By Gillian Swanson
In October, 1970, a little girl is born to a mother who abandons her. The child is fostered until she is two years of age, when she is adopted. Before her third birthday she is raped by her adoptive father, and the abuse continues throughout her childhood, even though she reports it to social workers and to her teachers.
At the age of 15, after she is also raped by her adoptive brother, she is removed from the family and sent to a children’s home run by the local government. Within a couple of weeks, she is once more being raped and abused. Other children in the home are also being raped, tortured and murdered. She herself narrowly escapes an attempt on her life, when she is saved by the unexpected appearance on the scene of a third party, and her attacker lets her go.
She is eventually allowed to leave this council-run hell-hole. However, she has no family to turn to, and is offered no help by the social services as, homeless, and totally unprepared for employment, she struggles to find her feet in the outside world. Cast loose without an anchor, for several years she succumbs to a life of petty crime and drug addiction on the city streets, but eventually is lucky enough to meet an older man who treats her with respect and provides her with the security of a loving, stable relationship. In these improved circumstances she is able to rise above her calamitous childhood and adolescence, though she needs, and will always need, regular medication to keep the horrors of those early years at bay. In 2003 she and her partner have a son. She is devoted to the child, who thrives on the love she gives him, and even after her partner dies she continues to live a normal life as a well-loved mother and a respected member of her local community, in which she takes an active part – helping out with gardening at her son’s school, for instance, and supporting her local representative on the national assembly. Her son’s well-adjusted behaviour and good progress at school is a testimony to the excellent care he receives from his mother.
Indeed, her long, secure relationship gives her the confidence, in 2010, to report what she experienced and witnessed at the government-run home to the police, and to demand that the perpetrators and facilitators of so much misery pay for their crimes. Inspired by her courage, more past inmates of the home in question, and of others in the area, come forward with corroborative testimony, and the police begin to gather all the evidence together under the banner of a single operation. Eventually the allegations of more than 130 people are being investigated. A total of twelve people are arrested in connection with the allegations, and two are charged with serious sexual offences.
However, the young woman is not satisfied. Her own evidence, she states, indicates a police and council cover-up which has been going on for more than 40 years, with people at the highest levels of government involved: and she has discovered that, despite the closure of many children’s homes, the police have not been conducting their investigations according to the book. They have, for instance, been lying about the interviewing of witnesses. In 2014, therefore, she makes a complaint … and her life begins to fall apart.
She is subjected to unremitting persecution.
Her son is removed into foster care on spurious grounds.
Then, on 10 July, 2014, she disappears. Only because friends persist in asking questions is it eventually discovered that the police have taken her into custody, that a court hearing has taken place behind closed doors, and that she is being held in a high-security prison on charges of reckless arson and criminal damage. Her friends are disturbed to note several anomalies relating to these charges.
During close on four months of incarceration, no account is taken, in determining her treatment by the prison authorities, of this highly vulnerable woman’s past history of rape and abuse. Indeed, quite the opposite: it seems that they are going out of their way to break her spirit and reduce her to a state of mental incompetence. She is moved frequently from cell to cell, leading to disorientation. She is repeatedly strip-searched and, she claims, sexually assaulted. She is subjected to bouts of solitary confinement. She is bullied. A boil on her leg is allowed to become dangerously infected, while expensive medication sent by friends to treat it is discarded by prison staff. Worst of all, she is denied the regular doses of Valium which she needs to keep the nightmares of her childhood and adolescence at bay, and endures hours of terror as the memories resurface.
When she is finally brought to trial, the infection in her leg is so bad that she can walk only with the aid of crutches. She has no faith in her counsel, who fail to represent her adequately or to attack questionable elements in the prosecution’s case, while the judge tells the jury that the police operation she set in motion is nothing but “a conspiracy theory”. She is found guilty of “arson reckless and criminal damage” and bailed for six weeks for psychiatric assessment awaiting sentence. At the end of this period she is given three years’ probation – presumably on the assumption that she has been sufficiently intimidated to stop making embarrassing demands for justice.
