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.

Footnotes

[1]

[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.

[2]

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”.

[3]

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.

Footnote

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

***
Sections:

Introduction
The “1961” allegation
The 1990s “brothel” allegation

Further allegations:
Abuse and murder on the yacht
Sex parties in London
Jimmy Savile’s nephew
Supposed association with the Paedophile Information Exchange

Discussion
****

Introduction

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.

Let us look at the claims in more detail.

The “1961” allegation

Jenkins continues:

…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.

Heath

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.

The 1990s “brothel” allegation

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.

[UPDATE (May 2016): According to a new report:

An investigation has found no evidence a case against a brothel madam was dropped because she threatened to make allegations against Sir Edward Heath.

…The IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] found the case was halted when witnesses refused to give evidence.

It was also deemed unclear whether the comment about Sir Edward had even been made.]

Further allegations

There are also some other allegations about Heath in the media.

(a) Abuse and murder on the yacht

The claim here is that Heath 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.”

[UPDATE (2017): The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry found nothing to implicate Heath in abuse. According to a witness statement by former deputy police chief Leonard Harper (var. Lenny Harper):

I would also like to confirm, for the record, that during my investigations into child abuse on the island of Jersey, I received no allegations against Jimmy Savile or Sir Edward Heath. I understand that both of these have subsequently been linked to the island of Jersey. I do however know that Sir Edward Heath was a frequent visitor to the island and a member of the boating community.

Harper led police investigation in 2006 into historic child abuse in Jersey. From his various media statements, we can be very sure that if he had something implicating Heath he would have made a big deal of it.]

(b) Sex parties in London

The source here is “Nick”, Exaro‘s star witness in its stories about “VIP abuse”. Nick (a pseudonym) 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 Lord Greville Janner. “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.

[UPDATE: Later in August it emerged that Nick’s allegations included the claim that Harvey Proctor had been persuaded not to castrate him at a sex party due to Heath’s intervention. More detail here.]

(c) Jimmy Savile’s nephew

Two days after the 1961 allegations were published, the Evening Standard had a  follow-up:

Jimmy Savile’s nephew today claimed that a male friend was abused by Sir Edward Heath.

Guy Marsden said the friend was just 14 at the time and the alleged sex attack on him happened at a party in London during the Seventies.

…Mr Marsden, 61, said he and three friends aged 13 to 16 were ferried across London from flat to flat, where sexual abuse took place.

…The roofer, from Leeds, added: “The four of us would arrive at these parties together, then my friend would disappear. I didn’t think much of it at the time, though I knew it was weird.

“He later told us that Ted Heath was an abuser but that he didn’t know who he was at the time. He said it was a year after the abuse took place that he was watching TV and recognised him.”

It’s odd that Marsden failed to mention this amazing relevation in 2014, when he gave a strange account of encountering his uncle among paedophiles in 1968. According to the story as published in the Daily Mail, Marsden and some friends had decided to run away to London, where they were picked up to two men and taken to their flat. By chance, Savile appeared several days later, “with a group of young children and a vicar in tow”:

Guy, thinking his uncle had been asked to find him by his family, was horrified. ‘I thought that me Uncle Jimmy had caught me there,’ he says.

…’These people would pick people up from train stations, as in younger people,’ he explains. ‘We’d then go to their houses.

‘And then the ones higher up the chain would come to these houses to see who they’d picked up to take them elsewhere to do whatever they were going to do with them.’

Because his uncle was Jimmy Savile, Guy thinks word quickly spread that this was one child not to be touched.

Marsden claims that he didn’t understand what was going on at the time, although surely he would have twigged at some point and the new article makes it clear he was told explicitly by a friend that he had suffered abuse.

But what is even odder is that Marsden had only praise for his uncle following his death in 2011. The Daily Mirror ran a piece on how Savile’s money would be going to charity, which included the following:

Nephew Guy Marsden, 57, from Leeds, said: “We don’t think there will be anything in Uncle Jimmy’s will for us. It would be very nice if there was but our family rule was you get what you’ve worked for.

“When we were growing up it was made very clear you didn’t ask Uncle Jimmy for anything, especially not money.

“The main thing he gave us was his time. If anyone was poorly in hospital or in bother then Uncle Jimmy would be there for them.”

(d) Supposed association with the Paedophile Information Exchange

The Sunday People (which publishes online under the banner of the Mirror) has further reported that Heath

…was present at more than half a dozen Westminster meetings of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange.

…A dossier of files compiled by former Labour minister Baroness Castle showed Heath was present at Westminster meetings ­with paedophile rights campaigners from the PIE group.

Heath is said to have attended at least a quarter of the 30 or so monthly or bi-weekly meetings. 

His name is said to have appeared on minutes of the private gatherings, also apparently attended by other MPs, along with scoutmasters and headteachers.

But the Castle files have been ­missing since the mid 1980s.

That “Heath is said” qualification comes very late in an article that begins by trumpeting Heath’s involvement with PIE as being an established fact that the paper has “revealed”.

The co-author of the Sunday People article is Don Hale, a journalist who claims that Castle gave him the dossier in the 1980s but that it had been seized by police before he could make use of it. For some reason, Hale never referred to this incident until July 2014, when his supposed memory of it formed the basis for a Daily Mail article on “the paedophile lobby’s influence in Westminster” during the 1980s. Hale claimed that “16 MPs” appeared in Castle’s dossier, and that “Tory minister Sir Rhodes Boyson, a well-known enthusiast for corporal punishment, and Education Secretary Sir Keith Joseph” were mentioned “multiple times”.

A few days after Leon Brittan’s death in January 2015, Hale further alleged that Brittan had been a significant figure in the dossier. This was “revealed” in an article written by Hale for the Mirror, which also included new direct quotes attributed to Castle (who died in 2002) about how Brittan was “a powerful man with many secrets”. The article failed to make clear that the whole thing was based on Hale’s unsubstantiated memories (discussed by me further here).

Why didn’t Hale mention Ted Heath in July 2014? As a former prime minister, Heath’s name would have been a bigger scoop than Boyson or Joseph or Brittan. Yet Hale only remembered Heath in August 2015, around the same time as other stories about Heath were appearing in the media. How can anyone have confidence in such a manner of disclosure?

The Sunday Times reported in March that there is no copy of any such dossier within Barbara Castle’s archive. Hale also claimed that Castle had told him that she had discussed the matter with Jack Straw, who was her former special adviser. Straw told the paper that he has no records to indicate such a thing, and provided a quote:

I have absolutely no recollection . . . of Barbara Castle ever writing to me about an alleged paedophile ring at Westminster (or anywhere else), or ever talking to me about such allegations. Nor was I ever aware that she may have raised such concerns with someone else.

Discussion

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.