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Ella’s list

Ella’s list

Seized upon by conspiracy theorists, Ella’s list of alleged cult members spreads like wildfire across the Internet. Hampstead parents start receiving death threats and lives are torn apart

Listen to the next episode now

In episode three of Hoaxed, the perpetrators of the Hampstead hoax meet their match in an unassuming mystery novelist, who is determined to expose their lies and bring them to justice.


Transcript

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Just a quick note before we start, the following episode contains descriptions of sexual and physical abuse of children, as well as strong language, and graphic violence 

Abraham: There’s the police. There’s the police Ella, there’s a world of police.

There’s the world of them outside Ella, a world of.

Alexi, narrating: It’s February 2015, and Ella Draper is due to appear in court. 

But actually, she’s at home, and the police are at her door

Abraham: I’m sorry. I’m sorry, no speak English. I’m sorry. No speak English. No, I don’t. No.

Alexi, narrating: She’s supposed to be giving evidence in a family-law case to decide who will get custody of her children…

Abraham: Get a video camera front door, get a video camera in front door. Don’t open it

Alexi, narrating: The same children who – a few months earlier – had told police there was a satanic cult operating in the heart of Hampstead. 

But on the day that Ella is supposed to testify… she just doesn’t turn up. 

Lawyer: ​​What do you want and why

Police Officer: I need to speak to Ella

Alexi, narrating: A lawyer – who’s helping Ella out – stalls for time. 

Lawyer: Right. Look, what is your lawful authority to be here? or to try and gain entry

Alexi, narrating: He records the conversation on his phone

Lawyer: What about the proposal that I’ve made of an appointment? 

Police Officer: No, it’s not an option at this time. We need to do it now. 

And as I say, unfortunately, if it comes to it, 

We would have to force entry and are lawful in doing so.

Alexi, narrating: Speaking through the letterbox, the officers get increasingly frustrated. 

They tell the lawyer that they’re here to ask Ella about harassment.

Three weeks before – Sabine McNeill, Ella’s unofficial legal adviser, leaked a huge amount of confidential material online, including videos of the kids falsely alleging they’d been abused by their father

The videos had gone viral and the father started to get death threats. 

The judge issued an injunction against both Ella and Sabine – basically saying ‘take this material down now – or face the consequences’

But both women ignored her. 

And now, the police are at Ella’s door. 

Abraham: They’re gonna come in, they’re gonna come in

Alexi, narrating: They’re coming in – with or without permission. But by then – it’s too late. 

Ella runs out, into the back garden of her house, climbs over the fence into her neighbours garden, climbs over two more fences, reaches the street

…and escapes. 

The next day she leaves the country. Abraham – her partner – the guy who’d forced the children – into lying about the cult, he goes with her. 

They leave the children behind. 

Ella’s escape doesn’t stop the wheels of justice turning. 

On 19 March 2015, seven months after the kids first spoke to the police, Judge Anna Pauffley issues her judgement 

It is about as damning and upsetting a legal document as I’ve ever read. 

Ella loses custody of her children. But that’s not the worst of it. 

Judge Pauffley finds that Ella and Abraham put “relentless pressure’’on the kids to lie about their dad – to falsely name him as the head of a satanic cult. 

She refers to their actions – and I’m quoting verbatim here – as emotional and physical torture.

She finds that Abraham pushed, punched, and pinched the children during the Morocco holiday in the Summer 2014; 

That he poured water over them as they kneeled semi-clothed, and hit them on the head with metal spoons. 

And Ella? She let it happen.

When I read this judgement last year – back when first I began looking at this case – I remember feeling shock and also a real sense of confusion 

How could this have happened? 

Ella seemed to be close to her children…Her Facebook profile is filled with pictures of the three of them together, hugging, smiling – like any normal family. 

I get how she hated Ricky, her former partner, how she hated him with every bone of her body. 

We know that they’d been fighting over the children for years – long after they’d broken up – really bad fights, sometimes with the police involved. 

Ella had also made several attempts before 2014 to get custody of her kids. She wanted to take them to live with her in Russia – but Ricky wouldn’t allow it. 

And I can almost see, if you’re desperate to get your children away from their father, how someone at their wits end might do something terrible, like make up false allegations of abuse. 

