Westminster Sexual Harassment Allegations Based on “Secret List”: What Could Go Wrong?

From the Sun, earlier this week:

CABINET Ministers have been named by furious female staff in a secret list of sex-pest MPs to avoid at Westminster.

They are among politicians listed in a WhatsApp group set to spark a fresh scandal in Parliament.

…Sources say the first MP could be exposed by the weekend and one said resignations are “anticipated”.

The url indicates that the article headline originally referred to “Pervert Politicians”, although this has now been softened to “Sex-Pest MPs”. One allegation, that an MP “demand[ed] that staff buy sex toys as gifts” has now been confirmed as referring to International Trade Minister Mark Garnier, who apparently sent his female assistant into a Soho sex shop to purchase two vibrators while he waited outside. His explanation is that this was “high jinx” after a Christmas lunch, but even if his assistant was agreeable at the time due to the flow of alcohol it all seems unexpectedly prurient and uncircumspect behaviour for a politician in his fifties.

The nature of working in Parliament is such that making complaints about sexual harassment may be problematic – MPs are individual employers, and if an allegation falls short of a criminal case, where should a complaint be lodged? It is not usually in the interest of whips or party functionaries to damage the prospects of the party’s MPs, and even the Speaker of the House Commons has been known to make decisions based on self-interest rather than principle. I wrote here about how the Conservative Party has mishandled complaints about online bullying, sometimes acting with an attitude of contempt, although I doubt the other parties are any better.

As such, those on the receiving end of harassment may well feel isolated, and concerned for the well-being of colleagues. In such circumstances, discreet warnings and information-sharing may be a reasonable strategy. However, there’s also a need for some caution. A secret group where allegations are exchanged and built on is a recipe for injustice – human nature being what it is, it is likely that malicious gossip and second-hand rumour are mixed in with what may well be genuine complaints. Most obviously, someone who has been told that such-and-such a person is lecherous may be more likely to interpret behaviour as lechery when they come into contact with this person. Thus multiple complaints that appear to establish a pattern of behaviour may in fact arise out of preconceptions and collusion. The very fact that someone decided to leak the group’s messages to the Sun is a cause for concern.

This new sense that sexual harassment in Parliament is an urgent problem may be well grounded, but it is also a gift to self-publicists and opportunists: thus for some reason the charge is being led by John Mann, a Labour MP with a history of boasting about having dossiers and list of names. Previously, Mann had a particular interest in historical allegations of “VIP child sex abuse”: when Harvey Proctor’s home was raided by police in early 2015, Mann promised that this would be “the first of many” such police actions, when it eventually turned out that the police had been led a dance by a fantasist/hoaxer. Mann also claimed to have found a “Dickens dossier” containing “19 names”, and he pronounced as “credible” allegations of ritual sexual abuse in woodland involving a Liberal Democrat MP – another matter that was eventually dropped by police.

Mann had nothing to say when the woodland complaint was closed last month – but it was true to form when he took to Twitter a few days ago to announce that he would “be naming a Labour MP who behaved appalling towards a young woman to the chief whip and leader”.

Excursus

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times has run a very similar story about the BBC, headlined “Mishal Husain and Victoria Derbyshire among top BBC women exposing ‘sex pests'” and again referring to a “secret group”. However, Husain has now issued a statement describing the story as

an inaccurate portrayal of conversaions women at the BBC have been having since the pay gaps were identified in July… It is is wrong to portray it as being focused on sexual harassment or targeting individuals.

Priest Says He Felt “Pushed Back” During Mandalay Bay Resort “Blessing”

From Newsweek:

Chicago Reverend Clete Kiley felt something push him back as he stepped into the eerie hallway leading to the room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where Stephen Paddock fired off rounds of bullets—killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds who were enjoying a concert.

…Kiley was praying with a few hundred staff members and consoling them as they cried when the hotel manager approached him. She asked the priest if he would perform a blessing because the FBI had just released Paddock’s room back to the hotel.

…When the priest reached the hallway of the 32nd floor, he noticed a temporary door blocking the hallway. As he opened the door, he said he instantly felt something indescribable.

“I felt like I was being pushed back, like don’t come in here,” he said. “On the inside, I’m going, ‘Oh no, you have to go.'”

…Kiley could sense the evil in the room and what had happened there, he said.

Only the most hardened rationalist would be able to attend such a scene on their own and be able to say truthfully that they did not feel uneasy. A formal ceremony that recognises the very real emotional power of such sites may help to put some people at ease, to dispel some of the negative “atmosphere” that they evoke in the human imagination, and to dampen down the notoriety that in some comparable cases (e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer) has necessitated demolition – hardly a practical solution in this instance. The room will probably be a headache for the owners for years to come, with many guests (and staff) wanting to shun the area and the ghoulishly minded seeking it out.

Kiley told Newsweek that staff “felt relieved” after the blessing. It should be noted that although the prayer he used, “St. Michael, the Archangel”, is associated with exorcism, his visit to the room was not a formal exorcism and the word does not appear in the article. However, although this suggests a desire to avoid sensationalism, it seems to me that his account may work against this: rather than making the space mundane again he has instead helped to build a legend that the hotel is a place where tangible supernatural forces may be encountered.

Kiley – who seems to be an intelligent man – experienced what he expected to experience. Would he have felt the same sensations at a location where something similarly terrible had occurred, but that he hadn’t known about? Verifiable reports of such a phenomenon are thin on the ground.

Las Vegas Conspiracy Theories Lead to Threats

From the Guardian:

Braden Matejka survived a bullet to the head in the Las Vegas massacre. Then, the death threats started coming.

…”There are all these families dealing with likely the most horrific thing they’ll ever experience, and they are also met with hate and anger and are being attacked online about being a part of some conspiracy,” said Taylor Matejka, Braden’s brother, who shared with the Guardian dozens of screenshots of the abuse. “It’s madness. I can’t imagine the thought process of these people. Do they know that we are actual people?”

…Taylor said he tried to respond to the conspiracy theorists, but nothing seemed to work: “I’d be happy to talk to these people, but it seems there’s no reasoning. A really sad part of this is that a lot of these people think they’re fighting the good fight and exposing truth.”

The article in particular draws attention to how Las Vegas conspiracy theories are “flourishing” on YouTube, as was noted on Mashable earlier this month.

It’s not surprising that there is “no reasoning” with those targeting the Las Vegas survivors –  Matejka’s tormentors are almost certainly a mix of nihilistic and cynical trolls who either know they are promoting lies or don’t give a toss either way, and idiotic followers who find in such views an easy way to feel intellectually and morally superior. For those who have genuinely invested in the conspiracy theory, backing down would require an unacceptable loss of self-image – particularly if they have to admit not just to credulity, but to behaviour that anyone can see is both malicious and cowardly.

