The BBC Panorama child sex abuse fall out: No one yet knows the truth

Elm Guest House:  One of the alleged venues which Panorama debunked

Elm Guest House: One of the alleged venues which Panorama debunked


Investigating allegations of historic child sex abuse is the most difficult job I have ever undertaken as a journalist.

Normally in an investigation you can get documents, find trusted sources, and corroborate information.

 Child sex abuse is  by its nature a private act between two  people-one who is not capable of giving consent.

 The person who is abused is likely to  be damaged for life by such an experience and could find it difficult to relate to other people. So prior to the Jimmy Savile expose hardly anybody believed them.

 The perpetrator  who would suffer huge damage to his or her reputation if found out  will go to any length to cover their tracks -including, if the current  Met Police criminal investigation , Operation Midland, is to be believed, murder.

Rack this up and say you wish to uncover acts more than 30 years ago- when mobile phones  and the internet were science fiction- involving very, very powerful people in high places who can pull strings and you have made it doubly difficult.

That is why it is absurd  for the BBC to put out a documentary claiming to reveal the truth about the Westminster paedophile ring when the story is only half complete, when the police haven’t finished their investigation, and nobody has tested the evidence.

The result was a documentary that probably left the public confused, the police visibly annoyed because it could have put off new people coming forward to help them complete their investigations and the survivors who were interviewed by the BBC worried they had been traduced.

The programme was right to show that closed cases including paedophile teachers and headmasters , celebrities and other powerful people had been found guilty because brave survivors had come forward, been believed, and won justice in the courts.

They were also right to raise the questions of when a suspect should be named publicly – because of the damage it could cause to their reputation. But I have little sympathy for Harvey Proctor, the ex MP who protested too much, because he put into the public domain what the allegations were against him before an investigationhas concluded whether they could be true or false. He is no shrinking violet.

At the moment information about this dark side of British history is coming to light in a piecemeal fashion. So the BBC cannot possibly know the ” truth ” about events in the past. It would have been far better if the Panorama team, who say they have spent a year on this, had waited another year before promising to come forward with a considered judgement.

 I would like them to concentrate on how the BBC has come to terms in tackling its own problem in handling the culture that allowed paedophiles like Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall to thrive unchecked. They have a big report from Dame Janet Smith which will eventually have to be published – and they have already looked at the damage Jimmy Savile caused in the NHS. That would be a Panorama worth watching.

11 thoughts on “The BBC Panorama child sex abuse fall out: No one yet knows the truth

  1. The Panorama programme showed just how difficult holding power to account is. The involvement of Ian McFadyen was especially disturbing, as Ian has been involved in vile attacks on social media of a very vulnerable victim of child abuse. I have raised this issue with the Goddard inquiry’s QC, but was told they were not interested in getting involved in protecting victims who are being attacked on social media.


  2. Pingback: The BBC Panorama child sex abuse fall out: No one yet knows the truth | David Hencke | Vox Political

  3. It wasn’t just the allegations against himself that he put into the public domain. For reasons he chose to keep to himself, Proctor identified others not previously named.


  4. Bit of a damp squib…not my quote but from the Met. I hear that one of their ‘friendly; witnesses is going ape and has said they are going to complain about their piece.
    No mention of the Solanki seizure even though a Paranormal person said he had heard the interview and Solanki clearly names Leon Brittan being in tape Solanki seized in January 1982. Balanced?


  5. I could not agree with you more David regarding your comment on the problems of researching this subject. The victims are reluctant to come forward as they may not believed, and those that do may have a history of mistrusting the police.
    Searching for written evidence is very difficult and requesting information from the national archives is at best difficult. Then there is the acts that protect the individual and of course there are websites many as you know full of disinformation. Then we have a media which although more diverse than sixty years ago, seems to have become cut and paste and the original source disappears or is not disclosed.
    So that why it is vital for witnesses and possible victims to come forward if not to the police to bona fide bodies that deal with victims of abuse.
    As for the BBC, I am sorry to write this, but if the BBC thought they would curry favour by de-bunking these stories they are sadly mistaken. The renewal of their Charter has probably already been decided and any touching the forelock is a waste of Licence payers money, but they have always have done that for many years.


  6. Why did the Panorama programme choose not to name Napier (and Francis Wheen dodged identifying him)? I don’t suppose it had anything to do with close family relationships the BBC wanted to steer well clear of?


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