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Family of convicted paedophile claim victims lied to get money

Wife and daughter risk civil action by rejecting verdict that jailed

By Neil Mackay, Home Affairs Correspondent, Sunday Herald, 11/01/2004

THE family of a convicted paedophile face being sued for defamation by one of the sex offender's victims after calling him a liar, claiming he made up allegations to get money from compensation claims and saying he should be prosecuted for perjury.

The attack was launched against David Whelan by the family of John Porteous. Porteous, a church officer and Boys' Brigade leader, was jailed in November 2002 for sexually abusing two boys more than 30 years ago - David Whelan, who decided to waive his right to anonymity, and another man.

Porteous was the boys' "house father" when they were put into - his care and that of his wife, Helen, at Quarriers, a "children's village" for disadvantaged youngsters near Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire.

Helen Porteous and daughter Heather last night risked being dragged into court by Whelan after they attempted to defend Porteous and claimed he was not a paedophile.

Helen Porteous said: "Never in our married life have I ever had any cause to doubt John he was always honest and open and we had a good marital relationship. I don't believe what has been said about him. I don't believe there is a word of truth in anything that's been said."

She added: "John is totally innocent. He should not be where he is. He has done nothing to deserve the punishment that he is enduring now. We have great faith and will continue to fight and be reunited in God's timing. I do believe these people will meet their just reward at some point.

"They have totally betrayed the love and trust that we had in them. We feel so sorry that they are going to live the rest of their lives with what they have done to an innocent man. I do think that the two motives were money and a transfer of something that happened to them in their life by someone else - not by John."

She also suggested that Whelan could be suffering from false memory syndrome.

Porteous's 32-year-old daughter Heather, who is involved in the Girls' Brigade, said: "I can't believe a jury could believe what these boys said about him and I can't believe the accusers actually went ahead and did what they did to him knowing that they were telling lies."

Heather, who works with disadvantaged children, described her father's two victims as "fantasists" and added: "If my father was that kind of person he would have done it to us." She added: "I feel sorry for them. They must be really unhappy in their lives that they have to do this to people who, at a time when they had nobody, were the only people that cared about them. I believe they lied for money."

Whelan's lawyer Cameron Fyfe said that the Porteous family had been warned earlier not to call his client a liar. Fyfe said Helen Porteous had called Whelan a liar before and he had written to her threatening court action.

She was told that if she repeated the accusation, Fyfe would seek a court order against her demanding that she stop making such claims. He added that she would also face a defamation action. He said: "She was told she was on her last chance. If we take this action it would be unlosable as Porteous is convicted."

Last week, Porteous had his eight-year sentence reduced to five years on a technicality. He had been convicted of two counts of shameless indecency and two counts of lewd

and libidinous behaviour. However, a court ruled that the shameless indecency could not stand as it had been abolished in law. There are now calls for the Scottish Executive to launch an inquiry.

Commenting on the risk of being sued for defamation, Heather Porteous said: "They can turn their attention to us if they want. We have plenty of people who will stand up and back me up in knowing that they lied." She also said that her father's victims "should be charged with perjury".

She said if Whelan took the family to the civil courts it might provide her with a way to clear her father's name. Her mother added: "I can't afford a civil action. But my immediate reaction (after the accusations were made) was you have to sue them for what they have done to you". If I had the wherewithal I would take them to the civil courts as I believe I would win."

She said: "They have no conscience...They've destroyed my life,"

Helen Porteous was charged with assault and neglect but the charges were withdrawn and she was found not guilty.

Helen Porteous said her husband was a "great spirit, a wonderful person and very courageous". She still lives in the Quarriers village. During the interview, there were a number of friends in her home together with their young children. The friends, Charlotte Ingram and Agnes Ward, both said they had no qualms about allowing Porteous, who is now 70, to be alone with their children after he is released.

Porteous has chosen not to take part in Peterhead Prison's sex offender programme and continues to protest his innocence. Helen Porteous added that he was "treated with respect" in Peterhead and had been asked by staff to sit on the welfare, catering and the church committees.

She said her husband had supporters "the length and breadth of Britain" mainly from churches. The family have set up a committee to lobby for his sentence to be quashed. Porteous was a senior member of the children's panel. Both he and his wife were raised by Quarriers.

Helen Porteous added that although Quarriers as an organisation had been "neutral", many people who worked for the charity were "supportive". She said of Whelan: "He stood in court and just gazed at me and told lies when he was on the stand." She also said the investigating police "had their agenda made up totally...there was absolutely no impartiality".

She added: "Nobody who works with children in the past or in the present is safe. We're all vulnerable and I defy anyone that ever worked in Quarriers to say 'it's never going to be me'. I think there is a witch-hunt. I'm not saying all children who have been in care are bad...It's a small minority that are accusing people.

"I think there should be a time limit on when people can raise these issues. It's time Britain adopted a law that protects carers much better than they are now."

Copyright © 2004 smg Sunday newspapers ltd. no. 176088

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