Tim Tate

Author, Film-Maker & Investigative Journalist

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The Truth Shall Make You Free Fret

HELPING WITH INQUIRIES …

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Oscar Wilde

 

Last weekend I submitted detailed written evidence to the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The Inquiry was set up in July 2014 by then Home Secretary, Theresa May, to examine alleged failings by government departments, police forces, churches and other relevant organisations in the protection of children from sexual abuse.

 

The 37 pages of evidence which I submitted detailed my personal knowledge of historic failures by the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office to assign sufficient importance (and thus resources) to information concerning known British paedophiles.

 

It also raised serious questions about the integrity of the Home Office’s commitment to a full and open understanding of the historic (and, indeed, current) problems of organised paedophilia and the allied trade in child pornography. It concluded with a series of suggestions for the Inquiry to follow-up.

 

Last night the Chair of the IICSA, Dame Lowell Goddard QC, resigned. She is the third Inquiry head to leave the post in the two years of its existence.

 

To adapt Lady Bracknell’s withering remark: ‘To lose one Chair may be regarded as misfortune; to lose a second smacks of incompetence. To lose a third – in the absence of any evidence to the contrary – suggests that there remains a serious problem in the government department responsible for the Inquiry’ . That department is the Home Office.

 

Because of this – and because it is unclear how (or whether) Lowell Goddard’s resignation will affect the IICSA’s progress – I am publishing below the evidence I submitted last weekend[1].

 

It is a long read. It names names and asks serious questions. I can only hope that whoever takes over from Lowell Goddard follows up the evidence and the questions I put forward.

Submission to the IICSA - redacted version

 

 

[1] Only two pieces of information have been redacted. One is the website where my 1987 documentary film on child pornography may be viewed: the reason for this redaction are the (post 1987) laws on data protection. The second is the name of an investigator assigned by the Home Office examine allegations concerning its relationship with PIE. The version of my submission sent to the IICSA was unredacted and contains this information.

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A PETARD HOISTED

Appropriately, given the persistent grumbling of this blog, I have been (correctly) taken to task for my own inaccuracy.

 

The reference to Exaro shareholder “Tom Pendry” in the previous post (“Exeunt Exaro”) was, as Mr Pendry has pointed out, wrong: his name is actually Tim Pendry.

 

My apologies to Mr Pendry and to readers.    A petard of my own making, on which I have been hoisted fair and square

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EXEUNT EXARO

The demise of the investigative website Exaro (tweeted by its former “Editor In Chief”, Mark Watts) is not a cause for celebration.

 

I have been deeply critical of Mr. Watts, and of Exaro’s wildly inaccurate – and profoundly irresponsible – claims of VIP paedophile rings.   For two years Exaro energetically promoted sensational allegations that some of Britain’s senior politicians and military officers took part in the sadistic sexual abuse and murder of children.  Those allegations derived primarily from interviews with three alleged abuse survivors.   Exaro adduced no independent evidence for the claims, nor did the survivors’ accounts corroborate each other.

 

Despite this, Exaro – and specifically Mr. Watts – consistently promoted these single-sourced allegations as facts. Exaro marketed its “witnesses” to a succession of newspaper articles and television programmes. Mr. Watts himself gave numerous interviews in which he pronounced the allegations to be “undoubtedly the biggest political scandal in post-war Britain”.

 

More seriously still, Exaro pressured the Metropolitan Police into setting up extensive and expensive major investigations into the claims.   Exaro’s own accounts – published on its website – boasted of having “helped” or “sparked” these enquiries.

 

Those police investigations ended earlier this year. They found no evidence whatsoever to corroborate the allegations made by Exaro’s witnesses. Two of these men subsequently claimed (publicly) that Exaro had either pressured them into identifying alleged abusers or had distorted their accounts.

 

By any standard of genuine journalism, Exaro behaved with gross irresponsibility. To use an analogy (coined by a US Supreme Court judge as the limit of free speech), it ran into a crowded theatre and shouted “fire” – without ever checking whether there really was one.

 

I and others concerned about the detrimental effect of this dangerous behaviour on the investigation of genuine child sex abuse – both current and historic – repeatedly asked Mark Watts to provide either justification or corroboration for his claims (Blog posts passim: “Six Questions for Exaro” etc). His response to such enquiries was to suggest that we were spies and police stooges, or to refuse to answer questions because Exaro was “too busy holding power to account”.

 

The Metropolitan Police has instituted an internal enquiry, led by a former judge, into the major investigations which Exaro’s claims gave birth to. Meanwhile, the Goddard Enquiry slowly continues its government-ordered work into the way child sexual abuse was handled historically.

 

Mr. Watts should be summoned to give evidence to both – and under oath in Goddard’s case at least.

 

It is every journalist’s job (though rarely performed today) to “hold power to account”. But this is not a one-way street: journalists also exercise power and all of us who practice this trade must be held to account for the way we use it. Mr. Watts may proclaim himself (in tweets today) to be the victim of “an act of vandalism” by Exaro’s shareholders. But, as a previous blog post on here pointed out, power without responsibility is no more than the prerogative of the harlot.

