A Note on Carl Beech and the Psychotherapists

UPDATE (March 2021): The post below cites a newspaper op-ed by Richard Hoskins which has since been withdrawn by the Mail on Sunday as part of a libel settlement after a claim was brought by Dr Elly Hanson. Her legal representative is quoted in Press Gazette:

“Contrary to what the article alleged, Dr Hanson had not organised the [Wall of Silence] event, did not know Beech would be attending when she accepted an invitation to speak, and, Dr Hanson believes, learned that fact either shortly before or on the day…

“She met Beech at the event, speaking briefly with him in person for the first – and only – time that day for a couple of minutes…”


“Dr Hanson did not in fact express a prejudicial view about Sir Edward Heath prior to joining the Operation Conifer scrutiny panel, as the article also alleged.”


From Richard Hoskins in the Mail on Sunday:

…for eight years [“VIP sex abuse” accuser Carl Beech] had managed to con two police forces, MPs such as Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and journalists from the BBC and online news service Exaro into believing his tissue of lies.

But there is another group of professionals whose role in this fiasco should be examined, and that is the psychotherapists who gave legitimacy to the whole farrago.

Without them, none of this might have happened. 

Hoskins became involved in the case when Wiltshire Police asked him to assess allegations against Edward Heath as part of their Operation Conifer. In particular, he was asked to give his opinion about claims made by someone he called “Lucy X” and her sisters, but there was also cross-over with Carl Beech and the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland. Hoskins was so alarmed by police credulity that he went public – I wrote about this here and here.

The therapists Hoskins refers to in his article are Vicki Paterson and Elly Hanson. He writes:

Newcastle Crown Court heard last week that between February 2012 and October 2016, Beech saw Ms Paterson for 121 sessions and they had exchanged numerous emails. During these sessions, Beech developed his story – I have seen the psychotherapy notes and drawings – and over those four and a half years, he embellished it.

Hoskins delved into Paterson’s method further by attending her practice as a client himself:

Ms Paterson told me that she employed a method called ‘deep stasis’. Although not actually hypnotism, it is close. Lying on her couch, it would be easy to allow fantastical imaginations to run riot.

Hoskins also notes that this “deep stasis” approach was also advocated by a Canadian therapist who had treated “a ringleader among the sisters” (i.e. “Lucy X”, although he doesn’t use the pseudonym in this article) – I discussed this further here.

In Beech’s case, we now know that he undertook internet research that he presented as memories, and that he concocted fake collaborating witnesses via email. Thus his allegations cannot be explained as”false memories“, unlike the case of Carol Felstead. It may be, though, that Beech’s therapy helped him to convince himself of some of his allegations, and gave him the confidence to go as far as he did. Certainly, the therapeutic encounter provided a sympathetic setting in which he could make his claims to professionals, with the notion of “recovered memory” providing a superficially plausible explanation for late disclosure and gradual embellishments.

As Hoskins writes:

As Ms Paterson tells her clients, she works by listening ‘in a non-directive, non-judgmental way understanding your world from your point of view’. The trouble is that unless the counsellor remains discerning, a cunning and manipulative liar such as Beech can make hay.

The police were apparently given a positive assessment of Paterson by Hanson (as discussed here), “a distinguished and influential figure who advises police, the National Crime Agency and the NSPCC”. Hanson was also an adviser on Operation Conifer (as I discussed here), and she was paid to assess two accusers, after which she she joined a supposedly independent panel that was looking into the investigation. As Hoskins also notes,

It was Dr Hanson who declared she wouldn’t have ‘let her children near Ted Heath’ – while adding that she wasn’t presuming his guilt.

Footnote on names

Richard Hoskins went public with his concerns during a period during which he had temporarily transitioned to “Rachel Hoskins”.

Carl Beech was formerly referred to in the media under the name “Nick”, although among activists he was “Carl Survivor” or just “Carl”.

Elly Hanson’s early professional work was published under her maiden name of “Elly Farmer”.