Tim Tate

Author, Film-Maker & Investigative Journalist


The Truth Shall Make You Free Fret


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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