Padraig Colman

Rambling ruminations of an Irishman in Sri Lanka

Tag: Beatrix Campbell

Vintage Sleaze Part2 Butler-Sloss Inquiry

This article appeared in the July 16 edition of Ceylon Today.

 

Colman's Column3

Last week I wrote about calls for a public inquiry into allegations that the UK Home Office had colluded in a cover up of paedophile activity in Parliament and government. There has been strong criticism of the role of Leon Brittan, who was Home Secretary at the time when 114 files relating to child abuse went missing. At the time I wrote that article, UK prime minister David Cameron was steadfastly arguing that an internal Home Office inquiry combined with ongoing police investigations would be sufficient.

Since then, on 6 July 2014, the current Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced that an expert panel will have the power to scrutinise the behaviour of political parties, the security services and private companies amid allegations that paedophile networks operated with impunity in the 1970s and 1980s. It will also investigate the handling of the information given to the police and prosecution service about the allegations at the time. May added that this review would look into the Paedophile Information Exchange group. Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the NSPCC will head this review which will report within ten weeks to Mrs May and to Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General. Wanless was previously the Big Lottery Fund’s chief executive and worked at the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

May raised the possibility of converting it into a full public inquiry and giving the panel the authority to subpoena witnesses and has since announced that a public inquiry will be led by retired judge Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss. There has been much criticism, mainly on the grounds of her age and connections, of the appointment of the appointment of Lady Butler-Sloss.

NPG P1029; Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss (nÈe Havers) by Christian CourrËges

Brother’s Keeper?

Lady Butler-Sloss’s family connections are indeed somewhat embarrassing. Her father, Sir Cecil Havers, was the high court judge who passed the death sentence on Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain. In a 2010 television interview, his grandson, the actor Nigel Havers, revealed that his grandfather had written to the Home Secretary recommending a reprieve, but had received a curt refusal. Sir Cecil subsequently sent money annually for the upkeep of Ellis’s son.

Gerry Conlon recently died at the age of 60. Daniel Day Lewis is to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth. One of Day Lewis’s memorable performances was as Gerry conlon in Jim Sheridan’s film In the Name of the Father. In the film Daniel Massey plays the prosecuting QC, Sir Michael Havers, who is unnamed. Gerry Conlon spent 25% of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Gerry Conlon was one of the Guildford Four, who were convicted in 1975 for the IRA Guildford pub bombings of 5 October 1974. After their arrest, all four defendants confessed to the bombing under torture by British police. There was never any evidence that any of The Four had been involved with the Provisional IRA. Collectively, the Four and the Maguire Seven served a total of 113 years in prison and one of the Maguire Seven, Giuseppe Conlon, Gerry’s father, died in prison, convicted on the basis of discredited forensic evidence. Havers represented the Crown in the trial and appeal of the Guildford Four and also of the Maguire family. In the case of the Guildford Four, the Director of Public Prosecutions was found to have suppressed alibi evidence that supported Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill’s claims of innocence. The DPP suppressed confessions by Provisional IRA bombers, known as the Balcombe Street Gang that they had carried out the Guildford and Woolwich bombings. In his submission to Sir John May’s 1989 Inquiry into the Guildford and Woolwich bombings, Labour MP Chris Mullins cast doubt on Havers’s integrity. “He is, therefore, probably the person who can lay claim to the most detailed knowledge of this affair. I respectfully submit that any inquiry that passed without the benefit of his experience would be deficient…The only hope of sustaining the original convictions was to rewrite the script from top to bottom. This Sir Michael and his colleagues proceeded to do with ingenuity and relish.”

In the Yorkshire Ripper case in 1981, Havers attracted controversy at the outset of the trial, when he said of Sutcliffe’s victims in his introductory speech: “Some were prostitutes, but perhaps the saddest part of the case is that some were not. The last six attacks were on totally respectable women.”

More to the point, Sir Michael was the attorney general under the Thatcher government and was accused of a “cover-up” when he refused to prosecute Sir Peter Hayman, a former diplomat and member of the Paedophile Information Exchange. Hayman was the deputy under secretary of state at the Foreign Office, and was reputed to be a senior officer in MI6, the foreign intelligence service.

havers

Should being sister to Mrs Thatcher’s most senior law officer disqualify Lady Butler-Sloss from heading an impartial inquiry?

Husband’s Keeper?

When Lady Butler-Sloss was appointed by Tony (now Lord) Newton to head the Cleveland Inquiry, the News of the World (17 July 1988) did a feature on her husband Joseph Butler-Sloss, who was then a circuit judge in Kenya. In a taped conversation, he confessed to using prostitutes A Nairobi court colleague said: “The wife comes through the front door and his girls go out the back. He is very discreet with her around because he doesn’t want scandal.”

