Anti-paedophile campaigners who use the internet to spread “poisonous” lies about innocent people have been condemned by a High Court judge, as she dismissed “fabricated” and “baseless” claims that a satanic cult abused children in London.
Mrs Justice Pauffley was asked to investigate claims that two children, aged eight and nine, had been abused by a cult which drank the blood of infants.
The two children and their mother and her partner had alleged that their father – from whom she is separated – was the leader of a north London cult which included a school head, a teacher, a priest, social workers and police. The mother claimed more than 100 people were “doing sex” with the children.
Babies “were supplied from all over the world for the group,” Justice Pauffley said, outlining the lurid allegations. “They were bought, injected with drugs and then sent by TNT or DHL to London. The assertions were that babies had been abused, tortured and then sacrificed. Their throats were slit, blood was drunk and cult members would then dance wearing babies’ skulls.”
Eight schools and a swimming pool were named as meeting places for the group as allegations of “the most serious kind” were made against members of the local community, Mrs Justice Pauffley continued. The children alleged that rituals at a McDonald’s restaurant where “the boss” allowed a child sacrifice.
The two children at the centre of the case were made to take part in filmed mobile phone recordings in which they discussed satanic practices. The allegations were circulated online, including the names of the children and video footage and photographs identifying them. The judge said more than four million people around the world had viewed material relating to the case.
Mrs Justice Pauffley was called in to review the evidence at the request of social services. She ruled that the children’s mother had forced them to make unfounded claims to police.
“I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true,” she said. “They are baseless. Those who have sought to perpetuate them are evil and/or foolish.”
Justice Pauffley concluded that the false tales “came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant abuse”. “Torture is a strong word but it is the most accurate way to describe what was done to the children,” she said.
The judge also condemned those who circulated the allegations online, saying many had done so with a “flagrant disregard” for the children’s welfare. “The internet campaign is likely to have the most devastating consequences for [the children],” she added.
Innocent people named online as involved in the non-existent cult have required police protection. “Many of those individuals are now living in fear because they have been identified on the internet as abusers of children and their contact details, including telephone numbers, home and email addresses have been published,” Justice Pauffley said.
“Several of those implicated have received malicious, intimidating phone calls and emails at all hours of the day and night from all over the world.
“The individuals who have watched online film clips, read online articles and believe in the allegations would do well to reflect that things may not be what they seem, and it is all too easy to be duped on the basis of partial information,” the judge added.
“There are many campaigning people, sadly, who derive satisfaction from spreading their own poisonous version of history, irrespective of whether it is true or not.”
The judge said it was also “inevitable that a large proportion” of those viewing the clips and photographs pertaining to the case online had “a sexual interest in children”.