Cops hunt high-profile Aussie over child sex claims
Australian police have issued an extraordinary international warrant to arrest the world's leading privacy, security and data protection expert for multiple child-sex assaults of mainly homeless children in Sydney in the 1980s and 1990s.
Simon Davies has for the past 30 years been a global leader on privacy laws and human rights, advising the UN and governments from London, Washington and Australia, writing a string of best-selling books and founding the influential watchdog group Privacy International.
Most recently he took on Google and Facebook and was the darling of the media and academia, placing himself at the forefront of almost every major sphere of privacy, from CCTV and identity systems to border surveillance and biometrics policy.
But News Corp Australia can reveal for the past eight years NSW Police has secretly been building a case alleging he is a serial paedophile who ran a refuge for homeless Sydney street children, ostensibly to help them but actually as a front for his private abuse and those of other high flying businessmen in Sydney.
The now 63-year-old is suspected of having sexually abused dozens of boys but his warrant lists 18 child sexual and indecent assault offences related to four boys over a six-year period between 1981 and 1987.
The boys were associated with the Homeless Children's Association refuge in Darlinghurst in the early 1980s which Davies ran and also for a time lived in.
Four other social workers associated with the home have already been quietly charged and convicted with child sex abuse.
It has been learnt detectives from the State Crime Command's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad applied to Sydney's Parramatta Court for an arrest warrant which was granted in September 2016.
The Attorneys-General Department is working with Australian Federal Police based in Canberra and London, and is now actively working with Scotland Yard in the UK to have Mr Davies arrested and put before Westminster Court for extradition.
But it is understood Mr Davies has learnt of his imminent arrest and has fled the country; Interpol has now issued a worldwide 'red notice' for his active pursuit and detention.
NSW Police declined to comment extensively but confirmed Davies was wanted for multiple historic offences and was currently being sought and was believed to be in the UK or Europe.
It is a stunning downfall for the man who enjoyed a high-profile in Australia as an outspoken advocate for relaxing heroin laws, fighting for homeless children's rights, combating the Federal Government's controversial Australia Card and as a contributing journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age before he became one of the most sought after tech and privacy experts in the world.
An investigation by News Corp Australia has spoken to Glen Fisher, a former homeless youth and one of Mr Davies' alleged victims and subject of the warrants.
Mr Fisher, who was also a secret witness in the Wood Royal Commission in NSW into high level paedophilia and institutional child sex abuse, approached police with information in 2010 sparking an eight year probe, meticulously piecing together events and names and drawing up a long list of suspects and potential witnesses.
When asked what he would now say to Davies, Mr Fisher said: "I trusted you."
'SO MUCH HARM, SO MUCH DAMAGE'
Glen Fisher, was 15-years-old but barely looked 11 and that made him a target.
He was physically abused by both his parents, became a runaway and ended up as one of the infamous Kids of the Cross - a large collection of homeless boys and girls, who slept rough and ran from the sight of police.
It was here he met Simon Davies (aka Simon Dewis) and his life changed forever.
Davies was the CEO of the Homeless Children's Association and was in a small office at 429 Liverpool Street, at the back of St Vincent's Hospital, which was promoted as a refuge.
"There was a lounge room with a beat-up old lounge and kids scattered everywhere, all off their faces," Glen recalled yesterday of the Darlinghurst centre.
"The place was more like a drop-in centre or a drug den than a refuge."
Davies introduced himself as the centre's boss, an author and a freelance journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald and announced he was in the process of opening up other child refuges including on the Central Coast.
He said his social workers were moving across Kings Cross and surrounds collecting the homeless to look after.
"He told me he had created the centre for people like me to keep us off the streets and safe," he said.
"There were no rules, we could come and go as we want, there was drugs, if we got into trouble with the police he could just go there and get us out, he had a judge on call, it was all very enticing for a street kid to live in a place where you were protected.
"As much as an adult now I know how messed up that is, as a kid that was enticing 'I can do whatever I want to' but it came at a cost and it has cost me and a lot of other people in a lot worse way than me."
It was far from safe as the refuge was effectively a shop for men to come and go and select the child they would want to sexually abuse either in the centre or a nearby park and pay them $50 or a heroin hit per sex act.
Glen recalled men shopping for boys and then choosing their regulars for abuse.
For Davies, a big Scotch drinker, he saw Glen as a leader of a whole bunch of children he could coerce to live in the squat and be abused.
At least four social workers associated with the centre have since been identified as abusers.
Glen alleges Davies would get him drunk and sexually assault him. Glen reported the incident to two other adults at the centre and was told it was OK and every youth had to have a male adult protector to survive on the streets and to just get the money.