However, the powers-that-be have misjudged their woman, for she refuses to be silenced, now going so far as to mention the names of those whom the police have failed to question: people in positions of power, including highly-placed persons in the national government, who, she alleges, were implicated in assaults on young boys. She is arrested again, on a trivial and, once more, questionable charge, and finds herself back in the same prison from which she recently emerged on crutches, where she is held, against UN guidelines, in solitary confinement. After some time she is released, and informed that she has “served her sentence” – though since there has been no public trial, it is unclear exactly what her sentence was.
She goes to stay with friends, but within a couple of weeks of her release is re-arrested, then released on the following day. Back in her home city she is arrested yet again, allegedly for “harassing” the police officer who was her original contact when she blew the whistle. Once more she is released on the following day, after 27 hours in custody. Annoyingly, for the authorities, she has still not been subdued. She continues to talk. She gives an interview. She posts a video message on social media, asking what she has done to merit the unending persecution. The harassment continues throughout 2015. Clearly the authorities are concerned that this nuisance of a woman has not learnt her lesson. Since she persists in making inconvenient revelations, something more needs to be done either to silence her or to undermine her credibility. So in January, 2016, a judge sentences her behind closed doors to two years in prison, at a hearing without benefit of jury, with no public presence to confirm that justice has been done, and in the absence of the accused, who appears only by virtue of a video link which fails when she attempts to defend herself. There is no public announcement of the offence for which her sentence was incurred, and friends writing for that information are refused an answer. The excuse given is the prisoner’s right to privacy.
Since May 2016 this woman has been moved from prison to prison. For eighteen months of that time she has been held in solitary confinement, in direct contravention of UN guidelines. She has been denied the sensitive treatment required by one who, from infancy, and throughout childhood and adolescence, was subjected to repeated physical and mental abuse of the severest kind. She has been strip-searched. She has been assaulted by prison guards in riot gear. She has been escorted to the toilet by male prison guards, who keep her under observation until she is ready to return to her cell.
She has been deprived of contact with the outside world. Her post does not reach her. Visitors, including her lay legal adviser and the social worker assigned to check up on her state of mental and physical health, are turned away. She does not receive the regular medication which she needs. Only rarely does a letter from the prisoner herself get through to the outside world. Her friends begin to wonder whether she is still of sound mind, or whether she is even alive. Letters asking how she is, why she was imprisoned and when she will be released go unanswered.
Then somebody manages to discover that she was due to be released on 2 June, 2018 – but that date has already passed. Why is she still being held incommunicado ? Word leaks out that she is on remand for offences committed in prison. At a mentions hearing in July it emerges that she is accused of four counts of arson, which took place months before her official release date. How, her friends wonder, were the prison authorities unable to prevent these incidents, when the offender was under such close observation ? Why, especially, did they not ensure that she had no means of lighting any more fires after the first one had been extinguished ? And why, in any case, is this woman being put through the entire ordeal of trial and sentencing yet again ? After all, it is widely known that the usual procedure in cases of this kind is to administer punishment on the spot, usually by reducing the remission time allowed for good behaviour. In this case, remission was certainly cut way past the bone, since the full sentence, plus some, had been served. So why the additional punishment now ?
When she finally appears in court, the prisoner is raving. Either she has been driven over the edge by the past four years of persecution and ill treatment – something which, according to UN Special Rapporteur Juan Méndez, might well result solely from the infliction of months in solitary confinement; or she has been deliberately drugged, or inappropriately medicated, in order for her to be paraded before her friends to demonstrate in public that she is of unsound mind: thus justifying indefinite incarceration in a psychiatric hospital. Such a conclusion would, of course, destroy her credibility in the eyes of the uninformed public, while saving those who wish to silence her from the embarrassment of a further string of trials on trumped-up charges. Crucially, requests to the judge that she be physically examined without delay, in order to test for the presence of drugs, go unheeded: and some weeks later, after a psychiatric examination has taken place, the prisoner is, predictably, deemed unfit to stand trial. Instead, a “trial of facts” takes place in her absence. She is found guilty, and now awaits “sentencing” – even though it is commonly understood that a trial of facts can result in neither a judgement nor a sentence.