A follow-up article at Newsweek notes Alex Jones’s Sandy Hook trutherism as some wider context – his claim that the massacre was a hoax is so ingrained now that virtually all the comments under a story about Adam Lanza that appeared on the conservative news website WND yesterday expressed contempt for the bereaved and scepticism that the dead children had ever existed (although given the strong evangelical component at WND, its likely that these readers were influenced not only by Jones, but also by Pastor Carl Gallups).

Jones and his ilk have certainly created an environment in which this kind of abuse after high-profile tragedies now seems unexceptional, although in the case of Las Vegas high-profile conspiracy-mongering has focused on the motive and identity of the perpetrator. As noted by Media Matters:

Jones has offered numerous contradictory claims about the gunman’s background, including that Paddock was a left-wing extremist who attended anti-Trump rallies, a patsy, “an Islamist,” and a spy who “got set up and double crossed.” Jones also claimed that there were multiple gunmen and in one scenario suggested that Paddock was “a patsy taken up there and killed,” allowing the real perpetrators to escape

Jones’s UK sidekick Paul Joseph Watson has also promoted the idea of a cover-up, although a short video extracted from one of their shows highlights Watson looking bored and giving a non-committal reply as Jones expounds on an “antifa literature in the hotel room” conspiracy.

More recently, those asserting a cover-up have honed in on the security guard Jesus Campos, suggesting something sinister in the fact that he travelled to Mexico a few days after the shooting and then returned to the USA. The fact that his whereabouts were unknown to journalists for a short period led to claims that he was “missing”, but the mundane explanation has simply provoked further questions. Those hyping the supposed anomaly include Tucker Carlson, prompting Salon to observe that his segment on the subject

was rank of paranoia and further demonstrated Carlson’s ability to target a person of color in a story about the evils of old white men. 

Similar noises have been made by Milo Yiannopoulos, speaking on the Australian Fox News. Yiannopoulos claimed that there was a “lack of curiosity in the media” because Paddock was white, and like Carlson he sees something sinister in Campos’s trip to Mexico. Yiannopoulos – who previously flirted with Pizzagate conspiracy-mongering – added the suggestion that Campos had been “briefed” before his media appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’s show Ellen, and that it had been arranged because DeGeneres has “a relationship with the hotel chain”.

No, a Mathematics Education Professor Did Not Attack “Algebraic and Geometry Skills”

From Campus Reform:

A math education professor at the University of Illinois argued in a newly published book that algebraic and geometry skills perpetuate “unearned privilege” among whites.

Rochelle Gutierrez, a professor at the University of Illinois, made the claim in a new anthology for math teachers, arguing that teachers must be aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” in society.

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

Further, she also worries that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.

“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”

The report is now receiving wider attention in the media, and social media is awash with outrage and grievance. The impression is that Gutiérrez is denouncing mathematical knowledge and skills as inherently racist because of European origins, and that they should be proscribed to make

An easy “gotcha” and and easy headline, but as is often the case with these sort of things there is less interest in the overall context of a supposedly controversial quote, which is instead placed alongside a distorting and polemical extrapolation. Gutiérrez’s chapter, titled “Political Conocimiento for Teaching Mathematics: Why Teachers Need It and How to Develop It”, can be viewed in full on Google Books, as part of a book called Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods. The passage that has generated controversy appears in context on page 17.

In fact, her chapter makes no direct reference to geometry or algebra, and she does not argue that having mathematical skills amount to “unearned privilege”. Here’s a more extensive quote from the same material – in particular, note the Campus Reform excision from the last paragraph, and the fact that the website substituted Gutiérrez’s reference to “people” with “minorities” (again, a word that does not appear in her chapter):

School mathematics curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans. Perhaps more importantly, mathematics operated with unearned privilege in society, just like Whiteness.

…We treat mathematics as if it is a natural reflection of the universe… mathematics is viewed as a version of the world that is proper, separate from humans, where no emotions or agenda take place…

Currently, mathematics operates as a proxy for intelligence. Society perpetuates the myth that there are some people who are good at mathematics and some who are not… When we combine the belief that mathematics operates with no values, no judgments, no agenda, with the idea that it properly confers intelligence and importance in society, it can impact on how one thinks of oneself…

So many people are walking around in society who have experienced trauma, microagressions from participating in math classrooms where the idea of being a successful person, being an intelligent person, is removing oneself from the context, not involving emotions, not involving the body, and being judged by whether one can reason abstractly.

Clearly, this is a general reflection on the status of mathematics – and mathematicians – in society, and it is a contribution to a discussion on mathematics in sociopolitical context and in relation to pedagogical approaches that has been ongoing for some time. Campus Reform, however, have instead suggested an attack on mathematical skills, presumably to make her look unreasonable and foolish, and perhaps because of the opportunity to promote resentment among anyone who uses a set-square and protractor in their daily work.

The point here is not that Gutiérrez’s perspective is not open to criticism or debate, but that it deserves better than crude misrepresentation in the service of an outrage-driven culture war. The above seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable argument, and increasing awareness of the non-European contribution to mathematics would bring welcome balance.

This last point has in fact been addressed since the 1990s (perhaps earlier). In 1993 Oxford University Press published Multicultural Mathematics; according to the blurb:

The history of mathematics is one of creation and discovery in many parts of the world, and yet few people realize that Pythagoras’ Theorem was known to the Babylonians a thousand years before the Greeks. Similarly, Pascal’s Triangle of 1645 was actually used in practical ways much earlier in China. Indeed, there is a rich field of African, Middle Eastern, and Asian mathematics that is often ignored in the teaching of the subject. Mathematics, then, is an international language and field of study that knows no barriers between race, culture, or creed.

This may be “triggering” news for campus witch-hunters on the right, but pointing it out is not an attack on “algebraic and geometry skills”.

Some Notes on the Jordan Valley “Sandal-Shaped Enclosures” and “the Footprints of God”

From WND:

ARE THESE THE FOOTPRINTS OF GOD?
6 giant sandal-shaped stone artifacts puzzle archaeologists in Israel

…Found just to the east [sic] of the Jordan River, these six sandal-shaped rock structures – one bigger than two football fields in length and 228-feet wide – are getting attention, not just from archaeologists, but increasingly from the Israeli public.

Perhaps the most famous of these sites is one found on Mount Ebal. Its unique feature is a massive altar found in the center measuring about 23 feet by 30 feet feet in size and a story high. Charred animal bones and ash were found in and around the altar.

Adam Zertal, the archaeologist who discovered the site, believes this is the altar Joshua created when Israel first entered the Promised Land. He believes he may be the one mentioned in the Bible (Joshua 8:30).

Despite the present tense, Zertal died in 2015, and his discoveries and theories received journalistic attention in 2009. It’s not clear why there is suddenly renewed interest now, although this year has seen the publication of his The Manasseh Hill Country Survey Volume 4: From Nahal Bezeq to the Sartaba, written in collaboration with Shay Bar and published by Brill.

