Let’s begin by examining the points that Harvey Proctor made yesterday in his press conference (transcript of full statement Here) that I disagree with.
Firstly, Harvey Proctor alleged that the police investigation was a “homosexual witch hunt”. This is not true. Homosexuals are attracted to other men, heterosexuals are attracted to members of the opposite sex, paedophiles and pederasts are attracted to minors. Those that abuse young boys might self-identify as either homosexual or heterosexual. Yes, that is correct. Men who self-identify as heterosexuals can, and do, sexually abuse young boys. I’d just like to thank R for sharing his insights with me after decades of research into this.
Another point that Harvey Proctor made that is entirely wrong, is the suggestion that Tom Watson MP has used parliamentary privilege to allude to this case. His question on 24th October 2012 at PMQs (Here) is completely unrelated to Operation Midland and to the best of my knowledge he rarely comments on allegations, he just passes them on to the police when possible. This extract from The Guardian interview with him last year demonstrates that he seems to take a responsible and balanced view on Operation Midland.
Nevertheless, ever since putting his parliamentary question, Watson has been overwhelmed by an “avalanche” of allegations against much more powerful men from “survivors who are very, very damaged and angry and upset”, had previously gone to the police and been disbelieved, and now saw him as a new gateway to justice.
“A slightly reluctant gateway,” he confesses. A “naturally disorganised person”, equipped with neither the skills nor the resources to process the deluge of allegations, at times Watson wondered what he had got himself into.
Does he believe what the accusers tell him? He looks awkward. “I’m not here to investigate, or to judge.” He has met the man known as Nick, but “it was a very, very traumatic and difficult conversation, as you would imagine. He only told me about one murder. He spoke very slowly, very intermittently, and I didn’t need to hear any more.” Did Watson trust the account? He sighs uneasily. “These allegations, they’re so enormous that you need critical faculties. What I’m certain of is that he’s not delusional. He is either telling the truth, or he’s made up a meticulous and elaborate story.
So, whatever else can be said about the current situation that Harvey Proctor finds himself in, it is neither politically motivated or a homosexual witch hunt.
One final point that I vehemently disagree with Harvey Proctor on is his suggestion that ‘complainants’ (his preferred term) should not have guaranteed anonymity. I think this is a valuable principle which should not be eroded. Obviously, if the police feel that a ‘complainant’ should be charged with perverting the course of justice, as happened with Ben Fellows who was found not guilty, the complainant becomes the accused and has no right to anonymity but I’m confident that in this case ‘Nick’ has not sought to pervert the course of justice and so I do not think that this will be an issue.
Having examined the points that I disagree with Harvey Proctor on I want to turn to the points that I sympathise with him on.
I do not believe the allegations against him which are being investigated by Operation Midland are true. I believe that ‘Nick’ was sexually abused as a child but I do not believe that Harvey Proctor and many of the others that were named yesterday are responsible. It was for this reason that The Needle did not republished many of the media allegations regarding Operation Midland over the last year.
The broad facts as I see them, and this information is all in the public domain, is that ‘Nick’ had previously made a complaint to the police several months before he went again to them with an Exaro journalist. I think it is safe to assume that the information that was given to the police in this second interview was substantively different from that which was given to the police on the first occasion. What happened in those intervening months, and who ‘Nick’ had been in contact with, we can not know but what we do know is that someone, either Exaro or someone else, showed photographs to ‘Nick’ which helped him identify the ‘suspects’ and that later at the Operation Midland press conference last year the Metropolitan Police criticised this.*
Much has been made of the fact that the Head of Operation Midland, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald had said on television some months ago “I believe what ‘Nick’ is saying as credible and true “. Many have understandably assumed that if the police take these allegations seriously then there must be something in them, right ?
