Yesterday we discussed how former Metropolitan police officer Jonathan Wedger, currently the darling of the troofer set, played a key part in demonstrating to police that the Hampstead SRA case was in fact a hoax. Given ex-DC Wedger’s current affiliations with Hampstead hoax pushers such as Bill Maloney, Lou Collins, and Brian Gerrish, we very much doubt that this news will be welcome in some circles.
Some of our readers asked us yesterday whether we thought Mr Wedger is as dodgy as his conspiranoid friends. This is an excellent question, and deserves a longer answer than we could provide in the Comments section of this blog, so we’ll give it a go today.
How valid are ex-DC Wedger’s allegations?
Since mid-2016, Mr Wedger has been trying to gain publicity for his claims that the London Metropolitan police are engaged in a wide-spread cover-up of child trafficking (formerly known as “child prostitution”) and that as a whistle-blower, he was targetted and bullied by his superior officers. He says that this bullying caused him serious psychiatric injury, that his pay was cut in half, and that he was forced into early retirement.
First, let us emphasise that there is nothing inherently wrong with his attempting to publicise these concerns.
Child trafficking is a very serious problem, and as Mr Wedger notes, many trafficked children do come from the care system: from September 2014 to 2015, 167 of 590 children who were suspected or identified as child trafficking victims vanished from foster and care homes across the country. Worse, 20% of local authorities contacted in that time frame were unable to report how many children were formally identified or suspected of being trafficked—so there are major gaps in the available data.
Police response to this issue has been tepid at best, according to a report issued by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in October 2017. According to the report,
Victims are not always identified and investigations are closed prematurely….
Failings in the approach left victims exposed and allowed perpetrators to continue to exploit the vulnerable, it added. In one case, the inspectorate was told: “The public view is, they are not our girls.”
Wendy Williams, the inspector of constabulary, said: “While modern slavery cases can be complex and require significant manpower, many of the shortcomings in investigating these cases reflect deficiencies in basic policing practice.
“We found inconsistent, even ineffective, identification of victims and investigations closed prematurely. As a result, victims were being left unprotected, leaving perpetrators free to continue to exploit people as commodities.”
These reports do bear out at least some of Mr Wedger’s allegations. For example, in his 2016 interview with Brian Gerrish Mr Wedger stated,
So I went on to this job and I was, I got a job with what they call the Street Offences Unit, and street offences relates to the old Street Offences Act of the last century which refers to prostitution, street prostitution. And our job was to go and sort of arrest street prostitutes really but also we had governance for juveniles. So if a juvenile was found on the street in a red light area late at night believed involved in it, they were to be sort of brought in, taken in to protective custody. And every now and then a child would be found, usually a girl, and our job was to then bring her in, inform Social Services, the kid would then be placed into protective police custody whilst Social Services work out Emergency Protection Orders, E-P-Os. …
(W)e would find these, these kids and take then into custody and everything else but the problem then was that it was a competitive environment, so it was number crunching, so you were given a target of each car that was put out, three cars were put out per night, and you would have a competition, who could arrest as many prostitutes as you can, and ten would be a good figure, and if you did that every day of the week you was the top team. So there was competitions, and you could process a prostitute very quickly via the custody, and it, it was pointless cos all of them were drug addicts, all of them had come from the care system. And if you brought a kid in that was your night finished. The car was taken off the road and that was it, so that you wouldn’t get the figures, so you was encouraged not to deal with them.
Mr Wedger was clearly very dedicated to his work, and this institutional neglect of a vulnerable population must have been highly distressing to him.
His dedication to serving the public was such that he received a commendation for his outstanding work on the horrific “Baby P” case, in which a 17-month-old boy died after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period. Strangely, though, Mr Wedger doesn’t seem inclined to mention this case in his various interviews.
A few odd notes
While we were very impressed with Mr Wedger’s obvious passion for the work he did, and his determination to do right by those our society has failed, a few things about his interviews struck us as strange.
In his interview with Brian Gerrish, for example, he described a woman called “Foxy” who was pimping out young girls. One girl was named Zoe:
And she’d made an allegation that this woman Foxy had been pimping her out; and she’d made a couple of allegations, and they hadn’t gone anywhere. So what I was told was, ‘Can you look into it? She’s made allegations before; she’s a bit of a nightmare; she might be lying, she might not; but she’s a bit persistent; see what you can do.’ So I went, ‘OK.’ So I, I went to see the girl, made an appointment and was told she’s very anti-police, you know, and she is a bit of a handful.
Mr Wedger described how he built a trusting relationship with Zoe, and was able to convince her to do an ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) interview:
And, we sat down, we had a chat. We..interviewed her, and she told me the story start to finish. And she’s the product of broken family: her mother was a drug addict, the father was absent, and it, the mother was buying drugs off this girl Foxy, and Foxy then started to groom her, because her mother was unable to look after her. She then ended up living with the grandparents but the grandparents lived in a red light area. And so Foxy would go and pick this young girl up, and, basic grooming; look after her, show her some attention, a bit of love, do her hair for her, give her make-up – but then introduced her to cannabis; got her smoking cannabis, and then, would then take her to hotels.
These were bottom-end hotels; these were the sort of places where a lot of the builders would go to, you know. So there’d be like converted Victorian houses, or whatever. In one, one area of London there’s a big row of them. And a lot of them were, were maintenance and building workers from the North would come down and stay in these hotels. So Foxy had an agreement with the night porters, and the night porters would make a room available for her. So she would take her clients in there; so she’d go in there with a client, start having sex and have this young girl there watching, and then encourage the young girl to get involved. And then from there, she would then start giving the young girl the bigger drugs, so the Class A drugs is what they want the kids on. Once they’ve got them on the Class A drugs – especially the crack cocaine – it’s got a, a real grip on them, you know. And this girl had no way of getting these drugs, so she relied on Foxy as her medicine lady, you know. So she got her on crack cocaine, and then she started then pimping the young girl out, getting the young girl involved. And then she would then get the girl to introduce her friends to it.
