Interview with Tim Tate, author and documentary film maker – he discusses this week’s child sex abuse episode of Panorama ‘The Truth’. Evidence Tory Home Secretary Leon Brittan possessed child pornography but was ‘let off’ and he was never going to stand trial for it. How Mark Watts’ Exaro News agency in London began with a £5m loan which they are now about half way through. Why was so much evidence of a VIPaedophile ring missing from this ‘What’s The Truth’ Panorama? The media are having to investigate crimes that should be properly investigated by the police. London’s LBC radio reports paedophile investigation was shut down the night before mass arrests were due to be made.
That problem was further underlined by a story in Exaro. This claimed that Fairbank/Fernbridge had seized a videotape which showed an ex-Cabinet minister (although he was not named this was clearly Leon Brittan) in compromising circumstances at Elm Guest House.
I spoke with the detectives the day after this story appeared. Not only did they deny it point blank, they explained how it had come about. “Andrew” had told Exaro that a senior Fairbank/Fernbridge detective had told him that the team had seized the video. Exaro did not bother to check this claim with the police. It would not be the last time Exaro published unchecked or downright false stories about the VIP paedophile enquiries.
The second event was the arrival in the saga of a man known as “Darren”. The stories he told were similar to those of “Nick”, and involved some of the same perpetrators and locations. Exaro duly decided that even though (by “Darren’s own admission) the abuse he endured took place a decade later than “Nick’s”, this provided corroboration of Nick’s claims of abuse, torture and murder.
How much due diligence did Exaro devote to checking “Darren” out? “Darren” has a conviction for a bomb hoax and has previously made false confessions to rape and murder. This does not automatically mean he cannot be believed: it should, however, raise questions about how much reliance can be placed on his evidence. Despite this, Exaro arranged for “Darren” and others in its stable of complainants to take part in an Australian television programme on the VIP paedophile alegations. That film presented their claims as established fact and was the worst piece of reporting on child sexual abuse allegations (a crowded field) that I have ever seen.
If, pace the Grimms, Exaro is the louse in the story, what of the BBC? Despite the outraged denunciations of the past two days, the Panorama programme was actually something of a damp squib. It provided very little new information, merely repeating the widely-published facts about Mssrs Fay, Watts, “Nick” and “Darren”. And had it confined itself to that tepid ‘once over lightly” it might not have been drawn into the spiral of calamity begun by the lousy efforts of Exaro. Sadly, it did not.
Firstly, it conducted an interview with “Andrew” (now re-christened as “David”) in which he said that he had never intended to name Leon Brittan, but that the name had been suggested to him by Fay and others. In purely procedural terms the Panorama team did everything right:
And there lies the problem: Panorama relied on what it acknowledged was a highly unreliable witness to demolish the foundations of Exaro’s equally questionable stable of complainants. The flea was dragged into the louse’s spiral.
But Panorama’s worst offence concerned Brittan himself. It wheeled out testimony from former colleagues of the late politician to portray him as a man terribly and wrongly traduced as a paedophile.
Yet as Panorama knows (or should know) there is strong evidence to indicate that Brittan had a sexual interest in children. As I have reported elsewhere, tucked in the files of Operation Fairbank/Fernbridge is a formal 2014 statement from the ex-customs officer. This, of course, denounces Exaro’s bogus story about the 1982 videos and films; but it also contains the startling – and detailed – account of how at a later date the ex-customs officer stopped Brittan as he arrived at Dover. A search of Brittan’s car yielded a child pornography videotape which, even 30 years later, the contents of which the ex-customs officer was able to describe.
In seeking – quite rightly – to hold the Exaro/Chris Fay-generated stories of abuse torture and murder up to the light, Panorama fell into the trap of dismissing all the clear and unequivocal evidence of VIP or politically-protected paedophiles (Cyril Smith, Peter Morrisson, Sir Peter Hayman to name but three).