Exaro: Attack is the Best Form of Defence

An announcement on Twitter from Exaro News:

We are glad to say that the lies being spread on Twitter about Exaro is failing to stop witnesses coming forward to us. More soon. And lies are being spread on Twitter about abuse survivors. Some may hope that this will deter them, but it is failing to do so. [1, 2]

Exaro has come under some critical scrutiny in the wake of Harvey Proctor’s press conference last week, at which Proctor revealed new details of allegations that had been made against him, and others, to police by “Nick”, an anonymous accuser whose claims of about a murderous VIP paedophile ring operating in the 1980s and 1990s have been heavily promoted on the Exaro website.

Significant commentary includes “Harvey Proctor and a Worrying Case of Justice by Lynch Mob” by James Hanning in the Independent; “While ‘Nick’ Stays Masked, Anyone could be Branded an Abuser”, by Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times; “Harvey Proctor’s Accusers are Making Sure he will Never Get a Fair Trial”, by Matthew Scott in the Daily Telegraph (as well as a post on Matthew’s blog, which was cited by the Daily Mail); “Savile was a Fair Cop. This is a Witch Hunt” by Mark Williams-Thomas, again in the Sunday Times [1]; and “On the Harvey Proctor Allegations” by Gojam at The NeedleBetween them, these articles (and others) raise substantive points about the credibility of “Nick”, the way that Exaro has publicised the allegations, and how they have been handled by the police.

Exaro‘s attempt to portray such concerns as attempts to suppress information about child abuse and murder is sinister; it should be noted that the site has links to some rather aggressive individuals who claim to represent abuse survivors, and who are not cautious about accusing people of being associated with child abuse.

One strategy that is being pursued by Exaro and its chief reporter Mark Watts is to seize on minor factual errors. For example, Watts has stated that “Harvey Proctor wrongly stated in his statement that an Exaro reporter attended Nick’s police interviews” [here] and that “You can safely ignore Twitters who spread lies about Exaro, eg that its reporter attended police interview with Nick” [here]. This story arose some months ago because Watts did accompany Nick to an initial meeting with police; however, only now has Watts chosen to clarify the situation with this rather pedantic distinction.

Watts has also corrected Dominic Lawson on several other points:

Eg, Nick was not, in any sense, a rent boy. And Nick’s list of “tormentors” has not grown, but stayed constant since he first compiled it. Dominic Lawson assumes that my ref to IoS (an old paper of mine) as the Pindie was paedophile Indie. Wrong again. In fact, Proctor Indie. [1, 2]

Lawson could have been a bit more careful on the first two of these. The “rent boy” error seems to have slipped in because Lawson has confused Nick with someone else – probably Richard Kerr, who has also claimed to have been abused at the same “VIP” locations as Nick (although he has not named Proctor specifically), or perhaps the unnamed man who claims to have been abused by Ted Heath in 1961 (and whose alleged timeline is not consistent with what we know about Heath’s life).

On the second point, it may be that the Nick’s list has not “grown”, but it is the case that Exaro has only slowly revealed details of what Nick told them. Exaro could claim that it has been been discreet in order to see if anyone else comes forward independently, although I suspect that the site chose not to report Nick’s account of how Ted Heath persuaded Proctor not to castrate him (a detail revealed at Proctor’s press conference) because it judged that such a tale is so wildly extravagant that it fatally undermines their star witness. And in any case, if we look at VIP allegations that are being made by Nick and others in the round, rather than just through the lens of Exaro, we can indeed  see how certain “survivor” allegations  have grown in a way that is troubling.

As for the “Pindie” jibe, it seems that Watts was mocking the Independent for running an interview with Proctor, rather than accusing the paper of being paedophilic. But it’s an easy mistake to have made, given Exaro‘s dark insinuations, and that Watts’ attempts at levity are somewhat misplaced given the horrors he is seeking to expose. At the time of Proctor’s press conference, Watts sneered that it was “handy” that the location was close to New Scotland Yard, obviously inferring that Proctor would soon be arrested; when another Twitter user suggested this was an attempt to “raise suspicion”, Watts complained that it was “plainly said in jest”. Watts has also pinned to the top of his Twitter feed the witless (in both senses) observation that “You know the establishment is in trouble if the convicted paedophile and absurd Jonathan King has to leap to defence of Sir Edward Heath.”

Watts has also dusted off allegations that Lawson is an “MI6 asset”; presumably, this would be significant because Nick has also accused the late Maurice Oldfield, a former head of MI6, of being among his abusers. Lawson has previously denied having links to MI6, and the claim has been regarded sceptically by others (such as Ben Summerskill and David Leigh); but even if true, it has no bearing on the strength of the argument Lawson puts forward in his article. Nor, despite scepticism and cynicism about behaviour of the security services, is it self-evident that MI6 would have a continuing interest in derailing sex abuse allegations against a director who retired nearly forty years ago, or that agents/assets would be willing to go along with such a grotesque perversion of the service’s mandate.

Watts has also attacked Proctor himself. Somewhat oddly for a journalist who claims to be taking on “the establishment”, Watts appears to believe that the police are above any kind of criticism, and he attempts to paint Proctor’s very reasonable complaints about how the police have handled Nick’s allegations and the amount of time they are taking over it as a sinister expression of “pressure that no ordinary private citizen could apply”.

Perhaps it’s time to think about what kind of “pressure” Exaro is itself applying on hapless police forces so worried about being accused of “cover-ups” that any allegation, no matter how implausible, can result in personal destruction ahead of the completion of any investigation, let alone before a trial.


[1] Mark Williams-Thomas’ turn to fair-minded caution is welcome but belated; at the end of June he opined that Matthew Scott’s concern about Janner going on trial despite his diagnosis of advanced dementia was because of his “views about child abusers”. He declined to specify what these “views” are, although it was clear he meant to imply that they must be disreputable in some way. This was discussed by me here.

Harvey Proctor Responds to Allegations

From the Independent:

The former MP Harvey Proctor today launched a blistering attack on a police “homosexual witch-hunt” after revealing that he had been questioned over claims of the alleged murder of three boys supposedly linked to an “elite Westminster sex ring”.

…His accuser – known only as Nick – has told police that Mr Proctor was part of a group of men who abused him over a decade from 1975. He claimed that Mr Proctor was directly responsible for the murders of two boys, and implicated in the death of a third.

