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Madeleine McCann and Ben Needham get the cash; Charlene Downes is an afterthought

ben needhamMadeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.

The Sun has a loaded headline:

Joy for Ben Needham’s mum as cops given extra £450k to find missing son – while Maddie hunt totals £11M

Are the two cases of British children who vanished on overseas trips connected? Why else would Madeleine McCann’s name be invoked in a headline about Ben Needham?

SOUTH Yorkshire Police have been given an extra £450,000 to find missing Ben Needham as the 25th anniversary of his disappearance draws near. Police were granted £700k by the Home Office last January for more resources into the investigation, but that money will have run out by the end of the month.

Good news. The disappearance of Ben Needham is an open sore. But then this:

The amount given to Operation Ben still pales in significance compare to the £11 million spent on Madeleine McCann’s search fund.

A great deal of money has been invested / spent on the hunt for Madeleine McCann. Good. Let’s hope we get to know what happened to her. The problem is not what is spent, rather what is not. Do you think it unfair that the case of one missing child gets more public cash than another because, like the media and police who stand accused of picking blondes over blacks and rich over poor, there is bias at work?

If you want to compare what is spent on what, it might be better wondering how much has been spent on the hunt for other children who vanished in the UK, like, say Charlene Downes? She disappeared 12 years ago from her home in Blackpool, Lancashire, when aged 14.  There is a £100,000 reward on offer for information leading to, well, something. Was she murdered, as Paige Chivers was? Paige went missing from her Blackpool home on 23 August 2007. She was 15. Three days later her feckless father reported her missing. The police operator recorded the year of Paige’s birth incorrectly – as 1962 not 1992 – and that she had left home voluntarily. Police were looking for a 45-year-old woman who had left home of her own accord. On 7 September the error was rectified.

Paige had sought help from Robert Ewing, 37 years her senior. Ewing, a known paedophile, had groomed Paige for sex. To keep her quiet, he murdered her. In July 2015, Ewing was convicted of murder at Preston Crown Court. His co-defendant, Gareth Dewhurst, 46, was convicted of disposing of her body three days later.

How much cash was spent investigating the disappearances of these two girls from impoverished backgrounds? How much police work has gone into either investigation?

The BBC provides notes:

Less than a fortnight before her disappearance, Ewing “tested the water” with police when he contacted them anonymously and said a “problem child” had turned up on his doorstep after being thrown out by her father. The prosecution said Ewing had wanted to see what official reaction there would be to a 15-year-old girl turning up on the doorstep of a 52-year-old man. “The answer he learned… was very little,” said Brian Cummings QC.

Back to the Sun’s story of stolen lives and money:

But it is still a promising step for Ben’s heartbroken mum Kerry Needham, as the government agreed to hand over more cash to find her long-lost son. Kerry said: “Please end the pain my family are suffering. I know he’s out there somewhere, please call the detectives and put an end to it.”

Ben was 21-months-old when he disappeared on July 24 1991 as he played outside the house his grandparents’ farmhouse in Kos.

Resources are finite, of course. But where police chose to spend their money and time should not be a decision triggered by media pressure.

Posted: 20th, March 2016 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, Reviews | Comments (2)

Charlene Downes And Paige Chivers: Finally Lancashire Police Take Action


WHAT did happen to Charlene Downes, the Blackpool teenager let down by police who weren’t bothered by rebellious, working-class teenage girls?

The Times says she was murdered. But there’s no body.

Charlene Downes was 14 when she was murdered in Blackpool and her body turned into kebabs. So they say. There is no proof of this. There is no proof that the teenager is dead.

Andrew Norfolk reports:

A new police inquiry is to be launched into the unsolved murder of a 14-year-old girl who vanished from a seaside town where dozens of men were using her for sex. The move, to be announced today on the tenth anniversary of Charlene Downes’s disappearance in Blackpool, comes as The Times reveals evidence of the horrific scale of the sexual crimes to which social workers and police believe the child fell victim.

Others have gone missing in the Lancashire resort, failed by police incompetence and lies. Paige Chivers is also missing. The girls’ parents wants the police used. The man wrongly accused of murdering her does, too.

