Prior to May 2014
Ella Draper and her ex-partner Ricky Dearman had been to court more than 9 times, as RD sought to have access to their two children. Ella used every possible means to avoid this, including making several false allegations against RD in an effort to cut him off completely from the children. This is alluded to in Mrs Justice Pauffley’s fact-finding judgement of 19 March, 2015:
Over the course of the next six years (after 2008), there was never a time when the children’s contact with their father proceeded smoothly. Countless returns to court achieved very little. If there was an attempt to achieve judicial continuity it failed miserably. Between November 2010 and August 2014 when the case was pending at First Avenue House, High Holborn it drifted between no fewer than seven different judges. None of the nine hearings resulted in a considered judgment on the basis of oral evidence. The essential cause of the problems was never the subject of judicial determination.
As we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, RD had contact with his children for the first time since the previous October. That same month, Ella Draper met Abraham Christie, who has an extensive criminal record, and is a known child abuser.
A woman named Belinda McKenzie, who runs an organisation called the Association of McKenzie Friends, and who had been deeply involved in promoting the Hollie Greig sexual abuse hoax in Scotland, wrote to her followers that her ‘special operation is about to commence’. This came at a time when the Hollie Hoax was winding down.
In June, Abraham Christie became involved in an altercation with the staff at Christ Church School, in which he shouted at them that they were “poisoning” the children by allowing them to eat “off-limits” food. Abe and Ella were both very keen raw food advocates, and the children often complained of being hungry. They were often seen rummaging through the bins at school, looking for food.
In early August, Abe called and left messages for his brother-in-law, Special Constable Jean-Clement Yaohirou, saying he had information regarding the abuse of children. At that time, Jean-Clement said, Abe was not offering specific information, but was trying to “give him justification”. Abe claimed that a church, a school in Hampstead, and a police station in Haringey were involved. Jean-Clement asked whether he had evidence, and Abe said he had, but did not disclose it.
Abe and Ella travelled with the children, first to Gibraltar and then to Morocco, where they stayed on a farm belonging to a friend of Abe. According to Mrs Justice Pauffley’s fact-finding judgement of 19 March 2015, while they were there
…the children’s minds were filled with ever more elaborate, fantastical and sexually explicit stories. Over time, more and more detail was supplied to the central core of the fabricated story. ‘Brainstorming’ brought about expanded versions of events. More and more individuals were named as participants within the cult. Venues for abusive activities grew in number, spread across Hampstead and Highgate. Ever more sexually explicit details were woven in to the fabric of the fantasies in an attempt to make the children’s accounts believable and seemingly authentic.
By the time the children arrived at the airport for the journey back to England, at Mr Christie’s and Ms Draper’s instigation, they were able to ‘speak to camera’ about the stories concocted during the brainstorming. The obvious purpose of the film clips was to provide ‘proof.’ It was part of a deliberate plan by Mr Christie and Ms Draper. The children do as they are told. They do so forthrightly, without inhibition and with apparent conviction.
The children described the abuse they received from Abe during the time they were in Morocco. In addition to waking them in the middle of the night to interrogate them about alleged sexual abuse, he hit them with spoons which he had heated on the stove; he kicked them “as hard as he could” in the privates; he threatened to bury the little girl alive in the desert; he hit the little boy so hard on the head that he ruptured his eardrum. He made them kneel in front of him in their underwear, while he poured water on them. In the videos made en route home from Morocco, both children look tired; bruising and a cut are visible on the little girl’s face.
4 September, 2014
Immediately upon returning to London, Abe took the children to Jean-Clement’s house. Ella returned to her own home for a shower, and joined them later. Jean-Clement recorded the entire conversation. Alarmed about what he heard, Jean-Clement called Scotland Yard the following morning. He gave the audio recording to a friend for safe-keeping. This friend, upon listening to the recording, recognised the name of one of the parents who was being accused of belonging to the ‘cult’.
According to Detective Inspector Cannon, who testified during the fact-finding hearing, “This friend had looked at the video and recognised one of the parents when they had said the name of one of the parents that they were talking about, and he called up this chap who then took a copy of this video and contacted us. He also contacted, I’m not sure if it was his lawyer or someone, but then we got the copy of that from him“.
This means that from the very beginning, one of those accused by Abe and Ella proactively contacted the police and gave them a copy of the Jean-Clement recording. Hardly the actions of a person who fears investigation.
5 September, 2014
Barnet police launched their investigation into the allegations. An important point: Abe and Ella did not initially go to the police with their concerns; the police, alerted by Jean-Clement and the above-named person, went to see them. You can read more about various elements of the police investigation on the FAQ.
8 September, 2014
An associate of conspiracy promoter Brian Gerrish named Finnbarr Hagan visited Abe and Ella. While he was there, he talked to the little girl, secretly filming their conversation as he did so. Finnbarr had been sent by Gerrish to scout out the case and determine whether it was worth supporting. He may have given an equivocal report, as three days later, Abe and Ella would send an email to Gerrish with further details, presumably to entice him to support their case with a publicity campaign.
