Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Reveals New Esther Baker “Westminster” Allegation

Baker says document “misrepresents” her, and was published “against the requests of both myself & a police force”

The website of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published a “Note of Determination” regarding the scope of its investigations into allegations relating to Westminster. The note confirms the approach announced at the preliminary hearing at the end of January, that it will be considering issues of public concern “relating to the way in which Westminster institutions have historically addressed or responded to issues of child sexual abuse.”

As such, the inquiry will not be investigating allegations of sex abuse made by Esther Baker, who has “core participant” status; this is because

…they are the subject of both contested civil proceedings and an ongoing police investigation… such an investigation would be extremely resource intensive… the Inquiry’s function, which, as Counsel to the Inquiry submitted, is to investigate institutional failings, and not to determine disputed facts on individual cases.

The Note summarises Baker’s allegations, and for the first time it is explicitly recognised that her allegation of abuse in woodland amounts to a “ritualistic” abuse claim. We are also now told that that Baker says that the abuse was filmed, which is (I think) a new element, and the Note further reveals a completely new claim:

In summary, Ms Baker says that as a child she visited a foreign country and stayed at the house of a relative of a person of public prominence associated with Westminster where she was shown a room full of young girls and was sexually assaulted by her host. She alleges that her parents worked with orphanages in the country concerned, in conjunction with her host, and she assumes that visits by politicians and others in a position of power both in the past and to the present day have involved the abuse of young children. On behalf of Ms Baker it is submitted that investigation of the links between Westminster and the foreign country can be conducted if her allegations are considered as part of the scope of the investigation.

Unsurprisingly, this is also rejected as being outside the scope of the IICSA’s inquiry, but the disclosure is a sensational expansion on her earlier claims, which have developed since January 2015. At that time, as “Becky”, she gave an interview to  Channel 4 News in which she said that she had been abused “in a church setting”, and that some of the abusers had been police officers who attended the church. These police officers were later described as guards at woodland orgies involving “VIPs”. At the end of the month she privately accused the then-MP John Hemming as having been an abuser (the date of her allegation apparently confirmed by a screenshot); this was three months after Hemming had criticised the decision to make Fiona Woolf the head of the IICSA, whereas Woolf was supported by an activist with close links to Baker.

Hemming’s name was bandied about by self-styled “anti-CSA activists” for several months until he went public himself – and he is now pursuing legal action. Baker also at one time claimed have been taken by night to be abused by VIPs at Dolphin Square in London, although this is not mentioned in the Note and it did not come up at the preliminary hearing.

In response to the new publication, Baker has posted a statement on Twitter:

I am aware that tonight the @InquiryCSA have published a decision (V2) on scope in the Westminster Strand against the requests of both myself & a police force. The document is both a misrepresentation of what I submitted to the inquiry & of current ongoing events [here]. This document releases details that were not in the public domain and that were not intended to become so, certainly not before the CPS decision. Yet it omits details that were crucial to give context – only those that were private to me, not others. There is much more to be said [here] But I will leave that for the appropriate time and arena. It is safe to say that interference by “persons of public prominence associated with Westminster” has played a part which shall be detailed soon. [here] It needs to be made VERY clear that I have NEVER asked the @InquiryCSA to investigate my allegations. That is outside of scope & they are certainly not qualified to do so. I will be publishing my actual scope submission as soon as circumstances allow. [here]

Baker has previously chided those who have expressed incredulity or doubt about her allegations with the explanation that there is confirmatory material that is outside of the public domain, but that will be revealed in due course. Baker has in the past been vocally supported by the MPs Jess Phillips (who defeated Hemming in the 2015 General Election), Sarah Champion and John Mann.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, “V2” in Baker’s response refers to a variation in the IICSA statement in relation to John Hemming’s complaint against her.

V1 had:

Ms Baker’s allegations are highly contentious and are the subject of both a police investigation (I understand that the police enquiries are now focused on whether Ms Baker should be charged with perverting the course of justice) and also contested civil proceedings.

This gives the impression that police primarily now regard Baker as a suspect rather than a complainant – a bold and apparently careless claim that is backed away from in V2:

Ms Baker’s allegations are highly contentious. They are the subject of both contested civil proceedings and an ongoing police investigation. I am also aware that Mr Hemming is reported to have made a complaint to the CPS that the allegations that Ms Baker has made about him amount to perverting the course of justice.


The IICSA’s statement that does not intend “to determine disputed facts on individual cases” is a retreat from its position in 2015, when it announced that it would undertake an “objective fact-finding inquiry into allegations of abuse by people of public prominence associated w. Westminster”.

There has previously been some public confusion on this point arising from Wiltshire Police’s  farcical £2 million investigation into the former Prime Minister Edward Heath, more than a decade after his death. The force attempted to save face by announcing that it would be passing its “findings” to the IICSA, which generated a compliant Mail on Sunday headline that the inquiry intended to “probe” Heath. However, the new Note confirms that Wiltshire Police accepts that the IICSA will not be making findings of fact, in that the force “do[es] not wish to make submissions on the scope of the investigation”.

It is difficult to imagine how the distinction between “institutional responses to allegations” and the veracity of the allegations themselves will be applied in relation to the IICSA strand devoted to Greville Janner (previously discussed here – scroll down).