Therapists Warn Against “Anger” aimed at Tom Watson, Police and Carl Beech

Signers include author of “The Satanist Cult of Ted Heath”

In a letter to the Guardian, a group of “therapists, psychologists and counsellors” – with Valerie Sinason as lead author – has a bold rebuke for those appalled at the full story of Operation Midland fiasco, which came out at the trial of “VIP abuse and murder” hoaxer Carl Beech:

Trauma and abuse evoke powerful feelings. As therapists, psychologists and counsellors we are concerned that the extra anger being aimed at Tom Watson MP, the police and Carl Beech is missing adequate reflection. Tom Watson suggested, in parliament in 2012, that evidence from the paedophile Peter Righton’s conviction pointed to a “powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”. This was prior to speaking to Beech, and he was right. National figures such as Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith MP were unmasked as prolific child abusers.

The letter is revisionist, in a number of ways.

First, as the link (presumably inserted by the Guardian editors) shows, Watson made his speech in late October 2012 – this was three weeks after the ITV Exposure documentary about Jimmy Savile. Watson did not “unmask” Savile or Smith, who was also already the subject of allegations.

Second, Watson specifically claimed that

The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring. One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.

Watson could have been clearer about what he meant here, and his placement of “who” in particular creates ambiguity about who was responsible for the alleged smuggling of images. It eventually transpired that the “group” was the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), and that the “member” was Charles Napier. The vague “links to a senior aide” was a reference to Napier’s half-brother, who is 12 years his junior and whose career has always been based in the UK. There is no reason to believe that this half-brother knew about or assisted Napier in any way, and indeed strong positive reasons to reject the idea as false.

When Watson addressed parliament, Napier already had two convictions for child abuse, and he had been denounced in the media as a serial offender (particularly by the journalist Francis Wheen, who had encountered him at school). Watson’s efforts led to new charges and convictions, but given this background it seems that the reason police had failed to act on the Righton evidence was inertia rather than a “cover up”. Along with his previous convictions, Napier was known to have been the treasurer of PIE, so this was low-hanging fruit. For a time he had worked for the British Council in Cairo, and according to 2014 reports he “boasted” about having access to boys. It’s not clear where this leaves the “smuggling” claim – as far as I know, working as a language teacher for the British Council does not make one a diplomat, and Napier’s new convictions did not relate to smuggling images. Perhaps Watson was here conflating Napier with the diplomat Peter Hayman, and Napier’s “boast” about access to boys was garbled into a “boast” about having a half-brother in public life. (1)

Third, the letter to the Guardian ignores the actual reason for criticism of Watson in the wake of Beech’s conviction: namely, his amplification and endorsement of Beech’s claim that Leon Brittan was “as close to evil as any human being could get”. Watson has actually apologised for this.

The letter continues:

The outcry culminated in the then home secretary, Theresa May, announcing an independent inquiry, and the 2014 pressuring on police to be believing – now rescinded. The scenarios Carl Beech describes, and his complex mixture of untreated victim and perpetrator, are familiar. People need to understand “fantasists” and “liars”. To ignore that subject risks not hearing vulnerable children. Children with dissociative identity disorder from trauma, for example, are often accused of being liars when one state of mind is amnesic to what another has said or done. To be wrongly accused is abuse.

The “scenarios Carl Beech describes” were actually extravagant in scope and bizarre in nature. Perhaps they are “familiar” to the the signatories of the letter, but that probably says more about their therapeutic method of eliciting supposed memories than than anything else – in particular, Beech’s constant emphasis on bizarre and exotic forms of sadism ignores the reality of “grooming” and the self-delusion among many child sex offenders that the child they are preying on has given consent and is not suffering harm. Beech’s claims amounted to Satanic Ritual Abuse in all but name, re-purposed for a secular age that has dispensed with the need to imagine mockeries of Christian ritual as the ultimate inversion of virtue and morality.

It is perhaps telling that that the therapists avoid using the phrase “recovered memories”, when this is heavily implied in the terms “dissociative identity disorder” and “amnesic” – any reference to “recovered memories” is likely to raise the question of “false memories“. I explored an example of this here.

It’s also unclear what is meant by Beech as “untreated victim”. We know that Beech’s step-father was violent, and there is reason to suppose that as a conflicted gay teenager or young man he got into some unhappy situations, but this vague formulation appears to imply that at at least some of his claims are true. This is also a straw that the journalist Mark Watts has grasped at.

Finally:

We must provide justice for all, while acknowledging the number of innocent people named is very small compared with the one in 65 survivors who gain justice.

This “one in 65” figure is presumably taken from a recent Guardian report, which states that “only one in 65 rape cases reported to police result in suspects being summonsed or charged, a Guardian analysis of the latest crime figures [for England and Wales] has revealed.” That figure is troubling, although it should be noted that while it represents an overall decline compared to previous years, the figure includes a a larger percentage of cases that were still ongoing at the end of 2018 than was the case the year before, and and a lesser percentage of cases that were dropped over problems with evidence. However, it should be noted that the letter-writers appear to have conflated being charged with being convicted. But how is this relevant to the matter at hand? It is pure “whattaboutery” in the face of the denouement of a discrediting moral panic,

The signatories are as follows – some names may be familiar:

Valerie Sinason, Sue Richardson, Kathryn Livingston, Melanie Goodwin, Rémy Aquarone, Nancy Borrett, Jaclyn Everitt, Andrew Baxter, Penny Johnson, Paula Fenn, Dena Sanger, Ruth Alborough, Kay Luck, Maire Fitzmaurice, Michelle Jowett, Winja Lutz, Sandra Buck, Judy Williams, Lindsay Schofield, Kate Forbes Pitt, Dehra Mitchell, Eimir McGrath, Andrea Aldridge, Liz Hall, Mandy Coghill, Ronete Cohen, Giles Lascelle, Abbie O’Connor, Jane Blackhurst, Cathie Wright, Ruth Leaper, Patricia Bahs, Katia Kohler, Loraine Newbold, Paula Biles, Rainer Kurtz, Judith Marlow, Heather Bacon.

Sinason in particular is well-known for promoting the idea of Satanic Ritual Abuse, while Richardson was Cleveland’s “child abuse consultant” during the “anal dilation” fiasco. Several of the figures are involved with the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). “Rainer Kurtz” here is obviously Rainer Kurz, author of works such as “The Satanist Cult of Ted Heath” and a supporter of the Hampstead Satanic cult hoax. I previously discussed him here.

It is also worth noting who is not associated with the letter: Beech’s own therapist Vicki Paterson and the police adviser Dr Elly Hanson (who spoke at one or more “Wall of Silence” events involving Beech) were either not invited to sign or declined to do so. I discussed their involvement with Beech here.

Footnote

(1) Watson’s intervention also created broader speculation, and when BBC Newsnight ran a piece on abuse at a children’s home in North Wales a few weeks later the floodgates opened – lists of names were bandied around on social media, and one was even presented to Prime Minister David Cameron by the presenter Phillip Schofield on live television, much to Cameron’s irritation. Much of the attention focused on the entirely innocent Lord McAlpine, but despite subsequent mea culpas from many people who ought to have known better, absolutely no lessons were learnt. It proved to be a false start to the panic that followed, rather than a cautionary tale.

One Response

  1. Good piece. There are questions around how Righton escaped with a caution in 1992 and Napier was allowed to work with children after having being convicted, but the link to Number 10 and Westminster was always tenuous at best.

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