“Nick” has also accused Leon Brittan (previously discussed here), Ted Heath (previously discussed here) and some others. Many of his public statements have been published by Exaro News (an internet news agency), one of whose journalists – extraordinarily – apparently accompanied him when he made his complaint to police in November [1].

During his press conference, Proctor denounced police incompetence (as well as accusations by Labour MPs [2] and “fantasists on the Internet”) and suggested that either he should be charged with murder, or his accuser face a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. He also revealed new allegations that had been put to him:

…During one alleged sexual assault, [Nick] claimed, Mr Proctor was only persuaded from cutting off “Nick’s” genitals with a pen-knife following the intervention by the late Prime Minister [Heath] who was said by the witness to have been present during the sex attack at a large townhouse in London.

There are also other claims, similarly lurid [3].

Now, when someone says that they have been victimised by a terrible experience, one should of course be very cautious about adding to possible hurt or distress by expressing scepticism. But this has to be balanced against the need to give the accused a fair hearing, as well as common sense about what is plausible. For anyone who gives the matter any serious thought, a number of difficulties must present themselves. If Proctor was part of an VIP elite that murdered with impunity, how did he come to find himself disgraced due to sex with rent boys in 1987? And given that Proctor was disgraced in 1987, why the reluctance of victims who supposedly suffered far worse to come forward for so long?

Exaro‘s Mark Watts keeps repeating that the police found “Nick” to be “credible”, but that’s just an assertion – and since when did journalists simply accept police pronouncements uncritically? The above anecdote is by any measure actually quite incredible. It would have required Heath to be attending sadistic child-sex parties during a period when he was a very high-profile public figure, surrounded by police protection due to the threat of IRA terrorism, and cavorting in private with people whom he in public despised – such as Proctor himself. Of course, for the determined conspiracy theorist all things are non-falsifiable, but if I’d seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t reasonably expect other people to take my word for it. A mantra of “believe the victim” simply won’t do.

The story also raises another concern: presumably Exaro knew this sensational anecdote, but chose not to publicise it. Why would this be, given Exaro‘s great confidence in “Nick’s” testimony? It’s legitimate to hold back testimony in case other complainants come forward with their own accounts, to ensure that any corroboration is not due to contamination, but given that Exaro has published on “Nick” and Heath, this seems more like a decision to disregard stories that are exceptionally difficult to believe. That amounts to cherry-picking how the testimony has been presented.

Back in March, the BBC reported:

Asked about the wider allegations of sexual abuse being made, [Proctor] said: “I believe that the number of victims grows by the day.

“The number of alleged perpetrators through death diminishes. That is a problem.

“It is certainly a problem for me. I suppose my problem is that I’m still very much alive.”

It now looks like that might also be a problem for some journalists and police officers, too.



[Update 29 Aug] Exaro has now confirmed (some months after the issue was first raised) that a reporter accompanied “Nick” to an initial meeting with police, but did not attend any formal interviews. Seizing on this pedantic distinction, recent Tweets from Exaro and its chief reporter, Mark Watts, have stated that “Harvey Proctor wrongly stated in his statement that an Exaro reporter attended Nick’s police interviews” [here] and that “You can safely ignore Twitters who spread lies about Exaro, eg that its reporter attended police interview with Nick” [here]. Exaro also claims that “lies are being spread on Twitter about abuse survivors. Some may hope that this will deter them, but it is failing to do so” [here]. It is difficult to see how such comments, tinged with hysteria and unpleasant innuendo, could have been published in good faith.


In particular, Proctor named Tom Watson MP; however, according to the Guardian:

Watson, who has campaigned for justice for child sexual abuse victims, rejected Proctor’s claims that his efforts were motivated by party politics and said he had not used parliamentary privilege to name any suspect. It is understood that Watson has never mentioned Proctor’s name to the police.

Watson has been central to raising allegations about “Westminster paedophiles”, but in this instance Proctor should rather have focused on John Mann MP. As the Daily Mail reported in March:

Harvey Proctor, 68, had been named on a list of politicians passed to police by campaigning Labour MP John Mann… [The list] identifies 22 potential suspects across the political spectrum.

According to the headline, Mann crowed that Proctor would be the “first of many to be investigated”. However, although several other people have had their homes raided (most notably, Field Marshall Lord Bramall), Mann’s list has not so far led to any arrests or credible public disclosures.

Further, although Mann was happy to throw the media a quote that heavily implied that the raid on Proctor’s home amounted to the unravelling of a conspiracy, he is less keen for Proctor to provide a counter-balance:

The Labour MP for Bassetlaw said last night: ‘He goes beyond defending himself into claiming he is speaking on behalf of other people. How does he know what is or isn’t true? 

‘He’s undermining the victims of child abuse. I have met 26 in my constituency – none of them anything to do with Harvey Proctor – who have never got a prosecution.’

This strikes me as bluster, and the final sentence is a non sequitur. And based on what we know so far, it does not appear that Mann is in a good position to be lecturing others not to make assumptions about “what is or isn’t true”.


Nick also

accused Mr Proctor of stripping and tying a child to a table, before stabbing him over his body during a 40 minute attack.

This brings to mind allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse, although SRA claims do not feature in “Nick’s” accounts. However, the notion of SRA has made some inroads into the “VIP paedophile” story, as discussed here.

Jeremy Corbyn Interview Highlights LaRouche Movement

From the Daily Mail:

Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the annual meeting of a group allied to the ‘neo-Nazi’ LaRouche movement, it has emerged.

The frontrunner in the Labour leadership race was interviewed by video link at the annual conference of the Citizens Electoral Council in Australia, in March this year.

…A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is very concerned about the associations between the Australian Citizens Electoral Council and the La Rouche movement. 

‘He was of course completely unaware of these links at the time of his interview, which focused on banking regulation.’

This is somewhat different from the controversies involving Corbyn’s associations with Islamists – although he’s distanced himself on some specific points (scaling back what he meant by describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”, for instance), it’s clear that he accepts Islamists as allies in a broad “anti-imperialist” movement (he also has links at the constituency level – Paul Stott, for instance, draws attention to “the deep relationships he has developed with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in north London over the past decade, including running constituency surgeries out of the Ikhwan’s Finsbury Park Mosque”).

