Exposé outfit murders its own credibility

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Another day, another hysteric – sorry, historic – enquiry in Britain. The police complaints body has launched an investigation into, oh, load and loads of vaguely rumoured “child sex offences” in London from as far back as the 1970s.

The big excitement, though, was on the BBC’s Newsnight on 16 March, which trumpeted a claim that police were forced to abandon a cast-iron case against a VIP “paedophile ring” in 1981 after they had obtained video footage of the men in question actually engaging in hot action with teenage boys at a flat in Coronation Buildings, Lambeth, less than a mile away from parliament. An order had come from on high that the matter should be dropped “in the national interest”. Among those caught in the act was said to have been the Liberal MP Cyril Smith and a “senior member of Britain’s intelligence agencies”; there was also evidence against “two senior police officers”.

My hunch, having seen the Newsnight programme, is that this is more than just the usual hype, and that properly sourced police testimony may in due course be forthcoming from officers involved in the Coronation Buildings operation, especially if they can be assured that the Official Secrets Act will not be used against them. Never mind that the BBC’s information came from a single unnamed police source whom they have never seen because he spoke through an intermediary; never mind that this informant was said merely to have been “familiar with the original investigation” rather than a part of it; never mind that dozens of other officers on the case could have come forward to spill the beans but so far have not; never mind the apparent absence of “victims” making complaints at this point.

All these good reasons for scepticism can reasonably be put aside. Those of us who are old enough will recall that teenage rent boys and members of parliament (especially Tory ones) were an accepted item in those days. Everyone knew they went together: not as respectably as love and marriage, perhaps, but as routinely as a horse and carriage. And so did cover-ups: a Tory chief whip even went on record to say part of his job was in effect to blackmail MPs who had things to hide, letting it be known he would keep quiet about their extra-marital affairs, or penchant for “small boys”, in return for them towing the party line.

All very scandalous, no doubt; but the real scandal these days is not sexual at all. Rather, it is the dangerous perversion of truth to which sensationalist journalism is now giving rise, driven on by our debased victim culture and populist politics. Convinced by nothing more than relentless empty propaganda that Jimmy Savile was guilty of crimes worse than Islamic State beheadings, the public also seemed receptive to claims late last year that boys were murdered some decades ago by powerful Establishment figures.

Such claims lack credibility unless they can be tied to particular youngsters who went permanently missing from that time onwards and who might have taken part in the alleged “sex parties”. No such individuals have been suggested. Also, as I said recently, another factor that makes me doubt the credibility of the “allegators”, as blogger Anna Raccoon aptly dubs them, is that one of them made what to me were obviously false claims about sadistic abuse by my old friends Charles Napier and Peter Righton.

That was in January, in an Exaro News report featuring a source they called “Darren”, who appears to be an ex-rent boy. Apparently Exaro liked his story so much they asked him for more, and Darren obligingly came up the following month with an even stronger yarn against Peter. This time he remembered a murder that had somehow slipped his mind in January: in this new version, Darren had personally seen Peter Righton brutally attack a man called Andrew, leaving him fatally wounded.

It wasn’t just any old attack, either. Oh, no. The unfortunate Andrew was torn apart when tied between two vehicles that slowly reversed away from each other, one driven by Righton the other by “another man”! The demonic Righton had even made Andrew dig his own grave beforehand!

I kid you not, Exaro is inviting everyone to take this fanciful bullshit seriously, and it seems plenty of people are buying into it.

So who are these people, Exaro News? Set up in 2011 by a city tycoon, this exposé outfit now has former Guardian journalist David Hencke on its core staff. It was Henke who is said to have passed Tom Watson MP evidence of “child abuse” at the Elm Guest House, leading to a police investigation, “Operation Fernbridge”. Exaro and its journalists have been nominated for a number of top awards and actually won a few as well. Editor-in-chief Mark Watts has been profiled in the Guardian.

With all this kudos, one might expect standards to be high. But that is not how it works, alas. Fortunately, scepticism over claims like those of “Darren” remains strong in significant areas of public life, including the legal profession and academia.

Criminal law barrister Matthew Scott, for instance, blogged about his misgivings last year in “Exaro News Is Playing A Dangerous Game With Its Paedophile Murder Story”.
This was in response to the agency’s earlier VIP murder “investigation”, based on allegations made by another anonymous source, dubbed “Nick”.

