I’ve had this standing by for a while and now that David Hencke at Exaro has gone public I think it’s OK to post. I should point out that David Hencke is in a position to know. He was the senior journalist working for The Guardian on this investigation with the Cook Report and saw every piece of film.
It’s about time that somebody publicly responded to the allegations made by Ben Fellows concerning Ken Clarke, and I’m very pleased that David Hencke has done so, though I know this will not be popular with some people.
When the allegations first surfaced, I was extremely wary for a number of reasons. I discussed the matter privately with another blogger who I respect greatly and we compared notes, we agreed that the allegations were almost certainly untrue and neither of us have repeated them on our blogs.
However, a few weeks ago I was prompted to look more closely at these allegations. Not because I felt they had substance but because I could see that the story was not going away and that many people were potentially putting themselves in a precarious legal position.
I was extremely lucky in that I was able to talk about this with a few people who were in a position to know what exactly went on during the Cook Report investigation into Cash for Questions and within a few days I had a broad understanding of the truth of the matter.
The first thing I’d like to make clear is that in regards to the Cook Report I do not believe that Ben Fellows is a liar. That, however, does not mean that his allegations are correct because a number of important details are certainly not true. Ben Fellows did indeed work as an extra for three weeks playing the part of a businessman’s assistant. He was just 18 years old at the time and that may explain why his memory appears to have played him false on some important details.
The most egregious error that he has made, and one that could have far reaching consequences for many others, is the allegation that Ken Clarke molested him. This is completely untrue.Ken Clarke was never involved in the Cook Report investigation into Cash for Questions in any way, shape, or form. Ken Clarke was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time and the idea that he would be hobnobbing with Ian Greer is simply ridiculous.
That said there is another man who Ben Fellows almost certainly would have met during his time working on the Cook Report and that is Sir Peter Morrison, “a known pederast”, who was so close to Ian Greer that he actually had a desk in Greer Associates’ office.
Could this be a case of mistaken identity ?
Ben Fellows goes on to say that the incident was secretly filmed. There certainly was secret filming but there was never any film of anyone groping Ben Fellows. That is not to say that Ben Fellows was not assaulted, only that there was never any evidence that he was.
And no film means that there was no ‘cover-up’.
So, why didn’t the Cook Report broadcast its Cash for Questions exclusive ?
One very plausible explantion can be found in Roger Cook’s autobiography which, although I do not believe is the full story which is a little more complex, will suffice for now: The programme was working with The Guardian on the stings, but by the time the then active series finished the investigation wasn’t complete. It would be another six months before the next series and The Guardian didn’t want to wait, so published. At which point there was no mileage left in the film for Cook.
I’m not going to go into other details of the allegations that Ben Fellows has made about the Cook Report investigation. I hope that in time the entire story will be published elsewhere.
My greatest concern is the effect an error, as great as that made by many relating to Lord McAlpine, might have on freedom of speech on the internet and the consequences for victims. Naturally, I feel very sorry for Ken Clarke whose name has been traduced but the people who will suffer the most will be the genuine victims of child abuse as such a high profile error once it has become public, as I feel certain it will, will only serve to increase skepticism about future allegations, especially those made against VIPs.