The Sun Turns on Self-Described “Leading Criminal Profiler” Over False Claims

The Sun, December 2018:

WEIRDOS are pretending to be some of Britain’s most hated and vilified villains on Facebook including serial killers and paedophiles.

…Leading criminal profiler and former detective [Paul] Harrison said news that people are pretending to be the monsters was “disturbing” and “sinister” and he said there was a danger they could think they are that individual.

The Sun, May 2019:

THE Jeremy Kyle Show has been slammed for turning killer dad Mick Philpott into a ‘celebrity’ before he started a deadly blaze which took the lives of six of his kids.

…Leading criminologist and criminal profiler Paul Harrison said ITV had ’empowered’ the violent criminal and inflated his ego in a way which could have led to him committing more offences.

The Sun, July 2019 – erm…

A PHONEY serial killer expert exposed by The Sun yesterday apologised for deceiving his fans.

Paul Harrison, who has earned thousands from books and sell-out talks claiming to be an FBI profiler, said he was “weak and vulnerable”.

…a string of former FBI agents — and even the Yorkshire Ripper — branded him a liar and said he had made it all up.

It has also emerged he faked his own death to get out of a copyright court case which would have left him a huge legal bill if he had lost.

Harrison is the author of a number of true crime works, including two volumes that were written in collaboration with Professor David Wilson, a noted criminologist. His most recent opus, Mind Games: Inside the Serial Killer Phenomenon, has now been withdrawn from sale by his publisher, Urbane Publications, just a few months after a book launch at the Soho Collective that featured an actor performing as Hercule Poirot and the floor decorated with a police-style “dead body” outline. As reports note, the book came with a blurb by Martina Cole.

Harrison was the subject of a gushing profile in the Mirror in 2018, which included grandiose claims about having been introduced to American serial killers:

Sutcliffe was one of ­nearly 80 of the world’s worst killers to face a grilling from Paul, who earned his Mindhunter tag for ­being one of the first British police officers to work at the FBI unit immortalised in the hit US telly drama.

His “client list” reads like a Who’s Who of history’s biggest monsters including Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Donald “Black Panther” Neilson, Aileen Wuornos and real-life Hannibal Lecter Robert Maudsley.

According to that article,

Now considered one of Britain’s leading experts on serial killers and their psyche, he often acts as an adviser to other professionals as well as TV and film producers and directors.

I’ve previously expressed scepticism about the supposed expertise and claims of profilers here and here.

Alongside his crime output, Harrison has written books about footballers, and, more exotically, his oeuvre includes The Encyclopaedia of the Loch Ness Monster, which “includes everything you will ever want to know about the loch and its mysterious inhabitant.”

Newspapers Amend Careless Phrases in “Rothschild” Reporting

Metro reports on the tragic accidental death of Iris Goldsmith:

Iris Annabel was an heir to both the Goldsmith and Rothschild dynasties.

They are two of the most powerful families in the world who have had great sway over the UK’s political and financial worlds.

The wording here comes across as a bit off. “Two of the most powerful families in the world” is a crude formulation, the meaning of which is vague. How does one measure such power, either against other dynasties or compared to other examples and kinds of “power” in the world? The expression “great sway” gives an impression of informal and behind-the-scenes influence, and one is alas immediately put in mind of “Rothschild” and more general “Jewish banker” conspiracy mongering.

The paper’s editors appear to have realised this, and the passage has now been amended:

Iris Annabel was an heir to both the Goldsmith and Rothschild dynasties – two powerful families who have had great influence in the world of politics and finance.

Similarly, the Sun thought better of the following:

The two families are worth billions of pounds and they have maintained a powerful influence over Britain’s financial and political systems for decades.

The text after “pounds” has now been deleted.

The original versions both appear to derive from a phrase that appears in several Daily Mail / Mail Online articles, which remain unamended. According to the reports there:

Iris was heir to two of Britain’s, and the world’s, most powerful dynasties, the Goldsmith and Rothschild families. Together the two society bloodlines are worth billions of pounds and have had a powerful influence over the UK’s financial and political systems for decades.

This appeared first in an item by “Daily Mail Reporter”, and was then re-used in follow-ups by James Fielding (previously blogged here) for Mail Online and then in a co-authored piece by Richard Eden and James Wood for both brands. Like “sway over”, the expression “influence over” (rather than “influence in”) evokes some sort of executive control that goes beyond any sensible historical or political-science interpretation.

Of course it’s true that the two families are indeed incredibly wealthy, and that members of both dynasties have been influential in British public life, both in politics and the financial sector. Obviously, this is part of the story here, but as with other kinds of reporting the history of prejudice means that journalists ought to be mindful of how their words could be used to the advantage of bad actors. Most people have a very limited understanding of the financial sector and the position of the Rothschild Group within it, nor do they know anything much about individual members of such dynasties and their motivations. Someone curious to know what is meant by “two of the most powerful families in the world” is much more likely to find anti-Semitic “Rothschild” conspiracy ideas than serious and measured sources.

H/T: The original extracts were screen-captured by the Jewish Chronicle‘s Daniel Sugarman – here, here and here.

Charisma Still Flogging “Trump Prophecies”

From Stephen Strang at Charisma News:

If you keep up with current events at all, you know the left loves to hate President Donald Trump. But no matter how much Democrats rage against him, it doesn’t change the fact that several prominent prophets—including Kim Clement and Chuck Pierce—predicted his presidency years before the 2016 election.

Strang has written two books explaining how Trump is the manifestation of God’s purposes, and, by extension, how leading figures in the neo-Pentecostal Christian Right receive special messages from God about current affairs and the near future. This may seem somewhat marginal, but in 2005 Time magazine identified Strang as one of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America”, and Trump has been photographed waving around a copy of his book God and Donald Trump. Strang is primarily a publisher, although he also appears on various talk shows.

The specific claims in Strang’s new article are nothing new. I looked at the example from Kim Clement here – Clement’s supposed “prophecy” was obscurantist, but insofar as any sense can be made of it he seems to have predicted that Rudy Giuliani would become president and that Trump and Bill Gates would become evangelists: “Trump shall become a trumpet” while Gates will “open up the gate of a financial realm for the church”. The main point was that powerful businessmen will join the neo-Pentecostal movement, with God revealing who precisely via puns on names.

As for Chuck Pierce, he

…prophesied a similar word in 2008. He said God would play a “trump card,” and it was only later on that he realized the word was in reference to Donald Trump. 

In Strang’s book, he quotes this as “America must learn to play the Trump card”, pointedly capitalising the “T”. It should be noted that this was something God supposedly said to Pierce, but not something Pierce is on record as having said at the time. There’s also a variation of the story, promoted by the neo-Pentecostal evangelist Dutch Sheets, in which Pierce received the message in 2007 and was specifically told that it pertained to 2016, the year of Trump’s election:

In 2007, Chuck Pierce was caught up to heaven and saw a vision of all 50 states and their condition before the Lord. The last thing God said to him in this vision was, “In 2016, I will play my trump card.” 

