Staffordshire Police Says Complaint Against VIP Abuse Accuser Esther Baker is “Being Investigated”

From the Daily Mail:

Detectives are investigating claims that a second alleged abuse victim lied about sex attacks by a VIP paedophile ring.

In 2015, Esther Baker said former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming was part of a group which lured children into woodland at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire to be raped.

…Now Staffordshire Police, which spent more than a year investigating the allegations, confirmed they were probing whether Miss Baker, 36, misled detectives.

…In a statement, Staffordshire Police said yesterday: ‘Following a complaint made to officers, the matter is being investigated and the file is currently with Staffordshire Police’s head of crime for review and consideration of next steps.’

It is difficult to tell from this how far along the police are – have Baker’s claims be re-scrutinised, or does this just mean that the force is investigating whether to investigate?

The complainant is the former MP John Hemming, and it is odd that neither the Mail article nor a BBC report refer to the fact that the force had previously considered his complaint in 2017. Their initial view, as reported in September 2017, was that a probe of Baker’s claims “would not benefit her or the wider community” (or, we might infer, the police), and a few months later it was reported that:

Staffordshire Police informed him [Hemming] via email that following a ‘review’ of his allegations, it had decided there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to proceed with the case and no further action would be taken.

Baker has responded dismissively to the new articles, scoffing on Twitter that “Police follow normal procedure and pass file up the chain to decide whether it’s worth passing to CPS before dropping it like last time… 4 years in … they’ve still not felt the need to interview me under caution – unlike some.”

She has also once again suggested that she has information that substantiates her account that is not the public domain:

Meh. I’m actually quite bored … but one day they’ll learn that for every time they try to discredit me with lies – I get irritated enough to post a bit more truth. Stay tuned travellers.

Baker has also in the past referred to Staffordshire Police’s continuing confidence in her as a truthful complainant. This is something to be borne in mind – clearly, constructing a case that officers were “misled” might imply criticism of those officers, and any decision to proceed now (following the high-profile conviction of VIP abuse hoaxer Carl Beech) would raise questions about why Hemming’s complaint was rejected in 2017 and 2018. This is perhaps a systemic conflict-of-interest problem when it comes to perversion of justice allegations.

Alongside her Cannock Chase allegations, Baker also claims to have been taken by night to London, where she was brought to a location that she now believes to have been Dolphin Square, and she has also made teenage “grooming”-type claims. These are claims for which she has waived her legal right to anonymity, although that would not preclude her from making other allegations that cannot be publicly attributed to her.

Baker’s supporters in Parliament include John Mann (who raised her name in the House of Commons chamber), Sarah Champion and Jess Phillips, who defeated Hemming in the 2015 general election.

Hemming settled a libel action against two of Baker’s supporters in January.

A Note on Alan Dershowitz’s Accuser and a Mail on Sunday Journalist

From the Daily Beast, a few days ago:

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz claims an email buried in a mountain of just-unsealed court documents proves that one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers lied when she said she was farmed out for sex with him as a teenager.

The email, dating from May 2011, was from a veteran Mail on Sunday journalist named Sharon Churcher, and it had been sent to Dershowitz’s accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre a couple of months after Guiffre’s story of her time with Epstein had provided the basis for Churcher’s splash “Prince Andrew and the 17-year-old girl his sex offender friend flew to Britain to meet him“. Guiffre was attempting to put together a book, and she had emailed Churcher asking “if you have any information on you from when you and I were doing interviews about the J.E. story”, particularly as regards names of “pedo’s” (sic) “that J.E. sent me to”.

Churcher’s reply:

Don’t forget Alan Dershowitz… J.E.’s buddy and lawyer…good name for your pitch as he repped Claus von Bulow and a movie was made about that case… title was Reversal of Fortune. We all suspect Alan is a pedo and tho no proof of that, you probably met him when he was hanging out with JE.

“You probably met him” indicates that this is a name that Churcher is speculatively proposing, rather than someone Guiffre had herself previously named to her. Even though this is Churcher providing informal advice rather than working on a new story, the implications of a journalist advising a source about whom they might derive benefit from accusing are troubling.

The story continues:

Churcher, who no longer works at the Mail on Sunday, declined to comment.

Similarly, a new longer piece in the Washington Post on Dershowitz’s feud with Guiffre’s lawyer David Boies covers the same ground, and we’re told that

Churcher did not respond to a request for an interview.

However, although Church may be reticent about being part of the story, she’s still writing about the Epstein scandal – such as in the Sun, where she’s proudly bylined as “Sharon Churcher, Journalist who broke the story”.

The released cache also shows that Guiffre, when interviewed in a 2016 deposition, disputed a number of statements attributed to her by Churcher in 2011. As noted by Courthouse News:

The sweeping interview, only 20 pages of which appear in a newly unsealed exhibit, takes Giuffre through a list of statements attributed to her by Mail on Sunday reporter Sharon Churcher.

