Tag Archives: victim

Will Rachel Riley use her drubbing in the Appeal Court to play the victim (AGAIN)?

The arena: Riley v Sivier is now to head back to the Royal Courts of Justice in London for a trial. It seems Riley, who initiated the case, is now trying to get people to see her as a victim of it.

What a reaction to This Writer’s Court of Appeal victory over Rachel Riley!

After a tribunal of judges reinstated my “public interest” defence, it meant the case could go to trial – and the public got behind that idea in a big way.

From Friday afternoon onwards, my Twitter feed has been full of messages of support – thousands of them – offering me support and voicing the authors’ opinions about Ms Riley and her lawsuit. Here are a few examples:

As you can see, a significant proportion of the responses are, at the very least, highly critical of Rachel Riley.

Back when the appeal hearing took place, she also received a high volume of criticism and, only the day after, her husband Pasha Kovalev was in the Mirror saying that it could harm the health of their second child:

Countdown star Rachel, 35, has suffered vile anti-Semitic abuse and told the Mirror this week how trolls have “become part of my daily life”.

Yesterday her name was a trending topic on Twitter, swamped with negative messages.

She has previously told how she became “very stressed and upset” over such abuse while pregnant with first child Maven, now 16 months, adding: “My baby stopped wriggling for a couple of days.”

At the time she blocked trolls, deciding engaging online was “not worth the hormones”.

But now, as the couple expect their second baby in autumn, Pasha is calling out the “acidity” of social media platforms as he fears the same happening again.

There certainly are trolls out there. I have suffered the attentions of some of them, among the mountain of praise I’ve had over the last couple of days. I’m sure Riley has received a number of messages that go beyond reasonable criticism and I certainly do not condone such behaviour. I never have.

But for the sake of clarity, and with no prejudice against Mr Kovalev (whose work on Strictly Come Dancing was much enjoyed by me, and who I understand also does a lot for charity): if Rachel Riley is experiencing the health issues described by the Mirror, as a result of tweets expressing critical opinions in the light of my case, my view is that that has been her choice.

As far as I’m aware, nobody forced her to behave in objectionable ways on Twitter, to such a degree that people have responded harshly in return.

Nobody forced her to sue me.

And nobody is forcing her to persist with her case against me.

As it seems clear that she is pushing ahead with it, then she has made a decision that will attract criticism, and she is perfectly aware of that.

So, in my opinion, if her child’s health is in any way endangered because of her emotional reaction to critical tweets about her court case against me, then that is her responsibility and nobody else’s.

Now, it seems, we are being asked to sympathise with her over the costs she has incurred. I read in some of our favourite right-wing papers this weekend that Riley’s legal bill could exceed £1 million:

Leading defamation lawyer Mark Stephens said Ms Riley is likely to have spent up to £70,000 in her fight so far.

Mr Stephens… added that the star could ultimately spend more than £1million on the case and said a full-scale libel trial ‘as an absolute floor is £500,000’.

He added: ‘If she wins she will get some costs back but she has lost this round so she will have to pay Mike Sivier’s costs and his barrister for the appeal which will be [£15,000] – £20,000.’

I think he’s more or less right about the “absolute floor” cost of the trial. My own costs are creeping up to the £200,000 mark and I know that her lawyers are charging much more than mine (although they appear to be supported by insurance, while I must rely on crowdfunding).

If her legal team is more expensive, then it seems unlikely that she has spent only £70,000 so far. Her legals tried to bill me £27,000 for the strike-out application alone (we objected to this, and my win on Friday is likely to have changed the argument on costs considerably).

But it seems odd to seek public sympathy over the amount she is having to spend. She is a millionaire, by all accounts. I am a carer, writing Vox Political in order to make enough money to scrape a living. Without the support I have received from thousands of people via the CrowdJustice fund, I would not have been able to fight her lawsuit.

And I do still believe that her intention all along was never to go as far as a trial. I think she expected to be able to bankrupt me, solely with the threat of an enormously expensive trial.

So articles like that in the Mail, that seem to be asking for public sympathy over the costs a millionaire is facing in suing a relatively penniless carer… well, they lack credibility, I think.

am still relatively penniless, by the way. I’m not likely to receive any costs payout for winning the appeal because Riley still won much of the strike-out application, and my income declined sharply during the Covid-19 crisis and is only beginning to pick up again now.

You are therefore – as ever – invited to continue donating to my appeal, if and when you can afford it:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

I don’t have armies of reporters in the right-wing media, lining up to provide supportive puff pieces for me.

But the reaction I’ve had this weekend shows I do have the support of thousands upon thousands of people.

As the poem states: we are many; they are few.