This, in my view, ill-advised statement needs to be seen in the context of the dysfunctional police/media relationship which has developed over the last three years and also the probability that these allegations seemed to corroborate, at least in part, other information that the police had received. I’m not in a position to discuss other information the police may have received but I can try to give readers some idea of the kind of pressure that some media outlets have brought to bear. An obvious example is this story in The Express, Here. The source of this story has been referred to the in the press as ‘Andrew’. ‘Andrew’ has been the source of a great many false stories in the press, including Exaro, over the last 2 years including a rather revolting allegation against a former female MP reported again in The Express, which even Exaro publicly distanced themselves from. The story relates that ‘Andrew’ was shown a photograph of a former BBC executive who he then identified as a person who abused him. Instead of going to the police with the allegation (the police no doubt knew all about ‘Andrew’ by this stage) the information was passed to the BBC. Given the current situation the BBC are in, they had no alternative but to pass this, and indeed any allegation of sexual abuse they receive, to the Metropolitan Police, who in turn could not do anything other than investigate an allegation passed to them by the BBC. The Express could then legitimise their story by correctly claiming that, “Detectives are investigating claims that a retired BBC executive abused young boys at his home in Amsterdam.” I have no idea whether this ‘former BBC executive’ was an abuser or not but what I do know without a shadow of a doubt is that this story was completely engineered, taking advantage of the predicament that both the BBC and police now find themselves in and this ‘story’ is not unique.
Reflect also on the fact that only a few months before ‘Nick’ went to the police with an Exaro journalist, Exaro had forced out the head of Operation Fairbank, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle over, in my view, a disgraceful series of stories that suggested the DCI Settle had failed to adequately pursue Leon Brittan over a rape allegation by an Exaro source known as ‘Jane’. This had nothing to do with campaigning for justice and everything to do with squeezing every last drop from their story. I could go into great detail about this but I’ll leave that there. Suffice it to say that it was an appalling example of the lowest type of journalism, one that does not serve the interests of their ‘source’ and thoroughly misleads the public.
Given all of this context, is it really any wonder that the police might be concerned to be perceived to be not taking allegations of child sexual abuse seriously ? Don’t get me wrong, the situation that the police, the CPS, and some other institutions find themselves in is one entirely of their own making. It is because of their historic failures to investigate CSA and credible allegations of cover-up that has brought them to this difficult place but it is some in the media that have exploited the situation.
For almost two years we on The Needle have been waiting for the inevitable consequences of this dysfunctional police/media relationship to come to a head. All this time we’ve been concerned about how it may affect those genuine abuse victims who go to the police. Did those pushing these stories, while claiming to be campaigners ever consider this ?
There are some who have questioned Harvey Proctor’s right to speak candidly about the allegations made against him. He has every right to give his side of the story. If he had been arrested or charged with an offence then that would be a different matter but he has not and so he has as much right to speak to the media as those who have made allegations against him.
Any genuine journalist or campaigner will welcome the new information, it is only those that seek to close down any debate and attack objectivity and balance that seem to be upset that Harvey Proctor has made a statement.
Pathetic and puerile comments like this one by Exaro editor Mark Watts, which seem to accuse anyone who dares to question of being ‘Paedo-Protectors’, or ‘on the side of abusers’.
This is how a cult works, by marginalising and insulting the objective commentators the debate becomes dominated by extremists, and those too scared to voice an objection. Worse still are the behind the scenes rumour spreading and smears all designed to undermine anyone that can think independently. N0ne of it helps survivors of CSA, none of it !
I’m not going to go into details of why I believe Harvey Proctor when he states that these Operation Midland allegations are untrue. I will say that it was my view before yesterday and that the details from the press statement only confirmed what I already thought to be the case.
The police are still investigating these allegations, I hope that they conclude their investigation expeditiously and on conclusion make a clear and unequivocal statement about it.
* NB, I’ve been told by two reliable and independent sources that the Metropolitan Police criticism of ‘photo ID was directed at another journalist and not Exaro. That said it was Exaro that claimed in a story that Nick had identified the suspects because of photographs that they had shown him.