Asked by an attorney to identify whether any of the Churcher statements were inaccurate, Giuffre put check marks next to about a dozen bombshells, clarifying details such as who saw President Bill Clinton get into a “huge black helicopter” with accused Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell.

…“Donald Trump never flirted with me,” Giuffre said. “Then the next sentence is, ‘He’d laugh and tell Jeffrey, “you’ve got the life.”’ I never said that to her.”

Law & Crime, meanwhile, picks out a few further details:

In the deposition, Giuffre disagreed with reporter Churcher’s reference to herself as a “pedophile’s dream.”

“I said something along the line like . . . ‘the pedos loved me because I would do everything that they wanted for them,'” Giuffre said in the deposition. “But do I think that — yeah, I — I know [Churcher] made that line up herself, the pedos — pedophile’s dream.”

According to Connie Bruck in the New Yorker, Guiffre says that “Churcher showed her pictures of prominent men in Epstein’s circle”, and Giuffre “identified some of those she’d had sex with”. There is no indication that Churcher included any unrelated photos in order to test for false positives.

Guiffre of course did later accuse Dershowitz, and she explains the Churcher email by suggesting that the journalist had simply forgotten this. According to Bruck:

Giuffre told me, “I can’t say what she was thinking, but I think she threw Alan into it forgetting that I had already mentioned him, even informed her of the experiences I had with him.”

***

(Expanded – thanks to Bandini in the comments for the New Yorker link)

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.

Ex-Exaro Journalists Respond to Critics

Much recent critical coverage of Exaro – the controversial news agency that first brought Carl Beech’s “VIP sex abuse and murder” claims to public attention and afterwards uncritically promoted his allegations – has focused on Mark Watts, the “strange and obsessive man” (to quote Matthew Scott) who even after Beech’s conviction for perverting the course of justice on overwhelming evidence is “refusing to apologise, or even to accept that Exaro did anything wrong in promoting Beech” .

However, although Watts appeared in the original 2014 Sunday People splash, in a photo that showed him interviewing Beech (viewed from the rear) on a park bench, the article was written by Mark Conrad and People journalists, and it was Conrad who accompanied Beech when he first made contact with the police about his “VIP” claims (he had previously made a complaint about his dead step-father) after showing him photographs of individuals to see if he recognised anyone.

Conrad and his Exaro colleague David Hencke have over the past few days produced a number of social media posts with details about how Exaro operated. Most of these have been Tweets, published primarily in response to queries and criticisms by Matthew Scott and David Aaronovitch.

The discussion was kicked off by an extraordinary statement from Hencke on his website that he “did not know the true identity of Carl Beech until it was made public”. Beech lost his right to anonymity as a sex abuse accuser in December 2018 – the following month, he pleaded guilty to voyeurism and possessing child abuse images, but when Hencke adds on Twitter that “I don’t think he was named as Carl Beech until the actual trial”, he appears to mean either February 2019, when there was apreliminary hearing, or May 2019, when the trial for perversion of justice and fraud began.

Although Beech’s name could not be reported until December 2018, it was common currency among journalists from at least mid-2015, and after Harvey Proctor’s August 2015 press conference and subsequent reporting in the Daily Mail anyone with an interest could have worked out who he was via jigsaw identification. Yet a journalist at the heart of Exaro was both kept in the dark and remained incurious about their star informant. This was despite co-authoring articles with Watts, and working on various stories with potential cross-overs with Beech’s allegations.

Mark Conrad backs up Hencke’s account:

Absolutely true. David did not work on the Beech case. Two people inside Exaro’s office knew Beech’s identity. When Watts was sacked, that became one. If I’m honest, I think this fact points to many of the problems Exaro created for itself [Link]… By the time Henriques published [here], Exaro had closed for financial reasons – so David and I never sat down to discuss Beech’s case in full journalistic/legal detail [Link]… David knew better not to ask. He asked some v.useful Qs about his background, claims, history etc and we discussed aspects of the case in general terms. But during Midland we were under strict instruction not to discuss names, so we upheld that [Link].

Hencke adds:
That’s absolutely true. Mark C was the soul of discretion on it and Mark Watts refused to discuss with any reporter any csa case the reporter was not working on [Link]. 

Conrad further explains:

…In addition, there were parts of the Exaro investigations that none of us – with the exception of Watts – knew about. For me, that was a huge problem…[Link].

On alleged hit and run, yes, we found no evidence that it had taken place following archive searches, door-to-door, public records. But that didn’t rule it out (or in) 100%. When police got involved, we slowed other investigative lines of inquiry to give them clean shot at it [Link].

That last point is significant – this lack of evidence was also discovered by BBC Panorama. At the time, I assumed that Exaro had been negligent in not making the same checks – but now Conrad is saying that in fact they had looked into the matter. So why weren’t readers told about the outcome of their efforts? The only explanation is that their findings would have undermined Beech’s account – it might not “rule it out 100%” (a truism, given the difficulties of proving a negative), but why not let readers draw their own conclusions? Exaro’s vicious attacks on Panorama in October 2015 now look even more like they were made in bad faith – they already knew there was reason to doubt Beech’s account.