Her Own Record

She was the first female Lord Justice of Appeal and, until 2004, was the highest-ranking female judge in the United Kingdom. In 2002, she chaired the Crown Appointments Board charged with the selection of a new Archbishop of Canterbury. She is Chairman of the Advisory Council of St Paul’s Cathedral. She once stood as a Conservative candidate for election to Parliament.

Her main qualification for heading this inquiry would probably be her previous work on the Cleveland child abuse scandal in 1987. Dr Marietta Higgs and Dr Geoffrey Wyatt diagnosed 121 cases of suspected child sexual abuse in Stockton-on-Tees. Higgs used a reflex anal dilation test, which on the scandal’s 20th anniversary Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson described as “not reliable”. The children were subject to place of safety orders, and some were removed from their parents’ care permanently. Dr Higgs continued to examine them while they were in foster care. She subsequently accused foster parents of further abuse and many were arrested. Courts dismissed cases involving 96 of the 121 children alleged to be victims of sexual abuse and 26 cases, involving children from twelve families, were found by judges to have been incorrectly diagnosed.

In The Cleveland Report was established, Baroness Butler-Sloss stated that the problems of child sexual abuse had become more recognised in the early 1980s which caused “particularly difficult problems for the agencies concerned in child protection”. She went on to state: “In Cleveland an honest attempt was made to address these problems by the agencies. In Spring 1987 it went wrong.”The public inquiry found most of the allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded and all but 27 children were returned to their families. The two doctors were criticised for “over-confidence” in their methods.

People on various sides of the debate were unhappy with the Butler-Sloss Cleveland Report. Anti-patriarchal witch finder Beatrix Campbell said: “Her report contributed to the myth that children were the victims not of sexual abuse but of crazed doctors and social workers.” Anti-zealot the late Richard Webster wrote: “Through no fault of her own Justice Elizabeth Butler-Sloss had, in effect, been compelled to produce her report in the dark. She simply did not have the benefit of the very scientific research which would have revealed the true scale of the Cleveland scandal and the real dangers of the child protection ideology and the paediatric zealotry which had led to it.”

Should She Stand Down?

Lady Butler-Sloss will not be working alone. She will have a panel of independent experts and the review will be conducted in the glare of publicity. However, can we expect transparency from an inquiry presided over by a member of the House of Lords whose members she would be investigating?

She was Chairman of the Independent Security Commission  which  reviewed “vetting of those who belong to the Royal Households, those working with them, or who otherwise gain access to Royal residences”.   She would have overall a responsibility for vetting  Jimmy Savile. She is an intelligence insider. She must have known knew Savile was a paedophile.

How About an International Inquiry?

In the five years since Sri Lanka comprehensively defeated the barbarous Tamil Tigers, UK ministers have been persistently calling for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes and human rights violations. As there is strong evidence that UK ministers have been buggering orphans for decades, would it not be the best plan to appoint an internationally respected figure to conduct an independent inquiry? Someone not intimately connected by ties of blood and influence to the likely perpetrators?

 Postscript

Since the article was published, Lady Butler-Sloss has decided to stand down saying it has : “become clear to me that I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been Attorney General would cause difficulties.”

The Persecution of Lillie and Reed

This article was published in the Sunday Island on February 16, 2013 

 

There is nothing as bad as this that you can do to people. Because they [paedophiles] are quite rightly figures of public hatred. And suddenly to find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying.

 

 

Lord McAlpine

 

 

Dr Camille de San Lazaro OBE
In 1999, Dr Camille de San Lazaro, a Consultant Paediatrician specialising in child abuse at the Lindisfarne Centre, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was awarded an OBE for “services in the care of sexually abused children”.

 

Dr Lazaro’s assessments led to the prosecution of two nursery workers who were acquitted in 1994 of charges of child abuse.

 

Dr Lazaro was the main expert witness at the criminal trial of Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie. It was a very short trial because the judge, Mr Justice Holland, ruled that the evidence was too weak to put before a jury.

 

In spite of the acquittal, the ordeal of Lillie and Reed was not over and they were forced to become fugitives. The Murdoch “newspaper” The Sun, ran a campaign asking “readers” to help locate these “vile perverts”.

 

De San Lazaro was suspended in 2002. The GMC gave its verdict on 13 May 2005: “your conduct, although falling short of that expected of a registered medical practitioner, did not reach the threshold of serious professional misconduct. Accordingly, the Panel has found you not guilty of serious professional misconduct.”

