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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)