Wednesday, April 29, 2015

# 113 A response to Scott Neeson's 'anonymous' commentary.

Dear Scott

Over the past six months you have made several comments anonymously on my blog. At first, your petulant, slightly irrational writing style and self-righteous tone gave you away. Then you began to change your style, to hide your identify, but it was still pretty clearly you making lots of anonymous comments in defense of Scott Neeson and doing all you could to discredit me – all the while refusing to answer any questions at all.

You are a master at the art of not answering questions.

Yesterday you made a series of comments but forgot, in your aggrieved pique, to hide your writing style. Here is the last one of any substance. I will respond to it with another ‘inane rant’ from me:

“Yes James, there is no question that the journalist referred to the girls as orphans, perhaps you should be writing to Lucie to question why she described them as orphans and not posting another if your inane rants. Please also see the definition of Orphanage as described by Wikipedia, possibly you are unaware in Asia that most institutions that take care of children are referred to using the general term of "orphanage"

"It is frequently used to describe institutions abroad, where it is a more accurate term, since the word orphan has a different definition in international adoption.[1] Although many people presume that most children who live in orphanages are orphans, this is often not the case with four out of five children in orphanages having at least one living parent and most having some extended family."

How do you know that after 2 years of investigating Fletcher four different investigating bodies came up with nothing, do you have that in writing from them ? Maybe if Fletcher is stupid enough to keep pushing for a trial then everything they found will be brought up and his sentence will actually be extended, then I am sure he will not thank you for your interference. Surely he must realize by now that he is only a pawn in the game of your vendetta against the many people in Cambodia you despise, you openly admit you are no friend of his. 

The question could also be asked why it is not his family in the UK that are fighting for him. Why do you not post an open letter to his children asking them about his past, I am sure if they see him as a warm caring father instead of the convicted child sex offender he is they will willingly come forward and it will surely help the supposed support you are giving him. 

As I thought - you have no proof of children sleeping 3 and 4 in a bed but are just relying on rumour, innuendo and scuttlebutt as you put it. No proof whatsoever Mr Ricketson.

You have no axe to grind with Scott - That is sheer nonsense, please also show me where I have ever said you have no right to ask questions of Scott Neeson (or anybody else in Cambodia for that matter) As far as I am concerned you have the right to ask anybody anywhere any question you wish to ask, but they also have the right to ignore your question if they wish (as most people appear to - not only in Cambodia but within the NSW health, Screen Australia etc etc etc) As somebody commented on one of your recent posts you appear to be nothing but a serial pest with nothing else to do to pass your time and more interest in criticizing others than doing anything to help them.”

Regardless of how the word ‘orphanage’ might be used in Asia, the article in question was written for an English language newspaper by a journalist who knows full well what the word ‘orphan’ means to an Australian reader – a boy or girl without parents.

If there is any confusion here about whether the girls are orphans or not, why don’t you clarify the matter with an answer? With words to the effect of:

“Yes, all 9 of these girls are orphans with no families”


“X number of these girls are orphans and Y come from very poor families.”


“None of these girls is an orphan in the sense that we use the word in the West but all are from very poor families – whom we have also been assisting financially as their daughters receive a first class education that will make it possible for them to help lift the entire family out of poverty?”

Or there may be another equally simple answer that does not occur to me.

You ask how I  “know that after 2 years of investigating Fletcher four different investigating bodies came up with nothing?”

Read Andrew Drummond’s article:

If the four NGOs had evidence that Mr Fletcher was ‘grooming young girls’, and if that evidence was passed on to the relevant Cambodian authorities, why had Mr Fletcher not been arrested at the time Andrew Drummond wrote his article?

You ask “do you have that in writing from them?”  By which you mean, do I have in writing from you, Steve Morrish, Thierry Darnaudet, Samleang Seila and CEOP that they do not have evidence? I have asked you and the others if they have evidence that Mr Fletcher was ‘grooming young girls’. Many times.  None of you  have responded in any way at all.

(Whilst writing this I have learned, from what I consider to be a reliable source, that none of Gina Rinehart’s 9 ‘Cambodian daughters’ is an orphan.)   

You write: “Maybe if Fletcher is stupid enough to keep pushing for a trial then everything they found will be brought up and his sentence will actually be extended.”

I know that you have no interest at all in facts, Scott, but there are others reading this for whom facts are relevant. In this case, the fact is that Mr Fletcher received a 10 year jail sentence (in absentia) for allegedly raping Yang Dany. He was not accused of or found guilty of ‘grooming young girls’.

