It is over 20 years since the rash of allegations that rituals of devil worship, including the sexual abuse of children, the sacrifice, and (sometimes) eating, of animals, children and even babies as well as other extreme acts of depravity were being conducted across the U.K.
In 1994 I reported to the Department of Health that in the 84 cases in England and Wales that were the basis of my research, I could find no supporting evidence for the existence of such a satanic cult.
The allegations have not stopped however, although they no longer get the publicity they used to have as, officially, satanic or ritual abuse no longer exists. It is not mentioned in guidance to social workers on the subject of abuse of children.
However, a particularly unpleasant case of false SRA accusations that occurred in Hampstead in 2014 has recently been widely reported in the press (covered in the BFMS newsletter in Sept.2015).
The persistence of these allegations into the twenty-first century repeats the questions that I thought I had answered at the end of the twentieth! These are,
(1) How is it that ‘victims’ can tell stories of gruesome experiences that they never had?
These two questions are also raised by the cases of so-called ‘historic abuse’.
The answers are interrelated though I shall try and deal with them separately here.
Believe the Children
The title Believe the Children referred to the myth that it was young children who had told of the satanic abuse. It was supported by the firm belief, almost dogma, that such children do not lie and therefore that what they disclosed about the existence of satanic or ritual abuse was indubitably the truth.
However, the stories that were publicised as what young victims told social workers, foster parents and other sympathetic adults in claimed U.K. cases were actually nothing of the sort. They were what adults said the children told them and, as I was able to show, there were various reasons why this was not what the children said.
Most children are quite quick to pick up what adults want from them, although a four year old boy in one case suffered 33 questions about ghosts before he began to talk about the ghosts at his home.
Some children were particularly adept at fulfilling the prejudices of adults and it was noticeable that in any case that involved several children, there were only one or two who were the main source of the authorities’ alleged information. In some cases, these children told the others or ‘explained’ to the less sensitive what had allegedly happened. Others incorporated bits of films and other television material that they had seen and remembered and one slightly older girl, when pressed for details said in astonishment: “But I was in my dream”, clearly indicating what she was using as an account of what had happened to her.
In most cases there was pressure on the children to respond to requests to “tell”. When they did not, it was generally thought by their inquisitors that the devil-worshippers had prevented them from doing so, using magical procedures such as spiders on the wall or “trigger words” which, when spoken, silenced the children.
I need only refer briefly to the effect of mistakes in transcriptions of interviews that altered what was said. In one case these errors were carefully elucidated by a consultant who checked their accuracy, finding over and over again that mistakes in transcribing altered what the children actually said. The report might record ‘No’ as an answer when a video recording showed a child responding ‘Yes’ or vice versa.
Using leading questions, the alleged stories of other children’s alleged stories and promises of rewards were other means by which counterfeit responses were obtained. The results usually reflected and confirmed the adults’ preconceptions.
There are some recognisable parallels with cases of recovered memories.
First, note the parallel with the popular dogma that ‘victims’ should always be believed. Det. Supt. Kenny McDonald, the investigator of allegations of ‘historic’ child abuse in Dolphin Square, an experienced police officer, recently pronounced the alleged victim’s claims as credible and true BEFORE any investigations had been concluded. [Ed His pronouncement was later castigated by his superiors and he was moved off the case: see http://saff.nfshost.com/panoramavip.htm for full background]
Well-known therapists such as Valerie Sinason, have insisted that therapists must discard the previous understanding that a patient’s story is true for the teller, though not necessarily for the hearer, and convince themselves of the reality of the patient’s account. This approach, while no doubt easing the strain for victims who try to recount what happened, risks serious miscarriages of justice. Belief in sincerity is not the same as a conclusion, based on good evidence, that the truth has been uncovered.
A second parallel can be drawn between the vulnerable children who were pressured by the authorities to ‘tell’ everything they had suffered and the vulnerable men and women, sometimes disturbed, often depressed, who felt pressure from the counsellor, psychotherapist or analyst to search their memories for what the questioner ‘knew’ must be there. The silence of the children and the blankness of patients’ memories were both taken to mean the existence of serious trauma and/or the ability of the perpetrators to control what their victims were able to say. Very few of those who believed in the existence of satanic cults were prepared to believe that silence meant that there was nothing to say.
"Very few of those who believed in the existence of satanic cults were prepared to believe that silence meant that there was nothing to say."However not all children were young and vulnerable in this way. The teenagers who figured in some cases resembled the adults in some cases of historic abuse in that they were active participants in the creation of the stories of what they had suffered. Here again it was pressure to tell that encouraged the expounding of horrific stories of what they had seen and had suffered themselves. As one near-teenager explained:
“ You lot are into these things and the police and social workers wanted to hear them so I thought I had to say something and I went from there”.
