Child sexual abuse accusers should be scrutinised as closely as the accused
The BBC’s Panorama programme investigating Operation Midland, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) inquiry into an alleged VIP paedophile ring, has finally been broadcast; albeit, after a 6 month delay and much internal fighting between the Panorama team and the self-confessed ‘pro-victim’ BBC Newsroom. Even before the programme had been aired, the MPS issued a statement expressing ‘serious concerns’, supposedly regarding the possible impact the programme may have on witnesses and ‘victims’. Is there however, another reason for their concern?
Why is the word ‘victims’ in quotes? Let us be clear from the start: a person only becomes a victim when it has been proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that some injury – physical or otherwise – has been inflicted upon them. Until that point, such individuals are either witnesses or accusers – and should be described as such.
The MPS and police generally have now adopted the premise that anyone who makes an accusation of child sexual abuse, whether that abuse is current or ‘non-recent’, is to be believed; even before anything has been investigated.
BBC Panorama illustrated this well by quoting Det. Superintendent Kenny McDonald, the lead officer in Operation Midland, who stated publicly that he believed the principal witness, known only as ‘Nick’, to be “…credible and true.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the MPS have now distanced themselves from this highly damaging assertion; though it took them considerable time to do so.
McDonald already had form in this area. At the launch of Operation Midland, he was reported as saying, “I appeal to men who were subjected to abuse 30 years ago to come forward.” Notice that his words portray unqualified belief. He does not say, ‘…may have been abused’; he states clearly, ‘…were subjected to abuse’. No doubt; no equivocation. According to McDonald, the abuse took place and the accuser was, without doubt, telling the truth – even though nothing had yet been investigated or proved.
The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken MacDonald QC, was appalled at the “credible and true” statement and at the position of the police in general.
The current, recently criticised DPP, Alison Saunders, also quickly moved to cover herself by saying, “…you don’t just take somebody’s word as it is”. This however, comes from a woman who forced a new code of practice on police officers responsible for investigating rape and abuse cases. According to Ms Saunders, no longer should the accusers be thoroughly scrutinised by police; only the accused.
And therein lays the true value of the BBC Panorama programme.
Whether or not there was – or is – a VIP paedophile ring centred around Westminster, the real point of the programme was to reveal and question the current practice of unqualified belief in those who accuse others of the most awful crimes; often with nothing to substantiate such claims other than personal recollections of what may – or may not – have occurred many years ago.
The whole VIP paedophile ring inquiry, Operation Midland, which includes allegations of child rape, torture and even murder, has been predicated on the memories of just three, apparently vulnerable, possibly confused individuals.
Unfortunately for the believers – including the police – two of these witnesses have now apparently been discredited and one even says in the BBC Panorama, he may have been pressured by others to provide police with VIP names, including that of former Home Secretary Leon Brittan.
Peter Saunders of NAPAC (a child abuse support charity) speaking on the BBC Today programme the morning after the broadcast, admitted that ‘survivors’ [his word] can sometimes “get things wrong” and that, when they do, it can be “disastrous” for innocent people who have been accused. Saunders also maintains that he would not want innocent people to be accused, be put under scrutiny nor have their reputations trashed as that, “…doesn’t help survivors.”
He fails to mention that it doesn’t help the innocent either.
Mr Saunders then destroyed his own, seemingly reasonable argument when he was asked if the trashing of innocent people’s lives was a price worth paying: “There will always be casualties…”, he said; thus making it clear that in his view, no matter how many innocent people may have their lives destroyed by false allegations of child sexual abuse, as long as the ‘victims’ are believed, that’s ok by him.
How is it then that the police, MPs, campaigners and charities all subscribe to the same, flawed dogma of unqualified belief?
Perhaps it is down to the actions of ambitious but weak politicians (some may think of Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk), money-oriented children’s charities, feminist lobby groups and of course, highly organised, greedy lawyers; plenty of those have now clambered onto the abuse band wagon before it passes – all proffering the lure of compensation and/or ‘justice’.
Whilst all the above may be more interested in themselves than genuine victims, the police have their own reasons for subscribing to today’s politically-correct, fundamentally dishonest and unjust mantra of belief; a reason that, to some extent at least, may forgive their latest – and premature – tantrum over the BBC Panorama programme:
According to Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Tom (now Sir Tom) Winsor, when recording crime, “The police need to institutionalise a culture of believing the victim. Every time”. In fact, a presumption of belief is now written into National Crime Recording Standards, unless there is ‘credible evidence to the contrary’.
