Tim Tate

Author, Film-Maker & Investigative Journalist


The Truth Shall Make You Free Fret


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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“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”.




[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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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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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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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,



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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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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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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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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Robert Black: the mistakes, the man and the “monster”.

The serial child killer Robert Black, who died in Maghaberry prison, Northern Ireland this week, was one of only 62 prisoners – 60 men and two women – serving a “whole life tariff”: an order made in cases of where an offender is deemed to be irredeemably dangerous to society.


Robert Black was unquestionably that: he was convicted of the kidnapping and sexually-motivated murder of four children, the kidnapping of a fifth child and the attempted kidnapping of a sixth. All his victims were girls, between the ages of 5 and 11.


Black was also devious and calculating.   He was the prime suspect in a series of other unsolved child abductions and murders.   In each case there was very strong circumstantial evidence that he was responsible. Yet for more than two decades, long after he knew he would never be released from prison, he refused to discuss these cases with detectives. As a result they remain officially unsolved and the children’s families have never seen justice done.  Nor, as we shall see, was he averse to using public money to suppress – or at least to attempt to suppress – information about his lifelong obsession with the abuse and death of children.


But the story of Black’s lifetime of offending – it spanned 35 years – also highlights fundamental problems in the way we have historically policed (or not) sexual crimes against children; and how effectively (or not) we deal  with those who commit them.


From 1986 onwards I worked closely with a remarkable man called Ray Wyre. For twenty years, until his death in 2008, we wrote books and made documentaries together.  Ray was a former probation officer who had, almost by accident, discovered a very effective ability to unpick the tangled strands of motivation which lead men (and some women) to sexually abuse children. He did so in the unshakeable belief that if these offenders (and the rest of society) could be helped to understand what drove their behaviour – and its impact on the victims – at least some of them could be prevented from continuing it.


It was, particularly in the climate of the times, a very brave decision.   His residential programmes for offenders certainly worked – I witnessed this, first hand – but they were deeply unpopular in the neighbourhoods in which they were situated. One was fire-bombed out of existence.


In 1990 Ray was the most prominent expert on sex offending in the country. That year Robert Black was arrested near the village of Stow, Scotland. He had been seen bundling a child into the back of his van. When police stopped him they found a six year old girl gagged and tied up in a sleeping bag. The girl was the daughter of the officer who searched the van: he had not known she was missing until that point.


Black was charged, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment.   Shortly afterwards his solicitors asked Ray to assess him with a view to mounting an appeal against the sentence. Ray’s subsequent report was uncompromising: it said that Black was unquestionably dangerous and that the sentence was appropriate.


As a result Black’s appeal was abandoned. But despite this, Black asked Ray to visit him again in prison to help him try and understand his desire to abduct and abuse children.  There would be no payment for doing so, but  Ray agreed, with one proviso: that their sessions would be tape recorded and that Ray would be free to use the material to further public understanding of such extreme offending. Black signed a formal agreement to that effect.


Ray quickly realized that the interviews were very important – not least because Black was then under investigation for the abduction and murder of what were then known as ‘The Big Three’ unsolved child killings: Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper.   He brought the audio recordings to me and we agreed that we should jointly make a documentary and write a book.


The contents of those tapes were harrowing, to say the least. Black’s childhood and early life was bleak and provided very clear clues about the reasons for his subsequent sex offending.  However, they also clearly highlighted a succession of blunders by police and the courts.   In what was – even in the early 1990s – becoming a familiar pattern, the failure to grasp just how dangerous this man was stretched back to the 1960s and allowed him to continue offending through to 1990.


Black was plainly tortured by the knowledge of what he was doing. He genuinely wanted to understand what drove his obsession with inflicting appalling abuse on young girls and then causing their deaths.   And he was also willing – at least in part – to give hints about other crimes he had committed.   Ray patiently explored all this with him as the tape recorder rolled.


