12-year-old Semina took her own life after saying she was raped. Were Merseyside Police to blame?
Plus: a recommended long read about Liverpool’s music scene, and the rest of your Monday briefing
Dear readers — welcome to this week’s briefing. Today we cover the story of Semina Halliwell, a 12-year-old girl from Southport who took her own life after saying she was raped by a boy at school. Her family say they blame Merseyside Police for not investigating the case.
Today’s edition also has a recommended long read about Liverpool’s music scene in the Thatcher era, and a Guardian review of Domingo Hindoyan’s latest show at the Philharmonic Hall which says “the drama fell a little short.”
Thanks for your kind words about our weekend read. In case you missed it, Jack Walton wrote about Dr Najla al-Sonboli, a Liverpool alumni who works at Al-Sabeen hospital in war torn Yemen. “When I see a lot of kids died inside their homes in their mother's lap by the rockets and bombs, I never care about death while I am serving them,” she says. Read that piece here.
Last week on The Post
Last week, we sent members a great piece by veteran Liverpool journalist Larry Neild, about why the city should ditch the mayoral model — and why it should consider returning to the “committee system”, as Sheffield has done.
In Thursday’s edition, Mollie wrote a feature about the fight for the peregrine falcons in Liverpool Cathedral, and a story about a family of Georgian asylum seekers settling into life in Liverpool.
We now have 337 members and it’s incredibly heartening to see so many of you engaging with our stories and leaving us comments. To join and receive our journalism four times a week, hit the subscribe button below. It works out at £1.25 a week if you pay for a year.
This week’s weather
The big story: 12-year-old Semina took her own life after saying she was raped. Were Merseyside Police to blame?
The top line: It was March 2021 when 12-year-old Semina Halliwell broke down and told her mother she had been raped by a boy from her high school in Southport. He had been grooming her on Snapchat into meeting him in secret. In a police interview, she was told by a detective that she may have to wait up to two years for it to go to court. He asked her: “Do you really want this hanging over your head for 18 months, because it wouldn’t go to court for 18 months to two years”.
Harassment, witness intimidation and police failings:
After the report, Semina, her brother and her family were seemingly subjected to a campaign of witness intimidation, harassment and abuse, which the family believe was committed by associates of the alleged perpetrator and say Merseyside Police failed to fully investigate.
"Even though there were videos of [Semina] being beaten up on social media, the police did nothing about it,” Semina’s mother Rachel tells Sky News. “The officer, the detective, said 'Well, things have quietened down now, so if I go around it might kick off all over again'”.
Three months after the first report, Semina sat down for a second police interview in her home. Halfway through, she said “I’ve had enough of this” and went upstairs and took a lethal dose of medicine which would kill her.
Semina’s last moments: After four nights in hospital, Semina died in hospital of multiple organ failure with her family by her side. Her aunt Clare says:
We had the medical team sobbing around us. I remember [the consultant] coming to me and he was crying through his glasses and I don't remember how long they were there, I just remember that she was warm when I first touched her but then she went cold, she went cold, she started to go blue.
Aftermath: The family says they continued to be harassed while they were grieving. They were sent edited pictures of her decomposing in a coffin from fake Snapchat accounts, created anonymously and therefore difficult for police to trace. One such account offered a £10,000 reward for someone to trash Semina’s grave. “The police either couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it,” Rachel said.
Merseyside Police declined to discuss the family’s complaints with Sky News. The Home Office said: “We are committed to ensuring more perpetrators face the full force of the law and overhauling our response to rape including increased funding for victim support services.” An inquest into Semina’s death will be held in due course.
Local news in brief
Police raided the London headquarters of Unite the Union last week as part of a bribery, fraud and money laundering investigation, leaving with a box of files, paper and a computer. Further addresses in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales were also searched. More here.
The suspended Labour councillors have written to the party to say if a decision is not taken by 19th April, they will form an opposition group. Seven councillors were suspended in March after voting against Joanne Anderson’s budget. Alan Gibbons said: “For all of us, our heart beats red, but what unites us is the vote over this budget.” More here.