 

The Allegations

 

In 1993, there were charges of child abuse at the Shieldfield Nursery in Newcastle. Allegations were made against two qualified nursery nurses. Dawn Reed was 22 years old, happily married and hoping to have children. Christopher Lillie was engaged and hoped to marry soon. There was no prior hint of bizarre sexual practices or interest in paedophilia or pornography. The two colleagues did not meet socially outside work and lived far apart.

 
The case against Lillie began with inconsistent allegations made by one mother, allegations which were not initially corroborated by the child in question. That mother told another mother whose husband beat up Lillie, who had been suspended pending inquiries. Social services fanned the flames by calling a meeting to inform parents. The first mother now made allegations against Reed.

 

Parents were encouraged to be vigilant about suspicious changes in their children’s behaviour. Joyce Eyeington was the line manager of Lillie and Reed, in overall charge of all nurseries in Newcastle. She suffered collateral damage as her own private life (including her past blameless relationship with charismatic director of social services Brian Roycroft) was probed. She told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle that she did not believe the allegations but had to suspend the pair: “As soon as the inquiry escalated and the police were involved it became very difficult to express disbelief. It was not a popular stance.”

 

Acquittal

 

Dr Camille San Lazaro was a key figure in building the case against Lillie and Reed. Mothers who, in their quest for reassurance, had taken their child to be examined by Dr Lazaro, had come away convinced that their child had, after all, been abused at the nursery. When Dr Lazaro’s working methods and records were submitted to close scrutiny, the results were disquieting. For example, genital scarring in young girls is a very rare finding, but it was one that Lazaro recorded with such frequency that it put in doubt her competence to make accurate findings or interpretations.

 

Under cross-examination, Dr Lazaro agreed that her notes were unreliable. Mr Justice Eady said to her, “You did realise, I suppose, that it was quite possible that somebody was going to get a sentence of life imprisonment for these offences?”

 

Newcastle City Council Report

 

 

When the not-guilty verdicts were announced in 1994, there was a riot in the courtroom, with cries from the parents of “Hang them!”. Tony Flynn, acting leader of Newcastle city council said: “We do believe that abuse has taken place … we have dismissed the employees and rejected their appeals and there is no question of us or anyone else employing these people again.”

The Sun appealed to readers:
“HELP US FIND THESE FIENDS

Do you know where perverts Lillie and Reed are now? Phone us on  0161 935 5315 or 0171 782 4105. Don’t worry about the cost
– we will call you straight back. ”

 

The council set up an “Independent Review Team”. The police had told the inquiry team that there were those “still walking around” in Newcastle “who are going to kill these people” i.e. Lillie and Reed. No attempt was made to warn them that the city council was about to publish a report which would put their lives in danger. Two people found not guilty in a British court of law became fugitives, living in fear of the lynch mob.

 

The members of the inquiry team were: Richard Barker, of the University of Northumbria, independent social worker Judith Jones, psychologist Jacqui Saradjian, and Roy Wardell, former director of social services.

 

The report claimed that, whatever the findings of the court and the views of Mr Justice Holland, Lillie and Reed “had abused their charges at Shieldfield nursery sexually, physically and emotionally; used them to make pornography; and were part of a paedophile ring.”

 

When Lillie and Reed sued for libel, Mr Justice Eady said that the four members of the review team were malicious in the promulgation of their report. “They included in their report a number of fundamental claims which they must have known to be untrue and which cannot be explained on the basis of incompetence or mere carelessness”.

 

A little more about “independent social worker” Judith Jones. As Judith Dawson she was a non-independent social worker in Nottingham where she did much to promote the idea that satanic ritual abuse of children was a serious problem. That myth was further promulgated in a Channel 4 programme by Beatrix Campbell.

 

Beatrix Campbell’s book Unofficial secrets: Child Sexual Abuse- the Cleveland Case was published in 1988 and became a key text in child protection courses. In the book, she writes: “For the police there is a particular problem; as a praetorian guard of masculinity, sexual abuse faces them with an accusation against their own gender. Police and judicial mastery over evidence has for over a century enabled them to banish the sexual experiences of women and children. Was that mastery threatened in Cleveland?”

 

In 1998, Beatrix Campbell claimed the Newcastle council inquiry was “stringent” and had found “persuasive evidence of sadistic and sexual abuse of up to 350 children”. Tom Dervin, the director of social services, had written privately to three senior council executives. “In the context of equivalent major enquiry reports, this to me is without exception the worst I have read. I mean the worst in terms of quality of information, consistency, judgement, evaluation, etc.”

 

One of the four people on the Independent Review Team, was Judith Jones (previously Dawson) had collaborated with Campbell on a number of writing projects. In 1992, Dawson/Jones moved to work in Sunderland. Campbell who has described herself as a “horrible queer Marxist”, lived in nearby Newcastle. In 1997 the two women decided to live together in Byker after discovering line-dancing. Campbell, a visiting professor in women’s studies at Newcastle University,  “dragged my lover along” as she was to write, for line dancing at a local church hall, and at least once to the Powerhouse Club, a Newcastle gay club.

