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Charles Napier, pictured in 2012 when he was convicted of 23 counts of abuse. Napier had been treasurer of the group PIE (photo: Press Association)

When it was discovered that Jimmy Savile, the television presenter and media personality, knighted for his charity work for sick and disabled children, was a prolific child abuser, the story of the true scale of child sexual abuse was finally acknowledged. The myth that child abuse is a rare occurrence committed by mentally-ill loners was put to bed. As more and more of Savile’s victims spoke out, so did those who had been abused by other celebrities in the 1970s, reassured that they would finally be believed.

But what was uncovered was sexual abuse of children not only by television personalities, but also by politicians and other so-called VIPs. There have been rumours for decades about a child abuse ring operating from Westminster, involving senior politicians, allegedly including Greville (now Lord) Janner, Cyril Smith, and the late Leon Brittan.

At the time of writing, numerous allegations concerning the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath have emerged. In the early 1980s, when I volunteered on a Rape Crisis line, I heard Heath’s name in relation to sexual offences against children from two separate callers, one year apart, with no connection to each other. Over the years I have heard from a number of child protection advocates and campaigners that it was “widely known” that Heath was involved in organised child abuse rings. Such evidence was of course circumstantial.

However, a number of police investigations are now under way, following allegations from a retired police officer that criminal charges for pimping against Myra Forde, a former brothel keeper, were dropped, after she allegedly threatened to claim that Heath had abused children. Forde was later twice jailed for operating a brothel in Salisbury, Wiltshire, where Heath lived after retiring from active politics. The barrister who prosecuted Forde has since claimed in a letter to The Times that the case was actually dropped because three witnesses refused to give evidence. Forde has dropped her allegations, but ten police forces are now investigating Heath.

There was, and there remains to an extent, a conspiracy of silence. Children were rarely believed when they alleged abuse, particularly if the accused was a powerful person.

The conflation of sexual abuse with sexual identity began during the early days of the so-called sexual revolution, and carried on throughout the gay liberation movement in the 1970s. The word “paedophile” to describe a sexual identity began to be bandied around with impunity, but no other word in our language is so dangerously misused. It means, literally, “lover of children”. Child sex abusers seek solace in this term, and it is easy to see why it is to their advantage to embrace the label. Suggesting that child abusers “can’t help it” lends support to the notion that they are simply another sexual minority — as the commonly held but flawed view suggests with regard to the “gay gene”, predetermining sexual attraction and orientation — and that such men are pre-programmed to abuse children.

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Leon Sisyphus Mann
September 16th, 2015
6:09 AM
I'm not sure Ms Bindel has said anything in this article - other than exposing that she's unwilling to consider any standpoint other than the default paedo-hysteric one. She cites serious and credible research and experts in the field then dismisses their findings and thoughts merely on the basis that they are not in accordance with her (and Society's) predominant views on the issue. Alan-merida and Kim - the point where you lose interest in Science, Evidence and Reason and start to privilege knee-jerk responses and gut feelings is the point at which you end up believing in witches. Look at how, despite the absolute lack of evidence, all sorts of incredible things are being believed about Savile and in the Westminster abuse scandal. The credibility of both stories is falling apart as rapidly as did the credibility of the satanic abuse scandals of the 90s. Such hysterical witch-hunts seem to serve a purpose, a malign and dangerous one, for many people. In a society where on average a child is killed by a parent every ten days, and it hardly makes the local news, it serves to look beyond ourselves, to an other for the locus of Evil. How many news stories do we see about this epidemic of parental child murder? Maybe without realising it, you have bought into the hysteria and have entered a realm of Magical Thinking.

teepee
September 14th, 2015
10:09 PM
'When it was discovered that Jimmy Savile ... was a prolific child abuser ...' I find it impossible to get beyond this opening sentence. When was such a thing discovered?

Alan - Merida
September 12th, 2015
8:09 PM
Thanks Ms Bindell for your article, and Kim for her supportive comment. The latter so much needed after seeing the pro-child abuse comments written a day and two days earlier. So the latter two consider someone who opposes child abuse to be "biased"? Thank God for those who are decent, whose "bias" would be to protect children from the monsters cited in the article.

Kim
August 30th, 2015
11:08 PM
Thank you so much Julie for writing this article. It is so important that someone investigates the nuances and not just sees things in black and white. Your article seems to have already upset someone in the skeptic / debunker / anomalistic brigade. Just remember that whenever they accuse you of being "unscientific" according to their narrow positivist def then it means you are on to something.

James Murray
August 29th, 2015
9:08 PM
The writer loses any credibility when she quotes Judith Jones as a sympathetic viewpoint. Jones and her partner in crime Beatrix Campbell were at the forefront of the sickening false child abuse accusations of the 80's and early 90's: Cleveland, Orkney, Nottingham.

dwpandme
August 28th, 2015
2:08 AM
I don't think I've ever read such a long article that achieves so little. I have to wonder what could possibly have motivated you to compose such a piece when you clearly have neither scientific evidence nor coherently reasoned argument at your disposal. I am not being facetious when I say that after reading the entire article I was left with no clear understanding of the standpoint you are taking on this issue and I don't believe that to be a reflection of my poor comprehension skills. Throughout the article you paraphrase and quote the opinions of academics and experts whose views you clearly don't share. This is good, you're setting up an argument that you wish to criticize, the next step is to reveal the weaknesses and bring to light the inconsistencies that invalidate that argument; however, you don't seem to think that this step is necessary. Instead you imagine that it is enough to suggest that because the implications of the conclusions which evidence and scientific inquiry compel us to draw are problematic and cause you to experience cognitive dissonance, this is itself enough for you to dismissively dispense with all such nonsense without further thought. Unfortunately, by your refusing to apply any faculty of intellect to seriously take on the issues that you raise, you deny me the opportunity to engage in constructive discourse regarding a matter which is of great importance and universal concern.

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