An addendum to the preface of this book written after Zertal’s death outlines his career, but here the “sandal-shaped” structures are presented as distinct from the structure on Mt Ebal:

During the survey, four sites significant for the study of Israel were discovered and excavated: Mount Ebal, Arubboth/Narbara, El-Ahwat and the sandal-shaped enclosures (Giligalim).

Mount Ebal – a double enclosure with structures within it; the most significant one identified by Zertal as an Early Iron Age sacrificial altar… [H]e proposed that this was the altar mentioned in the commandments of Moses (Deut, 27), where the Ceremony of the Blessing and the Curse (Josh, 8) took place. This proposal aroused fierce argument because it contradicted the proposition that these books were late, written towards the end of the First Temple period.

The sandal-shaped enclosures (‘Gilgalim‘) – this is a group of five sandal-shaped enclosures, discovered during the survey in the Jordan Valley and on the eastern slopes of Samaria. Three have been excavated, and dated to the Early Iron Age… Zertal proposed that these are the ‘Gilgalim‘ mentioned in the Bible (39 mentions of at least seven different sites). Lately he proposed that the sandal-shaped form was not accidental, testifying to the ideologically religious notion of possession of the land.

Page 62 explains further:

Up to now three complete sites have been found, and one or two ruined ones may also belong to this type… In most cases these enclosures were built in the flat plain of the Jordan Valley, in the wadi estuaries near Argaman, and east of the Sartaba… We can assume that these sites, which were constructed with great care, served for public gatherings or cultic functions.

These sites are not “east of the Jordan”.

In contrast to the above, the 2009 reports clearly stated that Mt Ebal itself was such a site. Here’s Haaretz:

The two remaining structures, one inside the other, are located at Mount Ebal, adjacent to Nablus. Both are sandal-shaped and inside one is a structure Zertal identifies as the altar where the formative ceremony celebrating the people of Israel’s arrival in the land, took place as described in Joshua 8 and in Deuteronomy 27:12-13.

As noted by WND, the claim that Mt Ebal is the location of one of the “sandal-shaped” sites also appears in a 2016 article by Ralph Hawkins for the Biblical Archaeology Review (1):

Zertal’s interpretation of his sandal-shaped sites (more recently foot-shaped enclosures) is even more controversial. These are a series of sites from his Manasseh survey that are mystifyingly enclosed in the shape of a footprint or a sandal, and among them is the Mt. Ebal site.

In his preliminary report on the Mt. Ebal site, Zertal made no reference to anything distinctive about the shape of the site’s enclosure wall. Beginning in 1983, however, his survey of Manasseh had begun discovering sites, all in the Jordan Valley,whose enclosures are in the shape of a footprint, the shape of which was not directed by the topography.

There is also “no reference” to such a claim in Hawkins’s own 2007 university dissertation on the Iron Age I structure at the site (available here), and there is no “sandal shape” apparent in the plan that Hawkins included on page 8.

If Zertal revised his understanding of Mt Ebal based on observations from other sites, this is not apparent in the Survey volume and Hawkins does not provide any source or even explanation. The implication seems to be that the sandal shape is self-evident at the other sites, but that it only became apparent at Mt Ebal by looking for it – which is something of a methodological alarm bell.

General interest in the “footprints” is based on two factors: (a) that Mt Ebal actually is “Joshua’s altar”, and (b) that the “sandal shapes” directly illustrate a Biblical idea of ownership. As explained by Hawkins:

In battle, victors would often put their feet on the necks of those they vanquished to show that they had subjugated them (Joshua 10:24). Treading on territory could symbolize ownership of it (Deuteronomy 11:24), and apparently this symbol evolved into the idea of the foot—or sandal—as a symbol of ownership. When Ruth’s next-of-kin transferred his right of redemption to Boaz, he took off his sandal to show that he was relinquishing it. The Biblical text states that this was the tradition at the time (Ruth 4:7).

This is not quite convincing – certainly, Ruth indicates that sandals signify ownership, but this does not mean that footprints served the same function. And Deut. 11:24 is merely a promise of ownership expressed in general terms (“every place where you set your foot will be yours”); there is nothing “symbolic” about it, nor is it the same as saying “every place where you leave your footprint”.

And are the footprints those of the Israelites taking ownership, or are they “footprints of God”? Surely these are two distinct concepts? (2) Hawkins notes carved footprints at ‘Ain Dara temple in northern Syria, which he says “probably symbolized the deity entering the temple”, and asks:

Could it be that the gilgalim, in the shape of footprints, that Adam Zertal discovered were intended to symbolize Yahweh, the deity of the new migrants…

Yet somehow the important decision to inscribe Yahweh’s foot at various locations across the landscape escaped the Biblical authors whom Hawkins (following Zertal) cites for suggestive references about ownership and sandals. This is speculation, and the ‘Ain Dara carvings are a very poor comparator.

A 2010 book review by Raz Kletter of Helsinki University lays out the difficulties (3):

We have no evidence that the sandal shape, which is instrumental to the authors’ interpretation, was meaningful for the sites’ users. Do all the site locations offer bird’s-eye views? If not, seeing them as “sandals” comes with modern research. There are hardly religious finds at Bedhat eshSh‘ab. The “procession road” does not lead anywhere in particular, and there is no evidence that it was used as such. The Old Testament Gilgal (not gilgalim, the plural) is not a “type” of place but a place name. Perhaps this name relates to a round form… but not to a sandal form. Gilgal was near Jericho, and its etymology (Judg 5:9) is unrelated to shape. Central religious sites are rare, unlike the archaeological “sandal” sites. According to Zertal, Mount Ebal is Joshua’s altar (Judg 24). If it is a “sandal site,” it too should have been called Gilgal in the Old Testament (it is not). These and other questions await further publications.

Further, Zertal’s identification of Mt Ebal with Joshua (which is the implicit basis for concluding that the “sandal-shaped” sites must be Israelite) has also failed to find wide acceptance among archaeologists or historians – although popular websites have made much of the fact that Zertal came to his conclusions despite initially believing that the Bible consisted of myths (4), and the site has been of increasing significance in modern Israeli nationalism. A 2014 chapter by Antti Laato explains that “the discussion is still open as to whether the cultic site found by Zertal can be related to Josh 8:30–35” (5).

Excursus

The WND article also includes the detail that one of the sites

is endangered by a foreign-funded garbage dump serving the Palestinian Authority.

Green Now, an Israeli environmental NGO, launched a campaign to protest the project. Ariel Filber, the Director for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel in Judea and Samaria, explained the reasons for the protest to Breaking Israel News.

“The spot is about 200 meters from this Gilgal site,” she said. “The heavy equipment, all the tractors that will work in building and servicing the site, they may inadvertently damage the Gilgal site.”

The project is being financed by the Bank of Germany. Filner [sic – should be Filber] says the dump is substandard and wouldn’t be allowed in Europe or Israel. Protests have been organized.

