Of course we understand that it is realistically impossible for you to know 100% that Stephen is innocent.
We, who know him personally; his lawyers, who still work pro bono on his case, his friends, his Mum and his many patients, believe him to be so with complete certainty.
Whatever doubt you feel about this particular case, the facts are clear: he was sentenced to 18 years, and has had his whole life ransacked on scant evidence, and with the jury who eventually found him guilty hearing only a small proportion of the existing evidence. Seemingly, he is a man who has been condemned in order to right the balance of the many sexual criminals who have got away with their crimes.
Please use this sample letter as it is, or adapt it to alert people to Stephen’s plight, as well as the flaws in his case, and those like his.
Send it to:
- your mp – https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
- The Lord Chief Justice: Sir Ian Burnett
House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW
Tel: 020 7219 5353
Fax: 020 7219 5979
- anyone else you can think of with sway.
We trust you don’t mind our contacting you regarding a complex and painful subject, namely those falsely accused of sexual abuse. We write because of your interest in the law and the maintenance of justice.
You are no doubt aware of the following issue peripherally, and possibly in detail, but our dire situation, and more specifically that of our wrongfully convicted loved one urges us to raise it again and to respectfully ask for your assistance with it.
The majority of people in this country place absolute faith in the law, and underpinning it, the principle of a person being innocent until proven guilty after receiving a fair trial. However, since 2012, in the wake of the horrendous revelations regarding Jimmy Savile, and society’s understandable wish to prevent similar occurrences, there has been a rush to accuse people from all walks of life of sexual abuse. Whilst this has undoubtedly led to some dangerous people being removed from open society, it has also now led to many, many cases of wrongful conviction. Innocent people are languishing in prisons, careers ruined, family names and reputations ruined for all time. What is more, the procedure followed in these cases of historic sexual abuse completely reverses those fundamental principles of law with effectively a presumption of guilt until proven innocent. The complainants are often referred to as ‘victims’ from the moment they make their accusation; their stories are often completely believed by the police and professionals rather than being fully heard and then assured of a thorough investigation; and then the onus is placed on the accused to prove that they are innocent of crimes alleged to have taken place in the past with little or no evidence possible. These cases are now widely termed ‘hearsay’ with the all the associations of arbitrariness that term implies. Probably the ultimate form of evidence: forensic evidence, is obviously unobtainable in these cases from months or years past. These shocking erosions of our justice system are bad enough without even raising the issue of the effect ‘compensation’ payments being made to alleged victims is having.
We write in particular about the case of former GP Stephen Hamilton.
Until he was falsely accused of sexual offences against a young female patient in his care, Stephen was a respected GP and mentor to trainee doctors and peers. He started and built up a popular family practice, was appreciated greatly by colleagues and patients, and searched constantly for ways to improve his own practise and that of other young doctors. He had a home, a career he loved, a family.
In 2013, Stephen was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He has lost all he held dear and will endure a lifetime on the Sex Offenders’ Register. He has maintained his innocence steadfastly for almost five years in prison, which has resulted in loss of privileges and places him in danger from other inmates and staff. His legal team believe so strongly in his innocence they continue to work for him pro bono and are preparing his case for presentation to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Stephen’s accuser was a young woman under his care, who suffers from serious mental illness. Although she was treated initially for depression, her illness had progressed to psychosis, and prior to the allegations made against Stephen, she had suffered delusions and hallucinations and was hospitalised several times for treatment. While in hospital, she met a young woman who suggested to her that she might have been sexually abused. During her treatment, a normal, carefree childhood was rewritten in her memory as health professionals chose to believe the allegations without question, in spite of her history of delusions; her diaries, which documented the period the alleged offences took place, and only described a normal and happy childhood, were ‘lost’ by police during their investigation.
The judge in Stephen’s case made critical decisions about the evidence he would permit the jurors to hear. Consequently, the jury was not appraised of crucial facts that would have thrown serious doubt on his alleged guilt.
- In spite of the prosecution’s repeated failure to provide the defence team with the complainant’s medical records, the judge chose to begin Stephen’s trial without full disclosure. Most of the requested documents were made available to the defence only as the trial began.
- Jurors were not aware the complainant suffered from a schizophrenic psychotic illness, or that the diagnosis of her illness had been altered following her allegations. This caused them to believe her symptoms were the result of the alleged abuse, rather than due to a pre-existing condition for which she had been hospitalised and treated since childhood.
- The jury did not know of the existence of the complainant’s diaries, lost by police.
- They were not permitted to hear evidence from Dr Janet Boakes, an expert in False Memory Syndrome – ‘body memory’ being the mistaken belief, popularised by TV crime shows, that traumatic memories are stored in the body until they are awakened in the brain by another traumatic event. Her testimony was key to Stephen’s defence.
- The judge allowed the jury to hear the complainant’s testimony before he determined whether that evidence was admissible. Put plainly, the jury could not be requested to ‘unhear’ the complainant’s testimony, whatever the judge then decided.
Stephen’s trial was held in Manchester, just three months after the widely publicised and emotive case of Michael Brewer, where the victim, Frances Andrade, had committed suicide in the days after giving evidence, during which she had been branded a ‘fantasist’. During Stephen’s trial, the judge asked the complainant how she felt – in itself, irrelevant in a court of law, which deals with facts, not feelings – about the suggestion made that she had lied. She replied,
‘I couldn’t get the fact that someone was calling me a liar out of my head, and it made me want to kill myself.’
This statement, against the backdrop of the Michael Brewer case, placed a huge burden of responsibility on the jury.
The only direct evidence against Stephen was the complainant’s very limited oral testimony. There were no witnesses to abuse allegedly occurring in the next room, in daylight, over a considerable period. She could provide no dates for the alleged offences. The complainant’s accounts of when and how she recalled the offences changed repeatedly during pre-trial and trial.
Presenting a defence was almost impossible in these circumstances. Nevertheless, Stephen’s responses in court were consistent with the records of his police interview. His testimony has never altered.
Stephen’s conviction was based on his complainant’s word against his. Essentially, he was ‘presumed guilty until proven innocent’. His defence mounted an appeal, but it was not heard due to a lack of new evidence. In spite of 18 points of mismanaged law and the very real probability that an innocent man had been jailed, it was deemed ‘not in the public interest’ to re-examine his case.
The complainant against Stephen remains seriously ill and has made further allegations of a similar nature. A male mental health nurse involved in her treatment was acquitted of all charges on July 2017, after a 2 year-long pre-trial, and another case was not brought to court, as there were serious concerns regarding the complainant’s reliability as a witness. The underlying causes of her illness are still not being adequately addressed, due to the re-diagnosis of her condition before the trial, and this vulnerable young woman continues to suffer as a consequence.
Stephen bears his patient no ill will, as he is aware that her allegations were the result of her severe mental illness. He states, “It is hoped the complainant will continue to improve, as most young adults do after a psychotic episode. As part of her recovery, it could be expected for her to perceive the reality behind her false memories. When she reports this change she should be supported by those around her, not persuaded to stick with the previous account.”
For further information regarding Stephen’s case, please visit
Points for Urgent Action
For the law be changed to enable appeals to be heard in sexual abuse cases, even when no new evidence has arisen.
Make it a criminal offence for any party involved in a trial, either police, defence or prosecution to withhold evidence.
Make it an offence for police and legal professionals to term complainants ‘victims’ until they have had a successful conviction.
Unused material evidence should be made available. It hinders the CPS, and should be illegal to hide evidence that may prove innocence.
Imprisoning more people accused of sexual abuse does not make up for the neglectful stance of yesteryear.