 

Despite all of this, Exaro’s demise is no cause for celebration.   Its original mission – to create a new forum for public interest investigative journalism – is as valid today as it was then. The need for good, forensically careful investigative journalism is – if anything – greater now than ever before: certainly the former powerhouses which broadcast vital enquiries into matters of genuine public interest – ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC – have largely abandoned this responsibility.

 

One of Exaro’s founders, Tom Pendry, today blogged that he hoped (against any real hope) that someone would pick up the ruins (created – though he did not explicitly say so – by Mr. Watts and his irresponsibility) and resurrect the platform. I share both that hope and Mr. Pendry’s sad scepticism.

 

And so, I come not to bury Exaro, but to praise its original aims and ambitions and to mourn the loss of a noble idea.

 

And should Mark Watts – now presumably free of pressures on his time – choose to provide the answers previously (and repeatedly) sought from him, I will be only too happy to post them here.

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AN ANTIDOTE FOR ANTI-JOURNALISM

“Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story”

Mark Twain (allegedly)[1]

 

The months of July and August are, by journalistic tradition, the silly season: the time when Parliament goes on its long summer holiday, and newspapers and television focus on whatever nonsense is the year’s version of skateboarding ducks.   This year is very different. This past fortnight has, by any standard, been an extraordinary one for news. Unfortunately, it has also been a lousy one for journalism.

 

Twain’s (alleged) aphorism has been worn as a metaphorical a badge of, er, honour by journalists for as long as I have been in the trade (38 years). It has been used to convey an image of a business which is happy to indulge in gentle self-mockery.

 

But Twain (or whoever really coined the phrase) was speaking in an age long before 24 hour rolling news, Twitter, Facebook and the obsession that being first with a story is more important than being accurate. Today, more effort is expended on the delivery of “instant news” than on checking the facts. Result: never let the facts get in the way of a rolling story.

 

A couple of choice examples, from a depressingly crowded field.

 

Exhibit One: “Brickgate”[2]. On July 12, the day after Angela Eagle announced that she would challenge Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the Labour Party, a brick was thrown through the window of her constituency office.

 

Within hours, the conclusion being explicitly drawn was that this was an attack by sinister “Corbynistas”, bent on intimidating anyone who dared to oppose the Labour leader.

 

The Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop tweeted: Angela Eagle’s office window bricked. Barriers erected outside Labour HQ in prep for intimidation of NEC by demonstrators. Labour under Corbyn”. While in the Commons, Speaker of the House John Bercow warned: “If people think they are going to get their way by violence, threats and intimidation, they will soon find themselves wrong.”

 

This line was then taken up by journalists as further evidence for their oft-repeated line that Corbyn’s supporters are out of control, and that he is either unable or unwilling to control them. The Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges (Twitter handle: @DPJHodges) tweeted, for example: How many bricks were thrown through windows at the start of the Tory leadership contest. How many death and rape threats were issued.”

 

And yet the facts are that no message – political or otherwise – was attached to the brick by the thrower, no-one has claimed responsibility for chucking it and the police have yet to identify any potential suspect, much less establish a motive. At the moment there is simply absolutely no evidence that this was anything other than petty vandalism.

 

Exhibit Two: “Tridentgate”. On Tuesday, the House of Commons voted by a substantial majority to renew Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.   For anyone who cares about good (for which read: “real”) journalism – let alone about the need for Britain to have nuclear weapons – there were two depressing aspects to the reporting of this.

 

The first was Theresa May’s pronouncement that more than ever before Britain faced “extreme threats” which made Trident (and its replacement) vital weapons in the country’s armoury.

 

There was one, simple question which needed to be asked of Ms. May: ‘Could you please identify – by name – any one of these threats which might be deterred by the fear of a nuclear weapons response ?’.  Not a single journalist put this question to the Prime Minister (or indeed anyone voting for Trident renewal). The claim was simply reported, unchecked and unexamined.   And yet the fact is that none of the threats which Britain genuinely faces can be addressed with nuclear weapons.

 

How do we know this ? Because that’s what some of the country’s most senior retired generals have explicitly stated.   In 2009, the former head of the armed forces, Field Marshall Lord Bramall (backed by several other equally experienced officers) wrote to a letter to The Times explaining that:

 

“Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism …Our independent deterrent has become ­virtually irrelevant, except in the context of domestic politics.”

 

The second depressing aspect of the reporting of the Trident debate was the description of Labour MPs voting for renewal as a “rebellion” or a “mutiny” against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

 

Since Corbyn had explicitly given Labour MPs a free vote – to follow, as he did, their own consciences rather than obey a party line – it is simply impossible for this to be a rebellion or a mutiny. And yet this is how almost every mainstream news outlet reported it: the facts were not allowed to get in the way of the story.