The result was that together with the police task force set up to investigate whether Black was responsible for a string of unsolved child killings, we were subsequently able to show – often using his own words – that he was the most likely suspect. One of these cases – that of Jennifer Cardy in 1981 – would eventually be formally laid at Black’s door. In 2011 he was sentenced to 25 years for her murder. But there were at least eight other cases for which he was never prosecuted. Perhaps the most famous was the abduction and (presumed) murder of Genette Tate

in August 1978. Genette was 13 – though she looked several years younger – when she was snatched in broad daylight from a country lane near her home in the Devon village of Aylesbeare. She had been doing a paper round on her bicycle. The photograph of her bike, seemingly abandoned in the middle of the road, became an iconic and haunting image of our inability to protect children.

Genette Tate's abandoned bicycle - Genette, aged 13, vanished as she cycled down a Devon lane whilst on a newspaper round in August 1978. Genettes disappearance has become the longest missing persons investigation in Britain.

In his interviews with Ray, Black came close to admitting that he had abducted Genette. But although he dropped hints and talked in such a way that Ray became convinced of his guilt, Black never quite confessed.


When Black was charged with the murder of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper, he ended the sessions with Ray.   His new lawyers were, understandably, nervous about tape recorded interviews with their client.


Ray and I took the material to Channel 4 and to Penguin Books. The former commissioned a documentary, the latter a book. Neither was to be published until after the conclusion of Black’s trial for the Big Three. Indeed, as we all well knew, the law of contempt made it illegal to publish while the case was on-going.


Despite this, Black obtained public money from the legal aid fund to take out an ex-parte injunction against Channel 4 and both Ray and I. This sought to suppress the tape recordings of the prison interviews.   It was an entirely spurious action: not merely was there a very real public interest in the contents of these recordings, but Black had signed a release form authorizing their publication.  It took several months, several appearances at the High Court and a substantial bill for legal costs before the injunction was quashed. The film, titled The Murder of Childhood, was transmitted on the night that he was convicted of the Maxwell, Hogg and Harper murders.  It can be viewed on the films page of this website.   The book, which carried the same title, was published some months later. An extract can be viewed on the books page of this website.


Both the documentary and the book highlighted the blunders which had allowed Black to abuse, abduct and kill for so long. Most crucially, these involved a repeated failure by several police forces to share intelligence or even the record of Black’s growing criminal record.


But what was even more shocking was the discovery that several years after his first life sentence (for the abduction in Stow) – and decades after his first recorded sexual crime – the name of Robert Black was still not logged on the most important national database of paedophile offenders.


That record was maintained (at least in theory) by the National Criminal Intelligence Service. As the documentary showed, the paedophile index at NCIS was grossly underfunded. It had, at the time, just three officers permanently staffing it; by contrast in the adjacent office there were at least 11 officers dedicated to running the football hooligan database.   The documentary clearly shows the embarrassment of the NCIS spokesperson about the failure to log Black on its paedophile index.


In 2006 NCIS was merged with the newly-created Serious Organised Crime Agency. SOCA was not noticeably more successful than its predecessor – at least in the running a national intelligence system covering known paedophiles. In 2013 it was folded into yet another new organization, the National Crime Agency.


Is NCA any better than NCIS or SOCA ? It’s impossible to know. Newspapers regularly describe this lead organization in the fight against all forms of organized crime – and that includes paedophiles – as “Britain’s FBI”. Yet unlike that American law enforcement institution, NCA is immune from public scrutiny: it is specifically excluded from requests under the Freedom of Information Act.


Yesterday broadcasters covered the death of Robert Black extensively.   I was interviewed and asked whether the institutional failures which enabled him to carry on killing for so long had now been rectified.  It was be pleasing to think so. But the honest answer is that, as a result of this secrecy, we cannot know.


What I do know is that yesterday much of the press and media coverage of his death used dumb and unhelpful clichés. Black was a “monster’, he was “evil”.


Revisiting the tapes of Ray Wyre’s interviews with the man reminded me of the great lesson Ray wanted to teach. He never minimized or excused the appalling nature of the crimes committed by the men he worked with: but he knew that categorizing them as “monsters” was simply counter-productive.


Robert Black’s crimes were monstrous – no question about it. But he committed them for a reason. The lesson which has never been learned is that unless we spend the time and money to uncover and understand those reasons we will never protect children from men like Black. And calling them “monsters” is a sure way to prevent such vital understanding.

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Few documents have excited as much speculation as the membership list of the Paedophile Information Exchange. Claims about the number of members and their occupations have been made for more than 30 years, but the actual list itself has never been published.


