Thursday, 8 October 2015

The “VIP” Panorama programme – a classic case of smears and selective reporting

Watched the show Panorama – the VIP paedophile ring: what’s the truth? last night.
The programme claims to approach this question with an open mind and to make its mind up on the basis of the evidence available.
What actually happens, however, is that the programme offers a one-sided and selective picture, with nothing in the way of solid evidence to back up it’s suggestion that the VIP allegations are false, whilst pretty much ignoring the large body of available evidence and testimony which supports the allegations.
Let’s start with the assertion of retired Metropolitan Police detective Sue Hill, that the pendulum has swung too far and police are now being pressured too hard to investigate child sex abuse allegations just to compensate for past mistakes.
This is flatly contradicted by a number of facts which for some reason Panorama did not see fit to mention, including:-
  • The IPCC are currently investigating more than 31 allegations of the suppression of child sex abuse investigations by the police. The vast majority of these relate to VIP abuse, and have been instigated by testimony from retired police officers.
  • Lord Janner – the CPS now admits they had enough evidence to prosecute Janner many years ago – when he would certainly have been judged for for trial – but did not do so.
Both of the above widely reported examples make it ludicrous to assert that the pre-existing ‘culture of denial’ which Panorama alludes to has now become some sort of culture of credulous gullibility.
The testimony of witnesses and whistleblowers is repeatedly called into question:-
  • Chris Fay’s fraud conviction was mentioned, I think, and there was an implication that the conviction made his testimony on child sex abuse unreliable.
  • ‘Darren’s convictions/past police referrals for bomb hoaxes and false confession to rape were cited as evidence of his unreliability.
  • It is suggested that ‘Nick’s allegations that he was abused by politicians are compromised by the possibility that he may be the same person as the witness ‘David’.This is not proven, we are simply ‘told’ that it may be the case, but no conclusive evidence is given to back up this assertion.
However, although the programme features a long excerpt from Harvey Proctor’s press conference, his conviction for underage sex abuse  is not referred to and his case is treated with sympathy.  Although his conviction is far more relevant to allegations of child sex abuse than is Chris Fay’s fraud conviction, Proctor escapes any criticism from the programme and at no point is his credibility called into question because of it.
Various sources are trotted out to “prove” that vulnerable witnesses have been pressurised into making false allegations, including:-
  • An unnamed ‘cleaner’.
  • A victim of abuse from children’s home Grafton Close who was NOT abused by VIPs.
  • Ian McFadyen, abuse survivor who claims that police and the media have been pushing vulnerable survivors to press false allegations to further their own ends and “to get ahead”.
The fact that some victims of abuse were not abused by VIPs is no evidence that VIP abuse did/does not take place – for evidence of the existence – and suppression of – VIP child sex abuse, see Cyril Smith, Jimmy Savile, Peter Hayman and Peter Morrison for a few clear examples.
Likewise, the fact that some victims/survivors disagree with others as to the veracity of their claims proves nothing.
With regard to MacFadyen’s claim about unscrupulous MPs and journalists pushing false allegations to further their careers, this goes entirely against not just common sense (surely everyone knows whistleblowers and those who challenge powerful interests are putting their careers at risk) but also copious evidence which demonstrates those risks.
Award winning journalist Don Hale OBE would have been a good candidate to illustrate this topic. He claims to have been threatened by Cyril Smith and by Special Branch and to have had his files of evidence on VIP child sex abuse confiscated.
Former intelligence officer Colin Wallace – who was branded a liar and a fantasist and a “Walter Mitty” character (sound familiar?), before being falsely imprisoned for 6 years for a manslaughter he didn’t commit, can also testify to the dangers of breaking ranks with the establishment, as can former Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, who claims he was removed from his post when he revealed plans to investigate politicians over child abuse claims.
‘David’s poor memory and Peter Saunders’ comments on memory are used to hint at so-called false memory syndrome, yet no mention is made of the fact that despite widespread media coverage of the theory as scientific fact – leading to its becoming the mainstream view – false memory syndrome – the claim that people can be encouraged to imagine memories of events that never existed  – is deeply controversial, being entirely unsupported by evidence and not recognised as a genuine psychiatric syndrome.
In fact, the theory was originated by a couple when their adult daughter accused the father of sexually abusing her as a child, and was co-founded by a psychologist whose interview in a peadophile magazine strongly suggests that he was a paedophile sympathiser.
In the course of the programme, the narrator makes a number of unsubstantiated claims, making the patently ridiculous assertion that Tom Watson “got his own way” by getting the police to investigate his claims of VIP child sex abuse.