The claim is curiously similar to an account by Cindy Jacobs, which she also shared with Strang:

“Someone reminded me that at the New Year’s celebration that Chuck Pierce did the year before the election, I had prophesied, ‘And the Lord says I have a trump card in my hand and I’m going to play it and I’m going to trump the system.’ I didn’t even recall it, sad to say. But in retrospect—sometimes it’s like that with the prophetic—in retrospect you see what God was trying to say.”

Strang’s article continues with a reference to Mark Taylor, the supposed “firefighter prophet” who says that he received a direct message from God that Trump would be the next president. Taylor was promoted by Strang and also appeared on The Jim Bakker Show, and his claims were made first into a book, The Trump Prophecies, and then a film, The Trump Prophecy. The book was published by Defender Publishing, owned by an evangelical conspiracy theorist named Tom Horn, and the film was made with the assistance of faculty and students at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Alas, however, it has since become obvious that Taylor is unhinged, and he has made numerous bizarre statements promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory and revelling in sanguinary visions of Trump unleashing imprisonment and executions against enemies.

Penguin Defends Publishing Spanish “Rothschild” Conspiracy Monger

(various links in this post via Jeremy Duns on Twitter)

From the Guardian:

Penguin has undertaken a “thorough” review of one of its books, Spanish colonel Pedro Baños’s How They Rule the World, after allegations of antisemitism were made against its author. The publisher concluded that while Baños’s views are “robust”, they are not antisemitic.

How They Rule the World, which promises to reveal “the 22 secret strategies of global power”, was published by Penguin Random House imprint Ebury Press in April.

…Comparing the Spanish language edition of How They Rule the World with the English text, [Jeremy] Duns found a section about the Rothschild family, a banking dynasty subject to many antisemitic conspiracy theories, which does not appear in the English translation. The Spanish edition contains three references to the Rothschilds, none of which appear in the English, including a section that compares their wealth with other rich families, and concludes: “It is clear that [the Rothschilds’] economic power is gigantic. As is their ability to influence in all senses, an aspect that, when considering their traditional distance from the media spotlight, has led to multiple speculations about their capacity to intervene in key global decisions.”

Penguin’s position thus appears to be that it has reviewed the book from which the antisemitism has been excised and found that the antisemitism is not present. Readers are thus deceived about the nature of Baños’s work and thinking, and more likely to be drawn into his populist conspiracy milieu. Of course, some argue that “Rothschild” conspiracy mongering is not anti-Jewish per se, but this is incorrect: as I’ve argued before, such beliefs emerged out of an explicitly anti-Semitic context (as discussed by Brian Cathcart here), and as a paranoid pseudo-explanation for human affairs they lead back into it.

It is telling that the publisher does not give any indication that it was unaware of the Rothschild content in the original Spanish version, and as such we should probably assume that Penguin made the cuts, rather than someone at the Spanish end or the book’s translator into English, Jethro Soutar. Amazon and Google Books indicate that one reference to the Rothschild family is present in the German edition, So beherrscht man die Welt: Die geheimen Geostrategien der Weltpolitik, translated by Luis Ruby and published by Heyne Verlag (another imprint of Penguin Random House).

Dun’s criticism has also been picked up in Spanish media, with a magazine supplement to El Mundo called Papel uncritically reporting a brief against him ascribed to “sources in Spanish military intelligence” close to Baños:

Mientras, fuentes de la inteligencia militar española cercanas al coronel apuntan a Papeque Duns es un “autor fracasado” de novelas de espías que lo único que busca con sus acusaciones es “publicidad a costa de la reputación del español.”

De hecho, ven una relación con la campaña de desprestigio que ya sufrió Baños cuando Pedro Sánchez estuvo a punto de nombrarle jefe de Seguridad Nacional. Entonces algunos medios acusaron al leonés de ser un militar “prorruso”. Finalmente, tras la polémica, su nominación para el cargo fue desestimada.

The article also tells us that

Según el inglés, en la edición original en castellano del libro hay tres citas sobre la influencia y el poder de los Rothschild, dinastía bancaria judía asociada a muchas teorías conspirativas, que han desaparecido de la versión inglesa.

In other words, the presence of the Rothschild material in a published bestseller is “according to the Englishman”, as if that wasn’t something that the journalists at Papel could check for themselves.

Criticism has also been made of the cover, which symbolises the book’s thesis through an illustration of an octopus’s probing tentacles. The German edition has since changed the cover image to a globe of the world (perhaps due to criticism from the Jüdisches Forum), whereas the English edition originally planned to depict an octopus sitting astride a globe – an image strikingly similar to Nazi propaganda. Clearly, then, Ebury Press was aware of the problem, so why not just avoid tentacles altogether? Instead, they argue that tentacles have been “a symbol of domination by an imperialist power” since the nineteenth century, which, while correct, is obtuse.

Octopus tentacles also appear on the cover of the Spanish edition of the text, Así se domina el mundo: Desvelando las claves del poder mundial, which was published by Ariel in 2017. (1) This is then developed into octopus tentacles enveloping the world in an apparent sequel published in 2018, titled El dominio mundial: Elementos del poder y claves geopolíticas. The various covers of How They Rule the World are shown below. It’s not clear why the English subtitle, which refers to “secret strategies of global power”, varies between there being 22 and 27 such strategies. I’ve noted more about the Spanish edition in the footnote under the image.

The Guardian also notes Baños’s broader conspiracy mongering:

A colonel in the Spanish army, he was previously the chief of counter-intelligence and security for the European Army Corps. In interviews with Spanish media, Baños has called the Rothschilds dominant and likened them to the Illuminati. On Spanish TV, he also once accused Israel of being behind the assassination of John F Kennedy.

UPDATE: A further detail is noted in a write-up published in The Bookseller:

Duns told The Bookseller: “Ebury have also added a passage about Cambridge Analytica and Robert Mercer to make Banos’ nutty views seem more balanced, and cut references to Orban and several other references to Soros, that paint him in a bad light….”

UPDATE 2: Ebury’s decision to double-down on its support for Baños is in contrast to a recent decision the same imprint made to drop a fiction author over two 2017 Tweets that contained mocking references to “trannies” and “gayboys”. Ebury said that these statements “conflict with our values as a publisher” and that as such the author, one Gareth Roberts, would be dropped from a volume of Doctor Who tie-in stories.