But conjuring up a story that would become one of Britain’s most serious conspiracy theories? Where did that come from? Why would anyone coach their children into making up that sort of horrendous lie? 

And eight years later – what does Ella believe now? Does she understand what she started? 

Multiple Voices: The innocence of her childhood has been completely ruined. 

My whole life has changed.

I feel sick, devastated and heartbroken for all of us. 

… It’s destroyed my life.

… violated my family and ruined our lives. 

Alexi, narrating: From Tortoise, I’m Alexi Mostrous and this is Hoaxed. Episode 2: Ella’s List 

Alexi, narrating: In the weeks after Sabine posted the children’s videos online…the blast from the Hampstead hoax ripped through the internet, travelling outwards at a million miles an hour.

The story was picked up by sites like Infowars, the huge conspiracy site run by the US hoaxer Alex Jones, and promoted by Paul Joseph Watson, Jones’s UK based number two

CLIP PAUL JOSEPH WATSON: An incredibly disturbing video which went viral over the weekend shows two British children describing how they were allegedly forced to take part in satanic ceremonies which included sexual abuse in the ritualistic murder of babies.

Alexi, narrating: The kids’ videos crisscrossed the UK and then jumped over the Atlantic to America, where they were promoted by dozens of alt-right radio stations and conspiracy websites. 

It’s not an exaggeration to say that material relating to the case was viewed literally tens of millions of times. 

American Male: “They are describing cutting the heads off of children, drinking the blood, dancing with skulls. You know the thing with the tattoos, those tattoos were in places a child should never see them.” 

Alexi, narrating: But then just like a real bomb this outward explosion reversed course and the shrapnel sucked back in towards Hampstead. 

And that’s because – when Ella handed over all those videos of her children to Sabine, she handed her another video too.

A video of her reading out a list. A list of targets. 

Ella: The individuals involved – Reverend ***** at *****church, ***teacher Mrs *****. Teachers Mr ******. Teachers who left the schools, to other schools to spread the cult but still come to the Satanist Parties.

Alexi, narrating: In the video, I can see Ella sitting squarely in front of the camera, wearing a blue tracksuit. She looks poised, calm. Reading from a script, she slowly goes through name after name after name. Names that she says have been given to her by her children. Names of cult members.

Ella: 20 special families and their children, uh, include , Mr. ******* and Mrs. **** and their daughter *****

Alexi, narrating: Ella also made a 11 page Word document containing the same names as she read out on this video. 

I’ve seen this document and I cannot believe how much detail is in it. Not only names, addresses, and emails of the cult members. But detailed descriptions of their supposed satanic practices. 

This parent helps smuggle in the babies. This parent rents out a room where the abuse took place. This teacher runs a child prostitution business. 

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that the internet absolutely laps this up. 

For the parents at Ella’s kids school, the fall out was almost immediate 

Sam: They had my, they had my address, they had my phone number, they had all my email and they also had the names of my children.

Alexi, narrating: This is Sam. Her daughter was in the same class as Ella’s youngest. 

Sam: I remember my phone ringing and, um, It had an American number on it. And I remember thinking, oh, who’s that?

And I answer the phone. And, um, this man with an American accent said something on the lines of, you should be ashamed of yourself, you’re abusing young children, you’re, you know, you are a pedophile, you’re a murderer. 

I remember as he was hurling all this abuse, actually not being able to get a word in and he just hung up. So it was like a, your this, you’re a killer, you are a child murderer. You’re gonna be sorry about this. Your time’s up. And then boom, phone went dead. 

Alexi, narrating: Sam was far from the only parent to get death threats in 2015. Pretty much everyone on Ella’s list was called, emailed, threatened. 

We’re talking, phone calls at 3 in the morning – strangers asking you if you abused children, if your own child liked sex, if they could meet your child for sex. 

For the parents on Ella’s list – this was like an explosion ripping up their comfortable lives. 

And like me – they started asking…why? Why would anyone choose to set off a bomb in this lovely, middle-class, bubble called Hampstead?

Sam: It was a bit like a fairytale in that sense that you are living in Hampstead, there’s this lovely school. You know, and it’s really picturesque, you know, this really beautiful part of old hampstead. There’s something really lovely about it and you’d walk up the steps to get to the school. And then you see this amazing church as well, which actually you can see from miles around because it’s quite high up on the hill.

