Chief Constable “Accused of Complicity in Child Sex Abuse”: A Note on the Claim and the Rhetoric

From the SKWAWKBOX, last month:

…the SKWAWKBOX has seen evidence that the Chief Constable of a UK police force has been accused of complicity in child sexual abuse.

The SKWAWKBOX has also spoken to a serving MP who was one of several witnesses present at the time that a positive identification was made by a young adult who had suffered sexual abuse since childhood. The MP told this blog,

We were all in the Strangers’ Bar [in the Houses of Parliament]. The young victim was holding a phone and looking through pictures online, looking for someone else. Suddenly s/he screamed, dropped the phone and stood there shaking and crying, saying ‘it’s him, it’s him!’ The picture on the screen was that of a serving Chief Constable. It was a very real and spontaneous reaction.

A retired Metropolitan Police officer was also among the witnesses.

After they reported the allegations, the MP and Ms [Sharon] Evans were both interviewed at length by the police force – not that of the accused senior officer – to which the accusation was reported, but in the roughly nine months since the report was made, neither have received any word of any action taken.

The SKWAWKBOX is run by a left-wing activist based in Liverpool; the site came to wider attention in June in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, when it published the false claim that media reports about the fire were being suppressed by the use of a “D-Notice”.

The author believes that the allegation against the chief constable is “credible”, based on two points. First (emphasis in original):

The young victim has given around one hundred hours of evidence – not limited to the involvement of the police officer – to police investigators about the abuse suffered, which suggests that officers consider the victim’s claims to be highly credible for them to spend so much time interviewing.

Further, in a follow-up:

Within hours of the publication of the article, the Daily Mail contacted charity head and former panel member on the government’s child abuse inquiry, Sharon Evans, in an attempt to persuade her to give them the story – thereby showing the credibility of the reports.

This is somewhat over-excited. The fact that someone has given extensive testimony to police (and in this case, about a number of individuals) does not mean that their testimony is otherwise supported, while the Mail‘s interest in a sensational story from someone with a public profile is evidence of nothing more than normal journalistic instinct.

The whole thing is simply “no smoke without fire” at this stage – and the context here particularly absurd, with a supposedly “left-wing” website asking us to suspend our critical faculties when it comes to the police and to defer to the (apparent) judgement of the Daily Mail.

However, doubters should perhaps keep their views to themselves – the same site also alleges an “Establishment backlash“:

…Anonymous troll accounts – in fact, worse than trolls – have begun a smear campaign on social media attempting to attack the credibility of a key whistleblower who exposed issues with the inquiry and, even more unforgivably, of a victim of terrible abuse.

At least one of these provocateur accounts is run by someone with a sinister history of stalking – including arrest – and who is known to have connections to key Establishment figures, including at least one who has expressed controversial views about sexual consent and a history of accusations of online and offline bullying. All have the vile tone of the bully.

The reference to “arrest” rather than “convicted” or “cautioned” heavily implies that the alleged “sinister history” has not been substantiated, and it is difficult to understand why this person was arrested if he was acting on behalf of some all-powerful “Establishment”. Presumably the arrest went nowhere (cf. here).

Evans was a member of the Home Office’s historic child sex abuse panel, before it was reorganised into a statuary inquiry in 2015; she and another panel member, Graham Wilmer, are bitterly critical of the IICSA, and in August they expressed their concerns about plans for an inquiry into Grenfell Tower. The Guardian reported:

…Sharon Evans and Graham Wilmer revealed how government officials intervened with the independent panel members by preparing a 23-page document instructing them how to answer questions from MPs.

Both left the inquiry when the original panel was disbanded within months of its formation and have since been critical of the inquiry.

But they said they wanted to warn relatives, victims or other laypeople co-opted on to the upcoming inquiries about the tendency of May and her team to seek close control over such processes. “We wanted openness, and she broke every single promise made to us,” said Evans, who runs the Dot Com children’s charity. “The top promise was that it was going to be an independent and open inquiry. And it’s been neither.”

The SKWAWKBOX story about the chief constable appears to have been a spin-off from this, presented as evidence that the IICSA is not just flawed but a bad-faith attempt to protect “VIP abusers”. Some conspiracy theorists have gone so far as to implicate Theresa May as having a personal motive here, based on an incoherent non-story about her late father not having a Wikipedia page (discussed by me here – the author afterwards Tweeted the first SKWAWKBOX story to me as evidence).