 

Jones and Campbell co-wrote a book, Stolen Voices, which excoriated people who doubted the extent of satanic child abuse.   One reviewer called it “a sad case of false ideology syndrome”. Jean La Fontaine, emeritus professor of social anthropology at the LSE found “facts which are not true”.  The book she said was ‘long on rhetoric, short on fact’. The publishers.  The Women’s Press, said, “We never distributed the book because of a legal warning. They could still be sitting in a warehouse somewhere.”

 

Libel Case

 

As the report hit the headlines, Lillie and Reed fled. They brought a libel case against Newcastle City Council, the four members of the Independent Review Team and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

 

Patrick Cosgrove QC (according to his obituary: “a hugely respected member of the legal profession. He was fearless in court but dealt with everyone from Judges to lay clients with the utmost respect”), who represented Dawn Reed at the criminal trial, wrote about the inquiry team’s report, which he described as “fundamentally flawed”: “in twenty two years of practice at the bar I have never heard a High Court Judge be so emphatic in an expressed view that the evidence pointed to someone’s innocence, as opposed to it being insufficient to prove his or her guilt.”

 

Having asked whether the authors of the report had read Mr Justice Holland’s judgment, Cosgrove wrote: “If they have not done so, they have been grossly negligent; if they have read it, their conduct is disgraceful..Why have they fed the feeding frenzy of the tabloid press?”

 

Children Must Be Heard

 

The allegations against Reed and Lillie were based on fragmentary remarks made by children who had been anxiously questioned by their parents. When the children said something that could be construed as evidence of sexual abuse, they were praised; when they said that nobody had hurt them, or proclaimed the innocence either of Reed or Lillie, they were disbelieved.

 

Coda: A friend of mine was a social worker in Newcastle. He told me recently: “I knew Dr Lazaro very  well and  feel she was badly treated.   In fact it broke her.  The whole affair was very, very  sad. A nice lady who did more good than bad for this city”.

Witch Trials in the Internet Age.

Colman's Column3

This article was published in Ceylon Today on Wednesday February 12 2014.

The Court of Public Opinion

 

George Eliot wrote in Daniel Deronda, “Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it. It proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.” There is, as I write, a great deal of online smoke about Woody Allen. I am not going to add to it by offering my opinion about the rights and wrongs of Mr Allen’s behaviour. I do want to discuss the implications of the kind of speculation that is rampant.

The Golden Globes honoured the director with a lifetime achievement award and he received an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay for his latest film, Blue Jasmine. Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter has published an open letter accusing Allen of sexually molesting her when she was seven years old. This has brought out the bloggers who feel compelled to tell us what they think of Allen’s films as well as his personal character. Others have called for him to be shunned by the public and Hollywood. The BBC published an article full of speculation and opinion, which caused some commenters to remind them of the BBC’s own poor performance in the Jimmy Savile case.

Aaron Bady wrote on The New Inquiry: “To be blunt: I think Woody Allen probably did it, though, of course, I could be wrong. But it’s okay if I’m wrong. For two reasons. First, because my opinion is not attached to a juridical apparatus—because I have not been empowered by jails and electric chairs and states of exception to destroy people’s lives—it isn’t necessary for me to err heavily on the side of ‘we need to be really f***ing sure that the accused did it.’“ Power without responsibility? Facebook commenters approvingly cited Bady’s article.

In 1993, there were charges of child abuse at the Shieldfield Nursery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north of England against two qualified nursery nurses, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. Mr Justice Holland found the evidence too weak to put before a jury. Fragmentary remarks made by children led to the allegations. When the children said something that could be construed as evidence of sexual abuse, they were praised; when they said that nobody had hurt them, or proclaimed the innocence either of Reed or of Lillie, they were disbelieved.

Not-guilty verdicts caused  a riot in the courtroom, with cries from the parents of “Hang them!” The Sun asked its “readers”: Do you know where perverts Lillie and Reed are now? Phone us on  0161 935 5315 or 0171 782 4105. Don’t worry about the cost  – we will call you straight back.

Newcastle City Council set up an “Independent Review Team”. The IRT report claimed that, whatever the findings of the court and the views of Mr Justice Holland, Lillie and Reed “had abused their charges at Shieldfield nursery sexually, physically and emotionally; used them to make pornography; and were part of a paedophile ring”. Two people found not guilty in a British court of law became fugitives, living in fear of the lynch mob.