By contrast, the spokesperson’s statement in the Daily Mail is an implied repudiation of the LaRouche movement as a whole. It should be pointed out that the Mail‘s article is overegged – the interview was actually pre-recorded rather than provided to the conference by video-link, and he addresses his comments to an interviewer (a certain Gabrielle Puet) rather than to an imagined conference audience. The headline, that he “spoke at” the LaRouche meeting, is even more misleading. In this instance it’s credible that Corybn didn’t know anything about the CEC – television pranksters for years have shown that there isn’t much due diligence when it comes to persuading politicians to appear in front of video cameras.

However, the Mail‘s focus on the LaRouche movement as an obscure cult actually overlooks a more interesting point: that LaRouche is not quite a political pariah so much these days. Panos Kammenos, who heads Greece’s right-wing minority coalition partner, has spoken at LaRouche events, and there’s some cross-over appeal on the left. Back in January, I noted one well-known LaRouche group boasting of having 200 “prominent signers” on a petition; according to a blurb:

As of January 19, 2015, the list of prominent signers to the Schiller Institute’s petition, “Why the US Must Join the BRICS” continues to expand, totaling now over 200, with the newest signers including author, activist and Princeton Professor, Dr. Cornel West and filmmaker Sean Stone from the United States. From Italy, Paolo Grimoldi, member of the Italian Parliament and founder of the Parliamentary group, “Friends of Putin,” [“Amici di Putin“; Grimoldi is with Lega Nord – RB] has added his name to the petition this week, along with a number of other prominent Italian, Swiss and German leaders.

As I noted that the time, these “prominent” signatures were gathered despite the text’s self-evident bad faith: first, some bland comments about “cooperation” against ISIS, al-Qaeda and ebola; then, support for Russia’s opposition to “a Nazi coup” in Ukraine, and condemnation of  the US and Europe’s current “suicidal geopolitical policies of the past which led to the two previous World Wars”.

Last year, Political Research Associates noted the presence of the LaRouche movement at Occupy Wall Street.

The LaRouche movement also has links with Vladimir Yakunin, a member of Putin’s inner circle. Yakunin runs the “World Public Forum”, and the WPF’s “Dialogue of Civilisations” events have featured a remarkably broad – and in some ways bizarre – range of high-level politicians, academics, and religious figures from around the world. The WPF, like Putin’s Russia in general, has crossover appeal for elements both on the left and on the right, and one WPF event saw Helga Zepp-LaRouche billed alongside Noam Chomsky (who spoke by video link). The WPF has also endorsed and promoted the LaRouche petition noted above.

It seems to me that the LaRouche movement is benefiting from same kind of generalised discontent that the television station RT articulates so well, but packages so speciously. It will be interesting to see whether Corbyn’s rejection of the group prompts any kind of reaction.


The topic of the conference at which the Corbyn interview was shown was “The World Land-Bridge”, referring to a bridge that would link Siberia to Alaska; this is a concept for which Yakunin has himself shown enthusiasm (and it’s a dream that was also shared by the late Reverend Moon, as it happens).

There is also a shared interest in the Silk Road, and Yakunin and Zepp-LaRouche have appeared together to discuss the subject in China.

Jennifer LeClaire Rebukes John Oliver on Prosperity Preachers

From Jennifer LeClaire at Charisma magazine:

I now know that [John] Oliver, a satirist who has taken on the name “Megareverend” and “CEO of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” is the host of Last Week Tonight. He aired what could be best described as an exposé on preachers like Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Mike Murdoch and Robert Tilton.

…No, I don’t endorse manipulative sermons with the sole purpose of wringing pennies (thousands of them) out of your pocket. I see the abuses. But I do believe in the concept of seed faith. I do believe God wants us to prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2). I do believe in supernatural debt cancellation. And I don’t believe we should mock so-called prosperity preachers, even if we don’t believe they hear from God…

Oliver used some extreme examples—and some of them were so far out of context that they manipulated reality. He also sought out people who were hurt because they (or someone they loved) didn’t get the miracle they believed for when they sowed into the Copeland’s ministry. But I’ve never heard Kenneth or Gloria Copeland promise anyone that if they sowed enough money God would heal them, as Oliver hinted.

The Prosperity Gospel is one of the easier targets when it comes to mocking the excesses of religion, particularly when the concept is conveyed via the preposterous showmanship of Robert Tilton – fund-raising correspondence that Tilton’s ministry sends out apparently includes an outline of Tilton’s foot that believers are asked to trace their own footprint around and send back to him, along with a donation.

However, LeClaire’s rather qualified defence of Prosperity preachers is perhaps a bit less strange in the context of a religious tradition which emphasises that God will meet the needs of believers, and it should be noted that the wider discourse of the movement also includes a lot of  motivational self-help and practical financial advice. LeClaire appears most keen to defend the Copelands, whose influence and status within the “Religious Right” is much wider than just the subject of “prosperity” (last year, Copeland even managed to facilitate a message from the Pope to Pentecostals).

LeClaire’s defensiveness can be contrasted with the Christian Post, which was sporting enough to embed the programme on its site (albeit with a warning about “offensive language and lewd comments”), while a contributing editor at Christian Today has gone further, asking “Why does it take a comic to do the Church’s job?

I actually saw one of Oliver’s targets in London a few years ago: this was Mike Murdock, who was speaking at Westminster Chapel. I recall he had a heartwarming story about a couple who had agreed to pay an elderly lady a certain amount each month, in return for owning her home following her death. The couple were struggling, but they donated to Murdock’s ministry – and the old lady was promptly called to her own new heavenly home. Murdock comes to the UK fairly regularly, and he will be speaking in Maidstone just next week, at the invitation of Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo.

Murdoch and Ashimolowo were also recently in Lagos, where Murdock gifted a million dollars and a Rolls Royce to Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA (Commonwealth of Zion Assembly).

Janner: Is Sub Judice Still a “Thing”?

A Canute-like warning from the Crown Prosecution Service, from the end of June:

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders will now bring criminal proceedings against Greville Janner for child sex offences.

…As there are now active criminal proceedings nothing should be said, commented on, or shared online which may prejudice those.

Or else what? Nothing, apparently. Type “Janner” into Twitter and you will be presented with an endless flood of prejudicial comments on the subject. It is taken for granted that Janner is guilty, both of the charges before him and of other allegations that can be found online.

The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” is of course something of an over-simplification: we all understand the concept of someone being a “suspect”, and when we read about an upcoming or ongoing court case we are likely to form our own views as to how likely it is that the defendant is guilty. But Twitter is publication, not just our private musings or sounding off down the pub, and matters that are sub judice are subject to publication restrictions. Supposedly.

