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Books About False Accusations of Abuse

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Presumed Guilty

Many of those who have suffered from a wrongful allegation of abuse find it helpful to read books about others who have suffered from false allegations, and learn from their experiences.

Book cover of 'Presumed Guilty'

‘Presumed Guilty’ is Simon Warr’s new book about his ordeal of being wrongfully accused. This is the publisher’s description

‘On the evening of 18 December 2012, boarding school teacher Simon Warr, who had been described by his Headmaster as ‘one of the outstanding schoolmasters of his generation’, was arrested at his home following an allegation of historical child abuse.

The complainant was unknown to Warr other than the fact he happened to be a pupil in a school where Warr had taught over thirty years previously. Even though there was no evidence to support the complainant’s allegation, Warr was kept on bail for nine months before being charged. He then had to wait a further thirteen months for the case to go to trial.

This is the story of how Simon Warr spent 672 days on bail, single-handedly mounting his defence against the seemingly limitless resources of a police incident room team. In the end, however, truth is the strongest resource of all, and the jury took fewer than forty minutes to acquit him unanimously on all charges.

Despite gaining his freedom, Warr lost his home, his career, his reputation, an extraordinary amount of money and, of course, his peace of mind. Conversely, although it became abundantly clear during the trial that the complainants were mistaken or lying, they were able to walk away with impunity and anonymity.

Presumed Guilty outlines the appalling injustices that falsely accused people have to suffer in what has become a symptom of the state’s imperfect approach to historical child sex abuse allegations. In it, Warr suggests measures that should be urgently adopted to ensure that, in these emotive cases fairness and justice prevail and that a veil of doubt is not cast over genuine abuse sufferers’ complaints.’

You can buy the book here at Biteback Publications

The Perfect Scapegoat

The Perfect Scapegoat is the true story of a naive twenty-year-old girl unwittingly caught up in an investigation into alleged child sexual abuse.

Jessie has spent almost five years working for a busy family with three children. Overnight her world is shattered when one of the children is suspected of having been sexually abused, and questions are being asked. From this moment on Jessie’s life will never be the same again. She is caught up in a distressing police investigation and the devastation worsens with the involvement of the social services. Jessie soon realises that she is faced with an extremely serious and potentially life-changing situation.

Book cover of the Perfect Scapegoat

The Perfect Scapegoat tells Jessie’s very personal and at times heart-wrenching account of the abuse investigation and her struggle for many years after to fight for justice and a normal life.

Download the flyer here for more details.

Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse

This new book, Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse, is edited by Dr Ros Burnett (Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford). It contains 21 chapters by criminologists, psychologists, legal scholars and other experts, discussing policies and practices that impact on people who suffer false allegations of sexual and physical offences against adults and children. Its scope covers civil cases that do not result in criminal prosecution as well as criminal justice processes that can lead to wrongful convictions and imprisonment. While there has been a welcome increase in policies which address child abuse, rape and other sexual offences, these tend to neglect or disavow the diametrical problem of false allegations of such offences. It is inherent in the, typically, unwitnessed and physically uncorroborated nature of these ‘hidden’ crimes that they are difficult to prosecute; but also to disprove if no crime has been committed. Tackling an under-researched and under-discussed area, Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse offers thoughtful and thought-provoking discourses around an understandably difficult and sensitive area. It will be essential reading for academics and students of criminology, sociology, criminal justice, criminal law, socio-legal studies, and psychology, as well as those working with victims of false allegations, and police and specialist practitioners dealing with sexual offences and child abuse.
HARDBACK | 336 PAGES | 9780198723301 September 2016 | £75.00 £60.00
If purchased from Oxford University Press, a 20% discount is available, details here


