(On behalf of)
Richard will return . . . later this year.
British journalist Richard Carvath was present throughout the Patrick Sookhdeo trial. This is his quick comment on the trial.
The right verdict, without a doubt. (Thanks be to God.)
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, 71, the founder of Barnabas Fund, was today found NOT guilty of a false allegation of indecent assault dating back to 1977, following a six-day trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Patrick Sookhdeo had been charged with a single count of indecent assault, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 1956.
The charge read: “Patrick Sookhdeo between the 1st day of May 1977 and the 30th day of September 1977 indecently assaulted [complainant’s name], a female person.”
The complainant who made the false accusation cannot be named (in the UK); she is reported here as ‘Mrs Z’.
His Honour Judge Richard Merz presided over the trial. (An excellent judge.)
The prosecutor was tenacious lioness Miss Sonya Saul. (Wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side!)
Defence counsel was the formidable Mr Edmund Vickers QC. (Incidentally, a left-hander like myself.)
Edmund Vickers made mincemeat puree of that pair of liars, Mrs Z and her husband Mr Z, who together were the main witnesses for the prosecution.
Mr & Mrs Z had concocted a shocking pack of lies against Patrick Sookhdeo, and their lies were thoroughly exposed during the trial.
Mrs Z, on the witness stand from Monday (23 July) to Thursday, fell apart on the first day, during Miss Saul’s examination-in-chief.
The jurors were clearly amused. They knew she was a liar from the first day of the trial.
Prosecutor Miss Saul was obliged to ask if Mrs Z was telling the truth. Mrs Z struggled to find an answer.
From that first day, the outcome of the trial was never in doubt.
Everybody knew then that Patrick Sookhdeo was an innocent man, falsely accused.
The only real question was why the false accusation?
Mr & Mrs Z first went to the police with their false allegation in 2015 – thirty-eight years after they last saw Patrick Sookhdeo.
Their false allegation essentially had two parts: firstly there was Mrs Z’s false assault allegation itself, and secondly – in order to bring in Mr Z, to try to back up Mrs Z – they both claimed that they held a meeting with Patrick Sookhdeo a couple of weeks after [nothing had happened], received an apology and agreed henceforth to keep it a secret!
Anybody believe that? (I didn’t think so.)
The best moment of the entire trial came during Mr Vickers’ cross-examination of Mrs Z on Thursday morning (26 July).
Mrs Z was drowning in her own lies when, all of sudden, completely unprompted, the word “grudge” slipped from her forked tongue.
Mrs Z denied having a grudge against Patrick Sookhdeo.
And so it was that at 11:09 on Thursday morning, Edmund Vickers QC got to utter the immortal words:
“Mrs [Z], no one has mentioned a grudge.”
Mr Vickers’ execution was flawless. Beautiful. A work of art.
With those eight words, Edmund Vickers QC pulled the trapdoor lever which hanged Mrs Z on the gallows she had built for Patrick Sookhdeo.
And it wasn’t just what he said, but also the way he spoke. It was like, you know, like the ecstasy of licking and gobbling a Lindt chocolate ball. Vickers’ phrasing, pitching, timing, rhythm and tone were all perfect.
As for his learned friend, prosecutor Miss Sonya Saul was, from the outset of the trial, handicapped by the fact that her main witness Mrs Z was obviously one of the worst liars she’d ever heard, but Saul nonetheless excelled herself in a thoroughly nasty and ruthless cross-examination of Patrick Sookhdeo. It was pure panto. Almost a parody of a nasty cross-examination. By the time Miss Saul had finished, the jurors were more convinced than ever of Patrick Sookhdeo’s innocence. (Perhaps that’s what . . . .)
There were a few gems during the trial.
Patrick Sookhdeo had the jury in stitches when he was asked to explain a 1977 ledger of the In Contact ministry’s income and expenditure. It was comedy gold. Sookhdeo was so funny that several jurors struggled to regain their composure.
Sookhdeo also held the jury in awe as he spoke of his life and his Lord – Jesus Christ.
As for Mrs Z, she had the jury laughing at her when, during cross-examination (11:16, Thursday 26 July) – and whilst quaking like a leaf, from the burden of telling so many lies – she said of Mr Z and herself:
“No, I wouldn’t say we’re particularly liberal and left-leaning, unless we’re talking about sexuality.”
Just imagine Victoria Wood or Julie Walters delivering a line like that.
Said seriously and in earnest, yet also said in panic, Mrs Z hit a 10 on the scale of ridiculous.
Which brings us neatly to motive, to that little word – grudge – which Mrs Z said herself.
During cross-examination (Thursday 26 July), Mr Vickers asked Mr Z about why he refused to receive Barnabas Fund magazines.
Was Mr Z no longer in sympathy with Barnabas Fund?
Mr Z’s confirmation, at 15:59, was “yes”.
Later, when asked about an attempted coup by rebel Barnabas Fund trustees, which sought to oust Patrick Sookhdeo from the charity in 2013, Mr Z said (16:11) he “wasn’t aware” of it.
During Mr Vickers’ examination-in-chief of Patrick Sookhdeo on Friday 27 July, he asked about if Patrick Sookhdeo might have become a thorn in the side of the Church of England.
Patrick said “that is correct” (14:51).
And I say ‘Amen’ to that.
Speaking as one who watched the whole trial, there can only be one conclusion:
Mr and Mrs Z, malicious enemies of Patrick Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund, fabricated their allegation of indecent assault in an evil attempt to destroy the man and his ministry.
And they will have to answer for their lies before the judgement seat of Jesus Christ.
And finally, something which really did happen in 1977 . . .