Not only does Yang Dany deny being raped but the medical report prepared for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court states that she was a virgin after the alleged rapes.

If you have evidence relating to the alleged rapes you should present it to the Court. David Fletcher has asked them more than once to do so. You do not respond.

You claim that I have a vendetta “against the many people in Cambodia (1) despise.”
Can you provide me with the name of one person I despise and the evidence you have (on my blog, presumably) for this?

As for admitting that I am not a friend of David Fletcher’s, of what relevance is this? I am a journalist and filmmaker. I don’t need to be friends with anyone I might write about or make films about. If you were falsely accused of rape and I was in possession of evidence that you were innocent I would defend your right to a fair trial regardless of my personal feelings for you – which, incidentally, have no component of hatred in them. The same would apply, of course, for a lawyer. A lawyer does not need to be friends with, or even like, his client to advocate on behalf of his client’s right to a fair trial.

You write: “The question could also be asked why it is not his family in the UK that are fighting for him.”

Mr Fletcher is alienated from his children. They have believed what was written by Andrew Drummond, Richard Shears and other journalists who jumped on the bandwagon. The same applies for Liam Miller – alienated from members of his own family as a result of an article published by the Phnom Penh Post.

As for the “children sleeping 3  and 4 to a bed” and some sleeping on the floor, despite your insistence that you staff never talk to anyone in the media, some do  – regardless of confidentiality agreements and being intimidated into silence.  In the case of the family locked out of their home for being $17 behind in their rent, they were visited by CCF after I published a story about this and told never to speak with the media again.

As for the question: “Who has the right to ask Scott Neeson questions, if I do not” you will be aware that a significant part of the role of the 4th Estate is to hold people in positions of power accountable for their actions. You are a person with a considerable amount of power that accrues from the huge amounts of money you raise for CCF.

Almost exactly a year ago, another journalist, Simon Marks, asking questions, making enquiries, refusing to be deterred by spin, making a nuisance of himself, uncovered facts relating to Somaly Mam’s fraudulent account of her life.  He was doing what a good journalist does and, in the process, I am sure, earning him the enmity of those who did not want Somaly Mam’s scam exposed.

Mind you, Somaly Mam’s lies had been known to the entire NGO community for many years before Simon Marks finally exposed her. And it is this prior knowledge on the part of “, the Cambodian government and MoSAVY, the American government, human rights groups, etc.” that is the answer to the question implicit in this statement of yours:

“If the international development community, the Cambodian government and MoSAVY, the American government, human rights groups, etc. all think CCF is doing a fantastic job, why would people be swayed to think otherwise by this bunch of nut-cases?”

Well, , the Cambodian government and MoSAVY, the American government, human rights groups, etc.  will be swayed one day but probably not until Time or Newsweek or some mainstream news outlet asks you questions similar to those I have been asking for years now; some media outlet that you cannot ignore quite as easily as you do me; some media outlet that will read your refusal to answer questions, your refusal to allow CCF kids and staff to talk with journalists, as evidence that you have something to hide; media outlets that will find it very hard to believe that it costs CCF $4,000 per year to house and educate one child. And so on.

It comes as no surprise that you (or those acting on your behalf) put so much effort into shooting the messenger. However, there will be other messengers – other journalists who will eventually smell a rat and start asking the same questions I ask. You are just lucky that there are none doing so just now. Your luck will run out, however, just as Somaly Mam’s did. You can only control your life-narrative for so long before the cracks appear and will be publick knowledge as were Somaly Mam’s lies years before she was finally exposed in a way that could not be ignored.



Saturday, April 25, 2015

# 112 Are Gina Rinehart's 9 'Cambodian daughters' orphans?

An open letter to Scott Neeson, executive director of the Cambodian Children’s Fund - the NGO providing Gina Rinehart with her 9 'Cambodian daughters'

Gina Rinehart and 2 of her 9 'Cambodian daugthers'

Dear Scott

Are the two girls who appear in the photo below with Gina Rinehart genuine orphans? Or do they have at least one living parent?

The same question applies to the other 7 orphans ‘adopted’ by Gina Rinehart.

As you know, it is generally accepted that 75% of children residing in Cambodian ‘orphanages’ have at least one living parent.

If these two girls (and Ms Rinehart’s other 7 ‘Cambodian daughters’)  have families, were their parents (or single parent) provided with a financial incentive to give these girls up to Gina Rinehart so that she could become their ‘mum’?