So she was then introducing her friends – also come from families that, parents were drug addicts, or absent or whatever. And so, or in the care system; in fact all the kids we dealt with were subject to care orders, whether they were residential care orders or, or just normal care orders, you know. But they’re all known to Social Services and from ‘At Risk’ backgrounds. And so, she gave me the name of another kid. So I went to see that girl; the story was identical, and the other thing was they used to say, ‘Well what about the police? Do the police ever get involved?’ And both girls said,’Well, we would get hidden in a bush; if we was put on the street, if the police came Foxy would hide us in a bush; but she, she knew the coppers anyway, she’d just flirt with them and they would just let her go.’
And she said, ‘But also there’s a judge, there’s a judge involved.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She went, ‘Oh, judge at the magistrates’ court. So when Foxy’s charge goes before the judge, the judge is her client anyway. So the judge lets her off.’
So I checked this out; I went through the disposal history, the criminal history of this girl, and found she keeps getting bind-overs, this Foxy. So, I thought,’Right, well, there’s something in this.’
This story has the ring of truth, right up to the final detail: Mr Wedger says Foxy got let off when she went to court because one of the judges was her client.
We find this part of the story hard to believe for two important reasons: when a person is sent to magistrates court, they don’t have a choice of judges. And the judges there don’t choose their cases; they take what’s assigned to them.
Even less believable, however, is Mr Wedger’s description of his interactions with his bosses, who seem drawn from “B” grade police thrillers.
For example, at one point, Mr Wedger drafted a report on the issues facing police who dealt with trafficked young people. He pointed out that investigations weren’t being followed up by police, and children were being failed as a result. He submitted it to his superior officer, who he said responded in a surprising manner:
And, I then get a phone call, within about an hour of the report going through, and it’s from the governing Detective Inspector. And he said to me, ‘Jon, about this report you put on.’ And I was thinking, ‘Good, brilliant; I’ve now shown them the goose that is giving the golden eggs, and hopefully, this’ll move forward,’ you know – I really thought I was going to get praise for it. And then what happened was he said, ‘We need to talk now; get in my office, now.’ I went, ‘OK.’ So I went down to see him, I was in a different building, I travelled down, went in his office, and, it was like someone had set a pit-bull on me. He started swearing and shouting and, ‘What have you done? You can’t do things like this, I’m taking,’ he’s shutting it down, ‘I’m taking you off.’ So he withdrew me straightaway from the operation – and that really upset me, you know, cos I was moving forward, you know…
Shortly afterward, his Detective Chief Superintendent told him to take the summer off; when he returned, there was another surprising conversation awaiting:
I said, ‘Well, what have I done?”…’I, you know, I really thought I done well; I’d exposed this’….
And he turned round to me and he said, ‘Well that’s a problem; you’ve exposed it.’ He said,’We knew you could dig, but we never knew you could dig that deep.’ He then said, ‘What you’ve exposed is gonna F us, past, present and future. This cannot, and will not, ever get out.’ He said, ‘If you mention a word of this, you will be thrown to the wolves.’ He then said, ‘You will lose everything – and that means your job, your home, your kids, you will lose it all. You need to shut your F-ing mouth.’ And I was just dumbstruck. I was like, ‘For real?’ And he said, ‘We never thought you would dig this deep. You have no understanding how deep this goes.’
Now, colour us cynical, but this conversation does not have the same ring of truth as Mr Wedger’s descriptions of his work with trafficked children. In the non-conspiranoid world, people don’t say things like “you have no understanding how deep this goes” or “we knew you could dig, but we never knew you could dig that deep”. It seems more likely to us that if Mr Wedger had truly caused concern in the upper echelons of his department, he’d have been quietly and discreetly reassigned.
We’re not saying that Mr Wedger was never subjected to bullying, but this part of his story just doesn’t strike us as realistic.
Post-traumatic stress disorder and police
Mr Wedger has claimed that he developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a direct result of the bullying he received when he was in the Met.
This is of course possible, but judging from his descriptions of the work he did—good, dedicated work, with some of the most vulnerable populations one could encounter, fighting against seemingly insurmountable institutional barriers—it seems likely that he might have begun developing PTSD as a result of his job.
We tend to think of PTSD as related to a single intensely stressful incident which leaves deep scars on the psyche. However, police and others who work in high-stress jobs are susceptible to “cumulative PTSD”, which results from multiple stress-related experiences. While we cannot presume to say whether Mr Wedger’s PTSD symptoms arise from the cumulative stresses of his work, bullying he received from his colleagues, or even the trauma which must have resulted from working on the tragic Baby P case, it does seem plausible to us that at least some of his beliefs—that his superior officers were plotting against him, for example—might stem from the paranoia and hyper-vigilance which can be hallmarks of PTSD.
And then there are his friends. As we’ve seen in countless instances, the conspiracy community which surrounds the Hampstead SRA hoax seems to create and reinforce its own vortex of paranoia and muddled thinking. Mr Wedger has said he’s been good friends with people like Bill Maloney for a number of years; frankly, we cannot imagine that travelling in such circles would be good for anyone’s mental health.
Bottom line: it appears to us that while Mr Wedger has done a very good job as a police officer, and has raised some important issues which should be addressed, he does himself no favours by associating with troofers. And we do have concerns about some aspects of his narrative, which seem confabulated to us. It’s a pity, because clinging to the conspiranoid bits of his story can only serve to dilute the importance of his overall message.