Exaro, in collaboration with the Sunday People, alleged, in the words of the blog, that “a Tory MP strangled a 12-year-old brown haired boy in a central London town house in 1980. Apparently, 18 months to two years later two other men murdered a second boy in front of another Tory MP, ‘a cabinet minister’. Both MPs are ‘still alive’. Its source is a man in his 40s to whom they have given the pseudonym ‘Nick’. Exaro even mentions rumours of a third child murdered by being run over in the street, though I don’t think Nick claims to have actually seen more than one murder.”

Scott suggests that Exaro, along with the Sunday People and also the BBC, who aired an interview with “Nick”, acted “extremely unwisely by catapulting him into the public domain”.

These interviews had given extremely detailed accounts, which ran the risk of wrecking any police investigation because the testimony of any witnesses who might later come forward would have greatly reduced value: they could easily just be copy cats. This would inevitably play a part in the defence of any accused person, and a guilty person might escape justice because any good and true evidence would be seen as contaminated and unsafe.

Scott continues in this lawyerly vein for quite a while, and rightly so, but it is the commonsense scepticism in the latter part of his article that really takes the eye, beginning with the story of Carol Felstead:

There is nothing new about allegations being made against Tory politicians of the period, and they are not necessarily truthful. A not dissimilar account of Conservative Party MPs being involved in sexual abuse was given in the 1990s by someone called Carol Felstead and it provides a cautionary tale for anyone who might wish to rush to judgement. According to Carol’s therapists, she was anally raped in Conservative Central Office by a Tory MP with a claw hammer, and raped by not one but two members of Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet.

Just like Nick, Carol supposedly said she was abused first by her parents. She had been “ritually reborn out of a bull’s stomach, placed in a grave ‘on top of her dead sister’ and rescued by her father who was dressed as the Devil.” She later claimed to have given birth to six children who were then aborted and ritually sacrificed.

Felstead had told this story not to Exaro but to the notorious Dr Valerie Sinason, who incorporated some of it (changing Carol’s name to “Rita”) into the work that made her name: Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse.

Sinason’s work has since been widely discredited, along with the entire satanic abuse fad, as I pointed out in “Compared to Sinason, Savile was a saint”. Likewise, Scott takes her down a peg or three and adds a truly scandalous bit of information, telling us she specialised, and is still paid by the NHS to specialise, in the treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder, itself a controversial diagnosis.

So much for Sinason. As for Carol Felstead, Scott leaves us in no doubt what her story amounted to:

Now, despite the detailed and distressing history supposedly given by Carol to her therapists, her accounts of abuse at the hands of her parents were demonstrable nonsense. The family house had indeed burned down, but it did so a year before she was born so she could not possibly have remembered it as she said. She did have a sister who died in infancy, a girl who suffered from Down’s syndrome and died in hospital from natural causes; again she did so before Carol was even born. As for the Satanic abuse, her four surviving brothers all agree that nothing of the sort took place and there is no evidence of it whatever from any other source. There was no coven, no witch-craft and no murdered babies: indeed her medical records show that she had never been pregnant. Her extraordinary story of being raped by politicians was likewise fantasy of a high order.

Likewise, Scott is admirably sceptical about even the sex parties at Dolphin Square, never mind the murders:

The reasons to doubt the existence of such a ring are legion. What were these boys doing when they were not at Dolphin Square sex parties? Were they kept in complete isolation? Did they stop going to school, for example, or never speak to anybody outside the paedophile ring? The Exaro line seems to be that they were so terrified by the fact that the men in question were powerful that they did not expose the ring while it was active. Are we really to believe that these “powerful people” were so sure that their affairs could be kept secret from the press and, still more, from their political rivals, that they kept returning to the orgies? When even a tame affair like that of Cecil Parkinson with his secretary could lead to political disgrace; when journalists were constantly scouring Westminster for a whiff of scandal and when political rivals would have been delighted to ditch the dirt on their enemies it seems – as Exaro themselves acknowledge – very unlikely indeed.

Quite so, although, as I said at the outset, I am not so sceptical about the sex side: even the most intelligent and rational of men often think with their dick: just ask Bill Clinton or, even better, Hillary. What they would definitely not do, I suggest, is be so reckless as to murder anyone in the devil-may-care manner suggested by both “Nick” and “Darren”, casually leaving witnesses like them who might at any time tell the tale.

If Matthew Scott is a good example of sensible scepticism in legal circles, what about one from the academic world? News has just reached me from an unlikely source, the Lancashire Magazine, of a very encouraging show of academic good sense at Edinburgh University, where a research project is underway in connection with the allegations against Jimmy Savile.