Footnote

(1) It is difficult to access an official upload of the Spanish edition – Amazon makes only the first few pages of the electronic edition available (meaning there is no search function), while Google Books appears to have only a partial upload of the same version. However, a self-described educational website based in Spain has put online what appears to be a pdf upload of the entire electronic edition; it’s difficult to tell if it was done with the agreement of the publisher (hence no link), but it looks legitimate and it seems unlikely that the text has been tampered with.

The pdf has a subsection headed “LOS JUDÍOS EN LA PRIMERA GUERRA MUNDIAL”:

El 2 de noviembre de 1917, el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores británico, Arthur James Balfour, firmó una carta dirigida al barón Lionel Walter Rothschild, en representación de la comunidad judía asentada en Gran Bretaña, con la finalidad de que se la transmitiera a la Federación Sionista de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda. Por medio de este documento, conocido como la Declaración Balfour, el gobierno británico se comprometía —en plena Primera Guerra Mundial— con el movimiento sionista a fomentar la creación de un «hogar nacional» para el pueblo judío en Palestina.

Pero esta aparente muestra de generosidad británica hacia el sionismo tenía también un propósito oculto, pues los ingleses confiaban en que, gracias a ese documento, los numerosos judíos residentes en Estados Unidos y Rusia presionarían a sus respectivos gobiernos para que potenciaran su implicación en una Europa sumida en la guerra.

The implication here is that Arthur Balfour believed that Jews in the USA and Russia were in a position to pressure their governments into greater involvement in the First World War, and that this was a hidden (“oculto”) reason for Balfour’s public show of support for Zionism. The proposition makes little sense, and of course no source is provided. It seems not to be in either the English or German editions.

A Note on the Hobson-Corbyn Imperialism Controversy

This one was the subject of wide discussion yesterday – from The Times:

Jeremy Corbyn endorsed book about Jews controlling banks and the press

Jeremy Corbyn wrote the foreword to a book which argued that banks and the press were controlled by Jews.

In 2011 he agreed to endorse a new edition of JA Hobson’s 1902 book Imperialism: A Study, four years before he was catapulted from backbench obscurity to the Labour leadership.

In his foreword Mr Corbyn said the work was a “great tome”, praising Hobson’s “brilliant, and very controversial at the time” analysis of the “pressures” behind western, and in particular British, imperialism at the turn of the 20th century.

The headline reduces the book in a way that is misleading: anyone unfamiliar with the work might assume that this was some anti-Semitic tract akin to Henry Ford’s The International Jew rather than a wide-ranging critique of imperialism that has been of interest and value to wide readerships for decades, despite the flaw in which the author conflated criticisms of capitalist financing with references to Jews.

The Times headline refers specifically to a thesis outlined on pages 65-67 of the first edition, in which Hobson suggests that capitalism is controlled, “so far as Europe is concerned, chiefly by men of a single and peculiar race,” who “are in a unique position to manipulate the policy of nations”. He then asks:

“Does any one seriously suppose that a great war could be undertaken by and European State, or a great State loan subscribed, if the house of Rothschild and its connexions set their face against it?”

This is not a pervasive theme of the book, and had these pages not been included the work would still stand as a coherent argument. However, the existence of this passage – and of anti-Semitic comments made by Hobson elsewhere – must reflect negatively on how we are to understand the author’s worldview as explicated in the rest of his work.

An article by Miles Taylor (Professor of Modern History at York University) in yesterday’s Guardian fully acknowledges Hobson’s anti-Semitism, but in relation to the Rothschild reference he writes:

Without naming him, Hobson’s actual target was Nathan Rothschild, head of the banking family and a prominent public figure in Edwardian Britain. A former MP, ally of Benjamin Disraeli, and the first practising Jew to join the House of Lords, Hobson’s readers would have known immediately at whom Hobson’s invective was directed. Undoubtedly, Lord Rothschild was up to his ears in British imperialism; one of his best friends was Cecil Rhodes, and he helped bankroll the British South Africa Company, which smashed and grabbed its way across the continent in the 1890s.

This contextualisation is important, but one wonders how many of Hobson’s readers would also have thought of the long-standing conspiracy theory, first formulated in the 1840s, that Rothchild’s grandfather, also named Nathan, had profited from the Battle of Waterloo; Hobson’s allusion to the “house of Rothschild” must feed into the more generalised anti-Rothschild rhetoric that is today a staple of conspiracy thinking on both left and right. And is there any reason to give Hobson the benefit of the doubt that this wasn’t the point all along?

Taylor also writes that “nowhere in the book did Hobson refer specifically to Jews”, which seems a bit pedantic given the reference to “men of a single and peculiar race”. Also, a reference to “Hebrew mining speculators” was added in the second edition of the book in 1905 (page 177); this was retained in the third edition of 1938 (page 277), along with the Rothschild reference (page 57). This third edition describes itself as “entirely revised and reset”, yet these passages were retained despite the rise of Nazism. (1)

Corbyn’s foreword for a 2011 reprint from Spokesman Books can be seen here – he appears to have read the text closely, albeit uncritically. It’s possible that he did not engage with the “Rothschild” and “peculiar race” comments because he considered that readers would regard these as obvious archaisms to be disregarded, like Hobson’s references to “lower races” (although in the latter case Hobson was attempting to write sympathetically about the exploitation of tribal peoples, despite the racist language).

However, Hobson’s anti-Semitism has long been identified as a problem to be acknowledged, (2) and its continuing capacity to cause harm ought to have been recognised by anyone promoting the text in 2011 – especially a politician with influence within a particular activist milieu.

This is not the first time that Corbyn as come under criticism for apparently failing to recognise anti-Semitic conspiracy rhetoric relating to banking – I discussed a previous instance here.

Notes

1. I was alerted to the different editions by reading a 1985 review in n Victorian Studies by J.L. Herkless of J.A. Allett’s biography of Hobson. Herkless writes that “Allett quotes a passage from Hobson’s Imperialism (1902) in which there is a slighting reference to the ‘Hebrews'”. I looked for this in the source and couldn’t find it in the 1902 edition, and so I consulted Allett’s book and saw that he was actually quoting the third edition on this point. The website Archive.org now makes it an easy matter to consult, search and compare all three editions: for the first edition, see here; for the second edition, see here; and for the third edition, see here. I don’t know which edition forms the basis for the Spokesman Books reprint.

2. There are two sources in particular: Colin Holmes (1978), “J. A. Hobson and the Jews”, in his edited volume Immigrants and Minorities in British Society; and J.A. Allett (1987), “New liberalism, old prejudices: J. A. Hobson and the ‘Jewish question’“, in Jewish Social Studies 49: 2. As noted in the above note, Allett also wrote a biography of Hobson: New Liberalism: The Political Economy of J.A. Hobson (1981).

