Sarah Champion MP Speculates on MPs Committing Child Sex Abuse, Reaffirms “Believe the Victim” Principle

Politics Home reports:

EXCL Sitting MPs ‘probably involved in some form of child abuse’, claims Labour backbencher

The article was published yesterday, although I had to double-check the date: not so long ago sensational tales about “VIP Westminster paedophiles” provided a near-constant stream of sensational headlines (and not just in tabloids), but in the wake of the Operation Midland fiasco and the damp squib of the posthumous investigation into Edward Heath the mood these days is largely cautious and sceptical.

However, it turns out that the “Labour backbencher” is not claiming some special inside knowledge (unlike John Mann MP, who boasts about having Geoffrey Dickens’s “dossier”), but is simply speculating based on statistical probability:

Sarah Champion, who was part of Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench until August last year, said there was “no way that there aren’t people who are sitting MPs who aren’t involved in some way or another, or a member of their family is… One in 20 children will have a sexual assault against them. When you look at something inappropriate happening to them that drops dramatically to one in four girls and one in eight boys.”

The article is a companion piece to an interview published on the same site (as part of The House magazine), which also includes criticisms of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Champion believes it is wrong that the IICSA will not rule on whether allegations are true or not, and she is critical of its decision to refer to “complainants” rather than “victims”:

“It’s horrible because I don’t think people understand the stigma the sloppy use of English puts on people,” she says.  “To call someone a complainant, I get that legally it might be the right term, but it’s the message that you’re sending these people. You’re just causing trouble for the sake of it. It’s not right.”

I happen to agree that in situations where there is very strong prima facie supporting evidence that abuse or an assault has actually occurred it would be pedantic to shun the term “victim”. Most obviously, the term “complainant” cannot apply in murder cases, and there are many other situations where it is obvious that a crime has taken place even if we do not yet have a suspect, let alone a confirmed perpetrator. To refer to a “victim” in such instances is not prejudicial, as the defence in any trial following is most likely to be that the wrong person has been identified, rather than that the crime did not happen.

However, justice demands greater circumspection when the facts of an allegation are in dispute and supporting evidence of the reality of the crime is weak or lacking. To describe an accuser as a “victim” rather than as a “complainant” is to signal that the accuser is to be believed, and before the conclusion of any investigation this is the very definition of prejudice. It is not “causing trouble for the sake of it” to want to avoid this, and in the wake of Operation Midland’s smears and various false allegations against celebrities such a dismissive attitude simply won’t do (not to mention the current non-disclosure scandals, in which undermining evidence has been withheld from defence teams – most seriously in relation to allegations of rape, but also seen in other cases, such as an accusation of harassment).

Champion appears to have a specific case in mind here: a couple of days ago she re-affirmed her confidence in allegations made by Esther Baker, who is a core participant in the IICSA. Baker alleges that she was abused as a child in woodland by VIPs in ritualistic circumstances, and also that she was taken by night from her home in the Midlands to Dolphin Square in London. In particular, in early 2015 she accused the then-MP John Hemming of having been one of her abusers (even though she had been in contact with him shortly beforehand); the allegation was not substantiated by police, and Hemming is now pursuing legal action of his own (in a recent article, he revealed that Baker has also accused a “well-known, much-respected politician, now dead”).

Champion’s public support for Baker was provided in response to a complaint Baker had made on Twitter about the journalist Sean O’Neill, who has written critically about her allegations. Baker described O’Neill as “the… guy who asked me if I was sure I was raped by the guy I said I was because he’d denied it so I must have it wrong”; Champion’s reply was to quote her Tweet and to add:

One day they’ll believe the victim – but it feels a very long way off!

This can only be understood as an expression of confidence in the unsubstantiated  – and problematic – allegations against Hemming.

One wonders whether we should also infer that Champion is in agreement with Baker about other cases; in particular, Baker continues to insist that Operation Midland’s “Nick” was telling the truth, even going so far as to mock someone as a “cow bag” for asserting that Lord Bramall was innocent. Does Champion also believe in “Nick”? Why not, if a complainant is a victim and we must “believe the victim”?

