Why I am withdrawing my appeal.

Verdict .

Police reportSALTER Lee Alan 47CC7037415_Initial Details Pros Case 03-03-2016 (1)

Added 27/09/2017 This is getting annoying. A new raft of news about a completely different matter dragged my name into it, and of course it is not correct on any register.

From The Guardian – no the University did not only take my account – in fact nobody, not the court, University nor the media, took my account. As shown below, the Independent decided the prevent the University’s investigation before it even started, so no account was taken. Then in the “independent investigation”, I was explicitly informed that the investigator had no interest in my account.

From Grace Allen at “The Debrief” – no I was not sacked. I resigned. She wrote “Salter was in the presence of other students simply by asking him to vouch for himself,” That never happened. She wrote I am “and is now, finally, sacked from the University”. No, that’s not true. And “rubbed salt in her eyes”. This is not true, and didn’t appear in any claims, medical or court records. I’ve never wanted to publish material from court, but I think now I should quote about salt (which I also explain below) – the reference to “injury from salt” was (unlike the “journalists” who’ve reported this is taken from the actual court document of charges), “Inflammation of right ear secondary to salts irritation.” That’s it. There is no mention of salt in the eye, so can we just stop that now please?

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I presume there are strong restrictions on what I am allowed to write. I am not entirely sure what these might be as I can’t afford legal advice, but I will try to anticipate them.

Added 10/04/17: this account is just the very basics. You might note that I can’t release the vast majority of information and evidence even here – nor can  I say what it is I can’t say.

After the thousands of words that have been written about me while I have been forced to remain silent, I now consider it appropriate to explain some of the reasons for which I am withdrawing my appeal.

General points

I am not a violent or abusive person. I never have been so, and this was rather well expressed by the statements from my character witnesses, most of whom were women, who’ve known me for many years and decades, and seem to have been accepted by the court. There is no evidence of any violent or abusive behaviour in the past, despite the efforts of police, campaigners and a few former colleagues to find it.

I have seen no evidence that the relationship was abusive on my part. I tried to submit evidence as to what happened in the relationship, including witnesses hand-written letters, text messages, photographs and the like, but this was not submissable in court, because the hearing was about one incident. Subsequently nobody asked me what happened. I would be delighted to share it but presume there are legal restrictions on my ability to do so.

There was no sexual harassment (apparently The Guardian decided to just throw me into a story about that). Indeed, the relationship was hardly sexual for very clear reasons that I cannot publicise. There was certainly no “coercive control” (as I saw one Twitter account suggest).  I wanted to submit evidence and witnesses to those times I tried to get away from the relationship, but this was deemed as not relevant to the case, so it was not allowed. Had I been allowed, and had anyone in the subsequent smear bothered to find out what actually happened I could have provided text messages and live witnesses that demonstrated things like, for example, going to sleep in Preston Park to get away.

At no point was it alleged or found in court that I poured salt into anyone’s eyes prior to or during the court case. That is simply not true. I don’t know whether it came from the Daily Mail or the Independent, as I’ve not read the coverage, but no. Categorically no. Neither did the court hear nor mention nor confirm it. It simply did not happen, but evidently it helped develop as scandalous story. There was salt in the room, in my lounge. Why? We assumed it was more likely that I brought the salt shaker from the kitchen to the lounge to pour over the wine stains that had been made, than because I’d either considered it more prudent to rummage around in the kitchen for some salt to assault someone with or that I tend to leave a salt shaker in the lounge in case I need to assault someone with it. Anyway, if you’re interested, this is what happens when salt is blown (let alone poured or rubbed) into someone’s eyes https://youtu.be/i_TgFRwijmA?t=7m22s I’d have thought the police who turned up that night might have noticed if it had happened. Anyway, no, that was just made up afterwards, because believe it or not the media kind of invent things to sell stories.

This is not my opinion. I have the court verdict – which it seems none of my adversaries bothered to check. The court did not find anything other than that for some reason I’d thrown a salt shaker.

