In today’s Mail on Sunday, an exposé by the respected journalist David Rose (working closely with controversial blogger Anna Raccoon) offers a rather different viewpoint on the extent and nature of the late DJ Jimmy Savile’s sexual criminality. The Slog offers a perspective on how little we really know about the motives behind the BBC accusations.
Now that the family of Jimmy Savile has come out and categorically denied the abuse stories of his great-niece Caroline Robinson, the time may well have come to take a step back and ask once again (without the fear of braying mobs at our heels) what this case was really all about. It might also, I suspect, be time to look again at the career of Paedofinder General Mark Williams-Thomas (referred to among followers of this saga as MWT).
I will kick off this review by openly admitting that, early on in the Savile saga, I made a complete Horlicks of it.
When the original ITV exposure of Savile appeared in October 2012, I had two days before put up this post at The Slog, following an article in the Daily Telegraph the previous day. Having met Savile and chatted with him now and then at his Club Beat City in the early 1960s, I was in no doubt that he was having a field day with girls of indeterminate age.
I was also close to a junior GMP detective and former schoolfriend, who confirmed to me that the DJ had a penchant for girls “on the illegally young side”. But neither he nor I saw Savile as a paedophile. By defending Jimmy in the original post, I received a storm of vile abuse the like of which I have not seen since.
But in the following weeks, ‘witness’ after witness came forward to say Jimmy Savile was a monster. The Murdoch press in particular was at the story like a rat up a drainpipe. In the end, I posted a few times to question why he’d been so protected from detection. I also interviewed several people in the mental health sector who believed Savile to be sexually obsessed with disabled people. I still have no reason to doubt this; in fact, I think that was his main ‘thing’. As the accusations piled up, however, I confess I was convinced: it really did look like the bloke was a 24/7 sex maniac. Despite the initial post doubting the story’s veracity, I went along with much of the general view.
But then a number of things gave me cause for further doubt – and here I have to rewind the tape further in order to explain.
Following up a story of political corruption in Plymouth during 2010, I left feeling that the lunatic fringe of accusers were clearly alive and well in the city. But along the way, one couple I spoke to were obviously normal. They mentioned a Bristol court case, a care home there, a legal practice, two judges, one paedophile who had been corruptly allowed to skip bail, and a child trafficking ring centred around care homes in the Plymouth area. Everything they told me checked out. One care home manager later went to jail for related offences.
Tipped off to the existence of sex-abusers using the Family Courts both in Plymouth and the Stafford area as child-trafficking sources, I had a snoop around the latter town, and (apart from stumbling onto the Hospital scandals) discovered a racket via which care home children were being separated from their parent basedon bogus psychiatric findings….and then trafficked onto a paedophile bordello near Birmngham. The psychiatrist at the centre of this business did a runner in short order, but he’s still around…happily falsifying parental abuse evidence
A few months later, I spent time talking to witnesses in Chester and Wrexham, and the antics up there of one Jimmie McAlpine – a distant second-cousin of the former Tory-fundraiser Peer, and without doubt the cause of the BBC Newsnight misidentification cock-up. At this point, Steve Messham appeared on my radar, and the whole Welsh Care Home abuse history began to dribble out into the press.
My doubts about Savile and the BBC accused began like this:
* An associate of Messham’s alleged to me that Steve was not above inventing a bit of abuse for the money
* Messham claimed to have been in a care home, but two other residents there at the same time said they had no recollection of him at all.
* Crucially, both the former care home residents dismissed the MSM line about Savile being involved with abuse at Welsh care homes as pure fiction.
* At a time when Newscorp appeared to be on the verge of melting down in the wake of Hackgate, on the same day both the Sun and the Times ran the same banner Savile headline: ‘HE GROOMED A NATION’.
My immediate reaction was to say out loud “That’s idiotic”….and then to smell a rat. The evidence of rats at work then followed thick and fast: one by one, various stars – almost all of whom had worked at the BBC – were not only taken in for questioning on ‘accusations of sexual abuse’…somehow, the media were always there to report it: they had all the details on Stuart Hall, Dave Lee Travis, Jimmy Tarbuck, Jim Davison, and Paul Gambacinni. It culminated in the press inexplicably being on the spot as Cliff Richard’s house was searched.
A constant attendee at the trials that followed was Mark Williams-Thomas: the man who had fronted the original ITV documentary in October 2012 ‘exposing’ Savile. MWT told the Guardian early in 2013 that he had ‘launched the investigation into paedophile Jonathan King’ – an assertion I have been signally unable to substantiate. At the time, allegedly, MWT was a backroom boy in the Surrey Police Force.
