As I write, Britain is seeing the collapse of a long and nasty witch hunt against leading Conservative politicians and establishment figures, all of whom had been falsely accused of sexually abusing children and been ferociously investigated by the police. When I say “witch hunt” I do not mean that there has been a conspiracy. Nothing was planned or co-ordinated against the individuals who were placed under suspicion, and some of those who put these absurd allegations into circulation believed them in good faith. Rather what we have seen is a curious mixture of inane credulity and heavy-handedness on the part of the police, encouraged by hysterical publicity provided by bigoted and opportunistic left-wing pressure groups, politicians and publications.
The crumbling of the witch craze began when the police admitted after a long, intrusive and expensive investigation that there was no credible evidence to indicate that Leon Brittan, a former Conservative Home Secretary, and Field Marshal Bramall, a former Chief of Defence Staff, had been involved in any kind of criminal sexual activity. It was not that there was insufficient evidence to charge them, but quite simply that there was no decent evidence at all. Effectively both men have been completely exonerated and the leaders of the Metropolitan Police are currently under pressure to make a full, abject and grovelling public apology to Field Marshal Bramall and to Leon Brittan’s widow.
What is now clear is that the small number of anonymous witnesses on whom the police had relied were unreliable fantasists. One of them, “Darren”, has already retracted his allegations, saying he had been under pressure from left-wing groups to proceed with them. But the man he falsely accused, ex-Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, has in consequence been harassed by the police and lost his job and his home. In Leon Brittan’s case an anonymous woman described in the press as a “Labour activist with severe mental health problems” had claimed that he raped her in 1967. Given that she is clearly both crazy and ideologically driven, it is difficult to see why anyone ever took her seriously. In 2013 the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was no evidence to justify charging Leon Brittan, but a powerful Labour MP, quite unconstitutionally, put strong pressure on them and this led to Lord Brittan being interviewed under caution at a time when he was terminally ill. It meant that his last years of pain and suffering from cancer were further blighted by having this false accusation hanging over him right up until the time he died in 2015.
In addition, Leon Brittan, along with Field Marshal Bramall, the former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath (who died in 2005) and Harvey Proctor, together with many other senior figures, were accused of being part of a gang that had not only raped and tortured young boys but had also murdered three of them. The police were stupid enough to believe these absurd accusations mainly made by the anonymous “Nick”, a former National Health Service manager now in his late forties. Nick even alleged that at one paedophile party for Conservatives, Harvey Proctor had threatened to castrate him with a pen-knife, but was stopped from doing so by Edward Heath. Why Heath and Proctor, political enemies who loathed each other and were not on speaking terms, should have gone partying together has not been explained. However, honest Nick has even produced the pen-knife in question and given it to the police. The world waits eagerly to hear whether Proctor’s or Heath’s prints or DNA have been found on it.
The investigating detective said publicly at an early stage that he found Nick’s allegations “credible and true”, thus treating them as established fact before they had been properly investigated, which is quite contrary to the basic rules of British justice. Was it credible and true that three boys were murdered? Where are the corpses, Mr Plod? Where are the reports of suitable boys gone missing? The police have subsequently admitted that there never were any murders, but if this part of Nick’s testimony was a lie, then why should anybody believe the rest?
It is quite clear that Nick has invented the entire story. He may have been sexually abused by an unknown group of men at some time in his youth, which is how he knows the kind of thing that happens, but his stories about generals and politicians and castration and murder are delusions. As I write, Nick’s step-brother has just told the press that as a child Nick was a spiteful, serial liar and that he does not seem to have changed.
More charitably, I am inclined to see the adult Nick as a compulsive fantasist. He is in the same category as the numerous people who claim with complete sincerity to have been kidnapped by aliens from outer space and to have been the victims of sexual experiments in flying saucers, or those who can recall in vivid and seemingly accurate detail a previous life that happened hundreds of years ago. False memories are very common, and as Dutch experimental psychologists have repeatedly shown, they are extremely easy to induce.
The usual inducers in moral panics about sex abuse are therapists and analysts and social workers who hold progressive views. They sympathetically listen to a story of abuse and eagerly press for more detail. The youthful teller of a dubious tale of abuse, grateful for their support and to have been made important and the centre of attention, now responds with ever more lurid and dramatic “memories”. Other parties imbued with the ideology of victimisation—the police, left-wing campaign groups, compensation-hungry lawyers and scandal-seeking journalists looking for copy— now get involved in magnifying, amplifying and doing well out of the story.
That is how a moral panic is born. How do we know his? We know it from the detailed study of previous, now utterly discredited, panics in which abuse by parents and even satanic child abuse was alleged to have taken place in Middlesbrough in 1987, in Rochdale in 1990 and in Orkney in 1991. Hundreds of children were forcibly removed from their homes by police and social workers. Closer investigation by sceptics revealed that the parents were innocent and that satanic abuse was a myth and the panics collapsed. But by then the damage to the families had been done, just as it has been done to Brittan, Bramall, Proctor and other conservative figures today.
It is interesting to contrast the eagerness to pounce in all these cases with the total reluctance of the politically correct authorities to take swift action against Britain’s numerous violent Muslim sex gangs who prey on under-age girls. As I write twelve Muslims have just been convicted and given a total of 143 years in jail for gang-raping a thirteen-year-old non-Muslim girl in Keighley in Yorkshire. Many of the local Muslims are blaming the victim but the leftists and feminists are unusually silent.
