UK Paper’s Investigative Blockbuster: Prominent Victims’ Lawyer Scoured Prisons For Clients, Resulting in Scores of Bogus Claims

David Greenwood lawyer solicitor England

Shameful: "Lawyer of the Year" David Greenwood trumpeted "palpably false accusations"

A new blockbuster investigation by the British newspaper Daily Mail has uncovered what it calls "a benchmark for a modern culture of 'witch-hunt' persecutions."

The paper conducted a "wide-ranging" inquiry into decades-old abuse allegations at a Catholic institution made by clients of abuse lawyer David Greenwood. Greenwood recently collected a national "Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year" prize, but now the Daily Mail is calling him an "ambulance chaser."

After studying claims made against workers at the now-defunct St. William's School, an institution for troubled youth once run by the De La Salle Brotherhood, the paper's investigation concluded that "lives of innocent ex-staff members have been blighted by repeated false accusations" and "palpably false abuse accusations were generated by promises of compensation" by Greenwood.

The scam – revealed

The Daily Mail explains how the wayward lawyer Greenwood gathered his clients:

"From 2004 until 2009, [Greenwood] placed adverts headed 'Compensation' in Inside Time, a monthly newspaper given out free to prisoners. 'Were you at St William's care home [sic], Market Weighton?' he asked.

"If so, any reader who had been abused should contact him: 'It is important that potential claimants enforce their legal rights as soon as possible.'"

As a result of ads like this, according to the paper, Greenwood by 2010 had "more than 100 clients, all claiming they had been horrifically abused at St William's."

However, as these allegations were actually investigated, many of them were proven to be demonstrably false. By law, lawyers are supposed to first conduct a "merits test" to assure the legitimacy of claims, but apparently Greenwood did not do this. The Daily Mail explains:

"[S]ome of those making allegations were lying as they were not even contemporaries of their supposed abusers. Others accused people who did not exist – or made claims which could easily be refuted from other, verifiable facts."

Thankfully, fraudulent accusers have been investigated and arrested by authorities, and it is very likely that more arrests are to follow.

The real victims

Tragically, as a result of Greenwood's conduct, "genuine abuse victims now have no chance of seeing their abusers prosecuted," according to the paper. Greenwood has reportedly instructed his clients not to answer any questions by police, which has hindered the entire process for real victims who are seeking justice.

Then there are those who have been falsely accused. Noel Hartnett, who was a headmaster in the early 1980s at St. William's, actually reported an abuser to the police in 1982. But then, years later, Hartnett found himself to be the subject of multiple false accusations of physical and sexual abuse.

Fortunately, Hartnett has been formally cleared, but he still fears that his future may involve "waiting for yet another knock on the door."

"I tell people that I've been a victim of falsehoods, but I still have a constant anxiety about the effect they've had on my family," says Hartnett.

Kudos to David Rose and the editors at the Daily Mail for a remarkable piece of politically incorrect investigative journalism. [Don't forget to read the article.]

Can it happen here? It already has!

Some may conclude that the situation with this questionable attorney is simply an anomaly from England. In truth, the scam of "trawling" for abuse "victims" in prison has already been documented here in the States. An East Coast attorney has written:

"I have some contacts in the prison system, having been an attorney for some time, and it has been made known to me that this is a current and popular scam."

And – surprise – the attorney actually wrote this in 2001. Who knows how much prison trawling has been perpetrated since then!

It would be nice to see the media in this country follow the lead of the Daily Mail and take a closer look at some of the decades-old claims that are being made against Catholic priests, many of whom are already long deceased.

Indeed, one can hardly imagine a more sickening insult to genuine victims than fraudsters trying to profit off the pain of criminal clergy sex abuse. Victims deserve much better.