Alexi, narrating: Unless – I suppose – you are on the outside, looking in. 

Alexi: And, and how did Ella fit into all of that? Do you remember when you first met her?

Sam: I don’t think she really did fit in. I don’t think, um, I think she probably was a little bit of a misfit in some way.

She wasn’t that sort of stereotypical mother, that, uh, probably the rest of us were quite middle class, affluent. Um, she never did really strike me as being like some of the other mums. It was difficult to put your finger on it, but there was just something a little bit different 

Alexi, narrating: Could Ella have been angry at something other than Ricky? Could she have named so many parents as members of the satanic cult because…she felt excluded? 

Sam tells me about a birthday party she hosted for her daughter back in 2013, before Ella had gotten together with Abraham. 

Sam: There was quite a few children there as you can imagine, it was the whole class, it was a disco,

Alexi, narrating: Ella’s son is invited. Ella turns up with both children – drops them at the party and – just as she’s leaving – she tells Sam… ‘oh by the way, they’re vegan’. 

Sam: and, you know, I remember just thinking, oh my God, just looking over at the pizzas and the sausage rolls and packs of crisp and thinking, this is like a nightmare. 

I do remember looking over and seeing them eating all this stuff that was basically not vegan and thinking, oh God, you know, I’m gonna be in trouble.

Alexi, narrating: When Ella picks up her kids, she’s cross – it’s obvious that they’ve strayed – and she blames Sam 

Alexi: And do you think that if she acted like that with other parents that she might have kind of felt isolated from the general kind of community of parents? 

Sam: I don’t really think so. I think people always made a real effort because at the end of the day, her children were lovely and really popular… So I think, you know, I thought she was okay. I thought she kept herself to herself.

Alexi, narrating: So, Ella was outside the Hampstead bubble

…she seems to have been regarded as slightly separate, slightly odd, by the other parents. 

And it’s true that primary school parents can be really cliquey,

But – at the time – it wasn’t like this was a major deal. It wasn’t like Sam was thinking “oh my god, this woman is totally bananas”

Later… However, her views hardened. 

Sam: Her behaviour changed quite considerably after she met Abraham 

Alexi: And did you have any interaction at all with, um, Abraham Christie? Do you remember him at all? 

Sam: Yeah. Yeah. I do remember him.

It was a school sports day. And, we were parents, you know, all there picnicking, watching the children.

​​I remember it was a particularly hot day, a bit like, you know, this hot summer we’re having now. And, Ella was there and they were sunbathing. Um, while you know, this, the, the sports day was happening. And I just remember thinking it was a bit odd because she was there in a bikini and he arrived, um, and he had his shirt unbuttoned all the way down. So like he was exposing chest. And it just felt completely inappropriate because it’s like a school funday.

Alexi, narrating: It’s difficult to know what to do with this information.

Going to a kids sports day in an open shirt probably is inappropriate. But I wonder…is there an element of snobbishness here? Abraham is from Tottenham, world’s apart from Hampstead…plus he’s black in what, as Sam says – is a pretty white area.

So…maybe Abraham felt the other parents disapproved of him and was pushing back…a little “fuck you” to the cliquey group. 

Then again – I’ve seen other photos of Abraham that I do think are inappropriate. There’s one in particular that I’m thinking of – taken in Morocco in the summer in 2014 – which shows him posing in a cannabis field…topless… holding some cannabis plants in his mouth. 

Ella is there too – she’s posing in a bikini. 

But what makes it uncomfortable is that I know that her kids are somewhere in the background.

They’re out of shot but they must have been there – because the photos were taken at the same time they were being coached to come up with the hoax. And that combination – cannabis, lack of clothing…kids…It all makes me feel a bit queasy. 

Sam: I thought there was something about him, um, that made me feel uncomfortable. 

And I always wondered whether he had actually influenced her. 

Alexi, narrating: By this point, Ella and Abraham had fled the country and Sabine McNeill – the woman who had leaked the videos – was running the show

Sam: It just got worse and worse and worse and worse. And then videos were appearing on different websites. 

And, uh, this class list was appearing all over the place. 

Alexi, narrating: She wasn’t content with simply posting videos of the children. From the safety of her apartment in Germany, she encouraged her followers to visit Hampstead in person.

Alexi, narrating: It was the first real sign – for the parents – that online threats could easily bleed over into the real world. 