And while they may be able to shout louder, and get more attention, they don’t have good arguments. We do.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Rosie Duffield’s DARVO: is she trying to rehabilitate herself by blaming her victims?

Rosie Duffield: she broke lockdown to meet her married lover and had to resign as a Labour whip as a result. Now she’s claiming she is a victim of misogynistic abuse.

Former Labour whip Rosie Duffield is trying to reclaim the moral high ground by playing the victim and we need to reject her.

She has given an interview in The Times in which she claims that she is the victim of misogynistic abuse and death threats over her opinions about anti-Semitism, Brexit and – particularly – transphobia.

The article points to her Commons speech about domestic abuse – for which she received a standing ovation from teary-eyed fellow MPs – as a sign that she’s on the side of the angels.

It doesn’t mention the fact that she broke lockdown in order to commit adultery with a married lover last May. Is her new media appearance an attempt to rehabilitate her image?

Many seem to think so, and the article has triggered a storm on the social media – mostly, it seems to This Writer, between opponents on the transphobia issue.

I stay out of that discussion as much as I can. My personal opinion is that the way a person identifies their gender is nobody’s business but their own.

Nobody should receive death threats for the simple holding of a belief; if their belief is against the law, or encourages people to break the law (especially in violent ways) then there are legal remedies. I wonder whether the Times reporter responsible for the article has seen evidence of such threats, though.

I have seen many tweets like this:

I have also seen t

And then I saw these two…

… and it made sense.

If you check the Metro article, DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender“.

It states: “First you have Deny – that’s pretty self-explanatory. You’ll see the person accused of wrongdoing simply denying that that’s the case; ‘I do not hold those views’, ‘I never said that’, ‘I did not do that bad thing’.

“The Deny stage is where gaslighting starts to come into play, with the person often trying to simply deny someone else’s lived reality. ‘No, that doesn’t happen’, ‘no, you’re making that up’, or ‘that might have happened, but it’s not as bad as you say it is’.

“Then there’s [the] Attack bit. This is when the accused person will turn around the criticism to focus blame on the person calling them out. So let’s say a celebrity was called out by someone on Twitter – they might go into attack mode by accusing that person of just being jealous, or bitter, or a liar.

“Finally, you’ve got the Reverse Victim and Offender stage. This is where things get sneaky and subtle. Suddenly, the accused person will turn things around and say that actually, they’re not guilty of doing something terrible. In fact, they are the ones being treated poorly.

“In this stage, you might see someone introduce their own trauma as an excuse or a distraction tactic. They’ll respond to accusations of racism, for example, with a story about how they faced gender discrimination when they were younger. Or they might focus their statement on how they feel ‘bullied’ by the accusations, so those reading feel that the person who has been called out is actually the victim, facing online abuse rather than being challenged on their actions.”

Metro goes on to give an example that is pertinent to Duffield’s case:

“Let’s say an influential person is accused of transphobia. They issue a response in which they deny that they are transphobic – ‘I love trans people! I have many trans friends!’ – then attack their critics – ‘people saying I’m transphobic are just cruel, hateful people who want to cause division’. Finally, they Reverse Victim and Offender: ‘I’m receiving so much online abuse because I’m a woman and we live in a sexist society’.

“Now, as a critic, you’re stuck. If you continue to call that person out, you’re ‘cruel, hateful and want to cause division’. You’re being sexist. You’re piling on the online abuse.”

Isn’t that exactly what Duffield is trying to do?

Source: Rosie Duffield: ‘It feels like Gilead where women aren’t allowed to ask questions’ | Times2 | The Times

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Coronavirus: where’s the help for domestic abuse victims during lockdown?

Behind closed doors: abusers could be having the time of their life in the lockdown. What is the Tory government doing to protect victims?

Labour’s new Shadow Home Secretary is right on this.

But let’s not be too praising just yet; there has been a lot of concern about domestic abuse victims in the media, after the lockdown was announced. And for a very good reason.

After all, it was – potentially, at least – locking victims in with their abusers for periods of weeks at a time.

The “pressure cooker” effect has created increased demand for charity aid, with helplines and online advice sites raising concern.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has said victims of domestic abuse and child sexual abuse have not been forgotten – but she appears to have done nothing to help them.

What are they supposed to do?

Organisations providing domestic abuse support services during the Covid-19 crisis must get an emergency financial package from the government, the new shadow home secretary has said in his first intervention in the role.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, who was appointed to the shadow cabinet by the new Labour leader Keir Starmer on Sunday, has written to his Conservative counterpart Priti Patel to request funds for organisations that run “frontline” domestic abuse services, as well as to turn underused hotel chains and university halls into emergency accommodation.