  1. Publion says:

    First, I move a vote of HUGE thanks to Dave Pierre for this article. And in one of my comments at the end of the immediately previous article I opined that the chances were slim that a mainstream media outlet would look into the dark-side of the allegation Matters; but a Brit MSM outlet has done it – and done it carefully and reported it carefully and rationally.
    Perhaps now American outlets will feel a little more confident in pursuing this on their side of the pond.
    If you haven’t read the Daily Mail article to which TMR links, then I would suggest doing so –in my opinion it’s an excellent piece of reporting.
    A couple of points in the Mail article stand out in my mind.
    We see the Brit charge of ‘perverting the course of justice’ (familiar, perhaps, to followers of Masterpiece Theater Brit police series like Foyle’s War and such): if you provide information that throws a police investigation (or – as the Brits say – ‘inquiry’) off the track, then you have committed a crime and may be yourself investigated and prosecuted … even if you are the (self-declared) ‘victim’ of the story you tell.
    This – as I have often said – is different from the standard  ‘victimist’ script that has taken root (for so many reasons)in the US: once a person self-declares as a ‘victim’, then that person becomes almost invulnerable to any possible consequences arising from any untruthful or deceptive claims and allegations. It would be – the Correct dogma insists – ‘re-victimizing’ and such prosecutions would have a ‘chilling’ effect on other (presumably genuine) victims who are – after 30 years of this Stampede – still working up the ‘heroic courage’ to come forward with an allegation and perhaps a civil claim. The Brits are finally coming back to their senses: they are having none of it: if you tell an untruth to the police or the courts, even for what you may have convinced yourself – perhaps with the support of others – is a ‘good purpose’, then you most certainly have committed a crime.
    Nor, clearly, is it then sufficient to say that you committed your crime – or said what you said – merely because you yourself were somehow hoping to fight an even greater (alleged) crime, i.e. the claimed abuse. The Brits are backing away from the double-standard of victimist theory: if you make a false charge for what you have convinced yourself is a ‘good cause’, then you aren’t really committing a crime and it’s all goooood.
    And the business-plan of the tort-attorney law firm was even more blatant, in that it didn’t simply trawl among average citizens but also trawled among prisoners already convicted and confined for some other crime. The possibilities of persons in such a situation being tempted by the prospect of a virtually un-examined claim given an official ‘escort’ to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow are simply too significant to ignore. And the psychological and emotional and ‘status’ bennies that accrue from such a gambit are also considerable: I needn’t give much thought to the crime for which I am serving time, because I am ‘officially’ a ‘victim’ – and in not a few cases, perhaps that the crime for which I was imprisoned is all due to my having been ‘abused’ in the first place. You can see where this type of thing can easily go.
    And on top of all that, the Brits clearly repudiate the practice of “police trawl investigations”, wherein the police simply put up public notices inviting citizens to come forward and self-declare as victims, and do not investigate the claims but rather quickly accept them as valid and proceed going after the (alleged) perps, with full media attention no doubt. We have seen that over here, and there is probably a lot more of it that has gone on: the dynamics of police work and police budgets and the bennies of keeping politicians (and the media) happy by providing a steady stream of ‘perps’ for the courts and the cameras are all simply too great to ignore.
    And – marvelously – the attorney who made a mint off this thing now suddenly ‘doesn’t want to talk about it anymore’, and has (this is truly an act of professional desperation) told all of his current clients not to talk to the police who are investigating his actions (and the clients’ own claims). I venture that there are an awful lot of tort-attorneys in the US who are suddenly going to need a stiff drink or six tonight.
    The Mail article cannot accept comments (contrary to standard procedure with most Mail online articles) because of “legal reasons”. I imagine this means that Britain still has some very techy laws about websites and webmasters that allow commenters to speculate or give opinions about ongoing police cases, and perhaps there are even some still-on-the-books ‘victim-friendly’ laws that prevent too much ‘unfriendly’ or ‘insensitive’ online commentary.
    This entire development will bear close watching as it unfolds, especially as to what its effects may be on the American Abuse Matter. There are probably a lot of those ‘special interests’ who really don’t want anything like this Brit development to take root over here.
    And once again, let me say what the Mail and TMR articles also say: genuine victims of abuse (although the definition here is always an issue) have every right to seek redress. And in the Catholic Abuse Matter, the Church must take steps to ensure that genuine abuse is significantly dealt with. I think that the various reforms of the past decades have been – by all extant measures – solid steps in that direction.
    But morally I don’t think the government did anybody any favors by placing so profound a temptation in front of so many people: you can make an allegation, it won’t be investigated but will mostly be presumed credible, there won’t be any consequences if by some chance it comes out that you lied, and if you get the right type of lawyer you can collect nicely, while also getting showered with the social ‘status’ of a ‘heroic victim’ and maybe explaining-away every problem you have or ever had with the conduct of your life.
    If this new development continues, I think it will do much to restore the credibility of genuine victims and simultaneously enhance the spiritual integrity of the Church. In that sense, Win-Win.