And it happened in one place in particular – that fairytale village church right next to the school.

British Male: Alright, it’s Sunday, the 22nd of March, 2015. Uh, we’re just on the way down to Hampstead to pay a little visit to a certain vicar, naughty naughty vicar indeed. The church, the famous church where all the pedophilia goes off and there’s dirty peado clergymen, he’s passing school , the peado school. See, there’s a group already up there waiting, at the church

Stop killing babies. Stop killing.Satanist that one. She’s a satanist. Yeah, child killer. 

Sam: We sat in church and the members of this group were in the church. I genuinely think that they believed all this stuff that these people were publishing and had come to out of curiosity.

English Male 2: If you’ve seen the retraction, I don’t know if you’ve seen the videos, but if you’ve seen retraction, you know, there was no retraction there. It was actually child abuse. He was actually being abused by the interviewing officer. If it was an officer that interviewed him, he was playing with his mind.

Sam: Um, and then at the end of the church service, you know, and we all left the church to go home, they were all outside with banners. It was just nuts in the middle of like, you know, Hampstead outside the church. 

American Woman: Get away, watch your children, they’re fucking children, they’re killing children, they’re eating children

SAM: And I remember the priest leaving the church and they were following him and hounding him and holding placards saying murderer, you know, sex abuser, paedophile.That kind of. And, and, and it was at that time that I thought, oh my God, what is gonna happen? What is gonna happen? Um, you know, are we, are, is this now a safe place to live?

Alexi, narrating: By now, there were three catalysts driving the hoax. 

The videos of the children; the list of the perpetrators; and thirdly – on the ground organisers like Sabine, who were directing the protesters on what to say and where to go. 

She even made fliers – headlined “Is Your Child Safe?” – which she asked people to stick on cars in the area.

Sam:… it felt to me, like it had all been completely engineered that they had a clear set of rules. You know, don’t touch anyone. Don’t cross the boundaries, you’re in a public space. So you are allowed to do this.

Alexi, narrating: To the people on Ella’s list – this was the nightmare scenario. An army of cranks marshalled by someone who knew exactly what they were doing. 

Sam: We totally got the impression that this had all been driven really purposefully by a couple of people who almost like professional trolls. That’s how it felt like to me.

Michaela: At one point it got quite frightening and that there was a Facebook and a lot on social media about there was one day in particular when there was, meant to be an organised group to come.

Alexi, narrating: This is Michaela, another parent we spoke to – who also found her name – and her family’s – on Ella’s list. 

Michaela: And they were planning to storm the school to save the children who were on this list. 

And that was a really anxious day.

2000 people apparently had signed up to say they were gonna come to the school, to take the children.

Alexi, narrating: Sabine started giving interviews to alt-right radio stations and the alternative media. People you’ve probably never heard of – but who have thousands of followers. 

Richie: You’re a hero. Tell us about the petition? 

Sabine: Well yes it’s got 10,000 today 

Richie: Fantastic, and there’ll be more after this you can be sure of it. And when this goes on on DavidIcke.com headlines tomorrow, there’ll be thousands more sign it. I’ve no doubt about it. You know the brave new MPs who are speaking out against it. Have you had any conversations with any of those Sabine? 

Sabine: I sent an email to Simon Danschuk can you guarantee my safe return to the country. And I didn’t get a response. I emailed Tom Watson now. Belinda has emailed all the MPs. 

Richie: David Icke has just messaged. He’s asking, can you send let us have a link to the petition; and it’ll go on David Icke’s website so a lot more people will see it, millions a day look at David’s website, literally millions. And he asks could you let him have a copy of the medical report and he could report it without mentioning the source. What do you think? 

Sabine: Sure I’m up for all crimes, let’s put it that way. Crime is what has to be done. 

Alexi, narrating: Sabine’s role in promoting the hoax became so apparent that her name filtered through to the Hampstead parents. 

But it wasn’t the only name they heard. 

Alexi: Did you, did you kind of begin to get an idea of who the people were, who were driving the hoax at all?

Sam: Yeah. Sabine McNeil and Belinda McKenzie. 

Alexi, narrating: Belinda McKenzie. Sabine’s partner in crime. 

Belinda is the person who first made me realise that Sabine wasn’t operating in a vacuum…that, in fact, she was the gateway into something larger…a coordinated ecosystem of conspiracy theorists which have barely been reported on by the mainstream media. 

