This was published in Private Eye recently ...
Two days after a report was published on the extensive allegations of sexual abuse against Jimmy Savile, the Sunday Express carried a front-page splash, “SAVILE WAS PART OF SATANIC RING”, and an inside page story starring none other than Valerie Sinason, a Harley Street psychotherapist who has been one of the UK’s main proponents of a belief in Satanic ritual abuse.
The report on Savile, a joint effort by the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC called “Giving Victims a Voice”, revealed that 450 people had made allegations of sexual abuse against Savile. The report concluded that Savile was “a prolific predatory sex offender and the scale of his abuse is believed to be unprecedented in the UK”, while acknowledging that the information against the former DJ had not been corroborated and could not now be tested in court.
Was any such caveat attached to the Express’s Satanic claims? Er, no – even though Satanic abuse was debunked as a myth by a government-funded inquiry as long ago as 1994. Since then, no physical, forensic corroborating evidence has been produced anywhere in the world to substantiate the existence of Satanic ritual abuse, in which an international web of devil-worshipping paedophiles are claimed to rape children in Satanic rituals including the sacrifice of babies and animals.
This lack of corroboration did not dissuade Sunday Express reporter James Fielding, however, who wrote sensationally and without question: “Jimmy Savile beat and raped a 12-year-old girl during a Satanic ritual in a hospital. The perverted star wore a hooded robe and mask as he abused the terrified victim in a candle-lit basement. He also chanted ‘Hail Satan’ in Latin as other paedophile devil worshippers joined in and assaulted the girl at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. The attack, which happened in 1975, shines a sinister new light on the former DJ’s 54-year reign of terror… The girl kept her torment hidden for nearly 20 years before finally opening up to therapist Valerie Sinason.”
Based solely on the interview with Sinason – no evidence or interview with the alleged victim – the Sunday Express went on to relate Sinason’s account of another patient who she said had been abused five years later “during another black mass ceremony held at a house in a wealthy London street”.
Sinason, director of the NHS-funded Clinic for Dissociative Studies in London, said the victims made these allegations to her independently when they were in therapy in 1992 and 1993, while she was based at the Tavistock Clinic in north London. At the time, the paper reported, Sinason was involved in a Department of Health-funded study (never published) into “sexual abuse committed during rituals and religious ceremonies”. Sinason told the Sunday Express: “Both these witnesses did speak to police at the time but were vulnerable witnesses and on encountering any surprise or shock did not dare to give all the details.” The paper reported: “The police took no action.”
It added, however, that Sinason had passed details of these two “Satanic” cases to officers from the Met’s Savile inquiry, Operation Yewtree, launched last October after the controversy over Newsnight’s failure to broadcast an investigation into abuse allegations against Savile and ITV’s subsequent programme, Exposure: The Other Side to Jimmy Savile, carried interviews with five alleged victims.
The Met/NSPCC report does not reveal whether the Satanic claims from Sinason were included; nor whether the claim that Savile was part of a Satanic ring was even treated as credible. What the report does say is: “There is no clear evidence of Savile operating within a paedophile ring, although whether he was part of an informal network is part of the continuing investigation and it’s not therefore appropriate to comment further on this.” No doubt Valerie Sinason will be submitting her “evidence” forthwith.
Meanwhile, as 31 alleged sex abuse victims of Savile sue the BBC for compensation, it remains to be seen how many more of the remaining 450 alleged victims will also launch actions against the broadcaster and various NHS bodies where Savile worked. The tricky question remains of how, in the absence of corroborating evidence, genuine claims can be separated from spurious ones and settled fairly.
The GOS says: It's coming to something, isn't it, when if we want calm, reasoned factual reporting on an emotive issue we have to rely on a satirical magazine, because all the major newspapers are overdosed on sensational bullshit?
There is, of course, a history of hysterical accusations of ritual child abuse going right back to Roman times, when various religious cults – the Jews, Christians, Mithraists, you name them – were accused of slaughtering children in the course of their worship. It was all rubbish, of course, as have been practically all the highly-publicised incidents in recent years – Rochdale, the Orkneys, the McMartin Preschool trial and its aftermath, “Michelle Remembers” and so on. In none of these was there any shred of actual evidence for satanic ritual abuse, but untold harm was done not just to the reputations of the accused people but also to the children the law was supposed to be protecting. Many of the criminals (because if you set out to ruin the life of an innocent person you must be a criminal, surely?) responsible for this damage are still working and still in positions of authority.
The Sinason study mentioned by Private Eye features in this newspaper report from the year 2000.
One of the very few cases in which there has been even the smallest shred of credibility in the ritual element of abuse was in March 2011, as described in this article. On the other hand, in the same year “journalist” Robert Green was imprisoned in Scotland for carrying out a vigorous campaign of vile and baseless accusation against blameless people – a campaign that gained a great deal of support, incidentally, because people do love a good conspiracy theory.
If you want to know more about this silly and dangerous hysteria, the Wikipedia article is an excellent place to start. In the meantime, thank God for organs like Private Eye whose natural scepticism enables them to maintain a balanced view of the world that seems to elude the newspapers.
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