"I told (name redacted) I had been raped and he said that was the way the Cross worked and every kid had someone who looked after them and Simon loved me," Glen recalled as he detailed the abuse allegations over the years at the refuge, Davies' parent's house on Carlton Street in Summer Hill, a home on Corunna Street in Petersham and even a sex shop in Central.
He alleges the abuse would go on for some years before Davies found a new younger boy and dumped Glen, who was ordered by a prominent judge to stay with Davies.
Such was their relationship Davies made him live at his (Davies) parents' house and even paraded him during glitterati fund raisers including infamously Prime Minister Bob Hawke and other senior figures, introduced as a homeless youth whom he had saved.
Glen's life spiralled into a life of drugs, police and jail until 2010.
It was then, during a rehabilitation program that one counsellor who heard his story - told over the years but disbelieved - finally did something and police were called.
"My life is good now, I've got five beautiful kids and five beautiful grandkids and there are a lot of former kids out there whose lives are not good, and I know the torment I went through and it causes a lot of depression and PTSD for a lot of people out there," he said yesterday.
"I would like to get closure for them and myself and there is a lot of guilt there, I allowed him to do that and I feel guilty that I enticed other kids to come to the refuge 'this is a safe place come here' I told them and so I feel guilty about that.
"He did so much harm, so much damage and some of my friends are still a mess.
"What would I say if I saw him today - 'I trusted you'. I would want to say, 'I trusted you, looked up to you and believed in you and you abused that'."
HOW DAVIES CHARMED THE WORLD
Simon Davies wore many hats, literally and figuratively speaking.
The man with a penchant for fedoras and berets moved in the highest circles of business and government including prime ministers and was a darling of the media, regularly commentating on the biggest issues of the day, notably privacy and snooping technology.
In 1988 he took on the Australian Taxation Office as convener of the Australian Privacy Foundation when the ATO proposed a revamp of the Tax File Number system and then the Credit Reference Association of Australia with revelations access to eight million files was being provided to private investigation and employment agencies.
Then he really got serious and mounted a national campaign starting in South Australia in a bid to whip up hysteria against the federal Attorney-General's Department's announced plans for its Law Enforcement Access Network (LEAN).
It was planned for the network to link every state's police and intelligence files and revenue gathering processes nationally.
Davies was articulate and had a captive national audience, particularly since the abandoning of the infamous national identity 'Australia Card' proposal which forced then Prime Minister Bob Hawke to move to a double dissolution, with the bill designed to act against tax avoidance and health and welfare cheats continuously blocked by the Coalition opposition.
On July 7, 1987 when Davies, then a debating coach and a contributing Fairfax journalist, attended a rally at Martin Place against the Australia Card only six people turned up.
That spurred him to campaign for privacy, gaining support from the ABC and top broadcaster Alan Jones and the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) was formed backed by the glitterati of the judiciary, academia and sport.
Davies and the APF were credited with having been instrumental in the death of the card plan.
The public was scared, privacy and government spying on its citizens was a hotbed topic and Davies was fast becoming a broader expert on everything privacy and human rights, aided in no short measure through his regular musings in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
But the public activist Davies perhaps had other reasons he wanted things kept secret, wanted to block intrusions since he was already allegedly abusing dozens of boys, whether in a refuge he set up in Darlinghurst for the infamous street kids of Kings Cross to various sex shops in the city and even the home of his family in leafy Summer Hill.
"He had that smile and disarming charm and he could get backing for anything he put up," a former friend said.
Davies, born in the coastal town of Morecambe in Lancashire, England, moved to Australia with his parents Gordon and Janet Dewis and two sisters in 1962 when he was six-years-old. The family would eventually settle at Carlton Crescent in Summer Hill, in Sydney's inner west.
The family had residency but Davies would never take an Australian passport. This would prove fruitful for him later. On January 28, 1986 he formally changed his surname from Dewis to Davies.
His initiatives were not just to counter what he saw as the erosion of privacy but financial support including registered charities and homeless projects including a meeting with then Prime Minister Bob Hawke to secure support for a large children's shelter facility for Kariong in the NSW Central Coast under Labor's no child shall live in poverty plan.
By 1992 and with other countries wrestling with similar privacy issues Davies found a niche and established London-based registered charity Privacy International of which he would remain as global director until June 2012.
The group spread rapidly, moving with human rights groups championing press freedoms, data protection laws, information security and Freedom of Information legislation.
Davies left Australia permanently for London in December 1993 and according to immigration records has never returned.