Teenagers, like ‘survivors’ of ritual abuse, have many opportunities to learn from each other and from printed materials what is expected. Some of them chose the people to listen who showed a disposition to believe everything that was said. The lengthy sessions with these confidants, with social workers or therapists were occasions when the ‘story’, whether of ‘satanic’ or ‘historic’ abuse was put together. [Ed: See news cutting in rightmost panel for classic example of this co-authoring by believers and 'victims' of Satanic Abuse stories]
Apart from the dogma that victims must be believed where did the pressure to ‘tell’ come from?
There are several elements that make up the deep convictions which caused it. In half the cases I studied the children had suffered sexual abuse, usually in their homes, and in many of those cases and in some others they had been badly mistreated as well. As one campaigner put it:
‘It was hard to believe that [ordinary] people could be capable of such evil’.For evangelical Christians an explanation was provided by the perpetrators’ alleged allegiance to the devil and this explanation was accepted by the irreligious who did not themselves believe in Satan. The argument that the cult members may believe in him was seen to be sufficient.
Equally, it is important to stress that the alleged sexual abuse of the teenagers concerned was far less well established. For example when one of them had an abortion, the identity of the father was never mentioned and in other cases the girls’ accounts were clearly fabrications.
All encompassing sexual abuse symptoms - Satanic Indicators
idea, drawn from what has been said to be a misreading of Freud,
asserted that most, if not all psychological illness or damage, came
from earlier traumas caused by sexual abuse.
[Ed: Freud claimed that most 'complexes' resulted from the repression
of unacceptable sexual desires, not that complexes were created by sexual abuse ]
Have you read La Fontaine's SRA report or are you a victim of the conspiracy to obscure the truth which has destroyed the lives of thousands?Has there been a tacit conspiracy of omission attenuating distribution and availability of The government's official report by Prof. La Fontaine "The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse: Research Findings" ?
The SAFF believe that the difficulty in obtaining it has lead to the perpetuation of the lies and the damage the myth has done to society over the intervening 21 years since its publication.
Although heralded nationally at the time and covered at length in most national and local newspapers, as well as on radio and TV, it is now almost impossible to obtain.
It cannot easily be found in a search of the HMSO website.
It cannot be found in a search of the new TSO website and it is not readily found in as search of the government catalogue of publications or the British Library.
Though we did find mention of it in the National Library of Scotland!
The owner of the Sorcerer's Apprentice bookshop (which was firebombed by fundamentalists over the Cook Report's discredited claims) tells us that even when it was first published HMSO seemed to put hurdles in front of every purchase of it.
The Sorcerers' Apprentice Bookshop has been in business for 40 years and stocked 20,000 books on its shelves so was used to regularly ordering rare treatises from publishers across the world. He says: "Never did we have as much trouble as when we tried to order "The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse: Research Findings".
First HMSO imposed a minimum order value. Then would not invoice. They demanded pre-payment but would not accept an order unless on one of their pro-forma invoices; which had to be requested. Sometimes that pro-forma would never arrive. Eventually, after dozens of attempts, even though it was crucial to the bookshop owners own history, he had to give up. He says over the years that people regularly ask him for copies of the report but he cannot help them and directs them to HMSO, though HMSO doesn't actually deal with the public. These people presumably have also tried elsewhere and failed to get a copy of it.
Occasionally a second hand copy might pop up on Amazon.com but citizens will find it exceedingly difficult to obtain a vital public document to breach the SRA myth and this difficulty has played into the hands of the pro-SRA lobby which appears to be able to get feminist publishers, radical social work publishers and left-wing publishers to print and distribute their pro-SRA propaganda by the cartload. Was there a conspiracy to hide this crucial information - or is it just another example of the stupidity of government bureaucracy and the small-mindedness of HMSO?
To help you obtain a copy new or second hand here are the details and ISBN courtesy of the National Library of Scotland:
Title: The Extent And Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse,
Subtitle: Research Findings
Author: Prof. Jean La Fontaine
Corporate Author: Great Britain, Department of Health
Date published: 1994
ISBN: 0113217978, 9780113217977
Meanwhile you can read a précis review of it from
Or even better, obtain Prof La Fontaine's own detailed hard cover book
"SPEAK OF THE DEVIL" written shortly after her government report and encapsulating all the essential research she completed on the SRA issue but did not have space to discuss in the official report, coupled with an overview of the witch-hunt mentality and its social implications.
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL:
TALES OF SATANIC ABUSE IN CONTEMPORARY ENGLAND
by J.S. La Fontaine.
Cambridge University Press,
This excellent book was purchased and distributed widely therefore can be obtained second hand relatively easily on the web. Amazon had a dozen copies available last time we looked.
To whet your appetite here's a link to a partial review of it:
1: That the government had commissioned a new report about SRA to supercede/repudiate the La Fontaine report (which said that SRA did not exist) and
2: New evidence had been found to prove SRA existed.