Almost two years ago I learned the whereabouts of a copy of the list. I spent several months tracking down and then interviewing the person who held it. I was able to ascertain how this person came to own it and where it had been kept: a full chain of custody, in other words.


I also confirmed that last summer the list was handed to the Metropolitan Police and – subsequently – to the Goddard Independent Enquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. This ensured that if or when I obtained the document, there could be no suggestion that I had contaminated, amended or in any way interfered with its contents.


Last week, the document itself arrived at my office.


I have spent the past nine days analyzing the list. That process – of which more shortly – indicates that the police and the Home Office failed to assign sufficient importance to membership of PIE, and that children were subsequently sexually abused as a result.


First: the basic details.


The list is dated 1983 – 1984 (though there are handwritten annotations made, evidently by police officers, in 1985). These dates are important: they coincide with the period in which Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, was under pressure to ban PIE. It is a matter of record that he did not do so.


There are 307 individuals listed as members.    Four of the members were women.

Most – though not all – of the 307 have a membership number beside their name.


(It should be noted that this is only one version of what was, originally, a much lengthier record of approximately 1,000 members of PIE. The original full register was, in those pre-computer days, cut up and parceled to several police forces. This remaining list – the only one, to my knowledge, still in existence – is the result of that process.)


The document shows that some effort was made to establish the accuracy of the PIE membership records. 254 of the names were listed as UK residents: of these, addresses were shown and/or confirmed for 213 of them.


Of the remaining 41, just one was found to be an assumed name; 11 addresses were “unknown” and 4 others were shown as no longer in existence. 16 individuals were found to be unknown at the address given for them, with a final 9 showing no street address at all.


Of the 53 foreign members, there was one each in Sweden, Norway, Luxemburg, Canada and Iran; 2 each in the Republic of Ireland and West Germany (as it was then); 5 in Australia, 13 in France and 24 in the United States.


There are no recognizable politicians’ names on the list. And whilst Sir Peter Hayman, the foreign office official-cum spy outed as a PIE member in 1981 is included (his name, without any address, handwritten in pen), there is no mention of convicted spy and rumoured PIE member Geoffrey Prime.


There are two clergymen listed: one was a senior army chaplain. This man appears later to have resigned his commission and also have had a history of involvement with the Christian youth organization, the Boys’ Brigade.   There is one other member shown as having a military rank – Major – but his address was a mail holding “BM Box Number” .


There are three University academics, two in the UK: one, Ken Plummer of Essex University, said last year that he had only joined PIE to facilitate his research.  The address of the other was shown as an Engineering faculty, which presumably ruled out academic reasons for joining the organization.


Of the UK residents listed, 3 (all men) were recorded as having criminal records: CRO numbers have been written, in pen, beside their names – but with no details of what offences were committed. Additionally, one other member was listed as being in prison – again with no offence details shown.


These men with criminal records were rank and file members. The criminal convictions of PIE’s Executive Committee are not shown.


I do not have access to the Criminal Records Office database (maintained since 2006 by the Association of Chief Police Officers)  or the former Criminal Records Bureau (now part of the Home Office Disclosure and Barring Service) . Nor do I have access to the Police National Computer which also maintains a database of criminal records.   It is therefore impossible to know how many of the 254 UK-resident PIE members on the 1983-84 list might subsequently have been convicted of child sex offences.


But publicly available records, together with a separate list of British men who obtained child pornography from US dealers, show that several PIE members were subsequently convicted of offences against children- and that both the police and the Home Office failed to grasp the likelihood of this when dealing with either of the lists.


The US list first. In 1987 I was the researcher for a  Cook Report documentary investigating child pornography.   During the research I worked closely with two American law enforcement departments: US Customs and US Postals. Both maintained dedicated teams which were then the most effective international effort against the trade in child pornography. Both agencies supplied me with lists of British customers of proven American child pornography dealers.


Those lists contained 58 names and addresses: 53 were provided by US Customs, 5 by US Postals. Seven of those names appear on the PIE membership list: among them were three of PIE’s executive committee: Peter Bremner, Charles Napier and Leo Adamson.


