Westminster paedophiles: Exaro News and the spectre of Joseph McCarthy
Westminster paedophiles: Anorak’s look at the allegations that politicians abused children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Exaro News has been tweeting:
Do not fall for smears against Exaro re CSA [child sexual abuse] survivors. We cannot discuss the arrangements that we make to ensure their safety and security.
BTW the smears are coming from paedophiles as well as spooks. But some are one and the same. But they all know that the tide has turned.
For the first time we are blocking some paedophiles and paedo-apologists who have engaged in extreme trolling to upset abuse survivors.
… Not worth naming them. We do not want to give them publicity.
Wow. The dead are being buried in their own filth without charge, trial or conviction, and now the living are being attcked. But who are they?
Richard Barthlomew notes:
Over the past few months, Exaro News has made a name for itself with a series of inter-related stories about an alleged paedophile ring involving senior politicians that supposedly operated with the collusion of the security services in the 1970s and 1980s. But in the above, the website has shifted – in an extraordinary casual and off-hand way – from investigating historic claims to making inflammatory accusations about people operating on Twitter today.
Exaro‘s most sensational claim appeared last month: that a survivor, named as “Nick”, had witnessed a then-serving Conservative Party MP “strangle a boy to death during a sexual assault” at an “abuse party”. Nick also claims that a second boy was murdered by two unknown men in front of “a former Conservative cabinet minister” at a different event, and that a third boy had been “deliberately [run] over and killed” by a member of the gang. The timeline, for some reason, is slightly confused: the first murder took place “around 1980″, and the second one “between a year and 18 months” later; but the third – which Nick “took to be a warning” – is curiously dated to “the summer of 1979″.
Since November’s publication, I’ve seen several people on Twitter express scepticism about the story or raise misgivings about how Exaro and Nick are interacting with the police. I also note that one critic (involved with the contrarian “Spiked” group) is on record as having described Stuart Hall’s crimes as being “low-level”, and I can see how this might provoke a hostile “paedo-apologist” accusation. Further, there is one (anonymous) Twitter user who is approaching the issue in a way that is unpleasant and goading. But where’s the evidence of paedophiles “smearing” Exaro News on Twitter (or elsewhere)? And where’s the evidence of the remarkable claim that they are also “spooks”?
The published allegations about a “Conservative cabinet minister” are vague, but specific enough to allow anyone so inclined to make a short list of suspects. Similarly, these Tweets are vague enough to avoid proper scrutiny, but just specific enough to cast a shadow over anyone with reasonable and good-faith reservations about aspects of Exaro‘s approach.
That’s the effect. But as someone who supports “new media” and “citizen journalist” investigations into matters of public interest, I really hope it wasn’t the intention.
UPDATE: By way of a footnote, I would also like to note a couple of other recentExaro Tweets that have caught my eye and set off alarm-bells: (1) an RT of a Tweet by another person responding to news that the site has been short-listed for a journalism award:
I should think the only people that won’t vote for you are paedophiles & the ‘cover uppers’!
Perhaps this was meant as a joke rather than as a serious proposition, but even if so it remains very ill-advised for Exaro to appear to endorse the sentiment.
…He is, in total ignorance, casting doubt on Nick-type victims. SRA is a red herring icw Midland
TheGuardianitself came under fire for publishing the piece after asking to speak to “Nick”.
I should perhaps make clear that this doesn’t mean that I think Exaro News should be dismissed out of hand – the case of Cyril Smith shows that a politician was able to get away with paedophilic abuse (although not, so far as we know, murder) in plain sight, and that the security services may have protected him (as others have suggested, perhaps in order to blackmail him).
Exaro also has testimony from ex-law enforcement officers that they were aware of “a significant paedophile group in Parliament” who were allegedly “untouchable”; these two (unnamed) officers apparently also claim to have been “aware that boys were being killed”, although no details are given as to what is meant by “aware” (saw bodies? heard rumours?). Obviously, that needs looking into.
One thing we’ve learnt over the past 12 years, following the first media revelations about historic sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in 2002, is that institutions have again and again facilitated the abuse of children, in some cases because of child protection failures and in others due to collusion. There is naturally widespread goodwill towards those who are investigating the issue, and anger against the thought of all those who escaped justice because they enjoyed positions of authority and trust.
But the spectre of Joseph McCarthy should remind us that it not good for any campaigning group or individual to be above criticism.
Sceptisism is healthy…