Private Eye Runs Articles on Carl Beech, Tabloid Journalism and “Believe the Victim”

The latest issue of Private Eye magazine  (1502, 9-22 August) has a couple of pieces that put the Carl Beech “VIP abuse” hoax into wider contexts.

“Running Aground on the Beech” (page 9) overviews some press coverage, starting with how the initial story appeared in the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People. It is good to see these titles named: for instance, while the Daily Mail has been running polemical articles about the scandal on a daily basis in which it refers to the “now-discredited news website Exaro”, its tabloid rivals are described only vaguely as “a red-top newspaper” – a nice example of “dog doesn’t bite dog” (1).

The piece then goes on to note some examples of press humbug. The Daily Mail‘s current stance is welcome, but the Eye reminds us that in late 2014 the paper’s Guy Adams produced a sensationalising piece that headlined to “the stench of a cover-up by the establishment” and built on the Sunday People reports to include comments from John Mann MP (“who has curiously escaped the denunciations the paper has been meting out to his Labour colleague [Tom] Watson”) and that described old articles in the scurrilous 1990s Scallywag magazine as “intriguing”. The Eye also notes that the paper’s current assistant editor, Simon Walters, previously wrote credulous splashes for the Mail on Sunday about Edward Heath, which is of significance when the Daily Mail quotes Heath’s godson Lincoln Seligman as referring to “some elements of the media” who had run stories traducing Heath despite lack of evidence. The Mail would rather we focus on the “disgraced” Exaro rather than anyone closer to home.

Finally, the article contrasts Nick Ferrari attacking Tom Watson in his column in the Daily Star Sunday with a 2012 editorial in the same paper commending Watson and saluting his “determination to get justice for the victims”.

“A Brief History of Belief” (page 37), meanwhile, looks at how the police investigation was underpinned by instructions during 2013 from Keir Stamer as Director of Public Prosecutions that investigators should “believe the victim”:

Complaining of an “over-cautious” approach to victims, he says: “At the moment there is a great deal of focus on whether the victim is telling the truth… We cannot afford another Savile moment”.

This was followed by interim guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service and the College of Policing advising investigators to focus on the credibility of allegations than possible weaknesses, and then final guidelines from the DPP, described by Stamer as “the biggest shift for a generation”. A year later, and just as Beech was making contact with police, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary further advised in a report on crime-recording that “immediately, forces should ensure that… the presumption that the victim should always be believed is institutionalised”. College of Policing advice has now been softened to the more reasonable principle that “victims can be confident they will be listened to and their crime taken seriously”.

The article also notes criticisms made by the retired High Court judge Richard Henriques, who warned of “miscarriages of justice” and that those making such allegations should be referred to as “complainants” rather than “victims”. It seems we cannot afford another Beech moment.


1. I was reminded of this expression just last night when it was used in the first episode of the mid-1980s journalism drama series Lytton’s Diary, currently being repeated on Talking Pictures TV.

2 Responses

  1. A victim WITH at least some evidence should always be believed, and some evidence must always lead to further investigation. As you know from HMIC “on-going concerns”, there are only two of 43 police forces that are squeaky clean in abuse cases. Too many STILL corrupt (alter medical text, delete documents, lie in writing) to protect institutional reputations, read to stop compensation, as without convictions, councils refuse to recognise the crimes etc. I am dealing with yet another case like this right now. 19,000 documents of police abuse corruption, and authority failures, we are submitting to the international courts right now. International Prosecution of corrupt officials is the only real deterrence. The problem is you only need one bad apple like ‘Nick’ to cast doubts on genuine victims. The key is evidence for statements. I find it incomprehensible that the Met dragged this Nick case out for so long. As Cases Compiler for international courts, with current “Maintained Cases” (ICC) against authority / police corruption to block justice in genuine heavily evidenced cases, I don’t understand how the Met could have been led astray, blind, or perhaps were politically motivated ? It’s a question. Regardless of being believed, any case must have evidence as a starting point. The number of false claims I get is microscopic. Two in many years. Medical evidence defines the genuine. But of the frauditos, it takes us about six weeks to detect these. Any allegation has to be supported by evidence that is testable, and can be corroborated in follow up investigations. Allegations need to have consistency, be supported by trigger evidence, supportive witness statements in writing, further investigation verifies, it’s obvious, isn’t it ? Wild claims getting wilder, with no hard evidence, immediately rings the alarm. Genuine victims have an emotional profile, that Nick did not have in my view. In the videos I have seen him speaking, it struck me, he has a genuine anger, but in a projection off-hand, throw-out in any direction way. As I have argued many times, group trauma psychotherapy not only gets at the truth, but helps the victim as well, to understand projection, symptoms of mental pain, and more.

  2. “John Mann MP (“who has curiously escaped the denunciations the paper has been meting out to his Labour colleague [Tom] Watson”) ”

    I assume they’re being clever. Watson is being targeted because he is the Labour deputy leader. Mann is just an ordinary MP.

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