Perhaps one reason why everyone apparently feels so free to ignore the CPS is because the authorities haven’t exactly been leading by example in recent months. Those coming forward with complaints of historic sex abuse have been assured that they will not only be taken seriously, but that that they will be “believed.” Well, if the police will always believe that an individual is guilty before an investigation has even started, why should the rest of us hold back when it looks like there’s a case to answer?

In the case of Janner, there are two further specific factors:

1. Idiotic comments from people who ought to know better. Here, the prime example is the self-promoting Simon Danczuk MP, who has taken to Twitter to castigate Janner’s lawyers for doing their job rather than considering the feelings of Janner’s “alleged victims”. At least he remembered to use the word “alleged”, but it’s functionally meaningless in the demagogic argument he’s putting forward.

2. There is a reasonable suspicion that the charges against Janner should have been brought some years ago, but that his status in public life meant that allegations were not taken as seriously as they should have been. I can see how some people might take the view that making prejudicial statements is therefore justified, as a counter-balance against a rotten system or as an act of defiance against a powerful elite. But while can all recognise flaws and even corruption in our legal system, the most enthusiastic commentators go somewhat further, imagining themselves to be living in a world run for the benefit of murderous VIP paedophile conspiracies.

Perhaps courts are resigned to the presence of aggressive but unsubstantive prejudicial comments on social media; if trials collapsed each time someone published something stupid, nothing would ever get done. Also, material posted from overseas is outside the reach of UK law, and there is the continuing easy availability of accusatory on-line material that is not illegal because it pre-dates the “active criminal proceedings”. But perhaps we should at least acknowledge that this acquiescence means that standards have slipped, and that a principle of justice has been hopelessly eroded.


It is also should also be noted that some of the Twitter commentary on Janner is not just prejudicial, but also inflammatory, conspiratorial, and generally unpleasant – and it’s not all just aimed at Janner himself. Those who have put forward reasonable arguments against a man with advanced dementia being subjected to a “trial of the facts” have been accused of being “pro paedophile”, while members of Janner’s family are derided as “rape apologists” because they dare to insist that he not guilty (this is the stated view of a Twitter feed supporting Rabina Khan’s bid to become Mayor of Tower Hamlets, on the grounds that such an assertion of innocence acts to “silence” victims*).

There is also some evidence of anti-Semitism. Janner has held senior positions in Jewish organisations in the UK; one of the more prolific Twitterers on the subject has written of “a cluster of high-ranking Jews involved in paedophile activities”. He argues that this is comparable to referring to abuse among Roman Catholics or Methodists, and thus is not anti-Jewish. But this is disingenuous: it’s one thing to highlight an example of abuse and cover-up within a particular religious institution, and quite another to imply, based on a perceived impression rather than evidence, that prominence in relation to a particular ethnicity or faith tradition gives one special protection to engage in abuse. The same user has also promoted materials containing phrases like “multiculturalist Jew” and “Blair’s ‘Jewish Cabal'”, and explicitly confirmed that he doesn’t care whether or not this is anti-Jewish.**

*Footnote 1: The Twitter feed presented itself as “the campaign to elect Rabina Khan as Mayor of Tower Hamlets”. It was formerly @Luftarformayor, and more recently @rabina4mayor. However, Khan’s campaign website links to her own personal Twitter feed rather than to this one, suggesting that it does not officially represent her. Within hours of controversy over the comments alluding to Janner’s family, the account changed its name to @TowHamletsLEFT, with the new tagline: “We support Left candidates within and oitside [sic] Tower Hamlets.”

**Footnote 2: Oddly, the same user has claimed (no link here for legal reasons) to have given important information to John Mann, an MP who is known for campaigning around allegations of VIP child abuse (Mann has referred to a “list of 22 politicians“, which was passed to police in December). If true, it’s an incongruous relationship given Mann’s position as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism.

Ted Heath: Allegations and Conspiracy Theories

From Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:

That’s it then. Sir Edward Heath was a paedophile. It has been on the news for four days, so it must be true. They might just be allegations, but we know there is “no smoke without fire”. The chap was a “confirmed bachelor”, nudge, nudge. They are always a bit fishy, these lonely sorts.

I suppose many people just shrug and say public figures must take the rough with the smooth, even when they are dead and defenceless. But the current police obsession with “historical celebrity sex abuse” is beyond bizarre. By any standard, it risks rampant injustice.

…As far as Heath is concerned, there appear to be only two firm allegations. One comes from a man who says he was raped by Heath in 1961 in a flat in Park Lane full of sailing paraphernalia. (Heath had no such flat and was not a sailor then, according to his biographer, John Campbell.) 

The accusation was a sensational front-page Sunday Mirror splash at the weekend. The accuser claims he was picked up by Heath while hitch-hiking to London aged twelve. The man recalls “a very posh place” where there were “photos of yachts on the walls” and “an orchestra’s conductor’s baton”, which (perhaps too handily) are evidence of Heath’s famous hobbies and thus mean that we can discount the possibility of mistaken identity. The man says he realised with whom he had spent the night several years later, when he saw a photograph in a newspaper (an old photo from 1951). The Mirror report refers to “Mayfair” rather than Jenkins’s “Park Lane”; the two designations, when used in a general way, are virtually synonymous.

When I first consulted Campbell’s biography (via Google Books), I thought that Jenkins had been mistaken: page 72 states that Heath had indeed moved to Albany, known as “Mayfair’s most exclusive mansion”, in 1961. However, pages 136 to 137 show that this is an error or typo, and the correct date was 1963. Up until this point he had been living in a “cupboard” flat in Petty France, which is south of St James’s Park. Campbell explains that Heath acquired a seven-year lease for his Albany apartment, lasting up to 1970.


The 1963 date is also confirmed by Heath’s own autobiography (referring to the resignation of Macmillan: “It was at this time that I moved out of the small flat in Petty France that I had inhabited since the early 1950s”) and Margaret Laing’s 1973 biography.

Yet this incorrect 1961 date just happens to be pivotal to the new allegation. It is possible that the journalist, rather than the alleged victim, has extrapolated from “a very posh place” to Mayfair, based on the error/typo, but the Petty France address – described as “tiny” by Campbell and as “little more than digs” – doesn’t seem to fit the bill.

