Nick Cohen Nick Cohen

Don’t just blame Tom Watson for the fake child abuse scandal

I don’t carry a brief for Tom Watson. I have attacked him in the strongest terms for his part in spreading a fake child abuse scandal that wrecked the lives and reputations of innocent men. (The headline on my piece, ‘Why a deserved downfall beckons for Tom Watson’, gives a flavour of the way my argument went). But I, and I hope you, retain a good enough nose to smell a rat.

It suits the interests of the police and supposed ‘investigative’ journalists to say the deputy leader of Labour party was responsible for promoting a ludicrous conspiracy theory about a VIP child abuse ring. Shifting the blame helps them escape the charge that they should have known that ‘Nick’s’ story of rape at the hands of, among others, Lord Brittan, former chief of the defence staff Lord Bramall, Edward Heath and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor was provably false.

Any competent detective or journalist could have discredited it in a day and saved £2 million in public money but a great deal of needless misery.

Arguments about whether to believe the ‘victims’ of abuse miss the point. Honest investigators neither believe nor disbelieve: they look for verifiable facts. This morning, former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques condemns in the Daily Mail the ‘lamentable’ failure of the Independent Office for Police Conduct to carry out a professional investigation into five Metropolitan Police detectives before clearing them of responsibility for the grim fiasco. Professional failure has been there from the start, as Sir Richard knows because he also reported on the Met’s conduct.

The Exaro News site began broadcasting ‘Nick’s’ allegations in 2014. If it had checked his story, there would never have been a scandal. ‘Nick,’ who turned out to be a fraudster and paedophile called Carl Beech, described how his family moved to Kingston upon Thames in 1979.

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