 

This is not journalism – or at last, not as I know it. Instead of careful, responsible fact-checking it is the mis-informing – by omission or commission – of the public. How does this happen ? It’s time to talk about “the top line”.

 

The contents of news broadcasts and newspapers for any given day are decided in regular news conferences within each organisation. Here stories are pitched, discussed and either given the go-ahead or rejected. Talk (privately) to any  journalist involved in this process and before long he, or she, will talk about “the top line”.  This is, in essence, the existing narrative and how any proposed new story fits into that. So, for example, the “top line” about Corbyn’s supporters is that they are out of control and, at times, abusive. Any new story has to fit within those established parameters: if it doesn’t, it most likely will not get a green light.

 

But the factual accuracy of the existing narrative itself is never questioned, and the evidence for it is never assessed. In this way it becomes unchallenged and unchallengeable – even when it is simply wrong.

 

This is not strictly a new phenomenon. It was, for example, the driving factor behind the utterly incorrect public perception of the Cleveland Child Abuse Crisis in 1988 [my documentary about this can be viewed on the films pages of this website]. But rolling news ‘reporting’, and the perceived need to be first, has turned what was once an occasional aberration into the most dominant factor in today’s bad journalism. It no longer matters whether a statement or a comment is factually correct.  It is enough that it has been made: as such it ‘must’ be reported.

 

There is a solution to this – an antidote to this anti-journalism. Most obviously it involves closing down the BBC’s rolling news output – television, radio and Twitter. The BBC’s isn’t the only such operation, of course: but it is the most widely consumed and thus the most influential. The money saved could usefully be spent on real journalism.

 

But just as importantly, all news organisations need to embark on a major re-think of their output. Look at any newspaper and the line between fact and opinion has been almost completely eroded. News stories are light on fact and heavy on comment.

 

Broadcasters have followed this trend by instituting live ‘chats’ with their specialist editors and correspondents. At Westminster, Laura Kuenssberg for the BBC or Robert Peston for ITV are routinely asked to give their opinions on the top line of a political story, rather than reporting the facts. Outside the Parliamentary bubble, reporters on location are now habitually asked for their “sense” of what “the mood” of those involved in or affected by the story. No facts are ever invoked and, as often as not, this “sense of the mood” has been decided on not by the reporter on the ground but by the news conference in London. The correspondent on location is simply told to tell the viewers what the unseen editors back at base have decided.

 

(Lest anyone doubt this, I have witnessed it at first hand. While making two independent investigative films for Sky News in 2005 and 2006, I saw the channel’s Washington DC bureau chief repeatedly receive e-mails from London giving him – chapter and verse – the contents of his supposedly first person ‘reports’ on events in the United States. He dutifully ‘reported’ these from the top of the bureau building in what was cheerily known as ‘rooftop journalism’. In truth it was no more than the promulgation of established narratives – the top lines – made to appear as if it was genuine reporting.)

 

This matters. It matters because journalists have a duty both to present to the public factually accurate information, and to hold up to serious scrutiny the lies which those who rule this country – whether in Parliament or in business – try to get away with.   Once both of these duties were the norm. Today they are the exceptions rather than the rule. And the public is being deceived.

As Mark Twain also wrote: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed”.

 

Allegedly.

 

[1] Appropriately for this post on accurate reporting, there is no reliable evidence for the popular belief that Twain ever said this.

[2] In today’s infantilized media landscape, every controversy must be tagged with the suffix “–gate”. Readers of this blog are warned that it may contain heavy irony.

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THE PORK PIE PAEDOPHILE AND THE FAILURE OF POLICING

On July 1, a founding member of the forerunner of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) was jailed for a total of 24 years. Douglas Slade’s crimes – sexual assaults against young boys – dated back 50 years.

 

Amid the chaotic fall-out of Brexit and the meltdown of politics, Slade’s conviction attracted little attention. But for anyone who cares about how well this country protects children from the attentions of paedophiles – and for those few people still interested in the debate about historic sex offences – the case has much to reveal.

 

In the 1960s Slade had helped found Paedophile Action Liberation (PAL) which later became PIE. He also ran a telephone ‘helpline’ for fellow paedophiles, advising them that ‘If you want to have sex with children don’t bottle it up – do it.’

 

It was a motto that Slade lived by himself. The court in Bristol this summer heard evidence that between 1976 and 1978 he committed 13 sexual offences against five different victims. The youngest was 10 years old.

 

In 1985 Slade was exposed by a tabloid newspaper which dubbed him ‘The Vilest Man In Britain’. He fled to the Philippines and became part of an international expat community which sexually abused young children. He became infamous as the ‘pork pie paedophile’.

 

In 1995 I produced a documentary film for ITV – Defender of The Children  – about these paedophiles and their young victims. It featured the tireless work of Father Shay Cullen, a very brave Catholic priest, to expose these men; but it also showed how easily they were able to escape justice.   (Clips from it are shown below; the full film can be viewed on the films page of this website.)