Campbell’s biography also confirms, as Jenkins notes, that Heath took up sailing only in 1966, although he had had an interest in the sea since boyhood.

Jenkins also refers to the second allegation:

The other is from an anonymous former policeman in Wiltshire who alleged that a Myra Forde had, in the mid-1990s, threatened to expose Heath as a paedophile if she was prosecuted for running a brothel. She denied the whole story on Wednesday, which perhaps explains why Wiltshire’s police and prosecutor say they were never told of the threat, although they nevertheless held a press conference outside Heath’s former home in Salisbury last weekend.

The story was that plans for a trial were dropped in 1992 because Forde had threatened to “expose” Heath. However, it now transpires that the real reason was because two witnesses failed to give evidence, although Wiltshire police are now looking into whether there was “witness tampering” (a belated change of emphasis which is unimpressive given that the first version of the story came from one its own officers, and even if true does not mean that the case had anything to do with Heath). Forde did apparently claim to know something about Heath and rent boys, although she was convicted three years later without mentioning the matter. A report of her trial from 1995 refers to underage girls, but not boys.

There are also other allegations against Heath, including claims that he abused children from the Haut de la Garenne children’s care home in Jersey, in particular while taking them on trips aboard his yacht, the Morning Cloud. There were cases of child abuse at the home, and a lawyer representing victims told the Independent:

“There seems to have been this currency that somehow he was implicated, but it was always like pinning down a jellyfish – it was very elusive.”

This seems to be saying that the lack of any evidence is itself a sign of something sinister going on.

A more outlandish variation of the Jersey story is that Heath would sometimes murder the children and dump their bodies over the side of his yacht. One woman on Jersey, named Linda Corby, claims that in “the early 1970s” (which would have been while Heath was Prime Minister) she on one occasion counted eleven children go onto Heath’s yacht but only ten return. She says that she went to police, who told her that they had been told “not to investigate”. One wonders how the ten survivors were persuaded not to say anything, or even to warn their peers not to go on the boat on later occasions. It seems not unreasonable to suppose that Corby simply miscounted. Corby is herself a mother, which allowed the Daily Mail to produce a misleading headline implying that a mother had reported that her own child was missing.

More generally, it is unexplained how Heath was able to dispose of children in this way without anyone filing missing person reports, or dead children washing up ashore, or members of Heath’s crew or security entourage blabbing. According to The Times, based on information from Heath’s navigator David Arnold: “Morning Cloud was a racing vessel, needed at least three people to crew her and had no private space.”

There is also an allegation from “Nick”, Exaro‘s star witness. Nick (a pseudonym, and apparently also writing online as “Carl Survivor”) claims to have been raped by VIPs including Leon Brittan at Dolphin Square, and even to have witnessed three child-murders. He also claims to have been abused by Jimmy Savile and by another high-profile figure (an individual who is currently the subject of legal proceedings relating other accusations). “Nick” says he was raped by Heath “at several venues”, although it’s not clear if these supposedly include Dolphin Square. Again, it is difficult to imagine a group of paedophiles, who depend on tight secrecy for their activities, welcoming an ex-Prime Minister into their midst.


It seems quite firmly established that some individuals in the past got away with child abuse due to their status; and recent convictions for historical offences seem to me to be sound (although I regard as repellent Mark Williams-Thomas’ demagogic posture that to raise reasonable doubts is to be a “child abuse supporter”). However, many historical allegations against VIPs and celebrities will forever be impossible to prove or disprove: there are few references to specific dates for which a suspect may have an alibi, and extensive media coverage now makes it very difficult to confirm that allegations from multiple sources are not cross-contaminated. Further, with so many accusers unnamed, it is impossible to make any assessment as to their character.

As such, conspiracy theories flourish – including, of course, the unfalsifiable suggestion that the conspiracy is so vast that any evidence that exonerates a suspect must have been concocted. Rumours about Heath and others have been promoted by conspiracy theorists for years, and the new stories are a boon to David Icke – a man who claims that Heath was actually a giant reptile. Also being cited with enthusiasm on Twitter is the disgraced Michael Shrimpton, who I previously discussed here.

In June, a rally of abuse “victims and survivors” was held opposite Downing Street. It was organised by “campaigners Chris Wittwear and Chris Tuck”, the latter of whom has met Theresa May and is a member of the Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. She appears to be a hard-working campaigner for those whose lives have been blighted by abuse; yet she gave a platform to a conspiracy theorist named Bill Maloney.

A video of the event shows Maloney claiming that recent work to remove asbestos from Parliament is cover for scrubbing DNA evidence of abuse, and he suggested that the invasion of Iraq was to do with Saddam Hussain’s knowledge of UK VIP child abuse. He also accused several public figures (which is why I’m not linking to the video), and he claimed that Jimmy Savile was a Satanist. Tuck described this alarming rant as “brilliant” – perhaps she was just being polite, but such an endorsement, it seems to me, is highly troubling given her position.

(Some details have been amended and expanded)

Nadine Dorries, Tim Ireland and the High Court: Some Notes on the Outcome

While the many lies of Nadine Dorries have been travelling half-way around the world in recent months, the truth has been tripping over its shoelaces; from the Independent:

An attempt to unseat the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been thrown out by the High Court after two judges ruled that legal documents informing her of the action were sent to the wrong address.

…Gavin Millar QC, acting for Ms Dorries, told the court that Mr Ireland’s solicitors had been labouring under the “misapprehension” that the election petition could be served on a place of work. “It seems to us that a straightforward error was made by the petitioner’s solicitor,” he said.

This error means that the court will not test the details of how Dorries conducted a thoroughly reprehensible smear campaign against my friend Tim Ireland, who stood against her as in Independent candidate in May’s election. Dorries made a series of reckless and false allegations that ran a gamut from religious persecution of Roman Catholics to financial impropriety and computer hacking, along with grotesque insinuations of a sexual nature, and, of course, the all-purpose “stalker” smear that she trots out against anyone who dares to draw attention to or challenge the appalling behaviour of this most sorry excuse for a public servant.

The ruling is also a gift to various individuals whose dishonest and/or unethical behaviours have been brought to light by Tim over the years. Several of these individuals worked with Dorries to formulate and promote her smears, and one of them (at his own initiative, it appears) posted a website (since deleted) threatening him with a harassment campaign unless he desisted from bringing the petition. This particular individual has in the past been spoken to by police over his actions towards Tim (this was in 2009, when he created a malicious document that included a description of Tim’s then-home address. It was created for the purpose of harassment, and police traced it back to him), and his sporadic abuse since has also included paedo-smears. It really is a scandalous association for a Member of Parliament.

