Black Listed - The Curious Case Of Liverpool F.C. & Fan X
by J.S. Leatherbarrow
I have recently happened upon one of the most curious cases I’ve ever seen in football. In one corner you have Liverpool F.C. - in the other a season ticket holder and lifelong fan (Fan X) of the club. Acting as referee & ringside judges you have the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO,) the Football Supporter’s Federation (FSF,) Liverpool fans’ union Spirit Of Shankly (SOS) and Kick It Out (KIO.)
Liverpool have claimed that Fan X sexually assaulted 2 different female stewards at 2 separate matches - only days apart. The actions were lewd, crude and morally & physically repulsive. That it happened isn’t in much doubt. Whether it was Fan X who committed the incidents, in question, is.
And so leads us to an intriguing tale of a claim of racial discrimination against the club, of the club denying deliberately destroying video evidence, banning Fan X indefinitely from attending matches and - at best - a hugely flawed investigation by Liverpool Football Club.
This is a break from the usual type of journalism that Football And The City undertakes and marks our first foray into investigative journalism.
Liverpool FC have provided a statement to Football And The City (FATC,) Kick It Out have said they will provide me with some form of clarification in their involvement but that it would be after publishing, the IFO have provided details on how their investigation was run and SOS & the FSF have provided answers to several questions I sent to them about their experiences and their involvement in the case.
I have also spoken with Fan X for a total of at least 15 hours in the course of my investigation. He has remained consistent in his reading of the case against him. He cannot be identified publicly whilst the case is ongoing. He has however provided a few words for the end of this piece. His time has been invaluable and has allowed me a deep understanding of the inner workings of this case. The same goes for all of those I have spoken with.
I have been privy to the knowledge contained in other documents and materials relating to the case that weren’t in the IFO report (as have all of the above bodies.) These documents cannot be made public yet until the racial discrimination complaint has been dealt with. What I can say is that they cast yet further doubt on Fan X’s alleged guilt.
As the case is still ongoing I cannot include certain names in this article - other than those whose names have already been made public relating to the case.
Aside from the statement Liverpool have provided to FATC, I was told by the club that they were going to review their appeals’ procedure. They have also reinstated Fan X’s season ticket which implies heavily that they have their own grave doubts as to his guilt.
Kick It Out are involved but, at the time of writing, I haven’t been able to ascertain with absolute clarity what their level of involvement is, other than in general terms.
On September 22nd, 2018, Liverpool played Southampton in the Premier League. The IFO report the club’s version of events as follows:
On 22 September 2018 at the Southampton match an experienced female steward at Gate D reported that a male described as “mixed race” asked to be searched by a female and that during the search he “was moving his body towards me trying to push me back”. While searching his right leg, “that was when he tried to put his clutch (sic) near me”. No report on the incident was submitted at the time and the steward commented “I just carried on doing my job”. The incident assumed significance only in the light subsequent events.
4 days later on September 25th, 2018, Liverpool played Chelsea in the League Cup. The IFO report the club’s version of events as follows:
A young female steward still in training was deployed at Gate D and was engaged in searching a party of three males, one of whom “proceeded to open his arms and push me against the wall”. She reported that he then “turned round, bent over in front of me laughing” and when searching his ankles “he thrusted (sic) his crotch in my face”. She gave no description of the man in the original Incident Report Card and this was supplied by the male steward working with her, as “black…wearing a black zip jacket and black baseball cap”. The steward was clearly distressed by the incident and requested deployment to another zone. At the next home game, against Manchester City, the Ticketing Investigation Manager met with her in the company of the Club’s Safeguarding Officer and she gave further details. The person was now described as “mixed race, possibly of African origins…no facial hair and his head was partially covered with a sports cap…wearing a dark hoody top and jeans”. A police officer was summoned to the meeting, who advised that a potential crime had been committed and a crime incident number was recorded. The steward later decided not to pursue police action, preferring the Club to deal with the incident.
The IFO state explicitly that the club did not know the identity of the man involved at this stage. At the next Liverpool home match, at Anfield, the ticketing investigation officer positioned himself at Gate D, deploying the same male steward who was witness to both events in the hope of a positive identification of the perpetrator of both incidents.
The IFO reports as follows:
In fact, the complainant approached the Manager to thank him for some previous assistance with a ticketing problem and after this conversation the steward confirmed that the complainant was indeed the man who had been involved in both incidents.