The article in question, “Jimmy Savile ‘Moral Panic’ Tracked By Computer In Dordogne”, is based on an archive of private social media discussions between the women who later came forward to claim they were sexually abused by the late entertainer. Forty years ago the women had been teenagers at the Duncroft Approved School, an experimental boarding school opened by the Home Office to give a second chance of education for girls of above-average intelligence who had been taken into care.

The owner of the archive was a retired English lawyer living in the Dordogne region of France. She lived in care at Duncroft in 1965 and 1966. Her name was Susanne Cameron-Blackie, better known to many heretics here as – wait for it – the blogger Anna Raccoon!

Yes, Anna, or Susanne, is right at the heart of this story. Her wonderful, detailed, sceptical analyses of the claims against Savile have been highlighted here at Heretic TOC on several occasions, so I am sure we will all be delighted to hear that her work has won academic appreciation and government funding for a follow-up project.

It was a serious illness that first prompted Susanne to contact Edinburgh University. In 2013, fearing she might not survive a forthcoming cancer operation in France, she sent an email to Professor Viviene Cree at the Edinburgh University School of Social and Political Science, explaining the situation and saying she hoped the university would provide a good home for her archive. That summer the Economic and Social Research Council activated its Urgency Grants Mechanism to form a research team for the recovery and collation of documents and the information stored on Anna Raccoon’s computer in the Dordogne. The full story of the research team and its project are set out in the Lancashire Magazine’s article and is recommended reading.

It really is splendid news. Sadly, though, we also learn that Susanne is still suffering from cancer. She continues to blog as Anna Raccoon but says her doctors have not given her long to live. In the circumstances, it might be a nice gesture if readers could tweet their congratulations on her academic triumph, and/or more general appreciation and best wishes, to her at @AnnaRaccoon1, or email annaraccoon2010@gmail.com.

An Idiot’s Guide to the Westminster Bubble

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Charming and disarming, a not too critical critic of Heretic TOC wrote on another blog recently that “There comes a point when even the best argument becomes too well written, too well researched and too learned. An Idiot’s Guide to both Stephen Hawking’s and TOC’s theories would be appreciated….” It must be admitted that the “punitive state” piece last time was a bit relentlessly heavy on the theory, although the number and quality of the comments, plus over 300 hits per day, suggests there is interest.

This time, then, for a little light relief (relatively speaking!), TOC brings you a taste of his adventures last week inside the Westminster Bubble, an experience more akin to Alice in Wonderland than to other phenomena with which it might be confused, such as the South Sea Bubble.

American readers will be familiar with the bubble concept from their own expression Inside the Beltway, or the Washington Bubble, denoting an intensely political world, peopled almost entirely by politicians, government officials and media folk who spend so much time incestuously preoccupied with each other that they lose touch with the realities of life outside their privileged zone.

Or so it is claimed. The real truth, though, is that these clever people have sharp political antennae, which is how they keep their power and influence: they need to stay alert in all sorts of ways, paying attention not just to opinion polls and focus group research but also to those who turn up in person to lobby them, from corporate interests (especially!) to activist groups of every hue.

Which is where my London trip comes in. I was there for a whole bunch of personal lobbying, networking and media reasons, and also to participate in various rallies, protests and debates.

Two of these events were in the Palace of Westminster itself, aka the Houses of Parliament, starting with Challenging the Campus Censors. Held in the Grand Committee Room with a panel of speakers, this saw the launch of the Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) by the journal Spiked. What FSUR devastatingly demonstrates, sadly is the extent to which freedom of expression is being eroded in the very institutions where it is most vitally needed if any sort of heresy – including but not limited to the Heretic TOC variety – is to survive the onslaught of hegemonic political correctness.

Back in the 1970s I appeared by invitation at a number of universities, mainly to address student gay societies on paedophilia and children’s sexual freedom. There were neither objections by the university authorities nor any attempt by students to No Platform me*. After speaking at Cambridge University, I was treated very hospitably by the organisers: they took me to hear (and of course see!) the choirboys perform evensong at King’s College. Those were the days!

In my case, the high watermark of this openness to heresy was a prestigious invitation from the president of the Oxford Union to address that august debating society, possibly the world’s most famous; its speakers have included three US presidents, top scientists from Einstein to Hawking, and celebrities of all kinds from Michael Jackson to Kermit the Frog. Ahead of the event, though, the university was subjected to heavy media pressure against my appearance, and the invitation was withdrawn.