Dorries’ junior counsel, Greg Callus, has written an account of the legal argument that led to the dismissal; it includes the detail that

Mr Ireland’s solicitors sent the petition by first-class post to the office of her constituency Conservative Association on 4 June 2015. However, because candidates for election are individuals (not acting ‘in a course of a business’) they must ordinarily be served either in-person, or at their usual or last-known residence, unless they nominate a place or person or electronic means by which they will accept service.

It was successfully argued that more effort should have been made to find Dorries’ home address, which is a nice irony given that there is strong reason to assume that Dorries would regard such an enquiry as evidence of stalking. It should be noted that although Dorries has a residence in mid-Bedfordshire, it is not self-evident that this is her main home: she told a reporter she had “fled” from this address soon after Tim moved into the constituency (although he had not moved “into her road”, which was one lie that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph in September, or even into the same village; and his move was for perfectly valid personal reasons), and she has also been reported as living in Surrey with her partner. Dorries also gave her office as her official address on election materials; and in her role as a company director, she has specified that her service address is a virtual office in London rather than her home.

Dorries insists that the outcome does not mean that she won on a “technicality”, although she is less interested in drawing a pedantic distinction between “technicality” and “solicitor’s error” than in attempting to imply that the case was thrown out due to lack of merit. Thus, according to an obliging statement from her lawyers, Clifford Chance:

This petition was part of Mr Ireland’s continued campaign of harassment against our client. Our client believes that the petition was maliciously brought and had no merit. We are pleased that the right outcome, namely dismissal of the petition, was achieved. Our client was elected with a very clear majority and, with this petition now dismissed (and with the petitioner not having sought to appeal) she can continue with her job of representing the people of Mid-Bedfordshire‎.

Some media reports have focused on this: thus one paper ran with the accurate but misleading headline “‘Smear’ claim thrown out” (a better alternative in another source was “Tory MP Nadine Dorries blocks blogger’s bid to take legal action”). Another distortion that has slipped into some reports concerns the fact that the solicitor attempted to rectify the error by giving notice of service a few days later; out of context this was reported by Andrew Sinclair, the Political Correspondent for BBC East, as “Judges threw out case as Ireland was late filing his papers”.

As expected, the deeply unpleasant Paul Staines ran a short post on the Guido Fawkes website, gloating that “Dorries Stalker Faces Ruin After High Court Flop”; Dorries has previously used the site to promote smear attacks against opponents, and Staines hates Tim for his own reasons. Staines likes to appear to have inside information, and so he concocted the completely fictitious detail that “Tim Ireland burst into tears after the ruling”.

UPDATE (later same day): Predictably, the author of the threatening website aimed at Tim had a new outburst shortly after the above was posted, with a stream of abusive Tweets aimed at me. The author – a man with a long history of personal dishonesty and grandiosity, as well as abusive sockpuppeting – has been in private contact with Dorries for some time. It is difficult to believe that she is unaware of his behaviour (she follows his account, and sometimes RTs his Tweets), or that she does know that he is using her false allegations as a basis for harassment.

As part of his goading, he made reference to a police information notice (or PIN, popularly known as a “harassment warning”) that was sent my way following a vexatious complaint made last year by Dennis Rice, a journalist who used to write abusively and threateningly about me and others (most notably, the author Peter Jukes) under the sockpuppet name “Tabloid Troll”. The circumstances of this incident are explained here. Rice is another figure who in is in private communication with Dorries, and in 2013 she heartily endorsed his abusive and thuggish trolling. Again, it is an association that brings discredit to her position as a Member of Parliament.

New Mexico Congressman Helps Build Evangelical Links in Belarus

From the Albuquerque Journal, at the end of May:

Rep. Steve Pearce… flew alone to Belarus on a mission trip paid for by Capitol Ministries, a Washington-based evangelical group whose website says it “provides Bible studies, evangelism and discipleship to political leaders.”

…Capitol Ministries was founded in 1996 and has started ministries in over 37 state capitals, including Santa Fe. Pearce now holds the distinction of being the first member of the U.S. Congress to address the Belarusian Parliament.

In a telephone interview, Pearce said Belarus is eager to improve relations with the U.S. and had extended an invitation to Capitol Ministries for a member of Congress to address the country’s leadership. Pearce, whom Capitol Ministries describes “as a leading congressional sponsor,” got the nod.

“Generations have grown up with no belief in God,” he said. “They wanted to explore that a bit and they want to become closer to the U.S. They were amazed about the part in my speech about the Founding Fathers and the role freedom of religion played and that it basically drove people to this country and to set up the government.

“They were interested in the whole concept,” he added. “I talked to them about truth and trust and those basically come from the Ten Commandments.”

Capitol Ministries was profiled by Right Wing Watch in 2011; the organization is headed by Ralph Drollinger and his wife Danielle, and its sponsors include “Todd Akin, Michele Bachmann, Paul Broun, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Sue Myrick, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Lamar Smith, Joe Wilson and various others”. The Drollingers are also long-time associates of James Dobson, and RWW notes Ralph’s enthusiasm for Tea Party politics.

Pearce’s visit – which the Congressman has since described as a “missions trip” – was also covered by state media in Belarus; Minsk Capital Television writes:

Belarus is interested in maintaining a full partnership with the United States. This was said on May 28 at a meeting of the Council of the Republic Chairman Mikhail Myasnikovich with a US delegation.

It included representatives of the US Congress, the fund “Spiritual Diplomacy” and ex-players of the National Basketball Association.

Michael Morgulis, fund manager of Spiritual Diplomacy, Appointed Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus in the State of Florida

A new relationship between the United States and Belarus have begun. We have been working on this for many years and, as we say, step by step, have got many political leaders to reconsider their position. Now they consider Belarus as a perfect and loyal friend, as I wrote in one of my articles.

I previously wrote about Morgulis in 2008, and I noted his enthusiasm for President Lukashenko,* as expressed on the Spiritual Diplomacy website:

I also met with President Lukashenko several times and discussed spiritual subjects with him. He is nothing like the media wants us to believe. He has a capacity for making deep judgments.

