Dundee Child Sex Abuse Forum Discusses “The Myth of the Satanic Panic”

An article from the Dundee Evening Telegraph in September, and branded with the paper’s “Our Kids Need Justice” campaign logo:

Charities to host forum tackling child sex abuse in Dundee

…The event, at Tayside Deaf Hub, has been organised by Dundee charities Izzy’s Promise, which conducts research into causes of ritual abuse and ways of preventing it, and Eighteen and Under, which supports young victims of sexual abuse.

…The conference will feature talks by a number of experts in the field of abuse issues, including Izzy’s promise founder Laurie Matthew OBE, who is also executive manager for Dundee-based Eighteen And Under.

Sarah Nelson, author of Tackling Child Sexual Abuse: Radical Approaches will also make an appearance, as will abuse survivor Matt Carey, alongside counsellor Sarah Paton Briggs.

Completing the speakers will be Joseph Lumbasi, manager of Izzy’s Promise.

Izzy’s Promise and Eighteen and Under are both projects of the Ritual Abuse Network Scotland, which is not itself mentioned in the article – and RANS in turn is affiliated with the Ritual Abuse Information Network (RAINS) (blogged here).

“Ritual abuse” is defined on the Izzy’s Promise webpage (hosted by RANS) in the context of “abuse survivors who have been trafficked by use of rituals such as voodoo and ju-ju mostly from Africa and the Caribbean”. However, a blurb on the same page about the forum, which took place last week, referred specifically to “The Myth of the Satanic Panic”, and one gets the impression that the physical abuse of children related to African religious practices is here being highlighted in order to downplay an interest in claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

This impression is heightened by an article by Paula Murray that appeared in the Scottish Sunday Express in 2014 (1), which quotes Lumbasi:

“There are stories of girls being forced to conceive and then their babies are aborted for sacrifices. Children are born that are never registered. It is not impossible, they never come up. There is pornography, sick films. Horrific things are happening and nobody is getting caught… The leaders are very clever and very powerful….”

Matthew also appears in the same article, described as the author of book which “claimed to identify areas across Dundee, Angus and Perthshire where ritual abuse of children was said to have taken place.”

Nelson, meanwhile, is known for works such as “Satanist Ritual Abuse: Challenges to the Mental Health System”, presented to RAINS in 1996 and available from SAFF here.

The forum blurb is also available on other sites, such as Ticketsource – here, Sara Rowbotham is also listed as a speaker, but it seems likely that this is an old listing and that she did not in fact attend. Rowbotham is known nationally for her involvement in bringing to light “grooming” in Rochdale, and she was depicted in the BBC Three Girls dramatization, portrayed by Maxine Peake.

Attendees (i.e. not speakers) apparently included Thomas Dunn and Russ Dizdar, two American conspiracy theorists. Dunn, as previously blogged here, promotes the Hampstead Ritual Abuse hoax, while Dizdar, as I noted in 2013, is a former police chaplain who warns of the “Black Awakening”; this is when “satanic chosen ones… will be activated to unleash chaos and anarchy into the USA and other countries… to cause collapse and pave the way for a ‘new world order’ and  the rise of the antichrist.” Dizdar’s wide-ranging allegations of Satanic conspiracies have been promoted in the US by “prophecy expert” Paul McGuire.

Hoaxtead Research has the background to the two men’s trip to Dundee here and here, including the detail that “Dunn spent Thursday plastering the town with stickers directing people to his Hampstead material online.” They also apparently met with Wilfred Wong, who was previously blogged here.

Footnote

1. A shorter version of the same article was also published by the Express on the same day, presumably for distribution outside Scotland. The byline in this version is “Paul Murray” rather than “Paula”, and the article is illustrated with a photo of Jimmy Savile. According to the caption, “DJ Jimmy Saville [sic] raped a girl of 15 during a satanic ritual”. The Express has a history of making sensational claims about organised sex abuse.

Jon Wedger Joins Forces with “Satanic deep state” Conspiracy Theorist

Self-described “police whistleblower” Jon Wedger continues his seemingly never-ending odyssey through the UK conspiracy milieu:

JOIN RETIRED POLICE OFFICER & WHISTLE BLOWER JON WEDGER

on Wed 21st Nov at midday when JON will be giving a letter to every MP regarding the following;

the public want an independent body to investigate child abuse –

protection for whistle blowers reporting abuse-

investigation into media persecution of Police Officers and MPs attempting to expose child abuse

DECENCY calling for IBETICA – Independent Body Established To Investigate Child Abuse

There is of course already a high-profile Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse currently going on (the IICSA), but presumably its failure to confirm the existence of wide-ranging “VIP abuse” and Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracies has resulted in dissatisfaction.

