Regarding the National Inquiry, yesterday’s mainstream media news remain today’s internet news. For it all adds up, and nobody knows who gets to read what and when, nor what to make of it. So let’s just keep tweeting and twittering. Those of us who ‘know’ that Everybody Knows, but everybody thinks that nobody knows…
Here’s Russia Today’s report:
And here the Guardian:
Westminster child sex abuse inquiry ‘split over credibility of witness’
Doubts over whether Operation Midland can continue amid criticism of detectives for saying claims were ‘credible and true’
The witness known as ‘Nick’ claimed three children had been murdered by a paedophile ring operating from a flat in Dolphin Square, Westminster. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA
Scotland Yard’s high-profile inquiry into an alleged Westminster paedophile ring is split over the veracity of the allegations under investigation and faces external criticism of its conduct.
Police sources say officers on the team are divided on whether it is possible to continue with Operation Midland, the Metropolitan police investigation into claims that a group of high-profile establishment figures abused and murdered children in the 70s and 80s.
Some officers believe there is credibility to the claims of the only witness, “Nick”, whose allegations sparked the investigation, while others believe his claims are without foundation.
Meanwhile, the conduct of the investigative news website Exaro, which first broke stories about Nick, has been the subject of complaints to two senior Home Office officials on the Goddard inquiry into child abuse over its role in the inquiry process, the Guardian understands.
Operation Midland began in November last year after Nick, who first made his allegations on the Exaro website, had a first meeting with police, accompanied by an Exaro reporter.
After conducting three interviews with Nick, detectives held a press conference and announced he was “credible and true”. Nick had made sensational claims that three children had been murdered by a Westminster paedophile ring operating from a flat in Dolphin Square, Westminster, and other locations. Among those allegedly involved include the late former prime minister, Edward Heath, senior army figures and other politicians.
But the investigation has failed to turn up any firm corroborating evidence, it is understood, and officers are split over whether they believe Nick is credible.
While Scotland Yard insists the Midland team will continue to be dedicated to the inquiry, some sources say detectives will gradually have to be moved off to other investigations if the lack of progress continues.
There will be no announcement of it winding down, however. One source said: “That would involve too much loss of face.”
Survivors of abuse added their voices to criticism of the inquiry that came last week from the former director of public prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, and former Tory MP, Harvey Proctor, who was interviewed under caution in connection with the killing of three children and sexual abuse. He strongly denies any involvement.
Ian McFadyen, a victim of years of violent sexual abuse at Caldicott preparatory school, and an advocate for survivors of child abuse, compared the public announcements by the Met that Nick was credible at the very start of their investigation, with the successful investigation run by Thames Valley police into Caldicott. It led to the conviction of former teachers from Caldicott, including the jailing last year of the former headmaster, Peter Wright, 83.
“There was a news blackout from the police and none of the victims were talking to the media. It was frustrating but I was told that to do so could corrupt the inquiry and make any trial collapse. It meant the police were able to carry out their investigation and to get convictions,” he said.
One former senior detective said to publicly announce Nick’s account as “credible and true” was extraordinary. “It could never be true until it was corroborated. It may have been credible but that doesn’t make it true,” he said.
“In fact, the account was incredible and the murder part of the inquiry was conducted back to front, with suspects identified and interviewed before anything had been found; anything like names of victims or dates of killings.”
But another former senior detective who has knowledge of the investigation defended the inquiry. “Every detective working on the inquiry knows they have to thoroughly investigate the allegations, because if they don’t, in two years’ time they will be called in front of the Goddard inquiry into child abuse and be asked why they didn’t do that or they didn’t do this.
“They were also in the position of knowing the alleged witness was speaking to the media.”
Exaro began investigating abuse allegations against high-profile figures following the Jimmy Savile revelations in 2012.
McFadyen is critical of the way the news website deals with victims of abuse. “We, survivors, have become a commodity, we have become Exaro’s commodity … they have been predatory around this,” he said.
“There is no doubt there have been people abused within Westminster, what I don’t like is the way that people are being handled and dealt with and how their lives are being used for other people’s gain.”
Others have raised concerns about Exaro to senior Home Office officials over its role in the setting up of what eventually became the Goddard inquiry.
One complaint came last November over the presence of its journalist, David Hencke, a former Guardian reporter, at a private meeting for survivors and their representatives. A second complaint was made to another senior inquiry official three months later, alleging that the role Exaro was playing – “seemingly with the assistance of panel members” –was “causing havoc” among some survivors.
Met police set up new child abuse team
Last week, Suffolk Police said they were winding down their investigation into allegations made by another of Exaro’s alleged abuse victims, known as “Darren”, after his claims were found to be unsubstantiated.
He had alleged a senior Conservative politician was among those involved in a gang of paedophiles and that a girl had died at a paedophile party at Dolphin Square.
Mark Watts, Exaro editor-in-chief, dismissed its critics. “Exaro maintains strong relationships with abuse survivors and other key witnesses,” he said. “They are really pleased that Exaro has forced the authorities increasingly to take the issue seriously, and has repeatedly pushed it to the top of Britain’s news agenda.
“Some of course want to deter other abuse survivors and witnesses from coming forward to us. I am glad to say that such efforts have failed.”
Another alleged abuse victim, Esther Baker, who has spoken to Exaro, dismissed accusations that it treated survivors as commodities. “As far as I know, it’s always been survivors that contact them, not the other way round,” she said. “I’ve got Exaro ringing me two, three times a week – they don’t want any information; they’re ringing me to see if I was OK.”