Exaro Unleashes Attacks on BBC Panorama

As the BBC’s current affairs programme Panorama prepares to broadcast a critical documentary on lurid and sensational allegations of a murderous “Westminster Paedophile Ring” supposedly operating from the 1970s to the 1990s, Exaro News, which has staked its credibility on the claims, has, as ever, decided to get its retaliation in first, with a series of increasingly vicious denunciations and manipulative distortions that rival any of the worst excesses of the tabloid media.

1 October: The “Smear” Smear

The first attack appeared on 1 October, with Mark Watts headlining “Panorama’s Plans to Smear Survivors of Child Abuse“. Gone was the pretence that the site was merely reporting the progress of a police investigation, which was the line taken after one of those accused of being a murderous abuser (the former MP Harvey Proctor) had the temerity to assert his innocence. According to Watts:

Panorama plans to smear abuse survivors, criticise Exaro and other media over their reports on VIP paeophiles, and undermine MPs who campaigned on the issue.

Watts revealed that the programme will claim that Chris Fay, formerly of the National Association for Young People in Care (NAYPIC), had made up details and manipulated alleged victims into naming VIPs. Oddly, Watts didn’t feel the need to mention that Fay was convicted of fraud in 2011, although he did manage to introduce gratuitous references to Stuart Hall and Jimmy Savile, who were both employed by the BBC.

For those wanting the short version, Exaro‘s Twitter feed had some red meat for the mob:

BBC’s Panorama seeks to discredit police witnesses and supporters despite scandal over Jimmy Savile (1); BBC journalists fear backlash from Panorama’s smears of abuse survivors, esp given BBC history with #childsexabuse (2); BBC chiefs keen to rubbish claims about #VIPaedophiles, while delaying publication of Smith review on Jimmy Savile (3)

It is supposed to be self-evident that the reporters on the programme must be exceptionally foul individuals, motivated by a wicked determination to protect dead or elderly VIP paedophiles. We do not need evidence, or even a plausible hypothesis, for such a course of action, just the repetition of “Jimmy Savile”.

2 October: Whatabouttery

The next day, this was followed by “Analysis: Why I Turned Down Panorama’s Interview Request“, in which Watts – who used to present a show on Iran’s Press TV and who was recently interviewed by George Galloway on RT – explained why he wouldn’t sully himself with the BBC:

Your letter betrays Panorama’s complete lack of objectivity in its approach to the subject. You say that you want to look at issue relating to the truth of the claims, yet you totally omit a crucial tranche of the available evidence.

A major aspect of Exaro’s work on the subject concerns claims by ex-police that as operations started to uncover evidence of child sex abuse by VIPs, senior officers shut them town improperly.

Certainly, the fact that the police may not have properly investigated various allegations against VIPs over the years is a subject that should be looked into – but Panorama‘s concern is with one story, based for the most part on the testimony of one anonymous accuser. If true, it would be most sensational story in British political history: that a former Prime Minister and the heads of MI5 and MI6 were orgiastic paedophiles, who consorted with high-profile ministers and MPs who were also child murderers, and who raped and killed with impunity.

If false, however, we must have grave concerns about whether the police have allowed themselves to get caught up in a panic comparable to the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare of the 1980s and 1990s. This is also a subject worthy of urgent attention.

Of course, readers looking for a reference to Jimmy Savile were not disappointed:

…The BBC is hardly a disinterested party on the subject. There are two well-established cases of VIP paeophiles. Both were VIP paedophiles… Sir Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall.

5 October (1): “I know where you used to live”

After these opening shots, Exaro decided to get personal, with Watts announcing:

Panorama reporter Daniel Foggo on #VIPaedophiles prog lived “over the road” frm Sir Peter Morrison as a boy – Exaro. (1) Daniel Foggo on living as a boy over road from Sir Peter Morrison: “I was only made aware of this earlier this yr.” (2)

Morrison, who died in 1995, has been the subject of posthumous allegations of pederasty. But what is Watts implying here? That Foggo, or perhaps his parents, had some secret association with Morrison? Or is this just intimidation based on personal intrusion?

But this particular disclosure hasn’t gone down well with some journalistic peers; comments have included: “Exaro getting desperate… What kind of mad conspiracy bullshit is this?” (James Jones); “New low… drivel” (Tim Tate, a hack not averse to “ritual abuse” stories); “What happened to @ExaroNews? This tweet feels like the final nail” (Roddy Mansfield).

5 October (2): The “Leak” Leak

The reference to Foggo also appears in passing in yet another Exaro hit piece: “Met Investigates Panorama Source over Leak of CSA Survivor’s ID“. According to this exclusive:

Police are investigating a senior detective who is a confidential source for BBC1’s Panorama over the leaking of secret identities of complainants in abuse cases.

Communications seen by Exaro reveal the Metropolitan Police Service’s directorate of professional standards launched the investigation into the officer last month. He is suspected of improperly disclosing to journalists the name, address and other details of a complainant…

Note the slippage here from “complainants” to “a complainant”, but that’s not the only problem. Exaro has two anonymous accusers. They cannot be named for legal reasons, but their identities are not “secret”: they both interacted with the media and made public statements before becoming involved with Exaro. It is entirely possible that Panorama got the information it required without any “leak” from police. According to the police themselves, according to the BBC News website:

Scotland Yard said: “The Directorate of Professional Standards is investigating a public complaint received by them in September 2015 regarding the improper disclosure of information to the media.

“At this stage there is an ongoing inquiry. We are not prepared to comment any further.”

On Twitter, Exaro has ratcheted up the implications of this:

Met’s PSD probe will investigate why Panorama police source has been trying to destabilise ongoing criminal cases. (1) Officer under investigation is, ironically, a confidential source for Panorama’s attempt to “debunk” #VIPaedophiles (2)

So, who made the “public complaint”? Tim Tate has asked Watts if it was him, but Watts has declined to respond. Given that the complaint was lodged a month ago, this all looks incredibly contrived and circular. The officer is accused – that means there has to be an investigation – that means he’s a suspect – that means there must have been a leak – that means there’s grounds for a complaint. Also, it was wrong for the officer to talk to Panorama, which means that Panorama is getting information from the wrong sort of person, someone who wants “to destabilise ongoing criminal cases”.

But we don’t know that there was a leak, or that the officer is even really “suspected” by his colleagues.

***

One wonders if this is the extent of Exaro‘s arsenal, or whether the impending broadcast will inspire further extravagances during the day ahead. If there’s more to come, I struggle to imagine the depths that will be plumbed.

Exaro‘s strapline is “Holding power to account”, but there is little evidence of this in the site’s recent output. Rather than “holding power to account”, the site’s main reason for being appears to be to avoid being accountable itself, by churning out self-serving smears and nasty innuendo. Given the high hopes when the site was established (A 2012 profile in the Guardian was headlined “How Mark Watts of Exaro Aims to Return to Fleet Street’s Golden Age”), this is a sad end.

One Response

  1. “Watts revealed that the programme will claim that Chris Fay, formerly of the National Association for Young People in Care (NAYPIC), had made up details and manipulated alleged victims into naming VIPs.”

    Neither did Watts point out that it was Exaro who originally dismissed the Express “female MP story” (Fielding/Fay/Baloney) being referred to here as rubbish, with the vulnerable witness having words placed in his mouth.

    They were very clear about it! However, given that they later needed us to believe stories from Fay & Fielding as factual, they’d prefer us all to forget about it.

    Trying to bury the truth beneath an endlessly repeated lie is blatant & pathetic.
    I was one of those who had high hopes for Exaro, but how wrong I was to do so.

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