In the Independent, Harvey Proctor gives his side of the story about allegations that he was part of the Westminster paedophile ring.
As is fair and right, he is entitled to give his side of things and it is equally fair and right that we consider them objectively.
Proctor has been the subject of much speculation in the media – a lot of which is presumption and conjecture – based purely on the fact that officers from Operation Midland (investigating the high-profile ring) attended his property and searched his house.
The police had followed proper procedures and had obtained a warrant to search Proctor’s home, which Proctor says they did for around 15 hours. To have obtained the warrant in the first place the police must have been able to show reasonable suspicion that they may find something relating to their investigation. But of course, each case is different, judges are different, and so on. Just because a warrant has been issued is not an indication of any guilt whatsoever. It is merely a procedure to enable the police to investigate further.
We do not know what information was the basis for the police obtaining a warrant. But we can be sure that the police obtained the warrant based on something tangible.
In 1987 Proctor was prosecuted and found guilty of four charges of gross indecency – which he clearly states, and to which he pled guilty.
A newspaper revealed that Proctor was engaging (or had engaged) in the spanking and caning of male prostitutes aged between 17 and 21 at his London flat. These would not be considered crimes now because of changes in the age of consent for homosexuals.
Proctor states that he has not ‘flaunted’ his sexuality and has always sought to protect his private life because he considers intimate matters to be private (unless they are illegal) – which is fair comment and a reasonable and sensible approach in our opinion.
Within eight hours of the police starting their search, Proctor says he was contacted by what he describes as ‘an odd internet news agency’ – Exaro. This was, according to Proctor, at least 90 minutes before the police concluded their search of his property.
Perhaps the news agency had been tipped off, they do work closely with the officers of Operation Midland. However, they are far from an ‘odd internet news agency’, and have been responsible for getting very valuable information about historical abuse cases by people in powerful positions to investigating officers. Information which would otherwise not have found its way through the maze of the Metropolitan police’s reporting structure.
Even though we strongly support the work of Exaro, it is concerning that journalists were contacting Proctor before any police statement had been issued.
This is another situation which Proctor has a valid point about. The police never issued a statement concerning the search of Proctor’s property. They never stated if he was a suspect or not, instead leaving proctor to face the media interest that ensued.
Proctor states that he volunteered to be interviewed at a police station, which the police agreed to and then cancelled and rearranged. They then cancelled the new appointment and proctor said he has not heard from them since.
The police removed computer equipment and boxes of historical documents which Proctor refers to as ‘irrelevant material’ from the 1970s and 1980s.
In a police investigation there is no ‘irrelevant material’ until it has been investigated. Both the computers and boxes of documents may give police evidence, or clues in their investigation, and Proctor – as an ‘educated man’ – must understand this. Although Proctor is exhibiting some ‘sour grapes’ in his comments, the fact is that the police had a search warrant to look for evidence and clues, and the computers and documents are subjected to that warrant.
It is understandable that someone in the public eye would feel concerned about such an event – even if they are innocent. Privacy is invaded, personal space violated, and there is an aftermath which the person is left to deal with. At the same time, it is also understandable that the authorities have a duty to investigate allegations and bring criminals to justice. Often the police are criticised for not doing enough – especially against the rich and powerful in society – and criticised again when they do something – a bit of a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation.
It is from this point on that we have some concerns about Proctor’s statement in the Independent.
Proctor states that ‘respected politicians’ have had their reputations ‘trashed without a shred of evidence’. He refers to Leon Brittan, Sir Keith Joseph, Dr Rhodes Boyson and Enoch Powell. He states that they are dead and unable to defend themselves.
We do not agree with this at all.
Leon Brittan died before any charges were brought against him. Brittan has a history concerning the cruel abuse of young boys going back many years. There is evidence that Brittan was involved in unsavoury activities, and police have amassed video evidence that he attended under-aged sex parties in London. In the 1980s Brittan returned to the UK from a business trip with videos of child pornography. Covered up at the time, the reports have come to light as part of the police investigation. Then there is the matter of the missing dossier that Brittan was given which provided evidence of other political figure’s interest in underage and sadistic sex. Something which was in the process of being investigated.
Although the others have not been subjected to mainstream media headlines as much as Brittan, the police were investigating them based on reliable and credible evidence. To claim or infer that these former members of the political community are reputable and ‘upstanding’ members of society raises some concerns about Proctors protective position in this situation.
Is Proctor protecting his own class and political comrades at all costs regardless of the truth?
Senior police officers, the media, and “victims” all become the subject of Proctor’s defensive comments.
He describes the modern technological age as a time where anyone can claim anything regardless of fact or evidence, the result of which can be innocent people’s lives being ruined, or adversely affected.
We agree with him on this point. As with any group in society there are idiots and people with their own agendas who like to make judgements based on little or no fact. They voice their opinions as If they were evidence, they become judge, jury, and executioner without proper knowledge or proper process. We see a lot of this kind of idiocy every day, and have seen the devastating effects this can have on innocent people’s lives.
But not all media and internet information is based on prejudice and opinions. There are some very good places where people have done proper objective research and present their findings for others to consider. It works both ways – there is junk information and very good information, and we need to choose our sources carefully.
Proctor refers to “victims” coming out of the woodwork as police officers promise to believe them.
This is just not true in the context of Proctor’s inference.
There are genuine victims who have been afraid to come forward in the Westminster abuse ring case because of the threats to the safety of themselves and their families by very powerful people. At the time the abuse ring was (as far as we know) most active it appeared to victims as though the institution of government would cover up their transgressions at any cost – with the help of the police. Politicians still to this day used their positions of power to cover-up anything they want to keep out of the public domain.
What Proctor does not acknowledge is that there are genuine victims, and he infers that all “victims” of the digesting practices of his peers are low-lives who crawl out at the sniff of some unspecified opportunity.
It is a fact that in any case of this nature (as has been seen in the Saville case, and the witch-hunt of other ‘celebrities’) there are people who will make false claims. But the police are charged with a duty to take any accusation of crime seriously provided there are sufficient grounds to do so. Proctor’s inference that the police will automatically believe every claim is wrong. The police officers investigating the crimes of Proctor’s peers are not idiots. They are experienced officers who have been encountering criminals – including people who make false claims – on a regular basis for a long time.
In the case of Proctor there has been no statement or evidence in the public domain which proves his guilt or innocence, and the onus is always on the accuser to prove their case, and rightly so. Therefore we should not presume innocence or guilt based on unreliable or sensational information – facts are facts and can be proven. Opinion and presumption are just that – not proof or evidence unless they are in the context of a recognised professional capacity in a court of law.
What concerns us is that Proctor’s description of the overall investigation into substantial and credible evidence against several of his peers seems resentful. The description of “victims” seems to us to portray some kind of prejudicial attitude to those who are less privileged than Proctor or those Proctor associates with.
It is these kind of attitudes and perceptions among those who are privileged enough to be put in positions of power that is concerning. If it were not for the ordinary citizen in every part of our society people such as Proctor – or anyone else – would not have enjoyed such lucrative political careers.
The kind of protective and superior attitude Proctor exhibits in his comments justifies the reason why officers investigating cases such as the Westminster abuse ring need to be able to search suspect’s property when allegations are made – even before questioning the suspect.
One the one hand we agree with Proctor that a lot of speculation is presented as ‘fact’ without anything to support it, and this does have a serious impact on the lives of innocent people.
On the other, we can understand why he became the subject of the investigation and why the police took the action they did.
As always in these long investigations, it remains to be seen what else will (to use Proctor’s term) “come out of the woodwork”.
You can read Proctor’s full statement on the Independent’s website.
Order of Truth – news that matters