Carl Beech: Drawing Some Threads Together

This has been a long time coming; from Sky News:

A former NHS manager has been convicted of lying to police and fooling Scotland Yard into launching a £2.5m investigation into a VIP paedophile ring that didn’t exist.

Carl Beech, 51, claimed he and others were tortured, raped and abused by senior politicians, military chiefs and the heads of MI5 and MI6 – and had witnessed the sadistic murder of three young boys.

He has been found guilty of fraud and 12 counts of perverting the course of justice,

There are now dozens of articles profiling Beech and summarising aspects of the trial, parts of which were live-tweeted tirelessly by a young Sky reporter named Jordan Milne, whose threads are available here.

The story of Carl Beech, aka Operation Midland’s “Nick” and “Carl Survivor”, is one that I have been following since 2014, when I first read about his claims in a prescient article (partially cross-posed to Harry’s Place) by the barrister Matthew Scott titled “Exaro News Is Playing A Dangerous Game With Its Paedophile Murder Story”. This was a couple of weeks after “Nick” had been showcased by the Sunday People in an article headlined “MPs and VIPs ‘child abuse ring’ at luxury flats near Parliament investigated by detectives” (still available on the Mirror website, which encompasses the Sunday People‘s web presence), by Keir Mudie, Nick Dorman and Mark Conrad. The article featured a photo of Nick, viewed from behind, sitting on a bench and talking Mark Watts, captioned as “reporter Mark” – it’s not clear if this is a misidentification of Conrad, or if for some reason Watts’ full name was deliberately left off. The story was branded with a Sunday People “investigation” logo and also that of Exaro, where Conrad and Watts were based. Two weeks later, the photo of the back of Beech’s head made its way onto the front page, as part of a splash titled “I saw MP throttle young boy to death”.

Matthew’s post was published in response to the story being picked up by the BBC’s World At One, which had run an interview with “Nick”. Matthew highlighted several reasons for caution which resonated with me: he referred to “rumours, which in truth have been flying around on the internet for years”; to the danger of contamination; to the possibility that the reports will “feed a monstrous hysteria”, with innocent people being unjustly accused; and to parallels with the case of Carol Felstead, who had made lurid false allegations against politicians following therapy. For my part, I was put in mind both of scurrilous stories published in Scallywag magazine in the 1990s and of the 1980s Satanic Ritual Abuse panic.

After expressing some cautious scepticism, in due course it was brought to my attention that “Nick” was actually a man named Carl Beech, who worked for the Care Quality Commission. Various NHS-related documents showed a portly but apparently cheerful figure, although there was also a critical website by some kind of alternative healer calling herself “Dr Cathar”, who had a grudge against him after he had apparently dispensed with her services as a hospital interpreter.

It also transpired that Beech had contributed a poem (a wretched piece, essentially a misery memoir blurb channelled through William McGonagall) to the October 2012 issue of the NAPAC Newsletter (NAPAC = the National Association for People Abused in Childhood), which had been published under his full name. The poem suggested a child-abuse ring (“They came in the night and they came in the day / Myself and my friend were always their prey”), but for some reason now that he was accusing public figures he was suddenly very keen to assert his legal right to anonymity.

This made it very difficult to piece the story together publicly. In particular, while Exaro were publishing about “Nick”, Beech was active on Twitter as Carl Survivor (@carl_survivor) and as Carl Chassereau (@carl_cassereau), producing lurid accounts of abuse on a related blog and on a website called This Tangled Web (to add to the confusion, his posts to this site were uploaded by a third party, and so were tagged “By Kate Swift”). Could these legally be cross-referenced, given that Carl was his real name? I did so in one post, but later out of an abundance of caution edited the connection out. However, some of the Tangled Web material made it into the media – in particular his story about being tortured with Remembrance Day poppies, which I discussed here. As “Carl Survivor”, Beech became the poster-boy for a “Wall of Silence” anti-abuse exhibition that was displayed in Bristol, at the National Assembly of Wales, and at City Hall in London – indeed, it was very nearly displayed in Parliament.