Belinda met Sabine a few years before the Hampstead Hoax, outside the family courts, and they bonded over their mutual loathing of how the courts operate. 

During Ella’s hearing, Belinda stood outside court giving interviews about the so-called “whistleblower kids” and acting as a kind of mother figure to Ella’s supporters. 

Belinda: This is very widespread. The children have said that it’s not just one school, but it’s several schools.

In fact, in one of the videos, which, you know, if you get on my mailing list, I’ll make sure that you get all the, sort of the hot, the hot stuff. If anybody wants to put their name on my mailing list, I will keep them updated because I don’t even do things by Facebook and Twitter so much because I like things to circulate a little bit quietly. 

Karen: She always had a bag full of sandwiches that she’d give out to her followers. And, you know, um, I think many people relied on her for financial support cuz she had a bit of money.

Alexi, narrating: This is Karen Irving. She’s been following the Hampstead case obsessively – almost from day one

Karen: Belinda McKenzie was the person who was in some ways, um, supportive of most of the, um, hoaxers and in particular support of financially of Sabine McNeil, um, and who spread the, um, spread the word that Sabine was putting out amongst her friends in the conspiracy community. She’s been a conspiracy theorist for many years.

Alexi, narrating: Belinda’s maiden name is Boswell – she’s part of the famous Boswell family – a direct descendant of James Boswell, the biographer of Samuel Johnson, the English writer. 

Belinda grew up on a huge estate in North Buckinghamshire and today she lives in a sprawling house in Highgate, right next to Hampstead. 

The house is known as the Highgate Hub – because – the legend goes – it’s played host to every major conspiracy theorist to come to Britain in the last 20 years. 

Karen: The rumour was that there were seven doorbells. I don’t know what that was meant to represent, but I did hear that she had what amounted to a bunker in her basement where she would hide people when they came, if they were trying to escape the, um, authorities who were trying to take the children from them. 

Alexi: So we’ve just got off the tube at Highgate and we’re a couple of minutes away from Belinda McKenzie’s house. We’re going to go around there, she’s agreed to have a conversation with us. We’ve got all our recording equipment with us, in the hope that she’ll give us an interview, but to be honest with you, I don’t hold out much hope.

Alexi, narrating: This summer, my producer Gemma and I paid Belinda a visit. Her home does indeed have a bunker… it is indeed sprawling…she has several lodgers, one who was a concert pianist and was giving online lessons while we were there. 

Belinda is charming. She gave us a tour of the house, and the never ending garden. She brought us cakes and tea to enjoy, and we sat in the sunshine having a good old chat. It was a bit like visiting a kindly aunt. 

But every now and then she slipped into conspiracy mode – she kept saying that paedophiles were everywhere – and she explained that she was a 9/11 Truther – someone who believes 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government.

Belinda insisted politely that our conversation – this time – was off the record, but she promised us an interview the following week.

And I noticed, as we were leaving by a cabinet by the front door, was a pile of newspapers called The Light, a conspiracy theory publication which I later found out has promoted Russian propaganda and called for journalists to be put on trial. 

That interview by the way… I’m not sure whether Belinda was playing us from the start, but she always came up with another excuse. It never happened.

I find that interesting though. Because while Sabine is a gung-ho, screw the consequences, I’ll say anything kind of person…Belinda is cleverer, more sly.

Belinda: “I’ve been a MacKenzie friend…a lot of times i’ve shut up, because I don’t actually want to go to prison. I certainly don’t break my gag. But, if I wasn’t saying certain things, other people would.”

Alexi, narrating: She reminds me of a kid I knew at school who would never do anything naughty, but would whisper to a mate: “Go on, you do it”. 

But don’t be fooled. This reticence hasn’t stopped her being involved in pretty much every conspiracy theory in the UK in the last two decades. If there’s a protest about 9/11; or the BBC covering up child abuse; or the government covering up pretty much anything…Belinda will be there, in her navy blue trench coat, waving a placard and handing out sandwiches. 

And what I discovered… when I dug a little deeper – is that Ella wasn’t Belinda’s first experience with a satanic hoax. 

A few years before, she’d got involved in the Hollie Greig case in Scotland. 