Hugh Baird college in Bootle is offering free English classes to Ukrainian refugees in the city region, calling it “our small way of showing support”. Taras Khomych, the priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Liverpool, tells The Post the first Ukrainian refugees have begun to arrive. More here.
Covid-19 cases continue to fall. The case rate for the Liverpool City Region is 405.2, down 45.8% from the previous week. England’s case rate is 437.8, down 41.9%. Cases are highest in Halton, lowest in Liverpool.
Home of the week
A mews home in the garden area of Wavertree just came on the market for £300,000. It has three bedrooms, beautiful period features and a large garden.
🎑 We’ve been looking forward to this exhibition since it was announced. Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight has a great new display of Japanese Prints by Toyohara Kunichika, a 19th-century printmaker who liked to capture scenes from Kabuki theatre in his work. It starts on Friday. More here.
📚 We recently sat down for an interview with Lucy Easthope, the author of When The Dust Settles to discuss her memoir about her experience as a disaster responder. Lucy grew up in Birkenhead in the shadow of Hillsborough and her book explores how the tragedy informed her work planning for disasters and helping families cope in the aftermath. She’s speaking at Waterstones in Liverpool ONE on Wednesday, and members will be able to read that piece soon. Tickets are £3.
🍷 West Kirby Arts Centre is hosting a spring wine festival on Saturday. There will be a up to 40 natural wines, live acoustic music, a turntable spinning and you can bring your own picnic. More here.
🇺🇦 There’s a concert for Ukraine at Claremont Farm in Bebington this Sunday. It hopes to raise £5,000 for the Sanctuary Foundation, who are helping support new arrivals from Ukraine into the UK. Dough Bros pizza truck will be there, plus a bar. Book tickets here.
✍️ We went to a life drawing class at 92 Degrees recently and thought it was such a peaceful and fun way to spend an evening, so we had to recommend this class too. It’s at Make. North Docks on Thursday evening, and tickets include a cheeseboard and a glass of wine. Book a place here.
🪴 Calderstones Mansion is hosting outdoor dining sessions in their garden with a new spring menu and live performances as well. Fingers crossed the weather improves. Book a place here.
🍻 There’s a pub walk in Wigan this Saturday organised by the Liverpool Campaign for Real Ale. Take the 11.36am train from Liverpool Lime Street to meet at Wigan North Western and then tour around the region’s best pubs. More here.
Our favourite reads
Hugh Morris, a freelance music critic who has written for us (and the New York Times), pens a great review of Béla Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle at the Philharmonic Hall in the Guardian. Hugh writes that Domingo Hindoyan’s direction has a “convincing thrust to it”, but falls short of capturing the psychodrama and shock value at the story’s core. In case you missed it, Hugh and Joshi wrote a great profile of Hindoyan back in January: you can read that piece here.
The pop culture magazine The Quietus wrote a brilliant feature about Liverpool’s music scene from 1976-1988 and the state of the city at the time. “It’s not that there’s no hope because you didn’t ever wanna go work down the docks or in the factories, so we were that generation who were saying ‘fuck off, we don’t wanna work down the docks!’ In some working-class areas that fall into desperate poverty there isn’t that same tradition of turning towards creativity, but in Liverpool people’s self-expression became really, really important.”
A great feature in the New Statesman that outlines how rising costs of commuting and stagnant wages make working life difficult for Britain’s young employees. We hear from Chloe, a City of Liverpool College graduate who got a place on a Kickstarter scheme working in recruitment, and found that commuting costs were taking up a huge chunk of her income. “I need to hold back. You worked for that money, and you’re telling yourself you can’t even buy yourself a coffee without feeling bad.”
Letters from readers
I knew so little about how councils work, this taught me a lot ‘Few people in the city will be mad enough to keep the mayoral system’. I really appreciate you acting as a sort of interface into the complexity of local government. Thank you, Paul Fawkesley
Thank you for covering the peregrine story in such detail ‘The fight for Liverpool’s peregrine falcons’, Bridget Johnson
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