It may well be that all nine girls have benefited enormously, from an educational point of view, from their association with Gina Rinehart.  It may well be that their futures will be much more secure as a result of their having been ‘adopted’ by Ms Rinehart. And if all nine girls are, indeed, genuine orphans, Ms Rinehart taking them under her wing has been an act of kindness, generosity and benevolence to be applauded.

However, it may also be, if Ms Rinehart’s 9 Cambodian daughters do in fact have families, that you have mislead her regarding their status as ‘orphans’.

Are all these nine girls, or any of them, orphans, Scott?

A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer will suffice.

If these girls have families a Pandora’s Box of questions arise – the kinds of questions you have consistently refused to answer this past few years when I have put them to you. These are questions you refuse to answer when put to you by any member of the media who is interested in more than simply publishing Cambodian Children’s Fund press releases as ‘news’.

Given that you have 700+ children in residential care at the Cambodian Children’s Fund, and given that most of the these 700+ children have families, the questions I am asking here are relevant not only to Gina Rinehart’s 9 ‘Cambodian daughters’ but to all the other CCF girls (and boys) in your care who could or might be ‘rescued’ by wealthy non-Cambodian individuals.

How much money does a sponsor or donor need to be able to become a ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ to a child living in institutional residential care at the Cambodian Children’s Fund?

There is a fine line between an individual such as Ms Rinehart offering, out of the goodness of their hearts, to help materially disadvantaged children, and the trafficking of children. The Cambodian “Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation” is relevant in this context:

Article 8:Definition of Unlawful Removal

The act of unlawful removal in this act shall mean to:
1)    Remove a person from his/her current place of residence to a place under the actor’s or a third persons control by means of force, threat, deception, abuse of power, or enticement, or
2)    Without legal authority or any other legal justification to do so to take a minor person under general custody or curatoship or legal custody away from the legal custody of the parents, care taker or guardian.
Article 9: Unlawful removal, inter alia, of Minor

A person who unlawfully removes a minor or a person under general custody or curatorship or legal custody shall be punished with imprisonment for 2 to 5 years.

Were any or all of Ms Rinehart’s 9 ‘Cambodian daughters’ removed from their homes by the Cambodian Children’s Fund as a result of ‘deception’ (passing the girls off as ‘orphans’) or ‘enticement’ - money paid to the parents?

If you and CCF have any commitment to the precepts of transparency and accountability, Scott, it should be very easy for you to answer the questions asked here – all of which could be boiled down to one question:

Do the 9 girls ‘adopted’ by Gina Rinehart have living parents?