Both US Customs and US Postals insisted that their lists had already been provided to the British government. Both were surprised that no action appeared to have been taken to investigate or charge the British men. The specialist agents in charge of both organisations said that their evidence should have been enough to secure convictions: this view was backed up (in a filmed interview) by the Assistant US Attorney who successfully prosecuted some of the American dealers in federal court.


I took the lists to the Metropolitan Police’s Obscene Publications Squad, with whom I was also working closely for the film. TO13 (as it was known) was then the only full-time police unit investigating child pornography. Its senior officer, Superintendent Iain Donaldson, was adamant that he had never been given the lists: he was angry about this and believed that what was plainly vital intelligence had been withheld from him, either by his superiors in the Met or by the Home Office which, under existing procedures, would have received them from the American government.


Donaldson was then fighting a bitter battle with the Met’s bureaucracy to increase the number of officers investigating child pornography and organized paedophilia. Of TO13’s 12 officers, just two were then tasked with tackling material involving children.   We agreed that Roger Cook would interview Donaldson and hand the US lists to him on film: the Superintendent hoped that the embarrassment (to the Met) of appearing ignorant on national television would boost his chances of having more officers assigned to child pornography investigations.   A clip of that (subsequently broadcast) encounter can be viewed below.


Donaldson and his successors did eventually get more officers. But nothing appears to have been done with the names on the US lists – even though TO13 also held the PIE membership list on which seven of them were identified.


It would be another seven years before the first of those names – Peter Bremner (who had previous convictions in the 1970s) – was charged with contact offences against children: his victims were between five and eight years old. Bremner was jailed for six months.


Charles Napier was not prosecuted until the following year (1995). He was given a nine-month sentence on two counts of sexually assaulting an underage boy.


Leo Adamson was not brought to justice until May 2011 – 24 years after the Met was given the US lists showing him to be a purchaser of child pornography (and 27 years after his name appeared on the PIE list). At his trial, the court heard evidence that he and two other men had amassed 14,500 photographs, films and drawings depicting the rape and sexual abuse of young boys.


All three men were on the PIE membership list. All three men were also on the US Customs list. Had the Home Office or the Metropolitan Police acted on either, the men’s victims could have been spared.


Nor are these three former PIE officials isolated instances: the list I obtained last week shows that Membership Number 419 belonged to one T.J. Waters. It also showed that in 1983-84 his address was that of a private school in Surrey.


“T.J. Waters” is Terence James Waters: in the 1970s and early 1980s he was an art and carpentry teacher. He was also – according to the US Customs list – a proven customer of US child pornography dealers.   Like Bremner and Napier he would not be prosecuted until the mid 1990s: in 1994 he was sentenced to 10 years for possessing indecent images of children – and for sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy.


But it would be a further 17 years before the facts about his systematic abuse of young boys at the Surrey school emerged. In 2011 he was charged with (and admitted) seven counts of indecent assault and five of indecency with a child.   The court heard evidence that Waters had built a “secret room” in the school loft above his art room: during the 1970s and 1980s he took boys there to abuse them.


These men – Bremner, Napier, Adamson and Waters – are only those for which I have (thus far) been able to locate public records of criminal convictions. (The relatively small percentage of the overall PIE roster should not be taken as a reliable indication of the likely offending rate amongst its members, simply as an indication that without access to the criminal records database it is very difficult to locate convictions.)


There are others on the PIE list (as well as the US Customs/Postals lists) who should be – and should have been – investigated. PIE member No. 132, for example, was a teacher at an independent prep school for boys. He quit teaching unexpectedly early, but continued – according to his obituary – to help young pupils by taking them to sports fixtures in his car and buying them equipment.


The Goddard Enquiry needs to ask searching questions about what (if any) real effort was made by the Metropolitan Police to investigate the men who were identified on the PIE list. It must also seek an explanation for the failure to act on the US Customs and Postals lists.   But above all it needs to demand answers from the Home Office. Why did Home Secretary Leon Brittan decide that PIE was not to be banned ? What instructions did he (or any of his successors) give to the Metropolitan Police that PIE members were to be thoroughly investigated and monitored ? At that time, the Met was the only police force to fall under the Home Secretary’s jurisdiction.


Goddard has the PIE list. It also, to my certain knowledge, has the US Customs and Postals lists from my Cook Report film. It needs to act on them.













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