Much of the online discussion has become rancorous, with Conrad accusing David Aaronovitch of “foaming at the mouth” and Hencke suggesting that Matthew has a “one track mind on child sex abuse” (an unsavoury hint). Perhaps unwisely, Hencke then turned to one of the more vicious online conspiracy mongers for confirmation that Beech’s name was indeed obscure before it was made public. Inevitably, the ex-Exaro journalists also take refuge in the fact that there is more to it than outsiders will know: “We had other issues to contend with which are none of your business” (Hencke) and “You see, what’s in the public domain is a mere fraction of what went on/was going on” (Conrad).

Aaronovitch has reason to be aggrieved – he was named in articles impugning the integrity of critics, and although Conrad says “I have never drafted a single piece of copy with your name in it” that is not the case with Hencke (e.g. here).

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.

Footnote

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.

Carl Beech: Metropolitan Police’s 2015 Search Warrant Application Published

Application referred to counsellor’s belief in Beech’s claims

Yesterday, the Daily Mail published “key passages” from the Metropolitan Police’s 2015 application for a warrant to search the properties of three individuals accused by the “VIP paedophile ring” hoaxer Carl Beech. The document is currently at the centre of a national controversy, following retired High Court judge Richard Henriques’s view – expressed by him in an article for the paper – that the application was misleading and that therefore the police had broken the law.

However, the text was presented online as a graphic, and so I have provided a transcript below. First though, some notes:

1. The Mail lists various reasons why the raids should not have occurred. Police had looked into Beech’s background and found “no evidence of physical abuse, injury or proof that he been absent from school as he had alleged”; they had accounted for all boys named Scott from his primary school, and none had been killed in a hit-and-run, as Beech alleged; police apparently already suspended that Beech had used email to create a false corroborative witness named “Fred”; and his account was not consistent with a complaint he had made to Wiltshire Police in 2012, or with accounts he had posted online.

2. The text could have been written more clearly. In particular, the sentence “Enquiries made relating to the victim find nothing to suggest any links to those that he accuses, suggesting his allegations are malicious” means the opposite to what was presumably intended, which was that there was no (apparent) reason for him to have made a malicious allegation (we now know, of course, that Proctor was chosen because he had been involved in a sex scandal; Brittan was named based on old malicious rumours; and Bramall was targeted as an extension of Beech’s grudge against his late step-father, who had been a military man). Such ambiguity in a document put before a judge is concerning.

3. The application relies on the subjective opinion of counsellors: “Prior to police involvement these allegations were detailed to an independent counsellor by the victim who also supports his account as being credible. At the request of police a qualified consultant Dr Elly Hanson was asked to give an opinion if the counsellor was able to make an accurate judgement of the victim’s credibility.” The Mail describes this as “passing the buck”, and suggests that the importance of the counsellors was “overstated”. It is also worth noting how responsibility here is made diffuse. The police rely on their consultant rather than on Beech’s counsellor, but the consultant assesses the counsellor rather than Beech himself (although Hanson and Beech later appeared together at public events). Who, then, is accountable for getting it wrong? (The methods of Beech’s counsellor were recently discussed by Richard Hoskins, as I noted here.)

4. The application form’s guidance notes state that the applicant “must inform the court if there is anything else that might influence the court’s decision to issue a warrant. This may include whether there is any unusual feature of the investigation”. The Mail here points out that the whole case was “unusual”, but it could have gone further – surely, the most “unusual” feature of the case was Beech’s claim that former Prime Minister Edward Heath was involved? I think we can be confident that the Mail would have mentioned it if Heath’s name appears in some part of the application that it has not published; his absence suggests to me that police wanted to tone down Beech’s most extravagant claims.

5. Judge Riddle, in his decision approving the application, writes that “I am satisfied that the police are fully aware of the sensitivities and the need for a proportionate approach without press involvement”. Yet as soon as Proctor’s home was raided the matter reached the media very quickly. The Daily Mail – devoid of its current campaigning scepticismran a splash declaring that “Harvey Proctor will be first of many to be investigated, says campaigning Labour MP”, and referring to “a list of politicians passed to police by campaigning Labour MP John Mann” (1).

Mann’s list seems to have been a red herring as regards the reason for the raid (although from what the Mail has published we can’t know what the application said about Proctor and Brittan – only the section on Bramall is provided), but while it is doubtful that he would still want to take credit for it nobody is pressing him on the point. We also now know that the police created a spectacle when they arrived at Lord Bramall’s house, including a number of officers dining at the local village pub.

Footnote

1. That 2015 headline is slightly odd, in that the full version is “VIP abuse police raid home of shamed Tory: Veteran Harvey Proctor will be first of many to be investigated, says campaigning Labour MP”. Why is Proctor described as a “veteran”? Veteran of what? He had been out of public life for nearly three decades at this point. Was this perhaps an early reference to Lord Bramall, which was excised from the published version but one word left in by mistake?

