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In The Name Of The Children, Sunday November 26 2000

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Your respondent Margaret Jervis exemplifies the damage done by your programme. Her statement the "fallacy" of the 'accommodation syndrome' as she puts it, albeit an incorrect use of the term when applied to the programme material, indicates that she has , perhaps thankfully, never experienced the horror inflicted upon children by those who sexually abuse. Accommodation is where a child cannot because of a disparity of power, stop the abuse of an adult and therefore finds some way of living with it. This form of defence in itself will ultimately damage the child. Often, underlying the need to 'accomodate'is a sense in the child that he or she is to blame or will be blamed or disbelieved if he or she speaks out. Imagine living through childhood and adulthood believing that all you were worth was being used as an object and being aware that there are some people who dismiss your experience as being a 'fallacy'. By the way in my work with sex offenders, it is often the case that they will talk freely about how they get their victims to 'accommodate'. What is frustrating is that it is almost certain that at some point in the future your Panorama will be reporting on the failure of the system to protect children and in doing so blame the courts and the police. What a great position to be in - blame anyone on any subject but do nothing ethical to help.
RossvP
Southend

I am employed as a youth worker and I found the programme very disturbing. The lawyer representing the claimants has no clue of the reality of the lengths some people will go to for money. He appeared to overlook the fact that many young people in care are very damaged and disturbed individuals who do not feel the same emotions towards other people. It is often the case for many people in care that they grow into bitter and confused adults. All the evidence must be heard when a man's whole life is at stake.
John
Paisley

I certainly think that this case should be reviewed and Roy Shuttleworth set free without more ado. It is frightening that this can happen to an innocent person. No-one will dare to work with children at this rate.
Toni Johnston
Sevenoaks

I am James, nephew of Roy Shuttleworth. I believe 'Panorama' has brought to light what I have always believed. From the day that he was first charged Roy was an innocent man serving a wrongful sentence, brought about by people whose only agenda in life is to obtain monies by whatever means they see fit to use. As shown in the programme I feel this vindicates my comments.
James Shuttleworth
Leigh

As a child I was abused by a family member, and I understand only too well the hurt which stays and torments. But at the other end of the scale I have been befriended and helped by a wonderful family, whose father has been falsely accused. I support the great work carried out by F.A.C.T. and wish to emphasise that under no circumstances do the organization support paedophiles. F.A.C.T. is a group of relatives and friends of innocent men and women.
Lynda
Southport

I think that it is very sick for someone to put an innocent man in jail just to get money. It is sick and I hope Mr Shuttleworth is freed and has his name cleared. My thoughts are with his family and in my opinion the courts have failed to deliver justice and the sick people who accused him of this should be fined and thrown in jail.
Adam Porter (15)
Edinburgh

I listened with amazement to Peter Garsden's claim that there were psychometric tests that were able to determine the fact that a claimant was telling the truth as to being sexually abused. Amazed also at the suggestion that this was 'medical' evidence. As a chartered psychologist I work on a regular basis with children who have been abused or are themselves abusing of others and have never found such a test. I thankful that the psychologist he himself recommended was able to refute Mr Garsden's claims. But how worrying that he who represents so many of the claimants, is working with and maintaining such beliefs.
Michael Curtis
Kendal

I was a Head of Education in a Residential School accused of physically abusing former pupils. Some Facts. The police interviewed about 500 of my former pupils (out of approx 2300. They elicited 9 complainants. Four of these resulted in charges. I, with others, was found innocent in 55 minutes following a three-year investigation and a three week trial - estimates of the cost of this to the taxpayer range from £1.5m to £2.5m in our case alone. When asked why the case was being brought despite evidence to affirm our innocence during the trawl by the police, a police sergeant told me very forcefully that his job was to find corroboration of the complaints and get me in front of a jury - NOT to investigate the case. In my 30 years working in residential care I have been in the front line - often heart-wrenchingly so in battling against child abuse in all its forms and supporting those suffering its deep effects. I never dreamed I would be victimised and branded for caring. It's NOT the former clients - they are vulnerable still and often weak, greedy, persuadable, and manipulated. I cannot find it in me to blame them. The Police, the service we look to and trust to be honest, responsible and wise - their policies and practices are all wrong!!
Derek Gordon
Durham

The zeal and enthusiasm shown by the police in pursuing Mr Shuttleworth is in marked contrast to the easy time they give offenders who make false allegations. It is this partiality which gives rise to injustice and the criticism of the police who are expected to act without fear or favour.

I don't know if Mr Shuttleworth is guilty or not - but the concept of 'corroboration by volume' leaves me cold

Anon, Rochdale
It should be understood that the police are not free to pursue those who make false allegations without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions and this is rarely given. The lack of action gives encouragement and support to those who seek revenge, profit or attention by false allegation and perjury, including anonymity in many cases. It is hardly surprising that the Shuttleworths are in despair when false allegations can be made so easily and with no price to pay. We hear government rhetoric that individuals should accept responsibility for their actions, whilst in practice they give immunity to such people. I believe that the law is for the protection of everyone and this case clearly shows how individuals can be excluded from its protection. The worry is, if the law can be used to exclude then it follows it can be used to favour. Not being privy to the evidence presented at the trial I don't know if Mr Shuttleworth is guilty or not, but the concept of 'corroboration by volume' leaves me cold. It is perverse, it is Orwellian and it threatens everyone.
Anon
Rochdale