The club now believing that they had the identity of the perpetrator assembled an internal panel which concluded:
“Due to the serious nature of your alleged conduct, the Club has no alternative other than to suspend your season ticket account with immediate effect and will not allow you access to Anfield Stadium for an indefinite period.”
This was sent, in a letter dated 16th October 2018, to Fan X. They advised him that he had 10 days to appeal.
In his letter of appeal he simply relayed the events of the match against Southampton as follows:
“I was in a joking manner and dancing in front of her and making light hearted that she had to search me…It was totally intended as a bit of light hearted fun which I believed the female steward could see and I made this clear to the male steward…[who] did not see any reason to intervene…I have not made any physical contact with anybody.”
He also conveyed an apology to the steward saying that “there was no intention to offend, disrespect or belittle”.
Now, the problem with this is that one version has it as borderline sexual assault - the other that it was merely a bit of light-hearted fun. As the IFO have it: “The incident assumed significance only in the light (of) subsequent events.”
The incident assumed significance only in the light (of) subsequent events………….
A Fan’s Fight For Justice
Where to begin?
I first came across this case on Twitter, of all places. I’ve been mutually following a club called Mersey Royal for some time & their sister club Mersey Royal Girls. A number of non-club tweets started appearing that caught my eye.
The words Liverpool & racism immediately rang alarm bells. I delved a little deeper. I found that Fan X had had his season ticket rescinded for “an indefinite period” and that he felt it was a case of mistaken identity. He also felt that he had been picked out simply because he was black.
When I asked Liverpool about whether Fan X had put in a case of racial discrimination against the club, they only acknowledged that Kick It Out were now involved in the case.
Fan X is a well-respected educator & heavily involved in his own community. His background is whiter than white (if you’ll excuse the expression) and has no criminal record of any kind. His professional and personal reputation were crucially at stake in this case.
As the Southampton incident may or may not have been worthy of inclusion, there is little point in covering it in depth. And so I’m going to focus on the Chelsea incident, which is pivotal to the entire saga.
Fan X has, at every stage, always protested his total innocence. He has always maintained that this was simply a case of mistaken identity. He didn’t even have the full facts of the case until he put in a data access request to the club. At the time that Liverpool held the appeal meeting, he hadn’t been given the facts of the case. That bears repeating - he hadn’t been given the facts of the case. He was also not involved in any part of the appeals’ process & was constantly rebuffed in his attempts to have a meeting with the club.
It was only when he got his data archive back from the club that he realised the severity of the accusations.
Liverpool claimed that “he is clearly aware of what he is accused of.”
Only he wasn’t - that was the point. They had essentially held a kangaroo court, behind closed doors, with no chance of Fan X being able to state his own case properly.
You can understand why Liverpool wanted to deal with the matter quickly. This was a serious allegation & in the climate of the “Me Too” movement, the club had to be seen to deal with this swiftly. The problem is that most of the facts pertaining to the case seem to reflect that they had got the wrong person but, perhaps, thought that the Vandermonde-like secrecy would see them through it all.
Why am I convinced that Liverpool realised that they had the wrong person & that Fan X wasn’t the perpetrator? They reinstated his season ticket after the IFO ruling was released publicly and it was printed, more or less verbatim, in a local newspaper. There is no way, in a million years, that if the club thought that they had the right person they would have done this. He wouldn’t have been let within a thousand miles of Anfield.
Fan X has sworn to fight this until the bitter end - until he feels that justice has been served and he has been completely exonerated. He requested a meeting with Liverpool CEO, Peter Moore. He wanted this as he felt that the Ticketing Investigation Officer was covering his tracks. When this was denied he hand-delivered a letter, dated Wednesday 19th December, 2018, to the club, addressed to Moore, with a request of a couriered receipt. I asked Liverpool if this was the first Peter Moore knew about it, but they declined to comment.
Fan X’s Letter
To Peter Moore
Dated 19th December, 2018
Receipt Of Fan X’s Letter To Peter Moore
Dated 19th December, 2018
The Inconsistencies In The Case
There are so many inconsistencies in Liverpool’s own investigation into this matter, that it stretches the bounds of incredulity.