Professor Tim Bakken, Professor of Law, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, USA.
Dr Robert F. Belli, Dept. of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA.
Professor John Brigham, Political Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA.
Dr Ros Burnett, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, UK.
Professor Deborah Davis, Dept. of Psychology, University of Nevada, USA.
Professor Christopher C. French, Psychology Department, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.
Professor Frank Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.
Luke Gittos, Hughmans Solicitors and Legal Editor for Spiked.
Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith, Faculty of Medical and Health Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Dr Bill Hebenton, School of Law, University of Manchester, UK.
Professor Steve Herman, Dept of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Hilo, USA.
Barbara Hewson, Barrister, Gray’s Inn, London, UK
Professor Richard A. Leo, School of Law, University of San Francisco, USA.
Professor Daniel S. Medwed, School of Law, Northeastern University, Boston, USA.
Dr Galit Nahari, Department of Criminology, Bar Ilan University, Israel.
Dr James Ost, Department of Psychology, Portsmouth University, UK.
David Rose, Author/Prize-winning Investigative Journalist.
Professor Toby Seddon, School of Law, University of Manchester, UK.
Dr Mark Smith, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Edinburgh, UK.
J. Guillermo Villalobos, University of Nevada, USA.
Professor Mary deYoung, Sociology, Grand Valley State University, Michigan, USA.
Professor Michael Zander QC, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics, UK.


Dr Ros Burnett is a Senior Research Associate, formerly Reader in Criminology, at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, which she joined in 1990 after gaining a DPhil in social psychology at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford. Prior to moving into academia, she was a probation officer and a relationship counsellor. Her research areas have been: interpersonal relationships; rehabilitation of offenders and desistance from crime; and wrongful allegations of sexual and child abuse. She has assisted FACT on a voluntary basis as a research adviser and by helping to convene some past conferences. www.law.ox.ac.uk/people/ros-burnett

Report into The Conduct of Investigations into Past Cases of Abuse in Children’s Homes

cover of report into the conduct of investigations into past cases of abuse in children's homes

The Home Affairs Committee Report into The Conduct of Investigations into Past Cases of Abuse in Children’s Homes (HC 836, Session 2001-02).

The decision to conduct this inquiry was taken in response to a large number of well-argued representations received by the Committee. The Committee looked at the methods by which convictions have been achieved and whether there are adequate safeguards. The Committee concluded  that “a new genre of miscarriages of justice” has arisen from what it calls “the over-enthusiastic pursuit” of abuse allegations in children’s homes, many relating to incidents said to have occurred going back twenty or thirty years.  They also stated that a large number of people who are not charged may have had their lives ruined or seriously damaged by unfounded allegations.

The Secret of Bryn Estyn – the making of a modern witch hunt

The Secret of Bryn Estyn cover

The Secret of Bryn Estyn – the making of a modern witch hunt by Richard Webster £25 (inc p&p), 725 pages hardback Orwell Press ISBN 0951592246
Paperback version £11.95 ISBN: 978 09515922 67.

The Secret of Bryn Estyn, tells the story of the gravest series of miscarriages of justice in recent British history “how innocent lives have been destroyed, the public deceived and millions of pounds wasted in a hunt for a dark conspiracy which existed only in the imagination of the investigators. Richard Webster has spent nine years uncovering what really happened in North Wales. This is a a true story of false accusations, judicial blindness, bad journalism and innocent lives destroyed. The result is one of the most remarkable works of investigation ever written.

Reviews: | Times Educational Supplement  |  FACTion -Tani Hunter | Christian Wolmar |  Mark Smith

Also published in Paperback (Revised edition with a new 12-page postscript) 732 pages B format paperback (198 x 129mm) ISBN: 978 09515922 67  £11.95 in the UK

The Great Children’s Home Panic

The Great Children’s Home Panic by Richard Webster  £4.95. 70 pages, softback. Orwell Press, 1998.

During the last 10 years an entirely new kind of police investigation has evolved. Conducted on a massive scale at huge public expense, its main aim has been to gather retrospective allegations of sexual abuse against care workers. Thousands of such allegations have now been collected and slowly but surely our prisons are filling up with care workers who have been convicted as a result.

The Great Children’s Home Panic was the first book to raise serious questions about a kind of police operation which has used up hundreds of millions of pounds of public money and resulted in allegations being trawled by the police against thousands of former care workers and teachers, the majority of whom are completely innocent.