Congratulations to the Panorama team and to all those involved in helping to highlight the issue of false allegations of child sexual abuse and the travesty of justice. Many find it hard to believe that anyone would want to claim that abuse has occurred if it has not. The Panorama programme reported on the powerful lure of compensation, it did not however touch on the difficult fact that depressed and vulnerable individuals can come to believe that they have abusive pasts when this is untrue. Decades delayed, retrospective allegations of childhood sexual abuse made by an adult, for the first time often with no prior knowledge of the abuse, have been causing devastation to accused families since the early 1990s. This phenomenon led to the formation of the charity, The British False Memory Society which has contact with fathers and mothers and other relatives who are falsely accused of the most heinous crime of childhood sexual abuse. The BFMS website is at www.bfms.org.uk and we can be contacted from there.
Madeline Greenhalgh, Director BFMS
Bradford on Avon

Hello I cannot sit back and allow what I personally believe is a grave situation in the justice system of this country. There is a strong possibility Mr.Shuttleworth is being targeted by people who will do just about anything for money. I personally was visited in my own home by police officers wishing to interview me about so called abuse at an approved school where I was from 1966 to 68, and was told that this or that named care worker was as put to me AT IT, if I was inclined to be dishonest the names were already available to me. It may be hard for some people to believe that any person would want money so bad but these boys now men are mostly not your average pillars of society, I said this to the police and I say it again I never saw or suspected any care worker of any sexual misconduct and I hope that anyone making allegations is doing it for the right reasons although in some cases I have my doubts. I wonder if money has a bigger bearing than they think.
John
St. Helens


The high-profile police trawling operations do make you wonder where justice has gone in this country

Vicky, Liverpool
Having been closely connected to a family suffering under the cloud of false allegations of abuse, I can only agree with the statements of Mr Shuttleworth's family regarding the strain and injustices suffered. The high-profile police trawling operations do make you wonder where justice has gone in this country. I hope that Jonathon King is not putting his faith in the police or judiciary, as select presentation of evidence i.e. word against word and a very biased prosecution cause any jury to instantly think "no smoke without fire" and vote accordingly. Writing to MPs and other officials requesting that investigations be carried out into the police methods is a very frustrating process. No one appears to have an overview of the situation or sort out the real cases from the fantasy. Well done, Panorama - We hope that officialdom will take note and proceed accordingly.
Vicky
Liverpool

From personal experience I can honestly state that the content of the panorama programme concerning false allegations is very accurate. Roy's case is just the tip of the iceberg, many, many more have also been wrongly convicted. I have personally experienced false allegations of this nature. It has been shown time and time again that people make up these allegations in order to claim compensation, but there are also other pay-offs. Some of these are; revenge, there is attention, there is being on the sympathy side of the police instead of the receiving end of punishment. For some it has helped them to avoid punishment for other crimes. Those who have been found out to be lying go scott free. As yet no action as ever been taken out against them for wasting police time and tax-payers money. Why is this? Is it because the police do not see them as time wasters. Those who seek to imprison others in this way ought to serve the sentence their victim would serve. Well done the BBC for giving some space to those who are falling victim to this current hysteria for no legitimate reason. It is time that those who are innocent had some good media attention so that hopefully the pendulum may swing to a more balanced position in the future.
Brian
Cheshire
Anon

It is much more likely that children and young people will be disbelieved when they manage to speak out about abuse, than that an alleged abuser will be wrongly prosecuted. I have no idea whether Mr. Shuttleworth is innocent or not, but I do know of many young people who have been disbelieved and some who, when faced with disbelief, have taken desperate measures, including self-harm and suicide. The programme was unbalanced and made no acknowledgement of the exceptional skills that many paedophiles have in deception. Many walk free, having caused dreadful harm to their victims.
Wendy Wood
London

The programme was excellent. It was also long overdue. If it had been made and broadcast five years ago, a great many innocent care workers might not now be in prison for crimes they never committed. The number of letters on this web-site from relatives of people who appear to have been wrongly convicted reflects this. Of course some people don't like facing up to the fact that people will lie about sexual abuse for money (just as others won't face up to the fact that sexual abuse really does take place in care homes). A few of your correspondents are evidently determined to believe that Roy Shuttleworth is guilty in spite of all the evidence the Panorama team managed to dig out. Anybody in doubt about the case should read the long article about the programme which appeared in the Observer on the same day that the programme was shown. Or they should study the transcript of the programme on the Panorama web-site. What these bring home is that the evidence pointing to Shuttleworth's innocence is rather more substantial than one or two contributors to your forum have suggested. One anonymous correspondent writes from Exeter to say that he was at Greystone Heath himself. He says that Alan Langshaw, Dennis Grain and Frank Beck were there and that they all confessed to sexual abuse. If this were true it wouldn't undermine the Panorama investigation since the whole point of it was to show how innocent people get caught up with the guilty. But it isn't true. Langshaw and Grain were indeed at Greystone Heath and the programme itself recorded the fact that Langshaw pleaded guilty. But Frank Beck never worked at Greystone Heath. He worked in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and trained in Stevenage.