***

APPLICATION FOR SEARCH WARRANT
(Criminal Procedure Rules, rule 6.30; Section 8, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984)

Application to: District Judge Howard Riddle at Westminster Magistrates Cout
This is an application by: DS Eric Sword, Westminster Court

1. The offence(s) under investigation The victim in this matter has been interviewed at length by experienced officers from the child abuse investigative team. His account has remained consistent and he is felt to be a credible witness who is telling the truth.

Enquiries made relating to the victim find nothing to suggest any links to those that he accuses, suggesting his allegations are malicious. The victim is not known to police.

Prior to police involvement these allegations were detailed to an independent counsellor by the victim who also supports his account as being credible. At the request of police a qualified consultant Dr Elly Hanson was asked to give an opinion if the counsellor was able to make an accurate judgement of the victim’s credibility. Dr Hanson (sic) views were that the counsellor was able to make an accurate judgement of the victim’s credibility.

2. The investigation The victim contacted police in late 2014 detailing allegations of serious sexual assault. He stated that he had been present when three separate males had been murdered by his group of abusers. He states this abuse was often carried out when he was in the company of other boys of a similar age who were also abused.

He states that from the age of 7 until he was 16 he was subject to regular sexual assaults by persons introduced to him by his stepfather, a major in the British Army.

He named various high-profile individuals as his abusers and those that are subject to these applications are Lord Edwin Bramall, Lord Leon Brittan (recently deceased) and Keith Harvey Proctor. The victim alleges that he was present at the scene of three murders and he names Harvey Proctor as being involved in two of these offences and Leon Brittan as being present during one of them.

Lord Edwin Bramall
Between 1975-1984 it is alleged that he abused the victim on numerous occasions, including sexual assault, buggery, and torture. This included the victim being tied up, beaten and burned with a lighter by his group of abusers.

The alleged offences involving Bramall are to have been committed in the following locations: unknown residential premises in Wiltshire Army barracks in Wilton, Wiltshire (Erskine), Imber Military training village in Salisbury, Army barracks in Bicester – other unknown military establishments. He is also alleged to have been present at pool parties where boys were abused – believed to be the Dolphin Square complex in Pimlico.

[…]

3. Material sought. What are you looking for?
Documents, journals or records detailing action by named individuals in relation to the abuse of the victim or others. Still images of the victim or any other child of an indecent nature.

[…]

8. Duty of disclosure Is there anything of which you are aware that might reasonably be considered capable of undermining any of the grounds of this application or which for some other reasons might affect the court’s decision? Include anything that reasonably might call into question the credibility of information you have received and explain why you have decided that that information still can be relied upon.

(ANSWER IN A BOX) N/A

[…]

9. Declaration
To the best of my knowledge and belief:

a) This application discloses all the information that is material to what the court must decide, including anything that might reasonably be considered capable of undermining any of the grounds of the application and

b) The content of this application is true

Signed: DS Eric Sword Date: 27/2/15 Time 11.30

10. Authorisation

Authorising officer’s name: Alison Hepworth (DI)
Date: 27/2/15 Time: 13.00

[…]

Decision

The applicant satisfied me about his or her entitlement to make application.

The applicant confirmed on oath or affirmation the declaration in box 9.

I am satisfied that the police are fully aware of the sensitivities and the need for a proportionate approach without press involvement. This has been considered at DAC level. I am satisfied the access material (sic) are met and have been properly considered.

I am satisfied that interference with the private life of the parties is justified, necessary and proportionate.

Name: HCP Riddle Date: 2 March 2015 Time: 12 noon.

[…]

NOTES FOR GUIDANCE

11. Information that might undermine the grounds of the application

Information that might undermine any of the grounds of the application must be included in the application, or the court’s authority for the search may be ineffective.

The applicant must inform the court if there is anything else that might influence the court’s decision to issue a warrant. This may include whether there is any unusual feature of the investigation or of any potential prosecution.

Daily Mail Keeps Pressure on Metropolitan Police After Judge’s “Perversion of Justice” Allegation

From the Daily Mail, 29 July 2019:

‘Nick’ police searches broke the law: Bombshell as judge behind inquiry reveals ‘perversion of justice’ and says officers got search warrants using false evidence but his findings were ignored by police watchdog

Police broke the law in the bungled probe into VIP child abuse fantasist Nick, a former High Court judge says today.

Sir Richard Henriques said officers used false evidence to obtain search warrants to raid the homes of retired Armed Forces chief Lord Bramall, the widow of ex-Home Secretary Lord Brittan and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor and should now face a criminal investigation.

In an astonishing intervention, he tells the Daily Mail that Scotland Yard detectives did not have the right to search the properties because their description of Nick – real name Carl Beech – as a ‘consistent’ witness was false, effectively fooling a judge into granting the warrants.

Richard Henriques previously wrote a report that was critical of the police in the wake of “Operation Midland“, which was based on Beech’s allegations. Beech has now been convicted of fraud and perversion of justice.

