We’d heard that the ominously named People’s Tribunal on UK Child Sex Abuse had recently issued its report following a year-long ‘unofficial inquiry’. Not that ‘official inquiries’ are always the best way forward, but it strikes us that this project could have some very troubling implications indeed.
Perhaps we’re a bit jaundiced after a year spent fighting trumped-up and entirely unbelievable allegations of ‘Satanic ritual abuse’ of children and infants, but reading the People’s Tribunal report gave us cause for pause. According to a Press Association report in the Daily Mail:
The report of the UK Child Sex Abuse People’s Tribunal blamed “a series of institutional failings” for preventing the reporting of abuse, and claimed that there were “clear links” between children left vulnerable as a result and “predatory abuse on an organised scale“.
“Predatory abuse on an organised scale” seems to us to imply that hundreds, perhaps thousands of child sex abuse survivors were interviewed, their cases investigated thoroughly, and their experiences collated in some sort of database.
The People’s Tribunal was set up in 2014 on the initiative of survivors and their supporters, and has heard the testimonies of 20 people about their experience of sexual abuse, as well as taking evidence from expert witnesses.
Twenty people. Hardly a representative population sample. Granted, some fine qualitative research has been done with fewer than 20 respondents…but on reading over the report, we’re not seeing much evidence that this falls into that category.
The report contains this extraordinary account:
Z86 was sexually abused by his father from infancy, and from about the age of two years his mother began to take him to other houses (‘mansions’) where he was raped both anally and orally by elderly upper-class men. His father also took him to various holiday camps, where he was swapped with other children for abuse by a group of fathers. His father continued to abuse him into his 20s.
At the age of four, Z86 was taken to his GP’s surgery for ‘inculations’ and ‘woke to find himself’ at a nearby defence establishment. He was later taken to the same place via his Sunday school, with other children. Z86 describes children being kept in cages, tortured with electric shocks, deprived of any comfort or proper food, and eventually be ‘conditioned’ or trained to abuse and hurt other children. He believes that the training was to prepare him for child prostitution. From a newspaper photograph Z86 recognized one adult who he remembers being present on several occasions at this place.
At the age of eight, Z86 was taken abroad as part of a large extended family group where he was again abused. The abuse included sex with animals, gang rape and being used to produce child pornography. On returning to the UK he was again taken repeatedly to the defence establishment for further serious abuse. He was injected with unknown substances and given other drugs in drinks. He suspects that these were dissociative drugs, because they made him lose awareness of time and place.
As he became older he was also ‘directed’ to attend monthly ritual abuse bonfires. He was instructed for instance, to go to a particular rendez-vous at night. He recognized adults there, respected professionals, people from his local community and from schools and church groups. The activities of this group included satanic rituals and ritual murder.
As a teenager he was directed to go to particular places in London. Z86 gives details of the activities carried out there: he says that he had to wear a uniform, and he names his own ‘clients’, VIPs and other public figures.
Z86 has severe mental health problems, being diagnosed as having depression, anxiety, PTSD, and dissociative personality disorder. Since he became an adult he has received effective therapeutic help. With the support of his therapist he gave a police video interview in 2011, after which his father was arrested. Although the police wished to pursue this, the CPS decided no charges could be brought.
He then decided to try to hide his identity, changing his name and moving to another part of the country. He has received death threats and attempts to harm him, and believes that several of his friends and associates have been attacked or murdered by their former abusers. Z86 now lives abroad. Since moving to a safer situation, he has been able to talk about the organized aspects of his abuse to his therapist and to a police officer he trusts.
We are not in a position to judge whether this story is true, in whole or in part. As Richard Bartholomew points out in his excellent blog:
The account given above is so vague as to be impossible to prove or disprove, but even with the best will in the world it is impossible to comply with the popular mantra that we must always “believe the victim”. How many “VIP” adults were part of this conspiracy? How many soldiers knew about it? Where are all the other victims? How did the whole thing escape any media or police interest? Was everyone at the “defence establishment” in on it? If not, why did no one else suspect? Why were Z86’s friends killed, yet he has only been threatened? And so on. These are serious difficulties.
As Mr Bartholomew points out, we know nothing about the therapist involved in this case. Is he or she an advocate of SRA?
And perhaps more important, how long has Z86 had these memories? Has he always recalled having been raped by multiple adults, including his own parents? Or are these ‘recovered memories’?
While the report states that Z86’s father was arrested based on his accusation, it does not say why the CPS felt the case would not hold up in court. As we say, so many questions.
The conclusions of the report are characteristically vague:
There are multiple none-too-subtle hints as to how this ‘People’s Tribunal’ would like to see child sexual abuse addressed in law: recommendation (d) suggests that even if a victim’s story is incoherent, they ought to be able to make a police report—when in fact, police reports must necessarily contain enough detail and internal consistency to be properly investigated. Recommendation (e) extends this concept, stating that accusations may remain anonymous. This flies in the face of one of the fundamental principles of justice, the right of the accused to face his or her accuser.
Recommendation (f) would remove the decision to end an investigation from the police, and place it in the hands of an outside body; this would mean that police could be forced to continue pointless investigations into incoherent allegations by anonymous accusers, until some outside body permitted them to stop.
And recommendation (i) suggests that training about the effects of undisclosed sexual abuse be provided to police and judiciary. In other words, where sexual abuse hasn’t been disclosed, police should now be sniffing it out.
All of this sounds like a recipe for a witch-hunt of massive proportions, in which the rights of the accused will be summarily trampled, and no one will be safe from the sudden pointed finger, or the dreaded accusation, “Paedophile! Paedophile!”