AUSTRALIA’S richest person, Gina Rinehart, is famously estranged from at least two of her own children — but she has news for them: there are some new kids on the block.
The normally intensely private iron ore magnate has broken her silence today to tell the Herald Sun of the “special bond” she shares with nine Cambodian “daughters”, all orphans she rescued in 2007 from the sordid backstreets of Phnom Penh.
The girls, who are now mostly in their late teens, are central to Ms Rinehart’s daily life.
“The girls are known as my Cambodian daughters,” she says proudly in a rare interview.
Asked if she feels protective and proud of them, as if they were her own daughters, the Hancock Prospecting chair says: “Yes. They are growing into impressive, lovely, polite, considerate, young ladies.”
A third of Cambodia’s 15 million people live on less than a dollar a day.
But life for these young women, who had only ever known extreme poverty and misery as orphans struggling to survive, is now very different.
They are at the very heart of Gina Rinehart’s rarefied world.
Ms Rinehart is paying for them to be educated at top Asian universities, and they are welcome guests at her new luxury beachside pad at an exclusive cove on Sentosa Island, Singapore.
They are also flown overseas for birthdays, black tie events and special treats.
“I’ve visited them many times and we keep in regular contact, including bringing them overseas for special occasions, birthdays, awards,” Ms Rinehart said.
According to friends, Ms Rinehart excitedly shares frequent updates about the girls and their achievements with those within her close circle.
The mining magnate has long been at loggerheads with two of her four children — John Hancock, 38, and Bianca Rinehart, 36 — over the profits of a family trust set up by her late father, Lang Hancock.
Youngest daughter Ginia, 27, has sided with her mother.
Another daughter, New York-based Hope Welker, 29, has pulled out of the dispute after originally siding with her older siblings.
Last week, as her two elder children won access to emails and documents that could assist their legal fight, Ms Rinehart decided the time was right to finally talk about the Cambodian girls.
“It’s a very warm and special bond,” Ms Rinehart said.
“We keep in regular contact. Some have already finished uni, and others are in various stages of their uni degrees,” she said.
“Education and opportunity make an enormous difference and change people’s lives, as we have seen with my girls.”
In 2007, Ms Rinehart read an article on the hideous Cambodian child sex trade.
It detailed how thousands of children, some as young as five, faced daily violence and unimaginable abuse, and the risk of death.
“I first heard about their situation when I read an article about the terrible and frightening treatment of too many young Cambodian women and I thought that I’d like to be able to help,” the 61-year-old said.
“We made some investigations and tracked down people who could connect us, and got involved,” she said.
Ms Rinheart founded The Hope Scholarship Program.
The nine girls were chosen from local orphanages.
Ms Rinehart is said to have personally ensured that the girls were cared for in a special safe house, cooked for by a chef and educated in a local school.
She then helped them all attend university.
She even gave them motorbikes on which to travel around the busy streets.
Ms Rinehart predicts that the girls will be future “leaders” of Cambodia.
“It has been fantastic to see them grow into beautiful ladies and become young leaders for their country,” she said.
“A country they are devoted to, and want to see benefit from greater education and higher economic growth.”
Ms Rinehart, who lobbies Australia’s government to cut red tape to help investment, encourages the girls to study two of her own role models: Lee Kuan Yew, the late prime minister of Singapore, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “who helped their countries create economic growth and reduce poverty”.
“Others who wish to donate … would also bring much happiness to their own lives for helping these lovely children,” Ms Rinehart said.
Scott Neeson, executive director of the Cambodian Children’s Fund, which runs the scholarship program, says the girls love Ms Rinehart.
“These girls were taken under the wing of Gina many years ago, quietly, selflessly and securely … these young women are reflections of the woman they love and call mum,” he writes in Ms Rinehart’s newly published book, From Red Tape to Red Carpet … And Then Some.
Mr Neeson says that the girls know a “very different Gina” to the one they read about in the media, saying; “There’s nothing written about her love and heart.”
At Ms Rinehart’s request the Herald Sun has not named the Cambodian girls, in order to protect their “privacy and security”.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

# 111 David Fletcher back in jail but, with renewed energy, determined to be given a fair trial

Foreign Secretary
Parliamentary House of Commons

23rd April 2015

Dear Mr Hammond

My 39th letter to you!

As with the previous 38 this one will yield no response from you. Nonetheless, it will be on record and the day will come when you will be held accountable for your silence, your inaction, the failure in your duty of care to a citizen of the United Kingdom.

I arrived back in Cambodia late yesterday to be greeted by an email from Stuart Poole, Customer Service Manager to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. 

Dear Mr Ricketson

Mr David Fletcher’s complaint about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

Thank you for providing us with further information in relation to Mr Fletcher’s complaint.

We have decided to investigate Mr Fletcher’s complaint about the FCO. Please find attached a letter to Mr Fletcher for your information.

We have also been made aware of your website. On that website you have published copies of our correspondence to you and Mr Fletcher; this includes the names of our staff members.

Our investigations, and the decisions whether or not we should investigate, are conducted in private as Parliament requires. We ask you to respect that by not naming our staff and not placing correspondence we send to you and Mr Fletcher in the public domain. Please remove the references to our staff members from your website.

If you continue to place copies of our correspondence on your website during our consideration of the case then we may have to decide whether you are acting responsibly as Mr Fletcher’s representative. That may result in us not accepting you as a suitable person to represent Mr Fletcher. We would then have to ask him to find another representative.

We would much rather avoid having to do this as we recognise that Mr Fletcher is isolated and it may be difficult for him to make suitable alternative arrangements. I hope, therefore, to avoid further unnecessary complications and stress for Mr Fletcher during this period, you will exercise restraint and allow us to accept you as his representative.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Poole
Customer Service Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower

My response to Mr Poole was as follows:

Dear Stuart Poole

You will be aware that one month ago, in desperation, having given up hope that anyone was going to help him (including the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman ) Mr Fletcher attempted to end his life. He did not succeed and, after being in a coma for 8 days, has been slowly recovering. He has been abandoned by the Cambodian Embassy and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - up to and including Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond. The FCO even went do far as to destroy evidence in his case in the form of Mr Fletcher's passport. Your office has done nothing to assist Mr Fletcher despite his many requests and despite your office having been copied on around 35 letters sent to Mr Hammond. And now, at the 11th hour, you are offering to assist Mr Fletcher as long as I - a filmmaker and journalist - do not identify any of those who have played a role this past few years in treating Mr Fletcher with contempt.

