The backlash began in earnest yesterday against Tom Watson and the entire investigation into the cover up of a high level paedophile ring operating in Britain after revelations that the wrong man had been identified as a pederast. It was bound to happen. The same thing happened with Leveson and as Watson pointed out, it was the same people from the same media outlets wagging their fingers and whispering “conspiracy theories” who have returned.
I won’t list any of those involved the backlash here, because you know who they are and you can go to Telegraph blogs and The Spectator and see them for yourself. The comments that accompany these blogs are also pretty vile: some abuse Watson, while others talk about “smears against the Conservative party”, which is rather ironic given the fact the party has regularly engaged in smear campaigns against its opponents since the 1920s, the most infamous of which was the Zinoviev Letter in 1924.
Last night, the BBC’s Newsnight was forced into making an apology for not naming the high-ranking Tory peer but for, seemingly, sparking off a Twit-storm. Watching the programme, I was immediately struck by how weird it all seemed. The atmosphere was sombre, almost gloomy. Host, Eddie Mair, also said that Newsnight would be suspending its investigative reporting with immediate effect. In an eerily Kafkaesque moment, Mair then told us that “no one from the BBC was available for comment”. Bizarre.
Sure, Newsnight’s recent reportage has been woefully deferential to the government. It dropped the ball after Savile died and then tried to make up lost ground after ITV’s Exposure did the job that they failed to do. But this is the effect of over-management at the Beeb, who have made cuts to staff numbers – including journalists. Hence the partnership with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
But these are all diversions; distractions from the real issue: namely the widespread and systematic abuse of children by powerful people and the cover-ups by the authorities that have allowed this disgusting situation to continue. The lives of those abused have been utterly destroyed. Many have taken their lives or submerged themselves in drink and drugs. Yet, when one brings up the subject, they are in danger of being dismissed as “conspiracy theorists”.
Let me clear about something: I don’t indulge in conspiracy theories. I don’t have time for tales of lizards-disguised-as-humans or crap about the Illuminati and the eye above the pyramid on US dollar bills. You will find no links to David Icke or Jeff Rense on The Cat’s blog. But there is something about this case and the subsequent (not to mention hasty) circling of the wagons by the mainstream media’s usual suspects. In their own way, they are as guilty as those who seek to cover up these horrific stories of abuse because they focus on the messenger, which, by extension, transforms the victims into unreliable witnesses.
Leah McGrath Goodman, the American journalist who investigated the Haut de la Garenne child abuse scandal, found herself being denied entry to Britain in 2011. Why? It seems she asked too many questions. On her blog she says,
The islanders, who are quiet people, were quietly devastated. The notion that, for decades, their children’ homes might have been used as a sexual cafeteria for the rich and privileged – as hundreds of the victims contended – was distasteful in the extreme. During the probe government officials repeatedly stated that they fully intended to run a thorough investigation. Yet, within months, Harper and his boss, the island’s head constable, Graham Power, had been smeared by the local newspaper, The Jersey Evening Post, as unfit for their jobs and driven from the island. Their main advocate, Senator Stuart Syvret – then-health minister and one of the island’s most popular politicians – also found himself under siege, eventually sacked and jailed twice. The cases made against each man were as flimsy as the headlines were flashy.
It seemed that anyone who attempted to stand up for Jersey’s underprivileged or conduct a proper investigation into their treatment soon found themselves in the fight of their lives.
Evidence found at Haut de la Garenne – including bones that were “fresh and fleshed” before being burned and dozens of children’s teeth with the roots still on them in the furnace area – was turned over to a new police chief who downplayed its significance but also admitted to throwing some of it out. As an investigative journalist, I found it hard to understand how this could possibly inspire confidence. It seemed the situation needed to be looked at by someone without an axe to grind or an ass to save.
This is where my own troubles began…A couple years into my research, my trips to the UK were becoming frequent enough to justify my renting a flat for overnight stays and an office for my paperwork. Jersey has strict rules about outsiders renting property, so I arranged to meet with Jersey’s Customs and Immigration officials in July 2011 to make sure my accommodations passed muster. I was told they did. The first officer I met with, Jim Griffiths, told me not to worry and that as long as I did not intend to live in Jersey or take a job there – and my trips did not exceed the six-month time limit for visitors – I could proceed with my work. When he asked what I was researching, I was completely honest. He quickly excused himself and then returned with his superior. The two men proceeded to shout at me. I was told that I needed to get a long-term entry visa to conduct my work on the island. I asked if they had changed their minds due to the nature of my research. The two men would not answer the question and immediately escorted me out.
She then talks of a Kafkaesque (that’s the second time I’ve used that word) situation at Heathrow Airport where she was detained but not given any reason for her detention.
I asked the guards what was happening and I was handed a piece of paper that said, “You have been detained under paragraph 16 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act or arrested under paragraph 17 of Schedule 2 of that Act.” What did this mean? Was I being arrested? No one would say. I was fingerprinted and photographed. I asked the personnel watching me if I could call my solicitor or my consulate. “That’s what people always say,” one of the staffers said. I asked: What are my rights? A second staffer answered: “This is the border. You have no rights.”
Until two weeks ago, the investigation into my case was active and since my detainment (I eventually learned it was not an arrest) I have written several times to get a copy of my CCTV footage – to which all also are entitled – as proof that I was denied my rights at the border. For months, my requests went ignored, but another appeal made on my behalf by MP Hemming finally received a response from Immigration Minister Damian Green.
He said my CCTV footage had been destroyed.
Several days ago, another letter arrived at the MP’s office from a high-ranking official. It said my CCTV footage had not been destroyed. Who knows which is true?
My emphasis. Again, we find that crucial evidence has been destroyed. We can only speculate as to the reason for this.
While the establishment media was tying itself in knots over Lord McAlpine, the same paper that had informed the world that the wrong man had been fingered, reported that another 36 people had come forward with stories of sexual and physical abuse as well as torture.
He said: “These people are approaching me because they don’t yet want to go to the police or the authorities.” Most simply wanted to be listened to, he said. “They want to have their voices heard, they want people to understand what happened to them.” He said what happened in the 1970s and 1980s in north Wales was a consequence of children and young people not being listened to.
The children’s commissioner said the victims’ memories were “as clear as if it happened yesterday”. “We say it’s historical [abuse] but actually it’s alive. This is not an archaeological dig, we’re talking to people for whom this is terribly alive. People are incredibly emotional – we’ve had tears, anger, relief.
Today, the BBC is beating itself up, wondering what to do next. This morning, the BBC Director General, George Entwistle, was interviewed on BBC4’s Today programme. Let’s put it this way, he didn’t do a great job. You can listen to the interview here.
The Tories have wanted to kill the BBC for decades and, it seems, they have a great opportunity to finish it off for good. The BBC has come in for a great deal of criticism over the years and much of it has been warranted but I would hate to see a media landscape populated by Murdoch clones.
We must keep our focus here.
I’ll leave you with this Sky News report. Warning: it’s harrowing stuff.