On the other hand, the court did find that I’d stuffed mud into the complainant’s mouth, after leaving the pub and before going to the Co-op to get pizza and wine on the way back to mine. The evidence for this is that it was said.

At no point was the court told that I’d stamped on anyone’s head. Nor did the court find that I had. I understand that claim was circulated around the press. It was also made in the second statement of the claimant, in a graphic manner. I presume this was not put to court because there was clearly no marking of stamps to the head – according to the statement in which my boot was raised high – to the head by a 12 stone man, which I presume would have been visible the police on the night. It wasn’t. By the time the court made its verdict, this allegation had changed to me pressing down on the complainant’s head with my foot. My barrister was unaware of any corroborative markings.

What I have always contended is that on the night I’d left the lounge to be on my own and lay in bed because things were being spoken about that I didn’t have the emotional strength to handle. I asked the complainant to leave. I told the complainant words to the effect of “this is why your Dad killed himself”. Thereafter there was an altercation that resulted in significant damage to my flat and belongings. The complainant admitted some of the damage and this photograph was used in court.

There are other photos of damage both on this occasion and, I contested with live witnesses, photos and hand-written letters (which were largely rejected as irrelevant), on others but I was told by the prosecutor that I did the other damage to my apartment myself, so that must be true. The court was told I punched myself in the face on two different occasions.

Instead of bundling the complainant out and possibly hurting the complainant, I held the complainant’s bags out of the window whilst compelling the complainant to leave. Then I dropped them on to the closed bins about a metre below my window. Then a shelving unit was pushed over and I contended that I moved to prevent any more damage, pushing the complainant very hard across my lounge, wherein the complainant fell hard and on whom I landed.

I don’t think I can say any more about what happened without possibly getting into trouble.

Some comments on court processes

As I suppose with most people reading this, I entered the process thinking courts were places where there are procedural requirements that enable the consideration of all relevant evidence, and that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. When the prosecution and the Bench referred to the complainant as “victim” for the first ten minutes or so of the trial, I and those around me made the reasonable assumption that I was probably already considered to be guilty.

The charges I faced in court were very specific; relating to one incident that took place on one night in my former apartment. I never denied that I had committed an assault but was advised that pleading guilty would be pleading guilty to the alleged manner of the assault – and an account that simply does not fit with my mine. Moreover, the police reported another assault and damage that evening with a different perpetrator and a different victim.

The attending police officer’s crime report wrote me up as the victim of an assault and criminal damage on the night (for which I refused to press charges), and also noted in their report and in court they’d checked my hands for any sign of reddening or other markings associated with a punch (none was found according to the officer’s report – indeed the court was told my own bruising was caused by me lying on the floor punching myself in the face, which might make my hands marked all the more), in court I’d become the defendant on a charge of common assault which was framed as an incident of domestic violence.

The court finding for the punch was based on photos that a medical examiner said was of inconclusive origin, Whatsapp messages (where I’d denied doing that and suggested it might have come from the fall and when I threw the salt shaker), and what was said to be corroborating evidence from the neighbour – who was in a different house and told the court she only saw a beg being held out of the window and dropped. Her evidence for the punch, according to the ruling was simply that she was told something. We were surprised this was part of the basis for that part of the verdict because my witnesses were forbidden from reporting what they were told because such evidence is (usually) inadmissible as “hearsay”.

For my side, procedural restrictions in the magistrates’ court meant that my witnesses who were agreed were not able to speak freely about what they thought they knew – my lawyer told me they were rejected as the same “hearsay” that part of the verdict appears to have rested on. Likewise, character and witness statements in my defence were redacted – I still have the original statements and the redacted versions – wherein people had written about what they knew about the relationship. If i find I can do so without legal sanction I’ll write further about the hearing another time.

Curiously the court ruled that I’d punched the complainant in the mouth rather than the eye.

