When Exaro News first published a story regarding the Operation Midland witness Nick [12 July 2014], the reaction of The Needle team was one of shock but not, like most readers, because the allegations were so disturbing but because we could see straight away that Exaro had used someone we knew to have already told false stories to the press which had been published. This was not the only aspect of this story that made us extremely wary but it did leave us asking ourselves why it would be necessary, if Nick’s allegations were true, to use a false witness to bolster them ?
On the Panorama programme, broadcast 6th October 2015, this witness was referred to as ‘David’. We had become aware of David in the Spring of 2013 when stories published in the print media had quoted him as a witness for Elm Guest House stories. Later that Summer, he made contact with Chris Fay and during July, September and October of 2013 we were aware that he was being interviewed by Operation Fernbridge, by which time we had already formed the opinion that he was extremely unreliable.
Exaro’s first stories that used him as the primary source are dated to around December 2013. The stories fall into two broad categories – information that David claimed to have gleaned from the detectives during his 50 hours of interviews, and those in which David claimed to have been a direct witness to events. The first category included claims that Dutch police were investigating his claims, a security service agent had sat in on one of his police interviews, and that the police had a video of David and a former cabinet minister (Leon Brittan) attending a VIP sex party; the second category included claims that he had been sadistically abused by Sidney Cooke.
Exaro News were not the only media outlet to be running stories with David as the primary source. The Express, with the help of Bill Maloney, were doing so also. The story about the female former Conservative MP and another about a BBC Executive are examples of stories that appeared in The Express where David was the source.
At this point I’d just like to note that in the Panorama Chris Fay is the only individual who faces criticism, I think that it is deserved. However, the programme did not mention the role that Bill Maloney played and that of former East 17 front man Brian Harvey. All should stand together in the dock of public opinion for the way that they exploited David, and not Chris Fay alone.
All of the stories that I’ve mentioned above, all of them, in The Express and on Exaro News are untrue.
So you can imagine our astonishment when we saw that David was once again being wheeled out, this time to act as a corroborative witness for Nick.
Yesterday I spoke to David for the first time. As I did so the words of Daniel Foggo from the Panorama were ringing in my ears:
“David admits he finds it a struggle to recall details, and I’d certainly found it difficult to get a clear and consistent picture from him. In the past he’s been willing to tell people what they want to hear, and it’s possible that he may be doing that to us too.”
Foggo’s words had echoed the views I’d held myself for some time but the open acceptance by the programme makers that, because of David’s vulnerability, they couldn’t vouchsafe the accuracy of their own on camera interview with David seemed to highlight an implicit paradox regarding any value I might gain from talking to him myself. If I had not already been unequivocally certain that David was the source used by Exaro to corroborate Nick’s Dolphin Square claims then I would not have talked to him, much less referred to our conversation here and I’d ask readers to hold in the forefront of their minds Daniel Foggo’s caveat.
David appeared unaware that he was the corroborative ‘witness’ for Nick’s allegations in the early Exaro stories. He recalled talking to an Exaro journalist about Dolphin Square. He volunteered on more than one occasion during our conversation and without prompting that he had never been to Dolphin Square.
It is necessary during such difficult conversations to listen rather than talk for fear of leading a source. David was very upset by the way he had been used by Chris Fay, Bill Maloney, and Brian Harvey.
David is not a monster, he isn’t calculating or malicious. He went to a special needs school when he was a boy, he’s very easily manipulated, easy to take advantage of. He probably doesn’t like confrontation and so he tries to please those he communicates with, he tells people what he thinks they want to hear. He wants others to like him. I’m sure most readers can understand what that is like and will readily forgive him.
If David’s story had not touched on the Operation Midland fiasco, I wouldn’t have troubled him myself. I hope he can put what has happened over the last few years behind him and move forward with his life.
We know from Exaro’s Operation Midland stories that followed that the Metropolitan Police having seen these early stories asked to talk to Nick. Did they not also ask to talk to the other witness who at the time was unnamed? They must have. Exaro made it clear in the story of 1st November 2014 that the second witness would not talk to the police despite the Met’s request. Were the police aware that the second witness was David who they had already interviewed for 50 hours over numerous, diverse, and unrelated claims of child abuse a year previously? It’s not implausible that Exaro withheld David’s name from the police to protect a vulnerable anonymous source but under the circumstances, given the impression that the police must have been left with that there was potentially a credible corroborative witness for Nick’s claims, was that the right thing to do?
Most disturbing of all, is it possible that the now infamous ‘credible and true’ police press conference was an attempt at trying to get David to come forward and speak to them by publicly reassuring him that he would be believed?
It would be incredible if this were true. A handful of the Operation Midland detectives had previously worked on Operation Fernbridge they would have been fully aware of the kind of unreliable witness testimony David would provide.
I’m going to conclude by briefly looking at another claim I’ve heard, the suggestion of another second witness. This is from a single source, one who’s reliability I’ve not been able to test. However, we’re on the subject of second sources and readers can apply their own good sense in judging whether to hold much store in it. I’m on the fence.
I had been told that Nick has claimed that there is another corroborative witness who lives in Europe. According to the source, this witness only communicates with Nick and is too frightened to talk to the police. Naturally, this is worthless as far as the police investigation goes but it does have echoes of the kind of unverifiable evidence that we see elsewhere. For example, the fact that the establishment paedophiles Nick claims to have been sadistically abused by had their own medical doctor who patched him up, which means that there are likely no medical records of the injuries he claims he sustained; or the fact that Nick claims that he was taken to Paris to be abused by members of the Saudi royal family by private jet from an, as yet unidentified, airfield in southern England, which obviates the need for a passport or any record that may have existed that he’d travelled abroad.
All in all, a troubling picture that raises disturbing questions. Whether we get the answers, or whether there are too many vested interests who are guardians of the embarrassing truth, remains to be seen.