“Contempt of court” means disrespect of a court. Now, it is certainly true that I am disrespectful of the court which convicted Lucy Letby. I think that the trial was unfair and that the judge did not understand what was going on. Nor did the jury. The jury was incomplete and the verdicts were not unanimous, yet the sentence was the heaviest possible. The defence made little attempt to defend their client and the UK tabloid newspapers had convicted Lucy long ago. On one of the days that she was arrested, the TV vans were in her street, before the police arrived to knock on her door and take her away. Six years of police investigation by a team of 60 to 70 police inspectors, including a large PR department (read: a little troll farm), did not find any conclusive proof of any wrongdoing by Lucy Letby at all. Yet already Cheshire Constabulary have signed a contract with Netflix and ITN for a documentary on their fantastic work nailing the UK’s most horrific female serial killer ever.
Now, “contempt of court” is also a very serious criminal offence in the UK, but as such, it has a very narrow definition. The definition involves the motive of the perpetrator. This is like killing someone. Killing a person might be murder. But it might be an accident. It might be caused by negligence. It is only premeditated murder if the person who killed the victim planned to do so in advance and deliberately and successfully carried out their plan. Lucy Letby is convicted of a large number of premeditated murders and murder attempts. The jury believed that she had motive and opportunity and deliberately tried in some cases numerous times to kill the same infant.
As the trial of Lucy Letby proceeded, various independent observers with a scientific background started studying the case and commenting on it on various internet sites. There was my own blog, gill1109.com. There was Peter Elston’s “Chimpinvestor” blog, chimpinvestor.com. There was Scott McLachlan’s Law, Health and Technology “Substack”. There was Sarrita Adams elaborate and dedicated website rexvlucyletby2023.com, later morphed into the even more elaborate ScienceOnTrial.com. Numerous individuals of course also tweeted on the case, several FaceBook groups started up, several SubReddits were founded. Cheshire Constabulary kept a close eye on social media and dedicated websites and became more and more active in trying to suppress any support of the defence of Lucy Letby, though all those Twitter users calling for the return of hanging and for Lucy to be assassinated as soon as possible in the most horrific way, were presumably encouraged by Cheshire Constabulary.
Around May, while the trial still had a few months to run, the police apparently started to become nervous. Threatening emails were sent to myself, Peter Elston, and to Sarrita Adams, telling us that our websites must be taken down and links to those sites on social media should be removed. We know that the police also attempted to find out who was behind the Law, Health and Technology substack, but did not succeed so easily.
Of course, they found me, easily. But how did they discover the identity of the anonymous owner of rexvlucyletby2023.com, Sarrita Adams, who tried very hard indeed, for very sound personal reasons, to remain anonymous? The answer is simple: at some point Sarrita and I emailed to the court trying to alert the judge that the trial was unfair, and that important scientific evidence was hidden from the jury and the public. We did this through emails to the clerks of the court, asking them to bring our messages to the attention of the judge. However, this is not what they did. They gave the messages to police inspectors from Cheshire Constabulary, who were in court every day, hobnobbing with both the barristers, the judge, and with top NHS lawyers.
They also divulged the identity of Sarrita Adams to their internet trolls who rapidly managed to dig up a lot of dirt about Sarrita and dox her on Twitter.
The email letters which Peter, Sarrita and I were sent, are very interesting. They say that our internet activities were discovered by the police and that the police had discussed with the defence team, the defendant, and the judge, and that the judge said that what we were doing appeared to be contempt of court. We should remove our websites and remove all links to them on social media. According to the police, Sarrita and I were “associates” though we were in no way associated at all except in our common belief that the trial was unfair and the scientific evidence incorrectly interpreted. Yes, we had communicated with one another. The judge did point out that this was just his initial reaction and he couldn’t state that it was contempt of court without hearing our motivation from us. This shows again that he never received our emails to the court. Our stated motivation was to prevent a possible miscarriage of justice, not to cause a miscarriage of justice by subversion of the jury. We were attempting to contact all relevant authorities, not the jury at all. Indeed, since later the jury found Lucy guilty of the most heinous crimes, it is clear that we did not influence the jury at all.
I replied to the police by email that I would do what they asked. I did not remove my blog posts on the case but I did diligently delete links to Sarrita’s site and all tweets by myself with links to my blog or Sarrita’s website. I did not get a reply, though I asked who was emailing me and said that I wanted to talk to them, by telephone or Zoom. The letters had no phone number and no first name of whoever wrote them. I called Cheshire Constabulary by phone but they couldn’t help me because I did not know the initials or first name of whoever had emailed me.
About three weeks later, the jury was now deliberating in private. One Friday evening very late I was shocked by a knock at the door. (Actually, I had already gone to bed, but my son was visiting and woke me up. Thankfully, my wife slept through the whole thing). Local Dutch police wanted to deliver two letters to me, on paper, in person. They had been instructed to verify my identity and naturally, I did show them my Dutch passport. The letters were almost identical to the email letters which I had received earlier, and had already and immediately replied to. They did not have wet signatures, they were clearly printooouts of pdfs. Similar, but not identical to what I had already received.
So now Cheshire Constabulary had legal proof, with the help of their Dutch colleagues. that I had indeed received their letters! The letters threatened arrest next time I tried to enter the UK, and noted that contempt of court carries a two year prison sentence and a huge fine – namely, the costs of rerunning the whole trial with a fresh jury. It was pointed out that as a UK citizen I was still subject to UK law even though I lived in another country. The same thing was said to Sarrita, who lives in California, but is also a British citizen.
This was clearly intended to intimidate, and indeed it was very intimidating. I will now reproduce the original email letters and the later, paper, version. The wording is fascinating, the intention was to intimidate, but UK police cannot charge me with contempt of court without an order from a magistrate, and as Judge Goss remarked, he would need to know my actual motives before he could say that I had indeed likely committed the crime of contempt of court.