When Shuttleworth's case came to court, there weren't any physical allegations against him at all

Richard Webster, Oxon
Anon's memory of what happened at Greystone Heath is evidently not quite accurate. He says he thinks Shuttleworth should be in prison because he was brutal anyway. I spoke to a former resident of Greystone Heath and put this allegation to him. He said 'That's a terrible thing to say. I never saw him raise his hand to anyone. He just wasn't like that.' Quite apart from this anyone who knows anything about trawling operations knows that a care worker who really was brutal would end up facing a list of physical allegations a lot longer than a policeman's arm. Some of these would be true and a good many would be false. But when Shuttleworth's case came to court, there weren¿t any physical allegations against him at all. No doubt some of those who have since put in claims for compensation, or joined in the civil action against the council, have changed all that. Once an innocent man is behind bars he's fair game for any allegation. Anon says that he is himself a plaintiff in the action so it's perhaps not surprising that he's so keen to attack the programme and Greystone Heath as well. Of course he may well have been abused while he was in care. A good many people were. But making unsubstantiated allegations anonymously against a man who is already in prison for something he hasn't done will not bring justice for him or anyone else. And supporting or excusing allegations which have clearly been fabricated will only make life more difficult for those who really have been abused. The problem with being prepared to believe everybody is that you end up with nobody believing anybody. Even when what they say is true. For this reason Panorama's excellent programme has done a service both to those who are falsely accused and those who genuinely are victims of sexual abuse. For only if false allegations are carefully sifted from true ones are those who make the latter likely to be believed, and protected from the sexual abuse of which they rightly complain.
Richard Webster
Oxford

I have now read many of your respondents views. Sadly the majority seem to support the bias of your programme which in my view will damage further the position for victims of sexual abuse. It seems that many respondents wish to free Mr. Shuttleworth on the scant information provided by your programme. I work with men who sexually offend providing risk assessment and treatment. A feature of my clients is that they tend not to tell the truth even when literally caught red handed. Another feature is that those around them such as friends and family have been manipulated by the offender into trusting him. It is of course possible that Mr. Shuttleworth has been wrongly convicted. To determine this would require rigorous analysis of the evidence rather than popular journalism. Whatever the case it is known as a fact that persistent and corrosive sexual abuse occurred in the establishment where Mr. Shuttleworth worked. Good professional residential staff would at the very least pick up the undercurrents that accompany such behaviour, explore it and report it. Why didn't he?
RossvP
Southend

My wife and I were impressed by many of the arguments put by Panorama expressing doubt about Roy Shuttleworth's guilt. We shouted out in disbelief when the prosecution solicitor claimed that psychologists could recognise when people are telling the truth and that the so-called victims would not be prepared to suffer the rigours of the legal process if they were not describing what actually happened. How mis-informed and naive! If these kind of statements represent the quality of the prosecution's arguments then it is amazing that the jury was persuaded to opt for a guilty verdict. Maybe minds were closed from the outset; if so, so much for the principle of innocent until proved guilty!
David

Greystone Heath plaintiff Anonymous from Exeter must have a poor memory of the home, grim as it may have been, because Frank Beck, far from confessing abuse at the home never worked there. For the record, Beck, was convicted in 1991 in respect of sexual offences at children's homes in Leicester which he denied. The excellent programme on Roy Shuttleworth is illustrative of a flawed process of investigation which not only fails to distinguish between true and false allegations of abuse, but actually manufactures both false allegations and false belief. Unfortunately the criminal justice system, including the police child protection units, is presently unable to differentiate between true and false allegations because it is trained to operate according to a false paradigm of abuse which is predictive of those things which would, in any other field be regarded as casting doubt on the existence of abuse. Consequently, initial denial, a criminal record, retraction, and progressively more serious and bizarre allegations - all of which indicate the 'Pinnochio' effect - are understood to be indicative if not corroborative of abuse. This influential hypothesis - known as the child sexual abuse accommodation sydrome - is a fallacy.
Margaret Jervis
Bradford on Avon

One of the cornerstones of justice is that it would be preferable for 5 guilty men to walk free than to WRONGLY convict an innocent man for something he did NOT do, a true travesty of justice. I am a healthcare student/worker and I am extremely alarmed at the possibility of somebody suing me and ruining my career just to claim compensation. Although the claim might be unfounded, this would surely ruin any reputation and future career.
Kychin
Dundee

With all respect to Trevor of Wimbledon -

The legal profession is not interested in defending those who do not issue a claim for compensation

Paul Steele, Edinburgh
To state that when a victim of abuse goes to court there is no need for the aid of a solicitor is quite frankly ridiculous. And as almost every single person who has contacted me through the Hole In Hell website has repeatedly confirmed, the legal profession is not interested in defending those who do not issue a claim for compensation! With a view to establishing a public investigation into the Bellshill children's home following the conviction of a member of staff for the sexual abuse of those in his care, I tried to obtain legal assistance from over 20 law firms in Edinburgh and dozens more across Scotland (over 45 in total), only to find that in each case there was a great deal of interest in my case until I stated that under no circumstances would I enter a compensation claim. In one case I was told not to be such a fool and had the phone slammed down on me.
Paul Steele
Edinburgh

So the law really is an ass in these so called 'abuse' cases. The prosecution service is not treating the rules of evidence the same as it does in other - often more serious and violent - crimes. The juries are not considering the evidence but only the nature of the crime. And the convictions do not give the accused the benefit of 'beyond all reasonable doubt'. On top of that, the judges are patently over-reacting handing down ridiculously heavy 'deterrent-type' penalties when compared to other crimes, often years later, and often to perfectly ordinary men who have led perfectly ordinary lives and, consequently, with horrific effects on wives and family and serving absolutely no public purpose whatsoever. Whatever happened to 'innocent until proven guilty' ? Could it be that to reverse the decision in Roy's case would be far too costly? Think of the compensation payable to the innocent man, including the death of his wife and the traumas of his family. And then think of the libel, slander and defamation actions which he should certainly bring against everyone in sight, including his accusers, their lawyers, the police and even the jury etc. And if the State have already paid out 'compensation' to the so called 'victims' - the total bill, plus legal costs, could cost the taxpayer a million or so. And that's just for one case. What does the Appeal Court think of that? (I think we may already know).
George
London

