Statement provided to BBC’s Panorama programme on allegations of child sexual abuse and homicide

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The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has serious concerns about the impact of this programme on its investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse and homicide, on the witnesses involved, and on the willingness of victims of abuse to come forward to police.

We have warned previously about the risks of media investigations compromising a criminal investigation. When we initially launched our Operation Midland appeal, we specifically highlighted how a media organisation – the BBC in fact – had shown pictures of individuals to ‘Nick’ which could compromise the evidential chain should a case ever proceed to court.

We continue to be concerned about approaches to witnesses by all media, and that warning was reinforced by the Attorney General on Friday, 25 September.

The BBC was the first mainstream media outlet to broadcast an interview with ‘Nick’ containing allegations of homicide currently being investigated by Operation Midland. Since then, the BBC has been investigating these allegations in parallel to our criminal inquiry. We have made it clear to the BBC and other media we will not assist with their inquiries.

We are now being asked to respond to a challenge to a specific element of Operation Midland. Again we reiterate our position that we will not give a running commentary on the progress of our investigation to them or any other media outlet.

We have not yet completed our work. There are still lines of inquiry to pursue which are not in the public domain and we will not reach a judgment until that work is completed.

As we have made clear, we have an open mind and will go where the evidence takes us. We have acknowledged that some of our initial language may have suggested otherwise, but this is a thorough, professional investigation as the public would expect given the gravity of the allegations. It is then for the Crown Prosecution Service to make a decision on whether to prosecute. If they do, only a jury can decide on the truth of allegations after hearing all the evidence.

We trust that the BBC has given due consideration to the impact of its reporting on ‘Nick’ and how it fulfils its responsibility to a witness making allegations of a sensitive and personal nature which were broadcast to millions of people.

These ethical considerations are always an important element of our investigations, especially in the area of sexual abuse and we hope the BBC would make similar considerations.

We have a responsibility to protect vulnerable victims and witnesses throughout the criminal justice process, and we take that duty extremely seriously.

Our concerns extend beyond Operation Midland. We are worried that this programme and other recent reporting will deter victims and witnesses from coming forward in future. Seeing an individual make allegations and then be targeted by the media is not going to encourage others to speak out.

Anyone who read the report into Jimmy Savile will recall that hundreds of people never came forward during his lifetime in part because they feared the consequences of making allegations against a powerful public figure. Since that investigation, there has been a significant increase in people reporting non-recent and contemporary allegations.

We welcome this increasing confidence and do not want to take a backward step, and we trust that the BBC will consider in responsible fashion the wider impact of its reporting on all the individuals who might be watching.

We note that the broader focus of the programme is on allegations of paedophilia involving politicians dating back to previous decades. We make no apology for investigating these thoroughly and professionally. Not all allegations warrant a full investigation – that is the nature of policing – after initial scoping some go forward for more investigation and some do not.

We note that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (Goddard Inquiry) has also said it will examine allegations of child sexual abuse ‘involving well known people, including people in the media, politics, and other aspects of public life.’

There is a great deal of public interest in how investigations were carried out in the past. The MPS has referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) a number of allegations that reports of sexual abuse involving politicians were not properly investigated, a number of which the IPCC is now managing.

We recognise that there is a public interest in reporting and commenting on the police and our investigations. We can and do accept criticism of our policing operations. But we do believe there is a distinction to be made between fair comment and impacting on victims and witnesses in a way that may damage them or a criminal investigation.

The wider public interest, surely, is for victims and witnesses to have the confidence to come forward with the knowledge that credible allegations will be properly investigated, and when the evidence is there, to have perpetrators brought to justice.

Met.police,uk

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31 Comments

Filed under Abuse, News

31 responses to “Statement provided to BBC’s Panorama programme on allegations of child sexual abuse and homicide

  1. Pingback: Statement provided to BBC’s Panorama programme on allegations of child sexual abuse and homicide | Alternative News Network

  2. Clive

    Precisely what I for one at any rate, expected. An unprecedented intervention and totally outrageous. Surely this is Contempt?