Last month, I noted that Champion had facilitated plans to bring the “Wall of Silence” exhibition to the Houses of Parliament. The project displays testimonies of child sex abuse by adult survivors, but it problematically has also promoted allegations of “VIP abuse” that have been discredited. On 1 February the project’s organiser, a well-meaning man named Mike Peirce, announced that the invitation had been rescinded, and that he would publish the reason why as soon as he was provided with one.

Footnote: Criticism of Theresa May

The interview has also received media attention due to Champion’s criticism of Theresa May:

…after six years fighting CSE from the Opposition benches, the Labour MP is concerned that for the current Prime Minister the issue has “dropped off the radar”.

When Champion met David Cameron she was impressed with his dedication to the cause following a visit to her constituency to see up close the scars the abuse had left on the community. But she does not believe that Theresa May shares his commitment.

“I do not feel with this government that it is a priority at all,” she says.

“David Cameron got it and I think he got it because I went to him as a dad rather than going to him as a politician. And I got him to meet some of the survivors of Rotherham and one of the mums whose child went through it. So, we engaged with him on that level, which is why he then crusaded as a dad, wanting it for other people’s children.

“Theresa May was great when she was Home Secretary and then as soon as she shifted to PM it’s dropped off the radar. It’s clearly not a priority for them.”

The obvious implication here is that Theresa May is deficient in her concern because she does not herself have children. Thus The Sun has run with:

‘LOW BLOW’ Labour MP Sarah Champion says Theresa May ‘doesn’t fully understand child abuse’ because she’s not a mum

The “low blow” comment was provided Mark Garnier MP; the paper also quotes the Conserative vice chair Helen Grant as calling the claim “an outrageous slur”, and the word “slur” is also used by the paper as its own description. However, the use of quote marks in the headline is misleading: Champion did not provide the quote attributed to her, even though the idea it expresses is implicit in her actual comments. Thus on Twitter she has now responded with

For the record, I have not –  would not – say anything about Theresa May’s ability as a politician based on where [sic] or not she is a mother. Absolute rubbish and lies

UPDATE: Later in the day, The radio station LBC produced a Tweet asking:

Labour MP Sarah Champion has claimed that Theresa May ‘does not fully understand child abuse’ because she is not a parent. Should she apologise?

Champion responded by asking LBC “Why are you regurgitating this lie started by The Sun?”, and she told another user that she had “reported” the Tweet. She also gave a “Like” to a Tweet expressing the view that “That darn Scum needs shutting down”, which raises the question of why, then, she provided an op-ed for the newspaper last August. Her piece was infamously headlined “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls… and it’s time we faced up to it”; on publication she initially said she was “thrilled” by its appearance, but as controversy grew she then complained that the article had been “stripped of nuance” by the paper’s editors.

29 Responses

  1. “…the [‘Wall of Silence’] project’s organiser, a well-meaning man named Mike Peirce…”

    Dr Mike may be well meaning but he’s also awfully fond of referring to himself as a doctor – despite only having been awarded an Honorary degree.

    He was presented with his bit of paper by Prof. Kim Etherington who had previously been employed by The Project; it seems likely that it was Etherington who proposed Peirce for the award.

    While his endless use of the ‘Dr Mike’ tag is certainly not illegal it does go against all recommended practice and I’d be amazed if Bristol University didn’t counsel against it.
    Is it important? Perhaps not, but coming as it does from a collaborator of Naughty Nick (a fake, fraudulent ‘victim’ of Jimmy Savile amongst others) it leads to the suspicion that here we have someone else addicted to the spotlight.

    http://barthsnotes.com/2017/04/23/police-consulted-dissociative-identity-disorder-therapist-in-ted-heath-abuse-probe/#comment-1854669

  2. “(in a recent article, he revealed that Baker has also accused a “well-known, much-respected politician, now dead”).”

    Donald Rumsfeld’s observation about known unknowns et al springs to mind.

    The deceased politician she accused is rumoured to be Roy Jenkins.

