A Note on Carl Beech, Peter Saunders and NAPAC

In 2016, David Aaronovitch wrote about the climate in which the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse came into being; his account includes a detail from July 2014:

Peter Saunders, the founder of NAPAC (an organisation to support adult survivors of child abuse) told the Iranian-owned Press TV station that he had received allegations of abuse “at the highest level of government”. He went on: “Some of the men in Westminster indulged in the most disgusting abuse of young children . . . allegedly

. . . When you have good reason to believe that it goes to the top of the political tree then it’s very worrying. Past prime ministers, past senior members of the British cabinet, have been mentioned as abusing children. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”

Press TV, of course, has its own interests in promoting the idea that British institutions are utterly corrupt and depraved – Iran’s line is that “compared to Western countries, we have very few cases of abuse because of our cultural and religious characteristics”, and Press TV has not troubled to report allegations that well-connected individuals in the country can evade justice for exactly this crime. Saunders’s decision to allow himself to be used by an authoritarian regime’s propaganda outlet is a matter for his own conscience, but I would have advised against it.

The interview can be viewed on Press TV’s YouTube channel – it begins by giving the date as “9-7-2014”, and the upload date confirms that this means 9 July 2014. This date is perhaps significant, as noted by Simon Just: The Telegraph‘s recent long-lead about the Carl Beech hoax has the following detail:

The meeting between Beech and [Tom] Watson was set up for July 8th 2014. Mr [Mark] Conrad and a social worker Peter McKelvie, who was a member of a victims’ panel with the national child abuse inquiry, accompanied Beech.

Conrad was with Exaro News, and he invested heavily in Beech’s claims (I wrote about Conrad yesterday, and McKelvie a while back). Beech’s allegations did not become public until a few months later, but was there coordination between Saunders and the others here? As Simon notes, Exaro’s Mark Watts formerly had a show on Press TV – it was a while before, but contacts may have been retained.

We know that Beech had some involvement with NAPAC – in October 2012, the NAPAC newsletter ran a poem by him, which was published under his own full name (a pdf of the issue was online for long time, but has disappeared in last couple of weeks). The poem alleged sadistic sex abuse, but there was no indication of “VIPs” or murder, which later became central to his allegations (and at which point he decided he wanted to exercise his legal right to anonymity).

Saunders more recently has been active in Australia. A recent column by Gerard Henderson in the Weekend Australian has some observations:

[Saunders] will be familiar to Australians who followed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for historical child sexual abuse. Saunders has appeared on 60 Minutes and ABC TV’S 7.30 to discuss the Pell case. He got wide publicity for describing Pell, who he has never met, as a “sociopath”.

It turns out that Saunders ­assisted Beech in advancing his claims against [Edward] Heath, [Leon] Brittan and the like. In October 2015, Saunders appeared on a BBC Panorama program and described Beech as “entirely credible”. In short, ­Saunders was convinced that Beech was telling the truth.

Not any more. On July 23, Saunders was quoted in The Guardian as describing Beech as “a fantasist and a liar” who is a “one-off”. But he provided no evidence to support the implication of his claim that there are no other such types around.

Also, Saunders provided no ­explanation, still less an apology, for being conned by Beech.

The Panorama progamme highlighted various difficulties with Beech’s claims – Saunders’ decision to appear in the documentary to put the other side was in contrast to Mark Watts, who declined to participate on the grounds that the programme-makers lacked objectivity, and that the BBC couldn’t be neutral because it had formerly employed Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall. (1)

The Henderson column is also quoted in a recent Holy Smoke Podcast, in which Damian Thompson interviews my friend Catherine Lafferty, a journalist who attended some of Beech’s trial. The podcast ranges over NAPAC’s promotion of “checklists”, which remind Thompson of older evangelical anti-Satanic Ritual Abuse indicators; the possible role of displaced anger against the Establishment caused by “economic trauma” after the Great Recession; the “frightening” way that “liberal rationalism can be abandoned so quickly”, with pressure to believe rather than evaluate evidence; the police’s desire to be seen as celebrities in a social media age; and how “the language of therapy culture” guided the disastrous investigation into Beech’s claims.

Catherine also notes that those accused “were not fashionable people”, and “there was a sense in which people wanted to believe the worst about their ideological opponents, and so they fell on these stories with glee”. This has also been the case with Cardinal Pell – reasonable doubts about a very weak case appear to have been left to commentators on the right, such as Andrew Bolt (discussed here).

Footnote

1. Henderson goes on to discuss last’s years ABC Media Watch critique of a 2015 60 Minutes documentary that was based on Beech’s claims and those of some other “VIP abuse accusers” – I discussed this here.