Similarly, an eccentric retired Anglican prelate has just repeated a bizarre story that Enoch Powell was involved in satanic ritual child abuse, that invented phenomenon which never happened. Powell is of course a key hate figure for the Left even today due to his robust nationalism and his strong opposition to immigration from the Third World. We may contrast this with the determined and corrupt left-wing cover-up of the crimes against boys committed by Trevor Huddleston whom they regard as almost a saint because of his battle against apartheid in South Africa. Let us now look at his story in detail; it is quite the opposite of today’s mad persecution of conservatives.
In April 1974 the police questioned Huddleston, then Bishop of Stepney, in the presence of his solicitor, after a mother had complained that he had behaved improperly with her two schoolboy sons, boys who played regularly at his house in Stepney. A report was sent by the police to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) giving details of offences against a total of four boys. The report proposed that Huddleston should be charged with four counts of gross indecency for illicitly fondling the young boys while they sat on his lap. But Huddleston was never prosecuted and the Scotland Yard investigation was kept secret.
A reporter contacted the mother, and the editor of the Sunday Express, John Junor, told Prebendary Dewi Morgan, the Anglican Rector who acted as a link between the Church of England and the press, that he was sure Huddleston was guilty. The Sunday Express was prepared to publish the story and its legal adviser read it out to Prebendary Morgan. Due to strong external pressure it was never published, though a reference to the incident did appear two years later in Private Eye.
Meanwhile the head prosecutor had referred the case to the new Labour Attorney-General, Sam Silkin, to decide whether Huddleston should be prosecuted. He quashed it. Five years later the wretched Silkin said about the case on the radio:
I found that I was in difficulty as the man was very well known. If he had been prosecuted at all it would have ruined his career. Within the DPP’s department everyone thought he would be acquitted though there was clearly evidence.
Sam Silkin, the man who dishonestly covered up for Huddleston, was later to become a close associate of the crooked Robert Maxwell and to cover up for him too. In this case it was Huddleston’s position as a left-wing political icon that determined his decision. Silkin must have felt uneasy about what he had done or he would not have blurted out about it on the radio five years later. John Junor saw the point and wrote in the Sunday Express of Silkin’s admission:
For that could be another way of saying that the prominent man was not necessarily innocent but that in any court proceedings it would have been his word against the word of the little children and that a jury would almost certainly have accepted his word.
The denials by Huddleston’s supporters that their hero was an abuser are ridiculous. One of their defences has been to suggest (without any evidence whatsoever) that the Stepney incident was set up by his political enemies, notably the Afrikaner South African government’s Bureau of State Security. The Bureau was a great bogeyman but it never had the resources or the manpower to mount massive covert operations in Britain either against Huddleston or against their other sexually deviant and possibly murderous enemy, the much covered-up-for Jeremy Thorpe.
Like many paedophiles Huddleston probably convinced himself that his sexual activities could never have harmed children because he loved them so much. This would account for his complete mental breakdown after the accusations of 1974 when for months he was hardly able to feed or dress himself. It also helps to explain why there were some in the DPP’s office who thought they might be unable to obtain a conviction. Love of children might well have worked as a defence if it were unscrupulously exploited by an experienced left-wing attorney.
It is curious that no one has looked with any degree of thoroughness into whether there were complaints about Huddleston’s conduct when he was Bishop of Masasi in Tanzania in the 1960s and in charge of mission schools. The boss of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, was his friend and protector and might well have been willing to provide silence and complicity. If Huddleston had chosen to be the chicken-hawk of Masasi, he could have done so with impunity. Relatives of the former Tanzanian opposition leader Oscar Kambona have told me that they are convinced that this was the case. It would also be interesting to investigate what Huddleston got up to as Archbishop in Mauritius (from 1976 to 1981) after he was hurriedly translated there to hush up the Stepney affair.
The very absence of a public scandal in the case of Huddleston is a matter of importance. Huddleston was protected by the power of the Left. He enjoyed a high level of protection because he lived in a society where Left-liberal values, priorities and heroes cannot be challenged—a true hegemony. In the face of this the newspapers did not dare openly and directly to print what many journalists would have known or thought about his sexuality. What is particularly curious is that the Sunday Express did not in the end publish a story about him in 1974 despite having one prepared and checked by their lawyers and despite the editor’s dislike of Huddleston and his politics. What kind of pressure was put on them to spike the story? Who was leaning on them? Surely these historic allegations should be thoroughly investigated in the paramount interests of victims in general who need to feel they will always be believed?
No doubt Huddleston’s admirers will strongly object to seeing him accused of sexual abuse after his death when much of the evidence is just rumour or speculation. But why should there be one law for the Left? How can the Huddleston-loving leftists see it as entirely acceptable to smear Edward Heath or the “racist” Enoch Powell, both deceased, on the basis of rumour alone? Now you can see why I have stressed that the present witch hunt is one specifically directed against conservatives.
Christie Davies is the author of The Strange Death of Moral Britain. His previous London Letter appeared in the October 2015 issue.