 

Slade was one of them. I filmed him (openly) during a court appearance for sexually abusing young boys – and then covertly as he explained how he planned to buy his way out of trouble. This section of the film can be viewed here:

 

 

Slade was never successfully prosecuted in the Philippines for abusing children. The reason was not just his ability to buy off the victims, but the chronic shortage of resources available to the government in Manila.   As my film showed (below) it had routinely taken the cheapest option of deporting foreign paedophiles when they were caught with children. We identified several British abusers who had been kicked out in preceding years.

 

 

Each of those men posed a very real danger to children both abroad and in the UK. But whilst the USA and many European countries had enacted laws which allowed them to prosecute their citizens for abuse committed in other countries, Britain refused (then) to countenance such legislation. Worse still, although details of all the British paedophiles thrown out of the Philippines had been passed to the then leading police agency – the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) – it did nothing with the evidence. The clip of our film in which the government minister and head of NCIS try to justify this shameful inaction can be viewed here:

 

 

Two years after our film was broadcast, the government gave into pressure from campaigners and enacted legislation which gave English courts the power to try British citizens for sexual offences committed abroad. But since then it has been used in only a handful of cases.

 

In 2014 Slade was extradited from the Philippines to face the historic charges of sexually abusing British children in the 1970s. His conviction and jailing this month – and the comfort this has brought to his victims here – should be sufficient answer to those who argue that historic child abuse prosecutions are somehow immoral or unjust.

 

But no effort has been made to charge Douglas Slade with the vastly greater number of offences he committed in the Philippines.   Shay Cullen and prosecutors in both Manila and Angeles City have ample evidence of his very serious crimes against children there. Perhaps, as the head of NCIS implied in the clip above, the National Crime Agency (successor to NCIS) simply hasn’t asked its Philippine counterparts for the evidence.

 

That is a continuing disgrace – and one which exposes our historic and continuing indifference to child sexual abuse.  The Goddard Enquiry has been given detailed evidence of the failures of British policing in the Slade case (and of many others like him).  It needs to summon and demand explanations from those like former Home Office minister (now Tory Peer, Baron Blencathra) David Maclean, who helped block the much needed legislation , and NCIS managers like former Chief Inspector Bryan Drew who ignored the evidence offered to them.

 

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FOUR (REPEATED) QUESTIONS FOR EXARO NEWS

The announcement today that Operation Midland has ceased to investigate sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Proctor – the sole remaining living person accused by the complainant known as “Nick” – once again raises questions about the role of Exaro News.

Exaro – and in particular its grandly-titled “Editor-in-Chief”, Mark Watts – has breathlessly proclaimed its “vitally important” role in the establishment of Operation Midland.

Six weeks ago I asked Exaro to answer six questions about its allegations and actions.   It declined to answer any of them.  (Both questions and non-response were published on this blog, below).

Now, following Harvey Proctor’s call for both Exaro and “Nick” to be prosecuted for “seeking to pervert the course of justice”, I have offered Mark Watts another chance to respond to the four questions concerning Exaro’s self-proclaimed role in Operation Midland.

Any answer received will, of course, be posted here.

 The Questions

  1. You have claimed credit for the Metropolitan Police launching “Operation Midland”.

QUOTE:   Under its wide-ranging ‘Operation Fairbank’, the Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit is investigating activities at Dolphin Square, the complex near Parliament where many MPs have their London flats. The Met’s move was sparked by a report on Exaro in July of two separate witnesses’ accounts of child sex abuse at Dolphin Square more than three decades ago.

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5393/met-starts-investigation-into-child-sex-abuse-at-dolphin-square

Could you please state:-

  • What independent efforts you made to establish a factual basis for allegations made by the complainant known as “Nick” ?
  • What independent efforts you made to establish a factual basis for allegations made by the complainant known as “Darren” ?

 

  1. You have stated that your original report on the Dolphin Square allegations contained only “what had been corroborated”.

QUOTE:    We called one of these witnesses “Nick”. He had met Mark [Conrad] two months earlier, and his claims went far further than we reported. We limited our report to what had been corroborated.

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5655/analysis-why-police-continue-to-investigate-claims-by-nick

Could you please state:-

  • Exactly which allegations you corroborated ?
  • How you corroborated these allegations

 

  1. You have stated that an Exaro reporter provided to the Metropolitan Police Service a signed statement identifying a property in Pimlico as the key to “the dark secrets of a group of VIP paedophiles”.

QUOTE:  Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s “Operation Midland” are investigating whether the Pimlico property – identified to them by Exaro – will help unlock the dark secrets of a group of VIP paedophiles. … Just over a week ago our reporter signed a formal statement for police in connection with the property.

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5514/police-see-pimlico-property-as-key-to-paedophile-murder-case

Could you please state:-

  • Whether this “identification” came from a claim from one complainant or more than one complainant ?
  • Whether you recorded this “identification” on audio or video ?
  • In the event that more than one complainant “identified” the property, what steps you took to ensure there was no cross-contamination between these claims ?