Hungarian Pentecostal Church Credited with “Kicking George Soros Out of Hungary”

From Charisma News:

Some say Europe is post-Christian. But although there’s a great deal of spiritual darkness in that continent, pockets of revival are also springing up. In a recent interview with evangelist and pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, he told me how God is moving across many European nations through his revival tour, Europe Ablaze….

One area where the Spirit of God is stirring up revival is Budapest, Hungary. Faith Church in Budapest, where Howard-Browne recently ministered, has experienced revival nonstop for 20 years. This Pentecostal church single-handedly kicked George Soros out of Hungary, Howard-Browne says.

Howard-Browne is a long-serving neo-Pentecostal evangelist, best-known for his involvement in the 1990s “Toronto Blessing”. These days, he also revels in the validation he has received from physical proximity to Donald Trump – he was among evangelical figures who laid hands on Trump in the Oval Office last year, and prior to Trump’s election Howard-Browne declared him to be “the New World Order’s Worst Nightmare”, who would frustrate Satan’s plan to bring about an End-Times one-world religion.

The above article is based on an interview between Howard-Browne and Charisma’s owner, Stephen Strang. For his part, Strang has written two books elucidating the supernatural significance of Trump’s presidency, one of which – God and Donald Trump -Trump obligingly waved around at journalists.

The Faith Church in Budapest is headed by Sándor Németh (or Németh Sándor, according to the Hungarian practice of placing the family name first), and according to Howard-Browne their meeting was a last-minute affair arranged at the prompting of God – indeed, an actual angel appeared to Németh with the instruction to invite Howard-Browne to the church.

According to his official biopage, Németh is a former seminarian who left Catholicism and affiliated with the Charismatic movement in the 1970s – he and his wife were ordained by the Good News Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1980, and Németh was particularly influenced by the British Pentecostal revivalist Derek Prince, whose ministry placed a particular emphasis on spiritual warfare against demons. Starting out as an illegal underground church, Németh says he now has 70,000 members nationwide plus “a support base of several hundred thousand”, and that his international ministry reaches “the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, the Ukraine, Kirgizstan and Cambodia”.

Németh’s church also owns ATV, which is Hungary’s third-largest 24-news station, and his Patmos Records publishing house produces Hungarian translations of American evangelists ranging from Jonathan Cahn (blogged here) to Joel Osteen and the late Kenneth Hagin, as well as secular works by the likes of Geert Wilders (as reported here) and Sebastian Gorka (1). Information in English is scare, although Németh’s influence in the country – and support for Viktor Orbán – was critically chronicled by the US-based Budapest Beacon, which drew on various media sources in Hungary before the decline of the country’s media plurality.

It is not clear how exactly Németh’s church supposedly “kicked George Soros out of Hungary”, but I think the idea is that the popularity of Németh’s church squeezed Soros out of the marketplace of ideas, rather than that Németh is responsible for laws in Hungary that suppress Soros’s civil society activities. Howard-Browne also reports Németh as saying that

So [Faith Church Pastor Nemeth Sandor] said to me, ‘Look, I need your help, because Soros is trying to work to shut my money down and is attacking tithing and everything.'”

I take this to mean that the church has come under some critical scrutiny as regards donations and financing, and that “Soros” here is a bogeyman thought to be behind negative coverage. Németh has previously identified Soros (Soros György) as an opponent of ” the anti-global, anti-immigration, national and Christian political forces in Europe”, and as responsible for the EU’s Sargentini Report, which criticised increasing authoritarianism in Hungary.

Charisma News has a history of running anti-Soros stories – I previously discussed one effort here.

Footnote

1. The Gorka book is A Dzsihád legyőzése, a Hungarian translation of his Defeating Jihad. Although Gorka is himself of Hungarian heritage, the book was translated by Péter Morvay (Morvay Petér), a producer at ATV and editor of Faith Church’s Hetek magazine. This site shows that it formed the basis for a formal presentation with military and defence officials at Hungary’s army headquarters.

Over-Hyped Fire in Paris Garage Prompts Palace of Versailles Conspiracy Theory

From French news site 78Actu, 23 April:

Les cendres fument encore à l’heure qu’il est mais l’incendie qui a détruit un garage, rue du Parc de Clagny à Versailles (Yvelines) est maitrisé.

…Vers 17h, dans le garage Automobiles du Parc de Clagny, un ouvrier est en train de faire des soudures lorsque cela déclenche l’incendie.

The report explains that a welding accident had caused a large fire at a garage in the Paris suburb of Versailles. Apparently more than 80 firefighters were involved in putting it out, and videos of the incident show that there was a substantial plume of dark smoke. There were no injuries.

This was mundane news of some local interest, but the words “Versailles” and “fire” led to a misunderstanding on social media that the Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles) was on fire. Coming so soon after the fire at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, this was then cited as new evidence that the Notre Dame fire was suspicious. As the days have passed, the lack of any news reports confirming such a dramatic development has been described by diehard conspiracists (using a #versaillesfire hashtag) as a “news blackout” – a proposition so boneheaded that it must be superfluous even to allude to the many obvious improbabilities and impossibilities of such a proposal.

The misunderstanding owes a great deal to the Kremlin-linked news agency Sputnik. Sputnik’s English-language report did specify “a car warehouse at the Rue du Parc”, but this was not reflected in the headline, which referred only to “a huge fire in Versailles”. (1) Sputnik’s French Twitter feed made use of a gratuitous flashing “URGENT” gif (which it also uses on other reports), while its Moldovan report sensationalised via a stock image of a conflagration and asked “Istoria se repetă?”, clearly implying a link with Notre Dame. The information about the welding context provided by 78Actu (“de faire des soudures”) was not mentioned anywhere.

The news cycle has moved on, but within the conspiracy milieu a vague memory will likely lodge that a famous French landmark was consumed by fire shortly after Notre Dame, with disconfirmations (most obviously, the continued existence of an undamaged Palace of Versailles, visited daily by thousands of tourists) either irrelevant or demonstrating the extent of the cover up.

Excursus

A related conspiracy theory suggests that the fire in fact targeted a church on the same street as the garage. However, this church has a social media presence and its postings indicate nothing amiss.

Footnote

1. Some social media discussion refers to a “car dealership” rather than a “car warehouse”.

2001: The News of the World and a “Huge Police Dossier” of Celebrity Abuse Allegations

Simon Just of Real Troll Exposure has drawn attention to an interesting News of the World article from November 2001, which was published in the wake of record producer Jonathan King’s conviction for underage sex abuse against five complainants:

A HUGE police dossier details the child sex secrets of some of Britain’s favourite stars. The 700-page report, studied by the News of the World, makes horrifying reading

TV star Jonathan King, jailed for seven years this week for a string of underage sex offences, is simply the first name in a gigantic police initiative codenamed Operation Arundel.

The investigation by Surrey police grew out of the orginal [sic] inquiry into 56-year-old King’s activities.

