Why let your good smear campaign be spoiled with the facts, David Aaronovitch

David Aaronovitch: Abuse Conspiracies at Westminster? Image Credit: BBC

David Aaronovitch: Abuse Conspiracies at Westminster? Image Credit: BBC


As the author of Voodoo Histories David Aaronovitch is an expert on modern conspiracy theories. So it is not perhaps surprising that he would treat a story about a  historic Westminster paedophile ring involving VIPs as the latest manifestation of mad conspiracy theorists fuelled by deluded people.

This month he published a detailed article in The Times (behind pay wall) saying the whole VIP paedophile ring scandal at Elm Guest House was in effect one of these fantasies. He said the story had been ” largely created and reiterated by a  former Labour councillor and convicted fraudster,Chris Fay”.

He accused me of spreading this  incredible story ” that I always wanted the public to know”. He concluded  by asking journalists like me ” Why am I doing this? And am I sure I’ve got this right.”

This is my answer to why David Aaronvitch has got this wrong. First it is not true that Chris Fay, who worked for an organisation helping children in care, is my sole source. He should know me better that that. I never rely on sole sources. Nor do I rely or refer to this list of VIPs – which appears to be notes from the  wife of the Elm Guest House’s long dead owner, Carol Kasir. I know it is not accurate. I have  seen part of the log of who stayed at this guest house which , of course, tells you nothing because people booked in under pseudonyms.

Second even Chris Fay does not claim the list is accurate.. Indeed in an article on The Needleblog he says almost the opposite saying he compiled a list of victims who claimed they had been abused at the Elm Guest House not abusers.He rightly casts doubt on that list – saying they may have been guests not abusers of children. Given that in 1982 it was not as acceptable as it is now for people to be gay, this is hardly surprising since people also used Elm Guest House as a rare haven for consenting adults to meet each other as well as paedophile activity.

So what is the evidence? There are two separate sources. First my original source – not Chris Fay – who a colleague met – was a former local government officer on Richmond Council. It was he who led me to investigate why Elm Guest House was raided in the first place in 1982.

It wasn’t complaints from survivors but the residents who lived on this smart Barnes street. They were fed up with people coming at all hours, seeing children going into the guest house, and having posh chauffeur driven cars drawing up there. Most ordinary people do not have large posh cars or chauffeurs at their beck and call. It was one of the then residents who identified Leon Brittan not a survivor. Separately in answer to a direct question from a Dispatches investigation, the police confirmed that Sir Cyril Smith visited Elm Guest House and contrary to reports,have not withdrawn it.

The second stream of sources came from either people who stayed at Grafton Close children’s home or were other former staff on Richmond Council who had responsibility for the home. Here the main allegation was that children were taken there and abused at Elm Guest House and elsewhere. Not everybody was, One was rescued  from that fate by a vigilant social worker.

It is a FACT that there was abuse at Elm Guest House. Why? Because one child was taken from Elm Guest House by Richmond Council  to Grafton Close was given a medical examination which revealed horrific abuse. This is confirmed by two former senior officials from the council and the Met Police may have the medical file. The person has long since left the country, has a new life abroad, and has decided in view of the furore over this, not to testify.

Also if John Stingemore, the former deputy manager of Grafton Close, had lived to face trial at Southwark Crown Court, he would have faced a conspiracy to commit buggery charge, which was linked to taking children to Elm Guest House. His friend, Father Tony McSweeney, was convicted  and sent to jail for three years. Evidence was given that showed children were taken by Stingemore and McSweeney from the home to Bexhill and abused,without their parents knowledge.

And Stingemore, it would have emerged, was a convicted paedophile , having sexually assaulted Peter Bornshin, another resident of Grafton Close  said to have been taken to Elm Guest House.  Richmond Council  paid him compensation. He later committed suicide.

Finally it will be a little premature to assume that the Elm Guest House investigation is over.It is not. There are links to the Operation Midland investigation and there are a number of unfinished leads. But that would be tantamount to speculating on a current police investigation.

Am I right to pursue this? Yes. I don’t have the certainty that commentators like David Aaronovitch to make a polemical point. But I am still certain enough that something went very wrong in the London borough of Richmond at that time and it could still be linked to other inquiries in Westminster.

