A blogger who helped push a conspiracy theory alleging that parents and teachers in Hampstead could be part of a Satanic paedophile ring claims he was “in character” as he gained an online following.

Rupert Wilson Quaintance, an American from Charlottesville who gained a following running blogs and vlogs on the matter, was jailed in 2017 after being found guilty at Southwark Crown Court on two counts of harassment.

The court found he threatened four mothers and a father of pupils at Christ Church Primary School, in Hampstead, following a child abuse hoax in which parents, staff and a vicar were falsely accused.

The accusers alleged children had been sexually abused, with further false claims that babies were drugged and sacrificed.

Ham & High:  'Sarah' one of the four mums in the story, played by Sarah Barlondo 'Sarah' one of the four mums in the story, played by Sarah Barlondo (Image: Rob Parfitt)

Years later after serving his sentence, Mr Quaintance finds himself at the centre of the conversation on the hoax – one which some people to this day still believe – as he is among those interviewed in Channel 4’s forthcoming documentary Accused: The Hampstead Paedophile Hoax.

Ahead of the film’s release, Mr Quaintance spoke to the Ham&High in an exclusive interview about why he became so invested in the allegations that he flew from the United States to London, leading to his arrest.

'It was going to make me mad'

The 90-minute documentary unravels how Mr Quaintance used his newfound online following to raise money for tickets to England and “kick down doors” in an attempt to “prove” the theories that a so-called cult was operating at the school.

Like many other people in 2014, he first became aware of the baseless accusations after watching a video of two young children claiming they were sexually abused - a story concocted by Abraham Christie, the new boyfriend of the children's mother Ella Draper.

Ham & High: Ella Draper, the mother of two children who were filmed which kickstarted the allegationsElla Draper, the mother of two children who were filmed which kickstarted the allegations (Image: Channel 4)

“I saw the thumbnail of the videos in my feed and I didn’t want to click it, I went almost a week without click it because I knew it was going to make me mad,” he said.

“But people were talking about it so much so I watched it and I was making videos at the time so I just made a little video about that. I sort of acted angry in the video.”

The blogger added: “And that was pretty much the beginning of it, like after that it was really easy to get people's support and stuff, but I’ve never really said what I thought about all of it.”

However within our 90-minute conversation, he was evasive about whether he still believes the messages he shared online of a Satanic child abuse cult operating in Hampstead.

“It’s a funny word, ‘what you believe’," he says. "Do I think it was possible? Did they act like it could have been going on there? Absolutely.

“I was a philosophy major right out of high school so that word ‘believe’ is a tough one. Do I believe in it in the way that some people believe in their [sic].”

“I was willing to believe anything at the beginning. So do I think it 'could' have happened? Yeah, yeah I think it 'could' have happened.”

Ham & High: A drone shot from the documentaryA drone shot from the documentary (Image: Story Films)

'Kick down doors'

While he was born and raised in America, Mr Quaintance claims he has British heritage and came into the case “as a total fan” – a topic he touches upon in the documentary as he suggests visiting Christ Church was like visiting a tourist attraction.

And his actions in travelling to London were - he believed at the time - “in defence of those kids”.

“It doesn’t matter what I think, it was just that. I can’t locate these kids and do anything,” he added. “Who in their right mind with a motive like that goes to the internet like that and announces it in front of everyone beforehand?”

Ham & High: Alice, one of the four mums interviewed, played by Aly CranstonAlice, one of the four mums interviewed, played by Aly Cranston (Image: Channel 4 / Rob Parfitt)

But when he was asked about whether it is a surprise that parents felt threatened after he made statements online that he’d “kick down doors”, he said it was an empty threat: “OK, I am not responsible for what people watch on the internet. I did not DM [direct message] that to them. I put that up on YouTube. They decided to watch that and get scared by it.”

'I'm in character'

Yet in a digital age when many people are increasingly able to become internet personalities, Mr Quaintance’s suggestion that he amplified his online persona was quite interesting to hear.

“I’m not even using my real name, I’m in character,” he claimed, “I have a little bit of an ego and they said that I wouldn’t go over there, so I did go over there and posted my smiling pictures.”

Elaborating on this, he said: “Most of what was happening online was it’s a character, I’m not Rupert dude, my name is Wilson.

“Rupert is a character that I used my first name, because to me it’s kind of a funny name and I also kind of wanted to torch it a little bit.”

Ham & High: Christ Church Primary SchoolChrist Church Primary School (Image: Archant)

The channel ‘Hi it’s Rupert’ was described by the blogger as “retro and maybe some conspiracy stuff”, but Mr Quaintance said it was “supposed to be fun” before the Hampstead hoax became a key subject.

According to him, he was “incentivised” to continue talking about it. “The real test was to make a video and see if anybody latched on to it, and they did,” he said.

Once he landed and pictured himself outside Christchurch school, joking online that he had a “knife”, alarm bells were rung, which eventually led to his arrest.

He said: “I didn’t see anything weird in Hampstead, everyone was really nice to me and I made a video to say 'looks like there’s nobody here to kill me and I’m leaving' – I didn’t put that video up.

“I just needed to put eyes on it... what I was going to do was leave and write it up and maybe make a video to talk about it and be done with it.”

Ham & High: 'Jenny', one of the four Mums in the story, played by Daisy Ashford'Jenny', one of the four Mums in the story, played by Daisy Ashford (Image: Story Films)

While Mr Quaintance says that he stays “well away from doubling down” on the conspiracies that he spread at the time, whenever people question if he truly believed what he uploaded, he said he feels like responding that he did because he’s a “defiant” person and doesn’t like being told that is how he should feel.

But he added: “Yeah, I do find myself distancing myself from it because of how volatile it has become for so many people. I don't think I have anything... I didn't really have too much good to offer in the first place. Really, just vitriol.”

What impact did it have on the mums?

Accused: The Hampstead Paedophile Hoax explores the turmoil that four mothers went through after being caught up in the hoax and how they fought to get police to intervene with conspiracy theorists and those harassing them.

Describing the issues they faced, one mum said at a Q&A about the documentary: “It was just relentless, I don’t think we had a choice but to keep going and nobody else was going to help us and we just had to help ourselves.”

Another said: “Most people were telling us it'll blow over and you know, and it clearly wasn't going to. It was organised, the campaign and the structure was there.

“But just the idea as well on top of all the harm and all the anxiety we felt living through that time, it was like surround sound, you couldn’t go out in the community, people were following you and giving death threats.”

Ham & High: 'Anna' one of the four Mums in the story, played by Kathryn McGarr'Anna' one of the four Mums in the story, played by Kathryn McGarr (Image: Rob Parfitt)

At a later stage, one of the anonymous mums added: “A lot of the content we sort of worked hard to try and get down, you know, it was a battle against the social media companies who just wouldn't sort of take things down even though we had court orders. We had the police officers in the case going to the social media companies with the court orders asking for it to be taken down."

One mum said: “That happened in 2015 for us, it started, and like nine years later and there's really no change. The police don't and still don't understand what is online crime, any online crime, not just stalking and harassment.

“And now online actually affects people in real life.”

When will it be aired?

Accused: The Hampstead Paedophile Hoax will be screened on Monday, March 11 at 9pm.