Source: Labour urges emergency aid for domestic abuse services | Society | The Guardian

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The Tory government has refused to lift the Bedroom Tax from victims of domestic abuse

He laughed: Remember, Iain Duncan Smith laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. His Department for Work and Pensions later lost the case in the European Court of Human Rights but we should never forget that he and the other Tories thrive on terrorising vulnerable people.

The Tory government has confirmed that it will not lift the Bedroom Tax from victims of domestic violence, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was an act of discrimination.

A cross-party group of MPs had written to demand that the government should lift the Bedroom Tax from such people.

The letter, signed by 44 MPs, was organised by Labour’s Stella Creasy and follows a decision by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Tory government had imposed the Bedroom Tax on a rape victim who had been given a panic room as part of a “sanctuary” scheme, but the ECHR had ruled that this was an act of discrimination as it meant she would be unable to afford to rent the property.

Full details are here.

According to the BBC:

44 MPs have written to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey urging her “to take immediate action on this life and death matter.

“The application of the ‘bedroom tax’ to Sanctuary Schemes clearly undermines this aim.

“So too, seeking to encourage people to leave their homes for smaller ones as this policy does, is also in conflict with the aim of Sanctuary Schemes – which are designed to enable those at risk of domestic violence to remain in their homes safely.

“We call on the government to act now and create an exemption for this very vulnerable group.”

Last week, the DWP said it was “carefully considering the court’s decision”.

But now we’re being told: “The government said there were no plans to abolish its policy on the removal of the spare room subsidy.

“It said the policy helped contain ‘growing housing benefit expenditure’, strengthens work incentives and makes better use of available social housing.”

So it’s still all about the money: the Tories are ignoring the courts to continue persecuting victims of violence and rape – and putting their lives in danger. Think about that!

Source: MPs oppose ‘bedroom tax’ being applied to domestic abuse survivors – BBC News

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Windrush victims may be unhappy but Philip Rutnam was right to quit over MP bullying

Sir Philip Rutnam: he was contractually obliged to carry out the orders of the Tory government; he didn’t make those orders.

The Guardian has published a comment piece criticising Sir Philip Rutnam for his decision to quit as permanent secretary – de facto boss of civil servants – at the Home Office over bullying by Priti Patel.

Columnist Amelia Gentleman reports that some consider it offensive that, by contrast, he could preside over – for example – the “hostile environment” that led to the Windrush Scandal with no concerns.

The criticism is understandable, but wide of the mark because of one fundamental point:

Civil servants put into effect the decisions of Parliament. They do not have a say in those decisions.

So Sir Philip had to enact the policies of David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson that created the “hostile environment”, Windrush and all the other scandals because, as a civil servant, he had no choice.

Ms Gentleman suggests that he should have spoken up to get the Tories to change the harsh – racist, in my opinion – policies that they were ordering him to carry out. But who says he didn’t?

That would have been a private discussion that he or his officers would have had with the relevant Tory MPs. We would not have been told about it because civil servants put into effect the decisions of Parliament.

The decisions of Parliament, of course, are mostly dictated by the government of the day, and we have a Tory government.

And who has been able to persuade a Tory to change their mind?

But leading civil servants do have a duty to protect their subordinates and themselves from mistreatment.

So, if the allegations are correct, Sir Philip was right to highlight that civil servants in his department, including himself, had been mistreated by Home Secretary Priti Patel; to point out that this behaviour apparently had the support of the prime minister; and to take legal action over it.

It might be an uncomfortable fact, but a fact is what it is.

If you’re angry about a government policy, don’t blame the civil service for it.

Blame the government you elected.

Source: Victims of the Windrush scandal have little time for complaints about bullying at the Home Office | Amelia Gentleman | Opinion | The Guardian

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Humiliation for DWP after years-long Bedroom Tax bid to persecute a rape victim

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. The man thrives on terrorising others.

I said it defied belief when this story first broke.

And I said it was sickening when, hearing of the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’, Iain Duncan Smith laughed.

Well, it seems the last laugh is on him.

This is a story that began in 2014 – the DWP has been torturing a rape victim for five years.

The woman, resident in a three-bedroom property with her 11-year-old son, has been the victim of rape, assault, harassment, stalking and threats to kill at the hands of her former partner.

Her council home was fitted with a secure panic room to protect her from this violent man.

A women’s refuge charity spent thousands of pounds at her property reinforcing window frames and the front door and making the back garden more secure. A panic space was installed, with alarms linked to the police station.

Then Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions imposed the bedroom tax on it, claiming it was a spare room.