A bulleted list of “King’s debauched cronies” follows, although “for legal reasons” (i.e. lack of evidence) the paper did not provide any names. The article refers to a “chart star” who “cultivates a squeaky-clean image”; a “pop idol” who has been “named as a paedophile”; a “TV presenter” who is “close pals” with a “convicted paedophile”; a “peer” who has served in the House of Lords more than 20 years as a Lib-Dem, and whose “name was put forward”; “two DJs”, who are “said to be at the heart of King’s paedophile ring”; and “a “record producer”. The article, by Ben Proctor and Mike Jarvis, ends by asking: “Do you recognise any of the men in the police dossiers as your abuser? Ring 0207 782 1001… A sympathetic reporter will be waiting to take your call.” For some reason, a distinction is made between the dossier itself and “a list held by Scotland Yard”.

The article foreshadows the many headlines about “celebrity sex abuse” that have appeared in the British media in recent years – and it raises the question of to what extent old allegations may have been cross-contaminated or inspired by media hints, and how police leaks and media exposés may have fed off each other, with troubling end results. And this is not some natural development – the leaker of the “huge police dossier” shows how the agency of particular individuals may influence outcomes.

First, though, the backstory. The article was published a year after News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks (now Wade) had decided to suspend her paper’s “name and shame” anti-paedophile campaign, set up in the wake of the murder of the schoolgirl Sarah Payne. The campaign had led to outbreaks of public disorder during 2000 – most notoriously, a doctor’s house was attacked based on a confusion between the words “paediatrician” and “paedophile”, but the last straw was when a convicted sex abuser who had been released from prison went missing after fleeing a mob. However, outrage over child sex abuse remained a tabloid staple, and a “700-page report” would be an irresistible prospect.

Jonathan King has always maintained his innocence, and in 2005 following his release from prison his website was shut down after he made scathing comments about one of the complainants – a complaint was made to his internet provider by an activist named Shy Keenan (discussed here), who had been paired with Sarah Payne’s mother Sara by the News of the World to continue campaigning against underage sex abuse. The incident was reported in the Mirror as “Perv King’s Web Filth Shut Down“, a headline that falsely inferred that he was running a pornographic website.

In 2014, the evidence gathered against King in 2000 was reviewed, and Surrey Police decided to bring a new charge against him: he was put on trial last year, but this time there was a different outcome: the trial collapsed due to the discovery of police failures that must now cast a shadow over the original convictions (see commentary by Daniel Finkelstein here). One detail was that

In 2014 Surrey Police also learnt that former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, who helped run the original inquiry and is now an investigative journalist, was allegedly offering to sell information on – and introductions to – King’s victims.

I discussed Williams-Thomas’s response to this discovery here.

Williams-Thomas left Surrey Police in October 2000 – this was a year before the News of the World revealed the existence of the “700-page report”, but it ought to have been obvious to the force that this leak was the work of Mark Williams-Thomas – so why was no action taken against him?

In 2001, Williams-Thomas was not a public figure. However, that changed in 2012 when he made the Exposure documentary denouncing the late Jimmy Savile. Simon notes one particular media profile that appeared a few months after the documentary, which again refers to a “dossier”:

Williams-Thomas has worked closely with Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree inquiry into abuse by Savile and others, sharing new leads and contact details for victims as he proceeds. He has a dossier featuring a catalogue of allegations alongside the names of about 20 suspects, including some household names, which he has shared with detectives. In some cases that has led to arrests, he says, although he does not reveal names.

A number of figures, including the comedian Freddie Starr, DJ Dave Lee Travis and PR man Max Clifford, are on police bail waiting to learn whether they will face sexual offence charges after being detained under Operation Yewtree.

It is odd to juxtapose “He does not reveal names” with a list of names; it is reasonable to infer a connection between the names and the dossier, and to assume that this dossier is the 2001 police report – although the hook that these are all “King’s debauched cronies” has been jettisoned (Operation Arundel had closed in 2003).

Operation Yewtree has yielded some convictions that it is reasonable to regard as safe. However, some of the investigations have been persecutory and raise questions about police conduct – Jim Davidson and Paul Gambaccini have both written books that raise serious concerns, and Freddie Starr, Jimmy Tarbuck and Cliff Richard have made public appearances where it is obvious that unsubstantiated and/or impossible allegations have taken a toll on personal wellbeing.

The involvement of Williams-Thomas came under particular scrutiny in a Mail on Sunday article by David Rose and Rosie Waterhouse last November, in a piece headlined “How a self-promoting TV detective, obsessed with celebrity sex abusers, helped police ruin the lives of Sir Cliff and a string of other famous faces… who all turned out to be TOTALLY INNOCENT” – Williams-Thomas responded by pointing out a previous article by Rose that had ended with a libel payout, which was hardly a substantive response. (1)

The 2001 News of the World article gives the impression that this game of ping-pong has been going on for the best part of twenty years or more: a police/ex-police source leaks to the media, and the story prompts the police to take further action, which generates new stories. The Savile documentary turbo-charged this process. (2)

Meanwhile, Williams-Thomas has a book out soon: Hunting Killers, the cover of which advertises itself as “Britain’s top crime investigator reveals how he solves the unsolvable”. According to the blurb:

Death has a unique smell. I’ve been in the presence of people who have killed; I’ve been in rooms where people have been killed. I’ve seen the unspeakable things human beings are capable of. None of that puts me off my aim; I want to see those people caught, convicted and sent to jail.

The criminologist James Treadwell was not impressed by this, for reasons he outlined in a Twitter thread (here, here, here and here). Given the ephemeral nature of the site, I’ll quote in full:

I think I have probably been in VASTLY more lengthy interviews with murderers than most criminologists. I can name names, but don’t. Many would mean nothing to most people anyway. But this sort of narrative line, It is cheap, simplistic and horrible. Homicide, rather than murder happens for an array of complex reasons, involving a diverse cast of offenders and victims. The impact is a far wider way than often recognised, and simplistic tropes of “hunting”, “wickedness” and “evil” are, in my humble opinion, just utter crap.

Victims and offenders deserve better, as do all involved. A far bigger cast is involved. Much of the criminal justice work is mundane and frustrating and, well all a bit dull. That work doesn’t end with conviction. Some of the most dull and tragic people I have met were murderers.

A final thing. If you need to tell people how significant you are on the cover of your book, you probably aren’t. So even if your publisher swallows the line, most criminologists and people with half a clue won’t. So please, just for your sake, don’t start to believe the hype.

Publication is now imminent – although for some reason Williams-Thomas has recently closed down his Twitter account.

Footnotes

1. This response was recently noted by self-described “police whistleblower” Jon Wedger, after Rosie Waterhouse asked some difficult questions concerning a man recently produced by Wedger and his associate Anna Brees as a new Edward Heath accuser. Wedger says he now intends to “target” journalists who write sceptically about allegations.