  3. tdf

    Having just finished watching the programme (BBC Northern Ireland has a slightly different schedule to mainland BBC) and being as objective as I can, I can understand now the criticisms that were being levied at the programme before transmission, and to my mind some of them seem valid.

    It seemed to give undue weight to scepticism about claims regarding allegations of politician/’VIP’ abusers, and overall, the narrative left a sour taste in the mouth.

    What was with all the background footage of Savile in various sinister and eccentric poses, most of which didn’t tie in with the voice-over? The unspoken, impressionistic narrative conveyed, it seems to me, was that claims about entertainment industry nonces are mainly valid, whereas claims about politician/VIP establishment networks are b.s. (the odd ‘lone offender’, such as Cyril Smith, apart).

    Peter Spindler and Peter Saunders provided much needed balance in a programme that at times seemed like a thinly disguised hitpiece on Tom Watson, Exaro and Chris Fay.

    • Anon

      Well Gojam, what was your impression and analysis of the the programme?

      • I’m writing, it will be up today but I want to get it right.

      • TSMM

        Gojam-will you mention that you rang your lib dem councillor friend and ex mail On sunday journo,John Oakes,prior to the broadcast?Or should we say,your “lie-dem councillor friend,with a sudden false memory synodrome”?

      • Space cadet, you really are a prick !

        I’ve never had any contact directly or indirectly with John Oakes.

        Get a life !

        And BTW you’re banned.

      • TSMM

        that’s odd,Mr Gojam,as several abuse survivors are seriously suggesting that YOU should be questioned by police about the “leak”.What do YOU say to THAT,Mr Gojam-without throwing your typical dumbass insults?

      • More than happy to talk to the police but as I haven’t ‘leaked’ anything to anyone I’m not sure I could be much help.

        Now, if that is all you have; that you think I’ve met someone who I’ve never met or been in contact with and that you think I leaked something (I don’t know what) to someone (I don’t know whom) then I suggest you go back to the drawing board because you are plainly desperate and barking up the wrong tree. (Or perhaps just barking)

      • TSMM

        no,Gojam,we’ve taken screenshots of certain tweets you’ve made and twitter converstions you’ve had,even ones you deleted after tweeting them.We think you know what and who we mean.So,we shall assume that YOU are clearly barking-in desperation.We can almost feel you squirming,Mr Gojam.

      • OK, have it your way.

        Now go away please.

    • The BBC looking after its paymasters, I fear.

      (I am a strong defender of the BBC on principle when faced with a government such as this, but often find the tone of its reporting on such matters irksome and smug when compared to the more balanced and less sensationalist of independent journalists and campaigners … sort of “everything is alright, it’s alright, it’s *fine*” to quote from one of its internal parodies.)

  4. dpack

    as i have yet to watch the program i can not comment upon it but regarding fay(dubious data at best) and exaro (well ,know them by their works is an understatement imho) they should both be examined in context.tom watson seems to be a decent chap who has found himself in a total shitstorm for trying to do the right things based on good information he was asked to expose.

    when panorama was live on tv i was reading the final chapters of not behind lace curtains which seems to be a scholarly assessment of the earlier part of the context i have been examining.

    evan was quite bold to put some of his photos on the walls when mary was coming for a social visit.

    • The Walrus

      Again many of us would appreciate it if you could speak in plain English instead of obscure riddles. Then again maybe you are trying to fool us into thinking you know something we don’t.

      • dpack

        if that is addressed to me the above is very plain imho and if you have been following the various threads over the years it should make sense.

        the comment about not behind lace curtains and evan is senior common room chat about a book and research into context,this probably isnt the place or time to expand upon that but i will.
        it seems probable that evan treadagar had a selection of homoerotic/sm (and very possibly what would now be considered csa image) photographs on the walls of his premises when he knew queen mary was coming to visit him,they included at least one of her son david/ed 8 (the exact nature of the photo or photos of him is unclear at this time) along with photos of various other “gentlemen”she knew from court life.
        it was plausibly an attempt by evan to show her what he knew and gain from that,it is also plausible that evan was rather losing the plot and showing his cards(he wasnt a very stable chap at the best of times and on occasions was very rash).he did not thrive at court after this event.

        i dont do tabloid so please dont expect me to.

        perhaps after several years of research we do know things you dont but i dont know what you or most other folk know so it is rather hard to pitch every comment for everyone and sometimes it isnt necessary or wise to do so.

        ps there are some exchanges on this blog i dont understand (nor need to),some i wish i didnt understand and some only myself,the other party and perhaps a few others do understand.
        this along with the very clear statements intended for everyone is part of the strength of this blog.
        we are not secretive or exclusive but some things are only relevant to the work of a few folk at the time the conversation occurs.

        i hope that clears things up .
        sorry if i sound irritable but poking through some of the most horrible stuff i know of has a high price and most of us get a bit tetchy at times.