The police are therefore in a difficult place. If they subscribe to Winsor’s requirements, they ditch any objectivity. If they put accusers under scrutiny – as they should – they go against the rules.
When politicians, lobby groups and money-makers put pressure on the police, the position of investigators becomes almost impossible. If police decide not to follow up accusations, they get a critical letter from self-serving MPs, often themselves driven by fantasists and gold-diggers. When police get it wrong, they are criticised by the press and the media.
Of course, none of this excuses the appalling police practice of allowing the suspect’s name to be leaked to the public in the hope that other ‘victims’ will somehow be tempted to come forward. Nor does it excuse the unacceptable and lazy practice of indiscriminately ‘trawling’ for potential offences instead of properly investigating only reported allegations.
Nor is there any excuse for the blind faith of senior officers in their own delusions, such as demonstrated by at least one very senior policeman the morning after the broadcast. He was following a now very familiar script:
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who oversees child abuse investigations for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, refused point blank to address the issue of police ‘trawling’, preferring instead to talk about the ‘confidence of victims’ and his ‘belief’ that the police were now dealing with 70,000 allegations of child abuse, with ‘hundreds of thousands’ more ‘victims’ out there. If he’s right, better build a hundred more prisons; the current prison population being 86,000 already!
Bailey’s apparently uncorroborated figures are almost as bad as the “credible and true” statement by his MPS colleague. If what Bailey says is in fact true, let the public see the evidence for these figures. In short, prove it.
Peter Spindler, the police chief in charge of the Savile investigation said in the BBC Panorama programme, that when so many people come forward and all say the same or similar things, “…they can’t all be making it up.”
Really? Thousands of people believe Tony Blair is a war criminal. Should the police investigate? After all, these people are also all saying broadly the same thing. Surely they cannot all be making it up?
When the joint police/NSPCC report into Savile was published, Spindler also said, “…they can’t all be making it up.” However, the report confirmed that none of the allegations against Savile had been corroborated or proved. In fact, the report was little more than a long list of allegations; nothing more; no evidence. The police and NSPCC said they had adopted “a pragmatic approach”.
Spindler, and many other officers were either knowingly dishonest or at best, naïve. The promise of financial compensation was already being touted around long before the report was published, and no one should ever discount the lure of easy money. It was simple for people to come forward with ‘similar’ stories when the lurid details of Savile’s alleged offences had already been in every newspaper for days and weeks. The same thing happened with the discredited ‘Satanic Abuse’ scandal years before.
It is perhaps also interesting that Spindler jumped ship and went onto ‘other duties’ shortly after the report was published.
Unlike most EU states, the US and other countries, Britain has no Statute of Limitations on criminal offences, though many believe there should be such a time limitation. The police therefore insist that they must investigate every allegation of child sexual abuse, no matter how long ago it may have allegedly taken place. However, they are unlikely do the same for physical assault unless it is connected with a sexual abuse investigation.
Nor will they investigate ‘non-recent’ burglary or other crimes that have affected people over the years. Only child sexual abuse and possibly murder apparently have the distinction of being investigated perhaps half a century after the offences were allegedly committed. The distasteful truth is, such a distinction has the stench of political manipulation all over it.
Whilst children were being abused in Rotherham, police were investigating dead, alleged abusers. Today, there are real individuals being sexually abused by living people. Where are the police? Chasing more dead men of course, and listening to stories from decades ago, often related by confused, vulnerable people who are perhaps being led on by campaigners, MPs, charities and wealth-seeking law firms.
Whether or not there was a VIP paedophile ring at the heart of the British establishment, is perhaps the least important thing. Far more important is the fact that vested interests and politically correct dogma has allowed innocent people to be accused of child sexual abuse on next to no evidence, their name mysteriously released into the public domain, while the police and compensation lawyers sit back and wait for all manner of people to walk through the door claiming to be ‘victims’.
The BBC Panorama investigation successfully lifted the lid on the practices employed by all those who benefit from Britain’s child abuse paranoia. The BBC Panorama producers were brave to air the programme; the police and others are entirely wrong to criticise it. Meanwhile, Tom Watson MP and other campaigners have decided to lay low and say little or nothing.
William Blackstone, perhaps England’s greatest legal commentator, once said, “…the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.” British Law also insists that an accused person is “innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt”.
It would seem that all those who depend on Britain’s paranoia of child sexual abuse for their income disagree with the above statements of fundamental justice. No wonder such people are all so keen to readily believe the ‘victims’ that they so carefully nurture and encourage… whether the allegations made are true or not and regardless of how many innocent people get hurt in the process.