A Note on Carl Beech and the Psychotherapists

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.

Paterson eventually sought advice from Dr Elly Hanson, and from this time the “non-judgmental” approach expanded from being a counselling methodology into forming the basis for public campaigning:

They became friends and set up a charity exhibition called The Wall Of Silence, which displayed child abuse survivors’ pictures, stories, poems and mementoes. It was backed by Tom Watson and Beech shared a platform with Dr Hanson, speaking straight after her.

Hoskins describes Hanson as “a distinguished and influential figure who advises police, the National Crime Agency and the NSPCC”. As such, her public endorsement of Beech would have been one more reason for the police to treat Beech uncritically – indeed, she was helping to make him into something of a figurehead for the cause of “historic abuse”, despite his official anonymity. The Wall of Silence exhibition blurb made special reference to “powerful people” supposedly being involved in child sex abuse, thus promoting the “VIP” conspiracy theory

Hanson was also an adviser on Operation Conifer, as I discussed here. 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.

But how could she not be presuming his guilt when she was giving presentations alongside a man who accusing him?

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”.

11 Responses

  1. “Carl Beech was formerly referred to in the media under the name “Nick”…”

    But only after having first appeared as ‘Stephen’ (if we discount earlier postings of poetry/stories relating to his alleged abuse under the name of, er, ‘Carl’).

    From judge’s sentencing remarks:

    “You convinced the counsellor you engaged that you were genuine and used her as something of a buffer in your dealings with the police, who you tested by adding to and embellishing the detail of your allegations. No doubt you were encouraged by their apparent willingness, at that time, to accept the truthfulness of your accounts… The vast majority of your false disclosures about names and places were the product of careful research, largely on the internet.”

    If anything, Beech seems to have used the counsellor as a sounding-board – or rehearsal opportunity – prior to trying it on with others. (Elly Hanson’s involvement is more problematic.)

    Hoskins goes on to say: “As for the psychotherapy industry, its cavalier approach to truth has ruined lives, traduced reputations and damaged criminal investigations. One result of this fiasco must be the obligatory accreditation of professionals.”

    I’d certainly agree with this.

  2. David Hencke, ex-The Guardian and ex-Tribune, was surely crusing for a bruising on November 27, 2014, when he identified half the fantasists in one short blogpost:
    “Today I got praised by Zac Goldsmith MP for the work Exaro and I have been doing on investigating child sex abuse and helping to press for an overarching inquiry into the issue.
    “But I could not have done this without the help from survivors,contacts and MPs who have passed vital information allowing me to investigate this scandal in the first place.
    “Also this is a team effort. Exaro colleagues like Mark Conrad have uncovered amazing leads and Mark Watts, editor of Exaro, has fearlessly put this whole investigation together.
    “There is much more to be done, much more to be exposed, but it is great to get some recognition from MPs like Zac.
    “I can assure everybody that Zac Goldsmith, Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk are very concerned to get to the real truth behind such a disturbing scandal that has remained hidden for decades. No one is going to be silenced very easily.”
    Quite.

  3. The information re the wall of silence exhibition is incorrect. Shame the Daily Mail has printed it as if it’s true but anyway, to put the record straight….
    Whilst the idea of an exhibition to raise awareness of CSA came in the first instance from Carl, it was created and curated by Mike Peirce CEO of the charity The Southmead Project. Mike then asked Elly Hanson to speak at one of the events. Carl spoke a few words after her (hidden from view into a microphone). That’s more or less the most he’d ever actually been involved in any of the WOS events which toured around a few counties ( from memory Dorset, Northampton, Wales, Somerset, London & Avon). Conferences were held with the exhibition and many people learnt about the dynamics of CSA from professionals & survivors. In essence, it was a really good exhibition BUT sadly with its link to Carl at its conception, (unlike the song,)
    “one bad apple really DID spoil the whole lot”
    . I knew Carl in his professional capacity over many years & made a judgement call as to his authenticity based on that knowledge of him. I was fully taken in by him & I’m angry and sad and very very sorry to have done so.

    • You did far more than make a “judgement call” based on “professional capacity” – you flatly disputed the factually correct statements made by, for example, Beech’s former wife.

      You also falsely stated that he had not received compensation. (He has now been convicted for fraudulently receiving the payment you claimed had never been made.)