The police do not act on the say so of one MP – particularly one whose standing is considerably lower than that of those – including senior ministers and cabinet members -whom he wants investigated, and nor do the CPS. They can only act on credible evidence.
The key theme of programme is repeated in various ways and at various times:
How do we look after the rights of the accused?The fact is –
  • The vast majority of child sex abuse allegations are NOT proven to be false – expert estimations of the prevalence of child sexual abuse suggest that far more genuine cases go unpunished than the reverse.
  • The vast majority of those accused of child sexual abuse and subsequently convicted insist they are innocent – witness Cyril Smith, Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile..the list of convicted paedophiles bewailing their victimhood at the hands of  ‘witch hunts’ is extensive.
Panorama admits that they carried out only “months” of research before the programme.
Many other journalists and campaigners of high calibre have been investigating allegations of VIP child sex abuse for years and even decades. Oddly, Panorama chose not to invite most of these experts to appear on the show.
Of the few who were invited, Peter McKelvie I believe refused on the grounds that the programme was pre-judging the outcome and was not a genuine investigation, as did Exaro. Exaro asked for their statement on refusal to participate to be included in the broadcast, but it was not shown.
Simon Danczuk’s 1 hour 15 mins of interview were cut before broadcast without explanation.
Incorrect information is put forward as fact and goes unchallenged throughout the programme.
Operation Midland police have NOT expressed ‘grave doubts’. The Met have strenuously denied this and it is now reported that this is in fact a smear.
It is further reported that the smear originates from the same police officer who acted as Panorama’s source – a detective from the Met who is NOT part of the Operation Midland team.
This officer is apparently currently  under investigation by the Met for leaking victim details and feeding false stories to the media – stories which have been widely reported – and not retracted – despite the Met’s assurance that they are entirely without foundation.
If these reports are confirmed the officer faces instant dismissal.
Despite Panorama’s claims of sympathy and support for vulnerable “pressured”  witnesses, it is also reported that as a result of the officer’s leaks, a Panorama  reporter turned up on ‘Nick’s doorstep, upsetting him and his family. Not only is this deeply upsetting to a vulnerable witness and interfering in an ongoing investigation, it is also -according to the Attorney General – possibly illegal.
The Programme lays great emphasis on the Met police admission that their use of the word ‘true’ to describe ‘Nick’s allegations – on one occasion, by one detective, early in the investigation – may have given the impression that they were pre-judging the outcome of the  investigations. There is an implication that the admission also refers to their use of the word ‘credible’, but in fact the Met’s statement specifically reiterates that they still consider ‘Nick’s allegations to be credible.
The Met’s “admission” is used to try to discredit the credibility of ‘Nick’s testimony, yet there no mention at all of the fact that almost two thirds of the Met statementfocussed not on the credibility of ‘Nick’, but on criticism of the media for harassing witnesses and impeding the investigation.
There is also no mention of the Attorney General’s warning to the media that their intrusions into the investigations are not only deeply insensitive to vulnerable witnesses but are also a threat to investigations and may be breaking the law.
On several occasions the programme makes claims that suggest the police have found no evidence to back up the VIP child sex abuse allegations.
It is difficult to see how Panorama – who admit in the programme that they only carried out research into VIP child sex abuse and cover-ups over a matter of “months” – are better informed on the evidence than the Operation Midland team.
Furthermore, in the course of their research, Panorama appear not to have considered the police investigations into cover ups cited by the IPCC which go back years and even decades. They ignore the decades of research and investigation by campaigners like Geoffrey Dickens, Barbara Castle, Peter McKelvie, Liz Davies, and independent journalists like Nick Davies, Exaro, Don Hale and the Standard.  There is no mention of the missing Dickens files, of links to Jersey and to Kincora, the list goes on.
For a programme claiming to offer a balanced view and to be approaching their subject with an open mind, Panorama’s choice of experts, witnesses, police officers and journalists is selective to the point of obvious bias.
Similarly, the programme’s failure to cite any of the existing substantial weight of evidence supporting the allegations of VIP child sex abuse, and the cover ups of that abuse, is clear evidence of partiality.
Panorama refers to “Institutions that now admit they made a terrible mistake”.
After this appalling piece of establishment propaganda whitewash, it must be pointed out, the BBC is clearly not admitting its mistake.
High time they did.

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