When Lillie and Reed sued Newcastle city council for libel, Mr Justice Eady said that the four members of the review team were malicious in the promulgation of their report. “They included in their report a number of fundamental claims which they must have known to be untrue and which cannot be explained on the basis of incompetence or mere carelessness”. Mr Justice Eady awarded Lillie and Reed damages of GBP200,000 each, the highest award within his power.

 

Beatrix Campbell OBE wrote a book about the Lillie and Reed case. She also wrote about the Cleveland case. Geoffrey Wyatt and Marietta Higgs were barred from further child protection work, after their flawed tests (which in themselves constitute sexual assault) suggested an epidemic of child sexual abuse in Cleveland. Much distress was caused to parents and children because of their work. Campbell’s defence of Higgs and Wyatt, published in 1988, became a key text in child protection courses.

The British Association of Social Workers accepted as fact that there was a problem of  persistent ritual abuse of children occurring in a satanic framework. BASW gave a positive review to Beatrix Campbell’s Dispatches programme   on satanic abuse in Nottingham, (aired on Channel 4 on October 3rd 1990).  In the opinion of the Nottingham Joint Enquiry Team, the social workers investigating the case had actually engendered allegations of satanic abuse, though children had ostensibly made them independently.  The Team found that “evidence, for want of a better term, was ‘created’. This is to say that you start with nothing except your own beliefs and end up with the story that you expected and wanted to hear before you started”.

Rather than providing a convincing case that satanic ritual abuse exists, Campbell instead argued that stranger things do happen, so why should we not believe this incredible phenomenon also? “After all, people pray in front of grown men wearing frocks, and presumably to find both peace and power, they consume, metaphorically, the body of a man. So is it so difficult to believe that inversions of that established religion are to be found at large?”

Campbell asked, “why did the inquiry need to believe that there is no satanic sub-culture of sacrifice and sexual abuse? That the children must be wrong?” “The secularism of our society is infused by ambiguous tendencies toward transcendental powers which ought to help us think afresh.” By this, she means that even rational cynics read their horoscopes, all towns have New Age shops, and any record shop will have pseudo-satanic heavy metal. It seems a big leap from this to breeding babies for human sacrifice or cannibalism.

About Cleveland, she wrote: “For the police there is a particular problem; as a praetorian guard of masculinity, sexual abuse faces them with an accusation against their own gender. Police and judicial mastery over evidence has for over a century enabled them to banish the sexual experiences of women and children. Was that mastery threatened in Cleveland?”

Many of those giving their two cents about the Allen case talk about views being distorted by the prism of gender. One says: “Mr. Justice Eady is characterized as the ‘voice of reason’ simply because he interpreted the law in a way that supports your bias”. The commenter is disdainful of the idea that “everything can be proved or disproved by empirical evidence”. This echoes Campbell’s persistent shoehorning of real life into her own particular feminist and Marxist ideology, ignoring empirical evidence. “Ritual abuse challenges the residual wish to believe that sexual abuse is like rape used to be (before the women’s liberation movement told it like it was) – an excess of desire, and impetuous combustion, rather than strategic sexual subordination.” Her polemic is based on “might-be” and “what if?” and “why not?” rather than proven fact in the real world.

Something comes up repeatedly in comment threads about the allegations against Woody Allen. People recount their own experiences of being abused as children as if this gives them a right to see Allen punished. Bady writes: “We are in the midst of an ongoing, quiet epidemic of sexual violence, now as always. We are not in the midst of an epidemic of false rape charges, and that fact is important here.” Well, no, it is not important here. What is important is the facts of the particular case. Much of the discussion of this subject puts the cart before the horse. Arguments impose the general on the particular by brute force. The phrase “the tip of the iceberg” is often used.

Some commenters have invoked the “court of public opinion”. Eighty-one –year-old William Roache, who has been playing Ken Barlow in the British tele-drama Coronation Street since 1960, was found not guilty on February 6 2014. Five women had claimed he assaulted them when they were aged 16 or under between 1965 and 1971. As a member of the court of public opinion, I do not much like William Roache, his life-style, religious beliefs or political views.  That is irrelevant when a real court of law dismisses two counts of rape and four indecent assaults. The “court of public opinion” could be the “feeding frenzy of the tabloid press” referred to by the late Patrick Cosgrove QC,  Lillie and Reed’s defence barrister. Rebekah Brookes has been on trial for phone hacking. When she was editor of The Sun and the News of the World, she ran a campaign against paedophiles. In the mass hysteria generated among her readers, a mob attacked the house of a paediatrician. In many cases, the “court of public opinion” is Rupert Murdoch. The law may be an ass but Mr Justice Eady was the voice of reason.