This is the same Surrey Police Force with a long history of ‘liaison’ with Newscorp. MWT has freely accepted in the past that, as a young copper, he too worked closely with the press.
I now began searching for contacts who could get me in front of some of the BBC accused. I interviewed two of them in the end, and both told the same story: false accusations of things that took place on the wrong day at the wrong place from witnesses with a long history of monied claims for compensation. There was also talk of such chancers being rung by the cops and encouraged to give evidence.
Of the BBC accused to date, four had been the subject of misinformed Newscorp investigations in the past – and of these, three had threatened action against the Murdoch Group. I think it would also be fair to summarise by saying that none of the accused thinks very highly of MWT.
The farce culminated in the disgraceful helicopter-led news coverage of Sir Cliff Richard’s UK home being searched by police. The search was conducted on the basis of a ridiculously unlikely story that Sir Cliff had left his name in the visitors’ book at the notorious Elm House paedophile bordello.
And it’s here that the line of persistent distraction comes, rather neatly, full circle. For although several Fleet Street titles have alleged that Jimmy Savile was a regular visitor to Elm House, this too has been dismissed by someone very close to the case as “arrant nonsense”. What does seem to have been established, however, is that Cyril Smith was a regular….and Leon Brittan’s name seems to keep coming up again and again and, um, again.
Elm House, I submit on the basis of my own research, was a largely political caper in which Richmond Councillors trafficked boys to the premises for the delectation of largely politically prominent persons and, here and there, controversial weapons suppliers. The case was first of all buried on Leon Brittan’s watch as Home Secretary, then reopened again and hastily closed, and again, and is now the subject of a Met Police enquiry that’s managed to arrest nobody and say nothing some 17 months later. Mayor Boris Johnson declares himself “very pleased with” this outcome, and I can well believe he is. (This is the very same Mayor Johnson, by the way, who tried to get the Newscorp hacking investigation strangled at birth).
The trail from Elm House does, however, lead back to the notorious Monday Club and its little jaunts to Amsterdam in the same era…when curiously, Virginia Bottomley’s husband Peter – a Tory liberal – was also a member. It then takes a sharp diversion up to Soho and winds up at a paedophile website hosted on the same site as The Groucho Club…where the management were illegally filming an eclectic range of luminaries from the media, showbiz and politics.
For some reason, the Met seems entirely uninterested in either connection. But keen as ever to be in on the action, MWT popped up at The Independent last year offering “to help round up” the 1980s abusers of Elm House. So far, there is no posse to be seen. Although of course, the press were tipped off about Sir Cliff Richard’s house being searched.
Last year too, Jim Davison’s book No Further Action appeared following accusations against him turning out to be groundless – as they did against Jimmy Tarbuck and a host of others. In the book, Davison openly concludes that an ongoing leak of his case progress came from MWT. MWT, a man fond of litigious threats, has done and said nothing about the accusation.
Now back to the Mail on Sunday/Anna Raccoon cooperation that produced today’s splash. Although few people realise this, Ms Raccoon was herself, for some years, processed through the care home system – and was for a while at the seemingly notorious Duncroft venue. This is an extract from the MoS piece today:
‘THE 2012 documentary that destroyed Savile’s reputation focused on allegations that he assaulted girls during visits he made to Duncroft, a secure Approved School in Surrey for teenage girls…. inmate Bebe Roberts went public.
She said in a 2012 interview that Savile assaulted her when she was 15 in 1965: ‘If you were walking down the corridor he would come up close and touch you inappropriately… He always came when we were getting ready for bed. There were girls in there who were quite terrified of him.’
Ms Roberts’s claims surprised her former room-mate, Susanne Cameron-Blackie. Now a lawyer and mental health expert, Ms Cameron-Blackie writes a blog about the Savile case under the name Anna Raccoon. She said: ‘I was staggered by her interviews, for the simple reason that in 1965, Jimmy Savile did not come near Duncroft. We never saw him.’
This newspaper has uncovered evidence that Jimmy Savile did not visit Duncroft until early in 1974, when his name first appears in its visitors’ book – so casting doubt not only on Ms Roberts, but on the allegations of four women who have made compensation claims, because they say he abused them before this date.’
So we now have powerful evidence to show that at least three venues Savile was supposed to have used for the purpose of serial assault – Bryn Mawr in Wales, Elm House, and Duncroft – have him in those places when, er, he wasn’t there at all…and in two cases, never went there.
And the apparently false accusations about Duncroft played a central role in the MWT documentary that launched him into statospheric fame.
All of us owe a debt to Susanne Cameron-Blackie. She has been through Hell these past few years, the falsely accused victim – while suffering serious health problems – of a crowd-sourced campaign to label her a supporter of perverts. In fact, she is a meticulous legal expert and contrarian blogger with an unequalled record of pointing out when shit is being sold as putty.