The woman’s housing benefit was reduced by 14 per cent because of the bedroom tax policy.

Hers was among almost one in 20 households benefiting from similar sanctuary schemes for people at risk of severe domestic violence that have been affected by the under-occupancy penalty.

Unable to afford her rent with the added burdn of the under-occupancy charge, the woman was facing eviction when Labour raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions. Then-incumbent David Cameron said money was available for people in such a predicament.

And Mr Duncan Smith? He laughed about it. He thought it was funny that a woman who had been raped was being turfed out of her sanctuary against further violation.

The lady concerned – who has only ever been identified as ‘A’ – took the DWP to court – and won. The Court of Appeal ruled that the imposition of the bedroom tax was unlawful and discriminatory.

So the DWP appealed against the decision in order to force her to pay the charge anyway – or be evicted.

And the Supreme Court – to its shame – allowed it.

So the case ended up before the European Court of Human Rights*, challenging the breach of A’s rights and “other vulnerable women whose lives are at risk”.

Almost three years after her Supreme Court humiliation, judges ruled that the benefit cut discriminated against a domestic violence victim who was forced to pay extra for her panic room.

The UK’s Tory government has been ordered to pay the woman 10,000 Euros (£8,600) for the “damage she suffered”. If only it could come from Iain Duncan Smith’s salary.

Lawyers have now demanded the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) act to help almost 300 women estimated to be in a similar situation.

Clearly, considering the length of time it has taken to resolve this case, nobody should hold their breath waiting.

All the way back in 2014, Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “On average two women every week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Protecting abused women and their children is a matter of life and death, and we should always remember this.”

Iain Duncan Smith couldn’t care less at the time, and none of his successors have shown any change in attitude since.

Isn’t it time we stopped them from abusing anybody else?

Source: DWP Bedroom Tax dealt defeat in European Court of Human Rights – Mirror Online

*Not to be confused with the EU’s European Court of Justice.

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Tory rules try to push victims of domestic violence back into the hands of their abusers

We always knew Theresa May’s “hostile environment” extended to more people than immigrants and EU nationals.

She doesn’t like people from broken homes either. Perhaps it’s her puritanical, daughter-of-a-vicar blood.

Mrs May would prefer it if people – mostly women, of course – who suffer domestic abuse would suffer in silence, rather than burdening the Department for Work and Pensions with annoying claims for benefits.

Annoyingly – for her – the morals of the age require her government to present the appearance of one that cares when people come to harm.

So the DWP has devised a wealth of rules designed to make it seem it is doing its best for victims, while in fact keeping them in poverty and pain.

Alex Tiffin lists some of them on his Universal Credit Sufferer website:

There’s an entire page on getting help if you’re a victim of domestic abuse on the DWP website.

On the page it lists certain conditions, yes conditions, victims must meet.

They include;

“You will need written evidence from a person acting in an official capacity showing that:

  • your circumstances are consistent with those of a person who has had domestic violence or abuse inflicted, or threatened, upon them, during the 6 months prior to you notifying
  • you have made contact with the person acting in an official capacity to tell them about any incidents that have occurred in the past 6 months

“You must provide your evidence to Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible but no later than one calendar month after you first told us about the domestic violence and abuse.”

So a victim of domestic abuse not only has to open up to work coach about their abuse, then they get asked for proof?

The requirements do not end there. Once they’ve decided to accept that you have been a victim, you MAY be allowed a 13 week break from looking for work, but only if you satisfy the next set of criteria.

The most notable of them being,

“you have not had a 13 week break from work-related requirements as a result of previous domestic violence within the last 12 months”.

In some cases of domestic violence, the victim may return to their abuser. This is well known and it’s hard to think the DWP wouldn’t have known this.

This means a benefit claimant who’s endured repeated abuse, just has to battle on because they’ve been unfortunate enough to be abused twice in a year.

The simple fact is that life on benefits is appallingly hard – the Conservatives have deliberately made it so.

The system means survival is slightly easier for couples (at least, that has been This Writer’s experience) – and it is entirely possible that domestic abuse victims, in the impossible situation of being unable to find paying work and unable to survive under the cruel conditions of Universal Credit, end up believing they have no choice other than to return to their abuser.

Once there, DWP rules say they must stay for at least a year – no matter what abuse they suffer.

Some might even die.

But that’s why it’s called a “hostile environment”, you see.

The DWP won’t care because the death of a claimant is listed as a “positive benefit outcome”.

Information on where abuse victims can get genuine help is available in the Universal Credit Sufferer article.

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Tories deny benefits to rape victim – and distract themselves with Christmas inanities

While vulnerable people suffer because of their policies, the Tories are discussing whether mince pies are better than pigs in blankets.