  5. tdf

    Some rather odd tweets from David Aaronovitch tonight, and I see that his Times column tomorrow is using some of the phrases directly from the Panorama script…

    Almost as though he’d written the narrative himself…then again, I seem to recall that he was mooted as the original presenter of this broadcast?

    I have full confidence that the similarity in narratives is merely co-incidental!

  6. dpack

    ps the met statement is more sensible than i expected ,well composed and if that is policy and they mean it im with the thin blue line on these matters .

    “As we have made clear, we have an open mind and will go where the evidence takes us.” spot on folks ,just do it .

  7. Hilly

    No condemnation in the statement for Exaro, who also showed photographs to “Nick”?
    Panorama made for difficult viewing but I thought that it was balanced and after all of the Exaro generated hysterics i expected it to be less so.
    If it may have left some with the impression that there are no VIP abusers then the blame for that IMO lies firmly at the door of Exaro, which has quite disgracefully exploited obviously vulnerable people without a shred of credibility for its own ends.

    • Aardvark

      The Police have clearly stated they have been concerned by the behaviour of all media outlets in relation to investigations. In fact they clearly state, ” We are worried that this programme and other recent reporting will deter victims and witnesses from coming forward in future. Seeing an individual make allegations and then be targeted by the media is not going to encourage others to speak out.”.
      All media outlets will have an agenda and that will not necessarily be in the interests of Survivors of abuse or with finding out the truth. It is imperative that the Police continue their investigations unhindered, where ever that takes them and that other Victims will be supported in coming forward, without an invasive media circus.

  8. Andy Barnett

    I have just watched last night’s Panorama. For a programme that has long been known to have set out to debunk the claims of a VIP peadophile ring, I thought it did an excellent job at appearing balanced and fair, demonstrating due compassion for both victims of CSA and for anyone that is falsely accused of that wicked crime.

    And of course, appearance was what mattered. The audience was meant to leave with the impression of a fair and balanced programme, while feeling disappointed at the Police, social workers, media outlets, politicians and, of course, alleged victims that have been trying their hardest over the past 3 or 30 years to get allegations of CSA by VIPs taken seriously by the justice system. The message for us to take away was clear – such people have GONE TOO FAR – using words like ‘credible and true’ when they should have just said ‘credible’, representing a victim that wasn’t even a constituent (horror of horrors) or coming forward to Police about your abuse when you didn’t even ask for id before being f***ed in the a** 35 years ago.

    What was missing from this programme was the context in which all these people have been acting. There was no mention of the vast wealth of evidence still emerging of the ORGANISED COVER-UP of sexual abuse of children carried out by politicians and others you might call ‘VIPs’ over decades: the failure to prosecute alleged VIP-offenders like Smith, Janner, Morrison, Hayman and Savile; the 40 or so referrals to the IPCC of investigatons against politicians that were stopped by those on high; the loss of the Dickens dossier and the many other HO files that has disappeared; the multiple stories of Special Branch removing evidence against politicians and threats made to Police and journalists; and the many many other cases of ‘historical CSA’ now being prosecuted – “historical” only because the authorities at the time put the protection of careers and reputations above that of children.

    So have the Police, victims, media, politicians, etc made mistakes in their pursuit of the truth and their campaign against the establishment to right this terrible wrong? Yes. Yes they have. But should they be attacked and undermined by a biased-from-the-outset publically-funded BBC TV programme for doing this? No, I don’t think they should.