This has been written to leave the strong impression that the local Palestinians a polluting presence who endanger the preservation of evidence of the ancient Israelites. The Green Now Facebook post on the subject also complains that Israeli settlements will not be allowed to use the dump (a condition stipulated by the German backers), and uses the provocative term “judenrein” to describe this arrangement.

However, the planned landfill site raises a number of environmental concerns, and Palestinians and Israeli settlers both protested against the project as long ago as 2013 (6). It is also unfair to treat the environmental impact of this particular project without considering the general context of construction in the West Bank since 1967.

Footnotes

1. WND mistitles Biblical Archaeology Review as Biblical Archaeology Magazine.

2. WND quotes a certain non-archaeologist named Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz:

“Before entering the Promised Land, God gave Israel this interesting promise,” he wrote.

…”Everywhere Israel left a foot print that was to be their land,” Berkowitz writes. “It was very similar to the promise God gave Abraham after he and Lot separated because their herds were too large. So were these giant footprints, Israel’s message to God – we have walked here? This is our land. We claim it as our inheritance. They were also a reminder Who had given them the land.”

Berkowitz is in fact a a writer for a religious website called Breaking Israel News (previously discussed by me here), and the quote makes explicit the ideological reasons why Zertal’s interpretation is of interest to a website such as WND. It should noted that the sites identified by Zertal all appear to face the same way, so if they indeed depict footprints, then according to his interpretation it would be more accurate to say “we have hopped here”.

3. Raz Kletter, Review of David J. Schloen (ed.), Exploring the Longue Durée: Essays in Honor of Lawrence E. Stager (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009), in Review of Biblical Literature 9 (2010).

4. Some websites suggest that Zertal later became a religious believer, although this does not necessarily follow from taking a “high” view of the reliability of the Bible’s historical books.

5. Antti Laato, “The Cult Site on Mount Ebal: A Biblical Tradition Rewritten and
Reinterpreted”, in Holy Places and Cult, edited by Erkki Koskenniemi and J. Cornelis de Vos. Studies in the Reception History of the Bible 5:  51-84 (Turku and Winona Lake: Åbo Akademi University and Eisenbrauns, 2014), p. 84.

6. The Facebook post, from 2016, refers to the site as “near the Alon Road, coming up north from Jericho towards Bet El/Ramallah is the Rimonim Junction” – which confirms that this is the same project that was protested in 2013.

Richie Allen and Liz Crokin Promote “Rampant” Jewish Paedophilia Conspiracy Theory

From Right Wing Watch (links in original):

Recently, [Liz] Crokin appeared on “The Richie Allen Show,” to discuss the current Hollywood sexual abuse scandals. After nearly an hour of attempting to avoid the host’s persistent efforts to link the scandals to Jews, Crokin eventually stopped resisting the anti-Semitic undercurrent of the discussion and found a way to link the death of [Seth] Rich to the supposed problem of “rampant” pedophilia within the Jewish community.

“Pedophilia is rampant within the Jewish religion, from what I’ve researched,” Crokin said… “Now, it is interesting how pedophilia has been exposed within the Catholic church but there hasn’t been a huge scandal about the pedophilia that goes on within the Jewish community. We do know that the Jews control most of the mainstream media and Hollywood, so you’re probably on to something with that.”

Crokin was responding to Allen’s suggestion that predatory behaviour in Hollywood  may have gone unreported for so long because those who knew about it were afraid of being accused of anti-Semitism if they spoke out. This inspired her to expound a theory that Seth Rich had been murdered because he had sent “the Podesta emails” (discussed by me here) to Wikileaks, and that he had been motivated to do so because he had been abused at Jewish-run camps, and because he’s from Omaha, home of the “Franklin scandal“.

Crokin has (or had) a career as a mainstream entertainment reporter; she has also herself been in the news, for accusing a former boyfriend of child sex abuse and causing her to suffer brain damage by infecting her with herpes. She seems to have moved into conspiracy theories (or become “woke”, her preferred term in conversation with Allen) last year. As summarised by RWW, she is

 convinced that members of the government and critics of President Trump are part of a massive pedophile ring that attempted to kill Rep. Steve Scalise and was responsible for the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

She also says that thousands of child-sex abusers have been rounded up on Trump’s orders, a claim I previously discussed here.

Crokin has previously written for TownhallHagmann Report and WND, and she has also appeared as a guest on various fringe media outlets: these include (as noted by RWW) “anointed speaker” Meri Crouley’s Now is the Time programme on Joseph Nassralla‘s The Cross TV station, and Dave Hodges’ The Common Sense Show. She first came to Richie Allen’s attention in May, when she claimed that Townhall had fired her for writing about VIP paedophiles.

The Richie Allen Show has had numerous American guests, and its audio podcasts on YouTube come with an announcer with an American accent and a visual title sequence featuring the late Jim Marrs. However, the show’s Irish host is based in the UK, and the programme is produced “in association with David Icke dot com”. Conspiracy-mongers from left and right are apparently equally welcome, although the vibe is more “left alternative” than right-wing fringe.

I discussed the show previously at the start of the year: individuals given a platform by Allen have included Erich von Däniken, who argues that the cultural productions of ancient civilizations were in fact created by aliens; the anti-vaccine activist Andrew WakefieldSabine McNeill, who recently helped to create a panic about a supposed baby-eating paedophile cult operating out of a church and school in north London; the self-proclaimed reincarnation of Jesus David Shayler; and the general purpose conspiracy theorists Michael Shrimpton, Christopher Monckton, and Tony Gosling.

Allen prefaced his suggestion about Weinstein to Crokin with a disavowal of anti-Semitism, stating that he does not “hate the Jews or anything like that”. However, like Icke, Allen believes in all-powerful “Rothschild Zionists” as an explanation for developments in world affairs (a concept I previously discussed here), and one episode of his show comes with the title “The Rothschilds and Their Subsidiaries Own Literally Everything On Planet Earth”. Marlon Solomon, who warns that we should regard Icke as sinister rather than risible, notes that Allen chose 27 January, which is Holocaust Memorial Day, to invite the Holocaust denier Nicholas Kollerstrom onto his programme.

Chester Police Complete Sex Abuse Investigation into Victor Whitsey, Former Bishop of Chester

From the website of Chester Police (emphasis in original):

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey said:  “Cheshire Constabulary has published a report into the findings of an investigation into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse made against a former Bishop of Chester.  Operation Coverage focused on allegations made against the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey, which date back to the 1970s and 1980s.  They relate to 13 victims (5 male and 8 female).

“Allegations of this nature are taken extremely seriously.  The police have a duty to carry out a proportionate investigation into all allegations of sexual abuse – even if the alleged offences took place many years ago and the person being accused has since died.