2. This dynamic may have parallels with other subjects – for instance, Rebekah Brooks was later responsible at the Sun for a bogus terror-related story in 2009 derived from false information provided by a self-described activist who had been involved with a group that had links with police.

Watts, Wedger and Brees vs Private Eye

Staying with the latest issue of Private Eye magazine (No. 1493), page 13 has news from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which for the past three weeks has been taking evidence relating to allegations about “VIP sex abusers” connected to Westminster. Part of the article is concerned with leaks from the inquiry:

In a surprise closing statement, lead counsel Brian Altman QC revealed that IICSA had investigated a leak inquiry after embargoed evidence was repeatedly leaked and then published ahead of its release date by a journalist… IICSA chair Alexis Jay had thus decided that in future core participants and their lawyers will not receive evidence in advance of hearings…

“There was no public interest in the journalist making this information public; simply gaining advantage in publishing the information as a scoop,” Altman said. “The information was due to be made public y the inquiry just a few days following publication.”

So who is the mystery hack? Step forward Mark Watts…

Watts has been in attendance the whole time, Tweeting and writing articles for his FOIA Centre website. The article has prompted him to write a letter to the magazine, which he has also posted as a screenshot on Twitter:

Private Eye was wrong in its last issue for the third time in its third article about me and my work to expose VIP paedophiles.

Your report of the final day of hearings for the Westminster investigation of the inquiry into child sexual abuse wrongly said that its chairwoman, Alexis Jay, had decided to stop giving evidence to core participants and their lawyers in advance of hearings because of my publishing “confidential” material on the FOIA Centre’s website. The hearing heard of no such decision – for this or any other reason.

Given your correspondent’s failure to understand a few minutes of that hearing, no wonder you totally missed the mountain of evidence over three weeks of hearings on how the authorities kept letting off VIP paedophiles and suspected VIP paedophiles.

I am well known for publishing articles in the public interest based on a wide variety of leaked reports and evidence that authorities want to suppress, including during my time as editor of Exaro and as co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre. So much for your “conspiracy theories”.

Private Eye’s continual attacks on survivors of sexual abuse, whistleblowers and journalists who shed light on VIP paedophiles show how much you miss the late Paul Foot, one of the first to try to expose this very issue. I remind you that news is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress. All the rest is advertising. Or, as in the case of your article, PR – for the establishment.

In his Tweet alongside the letter, Watts desribes the Eye as “PIE-eyed”, thus suggesting that the magazine shares the perspective of the long-dead and widely reviled Paedophile Information Exchange.

Watts’s best-known “work to expose VIP paedophiles” consists of articles he wrote for the Exaro News website in which he attributed a number of historic allegations to a certain man who attended the police with an Exaro colleague. Despite a lengthy police investigation following from this, no arrests were ever made, and indeed some of those who were named were afterwards offered compensation. The subject currently cannot be discussed in any detail for legal reasons, although hopefully these will be resolved in due course.

It’s perhaps telling that despite asserting that his articles are “in the public interest”, Watts does not attempt to explain why Altman’s direct contradiction of this claim is wrong. Instead, he focuses on the detail of access to documents. Here is what Altman said:

Now that the hearings in the Westminster investigation have been completed, you [i.e. Alexis Jay] have asked the solicitor to the inquiry to terminate the access of core participants in this investigation to the body of disclosed documents, and that will be done today. Going forward, core participants will be entitled to request access to documents on the provision of reasons, for example, in order to prepare for making further submissions in writing by April 12 or in order to respond to rule 13 warnings.

It seems that this “termination” was interpreted by Private Eye as being in direct response to the issue of the leak discussed by Altman just before. However, it is not in Watts’s interest to correct or clarify, rather than just complain, and so he keeps things vague in the hope that we will infer journalistic malpractice.

Meanwhile, Private Eye’s “continual attacks on survivors of sexual abuse, whistleblowers and journalists” appears to be primarily a reference to Michael Tarraga (1), whose new memoir Meat Rack Boy contains an account of an underage sexual encounter with Edward Heath in the summer of 1963. The Eye (1492, p. 38) very reasonably pointed out that the specifics of this story are difficult to reconcile with Heath’s schedule during that period, and that it was odd that Tarraga had not referred to Heath in a previous version of his memoir, called The Successful Failure (2).

Tarraga only mentioned Heath after coming into contact with a self-described “police whistleblower” named Jon Wedger, who now works full time promoting conspiracy theories about “VIP child sex abuse” and even Satanic Ritual Abuse; Wedger has long been keen to justify former Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale’s posthumous police investigation into Heath, which has been derided as a fiasco, and so this discovery of a new alleged victim was a bit of luck.

Tarraga’s memoir was then reshaped by Wedger’s associate Anna Brees, a former mainstream journalist who now works as a media trainer – the new version of the memoir is published by “Brees Media”, although little effort seems to gone into formatting or copyediting the typescript. Brees, like Wedger, is firmly embedded in the conspiracy milieu – she has also Tweeted references to the Illuminati and to the American “Pizzagate” and “Qanon” conspiracy theories.

Watts and Wedger met socially during the IICSA Westminster hearings, and Watts and Brees have expressed mutual admiration for each other on Twitter.

Watt’s letter is just one prong of a more wide-ranging attack against Private Eye: he is also calling on his supporters not to buy the magazine, while Wedger has announced that “the target now has to be corrupt mainstream media journalists working hard on trying to cover up the VIP paedophile rings.” As I detailed in my previous post, Brees has also ratcheted things up after a second Private Eye article (1493, p. 13) referred to further contradictions in Tarraga’s story – this led to a hostile Twitter exchange with the journalist Rosie Waterhouse, in which Waterhouse referred to an old “email” by Tarraga which was in fact a forum post. Seizing on this imprecision, Brees pedantically denounced this as Waterhouse’s “first lie”. Brees also arranged a new interview with Tarraga, who spoke of his “great distress” and repeatedly abused Waterhouse as “Rosie Fucking Waterhouse” while Brees smirked.

Wedger, meanwhile, drew attention to a notice on Mark Williams-Thomas’s website, published in response to a Mail on Sunday article about him headlined “How a self-promoting TV detective, obsessed with celebrity sex abusers, helped police ruin the lives of Sir Cliff and a string of other famous faces… who all turned out to be TOTALLY INNOCENT” (I discussed Williams-Thomas here). The article had been written by Waterhouse and David Rose, and Wedger concluded that “Think these two are mates. One after @BreesAnna the other went after Lenny Harper who investigates Haut de la Garenne. It’s time to shine a light on these journalists”. Brees concurred, stating that “they seem to have an interest in shaping public opinion on how we see child sexual abuse… We must look into this further it’s a new media revolution”. This then led into a spin-off argument about the Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey that drew in David Rose, Stuart Syvret and Leah McGrath Goodman.