For me, this section of the IFO report sums up the entire investigation against Fan X:
There is a handwritten entry which records (presumably from CCTV) “1953 hrs male from D turnstile Block 306”. If the person so identified was the perpetrator then the timings would fit - entering at 19.50 and hurrying to the Kop because the match had started and reaching his seat three minutes later. Yet in the Club’s own data report the complainant did not enter till 19.57.
Here Will Rivard explores everything wrong with the Liverpool internal investigation into the accusations of sexual assault on a female steward by Fan X.
We begin our investigation into the inconsistencies of this case by taking a look at several puzzling instances involving CCTV. The first issue raised in the IFO report delves into the lack of CCTV cameras in certain parts of the stadium:
The Club stated that there was no CCTV of either incident because cameras at the entrances are trained on the surrounding area not the turnstiles themselves.
This begs the question as to how Liverpool knew that they had the correct perpetrator. The IFO seemed to be concerned about the lack of CCTV footage and made a note of it in their report:
The IFO advised The Club that there ought to be a search of the CCTV record for the walkways and environs of The Club to identify the complainant
However there was no video evidence to be found, much to the chagrin of Fan X:
The complainant was both surprised and disappointed at the outcome. He supplied the IFO with photographs of cameras installed near his seat and expressed disbelief that he couldn’t be found in a single image.
This is especially bewildering as Fan X was apparently identified in a statement by the internal panel:
In the papers for the internal panel it is stated that “CCTV images…show him arriving on the stadium concourse in the company of one other person”.
So…did they have the footage after all, and if so what happened to it? Liverpool gave this account to the IFO:
The Club has explained to the IFO that this was inconclusive in the context of the case and thus of no evidential value. The Club denies that it has deliberately discarded visual evidence and maintains that it has operated within the requirements on data protection regulations.
The last point is very curious - they deny deliberately discarding the visual evidence.
“There is also a puzzling statement which suggests that the complainant was identified. In the papers for the internal panel it is stated that “CCTV images …show him arriving on the stadium concourse in the company of one other person”
When I spoke with the club, they said something along the lines of CCTV regularly being wiped in accordance with data regulations.
Again - if the club claimed to have CCTV images showing Fan X arriving on the concourse of the stadium and genuinely believed he was the perpetrator of a sexual assault on their own staff - why would they not have kept this?
The second significant inconsistency deals with the alleged timings of the events:
The complainant asserts that the timings prove his innocence, a claim disputed by the Club.
To fully understand how the timing of events doesn’t quite add up we take a look at the findings from the IFO report:
The IFO understands that searches take place adjacent to the turnstiles and immediately prior to entering the stadium… Supporters would normally move from the search directly to the stadium and the steward reports that the man who accosted her then “made his way to the turnstile.” The incident is recorded as happening at 19.48 and if the person then immediately went to the turnstile, he could have entered at about 19.50. There is a hand-written entry which records (presumably from CCTV) “1953 hrs male from D turnstile Block 306.” If the person so identified was the perpetrator then the timings would fit- entering at 19.50 and hurrying to the Kop because the match had started and reaching his seat three minutes later
However, there is more to the story…starting with the Liverpool data records:
Yet in the Club’s own data report the complainant did not enter till 19.57… 9 minutes after the incident, because he was waiting for his visitors
So, even by their own timed records, it seems that Liverpool have no basis for the claims made against Fan X.
The Description Of Fan X
Conflicting descriptions of the perpetrator is the next major issue of inconsistency in the case:
Both witnesses to the Chelsea incident state that the man wore a baseball cap and one of them says he wore jeans. The complainant denies that he ever wears either to a match and always wears a track suit (which was his garb when he met with the IFO). The complainant challenges the Club to find an image of him wearing a baseball cap at any match he has ever attended.
Things get even stranger as Fan X points out another puzzling detail of the case:
The complainant also queries the report of the steward at the Chelsea match who describes him as “male season ticket holder” who was often a late arrival. The complainant asks how the steward knew these things, when at the time the complainant had not yet been identified.
Precisely. How did the steward know this when Fan X hadn’t actually been identified at this point?
The Witness Statements
While the descriptions of the accused were inconsistent at best, the witness statements for Fan X support the notion that he was not the likely perpetrator. There are two witnesses that submitted statements to the IFO on his behalf:
Witness A confirmed that they were late and were in regular contact with the complainant by phone and when they arrived, the complainant “took my lad in I ask him for a bit of help as I didn’t know what to do with the card, and they waited for me…there was NO stewards, then we ran up stairs”.