“Following a thorough investigation and taking into account all of the information available, it has been established that, if Bishop Whitsey were alive today, as part of the investigation process he would have been spoken to by police.  This would have been in order to outline the details of the allegations made and to provide him with an opportunity to offer an account of events.

“It is important to remember that this is not an indication of guilt – this is a key part of the investigation process and this happens regularly as part of a case to obtain an account whether this leads to further action or not.  It is not the role of the police to judge whether someone is guilty or innocent.

It is contradictory to refer to “victims” while denying “an indication of guilt” (I’m assuming we can discount the possibility of mistaken identity), but the word is used here in accordance with national policing guidelines; the recent Operation Conifer Summary Report into allegations against Edward Heath followed the same practice.

However, it is important to note the general principle in the last paragraph above: when it was recently announced that Wiltshire Police would have interviewed Heath under caution over child-sex abuse allegations, it was erroneously inferred by many to mean that there was a strong case to answer. This was also the impression created when Sussex Police said last year that they would have arrested Bishop George Bell following an allegation that the Diocese of Chichester had investigated, were not for the fact that Bell had died in 1958. In fact, though, any superficially plausible allegation might lead to such an interview, with the threat of arrest if the invitation is declined, and as such it seems unwise that the police keep placing such an emphasis on this detail in their hypothetical conclusions.

In this instance, however, the Archbishop of York and the current Bishop of Chester have issued a joint statement in which they state that the investigation into Whitsey has been “comprehensive”, and in which they apologise “to those individuals who have come forward to share their account of abuse”.

Although I know of an instance where a church apology was issued based on one person’s allegation against a deceased vicar ahead of any investigation (either internally or by police), in this case it is reasonable to assume that the apology follows the careful consideration of credible testimony. The dead cannot defend themselves from false allegations, and in law the accused is innocent until proven guilty, but that does not mean that there can never be circumstances in which someone is exposed as a criminal after their death, or at least reasonably suspected. I prefer to avoid the rhetoric of “belief” or “disbelief” in such matters, but see no reason to treat testimony such as this with scepticism.

According to the Summary Report, the police’s enquiries with the Church of England found no archival information “that supports or undermines the disclosures made by the witnesses within this investigation.” However:

Through the enquiries conducted with the Church, it is clear that those who reported abuse had previously disclosed details of their allegations to the Church…  It has been established that [victim] (M2) reported the abuse they alleged to representatives of the clergy the day after the alleged abuse occurred (1981) and… was able to provide the police with letters they had received from the Church appertaining to the events surrounding the alleged abuse. 

Further:

It has been established that (M3) reported the alleged abuse to representatives of the clergy in 1992 and between the years of 2000-2002. On both occasions, due to their wishes, no further action was taken by the Church. 

This was alluded to in a statement written by Richard Scorer that appeared on the website of Slater and Gordon last month, although the page is not currently available. Scorer wrote:

A lengthy and careful police investigation has revealed that Victor Whitsey, the former Anglican Bishop of Chester, was almost certainly a prolific abuser of children.

…It appears that the police investigation has revealed that others in the Church may have been aware of Whitsey’s involvement in child abuse whilst he was still working as a Bishop. It is understood that the Church of England may shortly be announcing an independent review into the case.

Despite this, though, no-one has been arrested for anything, and so we must again wonder about the wisdom of police spending their energies on matters where a suspect is deceased and cannot be brought to trial – particularly when allegations are decades old. Although the police of course have special legal powers to gather evidence, there must come a point where these kinds of allegations about public figures are more properly the domain of historians and journalists.

The Summary Report includes a justification:

Whilst there cannot be a criminal justice outcome in respect of Right Reverend Hubert Victor Whitsey this does not detract from the obligation for the police to conduct an investigation into alleged criminal conduct and the force is committed to conducting a thorough yet proportionate search for the truth to:

– Ensure that, as far as possible, the facts are established
– Expose culpable and discreditable conduct and bring it to public notice if in the public interest
– Dispel unjustified suspicion of deliberate wrongdoing
– Correct dangerous practices and procedures
– Safeguard and protect individuals

One wonders about a police mission to “expose culpable and discreditable conduct” when “it is not the role of the police to judge whether someone is guilty or innocent”. However, it is worth imagining how the crimes of the elderly Bishop Peter Ball might never have been exposed had he not been (un)lucky enough to live into old age and the police had declined any interest in a dead man.

But the decision as to whether something “proportionate” or not is subjective, and this list of aims seem ambitious when contrasted the modest outcome, which is simply that Whitsey would have been interviewed had he not died 30 years ago.

Mail on Sunday Carries Claims about Edward Heath Investigation that Go Beyond Official Findings

The latest Mail on Sunday has two articles about Wiltshire Police’s investigation into child-sex allegations against former Prime Minister Edward Heath, both of which contain claims that go beyond the official findings of the force’s Operation Conifer Summary Report. Both pieces are by the paper’s political editor Simon Walters, who wrote several articles during the investigation based on strategic leaks, and who last week provided a flattering interview with Chief Constable Mike Veale. Each claim is discussed in turn below.

“Tell-tale signs”

One of the two new articles is mainly concerned with the “1961” accuser, and I discussed the piece here. That report also contained a claim from a “well-placed source”:

‘Wiltshire Police fully expected to discover the Heath claims were nonsense, and that if there was any evidence, it would be well hidden.

‘They were as surprised as anyone to find the evidence was there with telltale patterns of behaviour, but no one had really looked for it…’

This goes far beyond what is claimed in the Summary Report. There is no reference there to “telltale patterns of behaviour”, and we can only speculate as to what the phrase is supposed to mean. The police inferring guilt through the special discernment of signs (perhaps with the assistance of an “expert” of some sort) is troubling, and reminiscent of the methodology of witch-hunts.

“Other police forces have a lot to answer for”

The same “source” continues:

‘If, as they believe, some of the allegations are true, other police forces who failed to act in the past will have a lot to answer for.’

“They” here refers to Wiltshire Police, although the Operation Conifer Summary Report states that “the role of the police in a criminal investigation is not to reach a conclusion as to the likely guilt or innocence of a person who is the subject of allegations.”

There does not appear to be any basis for the claim that other forces ever acted negligently or corruptly in relation to old complaints – the Summary Report in fact appears to suggest the exact opposite, stating that

contact was made with other relevant UK law enforcement agencies to establish whether they held any relevant material relating to non-recent sexual abuse allegations against Sir Edward Heath. This did not identify any new lines of enquiry.

Media reports from 2015 refer to the existence of two old complaints. One was allegedly made on Jersey by a woman named Linda Corby, who told the Mirror that she went to police “in the early 1970s” after seeing 11 children going aboard Heath’s yacht, but only ten disembark. However, Operation Conifer found no substantiating evidence of children being allowed on Heath’s small racing vessel, let alone reports of a missing child. Further, there isn’t even any evidence of Heath visiting Jersey at all during “the early 1970s”, which was while he was Prime Minister. (1)

The other report concerns former Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll of the Metropolitan Police, who told the Guardian (as discussed here) that he had interviewed a woman in 2001 who said that “she had been abused as a child by a group of people, including Heath on multiple occasions”. Driscoll said that “my guess is it was not followed up properly, but I don’t know”.

