Steve Hedley’s statement – Not “Cleared of Domestic Violence” with a Case Still to Answer – Andy Littlechild RMT Rep

I’m writing the following statement as the RMT rep representing Caroline
Leneghan in relation to her complaint of physical, emotional and verbal abuse
by Steve Hedley RMT Assistant General Secretary. I’ve just returned from a
week away on holiday to discover the initial stage of the unions investigation
completed, with an unsatisfactory outcome of no further action (investigation) to
take place, and a statement from Steve Hedley that I believe as Caroline’s rep
to be misleading. My statement below is solely based on this statement, all my
comments are relating to its contents.

To date I have refrained from involvement in the large amount of internet
content in relation to her case; and have kept my role as her rep between those
who were involved within the RMT. Apart from that I have only disclosed my
involvement to the 2 RMT “officials” whom I directly report to in order to be
accountable, maintaining strict confidentiality around the whole issue in all
respects,

My intention here is to set the record straight following
Steve Hedley’s recent statement and other similar internet posts from other
people/groups which are inaccurate, and to put forward the facts so people are in
possession of them.

I’m not a member of political group seeking to make politically motivated (or any
other) attacks on Steve Hedley or the RMT; I’m Caroline Leneghan’s RMT rep.

Verbal, Cyber and Threats of violence

Firstly, in light of his statement; I’d like to make it clear that neither Caroline nor
myself or any other of her friends have at anytime known to her took part in
abuse or threats of violence etc. to Steve Hedley or any members of his family.
If anyone has done that I condemn it completely.

Caroline Leneghan’s Allegations & Evidence

You can read Caroline’s allegations in her opening post above, and view the
photos of her injuries.

In his statement, Steve Hedley rightly says that Caroline Leneghan’s complaint
was submitted a year after the event (with the implication that this makes it less
worthy of belief?!).
In fact this is a fairly common occurrence with women reporting domestic abuse,
for reasons that are well documented and understood: misplaced loyalty, the
belief the abuser will change, fear of retaliation or not being believed, and along
with even telling others at the time that facial injuries are “an accident” to protect
an abuser are symptoms in themselves of being a victim of domestic violence.

Steve Hedley claims that Caroline’s allegations are unfounded and her
photographic evidence “dubious”, and due to this “no further action” was the
outcome of the police investigation.

This is somewhat misleading; the police officer dealing with her complaint stated
in writing to her:

“….there is a high chance of conviction if this matter was to be taken to Court.

We would be able to say that your account remains that you were assaulted and
that we have no reason to suspect you made the matter up.

In the same vein we would say Steve was not exonerated. It was simply that the
matter was not capable of proof at Court. Both yourself and Steve accept the
injuries you received were as a result of an incident between the two of you. You
claim to have been assaulted and Steve claimed self defence as a result of you
attacking him. In the absence of any witnesses or background history we couldn’t
prove the matter either way. This coupled with the injuries you received being of
a CPS charging standard of common assault meant that we have only 6 months
from the incident to bring the matter before a Court. This had lapsed prior to
initial report”.

So the reality is that far from her “claims being unfounded and her evidence
dubious” as put forward in Steve Hedley’s statement, Caroline’s allegations to the
police weren’t taken any further due to the CPS’ procedural limits on timescales
for cases to go to court.

Previously during the RMT enquiry I had to challenge the exact same
misrepresentation of the police investigation that Steve Hedley put forward.
*(I have documented evidence to support this).

RMT’s “Exhaustive Investigation”

Similarly; Steve Hedley’s statement puts forward that the RMT following an
“exhaustive investigation” said he had “no case to answer”.
Again, you can read for yourself in her opening post above the manner in which
the enquiry was conducted by RMT, and there are 2 facts that need to also be
explained here:

1. The RMT procedure for complaints is adhoc, (i.e. not a written down), but
broadly equated to the General Secretary instructing the Senior Assistant
General Secretary to conduct “an enquiry” into Caroline’s complaint against
Steve Hedley (2nd Assistant General Secretary).
Upon concluding his enquiry; the Senior AGS presented his enquiry report to
the General Secretary for him to decide whether or not to submit it to the RMT
Council of Executives for a full investigation to be undertaken.
The General Secretaries decision was NOT to submit Caroline’s complaint to the
RMT Executive Council, and no full investigation was undertaken.