“DECENCY” in the above refers to a “Campaign for Decency”. This is name that one Jeff Godwin (1) gives to his activity as a self-described “film maker researcher and activist” who is investigating “the pedophile Satanic deep state”. Godwin has made several short videos with Wedger since January, often associated with protests in London – in one recent video, the two men said that an unnamed male MP had approached them to offer support at one such event, but that this person had supposedly been smeared in the media shortly thereafter.

Godwin has various videos on his YouTube channel with conspiracy themes, the most alarming of which is perhaps “GRENFELL TOWER – DELIBERATELY CAUSED TO KEEP THEIR SOCK PUPPET IN POWER”. In this one, Godwin, in conversation with a self-described “freelance journalist” in America named Ramola D, asserted his confidence that the Grenfell Tower fire was deliberate arson by the security services, serving both as an occult ritual burning of children in the spirit of The Wicker Man and as a diversion following Theresa May’s poor performance in the 2017 general election.

This may seem marginal, but it should be remembered that Wedger also has mainstream associations, as I’ve noted before: Wedger’s initial claims that he was forced out of the Metropolitan Police for exposing organised child-sex abuse were endorsed by Mike Penning MP and carried by the Sunday Express, and he recently appeared with Maggie Oliver, the police officer at the centre of exposing the Rochdale grooming gang. He also claims to be in contact with Chief Constable Mike Veale, notorious for his handling of allegations against the late Edward Heath, although Veale has not confirmed this, and with Andrew Bridgen MP.

At the same time, though, Wedger has thrown himself into a circuit of fringe conspiracy theorists and activists: he has given speeches to Sacha Stone’s “International Tribunal for Natural Justice” and the fringe Democrats and Veterans Party; been interviewed by Rodney Hearth, an elderly British evangelical QAnon enthusiast who runs his own TV station; and made numerous videos with Bill Maloney, an aggressive figure known for making extravagant allegations. A few months ago, Maloney was shown by Brian Harvey to have manipulated a vulnerable adult into making allegations – Wedger, though, rebuffed an appeal from Harvey about this, denouncing his approach as “harassment”.

Footnote

1. This Jeff Godwin should not be confused with an American fundamentalist preacher of the same name who rails against rock-and-roll music as evidence of Satanism.

A Brief Note on a “Racially Aggravated Public Order Offence”

From The Sunday Times:

Last week, Jane Savidge, 69, went public to say she was the person who’d honked her horn when a driver ‘took ages’ and blocked her car at a petrol station in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in May 2015. 

The driver she tooted at happened to be black, and Thames Valley Police were forced to quiz the pensioner under current current hate crime laws.

…Savidge said she had been troubled by the police’s insistence that the incident be recorded as a “racially aggravated public order offence”, even though the other woman later met the other officers and agreed that a crime “had not occurred”.

…Thames Valley police said: “Following a review of the circumstances, the incident was reclassified as a hate-related incident in line with national guidance.”

The story has gained some wider media interest, as an example of someone being unfairly tainted as a hate-crime suspect following a trivial incident in which the aggrieved party’s allegation of racism was clearly unwarranted. It also draws attention to the problematic nature of how “hate-related incidents” are defined: as an incident that may not even be a criminal offence but which “the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice” – never mind that the complainant might not actually be a “victim”, but someone whose perspective is unreasonable or who may even be complaining vexatiously.

However, less attention has been given to the “public order” element in the story. The expression “racially aggravated public order offence” means that a public order offence is alleged, and that the supposed motive made it worse. Yet we can be very confident that the police would not usually treat someone who tooted their horn once to signify “get a move on” as having committed an offence at all. This means that the “public order offence” was invoked here purely to have something on which to hang “racially aggravated”.

This is not a pedantic point: if it were indeed the case that Thames Valley Police was “forced to quiz the pensioner”, then the officers involved would not have needed to come up with a non-existent “public order offence” as a device to facilitate the investigation.

Some might suspect here overzealousness in pursuing allegations of racism (perhaps due to fear of being accused of not taking complaints seriously enough), although my guess is that what happened more likely reflects TVP’s “believe the victim” mentality that means that trivial and false complainants are uncritically indulged.