The second witness was also running late:
Witness B reported that the complainant “was calling us to see where we was as we was ten minutes late the game had already kicked off before we got in he was waiting for us outside the ground, we went in with no search”.
The issue of the phone calls is corroborated by the IFO report:
The record of the complainant’s telephone calls corroborates both his and the witnesses’ accounts; he was clearly making calls immediately before, during, and for four minutes after the time of the incident with the steward.
Further phone records not only help to show Fan X’s innocence but that there is no real possibility that he could be the perpetrator:
There were no calls between 19.52, which suggests that by then his friends were either at or close to the stadium, and 21.47. These statements and evidence support the complainant’s contention that he entered the ground at 19.57 and hence could not have been the person who accosted the steward at 19.48 and then went straight through the turnstile.
The club’s own records show that his Season Ticket was tapped in at 19:57. And yet a witness statement for the club maintain that after the assault at 19:47, he made his way directly to the turnstile.
There is basically no way that he could have been the perpetrator.
What The Main Cast Of Characters Have Said
I asked Liverpool Football Club the following questions:
1. In light of the IFO report, are you going to review your appeal's process?
2. How do you explain the discrepancy in the timings given by Fan X, the steward and your club's own Fortress system in relation to the incident at the Chelsea match?
3. How can you explain the lack of CCTV evidence of Fan X, given that there is a camera directly pointing at his seat? Specifically in relation to the fact that Fan X believed this would have exonerated him completely.
4. Did your Ticketing Investigation Officer inform Peter Moore of the ongoing situation before receipt of the courier letter (to Peter Moore from Fan X) before the 19th December?
5. Do the club still believe Fan X is the perpetrator of the incidents & if not, at what stage did you realise you had pinned it on the wrong person?
6. Why was there an appeal process where:
A) The appeal team was in full knowledge that they hadn't released any information to Fan X of why Fan X had been banned in the first place?
B) Why wasn't Fan X allowed to attend the appeal hearing?
7. If you do believe that Fan X is the perpetrator, then why was their season ticket restored?
8. Have you now identified the correct perpetrator? (Again if it isn't Fan X)
9. Do the club feel that the ban was racially motivated? Do the club feel that racial discrimination has occurred? Why are Kick It Out involved?
10. How does the club plan to compensate Fan X if he has been exonerated?
11. What steps will the club take to ensure this sort of situation doesn't occur again?
This is Liverpool’s response:
I would be keen to stress that Liverpool also clarified that they will be reviewing their appeal’s process in line with the various involved bodies’ recommendations.
Spirit Of Shankly
Spirit Of Shankly are the Liverpool supporter’s union. I spoke with Jay McKenna - the chair of SOS. Jay is helping Fan X on behalf of SOS.
FATC: What do you make of the case & how did Spirit Of Shankly get involved?
JM: We were (aware) of an issue after we had a message from Fan X but we became fully aware of the extent of the case and the issues involved after the decision of the IFO was announced this year. I contacted Fan X and had an in-depth discussion about what had occurred and I’ve spoken regularly with them since, about current progress, seeking to try and help resolve this issue and ensure similar doesn’t happen again.
For Spirit Of Shankly, the case highlights very serious problems and concerns with the way investigations at LFC are handled but sadly, this is not the first time we have seen problems for supporters. Whilst no other cases we have been involved with have been in similar circumstances, there are similarities in the problems with the investigation process, letters sent to supporters, lack of evidence and inconsistencies. That fan X has had to go through this, and to such lengths, to seek any kid of resolution that is close to being just, is concerning and frankly unacceptable.
FATC: How do you feel that Liverpool have handled the case?
JM: It would be an understatement to say badly. We are aware of the details of the case and the evidence, as the IFO alludes to, points to serious failings in how this has been handled from start to finish. It’s clear that the club have made mistakes and they should be looking to get to the bottom of these and rectify them so this does not occur again. But at the same time, they need to bring this to a reasonable and amicable resolution with the supporter concerned. From our understanding this hasn’t yet happened, despite offers to do so, and it brings frustrations and does nothing to help supporters feel confident in the systems or processes in place.