Beatrix Campbell and Witch Hunts

beatrix_campbell

Beatrix Campbell wrote a letter to the London Review of Books(LRB 34/23)  taking issue with an excellent article by Andrew O’Hagan in which he reflected on the Jimmy Savile case. O’Hagan’s article can be read at:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n21/andrew-ohagan/light-entertainment

O'Hagan

Here is the text of Ms Campbell’s letter in full:

Andrew O’Hagan’s ruminations on the dark corners of light entertainment offer a glimpse into just how difficult it is for anyone to confront child abuse (LRB, 8 November). No sooner is child abuse aired than we are warned against witch hunts, obsession and hysteria. Always. It is happening again; it is de rigueur. O’Hagan’s rendition of Savile as a man ‘made to the public’s specifications’ ignores the other publics who have for many years been challenging marauders like Savile. It also fails to recognise that the broadcast media do not merely reflect public taste, they participate in the creation of it. Why did the BBC harbour Savile? What was it about his horrible persona that the BBC wanted?

Ever since sexual abuse was added to the inventory of statutory concerns about children in the 1980s, child protection has been a war zone. Actually, it is defeated. For three decades child welfare institutions have been unable to withstand the outrage of accused adults and civil libertarians. Yet a determination to tell the story persists. The ‘choke and sting of experience’ – the words of Indian anthropologist Veena Das – finds its way, somehow, into public knowledge. But O’Hagan prefers to argue that ‘child abuse is now a national obsession,’ which produces ‘an unmistakable lack of proportion in the way we talk about the threat posed to children by adults’. What does he make of the muted, hesitant, ashamed voices of Savile’s victims? And what of the dull defensiveness of the institutions, or the dismal response of the criminal justice system to the majority of rapes and sexual assaults reported to the police? Isn’t denial of child abuse the national obsession?

Beatrix Campbell
London NW1

Righteous anger against child abusers can, indeed, easily turn into injustice. For a long time there were rumours that a senior Conservative politician was involved in abuse of young boys. Lord McAlpine was incorrectly named and sued.

“There is nothing as bad as this that you can do to people. Because they [paedophiles] are quite rightly figures of public hatred. And suddenly to find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying.”

Lord  McAlpine

Readers of Beatrix Campbell’s letter in LRB  might be helped by a little background information.

During the 1990s, I worked in the child protection field and met Beatrix Campbell on a couple of occasions. I have a vivid memory of attending a social workers’  conference which took on the atmosphere of a fundamentalist revival prayer meeting or an Amway pyramid salesmen’s congress. Any child protection professionals reluctant to accept the new orthodoxy that satanic abuse was real and a growing problem were shouted down. I feared that a forensic psychiatrist who had the courage to say that, in all her many years of practice,  she had never seen an iota of evidence of satanic abuse, would be hanged, drawn and quartered.

In her letter Ms Campbell says: “No sooner is child abuse aired than we are warned against witch hunts, obsession and hysteria. Always. It is happening again; it is de rigueur.”

Well, she would wouldn’t she? She has been a malign influence in driving such witch hunts.

Cleveland

Higgs and wyatt

Geoffrey Wyatt and Marietta Higgs whose flawed tests suggested an epidemic of child sexual abuse in Cleveland

Beatrix Campbell’s book Unofficial secrets: Child Sexual Abuse- the Cleveland Case was published in 1988 and became a key text in child protection courses. In the book, she writes: “For the police there is a particular problem; as a praetorian guard of masculinity, sexual abuse faces them with an accusation against their own gender. Police and judicial mastery over evidence has for over a century enabled them to banish the sexual experiences of women and children. Was that mastery threatened in Cleveland?”

Looking at the situation from the point of view of the accused parents, one gets a different picture. Matthew Allen, a foster parent in Middlesbrough – whose real identity has been changed – spoke about the night his life changed for ever. Two of his foster children were diagnosed as being the victims of sex abuse by paediatrician Dr Marietta Higgs, who also accused many other innocent parents of abusing their children.He said:https://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/horror.htm

“The children went into a room for an examination, the door was shut and that was the end of it. We were not allowed to say goodbye to them and we were then given a cup of tea.Then when we started to ask questions, we were told we were either to go peacefully or security would be called and we would be physically removed.”

Dr Higgs and Dr Wyatt were barred from further child protection work, and Sue Richardson, child abuse consultant for Cleveland council’s social services department, was dismissed.

In 1990, Beatrix Campbell wrote in Marxism Today: “anyone who respects children’s accounts of child abuse aren’t (sic) taken seriously,” and for some reason professionals were reluctant to believe that Satanists were “organising rituals to penetrate any orifice available in troops of little children; to cut open rabbits or cats or people and drink their blood; to shit on silver trays and make the children eat it.”

Is it surprising that people were reluctant to believe these things? People were correct to be reluctant. It was all a fantasy.