Her mother said:

“I could not understand why the police did not put out information about Charlene on TV, and why only the local paper was interested in her disappearance,” said Downes. “I often wonder, if she had been from a posh family, and was having piano lessons, would they have tried harder to find her?”


Photo: The mother of Charlene Downes talks to members of the English Defence League during an EDL demonstration in Blackburn, Lancashire. Picture date: Saturday April 2, 2011

Andrew Norfolk has been pounding a seedy beat:

Inquiries by this newspaper have established that so many adults were thought to have been having sex with the girl [Charlene] that police initially drew up a list of 100 “people of interest”. New information also exposes the falsity of claims by far-Right groups that she was abused solely by Muslims. The case was adopted by the British National Party after it emerged that Charlene, whose body has never been found, was among dozens of Blackpool girls lured to a cluster of Asian food outlets where sex was swapped for food and alcohol.

True enough. Not all abusers are Asian.

Her parents, Robert and Karen Downes, have joined the BNP in blaming “Muslim paedophile gangs” for their daughter’s exploitation. Mrs Downes, 48, an “avid fan” of the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, used a social media site to suggest in 2011 that all Muslims should be burnt “with petrol and explosives”. She has said that her “beautiful, clever” daughter was 13 when she “started going off the rails” after coming into contact with Asian takeaway staff.

Norfolk has damning claims:

The documents contain evidence from child protection professionals that Charlene was exposed to sex offenders almost from birth and that a succession of older white men, most of them invited into the family home by her father, were known or suspected to have abused her. They included:

• A 40-year-old friend of Mr Downes who admitted paying Charlene to perform a sex act on him.
• A man in his 60s, a “good friend” of Mr and Mrs Downes, who was found in the family home lying on a bed with Charlene, then aged 12 and wearing a “skimpy nightie”. The child scooped pound coins off the bed while the man pulled up his zip and fastened his belt.
• A 34-year-old man, living with the Downes family while on bail for sexual offences, who within a week of Charlene’s disappearance was jailed for indecent assaults against three girls aged under 10.

If true, Charlene Downes lived a horrible, brutal life.

Mr Downes, 52, told The Times that he did not realise, at the time, that any of the men he befriended was a paedophile. One of them did “terrible things to kids” but seemed “a genuine guy”. His wife this week described the adult found lying on a bed with her daughter as “a harmless old man”.

The couple insisted that they would never have knowingly exposed Charlene to a risk of sexual abuse. Mr Downes said that after her disappearance he was questioned by the police for 16 hours because “they believed I had something to do with it”, but “they let me go”.

His wife said she would continue to “fight against grooming gangs with the BNP”, claiming that Islam was “a vile religion of hate” but that she did not hate all Muslims.

So. Is she dead, the child used by adults?

Lancashire Constabulary said that after conducting a series of reviews it was launching a new murder inquiry into both the Downes case and that of 15-year-old Paige Chivers, another Blackpool sex-grooming victim, who vanished in 2007 and has never been found.


Charlene’s mother, Karen Downes, says:

“I’m still as devastated as I was 10 years ago, and I still live in hope that one day she will be found. I will never give up until justice is done for her, and I’m very disappointed that nothing has been done by now. I want the police to do more, they have done nothing in the past five years since the case collapsed, they have just brushed it under the carpet or put it in a dusty cupboard somewhere.”

It’s an interesting family:

A young man struggling to come to terms with the tragic loss of his sister has been jailed over an attack with an iron bar. Robert Downes, whose teenage sister Charlene vanished aged 14 without trace almost 10 years ago, landed himself back in trouble for throwing the weapon outside the home of his former partner, hitting a woman.

His lawyer told Preston Crown Court how his problems all flowed from his inability to cope with the tragedy concerning his sister…

Today his mum Karen who now faces the 10th anniversary of Charlene’s disappearance without another of her children, spoke of her heartbreak.

She said: “I do not condone violence especially against women but not against anyone. Robert should not have done it. He is very sorry for what he has done.

