In this Radio 4 episode of ‘The Report’, Melanie Abbott investigates how false allegations of a satanic abuse ring in Hampstead went global.
If you are not aware of the Hampstead case, it involved a mother, Ella Draper, and her partner, Abraham Christie, coaching their children to make allegations of a satanic child abuse ring in Hampstead, North London, apparently in an attempt to discredit the children’s biological father.
It wasn’t long before a group of self-styled ‘justice seekers’ (read ‘villagers and pitchforks’) became involved and the false allegations spread across the internet and around the world.
Draper and Christie have absconded, as has one of their ‘supporters’, Sabine McNeill, who is part of an organisation called ‘The Association of McKenzie Friends’ – all three are wanted for questioning by the Metropolitan Police.
Not only did the information spread at lightning speed across the internet, mobs of supporters organised by Sabina McNeill, and her partner at the ‘association’, Belinda McKenzie, and other members of their inner-circle, took to intimidating members of the local church and the parents and children of the primary school where Draper’s children attended before they were taken into protection from their abusive parents.
In disgusting displays of harassment, the mob shouted (including some members shouting obscenities) at the parents and children as they arrived each day for school.
Police were forced to arrest two members of the mob, Christine Ann Sands and Neelu Berry (Neelu Chaudhari). Sands (a US resident) was ordered to leave the UK by the 5th May, and received a £165 fine, and the case against Berry/Choudhari (who claimed the local residents ate babies for lunch at a local McDonalds) is ongoing.
Despite a judgement made by Mrs Justice Pauffley on the 19th March 2015 strictly forbidding any person from revealing the identities of Draper’s children, members of the internet campaign continue to post videos and pictures of the children on various websites, and the children’s names have also been posted in public view.
This flagrant contempt of court is most disgraceful. The children are currently in the care of foster parents and social services. In years to come they will see the material about them that has been spread across the internet by self-interested, self-styled vigilantes.
The residents of Hampstead are also unhappy with the inaction of the police. Despite being subjected to daily harassment, including having their names, addresses, and other personal details posted on the internet by members of the vigilante group, the police have remained passive in bringing to justice the ring-leaders of the campaign.
The ring leaders of the mob and internet campaign have a history of abusing vulnerable people and making false accusations about innocent people. Unsurprisingly, the Draper case bears many similarities with the case of Hollie Grieg, a woman with Down’s syndrome from Aberdeen, whose mother made very similar accusations to those made by Draper.
Only a few days ago we posted an article about the nasty side of these self-styled ‘justice seekers, which goes into more detail about this and other cases.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of this situation will be as the pressure mounts on the authorities to take firm action against all those involved.