Why would people lie about something as serious as sexual assault?
This is something we have struggled with since my husband was first arrested. What would drive a family member to make an accusation 40 years after the alleged events? And the answer seems very simple in some respects and complex in others.
There is no doubt that the Jimmy Savile affair has opened the door to a flood of false allegations with the opportunities for easy compensation being dangled enticingly by a system that is prepared to believe any accuser that sounds vaguely credible. But false allegations have been going on for far longer than that and our research has revealed other reasons that we would never have considered.
It is clear that there are many fantasists out there who do it simply to feel important. The Harvey Proctor affair with the elusive 'Nick' raised many questions about the 'shoot first and ask questions later' attitude of the police in a case where there must have been clear signs of fantasy behaviour that should have been investigated.
It is also clear that many accusations are made out of pure spite. Fathers falling out with children over divorce and new families; ex-wives taking revenge by feeding ideas to children.
Apart from government compensation, there are also easy financial pickings through blackmail, civil compensation claims and selling lurid stories to the gutter press.
And then there is the largely unrecognised but increasingly high profile issue of false memory. As we highlight in detail in the separate page, False Memory Syndrome is now widely supported by expert medical opinion and scientific fact.
In our case, we have no idea as to what made the person make the accusation. Many of her specific allegations were so fantastical that some in the jury actually laughed when they were raised, but yet he was still found guilty. No corroboration, no evidence, just a made up story.
The most frustrating aspect of false accusations however, is that the system does not discourage them. If the accuser is eventually found out to have lied, they do not have to repay compensation, they do not face charges of wasting police time and there are no sanctions applied. So what have they to lose by making the false accusation? Absolutely nothing, but they have everything to gain.