Pearce himself is of the view that the notoriously authoritarian country is improving; as he told the Journal:

“I didn’t find the State Department’s perceptions to be accurate,” he said. “They had told me there is no freedom of religion yet the pastors I met with over there said it is a little tedious to get registered but once you’re registered they let you do what you want and don’t break you up or anything like that.”

“I understand they are doing things that are atrocious – and they would admit it,” Pearce said. “But they say they can’t change overnight and I was pretty sympathetic to that…”

Pearce and Drollinger have also now spoken about the visit in an interview with CBN:

In Washington, Pearce attends weekly Bible studies hosted by Ralph and Danielle Drollinger, the founders of Capitol Ministries.

…The Drollingers are Californians who nearly 20 years ago determined that the best way to change policy is to win the hearts of lawmakers for Christ. Since then, they’ve started Christian ministries in 40 state capitals and Washington.

…The Drollingers pushed to get Pearce into Parliament to spark a flame they pray turns into a regular Bible study… They’re also pushing the Belorussian education minister to adopt a curriculum that teaches the Bible as literature to high school students.

…One day after their presentation, the Drollingers received a letter saying the Lukashenko administration is very interested.

“They want to see if we’re trying to lead them down the evangelical road or a certain religion and it’s really not. It’s really written from the perspective of literature,” Danielle Drollinger explained.

The curriculum has been developed by the Museum of the Bible, which is a project under the chairmanship of Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby. Green is well-known as a patron of religious right causes, as noted by Salon last year.

This is a somewhat unexpected turn of events: although Belarus–Russia relations are at times rocky, Lukashenko has close links with the Patriarch of Moscow, and he has expressed his support for Orthodoxy in terms of a contrast with “alien” influences. The situation is very different from Ukraine, where David Barton has recently been making evangelical inroads.

Ukraine has also come under the attention of “the Fellowship” (also known as “the Family”), a discreet American religious group that also operates internationally through bi-partisan political networks. However, Drollinger has expressed a scathing opinion of the Fellowship, published in the form of an Amazon review of Jeff Sharlet’s magisterial investigation The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Drollinger writes:

The Fellowship, if Sharlet’s internal descriptions are correct (and I believe they are from my more than 30 years of interactions with the group), is anything but a Protestant fundamentalist group. Even if his labeling is off, however, his book serves a tremendous purpose in outing a potentially heretical organization that appears to pimp Jesus to politicians throughout the world. In this sense, Sharlet may be right on target.

UPDATE: Pearce’s visit was condemned by Andrei Sannikov, who is Belarus’ “most high-profile opposition figure” and a former prisoner of conscience under the Lukashenko regime:


A US Embassy cable from 2006 describes a press conference with Lukashenko:

His curt answers to Western journalists and scolding of Belarusian correspondents only helped to show the world his bizarre behavior, yet he still received healthy applause from his well-chosen audience and foreign lackeys Q including American citizen Michael Margulis, whom Lukashenko repeatedly mentioned during his remarks as representing the real American people.

Kamal Saleem Doubles Down on “Obama is a Muslim” Conspiracy Theories

Fake ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem (background here) is still doing the rounds – from the Hill Country Community Journal (Texas):

At the June 25 event at Southern Oaks Baptist Church [in Kerrville], Saleem said… many kinds of jihad are practiced in the U.S. White House.

…Saleem said there is a film on YouTube showing Obama using a Muslim gesture, right hand at his waist over his left forearm, when saluting the American flag. And he said Obama wears a ring that is inscribed “There is no God but Allah.”

…The Muslim Brotherhood sent Saleem to America, partly financed by Saudi Arabia. “My job was to create a clash between blacks and whites, especially recruiting blacks to Islam.”

….Saleem said in Muslim theology there are seven spheres of influence in their work in the United States: family, education, government, medicine, economics, art and entertainment, and media. And the Muslim Brotherhood organization has lobbied in every sphere.

Saleem said, for example, ObamaCare exempted Muslims.

…He listed the three altars of the Muslims: Islam (Baal), homosexuality (Sodom and Gomorrah), and abortion (Malek); and said all three are burning now.

….Saleem said by the end of Obama’s presidency, probably 100 million Muslims will live in America; and Obama made it possible for them to enter through Cuba and have instant amnesty.

Most of this is the same old stuff, although his projection of a garbled version of dominionist “Seven Mountains” theology onto Islam is perhaps new. Further, his claim that his job as a secret Muslim operative in the USA before was was “to create a clash between blacks and whites” seems to be a new adaptation to current affairs, providing a congenial explanation for recent black discontent at oppressive and sometimes lethal “policing” in certain areas. A couple of Saleem’s specific claims have long been debunked: the story of Obama’s Muslim ring was based on a blurred image, while the ObamaCare exemption actually refers to the Amish.

Saleem’s presentation was facilitated by Pastor Greg Young, who recently had a prominent position at an event where the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, signed a law designed to ensure that pastors will not be obliged to perform same-sex marriage services. Abbott also recently appeared on Young’s radio programme, Chosen Generation.

Also speaking at the same event was Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for Liberty Institute; Dys previously featured on this blog here.


Today’s date, of course, is the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks in London, in which 52 people were murdered by home-grown Islamic terrorists; the massacres took place on travel routes that a number of my friends were at that time using on a regular basis. The ruthless ideology and the callous mind-set that inspired the killers remains a blight, spreading misery and horror wherever it is found, and countering its baneful influence is today a more urgent task than ever.

However, that does not mean we should be too busy to ignore the various frauds and fantasists for whom an “anti-jihad” pose is an opportunity to spread hate and paranoia, to promote themselves, and/or to make money. This blog has drawn attention to a few examples over the years; my efforts have been modest, although a certain impact can perhaps be measured in abusive counter-attacks and other underhand behaviour I have experienced. Media and police have been hoodwinked; members of the public, including church groups, have had their fears played on or their good intentions manipulated. Clowns like Saleem should be given no indulgence or quarter.

David Aaronovitch Responds To Critics of Satanic Ritual Abuse Documentaries

David Aaronovitch has written an exhaustive response to criticisms of his recent BBC Radio 4 documentaries on Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theories, responding in particular to three complainants:

The two complaints from interviewees were both hosted by the Needleblog, a private blog devoted to the issue of child sexual abuse. The first was made by Tim Tate, author – among many other works – of Children for the Devil: Ritual Abuse and Satanic Crime, published in 1991 (but subsequently withdrawn after legal action). Tate was also co-producer of a 1989 edition of ITV’s prime-time programme The Cook Report entitled The Devil’s Work.