It seems that the club don't appreciate how they do things can have a big impact on an individual and the wider supporter base. Taking someones ticket is a serious sanction, they don't quite appreciate how that feels to a supporter, particularly when there is alleged wrongdoing that the person is innocent of. The supporter has had to go through all the stress and angst and suffer, yet at the end is just expected to move on. That's not very fair.
As worrying for me is that in investigating this issue and identifying the wrong supporter, the actual person involved has not received any sanction and the lack of evidence would suggest they no longer will. As well as a duty of care to supporters, the club have one to the member of staff who reported such an incident. In how they have handled this, they’ve failed both supporters and their own staff.
FATC: What do you think LFC need to do to resolve this case fully?
JM: The club needs to be honest about its failings and seek to make amends with the supporter. We’ve offered to sit down with the club and the supporter, and independent mediators if necessary, to discuss what has happened, understand what both sides are saying and agree next steps and an outcome that is suitable for all sides. That hasn’t been taken up and what we seem to have now is a supporter complaint, a very serious one, about what they feel has occurred, which he is told is being investigated and reviewed and the supporter not being aware of the parameters of such an investigation, any time tables for resolution and any possible outcomes. They are left waiting when it is not they who have done anything wrong. The lack of information at times, and one-way nature of communication, breeds further frustration.
They need to tell the supporter what they are investigating, who is doing it, when they will hear. They need to clearly apologise – not a call or email but a letter like the very serious one the supporter received in the post at the beginning that acknowledges what they got wrong. And the supporter needs to return to the same place they were at in the beginning of this process, no worse off ticket wise or financially. If they can’t acknowledge or rectify their mistakes, it does need to enable supporters to trust that it won’t happen again or that the club understands.
FATC: What safeguards do Spirit Of Shankly feel the club need to put in place to ensure this sort of thing never happens again?
JM: The club needs to urgently reviews its processes and practices, and if necessary, the culture that allows things like this to happen. This isn’t the first case were there have been failings to investigate, provide evidence, or even apologise when they get it wrong. We’ve spoken with the club several times over the past 12 months, making them aware of these issues and ways to fix them. We’ve offered to work in conjunction with them to do so but that has stalled and not really got going again. We’ve approached them again recently, about other cases with significant problems, and they have indicated they would look to improve and work with us to fix them. This needs to happen sooner rather than later otherwise there will be, sadly, more cases like this.
The Football Supporters’ FEDERATION
I spoke with Amanda Jacks - a case worker for the FSF. She is involved in the case on behalf of the FSF.
FATC: How does the FSF feel that Liverpool Football Club have handled the case of Fan X, from the original incident(s) to now?
AJ: As the Ombudsman's adjudication made clear, Liverpool FC have handled this case poorly. However, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that had this incident arisen at any number of clubs I have little confidence that they would have managed it differently. Too often we see at best a token approach to an "investigation" and even more football clubs acting a Judge, Jury and Executioner.
FATC: How do you feel that LFC should have handled this case?
AJ: In any case where allegations have been made against an individual, the most important thing is to secure any CCTV and take statements from any club staff or contractors who were involved or who witnessed the incident. Then that evidence should be disclosed to the individual (with necessary safeguards to protect the privacy of others undertaken) and allow them to answer the allegations providing their own evidence and witness statements. While there is, of course, no obligation for a private organisation to test a case to a criminal standard I don't feel it is unreasonable for a club to apply to natural tenets of justice to cases. It's also important that those responsible for deciding the outcome consider that just because somebody works for the club it doesn't necessarily make them wholly reliable; I say this since there is a tendency throughout football to place more onus on what their staff/contractors tell them over and above what the supporter may say.
FATC: What safeguards do LFC need to put in place to ensure that this type of situation never happens again?
Any club needs to be aware of the possibility of an Ombudsman's report or even, in worse case scenarios, legal action so they need to be as thorough as they possibly can be. They should have in place a clear and transparent sanctions and appeal process that ideally includes external people. A club ban is often a two fold punishment - as well as being barred from following their side it's also a de facto financial penalty since they will probably not be refunded for missed games.
FATC: What is the FSF's involvement in the case?
We have been supporting the supporter concerned while working towards a realistic and satisfactory outcome for him.
