Telegraph Notes That Operation Midland’s “Nick” Addressed International Conference

From The Telegraph:

The alleged fantasist whose allegations sparked the VIP paedophile investigation claims to have worked as a volunteer for Childline, The Telegraph can reveal.

Nick – whose real identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons – told the organisers of an international conference at which he was speaking that he had worked for the charity, offering advice to youngsters suffering abuse themselves.

The Telegraph unearthed the revelation after discovering that Nick had been travelling the world giving presentations to paying delegates about his alleged ordeal.

In the brochure for one conference he boasted of having worked as a volunteer for Childline in recent years.

The article appears to be based on the brochure for the “one conference”, and as such “travelling the world” is an unwarranted extrapolation from one international trip. I’ve previously written about “Operation Midland”, the farcical police investigation that was prompted by “Nick’s” allegations, several times.

Public discussion of “Nick” in the UK is circumscribed by the fact that as a complainant in relation to an alleged sex crime he enjoys a legal right to anonymity – in 2016, the Daily Mail was fined for failing to take sufficient care with details it provided in a 2015 article, which included a barely pixelated photograph that would have made him easily identifiable to those who know him in the real world.

However, it seems to me that “Nick” has been having it both ways. He was formerly willing to discuss his “alleged ordeal” in a public forum, and for his name to be published in related literature; why did his attitude change?

We know that “Nick’s” claims of abuse grew over time (as discussed here): in 2012, he claimed to have been abused by his step-father; this then developed into his step-father and a paedophile ring. Then, after posthumous allegations appeared in the media concerning Jimmy Savile, “Nick” made a disguised media appearance claiming that the DJ and entertainer had been part of the group. He then escalated to claims about famous politicians and other public figures, and he alleged not only to have witnessed paedophilic orgies but also to have seen children murdered.

It seems that “Nick” was willing to use his real name as an alleged victim of abuse, but that as soon as his story morphed into an exposé of supposed corruption in public life he decided to assert his right to anonymity. Thus in the early autumn of 2014 he lodged a complaint with the Metropolitan Police, in part with the help of Mark Watts, a journalist who had become a confidant and who was responsible for a stream of sensational stories about “VIP child sex abuse”.

This meant that while Watts churned out piece after piece on the now-defunct Exaro website, the law hampered journalistic scrutiny of his source’s background – indeed, the Telegraph says that even now it is unable to ask Childline to confirm that “Nick” did indeed work for them, even though the information is derived from a publication (2). The same law has also meant that those who have been accused by “Nick” have been limited in what they are allowed to say publicly in their own defence.

“Nick’s” story ran uncritically for almost a whole year before one of those he had accused, the former MP Harvey Proctor, gave a press conference about the allegations against him. The first critical investigative piece appeared in the Daily Mail a few weeks later; and a month after that, fatal problems with “Nick’s” story were revealed by the BBC’s Panorama (much to Exaro‘s outrage).

However, “Nick’s” anonymity means that his supporters can continue to spuriously suggest that there remain grounds for doubt about why Operation Midland ended without any arrests or charges; David Hencke, for instance, recently suggested that DCI Paul Settle’s admission that he has been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in recent years means that he was unable to do his job properly.

UPDATE: A follow-up article in Private Eye magazine (1461, p. 40) notes that

The chronology was striking. At the very moment he was insisting to British police and media that his anonymity had to be protected at all costs, “Nick” was happy to appear apparently under his real name at a conference attended by hundreds of people from around the world. He was due to speak about his experiences of being sexually abused as a child, including by a paedophile ring, and to host a workshop.

Asked by the Eye how they had recruited “Nick”, the conference organisers replied: “He was not invited. We publish an open call for submissions/participation. He submitted a proposal  that was reviewed by the relevant committee and was chosen for inclusion…”

His conference appearance proves that “Nick” is not asserting his right to privacy because he would find it traumatic to be publicly identified as a victim of sex abuse; rather, it is because he wishes to escape scrutiny of his own biography in relation to very specific allegations he has made against named individuals. This suggests that such scrutiny would undermine rather than support his claims.

Footnote

1. Someone who says that she is a friend of “Nick”, and who is involved with the Wall of Silence exhibition, has responded to the article by stating that Nick “has never worked for childline”. She believes that this affects the credibility of the Telegraph article, although if her knowledge is correct it surely should instead undermine the credibility of “Nick” for having made such a claim as reported in the conference brochure.