Henriques’s article follows further down the page. He writes:

…numerous inconsistencies were within the knowledge of those officers leading the investigation. A document highlighting Beech’s ‘inconsistencies’ was in existence prior to the application for search warrants. The Wiltshire interviews had been handed to the Metropolitan Police in May 2013.

….there was compelling evidence that Beech had never been injured in the manner he had asserted, that he had never been absent from home as alleged, nor removed from school as alleged, there was no evidence that any one of the three children allegedly murdered had in fact been murdered, and no corroboration of any single allegation not withstanding a public request for information made on December 18, 2014.

…It is significant a comparatively junior officer – a detective sergeant with limited knowledge of the investigation and with no knowledge of the content of the Wiltshire interviews (having chosen not to read a summary provided to him) – was detailed or required to sign the three applications and to apply in person to the district judge.

Indeed, the detective sergeant told the IOPC that he was unaware of the inconsistencies in Beech’s accounts and had not read the Wiltshire interviews.

The senior investigating officer, however, attended before the district judge and had herself reviewed the written applications.

She had access to the Wiltshire interviews and to the document highlighting Beech’s several inconsistencies.

This is worse than I had imagined: I always thought it had been remiss of the police to ask for warrants without having checked on Beech’s background – but it now transpires that at least some checks had in fact been made, but their implications ignored. The Metropolitan Police’s Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald had previously described Beech as “credible and true”, and it is reasonable to suppose that the raids were a fishing expedition that the force hoped would extricate them from the hole they had dug themselves into.

The new intervention from Richard Henriques was written up in the Mail by Stephen Wright, who also provided “The top officers in the firing line: Cleared of blame, detectives now face fresh call for criminal investigation” on the same day.

Since then, the Mail has published a dozen or so articles to keep up the pressure, mostly by Wright but with some assistance from others, primarily Jack Doyle and Glen Keogh. These include (dates refer to uploads rather than printed editions):

30 July

Pictured: Moment the heavy mob moved in on Leon Brittan’s home – as victims of VIP abuse fantasist demand full force of law be turned on ‘Nick’ police after judge’s bombshell intervention

The ten questions that HAVE to be answered by officers in ‘VIP paedophiles’ case

Harvey Proctor demands independent probe into ALL of Labour deputy Tom Watson’s dealings with Scotland Yard over Carl Beech sex ring lies after judge says police broke the law to secure search warrants

31 July

Home Secretary to call in head of police watchdog: £175,000 boss faces grilling over decision to clear Met officers of misconduct.

(the “watchdog” here is the Independent Office for Police Conduct [IOPC], which cleared the officers in its earlier incarnation as the Independent Police Complaints Commission [IPCC]. I looked at the findings here)

Former Scotland Yard chief Lord Stevens calls on Met Police to release full report into the bungled probe over false VIP paedophile ring claims

1 August

Former CPS boss Lord Macdonald calls for Met Police to release unredacted version of report into Scotland Yard’s ‘VIP paedophile ring’ probe

 3 August

I want answers from ‘Nick’ police, says Priti: Home Secretary demands full explanation as to why police cleared three officers over the bungled VIP sex abuse inquiry

4 August

Former head of Met Police’s paedophile squad Paul Settle calls for criminal inquiry into Scotland Yard’s bungled probe into VIP child abuse fantasist ‘Nick’

(more on Settle here)

5 August

Revealed: Damning document ‘Nick’ police used for authorisation of raid on VIP’s home to investigate fantasist’s claims was riddled with FALSEHOODS

So who was to blame for breaking law over the warrant to raid VIP’s home following allegations from fantasist ‘Nick’?

Warrant for disgrace: In shocking detail, the shameful document police submitted to authorise raid that ruined life of war hero Lord Bramall

6 August

Watchdog’s lead investigator into ‘VIP paedophiles’ was only a few years out of university

***

As well as the above, Daily Mail hatchet man Guy Adams was also tasked with producing an attack article about Bernard Hogan-Howe, who was the head of the Metropolitan Police at the time of Operation Midland, although his discovery that Hogan-Howe enjoys a comfortable retirement with a generous pension and private sector consultancies was hardly a revelation. However, his “senior police officer is well paid” angle did inspire a similar piece about Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse in the Sunday Times.

The Mail has also today published a leader, titled “Something Rotten in Met“:

These were not the misguided acts of a few inexperienced junior officers but the systematic violation of that most basic of rights — the one protecting law-abiding householders from the arbitrary invasion of their homes by agents of the state.

This outrage was sanctioned in the highest reaches of the Met and carried out by detectives displaying a cavalier and contemptuous attitude towards due process.