Moreover, the in-court testimony had me by the front door, then kitchen door and finally the bedroom door as I was supposed to have punched. We had expected the geometry of the situation to make clear that it couldn’t have happened as had been claimed – as the complainant was told that me being by the bedroom door would have mean that the shelving unit would have been between us, the court was told that I must have straddled it. That would have put me to the left of the complainant at a 45 degree angle. The court was told that I punched with my right hand because I’m right handed (rather than because it was seen). I thought that because the alleged punch was at a 45 degree angle from the left to hit the right eye with the right hand with such force that it pushed the complainant into another room, landing two metres away, the narrative would have seemed unlikely. But it wasn’t seen as such.

One of the problems with the case was that procedural restrictions allowed me to refer to only one other incident, the others were deemed irrelevant to what happened on the night. However, the evidence against me was photographs and manic Whatsapp messages. As I was told that the court would focus on the night of the incident, I was not able to explain what had happened over the previous ten months that might make somebody like me snap. That has been the shock of people who know me – most who’ve been in contact have expressed their disbelief because it doesn’t fit my character. But I was not and am not (so I presume) allowed to explain what might have happened over that period to leave to such an outburst. Despite months of attempts my lawyer she was unable to get most of my evidence in for consideration.

One piece of contextual evidence that was allowed in related to an earlier incident. There was another incident where my belongings had been smashed. We presented it with evidence of a three page letter, three live witnesses and text/Facebook messages.  The court decided that it was to the incident on that night, it doesn’t seem to hold for the prosecution.

When the magistrates reached their verdict I was advised to appeal.

The University of Sussex

In the meantime, after the verdict, I was informed by the University of Sussex that their legal advice was they should commence disciplinary procedures according to their legal duties after sentencing because it was only after sentencing that they would know their legal options.

The University had, by law, to send me to Occupational Health to check on my mental state, which by then was very poor (as I recall the term used to describe it by was “suicidal ideation”), and I had, by law, a right to to consult my union , and/or a lawyer to give me fair representation before the investigation proper started.

At the point at which the investigation was to start, the media smear campaign began, with headlines that appeared to suggest that the University was doing nothing, that I was allowed to carry on teaching and so on.

I wasn’t teaching at Sussex in 2016. It wouldn’t have been difficult to find this out, but then there wouldn’t have been such a juicy story, nor it have been so easy to campaign to get me sacked. I presume that, with all the capacity to find out, it was the same as regards my age. I am not and have never been 44! I will write in detail on this campaign at a later date, including, perhaps, how the few students I had any significant interaction with reacted to the allegations.

Suffice to say for now, the media reports about what had happened were significantly different to the findings of the magistrates, and the allegations against the University had little relation to what I’d experienced that year.

As a result of the campaign against me, I was denied the chance to submit my evidence, witnesses and the like to give my account at the hearing. I had warned a senior member of staff what I would expect to happen, and I said I would walk away to protect the University when it did. True to my word, I did exactly that.

As a result, I lost my job, my home, career and much else, as seems to have been the intention of those orchestrating the campaign. Indeed, it always puzzled me that if the concerns about the University were genuine, why didn’t they also attempt to bring down the Free University of Brighton, which was the only place I was in fact teaching in 2016. Moreover FUB knew of the relationship because the complainant assisted me sometimes, and knew about the assault charge when Sussex didn’t. But I guess they didn’t “enable” or “protect” me, because…

The person who wrote the original article about the case identified my girlfriend who they insinuated would be my next “victim” (she, besides myself, is the only other person in the world who has seen all of the evidence and sat through all of the court case and made up her own mind and decided to stick with me), but in 8 months since the report, there has been not one expression of concern for her well-being, no enquiry or contact from Brighton or Sussex Unis, student unions, nor any other organisation.

The interruption of the first Sussex investigation was precipitated a trial by media, where the accused was given even less opportunity to present evidence or an account that by the magistrate’s court. The person who originally wrote about allegations did contact my lawyer with a short list of narrow questions that made it clear there was no interest in “getting both sides”, as journalism lecturers try to instil as a misguided mantra. It was clear that whatever I would say would, as in court, be held against me. The story itself was not put to me, and the questions put to me were clearly constructed to allege that I am some kind of predator.