Man Who Accused Cliff Richard Was Already Known as a Fantasist Following Leon Brittan Investigation

An article from David Rose and Rosie Waterhouse in today’s Mail on Sunday reveals new information about the disastrous police investigation into Cliff Richard:

This newspaper has established that one of Sir Cliff’s accusers, a man known as ‘David’, had already been exhaustively investigated by [DCI Paul] Settle and his team, and found to be a suggestible, vulnerable fantasist. David, who had learning difficulties and had been in care, told them he was raped as a boy by both Sir Cliff and Elton John at a sex party, at which media baron Rupert Murdoch and former Labour deputy leader Lord Prescott were also guests.

‘Needless to say, this didn’t happen,’ Mr Settle said.

Yet the South Yorkshire investigation into Sir Cliff took David seriously. Legal sources have confirmed that although the Met had already decided he was not a reliable witness, South Yorkshire detectives – who took over the Cliff Richard investigation from Yewtree – treated him as a ‘victim’.

Settle was formerly in charge of Operation Fairbank, an “umbrella” investigation set up by the Metropolitan Police the wake of “VIP abuse” allegations raised in Parliament by Tom Watson MP in 2012. In 2016 he addressed the Home Affairs Select Committee on the subject of how the police had handled a rape allegation made against the former Home Secretary Leon Brittan by a woman referred to as “Jane”. Settle told the committee that Brittan had “no case to answer”, and said that a subsequent interview under caution (conducted at Brittan’s home, during his terminal illness) had been unlawful. He also described the investigation as a “baseless witch-hunt”, and shortly afterwards he gave an interview to the Daily Mail in a personal capacity, in which he claimed that he had been “frozen out and isolated by senior officers” after Watson had criticised his decision as regards “Jane”.

“David” had also accused Leon Brittan, which was why Settle had been in contact with him; in 1990, David had been introduced by “former social worker and convicted fraudster called Chris Fay” to

a journalist called Gill Priestly, now deceased. In a series of taped interviews with her, David made astonishing claims: that he had been sexually assaulted by Lord Brittan, and ‘trafficked’ to Amsterdam, where he was forced to watch as children were raped and murdered to make ‘snuff’ porn movies.

The story appeared in the Sunday Times that year, in an article bylined to Maurice Chittenden (although the name “David” was not used). Fay – who is close to the conspiracy promoter Bill Maloney – maintained a relationship with “David” that led to further outlandish claims appearing in the media in 2014. This is not discussed in the article (aside from a reference to Exaro), perhaps to avoid too much digression, but also perhaps due to “David’s” selective recourse to the anonymity to which sex-crime complainants are legally entitled.

So why did Yewtree take “David” seriously after Settle’s investigation?

In October 2013, the police records say, [Mark] Williams-Thomas produced the tapes of Gill Priestly’s interviews with David. He approached Mr Settle’s boss, Detective Superintendent David Gray, and played them to him and a detective constable at the ITV studios. The full contents of the tapes have not been disclosed.

Mr Settle said: ‘We had already finished with David, but here was Williams-Thomas apparently trying to reincarnate him as a witness. It was quite apparent the tapes were the musings of a fantasist.’

According to the report, Priestly had played the tapes to Williams-Thomas while the latter was a police officer with Surrey Police, and then for some reason given them to him for “safe keeping” after he left the force in 2000. In 2013, Williams-Thomas made a media name for himself by presenting the Exposure documentary on Jimmy Savile, and he is now established as an expect commentator on crime matters.

“David” retracted his claims in a 2015 Panorama documentary (which I discussed here), and it seems that Williams-Thomas offered him some advice about this ahead of broadcast:

David was to be one of [Panorama‘s] star witnesses, admitting he had made false allegations because he was suggestible and felt under pressure.

Williams-Thomas had promised to consider giving Panorama the Priestly tapes, but failed to do so, say BBC sources. Then, after David had been filmed, Williams-Thomas sent him an email, urging him either to insist on concealing his identity or not to appear at all, drafting messages that he suggested David should copy and send to the BBC.

‘DON’T tell the BBC we have spoken,’ he wrote, ‘just say you have spoken to a friend who has given you advice.’

Williams-Thomas appears to have a remarkable private archive: in August, in the wake of the Jonathan King mistrial, it was revealed that he had retained notebooks from his time at Surrey Police.

The Rose and Waterhouse article notes that Williams-Thomas has “has openly boasted that he was the source of up to 20 suspects’ names being submitted to Operation Yewtree”, and Settle is quoted as describing him as “reckless in the extreme” in disclosing information to the media. The article notes his use of Twitter to break news of arrests and developments in the cases of Freddie Starr and Jim Davidson (both eventually shown to be innocent), and his gratuitous use of “#savile” and “#jimmysavile” hashtags in relation to these – as well as his late criticisms of South Yorkshire Police when it was evident that the Cliff Richard investigation had foundered.