So what kind of a country is this, you must be asking, that has no compunction in playing fast and loose with the basic principles of justice ? That permits trials in camera, where justice is not seen to be done ? That refuses to say why a woman is imprisoned, or confirm the length of her sentence ? That allows judges to mislead juries with impunity ? What kind of a country can allow tiny children to be placed in the care of state-approved custodians who viciously abuse their bodies and their trust ? What kind of a country would wish to turn a blind eye to rape, torture and murder carried out by government-paid officials and public servants in the very institutions set up by state agencies to “care” for helpless young people ? What kind of a country considers that the right of the wealthy and powerful to torment and violate little boys and girls should take precedence over the rule of law ? What kind of a country would throw a vulnerable woman into prison, and treat her with a viciousness calculated to resurrect all the terrors of her childhood and silence her into submission, in order to protect the Very Important People she has had the presumption to accuse ? What country, when that woman fails to be appropriately terrorised and continues against all the odds to demand justice, would sink so low as to arrange for her to be declared insane, and shut her away in a mental hospital, where she may be drugged into perpetual derangement ?
Is it some tin-pot South American dictatorship ?
No, it is not.
Is it some African state, recently emerged from barbaric tribalism ?
No, it is not.
Is it the evil Russian empire, continuing the practices of the USSR ?
No, it is not.
It is not even Assad’s Syria, which, we are currently being urged to believe, is the very model of despotism and suppression.
It is not any of these. The woman whose vicissitudes at the hands of the state I have been describing is Melanie Shaw, and the country which is so enthusiastically persecuting her is England: yes, England, fount of justice and freedom; England, the land which gave the world Magna Carta, the Common Law, trial by jury, parliamentary government, the whole cornucopia of administrative and legislative virtues. It is England – not Russia, not Syria, not any old banana republic – which is now exerting the full force of stealth and statute to crush a solitary woman who insists that even the powerful should bow before the rule of law. Amnesty International, take note.
One further point: it is England, too, which gave the world the BBC, that acme of journalistic purity – the pride of the nation, untouched by bias, innocent of prejudice, correct in all its opinions as it dispassionately proclaims the facts without fear or favour. Here’s a little question for you, BBC.
When are you going to tell the truth about what has been happening to Melanie Shaw ?
Another Crucial Fact, Ignored By The IICSA, About Melanie Shaw – by Robert Green
Six years ago, when Melanie, along with others, first informed the authorities of the horrific crimes committed at Beechwood Care Home, Nottingham, she was offered a considerable sum, thought to be around £36,000, to compensate for her ordeals, by Nottinghamshire County Council.
There was, however, a condition attached to her receiving this sum.
Melanie was to be subjected to a gagging order that was to prevent her from naming her abusers and those she had witnessed committing other serious crimes from the police or anyone else.
Being a public-spirited person of integrity and courage, Melanie rejected this condition as she considered it to be outrageous that dangerous sex predators should be protected so by the state. Her reward for this truly outstanding example of honesty and bravery is now there for all to see.
As a result of continual sexual abuses suffered whilst in the hands of the state, whose duty it was to protect her, the same state is guilty of pursuing a relentless and barbaric vendetta against her because she dares to be prepared to name her state-sponsored criminal abusers.
This is the true state of our once great country today.
The solicitor who negotiated the offer from Nottinghamshire County Council to Melanie is Mr Chris Ratcliffe , of Nottingham firm Uppal Taylor.
This information has been passed to the IICSA`s chief, Professor Alexis Jay and to the judge at the most recent ‘trial of facts’ hearing , Her Honour Judge Penelope Belcher, who has been courteous enough to acknowledge receipt.