On the 27 July 2015 I emailed a letter addressed to Justice Goddard in person at the CSA Inquiry.
My letter was addressed to Justice Goddard in person because my correspondence related to the serious matter of the protection of Melanie Shaw, the whistleblower of abuse at Beechwood children's home Nottingham, from threats and harassment, as well as other child abuse survivors and whistleblowers from similar abuse. I provided a detailed text as to examples of those threats and harassment for Melanie, and pointed out that the threats and harassment were being carried out by the police and other public bodies who have a specific Duty of Care to protect vulnerable child abuse victims.
I ended my email asking how Justice Goddard will take immediate and effective action to provide support and protect Melanie Shaw from threats, intimidation and harassment, including from Nottingham police who have failed her to date, noting that her personal responsibilities under her Terms of Reference Annex A 2(a) require her to 'provide appropriate support for survivors.'
After receiving the usual automated email reply saying it would take 15 working days to reply I duly received a letter dated 18 August 2015 with a signature, but no name or professional position. The letter came from the 'CSA Information and Engagement Hub', an organisation of which I had no knowledge, and it was clearly a 'fob-off' reply.
Slickly composed, it obfuscated with various word-speak - 'noted by the Secretariat', 'high volume of correspondence regarding her case', 'utmost confidentiality', and 'those who come forward will be supported throughout the process'. It mentioned the 'Truth Project' and 'trained professionals'. It stated that 'we take the protection of those who engage with us very seriously and we will do whatever we can to support them through the process'.
What the letter's author completely forgot to say, was what CSA and Ms Goddard would actually do to protect Melanie Shaw and others like her from police and institutional abuse now - today. The key subject of dealing with intimidation and harassment of witnesses and whistleblowers was simply ignored.
Happily the letter did give a telephone number, and I took the opportunity to call to find out who the originator of the letter was, and exactly what was the role of the mysterious 'Hub'. Enter my first surprise. The lady answering my call knew nothing of the 'Hub', nor did she know who to put me in touch with to solve the mystery.
A few gentle questions later though the mystery was partly solved. The lady taking the call was not Goddard's CSA staff, but was NSPCC staff. Neither she, nor her supervisor, had any direct knowledge of the Hub, its role or staffing. I did learn a key point though, and that was that NSPCC acts as a gatekeeper to Goddard and her staff - calls are taken by NSPCC and presumably 'filtered' by NSPCC. I wondered at this point what Due Diligence had been taken by Ms Goddard on NSPCC as an organisation to ensure that none of their staff has been involved in child-abuse. For those mouthing shock horror, several abuse survivors have indicated to UKColumn that they believe some NSPCC staff have, over the years, been involved in abuse. Remember also that NSPCC are working 'in partnership' with the Metropolitan police on child-abuse in UK. It's a very cosy collaboration.
Emailing Ms Goddard's CSA for clarification on matters 'Hub', I duly received another letter dated 10 September 2015 in which a Cheryl Mendes declared that she had written previously, and she was Head of the Information and Engagement Hub.
Ms Mendes also stated that the Hub 'followed up with indiviuals, including referrals to the independent national policing team where there are safeguarding risks disclose'. Again there was simply no mention of Melanie Shaw and the need for the Goddard enquiry to protect her from orchestrated police harassment and victimisation.
The September letter did however let slip some interesting points about the Hub and its relationship with CSA and Ms Goddard herself. Picking up on these I duly wrote a reply to Ms Mendes. My letter contained the following key points:
"Dear Ms Mendes,
In your letter of 18 August 2015 you stated that...
"Your letter has been passed to me for a response." The clear inference of your statement was that Justice Goddard had seen my letter and it had then been passed to you for 'action.'
In your letter of 10 September 2015 you inform me that "Although the Information and Engagement Hub does NOT have formal Terms of Reference, the Chair has agree that its remit is to oversee the information the Inquiry has coming in via correspondence from the helpline and website - and follow up with individuals, including referrals to the independent national policing team where there are safeguarding risks disclosed."
From the above statement I now suspect that my letter of 27 July 2015 to Justice Goddard, in person, concerning serious safeguarding issues of child abuse survivors, has never been delivered to her, or indeed even read by her.
Since my letter specifically asked Justice Goddard to make a personal statement as to "how you [Justice Goddard] will take immediate and effective action to provide support and protect Melanie Shaw from threats, intimidation and harassment, including from Nottingham police who have failed her to date," and,
since I asked this question in light of Ms Goddard's personal responsibilities under her Terms of Reference Annex A 2(a) which require her to 'provide appropriate support for survivors' -
can you now confirm that your replies of 18 August and 10 September 2015, made without written Terms of Reference for the Information and Engagement Hub of which you are Head, represent the personal reply from Justice Goddard.
I look forward to your written clarification of this matter which is of immense public interest, and where the safety of child abuse survivors remains a matter of considerable public controversy.
I have of course received the ultra-efficient auto reply acknowledging receipt of my communication and now presumably I wait another 15 working days. In the meantime Melanie Shaw and other abuse survivors are bullied, harassed and victimised by the police, Local Authorities and Child Services who failed them in the first place, and whom allegedly form the central focus of yes, the Goddard Inquiry itself.
Not to sit idly by, I decided to gently research Cheryl Mendes. Imagine my surprise when I discover that she is employed by Theresa May's Home Office as a Crime and Policing Policy Advisor, having previously worked as a Home Office Diversity Advisor and Gang and Youth Violence specialist. Against this background it is interesting that Ms Mendes seems shy of addressing matters of police harassment of child abuse survivors.
Digging deeper we find John O'Brien, Home Office Director of Safeguarding, stating in his letter of 26 November 2014 that...
"The [CSA] Inquiry is independent and sits outside of the Home Office reporting structures, although they will provide the Home Secretary with a final report for publication. Therefore, it will be for the Panel and new Chairman, when appointed, to decide how they want to take the Inquiry forward. This includes the methodology and how they will engage with survivors to inform their work. The Inquiry is supported by a Secretariat who report directly to the Panel."
My Brien continues..."The Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry Liaison Team sit within the Safeguarding Directorate within the Home Office and is currently led by Helen Griffiths and Cheryl Mendes. The team is there to support the Home Secretary in the process of appointing a Chairman ensuring that she has taken on the views of survivors in doing so. The team is also the link between the Home Office and the Inquiry."
And so there we have it. The Goddard Inquiry is independent in claim only. Queen bee Justice Goddard is protected by Home Office Staff and 'trustworthy' NSPCC. Ms Mendes is tasked with 'managing' the Inquiry's contact with victims and survivors, and other members of the public.
Either gate-keeper supreme, or simply not up to the job, Ms Mendes certainly appears to be acting outside her authority. She does not seem to care about victimised witnesses and whistleblowers. Does she answer on behalf of Justice Goddard, or is she acting to protect the police and the establishment, who simply continue their abuse of power and people? We await further correspondence.
I will end by asking if the Goddard Inquiry is simply a giant fishing expedition for evidence of child -abuse, where the State can then take quick action to close down any hope of proper police investigation and proper criminal trials. Perhaps I am too cynical - we will see.