I wrote to Professor Derek Fraser - one of the ombudsman who compiled the IFO report. Whilst he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the case, for obvious reasons, he was kind enough to provide me with an explanation as to how the IFO undertook their investigation.
The reality is that we will probably never know if this was a case of racial discrimination or if it was just a genuine case of mistaken identity.
What we do know, however, is that Liverpool have bungled their investigation in a major way. IFO reports don’t tend to be this damning and cast such major doubt on a series of unfortunate events. At the very least it looks like an employee (maybe employees) of the club, in their efforts to act swiftly, picked out a random black guy. The club told me that the C.C.T.V. tends to get wiped in line with data regulations - fair enough.
However you do wonder - when they felt that a serious incident of sexual assault against a female steward had occurred - why exactly they wouldn’t have kept every scrap of video evidence available to them. Perhaps they genuinely had none.
Which leads to a further problem - how did they get the exact time of Fan X’s entry into the stadium? Even the IFO stated this was “presumably from CCTV.” And so this leads back to the idea that if they had CCTV, why would they wipe it when such a serious allegation had been made against Fan X?
Should this not have been a matter for the police?
The steward said that she wouldn’t want this reported to the police and would prefer for the club to handle it. But surely the club should have a duty of care to their staff & if a serious sexual assault had occurred, you would have thought they were at least morally obliged to get the police involved. There is evidence pointing towards claims of police involvement, but again cannot be revealed whilst the case is ongoing.
The Southampton incident wasn’t deemed worthy of report at the time. Again, to go back to the IFO phrase - “The incident assumed significance only in the light (of) subsequent events.”
There is no CCTV (despite the IFO assuming there must have been for the club to get pinpoint timings,) the club’s own timings of the Chelsea incident differ wildly, the description didn’t fit Fan X (other than the fact that he is black,) the witness statements on behalf of Fan X completely corroborate his version of events too. The club have denied deliberately destroying video evidence.
In my investigation of this, I’ve spoken with everyone involved and have come to the conclusion that whilst this may not have been racially motivated, per se, it has been a series of catastrophic failures towards one of their own fans that has made his life a living hell.
This kindly teacher who organises for groups of school-children to go to games had to take time off work due to the stress of the allegations.
The club (in their own statement to FATC) have said that it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to comment whilst a specialist (and independent) body are reviewing case. The problem with this is that they have brought Kick It Out to look into it. Kick It Out (as per their website) don’t actually undertake investigations - they merely provide support and guidance; if they feel it is necessary they pass it onto the relevant investigatory bodies.
So this begs the question - who is actually investigating Fan X’s complaint of racial discrimination against Liverpool Football Club? Presumably Liverpool themselves. I asked both Liverpool and Kick It Out if this was the case, I also asked if KIO had merely been brought in as a PR exercise from the club. Kick It Out haven’t as yet commented and from Liverpool “I think you’d best check with Kick it Out directly so they can articulate what they do/don’t do and investigations etc.”
I have. That’s the point. Evade. Brush off. Hope it goes away.
This is a shameful episode from Liverpool Football Club. The IFO Report has condemned quite a few elements of the case, the FSF feel that the broken system is always going to discriminate against fans & Spirit Of Shankly have roundly condemned the club’s actions from start to finish.
As for me, I think it’s a case that is not going to go away for the club in a hurry. When 3 separate, credible, bodies (FSF, SOS & IFO) have either roundly condemned the club’s actions or cast major doubts on how the club have approached the whole sorry affair, then people really should start listening.
That includes Liverpool Football Club.
As for Fan X - I hope he gets the justice he deserves on this.
What it boils down to essentially is this: Liverpool Football Club have, at best, bungled an investigation so catastrophically that they have allowed the perpetrator of two sexual assaults on female stewards go completely unpunished whilst basically pinning it on a random black man.
For now I’ll leave you with the words of Fan X:
“It has been unjust. I’m very clear on what grounds I have been discriminated against. I can’t comment further at this stage - other than on what is publicly available in the IFO report. I think that makes things clear enough.”
“I’m hopeful that this can be resolved amicably with the club. I want to ensure that such prejudice will never happen to a black or ethnic supporter again. I will get justice.”
The IFO Report In Full
Words by J.S. Leatherbarrow.
Additional words by Will Rivard.
Timeline of events provided by Maia Freeman.