False allegations: a short case study

Justice: weeding out the truth from the lies... well trying to at least

When we think of false allegations the thing that comes to mind, for me at least, is rape.  Everything about sexual offences is controversial.  There are people who believe that false rape allegations are rife and their polar opposites who cannot accept that anybody would ever lie about such a thing.  For what it’s worth, I fall in the middle.  I know that some people lie about being the victim of sexual offences (and all sorts of other offences for that matter) and I also think that most complainants are honest. 

When I say I know some people make false complaints I mean I have acted in two cases where I have no doubt at all that false allegations of sexual assaults were made – I’ve also acted in far more where I believed every word spoken by the victim(s).  But, today’s blog isn’t about sex (sorry if that disappoints you); today is about a false allegation of another type.

I recently advised a man who I am very confident had been the victim of a false allegation that he held a knife to the throat of a woman and threatened to kill her.  The complainant named the suspect saying that she had known him for many years as a neighbour, albeit that they had not had contact for nearly a decade.

Why do I say that this was a false allegation?  Well for a start he had an alibi and not one from his mum!  His alibi is that he was home awaiting a delivery and the delivery slot has been confirmed by the delivery company.  My second reason is that the complainant has made multiple false allegations against this man in the past and has been convicted of wasting police time after she falsely claimed he had a gun, causing armed police to kick in the door of the home he shares with his partner and children.

The frustrating thing is that there isn’t very much the police can do to help this man.  As the officer said, the police cannot prove conclusively that the allegation is malicious.  It’s possible that it did happen and the suspect is very convincing; it’s also possible that it never happened.  It might even be that it did happen by the complainant really was threatened but misidentified the suspect.  The police just cannot prove it one way or another.

As a police officer once told me, “people make false complaints to us all the time”.  The real problem for everyone (because any of us might receive a letter on Monday morning requiring us to attend court to sit on a jury) is separating the false complaints from the genuine.


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