How can a country which prides itself on its judicial system have come to this?
E. Lee
Liverpool

My husband was in a care home and he was abused. Although the incidents took place more than 20 years ago he was interviewed by police and a psychologist. The information extracted by them was immense and it does explain certain quirks in his character. He is obsessed with keeping our kids on the straight and narrow, so they do not have to endure what he did.
K Sigsworth
Germany

Your programme brought out some of the features about this subject, but as someone who has been accused of the terrible crime and been on the receiving end of this 'Witch Hunt' I feel for all those innocent people that have been persecuted, hounded and found guilty by what can only be described as pure fabrication brought about and fuelled by the offer of state and press money, it certainly made me lose faith in 'British Justice' and has left me ashamed to even call myself British. In your programme I feel for those trying to prove their innocence especially when our entire constitution is founded on being innocent until proven guilty.
Lionel
Preston, Lancs

As an ex care worker who is currently waiting trial for similar allegations the programme very much hit home. Thank you for presenting it to the nation, hopefully, politicians etc will take note.
Anon
Doncaster

I was horrified to discover that our legal system can convict someone on such unsatisfactory evidence as this. I hope the BBC will continue to campaign on his behalf.
Tony Dixon
Scunthorpe

I would just like to congratulate you on an excellent programme. People are so disgusted by child abuse, that often people just presume suspects are guilty. It was good to show the other side to the crimes. By the end of the programme I was in tears. My message to the family is to hang on in there. Hopefully justice will prevail.
Rebecca Aspinall
Oxford

Clearly the evidence against Mr. Shuttleworth is seriously flawed. Sadly we seem to have a system that panics at this type of allegation and loses sight of truth, honesty and integrity. All of us working with children fear the day this sort of malicious accusation is met against us.
J. Tennant
Edinburgh

I think the programme was very courageous in highlighting a very important and dangerous side effect of the recent increase in concern about abuse in the former care system. That increase is right and important, in itself, but it should not have come, as it seems to have, at any price.

The programme did not give the impression that all people who make allegations are liars

Trevor, Wimbledon
I don't think Rossy is right in saying the programme was a "denial of abuse", I clearly understood from it that abuse DID occur in these homes - as Anon of Exeter pointed out, people like Alan Langshaw confessed. The question is, why didn't the others convicted in Operation Granite confess? Could it have been because they were innocent? The programme did not give the impression that all people who make allegations are liars, as Michelle of Liverpool suggests, but what do you think of someone who gives evidence against Roy Shuttleworth in one trial and then gives EXACTLY the same evidence against someone else in another trial? I do not think you can blame Panorama or, indeed Roy Shuttleworth and his family for "undermining the attempts of the formerly abused" to bring their sufferings to light as Paul Steele suggests - that honour goes to those people who HAVE jumped on the bandwagon and made false allegations. Nor does the programme "discredit prosecution evidence" as Darren Chamberlain thinks, when you examine it, the evidence (and the way in which the police collected it) discredits itself. There is no black and white in this subject. There is no doubt some abuse occurred, but there is doubt it occurred on the scale previous, rather hysterical, press reports have suggested. We are all worse off because, it seems, unscrupulous people are prepared to make false allegations - our justice system is damaged, innocent people have gone to prison, true victims of abuse are going to find it harder now to find justice and the rest of us, as taxpayers, seem to have paid out on a big con trick. The police, CPS and certain solicitors had a duty to consider all this before they launched the trawling cases, sadly, its too late now. Incidentally, Paul Steele of Edinburgh, speaking as a lawyer, I can tell you that prosecution witnesses in England don't need solicitors, so don't use that as a justification for compensation claims.
Trevor
Wimbledon

My Uncle is currently serving 3 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, which is virtually identical to the events reported in the most recent Panorama programme. His trial was attended by at least a dozen "thugs" in support of the witnesses and accusers. The Police questioning prior to the trial was a witch hunt and the legal system has badly failed on this occasion to identify the true facts and events that would still have my Uncle free from the crimes for which he was convicted THAT HE DID NOT COMMIT! As reported in the Programme, the "accusers" were already serving time in Her Majesty's Pleasure, two in the same establishment. Doesn't take a genius to work out what they had been talking about during their time "inside" does it?
Kevin Jones
Hampshire

It would pay every parent or carer to read Dr Roland C Summit (1983)- "The Child Abuse Accommodation, Syndrome" in Child Abuse and Neglect vol 7 pp177-193. This is used as a seminal text by child savers in the U.S.A and Britain. Summit suggests that a child must be literally forced by repeated coercive questions to "remember" abuse once suspicion is generated by any means. It is also worth considering that the NSPCC has close connections with the controversial Kemp institute in Denver Colorado which has pioneered many dangerous and improper investigative techniques. Also this society played a leading role in propagating the American fundamentalist lead Satanism Scare in this Country.
David Dickinson
Dudley