      And you did much more besides. If you’re going to apologise, best make it a sincere one! Regarding Peirce & the Wos:

      “He [Mike Peirce] said: ”Carl Beech introduced the online concept of raising awareness of child abuse. I saw all his work on social media where victims were commemorated, and I thought it was a beautiful idea and he was flooded with messages.
      It’s from then we linked up. But I wanted to take it further and thought how can we create a physical exhibition that we could move around the country from place to place,” Peirce added.

      Admitting they had met several times, and contacted each other regularly via email, now having up to 300 on file…”

      https://web.archive.org/web/20190723215326/https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/southmead-project-carl-beech-bristol-3125637

      This does not chime with your attempt to, as you say, “put the record straight”. By the way, were you ever present when Beech met any journalists?

    • Where did you first meet him? (which NHS Trust)
      And in what year did you first meet him?
      At which other NHS Trusts did you encounter him?
      You said he was a good friend, whom you had known for decades. Why has this now changed to you only knew him in a professional capacity?

      Carl was also at the London invite-only Wall of Silence event too, yes? With Mark Conrad glued to his side.

      He displayed available slots for the exhibition on his blog, asking interested parties to contact HIM, not Southmead.

      Why continue with your lies Sue?
      You’re fooling nobody but yourself.

      • Am I the only one that finds the entire concept of an exhibition featuring photos of missing, murdered and abused kids highly dodgy?

  4. As a qualified psychologist, the only kind of ‘psychotherapy’ that is valid for me, is group trauma psychotherapy. The group does the work, the conductor stops any scapegoating, makes links for the group, and gives psychological insight, but the group allows no member to tell lies. It is too proactive a process over time, for any deceptions, so anything on an individual basis, particularly anything involving deep relaxation or the first steps of hypnosis, potentially open to suggestion, cannot be relied on for criminal evidence. Hypnosis (lightly done) does have value if done correctly for regressing access to memories, I have used it myself on people who have lost access to memory . You present an object related to the memory-lost event, ask the person how they feel, then with permission to tape-record the session, use deep muscular relaxation, then the first two phases of “Steps”, and ask questions, based on what the person can tell you. You NEVER suggest anything, as in a deeply relaxed state, memories can be messed up, or conditioning can take place. What you do is just repeat back the fragments they have been able to tell you, and ask how they feel. This opens doors in memory access, and a picture of the lost memory is built. You cannot safely use this method for criminal evidence, unless for example, they are just trying to remember what a suspect was wearing at the time of attack, for example. So it is essential to record such sessions, so the result can be empirically peer reviewed and criticised. In my professional view only group trauma psychotherapy over time can reveal profound truth. In this discipline there is no hypnosis, nor similar. The principle is totally different. But at the end of the day, for a judicial process it is documentary evidence that is key.

    • “…I have used it myself on people who have lost access to memory . You present an object related to the memory-lost event…”

      How could you as psychotherapist know what ‘object’ might be related to a ‘lost’ memory?

      • I beg your pardon ? An object supplied by the person trying to remember significance !! If, for example, a person who has been found unconscious, and does not remember what happened, I accompany the person to the place he / she was found, and ask questions about how they feel about objects in the immediate environment. Obviously no memory processing occurs after unconsciousness, but the immediate area may provide triggers to e.g. fear responses, leading up to the event, that can provide access to stored visual cortex memory. People do not normally ‘lose’ memories, what happens is trauma can block access to them. Does this answer your question ? As I have already said, no suggestion should be given. This must be victim supplied. Memories cross our 6 second filters, when they are perceived personally important , and this early processing often uses hormonal activity. Things that are not perceived as personally important, are filtered out and not processed in 6 seconds in the visual field and 3 seconds in the acoustic field.

        At the end of the day for criminal judicially-valid expressions of experience, group trauma psychotherapy is the safest source, for the reasons I explained yesterday. However documented evidence is the most valuable.

  5. I should define what I mean by group trauma psychotherapy. These sessions , sometimes weekly held over years, are held in a hospital environment, where the members are carefully checked to ensure they do not know each other from previous experience. Such a group is like have 15 “mirrors” of experience of violent abuse trauma, and the objective is that victim members discover why they have the symptoms of depression they have. If someone is not consistent in what they relate, or say things without apparent sense for the group, other members will be quick to challenge the speaker. It is a dynamic process, and truth is what makes the learning process work for all the members. It is not an easy process and can be very painful, but therapeutically can be life-changing in perception. (it does not change personality, the opposite, it releases people from depression to be who they are)

    Regards,

    Lindsay Fraser

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