Currently, Wedger is asking his Twitter followers “When are we going to stop the corrupt journalists?” and complaining that “Private eye journalists are watching every single thing myself and my team do. And I mean EVERYTHING including broadcasts to tiny YouTube stations. What I don’t understand is how they knew I’d be on it? Victims are being targeted”.

Private Eye has its faults, but covering up VIP abuse for the benefit of “the establishment” is not one of them. The current editor, Ian Hislop, famously fought a libel case in 1994 after the magazine accused North Wales Chief Constable Gordon Anglesea of child sex abuse; the case was lost, but Anglesea’s conviction just before his death in 2016 was written up as a vindication of the magazine and of Anglesea’s accusers (I wrote critically about this here).

The magazine does, though, have a history of raising concerns about false allegations and how their originators: this has included covering links between therapists and Satanic Ritual Abuse allegations, and similar scandals such as the sad story of Carol Felstead (whose case was early raised by Matthew Scott as a cautionary tale when Watts first produced his VIP abuse informant).

Footnotes

(1) As well as Tarraga, Watts may also have in mind Anthony Daly, who joined in the Twitter conversation to complain about Private Eye’s coverage of his memoir Playland. The book described Daly’s purported experiences while he was under the control of a vice ring in central London whose activities included child exploitation (Tarraga’s title Meat Rack Boy refers to the same milieu) – the experiences included encounters with various VIPs.

In May 2018, the Eye (1469, p. 35) ran a review under the heading “Fantasy Fiction”; the piece did not attempt to debunk his story, but implied in a sceptical tone that Mirror Books (associated with the newspaper group) had published an unlikely and unsubstantiated story. Daly – who says he was inspired to speak out after reading Anthony Gilberthorpe’s claims (discussed here) – Tweeted that he had offered to show evidence to Eye editor Ian Hislop but had been ignored.

(2) Another difficulty is that Tarraga told Wedger that all he knew about Heath at the time was that he was “a prominent sailor”, when Heath did not take up sailing until 1966.

Private Eye Explores New Edward Heath Accuser

UPDATE (18 April): The second half of this post has been updated several times in the last few days in the light of new information.

In a quote provided to Private Eye magazine (1), former TV journalist turned conspiracy theorist Anna Brees has explained how it is that Michael Tarraga’s misery memoir Meat Rack Boy, recently published with her assistance, includes an allegation of sex abuse against former Prime Minister Edward Heath that was absent from the previous edition of his life story, as presented in his self-published book The Successful Failure:

“I knew this would draw attention to his story and it has,” Brees tells the Eye. “As a journalist I knew what the ‘headline’ would be for others, so pursued this in my interview and added it to the book.”

As I noted in a previous post, Heath wasn’t part of Tarraga’s story until he was explicitly prompted to name him by Jon Wedger, a self-described “police whistleblower” who spends his time making video interviews with various people with allegations pertaining to child sex abuse, including Satanic Ritual Abuse. Wedger is a strong supporter of (and he claims friendship with) former Chief Constable Mike Veale, who led the posthumous investigation into allegations against Heath, and as such it is remarkably fortuitous that he just happened to find a new accuser while making a casual enquiry with an interview subject.

Wedger, who works closely with Brees, has a line of branded “I Stand with Jon Wedger” merchandise, and he is currently fundraising to “raise awareness” of child sex abuse – this is despite the ubiquity of the subject in the media for years and a slew of particularly lurid and sensational claims since the posthumous allegations against Jimmy Savile in 2012. According to Wedger, “all profits” from Tarraga’s book will “go to the campaign to expose an establishment cover up of child abuse”, while Brees now says that “the profits are paying for a two day new media training event in Blackpool this June”. In contrast, proceeds from The Successful Failure were pledged to a children’s hospice called Sam’s Place (2).

The Eye summarises the relevant chapter in Meat Rack Boy, entitled “Uncle Teddy”:

Tarraga says that while he attended Chafford approved school school for boys near Harwich, Essex, the deputy headmaster gave him half a crown to go to a sailing club in neighbouring Suffolk. “Uncle Teddy and I went swimming. I was taken to the boat… I just spent an afternoon with him sailing and swimming. What did Uncle Teddy do? “Dry my naked body, play with me and make me do something to him. We gave each other oral sex.”

Tarraga has said this was in 1962 or 1963, although records show that he was admitted to Chafford approved school in Harwich in Essex on 31 July 1963. According to the Eye:

Heath was Lord Privy Seal at the time, and the Eye has checked his day-to-day movements for the rest of that summer through his ministerial appointment diaries: crammed with official meetings and lunches in London, a five-day trip to Russia, a week’s holiday in Islay, visits to Stockholm and Helskini, and so on. It’s hard to see when or how he could have fitted in a lazy afternoon swimming, sailing and sexually abusing in Suffolk.

Other inconsistencies

In a follow-up article (3), the Eye says that it “has now found other inconsistencies in Tarraga’s accounts about his abusive upbringing”, but that Brees has “refused to answer any more questions after the Eye challenged her to explain the contradictions”.

No further details are provided, although interaction between the journalist Rosie Waterhouse and Anna Brees on Twitter since publication indicate that one example pertains to a social media post made by “tarraga1” in August 2011 to a site called RootsChat.com:

re your question about the orphanage in london colney  it was st gabrials/st raphals at all saints convent run by sisters of the poor,I know this because my brother sister and myself lived there from 1952 untill1960 when I was moved to another home called the hollies in sidcup… i have many very happy memories of it during my time,

This appears to be inconsistent with Tarraga’s account in Meat Rack Boy, in which he says that he remained in foster care until 1959 and was then only at the convent school for ten months. Before that, he had been in foster home funded by Lambeth Council in Borehamwood (formerly spelt Boreham Wood), where, he alleges, the foster parents had “raped and sold him out to others” (as summarised by Wedger) from the age of four. His brother and sister had also been abused, but had been sent to the convent some years before him. Yet the above post has all three of them living together at All Saints – outside the jurisdiction of Lambeth Council – and apparently all very happy.

As Waterhouse puts it:

Happy to share all my questions to Anna Jon Wedger and Michael Tarraga. Where was Michael between 1952 and 1960? With wicked sex abusing foster parents? Or in children’s home in London where he had “many happy memories” a/c to email [sic] he sent 2011? Inconsistency. Unanswered.

Despite the reported refusal to answer questions, Brees has made several responses to the above. First, she suggested that Waterhouse was focusing on a trivial point about Tarraga’s age:

I’d love to share the questions sent to me by Rosie waterhouse @rosiew5. I fully stand by my reporting on what happened to @MikeTarraga the inconsistencies are that he could not remember if he was 3 or 4. What’s your agenda Rosie? What’s your view on victims of sexual abuse?