12 Responses

  1. Well, there was certainly coordination between NAPAC, Beech & the producers of the TV programme in which both Beech & Saunders first (?) appeared!

    Beech claimed in court the interview was probably ‘early 2013’ and came about through a NAPAC interested “especially [in] males”. Watts claimed that (in court) it had been stated that the interview was broadcast in 2012 – an error on someone’s part, presumably.

    Certainly in September 2013 NAPAC was working with that production company on the programme.

    I’ve had a bit of to and fro with that company; latterly they’ve suggested a willingness to answer my questions about the gestation of programme & NAPAC’s involvement, etcetera – but that they would wish to do this face to face.

    A round trip of over five thousand kilometres when there are others close by (including ‘professional journalists’)?

    That programme – broadcast in 2014 – also included Savile-nephew Guy Marsden’s ficticious claims of ‘sex parties’ where boys would be picked up from train stations – ring a bell? – and taken to locations where those “higher up” would later arrive to abuse those children – such as “Jimmy Savile and a vicar”.

    Marsden later claimed that Heath had been involved – as ‘revealed’ by Exaro.

    I dispute that, as many claim, there were no VIPs in that programme (other than Savile); Beech’s claims of powerful men, risk of children vanishing, being picked up from school, sadistic violence, etc., is clearly the same story that was fleshed out later with the addition of names, etc.

    I wish somebody would take this seriously – somebody a little closer to Manchester than I…

  2. Richard, there is a minor problem with this article. Beech’s claims were made public first [as “Nick”] on 12th July 2014. This is why the date of Saunders’ involvement with Press TV is crucial, it’s in that 4 day gap between the Watson etc meeting with Beech and Exaro publishing.

    It also suggests that Saunders was being fed by (highly likely) McKelvie or Watson or Conrad for him to have made such claims prior to the publication on Exaro. And why was he appearing on a channel which was at the time BANNED in the UK and removed from European satellite distribution anyway?

    Saunders also was the person who appeared from NAPAC in the same documentary in 2014 on “Crimes That Shook Britain” in the Savile episode.

    A documentary which at the end was promoting NAPAC “if you have been disturbed by this programme” etc. NAPAC were in September 2013 advertising on their website for the same programme makers and it was that which Beech allegedly responded to. In other words, NAPAC were facilitating Beech to the programme makers. NAPAC also had a business interest in the programme as a result, they could claim that they were getting more referrals etc even if they didn’t.

    Saunders’ personal involvement was unwise in the extreme and that of Paul Connew of Exaro News panel infamy in that documentary is most disturbing with hindsight and especially now we know that Beech’s own allegations against Savile [which Bandini has rightly challenged Hencke and Conrad and Watts over the omission of those claims] were total bunkum.

    Oh and lest we all forget, it was MWT’s Exposure programme which “inspired” Beech initially to go to the police. One does wonder why MWT is so keen now to be seen as distancing himself from Beech… especially when he was actively encouraging Beech over Wall of Silence etc.

    One does wonder what the likes of the Daily Mail will do when they start to join all of the dots together with the various players behind the scenes of Carl Beech because he certainly wasn’t acting alone.

    • Regarding the omission of Beech’s Savile allegations from Exaro’s output – and that of others including Tom Symonds BBC interview in November 2014 – it’s perhaps worth noting that when Panorama finally made public the link to CTSB in October 2015 Saunders still stood by Beech’s claims.

      This would suggest that Saunders had known of the Savile claims all along – hardly surprising having appeared in the programme along with Beech – thereby adding his name to the list of those who seem to have ‘forgotten’ to mention it – in the PressTV interview, for example.

      In that same PressTV interview Saunders states that while NAPAC operate a confidential service any information about criminality would be passed to the police; in a very recent interview he suggested that some emails may have been passed to the police in, he thought, 2017.

      From the court case we saw that the police themselves appeared to have been surprised to discover Beech’s appearance in CTSB – a matter over which they challenged him 13th March 2015. Only the last of Beech’s five ABE interviews on 27th April 2015 took place after this ‘bombshell revelation’…

      • Yes quite Bandini re Panorama. Around the same time as Watts was slagging off Daniel Foggo too for supposedly living at some stage in his childhood on the same street as Peter Morrison IIRC.

        The issue with the Savile allegations is that the NSPCC first put Beech in touch with Yewtree, Yewtree passed him onto Wiltshire but at some point Yewtree can’t have recorded the contact with Beech. Not least because it would appear it wasn’t on any records under his name at the Met.

