VIP Abuse Claims: Daily Mail Turns on “Nick”

A dramatic front-page splash from the Daily Mail:

VIP child abuse inquiry is starting to unravel: ‘Grave doubts’ emerge over key witness’s claim that he saw boys murdered

Alleged abuse victim ‘Nick’ is ‘credible and true’, Met source said last year

Yet officers have not found a ‘shred of credible evidence’ to back up claims

‘Nick’ says Establishment figures murdered three boys in 1970s and 1980s

But there are now fears he is a ‘Walter Mitty’ who made up shocking claims

The story appears to have caught Exaro News off-guard; its output on Twitter yesterday evening showed that the site was looking forward the Daily Mail running a piece on how “senior Tories” were unimpressed by Harvey Proctor’s claim that Nick’s allegations against him were the result of a “homosexual witch-hunt”. There must have been dismay when the paper instead attacked Nick’s credibility so uncompromisingly.

Exaro‘s response:

The claim that “VIP abuse inquiry is starting to unravel” is false. Police continue to pursue what they STILL see as credible evidence.

Exaro has been repeating the word “credible” over and over again during the past week, despite the mantra’s failure to quell growing unease and critical commentary on the subject of “Nick” and his awful disclosures.

What are all too “credible”, though, are the quotes in the Mail article, from unnamed “sources”. For example:

A source said: ‘When he contacted police, he had a well-rehearsed script and initially appeared believable. But when you scratch under the surface of his claims, there is nothing there.

‘The notion of an organised paedophile gang of a former prime minister, MPs and Establishment figures is just nonsense.

‘Police have not been able to identify any victims. There is not one shred of credible evidence to support his allegations. The police investigation has been exhaustive but they have drawn a blank.’

The Met has been investigating Nick’s “VIP” allegations for the best part of a year now, without making any arrests, and Harvey Proctor’s press conference revealed that Exaro had suppressed some of Nick’s most extravagant accusations – including the claim that Nick had been rescued from castration at a paedophile orgy by the presence of former Prime Minister Ted Heath.

Of course, the Mail is simply following the mood – up until very recently, the paper has been more than willing to use Nick to fuel sensationalism on the subject of “VIP abuse”. On 26 August, for instance, it ran with a subheading declaring “he has handed over written and video evidence”; only far into the story is it clarified that this refers to a “written account of his ordeal and three days of videotaped evidence.” It is difficult to see how the conflation of handing over evidence and giving evidence (by making a video statement) could have been made in good faith.

The Mail may also have turned against Nick for another reason; as the paper reported on 28 August:

Exaro this week refused to let Nick talk to the Mail, even by phone and with his voice disguised, in order to preserve his anonymity. This is despite Exaro’s decision to let him speak last November to a Sunday tabloid (which produced an uncritical front-page story spelling out some of his allegations) and to BBC Radio’s World At One, when his version of events went unchallenged.

Experience has shown that the Daily Mail has no objection in principle to false accusers with sensational stories that can be turned into easy copy – but if a goose refuses to lay a golden egg it will very quickly find itself being cooked [1].

UPDATE: Exaro Responds to Daily Mail on VIP Sex Abuse Claims

Footnote

[1] It was also recently reported that plans by BBC’s Panorama to run a critical documentary about Nick and his allegations have been shelved due to opposition from the BBC News team, who feared losing access to alleged victims if the programme went ahead.

*The Daily Mail website has introduced a typo into the headline, thus: “VIP child abuse inquiry is staring to unravel”

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