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)