We all know how the sorry saga has played out since then in terms of paedophilia as a There Is No Debate (TIND) issue. What I discovered to my horror, though, from FSUR and related revelations last week, is the extent to which free speech is now being denied on campus across a whole range of issues. As Ian Dunt told us in the Guardian:

“In recent months, Oxford University cancelled a debate on abortion because protesters objected to the fact it was being held between two men; the Cambridge Union was asked (but refused) to withdraw its speaking invitation to Germaine Greer because of her views on transgender issues; officials at London Southbank took down a “flying spaghetti monster” poster because it might cause religious offence; UCL banned the Nietzsche Club after it put up posters saying “equality is a false God”, and Dundee banned the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children from their freshers’ fair. The Sun is banned on dozens of campuses because of Page 3. Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines song has also been banned by many student unions.”

Note, especially, the relevance here of this last one: the lyrics are about sexual consent.

The curious thing, to someone of my generation at least, is that the censorious spirit is not coming from above, from heavy-handed political or administrative quarters. It is not state censorship. Rather, TIND reflects what seems to be a new fragility among the students themselves, who are arriving at university from a school culture in which they have grown used to seeing themselves as in need of protection, reflecting a wider cultural background in which child protection is seen as a priority. It reflects specifics of their cultural environment, such as school anti-bullying policies, and also their exposure to what is admittedly sometimes a brutally obnoxious scene of social media trolling. Feeling (with every justification) that being subjected to violent threats and venomous defamation online is just plain wrong and unacceptable, these youngsters are turning up at university believing they are entitled to remain shielded from “offensive” views of all kinds. They do not seem to realise that new but potentially important ideas are often shocking, and that a university is a grownup place whether intellectual debate needs to be unfettered.

The following day I was back in the palace, this time supporting Hacked Off, which Spiked muddle-headedly presents as a group lobbying against free speech. Hacked Off, as British heretics will know, was set up in the wake of revelations that newspapers including the now defunct News of the World, and the Sun, both owned by global media baron Rupert Murdoch (whose other crimes against humanity include Fox News), were engaged in illegal phone hacking and libellous smear tactics – including the infamous Fake Sheikh’s sting operations which have resulted in innocent people being jailed and many other lives shattered. As heretics here may remember, I was among those on the receiving end.

Where Spiked gets it wrong is in confusing the “right” of a handful of mega-rich media moguls to trash people as viciously, mendaciously and unaccountably as a Twitter troll, with the right of all of us to legitimate (non-libellous, not inciting violence) freedom of expression. The latter right, in Hacked Off’s view and mine, will be advanced, not retarded, by such means as giving a strengthened right of reply to those who are traduced in the press, and encouraging wider media ownership. Hacked off also supports the recent Leveson Inquiry report, which recommended measures aimed at securing a more independent press complaints body than the toothless Press Complaints Commission.

Hacked Off’s rally was in Committee Room 14, which turned out to be an even grander venue than the Grand Committee Room. When I think of a committee I have in mind no more than about 25 people, but about ten times that number were present for Hacked Off’s big day, packed along two sets of opposing benches like a miniature version of parliament itself. When I arrived, slightly late after an appointment with my MP, I was lucky to get the last seat before my attention turned to a distinguished-looking, silver-haired old gentleman who was holding forth as one of the panel speakers.

The voice seemed familiar. Then it struck me: John Cleese! Goodness, it was a face I probably hadn’t seen since The Life of Brian over thirty years ago. Anyway, he was on good form, blasting the new Independent Press Standards Body (IPSO) as anything but independent, saying it was designed to be a puppet of the big corporations, with editors given a key role, like setting foxes in charge of the henhouse. Actually, he had his own comparison, a rather good one:

“Of course they want to regulate themselves, we’d all like to regulate ourselves wouldn’t we?” he said. “Builders, accountants, murderers, they’d all like to regulate themselves.” He added: “The murderers would make a very good case – they’d say we murdered a lot of people, we know people who have murdered people. We really are best qualified to regulate.”

Dramatically, these remarks led within just a few minutes to the verbal murder of a particular journalist present in the room, one Mr Alex Wickham. Allow me to announce it Cluedo style: he was attacked by the chairman, in the committee room, with some very blunt accusations!

Wickham, as the chairman revealed, is a sleazeball sting artist working with political blog Guido Fawkes. The scurrilous scribe had immediately tweeted what Cleese said, in a message falsely implying the comedy actor had seriously compared the newspaper bosses to murderers. In a trice, news of this tweet got back to the committee room, where the chairman outed and admonished Wickham, saying he didn’t know how he could sleep at night, doing what he did. There were calls around the room for the malefactor to stand up and be seen.