    ‘Tis almost as though Exaro were trying to angle away from the impression that they were only targeting Tories (“well, look, Esther accused a Lib Dem AND a Labour fella, so there’s nothing party political about this”).

    • I’d always thought of him as SDP/Liberal; he was Labour before Baker was born (which wasn’t yesterday).

      • Well, to be fair, Ms Baker had never met a politician until she remembered that she’d been abused by a whole bunch of them, in a forest somewhere or other.

        But, yes, ok, Jenkins moved from Labour to SDP/Liberal.

      • “no way that there aren’t people who are sitting MPs who aren’t involved in some way or another, or a member of their family is…”

        Convicted domestic abuser Champion’s choice of wording is….unfortunate.

        It is redolent of a certain parliamentary question from five years’ ago.

      • Dunno why they’re not focusing on the uniformed plod rather than the paunchy, middle-aged men in suits, TDF. Is there no IICSA ‘strand’ into paedofuzz? No interminable blather about blue bottle noncery? And no uproar over its ommision…

      • I’m not thinking so much of that angle, it’s just that it seems to me that Watson’s Parly Q of 5 years ago was either cack-handed/badly worded or a deliberate attempt to slur a Tory on the basis of guilt by association.

      • I’d take all that with a pinch of salt, TDF. Was the reporter present at the meeting between Watson and McKelvie?

        “In fact Watson had been told by a former social worker nothing more than that the half-brother…”

        And even if it were true it wouldn’t preclude Watson having been told ‘other things’ by ‘other people’ prior to opening his trap. He’s an operator and detailed on his own site the consideration he gave to it all before deciding to go ahead and blow his defective whistle. He knew what he was doing.

      • Re the above link, the half-brother of a former aide to a Prime Minister is Charles Napier, formerly of the ‘Paedophile Information Exchange’, recently jailed for child abuse.

        The former social worker is Peter McKelvie, who was interviewed in the documentary “Peter Righton – the Secret Life of a Paedophile” regarding his concerns about Righton, who died in 2007.

      • “He’s an operator…”

        Well, that goes without saying.

        He’s managed to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party under an old school leftie, while everyone has forgotten, or pretends not to notice, that they have very few political ideas in common, as far as I can see.

        To wit, Watson voted in favour of the Iraq War, and voted against inquiries into that debacle, whereas Corbyn voted the opposite way.

      • I don’t think that’s the piece I was thinking of, TDF, though memory may be playing tricks; I think he explained how, coming off the back of the Murdoch stuff that had consumed years of his life, he’d had to think long and hard about whether he was really ready to go and do the same again – only this time with Paedogeddon.

        I had a quick search through his Wayback archive but no luck. Perhaps one of his Mirror pieces? It certainly wasn’t the following though it’s worth a read anyway for an early Toffington Hall mention and the hasn’t-aged-well title:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20180228224103/https://labourlist.org/2014/04/in-praise-of-simon-danczuk/

        P.S. From your link:
        “One person also contacted me to suggest that the Met held a vast quantity of material suggesting Jimmy Savile was a predatory paedophile. I do not know whether this is true but I do know the source and she has been 100% accurate in the past.”

        Wonder who his “100% accurate” source was…

      • @Bandini

        You ok hun?

      • Sorry had one too many light ales there. I don’t remember Watson doing a followup blog, he may well have done.

        As for the historic police files on Savile, from memory they found a few things, nothing substantial. There was that rather odd anonymous letter claiming to have over-heard Savile announcing “I’ve been for a run, now I’m off for some bum”.

      • Not Spindler’s Scrapbook again?!? Aaargghhh…
        I’m not going through all this again:
        https://davidhencke.com/2016/01/02/the-blog-in-2015-driven-by-aaronovitch-and-amy-winehouse/#comment-17225
        It was like being trapped in an overcrowded padded-cell ’til Anna Raccoon turned up!