 

  1. Your “Editor in Chief”, Mark Watts, stated on Russia today that the VIP child sexual abuse allegations reported by Exaro were “undoubtedly the biggest political scandal in post-war Britain”.

QUOTE:  Speaking on Galloway’s programme on Russia Today, Sputnik, Watts said: “This is, undoubtedly, the biggest political scandal in post-war Britain”

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5605/mark-watts-tells-rt-s-sputnik-about-britain-s-biggest-scandal

Could you please state:-

  • Whether Exaro News has unequivocal proof of the abuse and murder allegations it reported ?
  • Whether Mr Watts and Exaro News believe even unproven allegations amount to “undoubtedly the biggest political scandal in post-war Britain” ?

 

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BETWEEN HUBRIS AND HYPE: EXARO NEWS SAYS IT IS TOO BUSY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS

Two weeks ago I asked Exaro News a series of six very serious questions about its stories relating to alleged historic sexual abuse at Elm Guest House and a VIP network based at Dolphin Square. Those questions – set out in my previous post (below) – quoted Exaro’s own statements, including its claims to have been responsible for initiating the multi-million pound Metropolitan Police investigation, Operation Midland.

 

On Wednesday evening the “Exaro team” e-mailed the following response. At its request, I am posting this in full.

 

Dear Tim Tate,

 

Please ensure that you publish our response in full.

 

Our reports on Exaro have already answered many of the questions that you pose.

 

Our long-standing policy is not to repeat answers on social media or to bloggers otherwise, as we are sure that you can appreciate, it would distract from the vitally important journalistic work that Exaro is doing in holding power to account.

 

So, first, you need to do some proper research. It is not for us to conduct your research for you.

 

In the meantime, you have referred at various points in blog posts to having been told a story by a “senior detective” on ‘Operation Fernbridge’ about how Customs had stopped Leon Brittan at Dover with “child pornography tapes”, while at the same time denying our report that Customs had seized a video alleged to show child sex abuse in the presence of a former Conservative cabinet minister.

 

Was the “senior detective” to whom you referred DCI Paul Settle?

 

All the best,

 

Editorial team,

Exaro

 

Apparently Exaro thinks it appropriate for a journalist to identify his sources (I don’t: and won’t). It is also apparently too busy (despite having several millions pounds of benefactor funding to draw on) to answer questions of very real public interest about its role in the troubled and troublesome Operation Midland.

 

Exaro’s e-mail also makes clear that it believes it is much too important to be held to account. Anyone looking for humility will find it in the dictionary. Sandwiched between “hubris” and “hype”.

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SIX QUESTIONS FOR EXARO NEWS

The Metropolitan Police Service has announced a formal review of the way its officers handled allegations of historic child sexual abuse.   Former judge Sir Richard Henriques will examine the conduct of Operations Midland, Fernbridge, Fairbank and Hedgerow (and possibly others).

 

Those operations have cost well in excess of £2 million.

 

The Met Police statement was short on the detail of what exactly Henriques will examine.   It is therefore unclear whether his remit will extend to the role played by Exaro News.   If it does not, then his investigation will be a waste of the Met’s resources. Here’s why.

 

According to its own published statements Exaro has variously been at the heart of, or – in the case of Operation Midland – the cause of, the Met Operations which Henriques will review.   For more than three years the website has promoted a series of allegations so assiduously that Scotland Yard has been led to spend millions of pounds investigating them.

 

At most this has led to one successful prosecution: not one of the most sensational – and expensive to investigate – claims Exaro promoted has led to a single charge.

 

Given Exaro’s central role in the alleged VIP paedophile abuse saga, I have asked it six serious questions.

 

  1. You have claimed credit for assisting the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into Elm Guest House.

“Under Operation Fairbank, the Met launched an investigation into Elm Guest House with Exaro’s help.”

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5393/met-starts-investigation-into-child-sex-abuse-at-dolphin-square

Could you please state:-

  • What “help” you provided ?
  • What independent efforts you made to establish a factual basis for allegations made by complainants to you ?

 

  1. You have claimed credit for the Metropolitan Police launching “Operation Midland”.

Under its wide-ranging ‘Operation Fairbank’, the Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit is investigating activities at Dolphin Square, the complex near Parliament where many MPs have their London flats. The Met’s move was sparked by a report on Exaro in July of two separate witnesses’ accounts of child sex abuse at Dolphin Square more than three decades ago.

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5393/met-starts-investigation-into-child-sex-abuse-at-dolphin-square

Could you please state:-

  • What independent efforts you made to establish a factual basis for allegations made by the complainant known as “Nick” ?
  • What independent efforts you made to establish a factual basis for allegations made by the complainant known as “Darren” ?

 

  1. You have stated that your original report on the Dolphin Square allegations contained only “what had been corroborated”.

We called one of these witnesses “Nick”. He had met Mark [Conrad] two months earlier, and his claims went far further than we reported. We limited our report to what had been corroborated.