  2. Julie says:

    Thank you Dave, for posting this. And Publion, for your commentary.

  3. Publion says:

    And isn't this the second time in less than a month that a sex-abuse tort attorney suddenly shut up and shut down when confronted with the possibility of investigation? Attorney Randles and now Attorney Greenwood?

    • Mark says:

      Excellent article, and great news that the Truth Abuse Scandal may now be entering a new phase. As an Englishman with close family members who work for the police force, I am delighted that law enforcement will soon be “feeling the collar” of liars and false accusers. Further, that an Ofsted inspector has sent a dossier to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, claiming that the controversial “victims lawyer” Mr Greenwood (hilariously, voted Personal Injury Lawyer Of The Year – though ‘2012 ambulance-chasing solicitor prize’ would indeed be more appropriate) has breached its ethical rules by failing to act with integrity and in the interests of justice. Yes, Publion, “perverting the course of justice” is indeed a quaint, almost archaic expression in England, one given compellingly modern resonance in the context of the Truth Abuse Scandal.  

      Here are just a few of some very familiar-sounding phrases from the article:

      “The palpably false abuse accusations were generated by promises of compensation”

      “believed accusers’ stories without checking them”

      “some of those making allegations were lying as they were not even contemporaries of their supposed abusers. Others accused people who did not exist”

      “the law that protects the identities of sex-offence victims means we cannot name those who made apparently bogus allegations”

      “several of the supposed victims are now being investigated for fraud and (that) more are likely to be arrested”

      “The lives of innocent ex-staff members have been blighted by repeated false accusations”

      The tide is definitely turning. And there is more good news. Yesterday’s Irish Independent carried the following headline: “Priests facing abuse claims want their accusers named.” Read the story here:

      Remember, this is the country of origin of that despicable fraud, “Kathy’s Story.” Just last week a nun there was found not guilty of 63 counts of sexual and indecent assault against seven girls at a Midlands school during the 1970s. With regard to the Irish Independent article we can expect the normal squealing from certain “victims support groups” and those who disingenuously and deceitfully seek to reduce and confine society’s child sexual abuse epidemic to the Catholic clergy.

  4. jim robertson says:

    Per usual you've skipped the part that's most important here: the "Merits test". It was not done by this lawyer.  In the U.S., as I've said before,  the victims lawyers do test their clients for veracity. Otherwise the lawyers themselves could be sued for enabling false claims. Again you are hanging your hopes of gigantic frauds on air.

  5. Mark says:

    Over the past three years, 173 false accusations have been lodged against Catholic priests in the US.

  6. Mark says:

    From: Bill Donohue, The Catholic League, “Bigotry Explains False Accusations” (July 18, 2012)

  7. Delphin says:

    I guess if the majority of the wrongly accused clergy were minorities, or some other protected class (eg. homosexual), we'd have the Innocence Project and the multitudes of other "acclaimed" special interest and civil rights groups out there "proving it" for Robertson.
    Also guessing if said protected classes were under similar assault, Robertson would be all over it pro bono.