Insight into Anguish

Insight into Anguish by Melanie Metcalfe. £9. 288 pages softback DayOne Publications ISBN 1 90308740 6

This is a true story about the nightmare experience of a very ordinary family with very special qualities, written with powerful honesty and gripping potency. Law makers should read this book to realise how unreasonable the whole issue of the anonymity and impunity of those who level maliciously false accusations, and how unjust the ‘presumption of guilt’ syndrome can be. Law enforcers should read it to be warned of the damage caused by heavy-handed, insensitive and even ignorant methods of police investigation, that could irreparably wound a family. Society should read it to appreciate the unfairness of a legal aid system that could leave an innocent family homeless and bankrupt. And all who work at any level in the voluntary sector, among children and youth, should read it to be alerted to the dangers of innocent, but naive or unwise conduct being manipulated in a court of law by vicious and evil minds; this story should put all youth workers on their guard.

That’ll Teach You

That’ll Teach You by Michael James. Published by Recognition. 336 pages.

This book is a warning to all teachers. A thumping drum and a glaring red light. Mark Stephens is your favourite teacher. What Susan Bennett is about to invent is going to throw your favourite teacher into a destructive spiral, that like a drowning man in a dragging eddy can only hope is made placid by the truth. WPC Baxter isn’t concerned with the truth. She wants to convict a pervert, the school wants the leper out and Susan Bennett is riding high on her vicious lie.

Read how your favourite teacher deals with fortune and disaster.

Kathy’s Real Story

A culture of false allegations exposed by Hermann Kelly.£9.99.  Published by Prefect Press. ISBN: 9781906351007. 256 pages. This is a compelling read and a shocking story, which begins with shame and ends with the triumph of an Irish family over false allegations of abuse. The family of best-selling author Kathy O’Beirne tells the real story behind her book, casting light on a destructive culture of false allegations hurting innocent people in Ireland. Kathy O’Beirne’s book, Kathy’s Story (Don’t Ever Tell in Britain) alleged that she was abused by her father, experimented upon in a psychiatric hospital, raped by priests and then slammed up in a Magdalene Laundry where she had a baby at 14. Abused or abuser? Brave truth-teller or a money-grabbing fraudster? See the evidence, hear from those who knew her as she grew up. Read of people being bribed to bear false witness while others were threatened.

About the Author. Journalist Hermann Kelly is a regular contributor to The Irish Mail on Sunday and The Irish Examiner (two national newspapers). He has done a wealth of research, interviewing Kathy O’Beirne, her family, co-author, publisher and many others.


Millstone (Paperback) by Colin Neville. 292 pages. ISBN: 9781781760468, Published: 24 February 2012. Price: £6.99

The truth is what you want it to be. Bryan Young is an unconventional and challenging teacher in a junior school, popular with the pupils, but at odds with the head teacher, his deputy, and the school priest. Bryan’s world is shattered when he is falsely accused of sexual misconduct by three female pupils, and a parent.

He is suspended from school and subject to a police and internal investigation. His previous behaviour is now misinterpreted and moulded to fit the accusations against him, including those made by a colleague he trusted. But Bryan’s behaviour has also contributed to the accusations – and he is faced with the choice of revealing the truth of what happened, but at the cost of destroying his professional credibility, and his relationship with his partner and their child.

The Making of a Modern European Witch Hunt

The Making of a Modern European Witch Hunt, R. Webster, 110pp, £7:95 Orwell Press

This is a book about the largest and the longest-lasting paedophile-ring scare there has ever been, and the one which has, arguably, caused the most damage to the institutions of the country where it took place – Portugal. The scandal involved allegations that leading left-wing politicians, together with a lawyer, a doctor, an ambassador, and Portugal’s most famous television presenter, Carlos Cruz (pictured on the cover of this book), were all members of a secret paedophile conspiracy. This paedophile ring had supposedly preyed on children who were in the care of the state at a network of children’s homes in Lisbon known as Casa Pia – ‘pious house’.