Brees’s own answer to this question is to suggest that Waterhouse is unduly focused on the idea that people make false allegations in order to receive compensation –  thus her Tweet so includes some very short extracts from a 1997 Newsnight report that Waterhouse uploaded to YouTube a few years ago. The report was about the coincidentally named Waterhouse Inquiry (named for Ronald Waterhouse QC) into sexual abuse in children’s homes in Wales, and Brees’s extracts emphasise the word “compensation”.

Second, Brees has posted online a document indicating that Tarraga and his twin brother were indeed living in Borehamwood in 1954, and a letter that Tarraga received in December 2017 from the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme. The letter thanks Tarraga for “coming forward and telling the Council what you experienced while in care”, and recognises his “immense bravery and courage on your part to come forward and tell us about the abuse, particularly when you may have have feared that you might not be believed”.

Third, Brees has now recorded a new video interview with Tarraga, which has been uploaded by Wedger. Tarraga angrily denounces “Rosie Fucking Waterhouse”, whom he calls a liar, and Brees slightly cryptically summaries Tarraga’s early years as “You were taken away from your brother and sister, and you ended up with, they were in a place that you was much happier” [sic]. Tarraga confirms authorship of the tarraga1 post, but says it has been taken out of context. The opportunity to explain what the correct understanding should be, though, is not taken. The interview was then followed up by a short commentary from Brees, in which she again notes the 1954 email and describes Waterhouse’s mistaken reference to the forum post as having been an email as “her first lie”.

The Lambeth letter is clearly a standard reply; in Meat Rack Boy Tarraga says that he was at both the Hollies and Shirley Oaks prior to being sent to Chafford in the early 1960s, and Lambeth Council has acknowledged that there was widespread abuse at Shirley Oaks in particular – so much so that all former Shirley Oaks residents are now offered compensation, on the grounds that even those who may have escaped abuse were at risk of it (and in the new video Tarraga confirms that he has received compensation, which funded his Successful Failure book).

However, on Facebook Tarraga has complained that despite him receiving this letter, Lambeth “also state that i wasnt one of theirs” (also noted by Wedger on Twitter). Tarraga is now apparently in a dispute with Lambeth council about the matter; perhaps the issue is that Lambeth have said that they are not responsible for anything that happened to him in Hertfordshire, or later on at Chafford in Essex (when he says he encountered Edward Heath), but if so no-one appears to be advising him as to which authority he should be contacting instead. Certainly, it serves Wedger and Brees if Lambeth is thought to be involved in a “cover up” of some sort.

The same Facebook post also states:

whilst i cannot say nor will i say that i was raped bummed call it what you like by any famous person but i will state under oath in court that i was abuse raped both orally anally and violently by many men from the upper class’s

It is difficult to reconcile this with his claim about Edward Heath – the word “rape” might seem to offer a bit of wriggle room, but given his age in 1963 and his denunciation of the term “child prostitute” in the same post, we can be sure that by the word “rape” he means any oral sex, whether forced or not. The explanation, according to Tarraga, is that his encounter with Heath was insignificant.

Perhaps the various problems discussed above can be ironed out: in particular, it is possible that when Tarraga wrote that “my brother sister and myself lived there from 1952 untill1960”, he meant “my brother, sister and myself between us lived there from 1952 to 1960″ – i.e. an overall total in which three people overlapped. After all, his elder sister would probably have left before he did, due to being one or two years ahead. But if this is the explanation, why did Brees not address this issue raised by Waterhouse before the Private Eye article was published? If she held back for strategic reasons, so that an article would appear that she could then dispute, then she is the one responsible for the “distress” that Tarraga speaks about in his interview.

In his new video interview, Tarraga also laments the way that so much focus has been placed on his supposed encounter with Heath, and the prospect that he may be remembered simply as “Meat Rack Boy”, but these are the inevitable and obvious outcomes of Brees’s media strategy. It is unrealistic to accuse a former prime minister of sex abuse and not expect some critical scrutiny, and yet Brees appears not to have warned Tarraga that this would happen. Given Tarraga’s health and vulnerability, this is a failure of a duty of care.

There is a sense of manipulation in the video interview which becomes especially clear towards the end, as Brees invites Tarraga to denounce the BBC on an unrelated matter (4) and to praise Mark Watts, a journalist who promoted VIP abuse conspiracy theories on the Exaro website (5). It looks to me that Brees’s and Wedger’s interests being are served, rather than those of Tarraga.

****

Footnotes

(1) “It’a Brees”, in Private Eye 1492, p. 38.

(2) Wedger says he wants to raise £5,000 for his “Jon Wedger Foundation”. The figure is significant, as associations and trusts etc. in the UK with a “charitable purpose” and/or that exist “for the public benefit” must register with the Charity Commission if they have income that exceeds this amount. Wedger’s “foundation” is not a charity or even registered as a company at Companies House.

(3) “Bumbling Brees”, in Private Eye 1493, p. 13.

(4) The second Eye article also states that Brees had “stopped tweeting” about the book, and is instead “busily re-airing a five-year-old conspiracy theory that accuses the BBC of faking a Panorama report about the Syrian regime bombing a hospital”. New life was breathed into this old claim in February when a BBC journalist named Riam Dalati (who describes himself as “BBC Syria Producer”) suggested on Twitter that

After almost 6 months of investigations, i can prove without a doubt that the #Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital. All the #WH, activists and people i spoke to are either in #Idlib or #EuphratesShield areas.

Rather than explain himself or present evidence, Dalati instead decided to lock down his account. However, it seems that he was suggesting that dead bodies had been moved and posed, rather than that people were “playing dead” or similar – he also Tweeted before this that “the ATTACK DID HAPPEN”, but that details were “manufactured for maximum effect”. This previous Tweet was ignored by the Russian Embassy and various “alternative media” bad actors, who instead created a distorted narrative in which Dalati supposedly “admitted” being involved with creating a fraudulent BBC report about a non-existent attack. Wedger has also joined in with this effort, which Brees is also linking with Tommy Robinson’s grievance against the BBC.

According to her book Making the News, as quoted in the Eye, Brees says that her children “never watch these channels [BBC and ITV]… They talk about the Illuminati  in the playground and discuss end of the world theories”.

(5) Watts is of the view that the Lambeth letter means that Private Eye magazine should provide Tarraga with “a GROVELLING apology”. Watts recently met Wedger in London while both were observing the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and he has his own grudge against Private Eye: the latest issue also carries an article identifying him as the unnamed journalist recently criticised by the inquiry lead counsel for publishing embargoed information (“Watts ‘n’ All”, Private Eye 1493, p. 11)