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5655/analysis-why-police-continue-to-investigate-claims-by-nick

Could you please state:-

  • Exactly which allegations you corroborated ?
  • How you corroborated these allegations

 

  1. You have stated that an Exaro reporter provided to the Metropolitan Police Service a signed statement identifying a property in Pimlico as the key to “the dark secrets of a group of VIP paedophiles”.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s “Operation Midland” are investigating whether the Pimlico property – identified to them by Exaro – will help unlock the dark secrets of a group of VIP paedophiles. … Just over a week ago our reporter signed a formal statement for police in connection with the property.

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5514/police-see-pimlico-property-as-key-to-paedophile-murder-case

Could you please state:-

  • Whether this “identification” came from a claim from one complainant or more than one complainant ?
  • Whether you recorded this “identification” on audio or video ?
  • In the event that more than one complainant “identified” the property, what steps you took to ensure there was no cross-contamination between these claims ?

 

  1. You have reported that a senior Metropolitan Police Service detective is under investigation for “leaking” (in subsequent reports “suspected of leaking”) the identities of child a=sexual abuse complainants to BBC’s Panorama programme.

Police are investigating a senior detective who is a confidential source for BBC1’s Panorama over the leaking of secret identities in abuse cases …The Met this evening issued a statement in response to the Exaro story confirming that it was investigating a complaint received last month about “improper disclosure”

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5682/met-investigates-panorama-source-over-leak-of-csa-survivor-s-id

Scotland Yard has passed to Britain’s police watchdog its investigation into a detective suspected of leaking identities of complainants in abuse cases to BBC1’s Panorama.   The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will itself carry out the investigation into the senior detective …

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5733/ipcc-probes-panorama-source-over-leaking-of-csa-survivors-ids

Could you please state:-

  • Whether Exaro as an organization or any of its reporters (including freelance associates) is/are the complainant in this matter ?
  • Whether you possess documentary evidence to substantiate this allegation ?

 

  1. Your “Editor in Chief”, Mark Watts, stated on Russia today that the VIP child sexual abuse allegations reported by Exaro were “undoubtedly the biggest political scandal in post-war Britain”.

Speaking on Galloway’s programme on Russia Today, Sputnik, Watts said: “This is, undoubtedly, the biggest political scandal in post-war Britain”

SOURCE: http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5605/mark-watts-tells-rt-s-sputnik-about-britain-s-biggest-scandal

Could you please state:-

  • Whether Exaro News has unequivocal proof of the abuse and murder allegations it reported ?
  • Whether Mr Watts and Exaro News believe even unproven allegations amount to “undoubtedly the biggest political scandal in post-war Britain” ?

 

In the past Exaro has chosen not to respond to questions about its reporting, preferring instead to attack those who dare to pose them as (variously) “Police/M15 agents” or “an embarrassment to journalism”.

Should Exaro choose to respond to these latest questions I will post their answers on this blog.

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OF GENERALS AND CHILD ABUSE

This is the story of two war heroes – highly decorated soldiers both – and of how the Metropolitan Police responded to allegations about them concerning child sexual abuse.

 

Their contrasting stories should be examined by the Goddard Enquiry. But whether this happens may depend on public pressure for an open and transparent process.  There is no doubt that Goddard and her teams of barristers should ask details questions about both men’s cases. Because the way each of these two very senior military leaders was treated encapsulates precisely the problems  her investigation into the handling of historic child sexual abuse allegations was established to examine.

 

We can – because he has named himself (albeit after being outed by others) – identify the first of these war heroes. Field Marshall Edwin, Baron Bramall, Britain’s Chief of Defence Staff (the head of the armed services) until 1985.

 

The second was until relatively recently one of the United States most senior generals, who lived for a time in Britain. He must – for the time being – remain anonymous. I have his name, his (very senior) rank and his personal details. But for reasons which will become apparent, I am not naming him in this post.

 

Lord Bramall’s case first. Last week the Metropolitan Police announced that it was abandoning its 18-month investigation into allegations that Bramall had sexually abused a young boy. During this Bramall, whose extensive record of military service included the D-Day landings, had been interviewed under caution by the Met’s Operation Midland, had watched his house being searched by a large team of officers and seen his reputation dragged through the mud when his name was published by sections of the media.

 

The alleged crimes for which Bramall was so rigorously investigated stemmed from one (now adult) man. This complainant, known only as “Nick” made statements to the Met and gave interviews to Exaro News, the web-based news organisation which has placed itself at the centre of historic child sexual abuse allegations. In both his police statement and his Exaro interviews “Nick” claimed not just to have been sexually abused and tortured by a variety of VIP paedophiles during the 1970s and 1980s, but to have witnessed the sexually-motivated murder of other children.

 

There is no corroborative evidence for “Nick’s” allegations. No other witness or complainant has stated that he was present during this crimes; not a single piece of forensic or medical evidence has been found to back up the claims. In fact the only things Nick seemed to have in his favour are a very plausible demeanour – one person who has regularly met Nick says that if he is not telling the truth,  he is a “Hollywood standard actor” – and the unwavering support of Exaro News.