      • Sorry, forgot to add that regarding the Watson thing the closest I got to what I seem to remember reading was this:

        ““I looked at this email and thought, ‘if I reply to this it’s probably another two years of my life taken up’.”

        https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/tom-watson-reopens-child-abuse-5068449

        But it wasn’t this article… more of a reflective piece looking back on what he’d unleashed some time after the PMQ thing.
        I’d be surprised if Watson wasn’t already involved with journos by this point – when he was grilling Murdoch he apparently had Nick Davies texting him what his next question ought to be! – and his ‘victims’ seem to tie in uncannily with Exaro’s stable: ‘Jane’, ‘Nick’…

        Another ‘victim’ that passed the Watson smell-test:

        “I met a woman yesterday who’d been in Broadmoor and was abused by Jimmy Savile.”

        Let’s hope it wasn’t the woman-who-now-lives-as-a-man who appears here or we’d really have to start wondering:
        https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/crime/portsmouth-jimmy-savile-victim-loses-bid-to-quash-child-abuse-image-conviction-1-8390269

        https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/07/tom-watson-interview-lone-hunter

      • “I met a woman yesterday who’d been in Broadmoor and was abused by Jimmy Savile.”

        There are at least three in Dame Smith’s report who alleged abuse by Savile at Broadmoor (although not all were residents).

      • I’d have thought that Watson’s reference to a woman who had “been in” Broadmoor meant ‘as an inmate’ rather than a mere visitor, TDF. Nevertheless the deranged dame does indeed find the following:

        “…18 or 19. She was Savile’s personal guest and he told Mr Bishop that she had won a beauty contest at Broadmoor (where she was a resident)”.
        But she wasn’t a victim and this second-hand tale sounds fairly unlikely anyway, particularly as Savile won substantial damages from The Sun for suggesting he was taking springing crazies for daytrips on the outside.

        There’s this one: “She [a “promising singer”] was first abused by Savile at Broadmoor Hospital in 1972″ and as if that wasn’t enough was also “abused by Savile on BBC premises between about 1972 and 1975” until the “final straw came for C52 not long before her 18th birthday”. Needless to say the BBC abuse took place in bustling dressing rooms with the stars popping in and out, and by all accounts she was consenting until the three years of petting turned heavier and she said ‘no’ at which point it immediately stopped. Savile the Beast had struck again!

        There’s also this one with a Broadmoor link:

        “Then he paused and asked her if she was enjoying it. She said “no” but her voice came out as a squeak. She thinks that he stopped then.” C’mon Jimmy, get yer freak on! Leaving aside the fact that she seems to remember Savile living in the wrong part of London (” but she must be mistaken about that”) there’s this great image:

        “As they approached the BBC buildings, Savile put on
        a balaclava, explaining that, if he did not, he would be mobbed. ”

        Ho ho ho! So daft that it’s probably true, though I can think of better ways of not standing out!

  3. Baker and Wilmer each have 2 High Courts writs to defend. One up north and one dahn souff. They may end up in clink if certain folk manage to convey their behaviour over the past four years to the right judges.

    I’ve got evidence that was due to be heard in my own case that’s available. Lies beyond belief. Way beyond the belief of the average person. But not beyond the judges experience I’m sure.

    I believe there will be coach seats available for both hearings. Mid March firstly. Book through any reputable holiday rep.

    BTW I would have been approaching my first six months in clink if both future defendants had their way. But alas, I spent the day on the south coast of Anglesey with my wife and our sheep dog.

  4. Meanwhile Special Agent Chris Clueless continues his investigations:

    https://twitter.com/chrisstacey1/status/964562038931578881

  5. Dr Mike, 1st February:
    “Hi Chris I will publish the decision [for Naughty Nick’s ‘Wall of Silence’ not being exhibited in Parliament] when I get final confirmation. The original acceptance has been overturned and I guess we will all learn why this is so”

    Dr Mike, 20th February:
    “Hi twitterland – update: official letter received from chair of Administration Committee stating reasons for revoked permission to exhibit the Wall of Silence and we are considering appropriate responses.”

    Come on, Dr Mike, the “appropriate response” would be to publish it as you promised!

  6. 18 likes (and counting) for this utter crap:

    https://imgur.com/a/LvRpX

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