2. The reason given to Caroline by the General Secretary for not instructing the
Executive Council to undertake a full investigation was that her RMT membership
did not cover the date/time the incident took place, and also due to a lack of
corroborating evidence (which I believe may be alluding to no witnesses being
willing to come forward?).
However, the General Secretary stated that “both you and Steve Hedley agree
an incident took place”.

In closing; the General Secretary advised that “I will not be taking any further
action on this matter”.

At no point was the dropping of Caroline’s complaint by the General Secretary
stated as because Steve Hedley “had no case to answer” as claimed by him in
his statement!
*(I have documented evidence to support this).

Threatening Texts from Caroline Leneghan

Caroline texted Steve around the general time of their relationship break up,
though I’m not aware of their content apart from the one text read to us during
the enquiry. While the texts may be of a particularly emotional nature, I would
put it that texts sent by people during a break up generally are of an emotional
nature and that it is unremarkable in its obviousness.

In relation to this same text referred by Steve Hedley in his statement where
Caroline states “you’re going down Steve” or something similar; this had another
meaning than that implied by Steve of “I’m going to get you”!.
As Caroline explained at the time, the context was “you will be found out” / “you
will not get away with it” (i.e. beating her up).

Caroline Leneghan and me as her rep were not read any other texts that I
remember(?), and Caroline refutes sending “hundreds of threatening texts” in the
manner claimed by Steve Hedley.

Caroline Leneghan’s “Mental Health Problems”

Caroline like many people (national average is 25% of the population suffer from
a mental health issue during their lives) has suffered with mental health issues; in
her youth she self-harmed, and today copes with depression.
She is not a violent person and has no history of violence towards anyone (a
history of self-harm (superficial cutting as teenager) is the exact opposite of
outward violence.

The implication in the way Steve Hedley has put forward “mental health issues”
so prominently seems to be aimed at saying that people with common mental
health issues are violent and have a tendency towards violence; this serves to
demonise, stigmatise and stereotype people with mental health difficulties, in
particular for women for who this stereotype is more problematic

Some of the factual details above of Caroline Leneghan’s mental health history
were disclosed to Steve by her when they were happier, as couples do sharing
and being intimate together. Using this evidence of Caroline’s mental health
along with allegations of assault by Caroline Leneghan on himself that she totally
refutes, is an irresponsible and gross misrepresentation of the experience of
people that suffer with mental health issues such as depression.

Caroline’s complaint was a straight forward matter of her being assaulted by
Steve Hedley, which he either did or didn’t do; her mental health has nothing to
do with the complaint that she raised.

However, it seems the case that Steve Hedley believes it important to repeatedly
portray Caroline as a “mental case”; which similarly I have had to previously
challenge during the initial RMT enquiry.
*(I have documented evidence to support this).

Appeal to the RMT Executive Council

Despite his misleading claims in his statement that he had been cleared by both
the police and the RMT of domestic violence, there is still also a case remaining
for Steve Hedley answer.

Caroline Leneghan has submitted her request for an appeal against the decision
of the RMT GS.
She was advised by reply that her request for an appeal will go before the RMT Executive Council

Building a movement to confront abuse in our movement

For anyone that wants to work on building a support group for women in the movement I recommend reading these to start of a discussion on what the issues are and what we can do about it

 http://incite-national.org/media/docs/0985_revolution-starts-at-home.pdf

 

http://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/why-misogynists-make-great-informants-how-gender-violence-on-the-left-enables-state-violence-in-radical-movements/ 

 

 

caroline leneghan:

Love this. Time’s are changing.

Originally posted on womeninthelabourmovement:

We the undersigned labour movement activists stand in solidarity with all women opposing all forms of male violence against women. We recognise that male violence against women is endemic in society, and that our movement is obviously and unfortunately not exempt.

We believe that our trade union and labour movement has the potential to transform society for the better. Therefore we have a particular responsibility to confront and challenge male violence against women within our movement.

Male violence against women is not acceptable in any case. It must not be tolerated from those who hold office or power in our movement.

We recognise the enormous challenges faced by women victims of male violence, and the pressures which women face, including from abusive men, not to complain about violence and abuse. We therefore believe that, when women complain of male violence within our movement, our trade unions and political organisations should…

View original 1,281 more words

Domestic Violence and International Women’s day RMT

Today I would like to show my solidarity with women all over the world on International Women’s day and to raise the issue of domestic violence against women. The RMT have released a model domestic violence policy for the transport industry which I hope gets rolled out to every employer.