Yet, although six people, including Cruz, were convicted at the end of a five-and-a-half-year trial, and although their membership of a sinister paedophile ring has been widely reported as a fact, there is no credible evidence that such a ring ever existed. Indeed, shortly before this book went to press in April 2011, one of the main accusers gave an interview to a Portuguese journalist in which he confessed that the allegations he had made were false. He expressed regret for having built up ‘a monstrous lie against innocent people’ and said ‘There must be an end to this . . . we can’t go on with this farce.’

Casa Pia: The Making of a Modern European Witch Hunt is the first book to explore how this ‘monstrous lie’ came into being and came to be accepted as the truth not only by a significant proportion of the Portuguese public but also by journalists throughout the world.

False Accusations – Guilty Until Proven Innocent

False Accusations – Guilty Until Proven Innocent, by Nic Greene 145 pp. 2011

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, author Nik Greene spent years trying to clear his name. Having moved his family to France to start a new life with newly adopted but troubled children, one morning his adopted daughter falsely accuses him of sexual assault. “Without a single thought that the girl was lying, her every word was accepted.” The female judge looked at him and spat the words, “You Monsieur Greene, are a paedophile and a pervert, and I have the authority to put you in prison for 20 years. I am going to make it my mission to do so.” He survived prison to tell his story.

“In a country where it is presumed ‘children don’t lie,’ it took three years to fight the archaic, biased French system and clear my name by law.” Nik Greene has tried to put his horror behind him, “But I still, to this day, have nightmares of the time I spent in a jail more akin to Victorian England.” he says.

Researching Sex and Lies in the Classroom: Allegations of Sexual Misconduct in Schools

Researching Sex and Lies in the Classroom: Allegations of Sexual Misconduct in Schools [Paperback] Pat Sikes (Author), Heather Piper  (2010) London, Routledge/Falmer

The Anglophone world is gripped by a moral panic centred on child abuse in general and fear of the paedophile in particular. Evidence suggests an alarming rise in the number of false allegations of sexual abuse being made against teachers, and demonstrates that the fallout from being falsely accused is far-reaching and sometimes tragic. Many people in this position cannot sustain family relationships, have breakdowns, and are often unable to return to the classroom when their ordeal is over.

Researching Sex and Lies in the Classroom draws on in-depth qualitative research exploring the experiences, perceptions and consequences for those who have been falsely accused of sexual misconduct with pupils, and for the family members, friends and colleagues affected by or involved in the accusation process. The book also highlights the dilemmas and difficulties the authors themselves have faced researching this field, such as:  a) ethical and methodological concerns over whether or not the teachers had indeed been falsely accused, or were guilty and taking advantage of this project to construct an alternative, innocent identity, b) the difficulty of obtaining institutional ethical clearance to undertake and publish research which challenges master narratives concerning children and their protection and c) the reluctance of funders to support research in controversial and sensitive areas.

Researching Sex and Lies in the Classroom reveals findings which are both informative and shocking. It interrogates the appropriateness of current investigative and judicial procedures and practices, and it raises general questions about the surveillance and control of research and academic voice. It will be of great benefit to academics and researchers interested in this field, as well as postgraduate students, teachers and other professionals working with the fear of allegations of abuse.

The authors are Pat Sikes, Professor of Qualitative Inquiry in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield and Heather Piper a Professional Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Miscarriage of Memory

Miscarriage of Memory: Edited by William Burgoyne and Norman Brand. Paperback. Published by BFMS 2010

ISBN 978-0-9555184-1-6 /published BFMS/2010/pages 194/paperback £8.99

A factual account of some of the injustices and accompanying family tragedies that have arisen when prosecution evidence is based on ‘memories’ allegedly recovered by complainants while undergoing psychotherapy or coming under other authoritative influences described in this book.

Most of the examples have been drawn from case studies reported to the BFMS.

The book includes accounts of four people who have retracted their ‘recovered memory based allegations, and includes contributions by various professionals including lawyers, an expert witness,  and psychologists.

See also, our post on The Fascinating Phenomenon of False Memories