Rather than providing a convincing case that satanic ritual abuse exists, she instead argues that stranger things do happen so why should we not believe this incredible phenomenon also? “After all, people pray in front of grown men wearing frocks, and presumably to find both peace and power, they consume, metaphorically, the body of a man. So is it so difficult to believe that inversions of that established religion are to be found at large?”

She does a mental shuffle from arguing that we cannot deny the possibility of vile practices occurring to asking: “Are the rituals described by children designed to confuse the victims? Or to terrify? Is it all part of the belief system, which aims to bring transcendental power to the perpetrator? Or is it to guarantee that the victim will be disbelieved?”

Nottingham

Beatrix Campbell’s Dispatches programme   on satanic abuse in  Nottingham, (aired on Channel 4 on October 3rd 1990) was given a positive review by the influential journal of the British Association of Social Workers.  They accepted as fact that persistent ritual abuse occurred in a satanic framework and that a tunnel had been discovered where the children in the case claimed they had been abused, that one witness had claimed that she had seen children being killed for sacrifice and bodies being dumped in other people’s graves.

The Independent on Sunday reported that it is well known to all who live in the area that Nottingham is built on a sandstone outcrop and is riddled with caves and tunnels which are used for a variety of perfectly legal purposes (i.e. storage) as well as shadier pastimes which fall short of satanic rituals. The caves and tunnels are too well-frequented for them to be a suitable venue for anything really nefarious.

One participant in the programme said she was told: “if I didn’t do the interview and say that I’d been a witch, I’d never see me kids again. I was trying to get them out of care at the time. So I agreed to do it. I just thought I’d get me kids back.”

JOURNALIST: So then you did the interview? JEAN: First Bea Campbell took me to a bank and cashed a cheque and gave me £150.

In the view of the Nottingham Joint Enquiry Team,  allegations of satanic abuse, though ostensibly made independently by children, had actually been engendered by the social workers investigating the case. The Team found that “evidence, for want of a better term, was  ‘created’. This is to say that you start with nothing  except your own beliefs and end up with the story that you expected and wanted to hear before you started”.

Although the Report was widely praised and accepted, Campbell writes: “The inquiry’s historical survey, apart from showing shoddy scholarship, simply endorsed the inquiry’s prior dismissal of the children’s experience. The next question is: why did the inquiry need to believe that there is no satanic sub-culture of sacrifice and sexual abuse? That the children must be wrong?” It is amusing that a failed a A-level student should talk of shoddy scholarship. Ms Campbell  is called “Dr” by virtue of honorary degrees, making her on the same academic level as Jimmy Savile.

Newcastle

dawnandchrisdt

In 1993, there were charges  of child abuse at the Shieldfield Nursery  in Newcastle. Allegations were made against two qualified nursery nurses, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. Mr Justice Holland found the evidence too weak to put before a jury. When the not-guilty verdicts were announced in 1994, there was a riot in the courtroom, with cries from the parents of “Hang them!”. The Sun asked its “readers”: Do you know where perverts Lillie and Reed are now? Phone us on  0161 935 5315 or 0171 782 4105. Don’t worry about the cost  – we will call you straight back.

Newcastle City Council set up an “Independent Review Team”. The IRT report claimed that, whatever the findings of the court and the views of Mr Justice Holland, Lillie and Reed “had abused their charges at Shieldfield nursery sexually, physically and emotionally; used them to make pornography; and were part of a paedophile ring” . The police had told the inquiry team that there were those “still walking around” in Newcastle “who are going to kill these people” i.e. Lillie and Reed.

Two people found not guilty in a British court of law became  fugitives, living in fear of the lynch mob.

When Lillie and Reed sued for libel, Mr Justice Eady said that the four members of the review team were malicious in the promulgation of their report. “They included in their report a number of fundamental claims which they must have known to be untrue and which cannot be explained on the basis of incompetence or mere carelessness”. Mr Justice Eady awarded Lillie and Reed damages of GBP200,000 each, the highest award within his power.

The late Patrick Cosgrove QC (according to his obituary: “a hugely respected member of the legal profession. He was fearless in court but dealt with everyone from Judges to lay clients with the utmost respect”), who  represented Dawn Reed at the criminal trial, wrote about the inquiry team’s report, which he described as “fundamentally flawed”:  “in twenty two years of practice at the bar I have never heard a High Court Judge be so emphatic in an expressed view that the evidence pointed to someone’s innocence, as opposed to it being insufficient to prove his or her guilt.”

Having asked whether the authors of the report had read Mr Justice Holland’s judgment, Cosgrove wrote: “If they have not done so, they have been grossly negligent; if they have read it, their conduct is disgraceful..Why have they fed the feeding frenzy of the tabloid press?”