    It was wrong IMO to make this programme, presenting the ‘fair and balanced’ information it did, without first spelling out the WIDER CONTEXT of a COVER-UP by those in senior positions in our country of what is a horrifying crime carried out on a horrifying scale.

    Perhaps in their year-long investigation the programme makers didn’t come across any evidence of this cover-up, no reason to empathise with those fighting against the odds to uncover what might be a terrible evil at the heart of our society. Or perhaps the opposite is true – that the reason for not exposing the cover-up is that the programme makers themselves are part of it?

    • dpack

      in the wider context the cover up is only part of the situation,once somebody has had their crimes covered up the coverers own them as they have the threat of uncovering them as a stick and the promise of further protection and even reward as a carrot.
      it is important to recognize that abused kids are the primary victims and should be seen as such with both due justice and protection measures to prevent further offending harming others but the whole democratic and legal process is subverted by covering up for and then controlling the criminals.

      • Andy Barnett

        Quite. The idea promoted by Panorama – that the Police were unwilling to believe victims in the past and are too willing to believe them today – is way too simplistic, and way too convenient for those trying to undermine current police investigations.

        There were clearly other players actively involved in closing down investigations in past decades. Who they were and what their motivation was, we can only speculate. Was it to protect a ‘ring’ of paedophiles that included some very big names (as ‘Nick’ might suggest)? Was it to maintain a system of control over politicians (as you indicate), though who exactly was doing the controlling? Or was it a case of the Establishment protecting its own, as in the Peter Ball case (and as suggested by Norman Tebbit)? None of these questions was even hinted at by Panorama. All they seemed interested in doing was undermining current Police investigations.

      • Aardvark

        The person having their crime covered up, may also have information about a network of others, that could also be used as black mail, so they themselves have leverage, a veritable, tangled web of connections!

  9. nuggy

    alarm bells started ringing when the allegations were described as credible and true if they really are you don’t need to say it..

  10. dpack

    i have just watched the program and it was a very professional job,balanced,exposing untruths,asking questions,telling truths and completely misleading regarding the ugly realities of these matters.

    the subjects that were not covered are quite interesting for instance the”macalpine defense” on a small or large scale,the butler sloss/mayor woman appointments,exaro’s bone fides and background links(there are other black hats in the field so destroying the credibility of exaro is no set back to the forces who wish to “keep a lid on this” as they are expendable,the various dickens papers,the muttered words”keep a lid on this”,irish matters,security and vetting matters(smith is a well known example but there are many others),exaro’s presentation of the “customs officer’s statement” and the statement he seemed to be making,that the “internet nutters” range from very serious and quite professional white hat researchers via misinformation and document weeding officers and paid and unpaid trolls etc etc etc .
    i could extend that list a lot but you can see where im going.

    between exaro and the bbc the search for truth has taken a bit of a blow but if the met mean what they said in their statement and the white hats keep on collating data and giving it context and witnesses continue to provide information the black hats are doomed .

    the effort put into discrediting the idea that there are some very dark aspects to “vip” and political life is a good indication that there is a serious problem.

    • dpack

      ps i just realized that it was broadcast in the middle of the tory party conference so extra marks for timing.

  11. Pingback: THE LOUSE & THE FLEA: PANORAMA, EXARO & THE VIP PAEDOPHILE SAGA | theneedleblog

  12. isis

    The programme’s narrow focus and limited number of interviewees in an inquiry of this scale made it seem biased.

    Rumours about Brittan have come from many unconnected sources. I was surprised that the Grafton Home victims were not trafficked to EGH, perhaps the scale is smaller than we imagined.

    I can see there might be confabulation amongst victims especially those that came together around NAYPIC. The programme highlights the importance of early full witness statements to police before talking to anyone else.

    But perhaps it was time to look at these complainants. Sometimes these people are obviously deluded and sometimes their story is crazy but plausible (So you’re a victim of MK Ultra, run by Tavistock and Thatcher…)
    They are so damaged that it’s not easy for police, social workers or journalists to know what to make of them and perhaps professionals need psychiatric imput. It’s strange that police have been unable to trace the school friend knocked down and I wonder if Nick might have disassociated and had imaginary friends. His case would have been stronger without the murders but I am glad that the police got murder enquiry funding for this issue.