A friend was falsely accused of abuse by 4 young men. He is now languishing in gaol, and because of lack of legal aid, it seems that an appeal is a very long term option. He worked for a voluntary youth organisation, which distanced itself from him, instead of providing top class legal support. All young men involved were known to have discussed the compensation they would receive. The police seemed intent on proving guilt rather than investigating impartially. Because he will not agree to a guilty plea, he cannot attend rehabilitation and therefore is considered a danger to his family and the community. What nonsense!
Gwyneth Rees

I feel desperately sorry for Roy Shuttleworth and his family. With the evidence against him he should not have been put in prison.
Don Davis
Isle of Man


To admit guilt to gain parole is a travesty of justice

Peter Bryant, Chippenham
I cannot believe that in a modern society that an individual has to attend courses to gain parole. If he has served his time and has behaved he should be treated as any other person behind bars who has behaved well and given parole purely for this. To admit guilt to gain parole is a travesty of justice. This man has lost his wife, lost his freedom, left two children without a father and has been dealt a raw deal by our legal system. On the subject of those who accuse him it is clear that they took sums of money purely for their own gain and thought nothing of this unfortunate carer. I wish that I was in a position to be able to help him more than just by expressing words. Where have we as a society gone wrong? Everything good gets criticised and everything bad gets applauded. I was pleased to hear a person he had cared for stand up for him and I hope in all sincerity he will be released to spend a few last years with his family. I think that Panorama should be applauded for bringing such travesties of justice before the viewing audience. Well done!
Peter Bryant
Chippenham, UK

My husband is currently in prison having been wrongly convicted of indecent assault. Prior to the case coming to court the 'victims' were announcing what they were going to spend their compensation on. My daughters have been deprived of their Dad for almost three years so far because of the greed of this group of friends. We'll go on fighting until his name is cleared.
E Williams
Cardiff

Your programme shows the dangers of a money obsessed culture. I know a man not guilty of the same type of crime who was charged, printed on front page headlines then cleared but is still not free of suspicion due to the judge stating that the result of the case should not be published.
P A Smith
Sunderland

Following your programme I was heartbroken because of the miscarriage of justice carried out against Mr Shuttleworth. For several years I was in a children's home from the age of 6 and found love and affection from certain members of staff. This helped me enormously to get through this difficult period in my life. To find that those people who we all have to trust like Mr Shuttleworth can be convicted of such a heinous crime without any evidence is not only immoral but an affront to justice. The facts as reported in your programme speak for themselves. To find that the evidence of such a low life and a questionable police investigation, has put Mr Shuttleworth and his family in such a position deserves a re-trial based on the evidence that your programme has broadcasted. Please be assured of my full support.
Tina Watkinson
Derby

Although the idea, when I mention it among lawyers, goes down like a lead balloon, I believe there ought to be a statutory time limit on prosecutions where adults allege that they were sexually abused as children. Under the influence of today's compensation culture the law, as it stands, has developed into a scoundrels' charter. Clearly, children can be intimidated into silence, but the idea that the abused remain frozen into inaction for 20, 30 or, in one case I have encountered recently, 40 years is absurd. It would be reasonable, and would provide some protection for the innocent, if prosecutions were only permitted where charges are laid within two years of the alleged victim having attained the age of majority (i.e. eighteen).
Allan Horsfall
Bolton

Alarm bells started ringing years ago when it seemed that every child in every care home in the country was a victim of sexual abuse.

I think everyone over the years has become conditioned to this 'children must be believed, children tell no lies' culture

Colin, Manchester
OK, some have been abused but like the programme pointed out others are just jumping on the compensation bandwagon, or completely fabricating a story for various reasons. I think everyone over the years has become conditioned to this 'children must be believed, children tell no lies' culture.
Colin
Manchester

Thank you for having the courage to broadcast this excellent programme which highlighted this terrible miscarriage of justice. I can see from the vast number of emails here that there are similar mistakes being made by juries all over the country. I am familiar with a case in South Wales which is extremely similar to Roy Shuttleworth's. The same flawed trawling technique has been used, again compensation is encouraging people to give false evidence, and the authorities are not being thorough enough in their efforts to ensure that the accused remain innocent until proven guilty. Well done Panorama.
Andrew Gower
Oxon

Roy Shuttleworth may very well be innocent and, if so, the injustice he has experienced along with the injustice suffered by victims of child sexual is the result of an inadequate and sometimes corrupt criminal justice system. I could not help feeling that the lawyers on both sides were exploiting the events and the usual comments from academics who so glibly point out the faults in the system (invariably in retrospect) yet have nothing to offer by way of solutions. Comments already published demonstrate the difficulty in getting to the truth and also having people believe accept and understand what is a public health epidemic. Panorama has done an excellent job in recent weeks in highlighting the issues around child sexual abuse but the public need more information. Professionals must be challenged to tell the truth and give full information. The Home Office states that there are 110,000 convicted child sex abusers in England and Wales.

