Sabine being interviewed by Alfred Lambremont Webre; and a large number of posts.
“I called this the consolidated Hampstead case”, Sabine said.
“Did it occur to you that it included the parents?” asked Adkin.
“It was stupidity, a lack of awareness, a lack of thinking about both sides”, Sabine said. “I did not know how the parents and their children were suffering. This was not pointed out to me”.
Adkin asked Sabine whether she had seen the television programme in which P and Q’s falsely accused father had been interviewed on BBC on 20 April 2015.
“Was I aware? Yes”, said Sabine. “I watched it all the way through”.
“Did it change your view?”
“I’m afraid not”.
Following an adjournment for lunch, Sabine continued her testimony.
Adkin asked Sabine about her trial at Blackfriars Crown Court with Neelu Berry. Sabine said that following Neelu’s arrest for creating a disturbance at Christ Church Hampstead, Sabine had uploaded Neelu’s arrest details to her Whistleblower Kids site.
The 32-page bundle she published had contained details of the witnesses in Neelu’s case. “I never noticed the witness details”, Sabine said. “The officer who gave them to her should have used a different form”.
She and Neelu had been acquitted, but had been made the subjects of a restraining order. Sabine said her understanding of the restraining order was that she could not republish material, particularly the names involved in Neelu’s case.
There was a physical area in Hampstead into which she was not allowed, and she was not allowed to make public allegations of Satanic abuse or cannibalism in relation to Christ Church or Christ Church Primary School.
Sabine said she had understood this order. To her mind, “re-publish” meant “cut and paste” old material into a new article and hit “publish”. She had not been required to shut down Whistleblower Kids.
The restraining order had been issued on 18 July 2016. Adkin noted that on the right-hand sidebar of the Whistleblower Kids site, one could see links to a blog about the father, “Abusers show your distinguishing marks”, the Pauffley judgment, a link to Hampstead Research, and other material relevant to the Hampstead allegations.
Sabine said she had never added or removed any of this material.
“Did it occur to you that you should?” Adkin asked.
Adkin asked about the tabs across the top of the home page on Whistleblower Kids. She noted that under the About tab, one could find the “Case in 30 Paragraphs” page. Also available was the 11-page document. “What did this refer to?” Adkin asked.
“As I have learned, the names of parents”, said Sabine. She said that because the article was a page, and not a post, it was not dated. It is a permanent page which just sits there all the time, she said.
“I can always edit them, but I didn’t touch them”.
Referring to the “Case in 30 Paragraphs” page, Sabine said that this had been the “purpose of the blog”.
Adkin asked whether Sabine had put details of her arrest and the Blackfriars trial anywhere.
“Yes, on my Google Drive”, she said. “I had my arrests in August and January…This had to do with my state of mind as a whistleblower”.
Asked whether she would be able to find links on the Whistleblower Kids site which violated the restraining order, Sabine said yes, but that they had all been published prior to the order.
Adkin asked Sabine about links from her page to blogs called Hampstead Coverup and Free the Hampstead 2. These were both located in the sidebar of the blog.
Asked why she had published these blogs, Sabine said that Abe and Ella, the blogs’ owners, had received some encouraging results from the IPCC.
Adkin asked Sabine to explain what had happened to her Google Drive. Sabine said that the videos on the Drive had been removed by Google, and that they remained absent until 23 July 2016.
“When they were removed, I could only see the tiles, until I realised what had happened”, she said. “After the trial I had to wrap up that parcel and put it away”.
However, she was “trapped” because she had given access permission at a high level. “I didn’t remember and couldn’t remember that anybody had access”.
Asked whether anybody could get access to the files, Sabine said, “I haven’t been able to remove them. I would have done if somebody had told me—but I seem to have given permission at too high a level”.
“Did you publish any links anywhere after the restraining order?” Adkin asked.
Asked whether it had occurred to her that by going to old posts, someone might be able to click on her Google Drive, Sabine said, “Once I publish a post, it’s gone. I don’t remember. To remember links I should have remembered, which I would have if I’d been told, is something completely out of my awareness. I was aware I was not supposed to publish. I tried to be relatively careful to make sure I didn’t”.
She said that the breach for which she had come before HHJ Shetty in October 2016 involved sending a link from the Whistleblower Kids blog to a site in Germany.
“It was a comment on an article—’if you want my story, it’s here'”.
Adkin asked Sabine about her use of Facebook, where she had published a post on 26 December 2016. Sabine said that the article had originally been published on her blog on 22 April 2015. She said she had had trouble connecting Facebook to her blog via the “Publicise” feature, but that in December WordPress had decided to publish due to the automated feature.
Sabine said that she had edited the old post to fix an error, and this caused the post to accidentally re-publish on Facebook.
Asked to explain why a link titled “Return the children to their Russian mother” had published on her Twitter page, Sabine said, “I wish I could. I really have no idea how that link was made. I must have done it, but I really don’t remember where this comes from. I really don’t know”.
Adkin noted that the same thing had happened on Sabine’s Twitter account on three other occasions.
“What occurs to me is that it must be my fault, because I never look at my Twitter page”, Sabine said. She also said that some of her blogs are quite old, and might not have the same links to Twitter that the newer ones do.
Sabine discussed her love of developing software, describing how exciting she finds it to create 3-D images from 2-D ones.
Adkin asked her where she had uploaded her police charge sheet.
“The famous Google Drive”, she said.
“Did you intend anyone else to have access?”
“Had you considered that someone might get in?”
“No”, said Sabine. “I didn’t want people to know. I had to prepare once again a proper defence!”
She said she had prepared a document with her barrister in mind, and that it was not for anyone to publish. Tearfully, she said, “I didn’t know it could be accessed!”
Asked about some of the posts on her blogs, Sabine said they had been reblogged from elsewhere. She explained the process of reblogging from others’ sites, and described how to retweet messages on Twitter.
Adkin asked Sabine whether, when she posted seemingly innocuous posts on her tweets, which then linked back to her Whistleblower Kids blog, she was actually attempting to drive traffic to the site which dealt with the Hampstead matter.
“No!” Sabine exclaimed. “I’m sorry, I find that too far removed”.
Asked whether anyone who followed her on Twitter would be able to see her posts there, Sabine said, “I don’t know. I have been offline for a year. Who knows how things have changed?”
The trial will continue tomorrow, when Adkin will conclude her opening, and Miranda Moore QC will begin cross-examination.