“His head is all screwed up over what happened to his sister. He was 12 at the time and it is like he never had a normal teenage life. I am not making excuses because what he did was wrong, but I can fully understand why he was so angry.

“It is going to be terrible for the family when Charlene’s anniversary comes up. It will be like I have lost two children.”


The mother of a missing schoolgirl was attacked by another one of her daughters, a court was told. Karen Downes, mother of missing Charlene, was punched, slapped and spat at by daughter Rebecca Downes.

The court heard Rebecca lost her temper because she thought her mother was deceiving her father and seeing someone else… Rebecca, 26, of Healey Street, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to assault.

Such are the facts…

Posted: 1st, November 2013 | In: Reviews | Comment

Oxford sex gang: Yet again police ignored poor white girls who complained of sex abuse

oxford sex gang

THE Oxford gang who abused girls as young as 11 and no older than 15 are:

Kamar Jamil (27): raped children and arranged child prostitution.
Akhtar Dogar (32): rape children, arranged child prostitution and trafficking a child within the UK for sexual exploitation.
Anjum Dogar (31): as above.
Bassam Karrar (33. as above.
Assad Hussain (32): sexual activity with a child.
Zeeshan Ahmed (27): sexual activity with a child (2).


Mohammed Karrar (38): raped children, arranged child prostitution, trafficked a child within the UK for sexual exploitation, supplied heroin and assaulted a child by penetration, using an instrument to procure a miscarriage, supplying heroin.

Of the seven men, five are of Pakistani origin; two are of North African origin.

The abuse occurred between 2004 and 2011.

Joanna Simons is the head of Oxfordshire County Council. She says members of her staff “take enormous responsibility for what’s happened”. She has refused to resign. She says he asked herself some “very hard questions”. But whatever answers she found, none told her to leave her job:

“There is going to be an independent serious case review which will look at the actions of all the agencies concerned. My gut feeling is that I’m not going to resign because my determination is that we need to do all that we can to take action to stamp this out… This is the worst thing I’ve come across in 30 years of local government. It’s absolutely horrendous. We’re all incredibly sad, all of us, that we weren’t able to stop this any sooner.”

How did the officials fail the victims, all of whom are British?

One child lived at a children’s home. Over a 15 month period she disappeared 126 times in 15 months.

A staff member at an Oxford children’s home branded a 13-year-old victim as “sexualised and dangerous”. No, not in danger. Dangerous.

Of the six girls brave enough to give testimony to the court, five were being looked after by Oxfordshire County Council’s social services department. One girl, who was 12 in 2007, told the court:

“I am here to tell my story and see the people who abused me found guilty. “

The police only began in investigating in May 2011. That same girl added:

“Any self-respecting police officer would have seen something was wrong. If you pick up a child who is covered in cigarette burns and bruises, something is fundamentally wrong. Adults should be doing their jobs, it’s not down to a child.”

Poor white girls get ignored.

One girl told the court:

“The council put out a press release claiming they had offered wraparound care to all the girls and their families, but the first we heard from them in five years was a letter on 13 April from Jim Leivers [director for children, education and families at the council], where he says he’s been ‘closely involved in providing support’ to me. That’s a complete lie. My family have had no support or offers of help at all from Oxfordshire. Nothing. Not at any point. Not even a phone call. The last contact we had with the council was five whole years ago, when my mum was begging them to help her stop me go off the rails. They ignored her then and they’ve ignored us since.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Rob Mason said:

“Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council social services deeply regret that this activity wasn’t identified sooner and that we were too reliant on victims supporting criminal proceedings, and that they suffered a terrible ordeal.”

It was identified sooner. The police failed to investigate.

The police don’t listen. They never do. They only tell.

Some of the victims reported their treatment at the hands of the men to police, but their complaints were ignored. One was threatened with arrest if she persisted with her claims.

Julie Siddiqi, of the Islamic Society of Britain, notices how many of thee men who form gangs to attack young white girls are of Pakistani origin:

“Child exploitation is a crime which affects all communities but the number of street-grooming convictions in the past few years involving Omars, Ahmeds and Faisals means the time has come for action.”