It is the professionals who have perpetuated the myths in our society about child sexual abuse

Leslie Bedell, Toomebridge
Professionals and organisations such as the NSPCC claim that only around 2% of paedophiles are detected and convicted. If the 110,000 convicted represent the 2% then assuming the vast majority of paedophiles are males, and assuming that around half of the population of 50 million is male then simple mathematics would indicate that around one in five males are child sex offenders. The public are hardly likely to believe this but that is precisely what our academics are suggesting. We must bring facts instead of hysteria to the debate and sadly it is the professionals who have perpetuated the myths in our society about child sexual abuse. By contrast the media has done a sterling job in raising public awareness albeit sometimes sensationally but if that is what it takes to eradicate this epidemic then so be it.
Leslie Bedell
Toomebridge

The Panorama programme highlighted a massive miscarriage of justice which brings shame on the British police and judicial system. All of those working with young people should be aware that they, too, stand in extreme danger of being falsely accused. Police trawling methods inevitably result in the conviction of the innocent as well as the guilty and this cannot be acceptable in a civilised society. Because the accusations date from many years ago and specific dates are not given it is almost impossible for the accused to demonstrate their innocence by establishing an alibi. Thus serious miscarriages of justice are inevitable. Do not enter the teaching or caring professions in the present climate. If you are already in, get out now and hope that you are not named in a trawling operation. If you are known as 'kind' or 'caring' be particularly afraid. Your very decency will be turned against you and misrepresented as 'softening up' your 'victims' and 'ingratiating' yourself with them. Try not to stand out or your name will be remembered - your popularity could prove your downfall. Ensure that you can account for every minute of every day ten years or more ago and have evidence to support this. If you cannot do that then you are likely to be left, like Mr Shuttleworth and many others, to rot in prison. It is essential that this method of police investigation is halted immediately whilst a public inquiry is held into the manner in which these allegations are solicited. Mr Shuttleworth and all those decent, hard-working and innocent people who suffer in prison should be released immediately and the behaviour and motives of those who put them there should be held up to public scrutiny.
Sue Wiseman
Liverpool

My husband worked in residential care for 4 years, 15 years ago. He has had a false accusation made against him, only one, and to ensure that there was no foundation to it 16 women at the home at the same time as my husband were interviewed by the Police. He was lucky, no one corroborated the original allegation. Lucky, not because he had done anything, but lucky because the chances of another person making up stories encouraged by the lure of compensation are extremely high. The CPS have said they are not pursuing the case, but he has had an unsatisfactory letter from the Police saying that if more allegations are ever made this allegation will be reviewed. My husband and I are fortunate, he hasn't been suspended( he still works in social services), and his ordeal after 9 months is nearly over. To be accused of something that you haven't done is the most damaging of actions. We are trying to make accountable all those involved in this process, the accuser, the Police, the NSPCC and the Social Services Dept. Those making false allegations only add to the misery of those that have truly suffered abuse. Thank you for making the programme.
Anon

I have just gone through the mails & counted 8 support groups/websites for the "wrongly accused", only one for victims ... Speaks for itself ... what hope do we have of ever being believed when the paedophiles are so well organised - have so many groups of sheep who believe them no matter what...!!! I think you show a lot more of the mail from victims ... I know a lot has been sent but am still waiting to see any of it posted ...
CJ
IW

Does this case not highlight the problem of people not even wishing or indeed daring to go into the caring profession for fear of falling foul to false accusations.
Dr John Matcheson
Peterborough

We seem to have lost sight of the basic tenet that an accused person is "innocent until proven guilty" - Shuttleworth is having to prove innocence. I am somewhat shattered that persons in high profile contact with children are so open to guilty verdicts on the basis of accusation alone. The case MUST be reviewed, or every swimming instuctor,care worker or persons who ever are left in a 1-1 situation with a child, for however a short a time,will be open to ruination by accusation alone.
Dr Trevor Plunkett
Norwich


The system the police use in these cases is deeply flawed

R Knights, Suffolk
As a relative of a man accused of the similar crimes highlighted in this programme, serving a 15yr sentence and who maintain his innocence and refusing rehabilitation and forfeiting his chance of parole. What can an innocent man do? The system the police use in these cases is deeply flawed and all the cases brought under this system should be looked at by an independent body. Our thoughts are for the Shuttleworth Family and other families in this position.
R Knights
Suffolk

Roy Shuttleworth is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other innocent men have been convicted or are facing trial on just the same "evidence" garnered by the police trawls. The Home Secretary must look into the methods used in these trawls and should suspend all ongoing investigations until we are assured that the police are investigating complaints and not looking for a crime that may or may not have been committed. It should be pointed out that compensation is awarded for complaints made and investigated by the police not on conviction of the accusers and that as pointed out by Richard Webster in his book "the great children's home scandal" that the tariff of compensation available is freely available. When the German authorities began to refuse compensation claims until a conviction arising from a complaint was secured the level of complaints of abuse dropped by 90%. It is an unfortunate fact that there were genuine cases of abuse within homes and that genuine abusers should be tracked down and punished but the scatter gun approach taken by the police, who seem eager to believe that all care workers were abusers will only result in yet more false accusations and wrongful imprisonments. This must be stopped NOW.
Kate Jones
Scalford

Thank you for such a clear and well presented programme. I know another dedicated teacher who has been accused and has had this hanging over him and his family for months. I am firmly convinced that he is innocent and that the accusations are motivated by the hope of gaining compensation. In any other area of justice the accusers would never have been given any credence. The accusations were full of discrepancies and the corroboration by volume is fatally floored. A lie is still a lie even if told by more than one person. I hope this programme will make the police and more importantly, the politicians look at this method of investigation again.
Lynda Dicks
Bristol

I watched your programme last night and work for an organisation which currently has many members of staff under investigation.

