The costs of false allegations

Former Eurovision song contest winner Dana is pursuing a landmark prosecution of those who gave false evidence against her brother John Brown. Mr Brown, 61, a father-of-three who works in PR and the music industry, had denied all the claims. Dana who is his older sister, 67, a former Irish presidential candidate, was also accused by the prosecution of covering up her brother’s abuse for more than three decades.

The Metropolitan Police has sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the evidence given by the seven witnesses in 2014 when John Brown was unanimously acquitted of five counts of indecent assault against two girls under the age of 13 and 16.

During the trial, two women alleged that they had been abused at locations in Northern Ireland and England during the 1970’s. Among the flaws in the evidence given by the two women at trial was the fact that one of them was not even in the country at the time of the alleged abuse, and there was also claims of alleged abuse at a property that had not been built at the time.

It is noteworthy that the allegations were only made for the first time when Dana became embroiled in a protracted commercial dispute with others.

The police investigation took three years, Mr Brown was on bail for 773 days, the investigation involved 32 police officers across four different departments and it is estimated it cost £1.5 million of public funds.

Mr Brown had to sell his home and defending the allegations cost him and his family £200,000 and to date he has been unable to recover any of this money.

The charges being considered against the seven include attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury.

Mr Brown said it had been a ‘horrendous experience’ for him and his family, adding that ‘both Dana and I were put on trial.’

The campaign by Dana and Mr Brown to have these prosecutions brought is supported by Sir Cliff Richard and other high profile people against whom false allegations have been made although they were not prosecuted.

If the CPS chooses to prosecute, it will be the first time witnesses in a historical sex abuse case have faced trial for making false accusations, the Sunday Times reported.

It would also increase the pressure to charge the ‘credible and true’ witness known as ‘Nick’, whose claims of a Westminster VIP paedophile ring led to the £2.5m Operation Midland inquiry which collapsed when his evidence was deemed not to be credible.

It is understood that a final decision will be made in the coming weeks.

These events have also been discussed and compared to the case of Kato Harris the teacher recently acquitted of the rape of a 16 year old schoolgirl and have raised questions as to how allegations of sexual abuse, historical and otherwise are being dealt with by the police and CPS.

There can be no doubt that those who face untrue accusations like Mr Brown face huge financial losses trying to defend themselves against such accusations, however, for many, the greatest cost is the loss of good name and reputation and the impact that has on family and personal relationships. That is often a cost that one cannot put a price on.


moohan_sharonv2 Written by Sharon Moohan, partner at BLM

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