One victim’s voice rings out:

“She said she’d never been loved and this was the way they showed her she was loved.”

Anyone seen Charlene Downes?

Right now the police are hunting instances of historical sex abuse under Operation Yewtree.  They are arresting the rich and famous. It’s a high-profile investigation. It is driven by the police’s PR unit.

Posted: 15th, May 2013 | In: Reviews | Comments (2)

Ben Needham, Madeleine McCann but not Charlene Downes: sensation points to alien abduction

YESTERDAY saw the relaunch of the pan-European 116000 missing children hotline at a Downing Street reception hosted by Home Secretary Theresa May. Tomorrow, it’s International Missing Children’s Day. Furthermore,, the country’s official website for news on missing children, has been updated. A pre-summer holiday push is going on.

Which leads news hounds to Kate McCann, who was there. Which, in turn, leads to a story in the Daily Express:


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Posted: 24th, May 2012 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, Reviews | Comment (1)

Charlene Downes: parents want Lancashire police reprimanded

CHARLENE Downes and Paige Chivers: Anorak’s look at Blackpool’s missing teenagers in the news.

The Daily Star:


THE parents of a girl police believed was cut up and put in takeaway kebabs, are to sue the force which investigated her disappearance.

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Posted: 20th, February 2012 | In: Reviews | Comment (1)

The police failed Charlene Downes with incompetence and ‘lies’

WE do not know what happened to Charlene Downes, the 14-year-old child who disappeared for Blackpool, Lancashire, in 2003. We do know that DS Jan Beasant bugged the home of Blackburn man Iyad Albattikhi. We know of paedophile gangs.

Mr Albattikhi, the boss of Funny Boyz takeaway, Dickson Road, Blackpool, was accused of the murder of Charlene Downes.

Much later, Iyad Albattikhi, 31, was formally cleared of Charlene’s murder and Mohammed Raveshi, 51, a foster father and ex-social services worker, was acquitted of helping to dispose of her body.

Iyad Albattikhi, a Jordanian, and Mohammad Raveshi, originally from Iran, were sent to trial despite a lack of physical evidence.

Mohammed Reveshi was accused of assisting Albattikhi and his conversations were secretly recorded in his car and home under DS Beasant’s operation.

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Posted: 23rd, December 2011 | In: Reviews | Comment

The Truth About Charlene Downes And Blackpool’s Paedophile Gangs

CHARLENE Downes was 14 when she was murdered in Blackpool and her body turned into kebabs. So they say. There is no proof of this. There is no proof that the teenager is dead.

There is no proof that Charlene exchanged sex for “food, alcohol, cigarettes and affection”. But the police say she was murdered. And the police say she was groomed for sexual exploitation.

The English Defence League has adopted Downes, and her mother, Karen Downes, is happy they have.

And you might be happy they have, too. The Times leads with the “dark secret” in Blackpool.

More than sixty schoolgirls in a seaside town were being groomed for sex by a group of men who have been linked with the unsolved disappearance and murder of a 14-year-old…

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Posted: 7th, April 2011 | In: Key Posts, Reviews | Comments (22)

The EDL And Charlene Downes: Blackburn Anti-Muslim Protest Photos

THE English Defence League was demonstrating in Blackburn, Lancashire. today. The mother of Charlene Downes was there to talks to members of the EDL. Why?

In 2003, 14-year-old Charlene Downes kissed her mum goodbye. And then..?

Her body has not been discovered. Police are certain that Charlene as murdered. The police believed she had been sexually abused in a town rife with child sexual exploitation.  Two men were tried for her murder. They were  cleared. The case is still open.

Her mother said:

“I could not understand why the police did not put out information about Charlene on TV, and why only the local paper was interested in her disappearance,” said Downes. “I often wonder, if she had been from a posh family, and was having piano lessons, would they have tried harder to find her?”

What does this have to do with the EDL?

Iyad Albattikhi, 31, was formally cleared of Charlene’s murder and Mohammed Raveshi, 51, was acquitted of helping to dispose of her body

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Posted: 2nd, April 2011 | In: Key Posts, Reviews | Comment