Because he was travelling on a British passport once he entered the UK he has been able to travel freely about the Eurozone which has made it difficult for police to track him.
In 1995 Davies made headlines when he released a report showing how major Western firms were supplying technology to some of the world's most repressive regimes including South Africa at the time of apartheid, Indonesia to spy on East Timor and China where GEC Marconi was providing electronics to help China and its public surveillance program.
The appeal of Davies and his Privacy International (PI) skyrocketed and he linked up with WikiLeaks to take on spy agencies, governments and law enforcement.
In the 1990s and into the 2000s he was made a visiting Fellow of Law at the University of Greenwich and the University of Essex, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the George Washington University in the US and for 14 years until 2011 was appointed to the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) where he taught Masters in privacy and data protection and which funds him to this day.
He became an adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was voted in the world's Top 50 world's most influential figures in technology.
He is funded by Microsoft, the University of Amsterdam and foundations in Sweden and the US.
His "Big Brother Awards" recognising heroes and villains in privacy continues today in 20 countries.
PI was accused of undermining the government by Prime Minister Tony Blair and in 2009 Davies, at its helm, fought Google over its street view maps utility.
'MANY MORE VICTIMS' FEAR
While his arrest warrant lists four complainants in relation to 18 charges, police familiar with the Simon Davies case say there are strong suspicions the international fugitive may have sexually abused dozens of boys across Australia, Europe and the UK.
The first allegations against him emerged in 1996 at the Wood Royal Commission when at least four of his associates including fellow social workers and child counsellors were charged and convicted for child sex abuse.
But it was not until 2010 when Glen Fisher walked into Parramatta police station that they claim Davies could be linked to the abuse.
"He (Fisher) has been an exceptional witness, his memory recall has been perfect and corroborated," one officer familiar with the case said yesterday.
The State Crime Command's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad created Strike Force Boyd in 2010 and for the next eight years has been meticulously piecing together a web of paedophiles circling about Kings Cross in the 1980s and 1990s.
The case had been kept largely secret until they made an application for an arrest warrant and News Corp Australia began investigating the case.
Police were remaining largely tight-lipped about the details of the case but confirmed 63-year-old Simon Gordon Davies (formerly known by the surname Dewis) was wanted for 18 child sexual and indecent assault offences on four boys between 1981 and 1987.
Interpol and Europol are involved as is the Australian Federal Police and counterparts at Scotland Yard in London. Privately officers in Australia and abroad suspect there could be many more victims of Davies not just across Australia but in the UK and Europe.
"It makes no difference these are historic offences, absolutely not," Boyd's Detective Sergeant Nick Sprowles told News Corp of NSW taking the lead in his pursuit.
"Look, we are desperately trying to get some justice for the people that we have come in contact with and I think the one thing that has really kept me going is Glen's determination to see it through and we know what he has been through, from what he has told me and he has come out the other end so we are very determined to get a result for these guys."
Mr Fisher, who runs an online site for survivors of abuse, said he could not praise police enough for how they have handled him and the case.
"I really can't praise them enough," he said. "I grew up in the Cross in the era when all police weren't trusted, they were all corrupt so that was my vision of police so having interaction with these officers has given me new way of thinking, they have been fantastic."
CHASING NEW CLUES
Detectives pursuing international fugitive Simon Davies are reviewing a landmark documentary starring a yet-to-be famous Baz Luhrmann as well as unrelated raw film footage shot by Channel 9, as part of their evidence brief.
In 1981 aspiring actor and film maker Luhrmann joined forces with renowned newsman Mike Willesee to expose the extent of the child homeless issue in Sydney.
Luhrmann was aged 18 when he conceived the idea to go undercover posing as a homeless child in what became a gritty and controversial TV documentary Kids of the Cross in 1983 exposing the sad lives of the runaways being targeted by predators as they slept rough on the streets.
The film maker, who embedded with the runaway kids, went on to a stellar career with hit movies including Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, Australia and The Great Gatsby.
It is understood police attached to Strike Force Boyd are hoping Davies or some of those young boys associated with him may have indirectly appeared in the doco for further corroboration of those he moved with.
The child stars of the Kings Cross documentary have been identified as having originally come from Adelaide.
Channel 9's 60 Minutes did a similar documentary and took outsourced material from a Kings Cross social worker who filmed about the red light district that again may implicate Davies and a clutch of his associates who were allegedly preying on children.
The footage apparently shows an era where adults chose to turn a blind eye to such abuse and even informed the street kids they had to do whatever to survive on the streets including allowing themselves to be "adopted" by random men who would pay them for sexual services in exchange for money and a limited form of protection.
Police have declined to comment about their case.