Operation Midland was a rogue investigation fuelled by an insane Met policy demanding that alleged victims of sexual abuse should not only be listened to seriously but automatically believed… All at the behest of Beech, a grandstanding Walter Mitty whose account of devilish sex parties involving Establishment figures torturing and murdering boys would strain the credulity of a sceptical layman, never mind the seasoned detectives of Scotland Yard…

Similar commentary has appeared in other papers, and there have been a few references to Operation Elveden, which targeted journalists for paying officials for information. The Tom Watson angle has also received particular attention, although the exclusive focus here could be broadened at bit. In particular, when Proctor’s home was raided in 2015, the Daily Mail at the time referred not to Watson but to “a list of politicians passed to police by campaigning Labour MP John Mann”, and the headline announced that “Harvey Proctor will be first of many to be investigated, says campaigning Labour MP”. (1)

Footnote

1. That 2015 headline is slightly odd, in that the full version is “VIP abuse police raid home of shamed Tory: Veteran Harvey Proctor will be first of many to be investigated, says campaigning Labour MP”. Why is Proctor described as a “veteran”? Veteran of what? He had been out of public life for nearly three decades at this point. Was this perhaps an early reference to Lord Bramall, which was excised from the published version but one word left in by mistake?

Maggie Oliver Appears on Richie Allen Show Conspiracy Podcast

A blurb for a recent episode of the Richie Allen Show:

Richie is joined by former Detective Chief Constable [sic – should be “Detective Constable”] Maggie Oliver and former barrister and immigration judge Michael Shrimpton. Former detective Maggie Oliver joins Richie to chat about her outstanding memoir “Survivors – Fighting For Justice.” When detective Maggie Oliver first discovered that children as young as 10 were being groomed, abused and trafficked for sex by gangs of men in the Rochdale area, she felt like a lonely voice calling for people to act. Banging on closed doors, it seemed that nobody was able or willing to help her save these vulnerable girls, but she couldn’t just sit back while countless lives were being destroyed forever in plain sight. Instead, she launched a one-woman campaign to bring down these sickening gangs. It’s a heart-breaking and shocking story of how the actions of one determined detective secured convictions in what is now one of the most notorious grooming cases in the UK.

A convicted paedophile has been found guilty of making false allegations of murder and child sexual abuse against a string of public figures. Carl Beech, 51, from Gloucester, was found guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud. His lies led to a £2m Metropolitan Police investigation which ended in no arrests or charges being made. Former barrister and intelligence expert Michael Shrimpton tells Richie why he believes Car Beech was a “put up job” meaning, that he is a smokescreen being used to protect real VIP pedophiles.

There has been a flurry of news reports about Oliver in recent weeks, due both to her memoir and the recent creation of her Maggie Oliver Foundation. Her public stock is high – she is not just a household name and respected public figure but a “national treasure”, recently described in the Daily Mail as “the real angel of the north”.

So why is she lending her time and her credibility to Richie Allen, the host of a conspiracy podcast whose guests have included anti-vaccine activist Andrew Wakefield, Sabine McNeill (since imprisoned over her role in the Hampstead Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax, in which she targeted innocent parents), Liz Crokin (who used her appearance to denounce “rampant” Jewish paedophilia) and the far-right activist Mark Collett (who was invited on “to talk about the EU Parliamentary election results”)? Allen believes in all-powerful “Rothschild Zionists” as an explanation for developments in world affairs (a concept I previously discussed here), and one episode of his show comes with the title “The Rothschilds and Their Subsidiaries Own Literally Everything On Planet Earth”. Marlon Solomon has noted that Allen chose 27 January, which is Holocaust Memorial Day, to invite the Holocaust denier Nicholas Kollerstrom onto his programme.

Perhaps Oliver takes the view that she should accept any interview request that comes along to promote her book and her cause, but Allen is going to get far more out of this than she will, and the effect is to mainstream poisonous conspiracy thinking. Pairing her on the show with the absurd Michael Shrimpton (who, incidentally, has a recent conviction for possessing indecent images of boys) adds to the degradation of her work. There is nothing in the Carl Beech case that suddenly makes more sense if a “put up job” is posited, and this convergence between concerns about “grooming gangs” and “VIP abuse rings” conspiracy mongering may yet take society into new and even darker territory, despite Beech’s conviction (I discussed how the conspiracy milieu reacted to the verdict here).

Oliver has referred to her appearance on the show via a Re-Tweet of one Richard Willett, whose Brick in the Wall Media company is making a documentary about her and apparently provides video services for her foundation. It seems likely that Willett facilitated her appearance – Willett was himself recently a Richie Allen guest, and someone else he has made a documentary about (Alex Smith, aka the hypnotist Jonathan Royle) was on just yesterday. Willett is a self-described conspiracy theorist, and he also has his own podcast, called Glitch in the Code. A recent guest was Henry Makow, author of Illuminati: The Cult that Hijacked the World (“Masonic and Jewish bankers who finagled a monopoly over government credit”). On Twitter, Willett claims that Apple and Google apps contain Masonic and occult symbolism; he also argues that the US presidency is a “puppet of the banking families… Rothschild zionism”, and that JFK was shot because he resisted this.

This is not the first time I have raised concerns about Oliver’s association with the conspiracy fringe – last summer she was filmed by Anna Brees expressing her enthusiasm for Jon Wedger. This hasn’t been any obvious interaction in recent months, and I had hoped that she had thought better of being linked with someone who promotes wild Satanic Ritual Abuse allegations.

