When this article appeared in the Sunday Times, I asked the 'experts' who were quoted to explain how they had come to the decisions they made, because none of them had ever spoken to me!
That was in October of last year. I am still waiting for their response.
TWO key witnesses championed by the deputy Labour leader Tom Watson in the VIP paedophile sex abuse scandal are being helped by a charity that uses a controversial therapy experts fear could generate false memories.
The therapy, in which the victims are given the details of the effects of sex abuse suffered by their own counsellor, has prompted concerns of a repeat of previous scandals in which “recovered memory” played a part in false claims of child abuse in cases such as the Orkney satanic ritual case in 1991.
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Matthew Scott, a barrister who has worked on a number of child abuse cases, said: “It would be hard to devise a form of counselling more fraught with the danger of producing unreliable evidence.”
The therapy, “unstructured therapeutic disclosure” (UTD), is carried out at the Lantern Project in Merseyside. The charity is run by Graham Wilmer, a prominent anti-abuse campaigner who was on the original panel for Theresa May’s child sex abuse inquiry under Fiona Woolf.
A video produced by the charity describes the technique: “Our approach begins with what we call ‘reverse disclosure’, where we tell the victims they do not need to tell us what happened to them as we already know, because it happened to us.”
In another video, the charity says counsellors will “tell them [victims] in graphic detail about their own experiences”. It also refers to victims having “memories they have tried for many years to bury deep in their subconscious”.
Experts have expressed concern. Sarah Garner, an affiliate member of the Centre for Memory and the Law at City University, London, said the technique rang “major alarm bells”. Roger Kennedy, a consultant psychiatrist with the Child and Family Practice in London, said: “I find the description of this therapy very strange, they’ve obviously gone completely haywire.”
Esther Baker, who is receiving UTD therapy from the Lantern Project, alleged in May this year that she had been repeatedly raped by a former MP and others in a forest while police officers stood guard.
She also claimed to have been trafficked to a flat in Dolphin Square in Westminster for sex parties that included a former cabinet minister. Watson called for a full investigation into her case.
The accused former MP, who was questioned by police last week, described the therapy as a “mechanism for generating miscarriages of justice”.
Another witness, known only as Darren, has been helped by Wilmer. He claimed he had been abused on an estate in Suffolk, had witnessed the murder of a man and had been trafficked to Dolphin Square. He named a former cabinet minister as a child rapist and said he knew of a young girl who had died during one sex party.
Watson passed on information from Darren to the police and to the Exaro news website, which is close to Watson. He offered to meet Darren, but the meeting never happened. The Sunday Times revealed last month that Suffolk police had concluded there was no substance to Darren’s claims.
Wilmer said UTD was not another version of “recovered memory” and many of those he helps have tried other forms of counselling, which have failed. Among 2,000 patients only one had turned out to be a fantasist, he said.
The original version of this article made an erroneous reference to the Cleveland child abuse scandal and incorrectly described the premises of the Lantern Project as a “backstreet office”. We are happy to clarify that Esther Baker made allegations of childhood sexual abuse several months before receiving stage five only (Reconciliation) of UTD therapy at the project and we accept that Graham Wilmer, its co-founder, is not part of a political campaign.