During this visit, Abe is audio-recorded discussing his concern that DC Steve Martin was involved with this case. DC Martin, it seems, knew Abe as a child abuser, having dealt with him when he assaulted his own teen-aged son. In the audio recorded by Finbarr, Abe can be heard trying not to panic.
11 September, 2014
On 11 September, both children were made the subjects of a Police Protection Order, and were removed from Ella’s custody.
The same day, Abe and Ella emailed Brian Gerrish of the UK Column, offering a slew of details about the case which they hoped would further encourage him to pick up the case and help them with publicity. Abe also contacted Bill Maloney, another “truther” would-be filmmaker. Neither Gerrish nor Maloney would agree to touch the case at this stage, which later led to Abe alleging that they were “shills”.
14 November, 2014
- Sabine McNeill, a colleague of Belinda McKenzie with a reputation for leaving a trail of doomed and/or botched family law cases in her wake as a McKenzie friend, convened a meeting of people with whom she’d worked in the past, including Meirion Bowen, Yolande Lindridge (aka Yolande Kenward, aka Yolande Gordon), and Mary Rooney. They met at the offices of solicitor Caroline Newman, and according to Yolande, “[Sabine] excitedly broke the news that she had met up with Ella Draper and that she had taken on Ella’s case”. Also invited to that meeting were Belinda McKenzie and Ian Josephs, though it is not clear whether they attended.
- On the same day, Sabine created a Dropbox file in which she posted a “witness statement” which Ella had made, naming the children, parents, teachers, social workers, police officers, clergy, and businesses in Hampstead that Ella and Abe wished to target. This list gives personal information about the targetted individuals, including telephone numbers, street addresses, places of work, and email addresses.
- Sabine identified 14 November as the day she was “(c)ontacted by Russian mother of two, then 8 and 9-year-old children, taken into care [custody] by Barnet Police on September 11, 2014 allowing contact with father whom they accused of being the leader of a ‘strange culture’ at a church and school in Hampstead, London”. Sabine’s actions on that day seem strange, since Ella would not sack her legal team for four more weeks. Clearly, an agreement had been reached as to how the case would be pursued, and it included the involvement of Sabine and Belinda.
- On the same day, a conspiracy blogger named Charlotte Ward published an autobiographical e-book called Illuminati Party! under the pseudonym “Jacqui Farmer”. She also took down her relatively successful blog, Conspirituality, at around this time. Charlotte Ward had lived in Belinda McKenzie’s house in 2012–2013.
10 December 2014
Ella sacked, then re-hired, then re-sacked her legal team. They turned over a bundle of materials to her, including the video recordings of the police interviews which DC Martin had conducted with the children in September. As mentioned above, Ella had previously approached Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie to act as her McKenzie friends in her care proceedings as she tried to regain custody of her children.
22 December 2014
Assisted by Belinda McKenzie, Ella filed for a judicial review.
26 December, 2014
Sabine McNeill posted on a now-deleted blog, “Regarding my social life with meaning, I can only hope that this case will become the breakthrough we’ve been working towards. It took me quite a while to get my head, heart and strategic thinking in line with the necessities to respond to calls for court proceedings in the case of a Russian mum whose two children were taken by Barnet police on 11 September 2015 (sic)”.
2 January, 2015
Mary Rooney, a friend of Sabine’s and a Director of at least one of Belinda’s companies (the former Knight Foundation) was witnessed handing out leaflets regarding the Russian Mother on 2nd January 2015 at Southwark Crown Court. This seems to be the earliest known evidence of the “Free the Whistleblower Kids!” campaign, and it predated any court decisions.
13 January, 2015
High Court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley became involved with the care proceedings.
26 January, 2015
- Sabine wrote a Position Statement for Ella to present at her 26 January hearing. This statement contained a thinly veiled threat as to would happen if the children “were not returned to their mother and grandparents with immediate effect.” The consequence, according to this statement, would be “high level embarrassment.”
- Sabine also wrote an open letter to Theresa May, then Home Secretary. This letter explicitly stated that the Position Statement was “our offer NOT to expose this scandal in exchange for returning the children.”
Sabine claims that she “accidentally” BCC’d this email, which contained the videos of the children making their initial allegations, to conspiracy blogger Henry Curteis of The Tap Blog. Curteis published the videos on 2 February 2015, and they quickly went viral, with more than 4 million people having viewed them by 10 March 2015. (see below)
- On or about this date, Sabine also opened a petition on Change.org, titled “The Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP: Return the Whistleblower Kids and Abuse Survivors of a London School to Their Russian Family”. This petition received several thousand signatures before it was removed by Change.org for violating its terms of service.
2 February, 2015
- During a contact visit with the children, Ella provided them with pens and paper and asked them to write a letter to the judge saying they wished to return home. Both children refused to do this. Ella was overheard swearing at the children in Russian, and the children appeared upset but still refused to co-operate with her plan. As a result of her behaviour, the Local Authority chose to suspend contact with the children for seven days.