Most importantly, as was communicated to the person who wrote about the allegations, my lawyer was very clear that I could not say anything at all to anyone, and nor should any of my friends, because it might prejudice an appeal. Journalists were made aware of this but the story was apparently too sensational to leave.

An appeal will not allow me to challenge those further allegations. Indeed, it seems that neither do my current legal circumstances allow me to challenge them elsewhere. I am effectively gagged. I have been advised that a retrial may well allow me to present even less evidence than the original trial or the newspapers.

Should the verdict have been overturned, it would not have overturned the media coverage, nor the speculation and allegations published elsewhere. Indeed one of the few comments I have read online said something like that if I appealed I would win because I am wealthy and part of the elite. Those who know me know this is quite the opposite of reality. But it seems reality figures nowhere these days. I will probably write about my past and present in detail some other time.

Subsequent to being accused of “doing nothing” and under pressure to restore its reputation, the University initiated an investigation into its reaction. It was a good opportunity for the University, with a new Vice Chancellor to absorb the criticism solemnly, quell the ire and deflect the blame onto the old regime and restore faith. It was classic crisis management and damage limitation.

That second “investigation” took no evidence, witnesses or other information from me beyond asking whether I had informed the University about the relationship and the conviction. I had informed the University of the former, proper measures were taken and there was no deviation from this. I hadn’t informed them of the latter because my lawyer didn’t expect it to even get to court. I was directly informed that my “allegations” would not be considered. Not only was I prevented from having any significant input for consideration in adjudication, but neither were any allegations put to me. I believe this is the norm in dealing with this type of investigation. I do not believe such arrangements operate in the interests of truth or justice. Neither does it allow discussion or examination of the important issues this case raises.

At no stage in these processes was I given an opportunity to fully present my evidence, witnesses or account. At almost every stage I have been given precisely no opportunity to do so.

I am aware that a few a-judicial colleagues desperately tried to find other “victims”, to confirm their predator narrative. Alas they didn’t, because there aren’t any. The police had already, as part of their inquiry searched for other victims . They found none. And of course the people who write stories to smear me did their best to find other victims, including seeking out the mother of my children. I’m almost disappointed that they didn’t get in touch with her, because we’ve remained as close as ever, and she was informed of everything right from the beginning, not least because it was the first Christmas I didn’t spend with my children because of things I can’t say.

But of course if evidence doesn’t reinforce a preferred narrative, it doesn’t disprove it. It was a paradigmatic case of confirmation bias. But the best they could do is see that I have a girlfriend who came to court with me (and who has stood by me ever since) and then disgracefully portray her as another student victim, who it appears, none of the campaigners saw themselves having a duty of care for while condemning Sussex for failing in their apparent duty of care.

My decision

As a consequence of the inability of an appeal court to be willing or able to hear a full response to the multiple allegations subsequent to the findings of the magistrates court, and as a result of what I saw to be a grave procedural imbalance, I have no expectation of receiving what I’d consider to be a fair trial. Indeed I have been researching courts and the law ever since my case ended and frankly I have no faith in any trial.

This is not to disparage court or those who work in them, but it is clear that current legislation, procedural rules, economic restrictions and indeed the adversarial system itself mitigate against due process. Maybe it is as good as it can be in an imperfect world, but from what I’ve read from so many justice reform groups, it could be better.

I also have to think of my family, children and my partner. I have to provide for my children, their mother has and is still going through awful times, and my partner can’t take any more.

Moreover, should the original conviction be upheld I have been advised that despite having served my punishment and more, there is a strong likelihood that I would face a custodial sentence and another large fine that I simply can’t pay. Moreover with legal aid cuts, the pittance that was available is even more restricted. Despite my lawyer going above and beyond the call of duty, she and the medical expert and barrister need paying eventually. None of this is an inducement to justice.

I therefore have to make a decision of whether to clear my name or try to find a home and paid work so I can see and feed my children. It is not a difficult choice. My partner, my family, friends and I have gone through enough.

 

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