How Predators Profit in Northern Ireland

In July 2020 I wrote two articles about Jeffrey (Jeff) Anderson, his grotesque sexual crimes and the role his father, the powerful Northern Irish PR ‘guru’ Colin Anderson, played in protecting his son from public scrutiny following pitiful sentencing for his convictions. Convictions that originally included rape and child sex offences, which were later dropped without explanation, voyeurism, occasioning actual bodily harm, sexual assault and many more unimaginable abuses of liberty that Jeff Anderson carried out against a large number of young women.

Jeff was given a three year suspended sentence and his victims, who, after hearing that their abuser would walk free and being abruptly cut out of the sentencing conference call, were left with no option but to try and continue the seven-year fight for justice that has come to dominate their lives. After much public outcry and following a review by the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland the case was referred to the Court of Appeal, on the grounds the sentence was unduly lenient, with a hearing set to take place on Friday 13th November.

At the time of the conviction, court transcripts confirmed that Jeff Anderson was at a high risk of re-offending and that he has a ‘stable job’ writing advertising jingles for his fathers’ company, which was taken into consideration during the sentencing.

His father’s company is the highly successful marketing and PR firm, ASG & Partners. Since the time of my previous article being published, it has been revealed that ASG & Partners have been working with the PSNI during the course of the trail, indeed, taking large payments for campaigns on domestic violence and criminal awareness issues.

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Offices of ASG & Partners in Anderson House, owned by Colin Anderson. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Whilst ASG & Partners, and consequently the Anderson’s, have been profiting from their partnership with PSNI, which has been helping to pay the wages of a rapist, the victims have been left in the dark; unable to access Victim Compensation because the case ran over a lengthy period (Victim Compensation must be claimed within a 2 year period). A source closely connected with the case who seeks to remain anonymous advised:

“There was a blatant lack of support from the PSNI for the victims throughout the case because the PSNI neglected to inform them of the Victim Compensation deadline and they didn’t receive any victim support as legally obliged.”

The source, a relative of one of Jeff’s victims went on to add that:

“It’s pathetic that the victims were never given victim support material by the PSNI and then shut out of receiving compensation due to the PSNI’s negligence. I hope that the victims get a better outcome after the sentence review. They have been through hell due to the length of the case, several victims dropped out because they couldn’t stand the back and forth to court, many had not told their parents and were facing the whole traumatic situation alone, without support.”

In contrast, according to a Freedom of Information request, ASG & Partners made £28,043.79 from the PSNI in the year 17/18 for the PSNI Christmas Domestic Abuse campaign. A further £182,230.96 was paid to ASG & Partners for their management of the ‘Scamwise NI Partnership’ which is ‘one of the largest crime prevention partnerships in Northern Ireland, with over 40 members.’ The FOI request confirms that the PSNI administer the monies on behalf of the Scamwise NI Partnership. This money was paid to ASG & Partners from 2017 onwards and the contract isn’t due to expire until 4th February 2021.

After it was reported that Colin Anderson was employing his son, ASG &Partners released a statement to deny any connection with Jeff Anderson.

If, as ASG & Partners claim, Jeff has never worked for his dad’s company, why was it included in the court transcript and taken into account when painting a picture of Jeff’s character, as someone with a ‘stable’ job?

Furthermore, who seeks to benefit from Jeff being presented as a ‘stable’ employee of ASG & Partners in court, yet having nothing to do with ASG & Partners outside of the courts?

Jeff Anderson is listed as living between his father’s address at 72 Crawfordsburn Road and Shore Road, Kircubbin. Colin Anderson is estimated to be worth £1.7 million according to companycheck.co.uk and the Anderson’s family home, which includes a house, outbuilding and land, is estimated to be worth £550,000 according to the Land and Property Services Northern Ireland website.

The mental, physical and financial strain endured by Jeff’s victims is only further exacerbated with the knowledge that throughout the course of their struggle for justice, ASG & Partners were working alongside the PSNI on issues as sensitive and as comparable to their own as domestic violence.

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Personal image of Jeff sent to me from a former friend of his.

From the beginning to the end of the seven-year investigation the victims have been further let down by a system that puts the criminal and the case before their needs. One victim’s family member reported that the victim was asked to attend a meeting at a police station as she may have been a victim of a crime. During the meeting, in which no support officer was present as should have been the case, she was shown a video in which she was abused by Jeff. When she confirmed she was the victim, she was consumed with a sense of shock and horror as she realised the gravity of what had happened to her and the other victims on the list. Whilst noticeably distraught, the police thanked her for her time but gave her no information on how to access support, not even a pamphlet with a phone number to contact for help.

Over the course of the trial, it was up to victims to seek out support for themselves, with families having to cover the cost of counselling when the victims were legally eligible to access it. Unfortunately and incomprehensibly, some victims of abuse are barred from accessing mental health support as it can be interpreted as witness ‘coaching’ or ‘contamination.’

After the sentencing, a liaison officer was due to contact the victims with further information and support regarding any appeal, however, this too fell through and left many victims, some of whom now live overseas, without access to information about when or if they may be required to return to court. Vital information which, would allow them to ensure they take the necessary steps to prepare and protect themselves emotionally for an appeal far in advance of a date being set.

Throughout this time, when the victims were juggling studying, full-time jobs, child-rearing responsibilities and dealing with an emotionally exhausting court case, Jeff Anderson was travelling the world working on a cruise ship whilst his dad and his firm profited from the very organisation which was meant to protect and uphold the rights of the victims.

With the appeal pending and the victims once again being required to put their lives on hold and return to the most traumatic and exhausting experience of their lives, an experience which for some, has dominated the entirety of their late teens and early to mid-twenties — the most formative years in anyone’s life — it is time for the Court of Appeal and the PSNI to ensure that it is victims, and not predators, who are protected in circumstances as perverse as these.

Writer, feminist, big tall hippy Irish person. I write about gender, rights, culture and society. LLM Human Rights Law - University of York

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