Holly was a Scottish woman with Down Syndrome whose mother had alleged she had been sexually assaulted for 14 years – from when she was six years old. She gave the police the names of 22 men who had assaulted her. At the top of the list was Hollie’s father and high powered people in Scotland, including police officers.

The police investigated but couldn’t find any evidence that Hollie’s claims were true. 

But that didn’t stop the case blowing up online. A group of campaigners, calling themselves “Hollie’s Army”, published all sorts of allegations – including the names of the suspects as well as rumours about satanic rituals. They raised lots of money, attracted the support of some politicians – and successfully kept the case in the news for years. 

Belinda was a big part of Hollie’s Army. 

So when she teamed up with Sabine to help Ella, well, she already had a playbook to work from. 

Ray Savage: “I’m a former police officer of 20 years. I had the opportunity of actually sitting with the mother in this case for 3 hours. 

Alexi, narrating: Belinda knew that hoaxes were amplified by people in positions of authority. People like Ray Savage, a former Detective Sergeant at Sussex Police. 

Ray Savage: I can absolutely tell you with my experience of interrogation over a 20 year period. As a former Detective Sergeant – she was speaking 110%, the truth. I know there’s been no investigation, no proper police statement taken from this woman because of the way she’s been harassed. I also know we have child abuse in this country to epidemic levels. 

Alexi, narrating: The video was filmed outside the church in Hampstead on March 29th 2015, two weeks after the judge published her judgement in Ella’s case. 

It’s a wet day – and Ray, a sensible sounding former copper in his early sixties – is wearing a raincoat. 

He’s standing with a small group of protestors, Belinda McKenzie is there…you can see her.

 Ray Savage: I was on Saturday sitting with a former MP from the home office who categorically stated to me that we’ve got now about one in 10 children being abused.

Alexi, narrating: When I first saw this, I sent it to my producer, kind of astonished – because I think Ray sounds very persuasive, at least on the face of it. 

And the more I watched it, the more it became clear how much of the hoax – and other hoaxes – was driven by people like this – people with veneers of authority. 

You know those scenes in crime dramas where a detective links up clues by putting up bits of string against a wall? At that moment, that’s how I was feeling. By running a string from Sabine to Belinda…and then from Belinda to Ray…I was starting to map out the chief players in Conspiracy Inc. 

In the centre are Sabine and Belinda, and I found that they were connected to a core circle of organised conspiracy theorists with names like Brian Gerrish, Jacquie Farmer, Angela Power Disney, Christine Sands and Matt Taylor. 

And then, a separate string links them to seemingly respectable figures like Ray and to Jon Wedger, another former senior police officer.

And from there? Well, you can connect these hoaxers to senior figures in the British parliament, to senior figures in the National Health Service, to establishment journalists – to lawyers – and to a parliamentary lobbyist who was recently jailed for kidnapping a child

…but… I’ll come to that…

Back in Hampstead, the parents on Ella’s list were desperately trying to remove all the references to them online. It was a game of whack a mole – every time a link was removed, three more would spring up. 

Sam:…and it became quickly obvious that the police couldn’t control all this online activity, but it was much more complicated than, you know, it was almost impossible to take these sites down, cuz every time you took a site down, another one would emerge. So it grew and grew and grew and grew and grew more and more people were getting calls.

Michaela: I know one family tried to get all the links cleared and I think they got something like 40, 50,000 links and websites taken down. And within three days they’d gone back up again.

Sam: It just was continually there. 

Alexi, narrating: I’ve spoken to a lot of parents – off the record and on – and they all say that the police didn’t do enough in the first year or so of the hoax. 

In spite of protests like the ones outside the Hampstead Church, the police’s attitude seems to have been ‘ignore the trolls and they’ll go away’. 

Until perhaps – this happened. 

Rupert: If nobody else wants to do it, I’ll go do it. I’ll go over there, myself, give me a team of people, anybody let’s just ride over to Hampstead and kick down doors and get some blood samples and try to find out if what these kids are saying is true…Somebody needs to go in there with some gusto and vet this thing out and save these kids. 

Alexi, narrating: In February 2015, Rupert Quaintaince, an American guy from Virginia, posts a video promising to go to Hampstead and “save the kids”. 

