Daily Mail Returns to Leon Brittan and “Jane” as VIP Abuse Claims Come Under Scrutiny

From the Daily Mail:

Woman who falsely accused Lord Brittan of raping her is a Labour activist who admitted hating the Tories

A woman who falsely claimed Leon Brittan raped her in 1967 is a veteran Labour activist with mental health problems.

…Scotland Yard exonerated him five months after his death following a drawn out inquiry. It found ‘absolutely no evidence’ to support his accuser’s account.

Now it can be disclosed the woman, known by the pseudonym Jane, may have had a political motive because she is a Labour activist who admits hating Tories.

This is a rather peculiar usage of the phrase “now it can be disclosed”; in July 2014 the same paper had reported:

A woman has claimed that Lord Brittan – then in his late 20s and a rising star in the Conservative Party – raped her at his London home after they went on a blind date in 1967 when she was 19.

She then said she was subject to a ‘dirty tricks campaign’ when she finally went to police in 2012 to report the alleged crime, claiming officers then launched a smear campaign to paint her as promiscuous and mentally ill.

…The woman, now 66 and reported to be a Labour Party member…

Which was followed in January 2015 with:

‘RAPE VICTIM’ IS LABOUR ACTIVIST

The woman who alleged Leon Brittan raped her in 1967 is a veteran Labour Party member who told police she regarded him as a political ‘enemy’. 

And then in June with:

…Lord Brittan, who went on to become Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, was questioned under caution last summer after Labour activist ‘Jane’ came forward and accused him of raping her in 1967.

Today’s new report is the first time (at least, so far as I can see) that the paper has definitively described the allegation as “false”; it also includes the extra detail that “Jane” had also made a false allegation against a relative, although there’s some slippage from “had earlier wrongly branded a relative a paedophile” in the subheading to “had previously suspected – also wrongly – that a close relative was a paedophile” in the main text. Further:

The exhaustive investigation, which included tracking down key witnesses and examining Lord Brittan’s job and domestic arrangements at the time of the alleged offence, undermined his accuser’s story.

However, this is all otherwise old news, which appears to have been rehashed in order to attack Tom Watson MP, now the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

Watson was formerly described by the paper as “campaigning MP Tom Watson”, and back in early 2013 the Mail‘s associate news editor Stephen Wright (whose byline appears on several of the above articles, including the most recent) was impressed enough to Tweet that “Cynics accused MP Tom Watson of seeking cheap headlines when he raised fears over alleged VIP paedophile ring. Could they eat their words?” Brittan was accused of being part of this ring, with the Mail breathlessly reporting “disturbing new allegations” from Exaro’s “Darren” (now estranged from the internet news site) in July.

The climate has now changed somewhat. The Mail was happy enough to print sensational allegations more or less uncritically for a time, but at some point the only way to generate fresh copy is to start to take a critical look. And when the right moment comes, it pays to be the first to jump ship.

But there are also three specific factors at play here:

1. Obviously, the Mail is a Conservative paper, and so “get Watson” is now a priority, given his recent elevation. Watson’s endorsement of “Jane” as “credible”, as well as his willingness to promote the claims of other alleged “survivors” who are now coming under critical scrutiny, appear to have given hostages to fortune.

2. Journalists are now alert to a very interesting story about how the police are  handling the “Westminster paedophile ring” allegations. August saw the ridiculous theatre of a police superintendent giving a press conference outside Edward Heath’s former home, inviting members of the public to come forward with accusations of child sex abuse. This was followed shortly afterwards by the revelation from Harvey Proctor that the police had put to him the allegation that Heath had on one occasion prevented him (Proctor) from castrating a boy at a paedophile orgy. Police have also apparently been taking seriously the allegation that the ring also included the heads of MI5 and MI6, among others. Of course this is going to provoke discussion, and a bit of digging.

3. Operation Yewtree has had some successes in convicting celebrities of historic sex abuse, but we have also now seen instances in which innocent men (e.g. here, here and here) have been treated as suspects for extended periods  on the basis of very flimsy testimony before the matter was dropped. Again, the time must come when everyone starts thinking, “hang on a minute…”

Thus the Mail is at last now taking a critical look at “Nick”, source of the allegations about Heath and Proctor (as well as being another Brittan accuser), while the Telegraph has revealed discrediting details about “Darren”, source of the “disturbing new allegations” about Brittan published by the Mail in July (both pieces discussed here). Their allegations include not just orgiastic child abuse at Dolphin Square, but also child murder.

The Mail has also at last discovered the old news that Chris Fay, “a child protection officer who first named former Home Secretary Leon Brittan and other prominent figures as members of an alleged VIP paedophile ring”, was “once jailed for fraud.” In December, the same paper had reported that

Chris Fay, of the now-defunct National Association of Young People in Care, said a Special Branch detective held a gun to his head, telling him to stop investigating an alleged paedophile ring at Elm Guest House in south-west London.

The fraud conviction was in 2011.

Meanwhile, the BBC is preparing to broadcast a critical documentary on the subject, as part of the Panorama strand. Exaro, which has invested heavily in the various accusers, wants us to believe that the programme is being made in order to “smear” survivors, and that it all has something to do with the BBC’s past employment of Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall (“Nick” claims that the paedophile orgies he says he was forced to attend as a child sometimes included Savile).

Labour MP John Mann (who, being on the right of the party, is not facing the same kind of critical backlash from the Mail as Watson) also appears to believe that the programme is being made in bad faith by people wanting to protect child abusers. On Twitter, he has suggested that Panorama received a list of alleged VIP paedophiles in 1984 (probably one of Geoffrey Dickens’s much-mythologised “dossiers”), and that this should have formed the basis for a programme.