Excurcus: Maggie Oliver and the tabloids

Oliver’s recent timeline also shows a willingness to promote tabloid talking-points without much reflection. For example, the Sun recently mocked up a cover of Vogue to feature Oliver and some other women in public life, as a rebuke to the choices made by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex for her guest editorship of the magazine. Oliver promoted this, and the Sun‘s blurb appears pinned on her timeline as if in her own words: “Meghan Markle put leftie pals on Vogue cover, here’s who she should have picked instead”.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Mirror has returned to its Telford campaign, which I previously discussed here. A new report claims that in 2010 the Conservative-run council at Telford had turned down a grant from “the Daphne project [= the Daphne II Funding Programme], a European initiative aimed at combating violence against women and children”, over supplemental costs that the council would have had to provide. The paper claims that accepting the grant would have saved “hundreds” of girls in the town, and it includes the detail:

Others feared the council was scared to upset minority groups, as a large number of perpetrators came from the Pakistani heritage community.

We don’t know who these “others” are, and the phrase “the council was scared to upset minority groups, as a large number of perpetrators came from the Pakistani heritage community” was presented to Oliver by a user on Twitter as if this has been positively established as the reason why the grant was declined. Oliver took this at face value, RTing the partial quote and declaring “Political correctness has a lot to answer for. What happened to the law of the land?” This willingness to shoot from the hip with a damning judgement before the facts have been established is likely to have been noted by various bad actors.

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.

After the Conviction: Some Carl Beech Media Clippings

Numerous articles, comment pieces and “long reads” have appeared in the wake of the conviction of the “VIP sex abuse” hoaxer Carl Beech. In the years ahead, I expect there will be books and perhaps even dramatisations. Here are just a few items that I have found of particular interest.

The Many Lies of Carl Beech“, by Matthew Scott in Quillette. Matthew was perhaps the first person to publicly urge caution with Beech’s allegations, in a piece he wrote back in November 2014, so this is article is something of a vindication. Matthew overviews Beech’s story and notes how he was promoted by various politicians and sections of the media.

Carl Beech – The Plausibility of Liars and the Paucity of Proof“, also by Matthew Scott and published in the Guardian. He writes:

There are wider, and rather uncomfortable, lessons for the criminal justice system as a whole. Criminal trials depend on the premise that magistrates and jurors can safely spot liars. Yet it is often impossible to tell whether someone is telling the truth simply by listening to them. Those, such as top detectives and investigative journalists, who might seem likely to be well practised in spotting liars can be taken in just as easily as anyone else.

R v Beech: Into A Heart of Darkness” is an insightful piece by Barbara Hewson based primarily on her observations of the trial. The piece, published on her blog, includes a character assessment:

It is fair to describe [Beech] as a person displaying psychopathic traits: in particular grandiosity, lack of remorse, and glibness…. Carl Beech later claimed that he deliberately stopped his mother having a relationship with anyone else, by acting up and misbehaving. Whilst to a degree this is understandable [due to his former step-father’s violence], one is left with a disturbing picture of a manipulative son who could dominate his mother’s life, to the extent of denying her a satisfactory relationship with a new partner. Beech’s career as a life-wrecker had begun.

…How did Beech’s fantasies of brutal assaults begin to germinate? In his “achieving best evidence” (ABE) recorded interviews with the police, a possible alternative “backstory” seemed to lurk, involving a deeply conflicted gay man, unable to admit his orientation to his deeply religious mother (who subsequently became a vicar), who may have been picked up by strangers for casual sex during his teens, and who may even have experienced serious and humiliating assaults.

Like Matthew, Barbara saw through Beech early on, and her “#ToxicNick” Twitter hashtag (referring to the “Nick” pseudonym Beech hid behind) was not universally appreciated.

Carl Beech: He Didn’t Do It Alone“, by Simon Warr and published on his blog. Like Barbara, Simon attended some of the trial. His post considers in turn the “you will be believed” context, the involvement of various politicians and social media activists, and how institutions that Beech was involved with professionally – the NHS, the Quality Care Commission, the NSPCC and NAPAC – may have been compromised. On this last point, Simon calls for an inquiry, given Beech’s access to children over several years during which he was accessing child abuse images and fantasising about children being abused and murdered.

Simon has also been in contact with some of those who in turn were in contact with Beech:

 He made contact with those who claimed to have had experience of childhood sexual abuse. In some cases, he even misappropriated excerpts from the real life testimony of genuine victims in order to bolster his own fabricated tales… Several people who had been genuinely sexually abused also began to suspect that Beech might be a fraud. I’ve had communications from some individuals who’ve told me how they found him creepy and disturbing. They say that they tried to warn others about Beech at a time when he was being supported – even lionised – by others within the wider support community for abuse victims. However, their warnings seem to have gone unheeded and Beech became increasingly vocal with his extravagant allegations of sex, torture and murder. 

One of those whose account was stolen by Beech was that of Andi Lavery, as discussed in the Telegraph last week.