I’m Caroline Leneghan, I’m a member of the RMT and assistant Branch Secretary of my RMT branch.
Until recently I was in a relationship with the RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley. During the relationship I experienced physical and mental domestic violence which made me feel hopeless to challenge. In January I reported a violent assault to the police that took place the previous year. On this occasion he kicked a pot of paint at me, threw me around by my hair and pinned me to the floor repeatedly punching me in the face. The extent of my injuries meant I couldn’t go out for weeks. I had severe bruising and swelling to my face and body and he had pulled out clumps of my hair. I have decided to make a public statement about this because of his public position in the union and because I want to encourage other women to come forward who have faced similar abuse.

Additionally, as I am a member of the RMT I felt that it was important to raise my assault with the RMT. I believe that he will continue to perpetrate abuse and is a threat to female members. I want to continue my activism within the union but I do not feel safe to do so unless this matter is dealt with properly.

When I raised the assault with the union, I was subjected to what is known as as ‘victim blaming’. I was distressed and astonished at the questions I was asked and the investigating officer displayed a total lack of respect and sensitivity, and a lack of understanding of domestic violence. The investigator tried to make a link between my mental health and the assault and deemed it appropriate to inquire about my personal history, but has not deemed it necessary to look into Steve’s, despite the fact that it is his behaviour that is being called into question and not mine. The investigatior attempted to focus his attention on anything about me which could exonerate or mitigate Steve’s behaviour.

I was also shocked that the investigator asked to explain how someone of Steve Hedley’s build and proficient at boxing did not cause me more injuries. The investigator also accused me of causing the injuries myself. It is outrageous that when a woman reports an assault it would be considered feasible that she severely beat up her own face and further to also attempt to make a link with her mental health is collusion with the tactics of manipulation that abusers use to silence their victims. I felt degraded and that I had done something ‘wrong’ in reporting the attack.

These actions contribute to a culture where perpetrators of violence are never punished for their behaviour. It is a well known fact that women do not come forward when they have faced abuse because they fear the treatment they will get. Since receiving help from Victim Support I have learnt that it is common for perpetrators of domestic abuse to deflect blame for their actions onto their victims and attempting to discredit their claims and to shame them into remaining silent.

I think it is important to say that I am a proud member of the RMT because I thought it was committed to fighting for justice and equality for all workers. I had hoped that it would take seriously a claim against a senior elected representative and treat me with respect when I have made such a serious allegation. I am shocked and saddened that instead I have had to undergo a character assassination. No aspect of my life has been spared from scrutiny, using any detail, no matter how sensitive, used in a horrible and insensitive manner to undermine my claim.

I am writing this because I feel it is imperative that all organisations on the left take a look at themselves and question whether they are doing all they can to support their female members and fight sexism and abuse, in all its guises. I believe that we need strong unions and organisations like the RMT to fight all forms of inequality in society. It cannot do this if it allows sexism to go unchallenged and it fails to investigate its elective representatives seriously.

Women do not have equality in the labour movement or the left. This is a struggle and a fight that goes on everyday at work/ in our unions/ at home/ in meetings, etc. To women; we are what militant trade unionists look like. The labour movement continues to heroises a macho, aggressive archetype of what a good trade unionist looks like.
Recently highlighted problems on the left (e.g. the SWP rape case handling) have demonstrated the need for radical change. A support group made up of women from the left and labour movement to support women and challenging abuse and sexism should be set up.

In the past week my case against him was dropped by the police due to falling foul of their timescale for submitting a complaint. Steve has made an official statement to the RMT that the case was dropped and he was found innocent and exonerated. This is completely untrue. The investigating officer said the CPS would not prosecute because the incident had not happened in the past 6 months. Furthermore, I have been told that, had I reported it within 6 months, they would have had enough evidence to charge him with common assault. But due to the lapse in time, they instead had to arrest him on suspicion of ABH. However, the CPS sets a very high bar for chances of conviction (I was informed that they will only bring forward to trial cases that they believe have a 90 per cent chance of conviction).

Please note: *trigger warning*. I’ve included these photos because I feel I need to show people how ludicrous his story that I beat myself up is.

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If you would like to contact me please email leneghancaroline@gmail.com