It seems likely that this 2001 accuser previously made a complaint to Wiltshire Police in 1989 – the Summary Report notes that Heath was “referenced” in a 1989 complaint by “four victims against family members and other unknown members of the military”. In that instance, Heath’s name was not included in details that were passed to the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to 1989, but in any case “the CPS decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute in relation to the other matters”. (2)

Although the Summary Report files this under “Enquiries with the Military” rather than “Enquiries about Ritual Abuse”, details about Operation Conifer disclosed by Richard Hoskins (discussed here and here) strongly indicate that the 1989 allegation related to allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse. This is a subject about which Driscoll claims to have expertise.

“Evidence was of a high quality and in many cases corroborated”

Walters’s article is supplemented with a second piece, which carries quotes from two of the four “independent scrutineers” who were given access to Operation Conifer documents during the investigation. One of these is a Salisbury pharmacist named Perdeep Tanday, who was supposedly chosen as a representative of “the public”. According to Tanday:

‘…I believe the majority were 100 per cent genuine and convincing. The evidence was of a high quality and in many cases corroborated.’

…’Unlike those criticising Mr Veale, I know the facts. 

The evidence was gathered by detectives with decades of experience of investigating rape, murder and other serious crimes. I trust them.’

Again, this goes much further than Operation Conifer. Out of 40 allegations, the police said that they found “undermining evidence” in all but seven cases, and there is nothing in the Summary Report about cases having been positively “corroborated”. Tanday’s quote, however, does confirm that he has a strong predisposition to regard the police uncritically, based on a preconceived impression of “decades of experience”. If the evidence is strong, his “trust” ought to be superfluous.

Heath “a risk to children”

The other quoted scrutineer is Elly Hanson, who provides Walters’s lead-in:

One of Britain’s leading experts on child sex abuse who took part in the investigation into paedophile claims against Sir Edward Heath has said she would not trust him with children were he alive today.

Dr Elly Hanson, a clinical psychologist who specialises in abuse and trauma, said her opinion was based on secret evidence obtained by police concerning Sir Edward’s alleged crimes.

…Dr Hanson told The Mail on Sunday: ‘On the balance of probabilities and based on the information I have seen, if I was asked to decide if Sir Edward should have access to children I would say he would not meet the modern safeguarding threshold to protect them from risk.’

Hanson goes on to complain that “some appear to think we are not entitled to have… discussion about Sir Edward Heath”, by which she appears to mean that there should not be critical comment about the investigation. It is unclear what exactly is meant by a “modern safeguarding threshold”, but anyone who has ever been suspended from working with children due to protocols relating to an allegation will be alarmed at the implication of “no smoke without fire”.

For some reason, Walters was unable to find space in his article to include the detail that Hanson was also shown “information” about Operation Conifer as a paid adviser to the inquiry. This was noted by in a piece by Daily Mail crime correspondent Rebecca Camber in April, and presented as evidence that the inquiry was a “farce”. Hanson and Wiltshire Police denied any conflict of interest, although there was no explanation as to why this face-value impression was incorrect.

Hanson was paid to provide an assessment relating to “two individuals”, and it seems likely that these were Satanic Ritual Abuse accusers. As I noted at the time, Hanson’s specialisms include “Dissociative Identity Disorder”, a diagnosis that often involves the “recovery” of supposedly repressed memories of childhood abuse, and we know that the main SRA accuser underwent recovered memory therapy in Canada.

I would be surprised if Hanson would have warned about the very real possibility of therapists introducing false memories, or even that a complainant might simply lie about having a “recovered memory”. In March 2017 she gave a presentation at a conference alongside Peter Garsden, a firm believer in the “sacrifce of children” by “secret societies” (as discussed here) and three members of the Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support (RAINS, discussed further in relation to Operation Conifer here).

Further, as recently noted by Matthew Scott, in 2016 Hanson also spoke at an exhibition on child abuse called the “Wall of Silence” (discussed here). The “Wall of Silence” seems to be a worthy project, but its integrity has been undermined due to its close association with Operation Midland’s infamous false accuser “Nick”. Nick claimed that Heath saved from him being castrated by Harvey Proctor during a paedophile orgy, and it was recently reported in the Telegraph that he also claimed to have been abused by Heath on “a sailing boat moored at a marina in Southampton” (3).

UPDATE (22 October): “important idiosyncratic corroborating” evidence

Walters has followed up with a short article concerning comment from a third scrutineer, Danny Friedman QC:

Officers found ‘important idiosyncratic corroborating’ evidence against the former Tory Premier which was ‘clearly not the product of collusion’ in cases spanning nearly 50 years and across Britain.

Danny Friedman QC saw secret evidence obtained by police investigating Sir Edward, who died in 2005. 

…They had studied ‘similarities in accounts to rule out the risk of collusion between complainants and to spot mutually corroborating idiosyncratic details that were important, precisely because they were not the product of prior collusion.’

This is more measured than Tanday’s comments, but again one wonders why such a claim never made it into the Operation Conifer report. However, it’s impossible to judge how significant this “idiosyncratic corroborating” evidence may be, or whether we should share police confidence that there has not been collusion.

Footnotes

1. Mark Watts recently produced a photograph of Heath with a boy in boat that he said “is understood to have been taken in Jersey in 1972”. In fact, it shows Heath in France with his godson in 1965.

2. Articles in the Daily Mail (which takes a very different line from the Mail on Sunday) have stated that Heath’s name was added much later to old SRA allegations first made in 1989; I shared this working assumption, but given the references to 1989 in the Summary Report I’m now doubtful that this is correct.

3. According to the Telegraph report:

A source close to the investigation said police initially took the complaint seriously because Nick described seeing a cooking stove on board Morning Cloud, which tilted when the vessel bobbed around on the water.

But after crew members, who sailed with Sir Edward, were interviewed by detectives, the allegation was discounted.

Those who sailed in Sir Edward’s racing team were quick to point out that tilting cooking stoves were found on virtually all sailing yachts and so did not provide conclusive evidence that Nick was ever aboard Morning Cloud.

Presumably, “the investigation” here means Operation Conifer, based on Nick’s testimony to the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland during 2014 and 2015.

One such tilting stove can be seen in a short YouTube documentary about the 2008 restoration of Morning Cloud II, the boat that Heath owned between 1971 and 1973. The video, made by TheKnowledgeZone (TKZ), is called Morning Cloud II Rebuild, and it was uploaded to YouTube in two parts (with the descriptive title “No Opposition, she’s a beautiful boat”) in June 2008. The stove appears in Part 2 at 5min 40s.