Abuse of Office“, by Alistair Jackson in the Tortoise. Jackson was the producer of the 2015 episode of the BBC Panorama news series “The VIP Paedophile Ring: What’s the Truth?“, which did much to expose the inadequacies of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland and the broader Operation Fairbank that preceded and ran alongside it. In his article, Jackson ponders the question “Why did anyone ever believe Carl Beech?” and he explores how the case demonstrates “the often-unhealthy relationship between the police, the press and politicians in the UK”:

The notion of Britain’s establishment protecting a VIP paedophile ring has been a kind of journalistic Holy Grail for decades. Early in their careers, investigative reporters are told tales of dark events at places like Elm Guest House and Dolphin Square. Knowledge of these stories, and an interest in pursuing them, was part of what some of the investigative crowd felt marked them out from run-of-the-mill news reporters. These locations, whispered about for years, were to become the centre of two police investigations, thanks largely to the efforts of a news organisation few people had ever heard of, Exaro News.

While on the political angle:

At the point when he met Carl Beech, Watson was one of the most powerful, crusading politicians in the country. He told me that his uncovering of the phone-hacking scandal had made it easier for him to believe police forces could suppress evidence of serious crime. And this time it wasn’t only the police who were in the frame for allegedly turning a blind eye to, or covering up, evidence of a paedophile ring; senior Conservatives were there too. The prospect of political gain would have done nothing to make Carl Beech’s story less attractive to Tom Watson.

If Watson had earned a reputation as a crusader, other MPs represented a separate, more nihilistic strand of political thought. After phone-hacking and the scandal of MPs expenses, a belief seemed to have taken root in some quarters that the establishment was capable of anything…

Here, Jackson names the MPs Zac Goldsmith and John Mann, who are also discussed in Simon’s blog; unlike Simon, though, he overlooks the involvement of the absurd former MP Simon Danczuk – this perhaps reflects Danczuk’s welcome retreat from celebrity politician to obscurity.

Conspiracy Theorist“, also by Jackson and focusing on Watson. Watson received regular briefings about the progress of the two police investigations, and Jackson writes that this “highly unusual” arrangement “had been signed off at the highest level” (1). As regards Elm Guest House, he writes:

Our source says the briefing given to Tom Watson made clear that the picture which was emerging was far less sensational than had been suggested. None of the claims of abuse involving prominent people or trafficking of children were standing up to scrutiny (although two managers at a nearby children’s home were eventually prosecuted for child abuse as a result of Fairbank’s work).

He also refers to Watson’s letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions about a separate allegation against the late Leon Brittain – this relates to the case of “Jane”, and I discussed the letter here. Jackson has further provided an item for the Mail on Sunday, headlined “Police Tried to Block TV Show that Told the Truth: BBC Panorama Producer Says all it Took to Expose Carl Beech’s Lurid Fantasy was a Single Phone Call“.

Times Letters: Political Opportunism and Carl Beech on Trial“. The Times published three letters on the subject on the day after Beech’s conviction. One is by Lord Macdonald, who was formerly Director of Public Prosecutions, in which he decries “strident political rhetoric” that has led to “demonising suspects”. He also argues that a “lesson” of the case

is that politicians should never use criminal justice, still less particular investigations, as a way of inserting themselves into a news cycle. This case, and the pain it has caused to so many innocents, is a tragic example of where such opportunism inevitably leads.

A number of articles refer to particular aspects of the case. As I noted yesterday, Richard Hoskins has written a piece criticising the involvement of psychotherapists, while the Telegraph has now reported “distress and anger in security circles” about the way allegations made by Beech against former head of MI5 Sir Michael Hanley and of MI6 Sir Maurice Oldfield were accepted. There is also an interesting Daily Mail spread in which Beech’s ex-wife Dawn Beech tells her story.

Meanwhile, Harvey Proctor has revealed that the Metropolitan Police are contesting his case against the force, and intend to pursue ruinous costs should they win; and Lord Bramall – in an interview piece with Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times (paywalled, but there is a derivative piece in the Mail on Sunday) has reiterated his claim from 2016 that Met Chief Constable Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe had told him

“We knew almost at once that none of these appalling things applied to you – but we could not stop making you a suspect or take you out of the investigation for another 10 months because we, the Metropolitan police, would have been accused of not investigating properly and giving people in high places preferential treatment.”

Bramall describes this as “perverting the course of justice”.

The ins-and-outs of Beech’s social media activities – and the online support he received from various parties – are documented on Simon Just’s Spin vs Truth blog. Simon appears to have an extensive archive of relevant social media ephemera.

Footnote

(1) While Watson’s briefings were indeed “highly unusual”, they are not the only instance of this irregularity – in particular, the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen was provided access to Wiltshire Police’s Operation Conifer investigation into Edward Heath, of which Bridgen was an enthusiastic supporter. This enthusiasm, and willingness to brief on behalf of Chief Constable Mike Veale in the media, seems to have been sufficient for Bridgen to have been designated a “stakeholder”.