 

Despite this, the Met has spent almost £2 million  trying to stand up Nick’s complaints. In the case of Lord Bramall, at least, it has now thrown in the towel and admitted that “the evidence did not support charges being laid”.

 

The story of the US general is very different. There was what a highly experienced prosecutor described as “an open and shut case” to prosecute him. But the Metropolitan Police does not appear even to have begun an investigation.

 

The American officer is a decorated Vietnam war veteran who went on to play a major role in the planning and execution of America’s wars in the Gulf.   He holds a very senior rank – and, by extension, very high security clearance – in the US Army.  In the late 1970s this officer spent some time in Britain. He was seconded to the British Army Staff College at Camberley in Surrey.   It appears that he used this address to receive a postal mailing of child pornography from an American supplier.

 

The reason we know about this is that his name and address appears on a list of British-based customers of US child pornographers. That list was compiled by the US Customs Child Pornography and Protection Division, and handed to me in 1987.

 

I was then researching a Roger Cook television documentary about child pornography. For more than a year I worked closely with US Customs and its sister unit at the US Postal Service. These two agencies were, at the time, setting the benchmark for investigating and prosecuting those who dealt in child pornography – both inside America and internationally.  Each agency was adamant that their evidence was enough for British police to arrest and charge the men on the list.  Both agencies had also previously supplied these names to the Home Office, and were surprised that no action had been taken.

 

I was also then working very closely with the Obscene Publications Branch at New Scotland Yard.   That unit – then known as TO13 – was much less effective than its American counterparts, largely due to the refusal of the Met’s senior management to recognise the seriousness of the problem.  Of its 11 officers, just two were assigned to investigating child pornography. The senior officer in charge of TO13, Supt. Iain Donaldson was deeply frustrated by the refusal of his superiors to engage with the issue. He had repeatedly lobbied the Met’s management for more officers to tackle child pornography.

 

By agreement, Roger Cook handed the lists to Donaldson on film. Donaldson believed that if he was made to look a little foolish in a television documentary, his bosses would finally agree to assign additional officers to child pornography investigations. A clip of that encounter can be seen below.

 

There was a very clear understanding that New Scotland Yard would make enquiries into each of the names on the US lists. Supt. Donaldson and his  officers certainly wanted to do so.   Joyce Karlin, a US Federal prosecutor who specialised in child pornography cases, believed that the American evidence should be enough to launch an investigation.  Her interview clip is here:

 

 

But did those investigations ever take place ? Or were Donaldson’s urgent pleas for a more serious approach to child pornography ignored by the Met’s senior management ?  The subsequent stellar career of the American general who had child pornography sent to him at the British Army Staff College would seem to imply that no investigations were ever instituted into  his actions , nor that the US Army was ever appraised of what he was alleged to have done whilst in Britain. The General’s military trajectory carried on ever-upwards.

 

(There is other evidence to suggest that the US lists were simply consigned to a filing cabinet inside New Scotland Yard. One of the other names given by US Customs was Charles Napier, the former treasurer of the Paedophile Information Exchange.   Despite the fact that his address was clearly and correctly identified on the US Customs list – the address, therefore, at which he had received child pornography – no police action would be taken against Napier until 1995. During that period he was left free to abuse children. Napier is now serving a lengthy prison sentence for doing just that).

 

Two generals, then; war heroes both,  with two starkly contrasting experiences of the Metropolitan Police’s responses to allegations concerning child sexual abuse. One whose life has been blighted by unsupported accusations from a single, uncorroborated complainant; a second who was never even investigated despite cast-iron evidence that he bought and received child pornography.

 

It is difficult to escape the inference that in seeking to atone for the historic failures exemplified by the American general’s story, the Metropolitan Police was over-zealous in dealing with Lord Brammall. That is – or should be – one of the strands of the Goddard Enquiry.   It certainly has the evidence.

 

The US Customs and Postals lists are currently locked in a safe at the Goddard Enquiry’s offices. They were handed to the Enquiry’s counsel, Ben Emmerson QC, last year.  Goddard must examine how and why the names on those lists were never investigated, nor any prosecutions brought.   She must summon those who were responsible for Metropolitan Police policy – its commanders and the Home Office officials to whom they answered – and ask them to explain their refusal to provide Supt. Donaldson with the resources to do his job.

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WHEN IS A MINORITY NOT A MINORITY ?

This week, Sir Lenny Henry appeared at a television industry conference discussing diversity.   Speaking during a debate entitled “How Far Have We Come”, held at Channel 4, Sir Lenny said:

 

“It’s wonderful to see everybody here. It’s great actually to see everybody moving in the same direction on this issue, because it needs to be moved on, doesn’t it?”

 

Channel 4 has positioned itself in the vanguard of a campaign to increase representation of BAME people – that’s “Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic”, in case you didn’t know – both on screen and in television production. In time for the conference C4 congratulated itself for hitting 24 of the 30 targets it set itself last year in its 360° Diversity Charter.