- Also on this date, Henry Curteis published Sabine’s email to Theresa May, along with the videos of the children (including the videos made by Finnbarr Hagan), on The Tap Blog. The original post was removed, but an archived version is available here. In the email, which Sabine now claims she “BCC’d accidentally”, she includes the following note: “(TAP – watch these two very brave children describing the awful things being done to them by their father and others. If they were on Youtube, they’d go viral. Someone should upload them)”.
9 February, 2015
Ella published a “witness statement” online, in which she revealed a great deal of false information about the children’s school, their teachers, and other pupils and their parents. In this statement she claimed that the headteacher was leading a “Satanist” cult from the school, and that children at the school were being regularly sexually abused. Her statement contained the home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and employment information of many of the alleged cult members. It contained allegations that certain children “enjoyed” being sexually abused more than others.
11 February, 2015
Ella failed to attend court when “mandatory and prohibitory injunctions” were made against her. The injunctions specified that she and Sabine were not to continue harassing and defaming RD.
12 February, 2015
According to Mrs Justice Pauffley’s judgement,
On 12 February, police officers attended at Ms Draper’s address. Her car was on the driveway. A gentleman spoke with the police through the letter box and indicated that he was the mother’s lawyer. The police explained they were there to discuss possible offences committed under s.4 of the Harassment Act 1997. They were denied entry to the property. Whilst the police were waiting for the means to secure a forced entry, three people climbed out of a first floor window, ran along the roof line of three or four houses and climbed down onto some nearby garages where they disappeared from sight.
Ella appears to have fled the country at that point, quite likely to Spain.
17 February, 2015
Abe was seen outside the front entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice, as part of a group led by Belinda McKenzie, which was campaigning for the “return of the Whistleblower Kids”. A witness summons was issued requiring his attendance to answer questions on February 20. However, attempts to serve the summons were unsuccessful. He later fled to Spain as well, where he and Ella have been holed up for the past year and a half.
21 February, 2015
In the comments section on one of her many blogs, Sabine states her intention to publish the police ABE interviews with RD’s children.
Shortly afterward, the videos go online, and like the first set of interview videos, rapidly go viral.
19 March, 2015
Mrs Justice Pauffley read her judgement at the High Court. Her final summary of findings was:
- Neither child has been sexually abused by any of the following – Ricky Dearman, teachers at Christchurch Primary School Hampstead, the parents of students at that school, the priest at the adjacent church, teachers at any of the Hampstead or Highgate schools, members of the Metropolitan Police, social workers employed by the London Borough of Camden, officers of Cafcass or anyone else mentioned by Ms Draper or Mr Christie.
- The children’s half brother, his father and stepmother – Will and Sarah Draper – are likewise exonerated of any illicit or abusive acts involving the children.
- There was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.
- All of the material promulgated by Ms Draper now published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense.
- The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper.
- Both children were assaulted by Mr Christie by being hit with a metal spoon on multiple occasions over their head and legs, by being pushed into walls, punched, pinched and kicked. Water was poured over them as they knelt semi-clothed.
- The long term emotional and psychological harm of what was done to the children is incalculable. The impact of the internet campaign is likely to have the most devastating consequences for P and Q.
A reader on Hoaxtead Research raised the question of the alleged tattoos which Abe and Ella insisted the children had witnessed on those who had allegedly abused them.
Ella originally claimed that both her ex-husband and the father of her two youngest children were “in the cult”, which she described as a life-long, multi-generational organisation. If her story were consistent, as life-long cult members, both men would have received “devil or monster” genital tattoos at a young age. However, Ella, who had had children with both men, either noticed absolutely nothing unusual about them.
When asked about this, Abe evaded the question for several weeks, but eventually came back with the following explanation: This makes no sense, as according to the original story, all cult members received their tattoos at a young age. In addition, it says nothing about Ella’s first husband, who she accused of being the “financier” of the cult.
Abe and Ella’s inability to answer this question created a large rift in their dwindling community of supporters.
Shortly after the tattoo question, Ella disclosed to one of her interviewers, Nathan Stolpman of Lift the Veil, that in fact she had “been mistaken” in including her ex-husband, his current wife, and Ella and Mr Draper’s son in the list of cult members. According to Mr Stolpman,
“I saw in her original, er, charges or document that she drew up with, er, something called McKenzie Friends – and I’ll talk to you about that – erm, that’s a little bit of a psy op too – and, er, she mentioned that Mr. Draper, her ex-husband, was also involved with the cult, the Satanic cult. I’ve spoken with her now since and asked her about it and she says now she doesn’t believe that was the case and that was maybe something she was prompted into coming up with at the time when she was under duress.”
This admission called into question the videos of the two children, in which they stated that their older brother had been a “cult” member, and that he had participated in sexually abusing them.
It seems likely that Ella made this statement in an attempt to placate her ex-husband, who is currently her only source of income. However, this sent further reverberations through the community of hoax believers.