The pressure must have got to the hounded hack, because he meekly stood up, as he had been ordered, and tried to explain himself. He didn’t get far before he was slapped down by the chair, who said, “Sit down, I don’t want to give you a platform as you have a megaphone”.

I didn’t feel sorry for Wickham, who is a double-dyed shit. I did, however, find myself a bit uneasy over the kangaroo court I had witnessed. And I noted, also, that one of the later speakers was a dreary feminist of the most humourless kind, who spent her allotted time at the mic grinding out a litany of demands for new press standards including a requirement that the term “under-age sex” should be replaced with “child rape”. Alarmingly, she was given a substantial round of applause.

Maybe Spiked has got it at least half-right after all.

Looking beyond Westminster, it has been another extraordinary week in Britain’s disastrous post-Savile Cultural Revolution, worth half a dozen separate blogs at least. Sadly, I’ll have to settle for a few brief news items with links.

* I tell a lie. The relaxed atmosphere changed once PIE hit the headlines in a big way. After that, in 1977, PIE speakers, including me, were No Platformed a lot. In Liverpool, for instance, I was not only prevented from speaking at the university, I was also banned by the Liverpool Hoteliers Association from staying in any of their hotels!  

 

JAIL EVERYONE IN THE LAND, DEMANDS PM

Well, not quite everyone, but British prime minister David Cameron made a giant leap towards outright insanity by insisting it’s not good enough just to jail “abusers”; now he wants to put teachers, social workers and local councillors behind bars if they fail to meet his stringent witch-hunting targets. Coming in the wake of a report on the “grooming” of teenage girls Oxfordshire by ethnic minority males , the move is a blatantly populist piece of pre-election gesture politics. As letter-writers to the Guardian and others have pointed out, the main result will be to further discourage anyone from working with children in professions already suffering from low pay and low prestige. On the Oxfordshire situation, these reports are very revealing, although not necessarily in the way their writers intended: see professionals and kingfisher.

 

TOUCHING IS WORSE THAN TORTURING

Glam rock star Gary Glitter was jailed for 16 years for under-age sex with three girls. His offences, though serious, appear to have been essentially of a “statutory rape” kind plus lesser intimacies rather than truly violent: the three girls in question were his fans. The youngest was eight. A mother who tortured her eight-year-old daughter to death received a lesser sentence, of 13 years. The court heard that her lesbian lover convinced her that the child was possessed by demons and had to be “destroyed”. The women would give the little girl cold baths, force feed her until she was sick and make her scrub the bathroom floor to rid her of “evil spirits”. She died from a blow to the head at her home. What does this contrast say about our society’s values?

 

RACCOON WRESTLES WITH ‘ALLEGATORS’

The indefatigable Anna Raccoon has again been wrestling the ‘allegators’ in the Savile case on her wonderful blog, exposing the paucity of allegation after allegation. See her Home Page and scroll down for five recent blogs with Savile in the title. To my mind, though Anna’s most devastating recent piece was Alphabet Soup and Paedo Hysteria. which looks at the work of Kevin Harrington, the author of Serious Case Reviews on real child abuse, ranging from Child ‘A’ in London, through Child ‘C’ in Portsmouth, onwards to Child ‘K’ in Southampton and beyond. These are ghastly cases like the torture/death one above, most of which never even make the national headlines. As Anna points out, instead of pouring in resources to prevent these cases, money, effort and attention is wasted on paedo hysteria instead.

 

ONE THAT FLEW UNDER THE GAYDAR

To finish on a pleasanter note, Wendy Fenwick in the March/April edition of Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, reviews Craig Johnson’s recent film The Skeleton Twins, which sounds good, although way too gay for my taste. Anyone seen it? She writes:

[Milo’s] first sexual experience was with a high school teacher when the lad was only fifteen. It was a huge deal when it happened – things were settled quietly, we learn – but Milo isn’t completely over the relationship and in fact seeks out the teacher, named Rich, with thoughts of reviving the affair. Thus has the movie entered that radioactive territory of “intergenerational sex,” otherwise known as pederasty. What’s surprising is that the film doesn’t indulge in the usual hand-wringing over Rich’s turpitude or dwell on how Milo was traumatized for life by the affair. In fact, Milo wasn’t traumatized at all and insists that it was not only consensual but a positive experience in his early gay life. …I’m surprised it didn’t trigger more controversy than it did, including threats of a boycott.

Even Daily Mail critic Brian Viner allowed himself to like it, perhaps because the overall context is a gentle romcom not a fiercely challenging drama.

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