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.

One Response

  1. This is beginning to look like a grand conspiracy where each element, as Proctor points out, props up the other whether deliberately or by jumping on the bandwagon.
    Certainly Exaro has been utterly shameless in their promotion for profit – witness the quite ludicrous Australian 60 Minutes sourced from them, and the disgraceful comments by police. I have never in my lifetime heard police make such a claim even when a body has been found let alone this lunacy where supposedly a former Prime Minster witnessed murder and we are somehow led to believe a witness was allowed to saunter off.
    Proctor should be applauded for bringing out in the open just how fantastical this has become.

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