Beech had also previously used his middle name Stephen to appear in a documentary (with his face obscured) in which he claimed to have encountered Jimmy Savile at a child-abuse party. Why was this not mentioned in Exaro’s reporting? The fact that Beech was able to claim compensation for his supposed abuse by Savile with just a vague account raises questions about how many other people may have got away with fraudulent claims.

The wheels started to fall off in the summer of 2015, when Harvey Proctor gave a public statement about Beech’s allegations against him. He referred to several names that had been put to him, and one of these was Raymond Beech, who had been Beech’s step-father for a time (Carl’s birth name was Carl Gass). Proctor also revealed lurid details that Exaro had suppressed – I suspect because they were too incredible – such as that he had supposedly attempted to castrate Carl but had been prevented by fellow orgiast Edward Heath. A few months later, BBC Panorama ran an episode which raised doubts about Beech’s story and those of some other “VIP accusers”. The programme-makers were vilified for this, but vindication followed. The police “Operation Midland” closed down in ignominy; the Henriques Report made serious criticisms of how Scotland Yard had handled the matter; and then Beech himself came under investigation by Northumbria Police, brought in as an outside force.

We now know from the trial that there is overwhelming evidence that Beech fabricated his accounts of “VIP abuse” – he researched locations and details which he then presented to the police as memories, in one case describing the swimming pool at Dolphin Square based on a pop video which supposedly showed the location but which in fact had been filmed elsewhere. He created false collaborating witnesses via email. School friends and records disputed his accounts. Photos of him swimming and a selfie in his underwear fatally undermined his allegations of a phobia about being underwater or of looking at himself. Bodily injuries were not present. His computer yielded other versions of his story, and also reliance on books by an American named Timmy Fielding. The CPS has a round-up of the evidence here.

Meanwhile, it has also been revealed that Beech himself has been involved in crimes of a paedophilic nature – he downloaded images of child abuse, which he kept hidden on his computer, and he secretly filmed a teenage boy urinating. These are crimes he has admitted, and the secret filming in particular means we can discount any kind of “Chris Langham” defence that he accessed such images for some reason other than sexual gratification. Again, the law made it difficult to put the full story together – his arrest in Sweden after fleeing the UK last year was reported in Swedish media, but could not at first be referred to in the UK, and initial reports of his subsequent conviction for these offences could not be linked with his activities as “Nick” and “Carl Survivor”.

It used to be the case that previous convictions could not be mentioned during trials, but this is no longer always the case and following legal argument it was agreed that Beech’s sex offences could be disclosed as part of the fraud and perversion of justice case. This decision, although open to criticism, was reasonable in that the offences shed light on Beech’s motivations and obsessions when he made his false allegations. However, Mark Watts, who attended Beech’s trial every day (funded by whom?), now claims that the ruling “made it impossible for Carl Beech to have a fair trial” and that the convictions are “wholly unsafe”. Watts also suggests that the trial had “no insight into the possible effects of childhood trauma”. It’s not clear what is meant by this last point, but there are no grounds to doubt that Beech has mental capacity. Alternatively, perhaps he is arguing that true abuse may lead to false allegations, or even that false allegations are evidence of true abuse.

This is weak stuff. Clearly, Beech’s behaviour – his lies and manipulation, and also grandiose spending that resulted in large debts – was pathological, and perhaps can be explained by his experience of a violent step-father. We can’t disprove the possibility of sexual abuse as well, but that’s simply a truism and there is no good reason to depart from the principle of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. The jury’s verdict is supported by overwhelming evidence that anyone can assess for themselves. The nearest Watts comes to admitting this is when he concedes that “forensic examination of Carl Beech’s computers shows that police would have had no basis for referring to the Crown Prosecution Service his statements against anyone of child sexual abuse or homicide” – a rather opaque formulation that implies that some technical matter has created a bit of doubt, rather than that Beech’s whole story has been exposed as lies.

Despite everything, the conspiracy milieu – which is Watts’s primary readership – is unlikely to admit to a bad investment any time soon. Given the near omnipotence ascribed to dark forces (who for some reason were unable to suppress the story completely), Beech’s ruin and imprisonment can easily be assimilated into their narratives.