The Mail on Sunday has some remarkable information about the police investigation into the late Edward Heath, revealing allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse and the role of “recovered memory” therapy. The details have been put into the public domain by Dr Rachel Hoskins, (1) an independent police expert who was asked by Wiltshire Police to review statements by a woman accuser and Operation Midland’s “Nick”.
Hoskins reveals that the woman accuser – named “Lucy X” in the article – had previously made claims of child abduction and Satanic murder after seeing a therapist in Alberta, Canada, in 1988. This therapist (“Fiona”) had herself been mentored by Lawrence Pazder, author of the notorious Michelle Remembers hoax.
Lucy X came to believe she had been the victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse after having memories recovered via hypnosis:
The stories that Lucy X began ‘remembering’ took her back to her childhood in Britain and in Africa. At first the detail in her diaries is scant. But Lucy’s descriptions grow ever more detailed under hypnosis: satanic ritual abuse in empty houses, in churches and on Salisbury Plain.
Eventually she ‘remembered’ that members of the paedophile ring had gorged themselves on blood and body parts. They maimed and murdered children in orgiastic sacrifices at the stake or on altars.
Lucy X reported this to police in 1989, but no investigation followed. And now, more than 25 years later:
Lucy soon spoke with three other women she knew well. They met and swapped fantastical tales.
Earlier this year they would ‘remember’ that Heath was a prime mover in a network of sadistic paedophile abusers.
He had apparently taken part in rituals surrounded by candles on the forest floor.
In other words, she (and her three friends) suddenly remembered the involvement of the former Prime Minister after sensational sex-abuse allegations and conspiracy theories about Heath had appeared in the media in August 2015 – including the incredible story that Heath had been present at a paedophilic orgy during which he had persuaded Harvey Proctor not to castrate “Nick” [See also Update below].
Hoskins also raises the possibility of other connections:
Lucy X’s father is said to have worked alongside Nick’s dad in the same community, although it is not known if Nick and Lucy X have ever met. There appear to be links, too, in the way their evidence was produced.
Like Lucy X, Nick also told tales of ritual abuse. His early stories related to the same location where Lucy X’s family lived, before moving on to describe a VIP paedophile ring based out of Dolphin Square, London.
Helping Nick to ‘remember’ this abuse… was his psychotherapist, who took the trouble to accompany Nick to a scene of his apparent abuse.
It’s difficult to know how much significance to place in the same early location given by both – was it a place that was already the subject of online stories? Was it somewhere with particular folklore/occult connections? The fathers having “worked alongside” each others is also vague – we know that Nick’s father (or, rather, step-father) worked for an employer with thousands of employees.
However, the detail that Nick’s psychotherapist took Nick “to a scene of his apparent abuse” is significant. In February, the Guardian ran an article stating that police had evidence “pointing to the credibility of aspects of the account given by ‘Nick'”, in particular his ability to recall details of a private location where he had supposedly been abused many years ago.
This location is an army training site that is usually closed to the public, but Nick’s old blog (since deleted) showed that he and his therapist had gone there on a public open day in 2013. My understanding from this was that Nick must have impressed the police by describing the site but not disclosing that he had been there just recently – which would make him a hoaxer, and not just delusional.
However, the fact that Hoskins has this information from Wiltshire Police now raises a disturbing alternative possibility I had not considered: that the Metropolitan Police in fact did know that Nick had been to the site in 2013 – but decided to issue a misleading statement to the Guardian that made Nick’s account seem more impressive than it really was, and themselves less credulous. This was just weeks before Operation Midland finally closed down in ignominy.
Therapists “helping” people to “recover” memories has been an ongoing fiasco for years, and it’s deeply frustrating to find that it is still being taken seriously in 2016. The most tragic case is that of Carol Felstead, who, following therapy, claimed to have been violently sexually abused by politicians; she also accused family members of Satanic-related crimes that were easily disprovable. Carol died in 2005, estranged from her loved ones and tormented by the traumatic false beliefs that her therapists had put into her head. Yet according to Hoskins, the police officer who launched the Heath investigation (the aptly named Detective Superintendent Sean Memory) was “concerned” at references to Nick’s and Lucy X’s credibility being included in his report.
Claims that now-deceased British politicians had been involved in Satanism in the 1980s were also aired in March 2015 – in that instance, the allegations were dredged up from a 1986 fraud trial.
UPDATE: A follow-up article in The Times adds the details that
The satanic allegations against him were supposed to have happened in the 1950s…
The force was contacted by three women who in the 1980s had previously made allegations to it of satanic ritual abuse involving a man referred to as ‘Ed’, Dr Hoskins told The Times.
Heath, of course, was often referred to as “Ted Heath”, but I’m not aware that “Ed Heath” was ever a usage. But in any case, the story is ludicrous, and it remains unexplained why none of the women (four including Lucy X herself) were able to identify Heath before now.
UPDATE 2: Mike Veale, the Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, has issued a statement:
…Over the last few weeks particularly, there has been much speculation about this case. Whilst it is not commonplace for us to comment on a live ongoing criminal investigation (which is what Operation Conifer is) I really am very concerned and profoundly disappointed about the impact of this speculation on the public’s confidence in the police, the potential prejudicial impact upon a live criminal investigation, not to mention the confidence of persons who have come forward with information.
…It is well known Sir Edward Heath died approximately 10 years ago; therefore there remains the likelihood that witnesses that can serve to corroborate or, equally as important, negate the allegations are still alive. If abuse has occurred then it remains relevant to support those affected and seek to bring to justice any person still living who may have committed associated criminal offences.
…a significant number of individuals have disclosed allegations of abuse. I will not be confirming numbers of people who have come forward.
…Maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of people who courageously come forward with information also remains an absolute priority for us.
…As part of the Operation Conifer investigation, we have not spoken to the witness known as ‘Nick’.
…The recent media coverage regarding a confidential report that had been commissioned by Wiltshire Police as part of the investigation, through a recognised National Crime Agency registered expert, referred to satanic ritual sex abuse. Let me be clear, this part of the investigation is only one small element of the overall enquiry and does not relate to Sir Edward Heath…
The Chief Constable at least recognises that allegations may be “negated”; but referring to “people who courageously come forward with information” clearly implies that claims being made have been accepted as truthful.
Veale’s statement about the SRA element also raises another issue: if this particular allegation has nothing to do with Heath, despite Operation Conifer’s terms of reference, then clearly there has been “mission creep” of some kind. The Guardian writes that “Wiltshire chief constable says significant number of people have disclosed claims of historical abuse against ex-prime minister”, but this is inferred from Veale’s statement rather than quoted directly. The “significant number of individuals” may, apparently, in fact refer to allegations against others, who have been linked into Operation Conifer for reasons that are currently obscure – and perhaps tenuous (such as someone having the name “Ed”).
Note also that although Wiltshire Police has not met “Nick”, the statement does not clarify whether there has been liaison with the Metropolitan Police about his claims.
It is easy for police to suggest that critics lack the information required to make an informed assessment of the situation, but after the fiasco of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland there is no good reason why we should decline to regard extraordinary claims with critical scrutiny and scepticism. The alternative is to allow them to grow and fester unchecked until they are firmly lodged in collective memory.
UPDATE 3: The therapist has now been named in an article published by the National Post in Canada. Further discussion from me here.
(1) Rachel Hoskins, formerly Richard Hoskins, previously assisted police with the case of “Adam”, the murdered black boy whose torso was found by the Thames in 2001.
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