VIP and Celebrity Abuse Allegations and Satanic Panic: Possible Links

The main reason why this blog has taken such a lengthy detour into allegations about “VIP child-sex abuse” is because there are some obvious parallels and continuities with Satanic Ritual Abuse claims in the 1980s and early 1990s. As with SRA, the “Westminster” allegations are conspiratorial, and include not only orgiastic paedophilia but also sadistic torture and murder that appear to have some ritual elements (“Nick’s” allegations, for instance, include Harvey Proctor tying a boy to a table and stabbing him, and soldiers pinning Remembrance Day poppies into bare skin). The new round of claims has also seen a revival of interest in the late Geoffrey Dickens, a buffoonish MP who in the 1980s claimed to have “dossiers” relating to paedophilia and who later in the decade promoted lurid conspiracy theories about Satanism and witchcraft.

However, I’ve been cautious about how far direct connections with SRA can be made. In 1986, allegations about MPs being Satanists were raised during the trial of a fraudster (a story that was resurrected briefly, and unhappily, in March), but the “Westminster” allegations have a more direct pedigree in old sensationalist newspaper reports about organised abuse rings and extravagantly libellous accusations against politicians that appeared in Scallywag magazine in the early to mid-1990s. Anna Raccoon notes a possible direct link between Scallywag and the current allegations via a certain Andrea Davison, but although this may be important for understanding the particular shape and direction the current claims have taken, much of the material has been lurking around on the internet for years. New life has been breathed into Scallywag-type claims by an increasing awareness of the reality of child abuse within institutional settings, by posthumous allegations against Jimmy Savile and others, and by the fact that we live in a world in which we all like to think the worst about politicians.

SRA allegations, by contrast, remain marginalised –  the stories were simply too incredible, and the anti-SRA “movement” was discredited by a series of high-profile false allegations in the USA and the UK. However, being marginalised is not the same as going away: psychotherapists like Valerie Sinason have continued to publish books and articles promoting the concept, while the sad case of Carol Felstead, a victim of “therapy” who was made to believe that her parents were Satanists and that she had been raped with claw-hammer in Conservative Central Office, shows that both strands remained intertwined at the turn of the century.

But is this of any relevance to current police investigations taking place under the names of “Fairbank”, “Fernbridge”, “Yewtree”, among others?

The argument for a direct link between old SRA allegations and what is happening now has been made by SAFF, the Sub-culture Alternatives Freedom Foundation. This organisation was formed in 1988, primarily in response to the vilification of neo-pagan and occult groups during the SRA panic, and the SAFF website incorporates an extensive archive of materials about SRA claims: these range from extracts from newsletters from organisations such as RAINS (Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support) through to lurid newspaper articles. The case is put forward in full here, with some impressive documentation.

Among other things, the author draws attention to the fact that the original head of Operation Yewtree, Commander Peter Spindler, previously sent 30 Metropolitan Police officers on a course on how to spot evidence of SRA. There’s also an odd detail from a document produced by RAINS which lists a number of Satanic abuse “suspects” from an accuser known as “Helen G.” This person alleged that the comedian Jimmy Tarbuck was “seen at Beaulieu at Summer Solstice”, where “Cult Festival Ceremonies” supposedly took place. Tarbuck, of course, was arrested in April 2013 as part of Operation Yewtree, with one initial accuser rising to six after the arrest was announced. The matter was subsequently dropped (after the best part of a year) – not just due to “insufficient evidence”, but because of counter-evidence that showed he had been the victim of false accusations.  Perhaps a coincidence, but it seems reasonable to speculate about whether certain names have been passed around by “anti-SRA” enthusiasts for years and are now influencing police decisions and/or therapeutic encounters.

As SAFF also draws attention to, there is also an association between RAINS and the police via DCI Clive Driscoll (who is now retired). Driscoll has a long-standing association Sinason, and in early 2013 Sinason provided quotes to the Express claiming that she had been told by victims in 1992 and 1993 that they had been abused by Jimmy Savile during Satanic rituals (some of which supposedly took place in the basement of Stoke Mandeville Hospital). Alas, Sinason didn’t share this information with the world until after Savile’s posthumous reputation had already been destroyed.

Meanwhile, Driscoll was in the media in July after claiming that he had been removed from an investigation into organised paedophilia because a minister in Tony Blair’s government was implicated. He followed up a few weeks later with the claim that he had received allegations of sex abuse against Ted Heath  in 2001. This media exposure also prompted interest in his book, in which he claims that in the 1960s ritually-abused children had been disposed of in a lake near Gravesend – a claim dismissed by Kent Police as “third-party hearsay”.