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A History of FACT

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The long history of FACT is presented here as a timeline

1998

Police Trawling Operations Catch Innocent Victims

FACT was born during the era of ‘The Great Children’s Home Panic’ (described in Richard Webster’s book of the same name. Police ‘trawled’ ex-residents of children’s homes in the North West of England to search for possible victims. Tragically, trawling operations such as ‘Operation Care’ caught many innocent teachers and carers in their net.

November 1999

First FACT meeting

40 supporters of Basil Williams-Rigby, a victim of ‘Operation Care’ met at Kensington Community Centre in Liverpool.

December 1999

The Campaign on behalf of Victims of Operation Care

The Campaign on behalf of Victims of Operation Care met for a second time and demonstrated outside the court where Dave Jones, manager of Southampton was making an appearance. There was much local press coverage and a TV item.

Spring 2000

First National Conference of FACT

FACT met at St Helen’s for their first ever national conference

July 2000

Second FACT Conference

Claire Curtis-Thomas, concerned by the number of allegations and arrests in her constituency, courageously identified herself with FACT.

November 2000

FACT demonstrates at Dave Jones’ Trial

FACT attended in numbers and took part in a most impressive silent walk through Liverpool. To great jubilation, on 5 December, the trial collapsed.

October 2001

All Party Group for Abuse Investigations meets for first time

The inaugural meeting of the All Party Group for Abuse Investigations took place at Portcullis House where FACT was introduced to another sympathetic and courageous politician, Earl Howe.

2001

‘A new genre of miscarriages of justice’

The then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolfe warned that the convictions of dozens of men for child sexual assault, years after the alleged assault had supposedly taken place, could be unsafe. The Home Affairs select Committee stated that they believed that a new genre of miscarriages of justice had arisen from the over enthusiastic pursuit of allegations of historical abuse in care homes.

2002

FACT gives evidence to Home Affairs Select Committee

2002 was the year of the Home Affairs Select Committee when FACT presented its evidence into the methods used by police forces to collect information. Many FACT supporters gave testimonies to this select committee including Richard Webster and Bob Wolfenden.

2003

National Committee for FACT was formed

The FACT AGM was held in Warrington on 31 May 2003, the Conference requested a Working Party to look into FACT’S future constitution. This was set up in June and reported back to the Dinas Powys Conference on 6 September. As a result, a new National Committee was selected and formed.

2004

FACT’s strategies re-examined

The Conference and AGM at Dinas Powys on 11 September 2004 concentrated on a broader overall strategy, a re-examination of FACT’s methodology, promotion of academic research, and the Innocence Project. A new lobbying campaign was also launched.

March 2005

‘The Secret of Bryn Estyn’ launched at Portcullis House

In March 2005 FACT was encouraged by the launching at Portcullis House of Richard Webster’s beautifully researched and immensely compelling “The Secret of Bryn Estyn”.
The rights to the book were bought by Tony Garnett, a producer of television dramas. Garnett had planned a three-hour drama based for Channel 4, but the project was cancelled. Cancellation of planned documentaries and dramas about wrongful allegations was to be a recurring experience for FACT.

2006

Mother’s intervention at FACT conference leads to successful appeal

Darryl Gee died in prison in 2002 after a second appeal against his rape conviction failed. When John Weeden, a CCRC commissioner gave a key note speech at a FACT conference his mother made a heartfelt plea to him on her late son’s behalf. Darryl was posthumously exonerated in 2006.

2007

FACT’s role continues to evolve

By now FACT’s role was evolving and becoming clearer: on one hand, it was providing a wealth of advice, help and emotional support, it was campaigning to have innocent prisoners released and to bring an end to false allegations and wrongful convictions. At the same time, the investigative focus was moving from children’s homes, residential and non-residential schools to welfare and community-based services. The challenge was increasing.

2012

FACT makes submission to Independent Advisory Panel on the Disclosure of Criminal Records

FACT has made many submissions during its history, some of them are listed here.

2013

CPS introduces ‘believe the victim’ policy

Keir Starmer told prosecutors they should start from a position of believing complainants of alleged sexual offences.

2013

Submission to Criminal Cases Review Commission

Ros Burnett from Oxford University helped FACT prepare a submission to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

2016

Sister Frances becomes president

Sister Frances, an innocent victim of a false allegation, became our president.

2016

Publication of “The Impact of The Impact of Being Wrongly Accused
of Abuse” by Oxford University

This publication of research by Caroyn Hoyle, Naomi-Ellen Speechly and Dr Ros Burnett captured the damage done and wreckage inflicted to individual lives and families caused by unfounded allegations. Today it is a much-used reference document.

September 2016

The first Wrongful Allegation and Conviction Day

The first Wrongful Allegation and Conviction Day was on 9th September 2016, later this became ‘Falsely Accused Day‘.

October 2016

Henriques Report into Operations Midland and Yewtree published

After two disastrous investigations into prominent politicians and personalities, Lord Henriques published his report recommending changes in investigative practice, including ending the instruction for police to ‘believe the victim‘.

2017

Simon Warr

Simon Warr campaigns on behalf of FACT

FACT met with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in London. Simon Warr, a radio presenter, travelled round the country giving interviews and used his TV and other media contacts to further FACT’s cause.

2017

FACT’s first Service of Support and Encouragement

St James’s Church Piccadilly, London hosted FACT’s first service for those of all faiths and none. In the service there was an opportunity to light a candle to remember a loved one who had been falsely accused. This service remains popular to this day.

2018

FACT members surveyed on their coping strategies

43 members and their friends or family were surveyed to discover how they coped with the trauma of a false accusation. The results were used to make an advice sheet on coping strategies.

2019

Liam Allan’s trial collapses

Liam Allan was wrongly accused of rape and his trail collapsed in an 11th hour disclosure of evidence by the prosecutor. Disclosure failings became big news. Later Liam spoke at a FACT conference.

February 2020

Simon Warr dies

Simon Warr, during a last interview before his death, described his experience as a victim of a false allegation as worse than his cancer. Falsely Accused Day was instituted in his memory.

2020

FACT becomes a not-for-profit Limited Company by Guarantee

Besides becoming a Limited Company, FACT set up a ‘buddy befriending’ scheme to offer support to victims of false accusations.

2021

‘Robbed of Everything’ published

Robbed of Everything‘ was published, an academic report on the experience of the wrongly convicted, by Oxford University Centre for Criminology with support from FACT members.
Speakers at our AGM this year were Matthew Scott (barrister blogger) and Dr Kiron Griffin who gave an astonishing talk on mental health and why abuse allegations damage the individual more than other traumatic life events.

Harvey Proctor speaks at FACT conference and becomes Vice President

His opening comments were, “there can be no better use of scarce time and resources than to combat those who bear false witness against others”.

2023

Submissions to Law Commission

Andrew Malkinson won his appeal against his conviction for rape after spending 17 years in prison maintaining his innocence. Following this, FACT made a submission to the Law Commission’s consultation on the appeal process.
FACT also made a submission to the Law Commission’s consultation on Evidence in Sexual Offence Prosecutions.

2024

FACT celebrates 25 years of service to the innocent victims of false allegations

FACT continues to support victims and survivors of false allegations after 25 years.