Admittedly, the tilting action can only be observed with very close viewing, and it should be noted that Nick’s claims appear to relate to a later period than 1973 – and Heath owned three further boats called Morning Cloud over the next ten years. However, it is reasonable to wonder whether Nick watched this documentary as research ahead of making his statement to police. And it is also reasonable to wonder whether Wiltshire Police and the Metropolitan Police were aware of its existence.

Edward Heath: Mail on Sunday Clashes With Daily Telegraph On Investigation of “1961” Accuser

From political editor Simon Walters at the Mail on Sunday:

A key criticism levelled at the police chief under fire for the paedophile investigation into Sir Edward Heath was exposed as false today.

Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale has been condemned for including the alleged rape of an 11-year-old boy by Sir Edward in 1961 among seven cases he said would warrant questioning the former Prime Minister under caution were he alive today.

Critics said Mr Veale had blundered because Scotland Yard ‘investigated’ the case in 2015 and ‘dropped’ it.

In fact, Scotland Yard did NOT investigate the claim because they secretly introduced a policy ‘not to prove or disprove’ child sex allegations against dead people, The Mail on Sunday can disclose. 

Walters has written several articles about Operation Conifer in recent months; it appears that he was given special access to leaks in return for positive coverage, and his closeness to the investigation was confirmed with a softball interview with Veale that appeared in the paper last week (discussed here).

The above article was clearly written in direct response to an article by Robert Mendick and Martin Evans that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 6 October. The two authors wrote:

The Wiltshire Police inquiry into Sir Edward Heath has been plunged into disarray after it emerged the most serious allegation was brought by a jailed paedophile and dropped by Scotland Yard two years ago.

…The £1.5 million inquiry concluded Heath – had he been alive – would have been interviewed over an allegation that he raped an 11-year-old boy more than 55 years ago…

But The Telegraph can disclose that the rape claim was investigated by the Metropolitan Police as long ago as April 2015 and dropped.

The article goes on to quote a Metropolitan Police statement from August 2015 that was issued in response to the accuser’s account as published in the Daily Mirror (discussed here) (1). According to the statement:

…after a full assessment of the allegation there were no lines of enquiry that could proportionately be pursued by the MPS.

I criticised the Telegraph report on 8 October for the “misleading suggestion” that this implies that the matter had been investigated in 2015. It seemed self-evident that the police had simply looked over the complaint and decided that there was nothing to be done, due to the fact that Heath had been dead for a decade.

However, it is mysterious as to why Walters feels the need to refer to a “secretly introduced” policy. He explains what he means further into the Mail on Sunday article:

In a statement to The Mail on Sunday, a Scotland Yard spokesperson said the rules state: ‘The purpose is not to prove or disprove the offence reported.’

Instead, the main aim is to find out if the suspect was linked to other abusers and prevent any ‘current risk to children’.

It adds: ‘A full and detailed criminal investigation may not be required to achieve this.’

There are no surprises here, and the fact that Walters regards it as a revelation highlights why it would probably have been better for a crime and policing hack to have covered the story for the Mail on Sunday rather than a reporter whose long career has been in political journalism.

Ordinarily, a dead suspect will not be investigated for a crime for the obvious reason that a corpse cannot be brought to trial (as the law currently stands, at least); and it is not the police’s job to pronounce on guilt ahead of a trial (or inquest), even if they feel they have very strong evidence. This is even made clear in Wiltshire Police’s Operation Conifer Summary Report, which Walters has presumably recently read:

The role of the police in a criminal investigation is not to reach a conclusion as to the likely guilt or innocence of a person who is the subject of allegations. Accordingly, the findings in this report neither state whether Sir Edward Heath was guilty of any criminal offences nor comment on the prospect of a successful prosecution had Sir Edward Heath been alive. This is for three fundamental reasons:

Firstly, Sir Edward Heath has not had the opportunity to be interviewed by the police and to respond to the criminal allegations that have been made against him.

Secondly, it is national policy set by the Director of Public Prosecutions that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will not make a decision as to whether or not the threshold to charge is reached in cases where the suspect is deceased.

Thirdly, only a criminal court can make findings in relation to whether a person charged with offences is guilty or not guilty of those offences.

I previously discussed the CPS policy here.

The Daily Telegraph was on stronger ground when Mendick and Evans tracked down relatives of the 1961 accuser – a bit of legwork that was a refreshing advance on the parade of easy quotes from “sources”, police and associates of Heath that has characterised much of the reporting on the subject. According to their article on this:

A serial paedophile, who accused Sir Edward Heath of raping him, fabricated the allegation, according to his family – but police made no attempt to contact them.

The complainant’s brother, who was ten at the time, said: “He never said anything about being abused by a famous person. You couldn’t hide something like that. If police had asked me about this, I would have told them it didn’t happen.”

The paedophile’s sister, who was five, said: “He is a born liar. I am absolutely shocked the police have wasted public money investigating his claims. If they had bothered to come to me I would have told them not to waste their time.”

…Neither sibling recalls any event in 1961 that would suggest their brother had been abducted and raped. It was never raised in the family.

This certainly appears to highlight a failure in the Operation Conifer investigation. The Telegraph could even have gone further – the 2015 Daily Mirror article included the detail that the accuser claimed to have told his mother about Heath in 1965, meaning that contacting relatives ought to have been a particular priority. Another reason for scepticism about the 1961 accuser is that he places Heath living in Mayfair in 1961, when Heath did not move there until 1963 (a point raised by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian in 2015, but oddly ignored since [2]). It seems to me that these are the “key criticisms” (to use Walters’s term), despite Mendick and Evans’s florid and clichéd reference to the inquiry being “plunged into disarray” by reporters finally noticing and “disclosing” a two-year-old statement from the Met.

The fact that the accuser is himself child-sex abuser has been been available since mid-2015, although Mendick and Evans suggest this has just “emerged” – the Mirror stated at the time that the accuser was “in his later life convicted of child sex crimes”. Yet when “Daily Telegraph Reporter” rehashed the Mirror report in August 2015, this detail was actually omitted by the broadsheet, and the unnamed author wrote that “the Metropolitan Police declined to comment”. The article was probably published a few hours ahead of the police statement (both appeared on 4 August), but the paper could have followed up its initial report, and the phrase “declined to comment” rather than “did not respond to a request for comment” heavily implied a positive “no comment” response to a query. Why was there no interest in pursuing these points until so much later?

Footnotes

1. The Mirror‘s chronology creates some confusion: the paper wrote that the accuser’s allegations were about to be handed to police, when in fact this had happened several months previously. The obvious explanation for this is that the report was prepared in April, but only published in August in response to Wiltshire Police’s public appeal for “victims” of Heath to come forward.

2. Jenkins refers to John Campbell’s biography of Heath. There is in fact one reference to Heath moving to Mayfair in 1961 (on page 72), but this is contradicted by a later reference to 1963 (on page 136). The second date is to be preferred, because it is consistent with other sources, including Margaret Laing’s 1973 biography and Heath’s own autobiography.