    • jim robertson says:

      When's the last time you demonstrated for a wrongly accused clergyman? And 173 out 10,000 perp priests what's that 2%. as compared to 100,000 estimated victims. No innocent person should go to jail or be accused of a crime he/she didn't do. Delphin that's Mr. Robertson to you. And I've been working for victims for 10 years pro bono. So Sonny Bono that. You seem to fairly spit venom. Maybe you think homosexuals should go to jail and not be "protected" by the Bill of Rights like any other citizen in this country?

    • jim robertson says:

      " Protected class e,g. homosexuals." How I let that crap slip by me I don't know? Protected from who? Must I quote from Shylock to you? We are people just like ( maybe) you are. And what are we being "protected" from? Bigotry? Oppression? Vehemence? Violence? Stupidity? We are not the cause of your decadent society, decadent particularly in regards to killing people.( Drones in Afganistan and Pakistan have killed 173 children. Yet Americans only focus on the slaughter of our own children at Sandy Hook). No responsability taken by anyone who is truely guilty of murder. If you don't like it done to you then don't do it to them.  The same goes re gay people. You can pretend we're the boogieman till the bovines arrive but that thinking has really gone the way of the Dodo bird. Your dying out. Your seeds of hatred are falling on fallow fields. Your God keeps making us. There must be something about us he likes.
      And what's the pay off for you for all this rage, a coronary? Love your neighbor as yourself or shut the heck up. Mozel Toff!

  8. Rory Connor says:

    Jim Robertson says "Prove it." Well in Ireland we had a large number of allegations that the Christian Brothers and Sisters of Mercy had deliberately killed children in their care. Many of these claims relate to periods when no child died of ANY cause.!! Accordingly I coined the phrases "Murder of the Undead" and "Victimless Murders" to describe them. If Mr. Robertson cares to Google those phrases he will see what I mean.
    "Murder of the Undead" seems to be largely (although not entirely) an Irish issue. However I note the following quote from the Daily Mail article:
    [S]ome of those making allegations were lying as they were not even contemporaries of their supposed abusers. Others accused people who did not exist – or made claims which could easily be refuted from other, verifiable facts."

    • jim robertson says:

      What are you saying is proven to my, prove it? That some people weren't killed and some people made false allegations. Sorry but so what? If there wasn't such a preponderence of real victims; real crimes and real abusers, fakers whould have nothing to fake about. And we are talking 2 to 3% here. You have no problem.

  9. Once again we have Dave Pierre to thank for raising an issue that few in the media have the guts to raise. However this story is not at all new. It first arose in the US seven years ago and the person who raised it was Fr. Gordon MacRae in an article entitled "Sex Abuse and Signs of Fraud" published in the November 2005 issue of Catalyst: The Journal of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. It is a chilling tale of fraud perpetrated by fake victims and eager personal injury lawyers. The lawyers showed up in prison to coach their clients to find a priest to accuse. "I could have $50 grand in your account by the end of the year." But as often happened over the last seven years, no one in the Catholic Church was interested in what an accused priest had to say. The bishops went right on settling cases without question to the tune of $2.6 billion. Here is the link to this terrific article:

  10. Delphin says:

    You haven't earned the respect of any salutation by me, Robertson, as regards your unholy crusade against the innocent, in particular, and against the Catholic Church, generally.
    You could have easily trawled for your "victims" just as others have- who knows? Why are you above being unfairly accused or suffering a mock trial in the public arena, as are innocent priests?
    Prove your own innocence, Robertson. And, when you've exhausted your failed attempt there, prove the innocence of your "victims".
    And, as for the corrupt press (and their rats-nest bedfellows of equally morally corrupt lawyers); it is time to shine the light of truth on their personal lives. There needs to be some investigative reporting on the lives of these corrupt individuals, and their families, friends and colleagues. Time to pull out all the stops, as has been the practice against the Catholic Church, and put aside all legal protections afforded these vipers.
    Let's see who can survive such dishonest and public persecution. I wonder if you could?
    And, it's " Your Majesty, Delphin", to you.
    As an aside, possibly the only thing worse than a corrupt and mercenary attorney (let's talk statistics here, if you dare) is a "wannabe" attorney that attempts to use legal language and concepts to bully the opposition.  Let's try to keep the dialogue at the typical 7th grade level, as is the media's (and ALL lawyers) perception of it's "unclean masses" readership/clientship.