But the question to which I think we still lack an answer is this: why was this dead DJ used – along with six others in his wake – to create a series of attempts to blacken the name of people who were at best innocent and at worst gropers from another age? And why have the media insisted on calling all of them paedophiles, when it now seems quite likely none of them were?
I’ll write this once more, because I know perfectly well that a hail of abuse will, in turn, be mine too once this post appears. I remain in little doubt that Jimmy Savile had a not uncommon sexual perversion in which he got off on sex – perhaps forced sex – with the physically and mentally disabled. But was he what I understand as a peadophile…and did he groom a nation? To which my answers remain “not proven” and “of course not”.
But the Mob needs to look beyond what has been placed before them in the three years since Mark Williams-Thomas presented his ITV documentary on Savile. They should look, for instance, at the number of times an accused’s charges end with the words “including some children as young as nine”. You will find, on closer examination, that all the accused deny those words. The game, however, has been to position the accused as, above all, corrupters of infant children. The one crime even hardened criminals can’t abide.
Let me summarise it like this: I think there are three motives in play here: media power, political cover-up, and the munneeee. I’m going to take them in reverse order one by one, because there is no concerted conspiracy in play here: just some loosely coordinated opportunism.
At least two of Rolf Harris’s accusers have a history of chasing victim money and selling stories for money to the press. One of DLT’s accusers has joked about it in the press. At least one high-profile accuser of Max Clifford has an unhealthy interest in payment by the press. Two of Stuart Hall’s accusers were hastily dropped at the last minute. Steve Messham’s ‘misidentification’ led to the BBC being hauled through the sewers. Mark Williams-Thomas runs a company, WT Associates, whose sole income comes from child protection consultancy and the promotion of his ‘expertise’ as a spotter of paedofile rings. Some 211 cases against Jimmy Savile are outstanding, and the legal practice involved is getting, on average, £15,000 per case. There is also a £3M pot of Savile’s money at stake.
There is always the munneeee, and it will always be a motive. Be in no doubt: a lot of kids are in care homes because they come from families where ethics are non-existent, a lot of women fantasise about sexual encounters with celebrities, and vexatious damages claims are commonplace in this field.
The desire to distract from the political aspect of paedophile activity in the past is something I’ve been banging on about for six years now. The first time I pointed to evidence of Labour’s involvement in the local politics of child-trafficking, I was dismissed as a sensationaiist. Today, evidence is everywhere abundant that both the Labour Party and the police are up to their necks in a history of covering up such activity.
The Conservative Party’s ‘form’ in this sort of activity goes back a long time, and is hard to explain away. Four reopenings of the Elm House case in twenty odd years also strike an odd note…as does the seeming regularity with which Leon Brittan’s name recurs. His ‘explanation’ of what happened when he was Home Secretary has not been found satisfactory by many. Equally, the complete lack of any outcomes from the Boris Johnson version of Elm House ‘investigations’ continues to emit a strong smell of something or other.
There is a very real link here to Tories not only in key positions in the House of Lords, but also to both the Prime Minister and his Deputy. If the Met Police were going to interfere corruptly to protect their political masters…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be the first time.
And finally, the third corner of that infernal triangle of cover-up and corruption has been very clearly established as having had its centre in News International. Rupert Murdoch has never hidden his desire to destroy the BBC and take over 100% of BSkyB. The Conservative leadership has in turn never wavered in its willingness to help him do that, while the Labour luminaries Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell openly connived at the dilution of BBC News attempts to question their false WMD claims over Saddam Hussein. The Met Police/Newscorp dining club spearheaded by the ‘innocent’ Rebekah Brooks has been proven beyond doubt, and the cosy ease with which Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and David Cameron move among the Murdoch Mighty is, let’s face it, a pretty unedifying sight.
Some as yet unclear combination of all three factors was behind the otherwise impenetrable decision by the police to go along with the potty idea that the BBC was at the epicentre of British paedophilia. And in closing, let me just remind you all: Lord McAlpine went on Radio 4 live to say he had no idea how his name had been associated with paedophile activities….but he knew perfectly well who his second-cousin Jimmie was, and what he’d been up to on Wrexham golf course all those years ago.
In some ways, McAlpine the Younger sums up for me what a great deal of the Savile et al saga has been about: seizing an opportunity to gain advantage, rather than carefully coordinating a plot. All those involved in promoting the idea of nation-grooming and a Caligulan BBC had the chance to gain profile, money, reputation and power by doing so. That is, I’m sure, what happened.
And I’m equally sure we haven’t heard the end of it yet. Not by a long way.