        One thing all of this does raise an issue over is the cross referencing capabilities between differing police forces. Complainant details are not being routinely recorded and made available across the different forces it appears, otherwise Beech’s Wiltshire case would’ve been blindingly obvious to Op Midland up front not months later.

        The significance of the 13th March 2015 date, of course, is that it is after the raids on homes took place and Beech then probably felt safer (from his lying pov) safer disclosing the Wiltshire case to the Met. But the Met shouldn’t have just been reliant upon what he was saying in so many ways.

        Saunders clearly knew about Beech from a very early stage. How much he knew and when he knew what is perhaps the important bit now.

      • We were told that NSPCC “encouraged him [Beech] to contact ‘Operation Yewtree’” by Mark Watts, but I’m not sure we’re really certain of exactly what happened; there was quite a bit of mis-reporting & even the prosecution at times seemed to be a bit confused by dates and whatnot – for example around the transmission of CTSB.

        It was said that Beech first contacted NSPCC but they were jointly penning the ‘Giving Victims A Voice’ Yewtree report with the Met so not 100% sure that he didn’t just call the Yewtree hotline to be answered by NSPCC! Er, or by NAPAC (see below).

        And although Yewtree may have directed Beech towards Wiltshire for their ‘investigation’ it was the Met (with NSPCC) running the show and who “collated all the allegations against Savile, irrespective of where the offences took place.”

        I’m getting a bit confused here myself but basically the Met should have had the info prior to Wiltshire so could have cross-referenced Beech with themselves without needing the other force!

        Perhaps a lot of the mess could be attributed to Yewtree being erroneously described as an ‘investigation’ (with the media’s total blessing) when in reality it was a rubber-stamp exercise handled largely by a charity assigning ‘crimes’ to a dead man. I may be wrong but I imagine Yewtree & real police work were kept far apart for the most part.

        (I have an ongoing FoI with Met re GVAV and it’ll be interesting to see if Beech appears as the sole Wiltshire complainant.)

        Re Beech feeling safe to disclose the CTSB thing after raids had taken place, I think it’s more a case of ‘no one had asked him up to this point & he hadn’t thought to mention it’. Would he have mentioned it if asked prior to the searches? We’ll never know.

        One last thing: although the GVAV/Yewtree thing was ostensibly a Met/NSPCC production, there were others involved:

        “Co-ordination has been extensive and police have been working in partnership with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).”

      • Yes you’re right Bandini re NSPCC and Yewtree helpline. However, even they should’ve been recording contact details.

        To be fair to Watts too Beech did actually say on his blogs he was passed from NSPCC to Met initially but take that with a pinch of salt.

        NSPCC and Met were a little too quick with that report too. 3 months from initial Yewtree kick off to a joint report… now that is very, very suspect imo.

  3. Richard;

    ‘We know that Beech had some involvement with NAPAC – in October 2012, the NAPAC newsletter ran a poem by him, which was published under his own full name (a pdf of the issue was online for long time, but has disappeared in last couple of weeks).’

    Shortly after the SAFF pinpointed it and promoted its existence on Twitter!

    Here it is in full:

    http://saff.nfshost.com/napaccarlbeechpoem.pdf
    see page3.

    The influence of the SAFF has been omnipresent over the past 30 years in countering false claims of Satanic and Historic Abuse. It would be nice if people acknowledged it from time to time.

    John Freedom

    • Hey John.
      The efforts of SAFF in cataloguing all this stuff are appreciated by many! I think sometimes things are copied & pasted from one place to another and the original source/discoverer gets lost along the way.

      Just to be clear: is this an original, unedited copy of the NAPAC newsletter in which Beech used his full name?

      • Hi Bandini,

        Thanks for your kind words. I’m sure we all very much appreciate your own contributions to this and other threads.

        Yes, the pdf was taken, exactly as it stands, from the NAPAC website as soon as we spotted it on 26 July 2019. SAFF have made no changes or amendments or comments, it is pristine. Beech’s poem is on page 3.

        Note well that this issue of NAPAC magazine is dated October 2012. According to trial notes Beech first contacted Yewtree on 19th of October.

        Based on the fact that monthly magazines are usually prepared the month previous to publication it may be that NAPAC had contact with Beech long before his story became a cause celebre and therefore they need to answer serious questions as to what kind of contact that was, considering that NAPAC has promoted DID/MPD therapy to survivors in the past.

        John

      • Cheers John.
        I knew his poetry had been published in 2012 but missed the fact it was under his full / real name rather than Carl Survivor – duh! Thanks for confirmation.

  4. Just keep reading. My research has been fascinating. I was recently in Rome.

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