Given the incompetence and indifference revealed by the FCO I intend, with Mr Fletcher's permission, to refer the matter of his 'accidentally destroyed' passport to the British police in an attempt to find out which of the stories told by various members of the FCO regarding Mr Fletcher's passport is true - if, indeed, any of them are.

In short I will now attempt to achieve what your office could have achieved months ago - namely to find out the true story of what happened to Mr Fletcher's passport . Who gave the order to destroy it? And who told FCO staff to lie about it and then, when I catch them out lying, tell me that they will have no further communication with me?

You know all this and have done nothing.

Mr Fletcher has been returned to the jail despite his ill health and need for further hospital treatment. And not one person from the British Embassy has shown the slightest interest in his fate, his well-being or offered to assist him in any way this past month.

Of one thing you can be fairly certain - Mr Fletcher will not fail the next time he decides that death at his own hand is preferable to a slow death in prison for a crime that the FCO has known for close to 5 years he did not commit.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Three days ago Mr Fletcher was returned from hospital to the jail. This morning I visited him there. He is much improved since I last saw him – both in mind and body. And his fighting spirit has returned.

Mr Fletcher told me that two days ago he had finally had delivered to him the documents that were supposed to be delivered in Jan this year. He has not had an opportunity to go through these papers as yet. We will go through them together during the next few days.

Mr Fletcher told me that a representative of the British Embassy (a Khmer woman) visited him two days ago in jail. She was very supportive and compassionate in her responses to his plight. She told Mr Fletcher that she had visited him in hospital each day that he was unconscious – as did I. I did not see her but Mr Fletcher believes that she did so and is very appreciative of her concern for his well-being. He is also very appreciative of the support he has received throughout this past month from the prison guards and fellow inmates. As I am sure the Khmer woman from the Embassy will confirm, Mr Fletcher is an old-fashioned English gentleman who treats everyone he encounters with courtesy and respect. He is, in person, far removed from the monster that Peter Hogan, Scott Neeson and members of the 4th estate have presented him to be to the public at large.

I informed Mr Fletcher that his lawyer had managed to obtain a date for a hearing of his case – to determine whether or not he should be entitled to a fair trial midway through his 10 year jail sentence. This is being referred to as a ‘re-trial’ but, as you know, as you and the FCO have known for close to 5 years, there has been no trial at all at which Mr Fletcher was in attendance or in a position to present evidence in his defense or to have Yang Dany, his alleged victim, cross-examined. He has not even been interviewed by the police of an investigating judge this past five years.

The hearing will be held on 7th May – two weeks away. As you know Thierry Darnaudet’s ‘child protection NGO’, Action Pour les Enfants, has sent Yang Dany to China so that she cannot testify or be cross-examined. This leaves the matter of Mr Fletcher’s passport, containing evidence that he was not in Cambodia at the time of the alleged rapes, as a key piece of evidence. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has acknowledged that it destroyed Mr Fletcher’s passport  and it would be very useful for his defense to have a letter to that effect from the FCO. Could you please instruct your staff to provide such a letter?

To date all of Mr Fletcher’s experiences with the Cambodian legal system have been disastrous – to put it mildly. And whilst he has hopes that on 7th May the judges may finally grant his wish to be tried in accordance with the Cambodian Code of Criminal Procedure, he is also aware that there are many people and organizations, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that would have a lot of egg on their faces if he were to be found innocent after so much effort has been put into his pursuit and prosecution. Mr Fletcher is well aware of the way in which ‘justice’ is administered in Cambodian and is prepared for the worst.

Mr Fletcher told me this morning, in no uncertain terms, that he was only interested in walking out of jail an innocent man. He is not interested in receiving a pardon from the King – one path that has been suggested to him of late. He is likewise not interested in being repatriated to the UK on the pretext that, at age 70, he is too old to be in a Cambodian prison – another avenue he has been told is open to him. “I either leave this prison an innocent man or as a corpse,” were Mr Fletcher’s exact words. I understand that Mr Fletcher said much the same to the Khmer woman from the British Embassy who visited him two days ago.

It is up to you, Mr Hammond, to remove your head from the sand, take notice of this matter and instruct your staff to stop being obstructive and to abide by their duty of care to a citizen of the United Kingdom – namely to do all they can to see to it that Mr Fletcher receives a fair trial.

best wishes

James Ricketson