  11. jim robertson says:

    Delphin, step away from the bong. Which innocent am I crusading against in an unholy manner? The Catholic Church? LOL. That boat sailed
    Prove my own innocence about what? Logic doesn"t seem to like you, your majesty. It's never around when you speak.
    What victims have I "trawled" for? I am not a lawyer.
    Your not so highness, your argument has left me dazed and confused. If there are any bullies in the room, they are royal and or wearing purple.
    I can only compare you to that other Queen (No not Rip Taylor) but Alice's Queen of Hearts, painting the roses red and shouting: "Off with their heads." Have a nice day, highness.

  12. Mark says:

    Oh dear, robertson has all his figures and chronology mixed up. I would set him straight, but I'm not sure it would be time well spent. Perhaps he should just stick to empty rhetoric. Quantification has him floundering.

  13. Delphin says:

    Prod and poke away just a bit and the underlying agenda and elitism (which is driven only by hatred)  always peeks through for these haters. Thanks for revealing my suspicions, Robertson-you poor, poor "victim". What happened, SNAP vomit you from their polluted ranks? Don't know, don't care who you are (or more likely, aren't)- I just find your whiney and dishonest posts, well, tasteless, as well as baseless.
    We all get to speak our minds, even, and especially if you don't respect or value them.
    And, now that I have been called names and been berated in "public", I will slink away into oblivion as I lick my wounds and repent for my sins against, yet, another professional victim. I forgot the lefty's rules of engagement – never fight back lest we suffer the verbal barrage of the haters. Good thing my FAITH has so thickened my skin.
    When next I get to slavework from home, I am sure to see Sir Robertson posts all over these, and many other boards/blogs (you are the busy bee, aren't you?), lamenting the wrongs of evil Catholics and terrible Catholic conspiracies, everywhere.
    Dude, speaking of bongs, get off it (and evidently, the public dole) and get yourself a life, or at least a job, already.

    • josie says:

      There are a lot of commenters (mostly on other sites) taking the free stuff. They have to show their political side as wlll. I feel a really rude awakening coming.

    • jim robertson says:

      Let's see I'm 65 never been on the dole save one book of food stamps in college. I'm sorry that your magesty is at home slaveworking. Really, sincerely sorry. I know how tough times are. At 65 in the old days in America people retired and that's what I am retired. I was retired before I got my settlement. I have never been a lawyer nor do I like them.

    • jim robertson says:

      By the way it isnt that they are 'Catholic Conspiracies" it's that they are conspiracies period that's the issue. The religion has nothing to do with it. It's that there is a conspiracy to commit fraud on victims already injured. That's the problem. The religious affiliation of the conspirators in this fraud is none of my business.

  14. Mark says:

    By the way, Rory, very useful website. I'm posting on some Irish-centric (and sometimes eccentric!) websites, and your site – which I just glanced through now – seems to be a good resource. If there is one country where balance and perspective are needed in understanding and discussing the Truth Abuse Scandal, it's Ireland. Or at least that's my impression. Of course, the US runs it a close second. The difference, to my mind and for what it's worth, is that in Ireland the reaction is more visceral, and in the US more political. Neither instance is particularly conducive to rational argument and behavior. Finally, I love that you list the false accusers, albeit just a tiny fraction of them. Oh that we had such a rogues gallery for the US!


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