See this?

Perhaps it’s what passes for humour in the Conservative Party, when their government is being caught treating rape victims in an inhuman way.

I refer to the case of a woman who was kidnapped and raped while backpacking in Australia. She was held for two months and her captor was only caught after an incident at a Queensland petrol station when she left without paying. Staff alerted the authorities and he was found in a secret compartment in the boot.

The victim had to stay in Australia for the trial, meaning it was more than a year before she returned to the UK.

When she got back, the Tory government forced her to take a habitual residence test – and failed her, for reasons which have not been divulged.

As a result, the Department for Work and Pensions refused to pay her any benefits and she was left with nothing.

Her case has only come up for reconsideration after Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft raised the matter in Parliament.

Tory minister for women Victoria Atkins said she was very concerned to hear of the case – but the DWP acts according to rules laid down by the Tory government.

And while the investigation continues, according to the Conservative Party’s official Twitter feed, the “all-important” question this Christmas is whether mince pies are better than pigs in blankets.

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Torture survivors were wrongly imprisoned – but that’s no surprise with Amber Rudd

Yarls Wood immigration Removal centre in Clapham near Bedford in Bedfordshire [Image: Sean Dempsey/PA Images via Getty Images].

The Home Office does not intend to appeal against the court’s decision – but what does that mean, with Amber ‘Lock-Em-Up’ Rudd in charge?

Ms Rudd has already come under fire for failing to release an asylum-seeker who had been tortured in a Libyan prison – a valid definition of torture, even under the Home Office’s now-discredited Adults At Risk policy.

A court order was made for Ms Rudd to release that person but she ignored it. The Home Office then failed to provide written reasons for failing to comply with the order.

So – moving on to the current case – why would anybody believe the Home Office would act on a High Court ruling, even after saying it would not challenge the verdict?

Torture survivors have won a High Court challenge against the Home Office over policy which saw asylum seekers fleeing persecution wrongly locked up in immigration detention centres.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the Home Office policy “lacked a rational or evidence basis” and wrongly allowed many who had been tortured overseas to be imprisoned.

The Adults at Risk policy, introduced in September 2016, had redefined torture to refer to violence carried out only by official state agents.

The charity Medical Justice and seven former immigration centre detainees argued the legal definition was too narrow.

The detainees included victims of sexual and physical abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation, homophobic attacks, a child abused by loan sharks and a young man kidnapped and abused by the Taliban. The Home Office’s narrowed definition of torture excluded the seven from being recognised as torture victims.

The judge stated that the definition of “torture” intended for use in the policy would require medical practitioners to “reach conclusions on political issues which they cannot rationally be asked to reach”.

Source: Torture Survivors Were Wrongly Imprisoned, High Court Rules


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Will YOU be a second-class crime victim after Tory cuts reduce police numbers again?

Hard to say goodbye: But cuts to police numbers, driven by the Conservative Party, will have a harsh impact on crimefighting [Image: Banksy].

The Tories will be salivating about this, because it brings their dream of private policing closer.

If your chances of having a crime investigated personally by police officers are cut because you’re not elderly, don’t have learning difficulties or can’t speak English well (this will really rub the racists the wrong way), wouldn’t you want to pay for your law enforcement – if you’re rich enough?

Meanwhile the rest of us can look forward to increasing lawlessness as criminals realise that we are at their mercy (and they don’t have any).

That’s a situation that unscrupulous politicians and employers can use to their advantage, of course. I’m sure you can work out the ways.

Police have admitted that they will run into “difficult areas” as the planned new “triage” system comes into force.

My heart bleeds.

Some of us may find ourselves living in “difficult areas”, thanks to these cuts.

And let’s not forget, there is absolutely no reason for policing to be cut at all.

The Tory talk for the last seven years – that there is no money, has long since been exposed as a lie.

Remember that, when you dial 999 only to be told that nobody is available to help you.

Police will increasingly have to prioritise whom they respond to in person as budget cuts bite deeper and deeper over the next few years, a senior officer in the country’s largest force has said.

The Met police’s deputy commissioner, Craig Mackey, said Scotland Yard would probably have to concentrate on the more vulnerable as the number of officers at its disposal fell.

He said elderly people, as well as people with learning difficulties and those who did not have a strong grasp of English, would be more likely to be assessed as in need of a face-to-face visit from an officer.

He added that certain types of crime, such as burglaries, would usually elicit a response in person. With cases such as vehicle crime, however, the vulnerability of the victim was likely to be taken into account.

Source: Met police cuts will mean fewer face-to-face visits, says senior officer | UK news | The Guardian


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