 

That charter covers more ground than BAME: it aims to include disability within its scope, for example.   But it specifically committed the Channel to putting diversity front and centre in its commissioning priorities and improving its BAME quotient was a key stipulation.  Producers wanting to do business with Channel 4 were required to a pass ‘two-tick’ process: the first tick showed that their programme ideas included a diversity element, the second that the production team also passed the diversity test.  In Channel 4’s own words:

 

“The aim of diversity policy in broadcasting is simple: to include and nurture talent, and to reflect contemporary Britain on and offscreen.”

 

It is, unquestionably, good news that both programmes and production teams are becoming more representative of Britain’s diverse population.   And where C4 led, other broadcasters have scurried to follow. Both the BBC and ITV are working to improve their representation of minorities, both on and off screen.

 

But are all minorities equal in broadcaster’s eyes ? Are some less deserving of recognition than others ?   Recent experience suggests that the answer might be an uncomfortable ‘yes’.

 

I run a small and successful independent production company. We make documentary films for all the main British broadcasters as well as international networks. Several of the films have won major awards.   Last autumn my colleague and co-producer developed a history documentary idea which investigated the experiences of the oldest minority ethnic community in Britain.  What happened to that proposal raises questions about the integrity of broadcasters’ commitments to diversity.

 

Chinese communities have been established throughout Britain for more than 150 years.   Today, the British-Chinese population exceeds 247,000: that represents 0.5% of the overall population, and approximately 5% of the total non-white demographic.

 

This is, of course, far smaller than the other two main “minority ethnic” groupings. The number of “south Asian” people – those whose ethnicity stems from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sir Lanka – is more than 3 million, accounting for more than 8% of the overall UK population. While, according to the 2011 UK Census, there are1,904,684 UK residents who self-identify as “Black/African/Caribbean/Black British” – a total of 3 per cent of the country’s population.

 

But the British Chinese community has two unique and notable traits. It tends to produce high-achievers – economically and academically; and it tends not to trouble the police or authorities with complaints about experiencing racism.   And yet, as we discovered, that racism is a very real problem.   A new police unit set up in the north of England has discovered evidence that British Chinese were frequently the victims of racially-motivated crime. However, they rarely reported it.

 

We wondered why.

 

One answer may well lie in the history of the British Chinese experience. For more than 100 years that community has been the subject of vicious racial prejudice, wild public scare stories, and wicked press-driven hatred. But what was truly shocking was the discovery that in 1947 – having risked their lives on the Atlantic Convoys of World War Two (the vital lifeline which kept this country fed and powered in the darkest days of the war) at least a thousand Chinese British seamen were brutally rounded up, flung on to coffin ships and dumped in China.

 

That China was then in the midst of a vicious civil war and that these men who had served Britain so well were – at the very least – being put in harm’s way had not mattered. Nor had the fact that many had wives and children in Britain – families from whom they had been quite literally snatched. The government wanted rid of this minority group – and had forcible repatriated them.

 

This story had remained secret for decades. That it was beginning to emerge was due to the efforts of a remarkable member of the British Chinese community who had unearthed official papers in the National Archive showing what had happened to his father, one of the deported seamen.

 

It seemed to us that this story was both important (the resonance between the rabid anti Chinese press campaigns and today’s Islamophobia was uncomfortably close). It was genuinely revelatory, and it also helped explain both the experience and contemporary position of one of the least understood of all the UK’s “minority ethnic” populations. It plainly delivered the first ‘tick’

 

It also completed the second. Not only were both presenters we put forward British Chinese, but so is my colleague and co-producer who developed the story.

 

The broadcasters’ response was curious. Channel 4 pronounced that it was “too straight down the line” for its history output, which more routinely concentrates on digging up downed Spitfires or positing ludicrous theories about Ancient Egyptian tombs.   The BBC (which has just announced a substantial new series on the well-trodden ground of Black History of Britain) said that it didn’t “fit the outline of the kind of project we are expected to deliver”, and that audiences “rarely come to stories like this”.

 

What both decisions actually come down to is that these two broadcasters think audience figures are more important than reflecting “contemporary Britain on and of screen” (to use Channel 4’s wording); and that ratings trump the commitment to genuine diversity.

 

It could, of course, also be that the oldest “minority ethnic” community in the UK is deemed not sufficiently ethnic to be pulled up on the BAME bandwagon.  In other words, (to borrow from Orwell) that some minorities are more equal than others – though that would surely be politically rather difficult to state publicly.

 

But in either case, turning a blind eye to the experience and history of the British Chinese community seems to sit badly with the self-congratulatory sprit of the broadcasters’ promises of diversity.   Perhaps Sir Lenny might care to take a closer look at the backdrops and scenery through which we are all, in his words, “moving in the same direction”.  They might, just might, be no more than a Potemkin set, designed to impress more than deliver.

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