Let's hope that more people are now informed of the injustices that we the carers and teachers are facing

Anon, Southport
Our morale is extremely low as earlier this year one of our former colleagues was imprisoned even though the judge had directed the jury to find him not guilty. We do not deny that there have been incidents of abuse but find it difficult to believe in justice when we know of at least ten innocent people who have been imprisoned. For a long time many women have thought that they would not receive charges against them - WRONG, women are just as vulnerable. I applaud your programme, let's hope that more people are now informed of the injustices that we the carers and teachers are facing and could well be facing for many years to come.
Anon
Southport

Regarding payments to claimants of sexual abuse. I have no way of knowing if these claims are true. But what I do know is that in giving claimants the hope of financial reward we are encouraging false claims. It is criminally naïve to deny this. Or should be made so, as false accusations of such heinous crimes are an even greater crime, as also is conspiracy to this effect.
Ryan
Birmingham

I have no doubts that the care system had some "rotten apples" but what we are seeing now amounts to nothing more than a witch hunt. And the driving force behind it all is money. As a former care worker I am absolutely devastated to find former colleagues charged, tried and even sent to jail for "crimes" I know they did not commit. I have spoken to former residents who have admitted their former friends are making false allegations but the police do not want to know and the charges still stand. I feel that if this sort of police investigation is allowed to carry on we will be on the verge of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice this country has ever seen.
J.Allan
Tarleton

Psychometric testing is generally used to test the suitability of an individual to undertake specific tasks as in employment. Tests will highlight character traits and attitudes required for particular jobs. As there are no right or wrong answers in these tests I wonder how the prosecution solicitor could be so adamant that the alleged victims were telling the truth on the strength of these tests.
Mr Jan Hudson
Petts Wood

The programme very clearly raised the issue of the involvement of the lawyer Peter Garsden and the role potential compensation played in the furtherance of police enquiries and a subsequent prosecution. Was this issue raised with the Law Society or the appropriate professional body? If not should it not have been?
Derek Crabtree
Canterbury

I am a former resident of Greystone Heath and a plaintiff in the action. I was not sexually abused fortunately, however, I am 100% sure that sexual abuse was prevelant. Alan Langshaw, Denis Grain and Frank Beck all confessed. The regime was brutal and those who are now imprisoned were the gaolers of children.

Most of the opinions expressed are rather shallow and obviously have absolutely no insight into the realities of the abuse that occured in care in the 70's

Anon, Exeter
Many were kept unnecessarily at Greystone and abusers wrote reports to ensure that victims would never leave. What I find most disturbing about your programme, is not just the obvious bias, which will damage our case for justice, but moreso the lack of response from residents of the home on your website. I feel sure that many of the victims would have watched this documentary and if so, why are their views not being represented??? I appeal to your conscience to publish the views of Greystone Heath residents/victims and not just to present the veiwpoints that will endorse your programme. Most of the opinions expressed are rather shallow and obviously have absolutely no insight into the realities of the abuse that occured in care in the 70's. I have an honours degree in sociology and spent over 4 painful years in Greystone Heath. I confess that I shed no tears for Shuttleworth as he was brutal. Furthermore he may now understand how we felt as many of us were incarcerated unfairly or unnecessarily by him and his co-workers, which destroyed our lives and those of our families. Shuttleworth showed us no mercy and enjoyed the finacial benefits of a well paid career at locking up children for many years.
Anonymous
Exeter

I am just 18, and the Shuttleworth case has made such a huge impact on me. This case is proof that there are severe inadequacies in the British judicial system. I'm sure there are many people who also wish to extend the hand of friendship and support to the families involved.
K Rowden
Hillingdon

I grew up in a children's home and totally disagree with your findings. It is possible to take a child from a room without others being woken. It is possible for a child to be left behind in the shower/bathroom. I have also known children to run away from a locked institution, escaping through a window which opens no wider than the one you claim the boy couldn't possible have got out of? Your main argument suggests that because these boys then went on to lead a life of crime that their testimony is automatically suspect.

Paedophilia was endemic throughout 60/70/80's in government run institutions and what happened to the children is only now being exposed

Rossy
I find this extremely stereotypical and completely unjust. It makes good television for those who were fortunate in leading normal family lives and who have no understanding of what it is like growing up in such an institution. What is a child abuser, if not a good father, a good husband, an upstanding member of society. Nowhere in your programme did you point out that so many children in care were abused because they were captive, they could not get away, and because of the various reasons they were in care. Just because a child then turns to crime does not make what they say untrue, even if the story changes slightly. Furthermore it is totally credible for someone not to report an incident during childhood in an institution until much later in life as it can take many years, sometimes to remember clearly, sometimes just to come to terms with what happened. It is also more probable for other children around to deny they saw or knew of anything as they do not want to be associated with the molester in such a way, as it could affect the life they have now built. To have another member of staff corroborate a situation is not evidence. Paedophilia was endemic throughout 60/70/80's in government run institutions and what happened to the children is only now being exposed. Growing up in care was tough enough without the abuse that went on. I have first-hand experience of this and find nothing in your programme persuasive enough to make me believe that these children were not abused as they state. Just because they went from care into crime (which seems to be your only argument and defence of this convicted molester) does not, I repeat, does not make them liars and the abuse fiction. I am very upset that you spent a good 60% of the programme stressing the fact that these now grown men are emotionally unstable and criminals. What does that have to do with being abused. Many abused people do have emotional problems whose reality is slightly different from the norm. Many children who are bought up in care tend to be the same. None of which makes the molester 'not guilty'. I found the programme totally biased and challenge you to give me one piece of corroborative evidence that these boys were not molested.
Rossy