In 1998, Beatrix Campbell claimed the Newcastle council inquiry was “stringent” and had found “persuasive evidence of sadistic and sexual abuse of up to 350 children”. Tom Dervin, the director of social services, had written privately to three senior council executives. “In the context of equivalent major enquiry reports, this to me is without exception the worst I have read. I mean the worst in terms of quality of information, consistency, judgement, evaluation, etc.”

One of the authors of the IRT report was “independent social worker” Judith Jones. As Judith Dawson she worked  in Nottingham where she did much to promote the idea that satanic ritual abuse of children was a serious problem. She had  collaborated with Campbell on a number of writing projects. In 1992, Dawson/Jones moved to work in Sunderland. Campbell who has described herself  as a “horrible queer Marxist”,  lived in nearby Newcastle. In 1997, the two women decided  to live together in Byker after discovering line-dancing. Campbell, a visiting professor in women’s studies at Newcastle University  “dragged my lover along” as she was to write, for line dancing at a local church hall , and at least once to the Powerhouse Club, a Newcastle  gay club.

Bea and Judith

Hearing Children’s Voices

Jones and Campbell co-wrote a book, Stolen Voices,  which excoriated people who doubted the extent of satanic child abuse.   One reviewer called it “a sad case of  false ideology syndrome”. Jean La Fontaine, emeritus professor of social anthropology at the LSE found “facts which are not true”.  The book, she said, was ‘long on rhetoric, short on fact’.  The publishers, The Women’s Press, said,  “We never distributed the book because of a legal warning. They could still be sitting in a warehouse somewhere.”

Belief, Faith, Ideology, Truth

“Faith is what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the restraints of terrestrial discourse – constraints like reasonableness, internal coherence, civility, and candour”.

Sam Harris.

In epistemology, knowledge is defined as belief which is both true and justified, a relationship between a state of mind and a fact. Belief is only in the mind and has no valid relationship with anything in the world. Knowledge depends on the correct relationship with the world and the facts in it.

St Augustine’s axiom is disturbing: “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for faith is to see what you believe”.

berlin

Dangerous delusions are not restricted to religion. Isaiah Berlin warns us to be sceptical when governments violate rights, ostensibly in pursuit of freedom. We should resist those sea-green incorruptibles, whether they be dictators or dissidents,   who claim a monopoly on virtue. Unlike Berlin, Beatrix Campbell  did not experience a communist government,  but did grow up in a communist family and milieu. She did feel able to defend Stalinism. While working at the Morning Star, she received state-subsidised holidays to Communist East Germany and praised the country and its awful regime. Her belief system also allowed her to accept an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II. She gives her casuistical reasoning for accepting the award here.[i] “If there’s a crisis about getting gonged, it is because the archaism of our constitution hails values that are inimical to the values being celebrated by the gong.” Eh?!

She told an Australian TV chat show host: “Oh, I was able to say, meeting Her Majesty’s eyes, within – what – half a metre of mine, I was able to say to her how great it was that she was a supporter of equality.”

In her Marxism Today article. Campbell sensibly states: “the approach to child abuse by child protection professionals (and voluntary agencies) is ideological and unencumbered by empirical engagement, and thus it encourages the dread that child abuse will once again be allocated to the weird and the wacky, to the random, the inexplicable and the unpredictable.“

She quickly moves on from this reasonable   preamble to give some very trite reasons why we should be open to accepting the possibility of ritual satanic abuse of children. “The secularism of our society is infused by ambiguous tendencies toward transcendental powers which ought to help us think afresh.” By this she means that even rational cynics read their horoscopes, all towns have New Age shops, any record shop will have pseudo-satanic heavy metal. It seems a big leap from this to breeding babies for human sacrifice or cannibalism.

She tries  to force real life into her own particular feminist and Marxist ideology, ignore empirical evidence and choose  the weird and wacky. “Ritual abuse challenges the residual wish to believe that sexual abuse is like rape used to be (before the women’s liberation movement told it like it was) – an excess of desire, and impetuous combustion, rather than strategic sexual subordination.”

Her polemic is based on “might-be” and “what if?” and “why not?” rather than proven fact in the real world.

Julie MacLusky

- Author and Blogger -

HoaxEye

A fake image is worth zero words

Poet's Corner

Poems, poets, poetry, writing, poetry challenges

Casual, But Smart

Pop Culture From An Old Soul

PN Review Blog

‘The most engaged, challenging and serious-minded of all the UK’s poetry magazines’ - Simon Armitage

The Manchester Review

The Manchester Review

Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Stephen Jones: a blog

Daoism—lives—language—performance. And jokes

Minal Dalal

Spreading resources for potential living.