The second complaint came from Dr Sarah Nelson, a sociologist at Edinburgh University and former journalist. Dr Nelson describes herself as a specialist writer and researcher on child sexual abuse.

The third complaint came in two articles by the journalist and campaigner Beatrix Campbell, hosted by the Open Democracy website, the first being entitled “Analysing Aaronovitch: has the scourge of ‘conspiracists’ become one himself?” And the second “Analysing Aaronovitch: a skeptical narrative.”

Tate’s and Nelson’s objections also made it into the Independent newspaper, which reported their view that Aaronovitch’s scepticism is itself a conspiracy theory.

Aaronovitch’s reply includes a discussion of Tate’s book, as well as of a work by Campbell and her partner Judith Dawson (then Jones) from 1998, entitled Stolen Voices: An Exposure of the Campaign to Discredit Childhood TestimonyBoth books are very difficult to get hold of – the former was withdrawn following a successful libel action, while the publishers of the latter (the Women’s Press) decided the text was too risky. The two works show that their authors endorsed very specific claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse that do not hold up to scrutiny, while Campbell and Jones had promoted a explanatory framework – derived from evangelical campaigners – that they had subsequently dropped without apparent explanation or even acknowledgement. This was the claim that Satanists are motivated by a wish to “invert” Christianity, which Campbell and Jones later abandoned in preference for the view that Satanic paraphernalia is simply used by paedophiles to scare children.

Aaronovitch also notes Campbell and Dawson’s reliance on tenuous associations as a way to smear critics, in particular the academic Jean La Fontaine (author of Speak of the Devil: Tales of Satanic Abuse in Contemporary England). Campbell noted that LaFontaine had recommended factual writings by Benjamin Rossen, a Dutch academic who had been involved with debunking claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse in the town of Oude Pekala. However, Campbell and Dawson noted that Rossen was also on the board of a  paedophile-supporting magazine. Aaronovitch quotes Campbell:

“Professor La Fontaine’s orthodoxy on this issue echoes the views of well-known promoters of paedophilia. [Aaronovitch’s italics] Although not relying on his work in her recent findings, she recommended writing by Benjamin Rossen, among others, in a letter to the leading professional journal, Child Abuse Review, this year.”

And then Dawson:

…”‘I don’t want to make a fool of the woman,’ says Judith Dawson, ‘but everybody working for child protection knows about Rossen’s advocacy of paedophilia. That calls into question La Fontaine’s whole attitude to adults’ sexual interest in children. [Aaronovitch’s italics] Anyone who regards Rossen as helpful on these issues cannot have any credibility in this debate.'”

Aaronovitch’s commentary on this:

“That calls into question La Fontaine’s whole attitude to adults’ sexual interest in children.” Says Judith Dawson, the constant companion to almost any article on the subject by Beatrix Campbell. Does it really? And what does Dawson (and, by extension, Campbell) imagine that attitude to be? We get it, though, don’t we? What is being implied is that LaFontaine is somehow “soft” on paedophilia. Perhaps, even, mildly tolerant of it. It is a technique repeated over and over again by Campbell.

Another theme in Campbell’s articles about Aaronovitch – to which he does not refer explicitly – is that scepticism is a form of anti-feminism. Thus Campbell’s attacks include the rather weird sneer that “Aaronovitch is a herald of reason as masculine intuition”, while research into false memories is “anti-feminist resistance”. The bad faith is obvious, and while it deserves noting it requires little comment.

Campbell also criticises Aaronovitch for referring to the recent SRA panic in Hamptstead:

Aaronovitch imputes something eerie about Hampstead, “No one in the mainstream media was biting.” said Aaaronovitch. But a forensic blogger reports, “none but those involved in the hoax was biting, not the police, not social workers…’ and insofar as anyone in the alternative media took it up it was mostly to ‘expose it for what it was…” That’s because they reckoned someone would use it just the way Aaronovitch did.

The Hampstead allegations were particularly bizarre and wide-ranging, and as such they have remained for the most part within the milieu of 9/11 Truthers and what we might call “the David Icke crowd”. However, Campbell happily endorsed a complaint to the BBC about Aaronovitch’s documentaries by a campaigning group called Everyday Victim Blaming, which included the following (emphasis added):

Aaronovitch’s programme on ritual abuse was misleading and inaccurate. It failed to include details of successful prosecutions within the UK where ritual abuse, including satanic ritual abuse, were found to have occurred. Whilst it is true that there is no evidence on satanic ritual abuse as a global conspiracy, there have been 4 separate cases within the UK where satanic rituals were a feature of multi-perpetrator (and multi-generational) abuse: Rotherham, Orkney, Nottingham and Hampstead.

At some point, this was amended:

Aaronovitch’s programme on ritual abuse was misleading and inaccurate. It failed to include details of successful prosecutions within the UK where ritual abuse, including satanic ritual abuse, were found to have occurred. Whilst it is true that there is no evidence on satanic ritual abuse as a global conspiracy, there have been a number of separate cases within the UK where satanic rituals were a feature of multi-perpetrator (and multi-generational) abuse: Rotherham, Orkney, Nottingham. 

Was Hampstead dropped because the claims were simply too fantastical (babies cooked at the local McDonald’s, for instance), or because it’s safer to recycle over old accusations from decades ago?

Aaronovitch’s lengthy essay – of which I have offered just a taster – also includes comment on the current “Westminster paedophile ring” allegations:

I return to what got me into all this – the belief that that the most lurid of the current Westminster/VIP paedophile ring accusations, including child murders in front of of witnesses, seem to me to be replicating the earlier Satanic panic. I have watched as tabloid newspapers have printed uncorroborated nonsense from known fantasists as fact, as single accusers with uncorroborated stories of killings have been given credence by BBC reporters on the basis of “believing the survivors” for all the world, as though Lord Clyde had never reported and Orkney and Rochdale had never happened. As journalistic agencies have turned a buck by ramping up and selling stories that I confidently predict will fail to stand up.

I’ve raised concerns about some of these stories myself, in particular here and here. Campbell apparently believes that taking a critical interest in this way is evidence that one does not care about the reality of child abuse.

Aaronovitch’s essay was published on Barristerblog, a website run by Matthew Scott. Scott has himself faced unpleasant accusations and insinuations from people who ought to know better, as I highlighted just yesterday.