The evidence in this case as presented by the programme clearly leave serious doubt about the conviction of Roy Shuttleworth. He should be released immediately and I trust that the BBC will not let this matter rest.
David E. Blick
Birmingham

A thoroughly moving and well-reserched programme. It is both interesting and disturbing to note that the original police investagation did not unearth key fringe witnesses in what can only be described as a witch-hunt.
Jamie Batten
London

As a man who has lived through abuse, I find the idea of compensation disgusting. Money does not help the true victim - only real justice.
Mr G Naylor
Darlington

The case of Roy Shuttleworth is familiar. I am aware of 92 staff from one school who are being investigated, a number already have been charged, two have been convicted. Some of the charges go back more than 30 years.The trawling methods used are contrary to British justice as is the acceptance of corroboration by volume. The availability of compensation calls into question the integrity of these accusations. There should be an immediate investigation into Mr Shuttleworth's case and the cases of others who have been convicted in a similar manner.
Veronica Ward
Rossendale

I congratulate Panorama on highlighting malicious accusations of abuse.

Many people are now turning away from the caring professions for fear of malicious accusations of abuse

Kate Sumner, Preston
The 'compensation culture' in our society has clearly become corrupted and innocent people's lives destroyed. The collusion between solicitors and police to obtain evidence is tantamount to a witch hunt - destroying the lives of innocent people who have devoted their lives to the welfare of others. Many people are now turning away from the caring professions for fear of malicious accusations of abuse. I would urge people to write to their M.P. to request that Mr. Shuttleworth's case be re-examined as quickly as possible.
Kate Sumner
Preston

Congratulations to Panorama for bringing to light what is unfortunately becoming a common situation among those who have dedicated their lives to caring for children. The story of Roy Shuttleworth and his false conviction is one that rings true for many innocent people who have been accused of child abuse, and yet have no means of defending themselves. More people need to be aware of what is going on and how the legal system in this country is failing innocent people. The sooner there is an appeal into the case of Roy Shuttleworth and other allegations are fully investigated, the better.
Suzie Gilhooly
London

After watching tonight's Panorama, it brings to mind images of the witch trials of the 1600s and anti-communism in the McCarthy era. The fear of being seen to support paedophilia is such that if enough people shout 'witch', fair minded people turn away and the accused are left to prove their innocence. It's really is 'ducking stool justice' guilty if you survive, dead if you don't. How do you do prove innocence when the only evidence against you is a a small number of people pointing the finger at you. I defy anybody to be able to say what they were doing say 15 years ago in any level of detail. After the high profile miscarriages of justice over the last 10 years, the scale of this could destroy any faith a significant number of people have in the British justice system. I can only extend my sympathy to Mr Shuttleworths family and friends and that of any others in a similar position.
Steve Graham
Edinburgh


Innocent peoples' lives are ruined by false allegations and promises of compensation

Vyv Chamberlain, Stevenage
I hope these miscarriages of justice get a higher profile now that your programme has highlighted what is actually going on countrywide. Innocent peoples' lives are ruined by false allegations and promises of compensation. If there is no "cap" put on by law to protect those who work with children, there will soon be no-one left to do it for fear of allegations years afterwards. Why can the police get away with such an abuse of process? Surely corrobation by volume should be abolished - true victims of abuse would be believed and rightly compensated through real evidence. There are so many more people who could have contributed to this programme - why concentrate on one childrens home and one family?
Vyv Chamberlain
Stevenage

This programme has confirmed my fears, I know of several good and decent people in my area who have had similar allegations made against them. It is the only crime where you need no evidence. Do other people not find it alarming, the fact that the police go looking for a crime. This should set alarm bells ringing in any decent law abiding person. The programme gave a good, fair and balanced view from the side of the falsely accused. Well Done.
A McMahon
Runcorn

I was depressed after watching the programme. My brother spent 6 weeks in prison, following allegations made by a girl. Unbeknownst to him and his co-worker she had made allegations before and received compensation and he and other staff had heard her on the telephone trying to talk her sister into making further allegations in order to obtain money. After the claim and following my brother's nightmare, she was sent to a foster family, where she then made allegations against them. My brother has not recovered from his ordeal. Following his appeal the case was quashed and the judge said it should never have gone to court but he hasn't recieved any compensation for loss of career, damage to reputation and now finding himself on a register. Isn't there a solocitor/barrister out there willing to help the innocent of these wicked allegations. I just hope that following your programme, there is someone who will act.
Lynne Chapman
Sleaford

I too experienced this situation. I was arrested for gross indecency and after 18 months had a four week trial at Chester crown court where I was acquitted of ABH on two people. However my former collegue was convicted for sexual assaults. I complained re: the investigation, finding proof of "trawling" etc by the police. The "victims" in our case also met before giving evidence in a hotel. All that has been said tonight on your programme is what I and family and supporters have been saying for years. I proved my innocence but others have not been so lucky. I am pleased to see that at long last our story is being heard - but will anything ever be done about it - I doubt it. One of the individuals who made allegations against me admitted in court that he had put in a compensation claim and had lost even before the trail and was going to try again - the judge after hearing that and other comments directed the jury to find me innocent there and then. Even the press reporters and jury cried when I gave evidence and when I was found innocent - the reporters even bought me flowers and said they'd never experienced a trial of injustice like it - how come the police didn't feel like this? I hope that no one else has to go through anything like this but I'm sure that I will only be one of a very large number. Please keep digging and help the innocent of this country.
S Brennan
Stoke on Trent

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