Edward Heath: Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday Clash on Chief Constable Mike Veale

From the Daily Mail:

False claims of provincial police chief obsessed with proving Ted Heath was a paedophile: Mike Veale has spent £1.4million and failed to come up with a shred of evidence, says GUY ADAMS

The article quotes “a police source” who describes Veale as an inexperienced “provincial carrot cruncher” and the Operation Conifer police investigation into the deceased former Prime Minister as a “shambles” presided over by “coppers whose priorities are usually stopping speeding motorists on the A303”.

This is in sharp contrast with last week’s Mail on Sunday, which carried a softball interview with Veale by political editor Simon Walters (discussed here) and a companion op-ed by former Detective Constable Maggie Oliver that praised Veale as having “given a textbook demonstration of how the police should be free from political interference and able to investigate crimes without fear or favour.”

Adams is an all-purpose Daily Mail attack dog, and his article doubtless reflects rivalry between the two sister-papers. However, it is not simply the case that one paper is credulous while the other is sceptical: in 2014, Adams wrote up Don Hale’s claims about a supposed dossier on VIP sex abuse compiled by Barbara Castle as if Hale’s unevidenced assertions were fact, and he retained confidence in Hale even after Hale added Edward Heath to his tall tale the following year. Further, while the Daily Mail wrote about a “stench” around allegations against Greville Janner, David Rose later expressed scepticism about an “Establishment cover up” in the Mail on Sunday (discussed here).

Veale’s “false claims” highlighted by the new headline refer to how Veale responded after details about some accusers had appeared in the media in November 2016:

Some, a newspaper had just claimed, were oddballs propagating an obviously fake conspiracy theory that the former PM belonged to a paedophile network behind satanic orgies at which small children were stabbed to death in rural churches.

That newspaper – curiously unnamed by Adams – was in fact the Mail on Sunday, and the story provided a front-page splash for Home Affairs correspondent Martin Beckford:

Sir Edward Heath accuser is a ‘satanic sex fantasist’: Police warned by OWN expert that ritual abuse claims are false – including how the former PM ‘went to candlelit forest for paedophile parties’

I discussed this story here. There is some implicit criticism the headline and story which is absent in later Mail on Sunday articles on Operation Conifer, which were all instead written by Walters. It is perhaps significant here that whereas Beckford’s article was based on a whistleblowing disclosure from an expert consulted by the police (Richard/Rachel Hoskins), Walters instead received a stream of leaks (e.g. here and here) from “sources” and “friends” of Veale – most likely, these were facilitated by Andrew Bridgen MP, who has been vocal in his support for Veale and who was given advance access to the Operation Conifer Summary Report. (1)

The same November 2016 report also referred to “Nick”, the anonymous complainant who had prompted the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland allegations into alleged VIP child sex abuse and murder; this investigation was still current in August 2015, when Operation Conifer first got underway, but it was about to come under serious critical scrutiny (see here, here and here) and by March 2016 it had collapsed in ignominy. Veale pressed on despite this outcome, and regardless of the scathing Henriques Review that followed.

Adams writes:

The video, which remains online, began with Veale saying he wanted to ‘set the record straight’ about Heath and ‘ensure that the current facts are entirely and unequivocally clear about this case’.

…’Fact!’ he said. ‘As part of Operation Conifer we have not spoken to the witness known as Nick.’

‘Fact!’ he continued. ‘Recent media coverage… referred to satanic ritual sexual abuse. Let me be clear: this part of the investigation is only one small element of the overall inquiry and does not relate to Sir Edward Heath.’

Adams notes that the Summary Report (discussed here) actually refers to six Satanic Ritual Abuse accusers (as I discussed here), and he adds that:

In fact, in the past two years Wiltshire police have devoted significant resources to pursuing the case of ‘Nick’, reviewing a number of statements made by him to other forces.

This does not contradict Veale’s assurance that “we have not spoken to the witness known as Nick”, but it does suggest that he was misleadingly downplaying interest in Nick. Adams thus asks:

[W]hy did Mike Veale, the chief constable behind one of the most high-profile police investigations in British history, seek to solve a PR crisis by issuing a statement so transparently inaccurate?

It is impossible to be sure, as Wiltshire Police say they will ‘not be making further comment’.

So we are left to speculate. Did Veale deliberately say something untrue (making him a liar)? Or did he make the false claim by accident (making him incompetent)? Or is there some other explanation?

One person who thinks that Veale lied is Harvey Proctor, who had been an Operation Midland suspect. After the November 2016 Mail on Sunday article, Proctor contacted Veale, as he has explained in a comment left on this blog:

…A week before Chef Constable Veale published his Open Letter concerning Operation Conifer on 2nd December 2016. I wrote to him asking for his assurance that I was not part of his enquiries. I had had enough of Operation Midland’s madness. He reassured me that I was not. My letter of complaint to Veale obviously gave him the idea to issue his Open Letter in rebuttal because his force carefully arranged for me to receive his reply to me AFTER the publication of his P R initiative. It was a stunt. It was deliberate discourtesy and a P R tactic which I have become accustomed to from certain police forces in the last 3 years.

 However, I am more concerned that a Chief Constable should have deliberately misled and lied to me.It was deceitful. I now understand that three months earlier Wiltshire Police had passed statements under Operation Midland made by “Nick”, the only declarant of abuse against me and Sir Edward and others to an “expert”. These statements, involving 3 murders of children and their sexual abuse and torture, WERE reviewed by Wiltshire Police. This review included “Nick’s” claim that I did not castrate “Nick” because of Sir Edward’s ministrations. When “Nick’s” statements were passed to an expert to examine, the expert was told by retired Police Supt Taylor that they were a central part of Operation Conifer’s investigations.

As such, in any impartial and balanced investigation, I should have been interviewed by Operation Conifer detectives. Why was I not interviewed? Because they knew from the closure of Operation Midland 6 months earlier that there was not a shred of truth in these allegations. But without chance of seeing my rebuttal to these statements against Sir Edward and myself, they have stained the rest of their investigations. Why was I not interviewed? Because I was ALIVE and my evidence would have provided balance and insight into their total inquiry.. They ran a mile from that. Similarly there have been others, in an impartial enquiry, who should have been interviewed but who were not. Stigma was more important to the Wiltshire Police than Fact…

Read the whole comment here.

Footnote

(1) Mark Watts, who has perhaps done more than anyone to promote uncritical and sensationalising stories about “VIP sex abuse”, now writes that:

The Mail on Sunday performed a hand-brake turn on the story last February when it realised that Operation Conifer had assessed several of its witnesses as credible.

However, although this heavily implies a strategic leak, he also quotes Veale as complaining that Operation Conifer had been a subject of headlines for over two years despite “not one operational detail” being “in the public domain”.