17 thoughts on “Why let your good smear campaign be spoiled with the facts, David Aaronovitch

  1. I have visited a considerable number of websites and papers covering this subject and have come across David Aaronovitch name quite a few times. I think you have been quite charitable to him in your above article. In an age when investigative journalism is almost dead Aaronovitch illustrates the modern journalist. He has already decided the outcome of his research, based not on any evidence or even hearsay, but on his belief that people who promote such stories are deluded. There is no need to do any research, or if you question anyone it will be to demolish what they say. If you need sources then why not contact another cynic or a crackpot or two for rent a quote: journalism for some is so easy these days, as it is no longer journalism but cut and paste, but they never do research, if they did they might find like you did, that this story has substance.
    According to one-bunker all this is hysteria and there is no evidence: there is plenty of evidence of organised paedophile activities . In North Wales, County Durham and Liverpool many men have gone to court and be found guilty. Then we have a candle shone into the dark corners of the Churches and priests, clergy and even a Bishop are now behind bars,
    To return to your article I recommend it to be read to counter balance the almost bizarre antics of the media in the last few weeks.
    Keep up the good work.


  2. An excellent article on the subject and the antics of disinformation by David Aaronvitch . He is not investigating this subject only upholding his belief that we are as the latest manifestation of mad conspiracy theorists fuelled by deluded people. Well, firstly I am not deluded and secondly I came to the conclusion that paedophile rings do exist by research over a number of years.


    • The urge to rebut instantly is often best avoided, especially when the courts are involved as they will take their time regardless. Instant responses are quickly forgotten at best and at worst turn into lengthy, tiresome spats. Mentioning MI5, whether they are involved or not, is sure to see you labelled a crazy conspiracy theorist. Far from putting Aaronovitch on the back foot, a mention of MI5 would convince him that he was right.


  3. I’ve not read David Aaronovitch for a while now, but used to enjoy his work so it is very disappointing to see him acting as a leading paedophile sceptic. And I guess I do sound like a conspiracy theorist when I remark that it’s fascinating how the establishment has suddenly pulled itself together to make a concerted attempt to shake off this scandal and discredit accusers. One might think that Leon Brittan’s reputation has been posthumously wiped clean, but it remains the case that the Geoffrey Dickens dossier was ‘lost’ under his watch and that he opposed outlawing the Paedophile Information Exchange.


  4. I suspect that the police would have been very eager to have convicted people for child abuse if they could. The fact that no such charges were levelled makes you wonder how strong their evidence really was. I believe the medical evidence was alluded to in court. A defence expert said the signs indicated no more than constipation. If the story of the alleged victim who moved abroad is true (and it seems to have acquired its own mythology), then it’s also true that the boy concerned refused to sign a statement at the time. Perhaps, young as he was, he knew when he was being verballed. You have to see this in the context of the way gay venues were policed in the 80s, with officers determined to nail gay men for whatever they could. As for the big cars and chauffeurs, is this really the best you can do? A bit like the smart cars supposedly parked outside Bryn Estyn with which you previously made such play.


    • Lots of convictions now taking place in North Wales since National Crime Agency started investigating cold cases – unless of course you believe the jury is being misled and that on person now in jail said he wasn’t even gay.


  5. Pingback: » VIP Abuse Investigations Reorganise Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion

  6. Of course there will be rebuttals, of course people connected to Exaro and the evidence against the guilty will be attacked. I and others told you this would happen, and warned you to watch your backs. Don’t you think it more than coincidence that at least 3 high profile figures alledgedly connected to the cases have died since Feb this year?.. Files missplaced, allegations dropped under suspitious circumstances, witnesses now saying they “did it for a laugh”…REALLY?.
    You must be getting close David, keep digging, I’m proud of you.


  7. I think he knows now he was wrong about Elm Guest House, and the EGH list. The list had secrets, which how recently been solved. The ‘Holy Grail’ of the EGH list was not the names that we all know about. And I think we can see from the length of the investigation, that it is a very complexed riddle, that even Sherlock Holmes would find testing?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.