Rupert: Something terrible is going on in Hampstead – Why are the, why is this happening? Furthermore, why aren’t we kicking down the doors to the schools, the churches, if you go look at the source material, you’ll find out that these children are naming McDonald’s and Starbucks, where this stuff is happening. It’s disgusting. It’s despicable. It’s deplorable.

Alexi, narrating: Eight months later – more than a year after the hoax started – Rupert follows through on his pledge.

In AUGUST 2016 he flies to London and a few days later, posts a photograph of himself outside the kids’ school – on the first day of term. 

And he hints – in a facebook message – that he’s carrying something called a biscuit knife – a short, wide blade that can fit in the coin pocket of a pair of jeans. 

For the parents whose names were on Ella’s list, this was terrifying. 

The police are telling you ‘don’t worry – these threats are only online’. And then some guy – some lone operator flies all the way from America – promising to kick down doors – and stands outside your kids’ school…with a knife. 

Only, Rupert Quaintance wasn’t a lone operator, far from it.

Karen: Sabine and Belinda were paying for him to come to the UK, um, in the summer of 2016

Alexi, narrating: Sabine had not only donated to his GoFundMe page – but had offered him a place to stay during his trip. Other conspiracy theorists – including Belinda – had given him thousands of dollars in funding. 

Rupert sought the help of Conspiracy Inc – and he had been rewarded. 

Rupert’s visit to London doesn’t occur in a vacuum…2016 was a febrile year for satanic conspiracies. 

Four months after Rupert posed outside the children’s school, a 28 year old man from North Carolina, called Edgar Maddison Welch, arrived at a pizza parlour in Washington DC, and fired three shots into the restaurant. 

News Presenter:Police say that Welch told them that he showed up at the DC pizza restaurant to get to the bottom of what appears to be an utterly bogus story about child abuse promoted on the Internet.”

Alexi, narrating: Pizzagate – as that scandal was known – arose from the belief, widely perpetuated on the internet, that the pizza shop was a front for satanic child abuse. Welch had read online that the restaurant was harbouring child sex slaves and he wanted to help. 

Welch and Rupert Quintance are essentially the same people. Paranoid young men driven into a frenzy by an internet lie. 

Pizzagate is widely regarded as the precursor to QANON. 

And Hampstead… it’s the precursor to both. 

Karen: That was when some of the Americans began using the Hampstead Hoax as quote unquote proof of satanic ritual abuse

Alexi, narrating: What I was learning was that the Hampstead hoax wasn’t promoted by desperate individuals acting in isolation, but by a coordinated group of conspiracy theorists – with experience and resources. 

It was an army. 

Karen: It was so fast and so big and it just seemed to be, it just seemed to be like wildfire on the internet like you, every day there were, you know, dozens of new videos being put up, um, it was just, it was, it was just crazy.

I had never seen anything like it 

Alexi, narrating: But this army was to have a formidable opponent. 

A group of resistance fighters, made up of parents on Ella’s list – and internet warriors thousands of miles away from each other – who hated how the two Hampstead kids were being used as weapons in a wider war. 

This group decided to fight back. And it was them, much more the police – that changed the course of the hoax completely. 

Karen – I was just outraged. I know it’s hard enough being a parent, you don’t need crazy people running after you threatening to kidnap your children. That was just like, just not okay. This is really not okay. 

Alexi, narrating: Next time, on Hoaxed…

I speak to Karen – a mystery novelist who spearheaded the fight back against the hoaxers…

I continue my search for Ella and Abraham…

Alexi: So I click on Hope girls blog…and this, this woman has written, um, a blog post containing a really, really recent video that Ella has put together… but in the blog she says… it just so happens that I live in the same town as Abraham. 

You find Hope girl, you find Abraham Christie.

Alexi, narrating: And…

I manage to track down Sabine – the most important hoaxer of all 

Sabine: And I’m sort of, I’m sort of wondering now whether I, you know, whether I should regret having said yes to an interview, which is a pity. 

Alexi, narrating: Hoaxed was brought to you by me, Alexi Mostrous, Gemma Newby, Xavier Greenwood and Imy Harper. Sound design is by Eloise Whitmore. The executive producer is Basia Cummings. 


Credits

Alexi Mostrous Reporter and host

Gemma Newby Producer

Xavier Greenwood Reporter

Imy Harper Assistant producer

Eloise Whitmore Sound designer

Basia Cummings Executive Producer