Observers of the SRA myth may remember that the DoH commissioned Sinason's 'Devil Report' in 1996 and that even before the ink was dry on the cheque her supporters in the pro-SRA lobby had waived it in front of non-believers and the undecided as though it was a done deal.
Before any research work had actually been concluded on the 'report', one of these key supporters, the fundamentalist agent-provocateur Andrew Boyd, prematurely wrote a front page special on the report for the New Christian Herald (an avowedly fundamentalist newspaper with a broad reach into British politics) acting as though its findings were already finalised when they had not been.
In fact Sinason had worked with Boyd for some time before this and her report actually used prejudiced 'research' by Boyd as part of the 'proof' in her actual study. Therefore a fundamentalist Christian who had a track record of making false allegations and accusations about SRA was incestuously promoting his own failed SRA 'research' within a document supposedly containing original research by Sinason for the Department of Health!
Four years previously Boyd had written Produced and Directed a scandalous Channel4 TV documentary entitled Beyond Belief, which claimed to be presenting extracts from an actual video of Satanic Abuse happening. SRA abusers caught red-handed! It caused a sensation in the national press, yet within a week Boyd had been unmasked as a fundie manipulator who had massaged evidence and caused the involvement of Scotland Yard's Obscene Publication Squad in a pre-emptive 'bust' on premises in Bournemouth in a wild-goose chase.
The Truth was that the video was not of SRA but was a little-known performance art video from The Temple of Psychic Youth rock-band. It had an 18 classification!
The victim who claimed to have had a baby aborted for satanic sacrifice turned out to be a mentally unstable woman, Jennifer, who admitted that she had lied because she had been indoctrinated into believing the story by a fundamentalist counselling group which already had links with Boyd and firm links with previous initial allegations of SRA which were also proven to be untrue. The leader of Ellel Grange in Preston, was Peter Horrobin who had 'indoctrinated' Jennifer into believing she had been satanically abused when she hadn't. The whole thing was a trumped-up farce.
Beyond Belief was a culmination of biased and bigoted 'research' into SRA done by Boyd whilst he was contributor to a fundamentalist missionary group called Prophetic World Ministries. One of his jobs there was to edit a Tract-sheet called 'God's Word Now' which was distributed to fundie activists to give away in the street to passers by to convert them to Christianity. It was typically OTT.
In Boyd's 1991 book, titled Blasphemous Rumours, on which the TV documentary was based, Boyd compiles completely unproven suspicions from most of the people involved in trying to offload the SRA myth onto Britain in the 1990s, aggregating those suspicions to try to estimate the incidence of SRA in Britain.
One of the people whom he quotes at length in his book is none other than Peter Horrobin from Ellel Grange who claimed to have discovered 'more than 100 SRA victims'. Obviously one of these was 'Jennifer' and we can thus conjecture that not one of his 'cases' was in fact real. These estimates were simply fiction and had no basis whatsoever to be included in a serious attempt to estimate whether SRA existed. However, Valerie Sinason actually quotes these invented totals in her appalling 'research' for her Devil Report and other books on the subject which she wrote!
How unsurprising then to find that the New Christian Herald, published by the thousands and distributed free to churches and religious institutions throughout the U.K., not only lead with a front page article but was also gave Boyd an inside column to pursue his sectarian misrepresentations, chief amongst which was the untrue message that the yet to be written Sinason's 'new government report' had replaced the official La Fontaine report on SRA.
The front page squealer headline (above) was backed up by a full column article within the newspaper by Boyd which deceitfully tried to knit together proof of Satanic Involvement in the Marc Dutroux case and, would you believe, the Fred West murders, as 'proof' of SRA, all wrapped up in an appeal for all Christian readers to support Sinason and Hale with prayer to find out 'the truth'. As if this wasn't enough untruths to discredit the La Fontaine report, in another full-column Comment article in the same issue headed EVIL MUST BE CONFRONTED, the editor of the New Christian Herald puts all his weight behind Boyd's manipulations, assures his readers, without any first-hand knowledge whatsoever, that SRA DOES exist and is a threat to kids. To further ram home the lies comes this duplicitous statement: ' Plainly the government was not satisfied with the 1994 La Fontaine Report which was never published in full, there must have been some unease for the Department of Health to commission a new investigation.' This defamatory statement had, as its entire purpose and intention to unfairly and prejudicially undermine the 1994 La Fontaine report and establish in the minds of Christians nationally the idea that it was somehow incorrect in its conclusions when it was beyond reproach .
The NCH was published in the tens of thousands and delivered free, like many such newspapers, to churches and Christian associations countrywide. It ceased publication in 2006. By their works are they knowest. You will notice from the image of the front page above that Christopher Graffius has a column in the very same issue. Christopher Graffius has been Lord David Alton's gopher for decades. During the 1980s and 1990s he was the one who managed all of Alton's political campaigns and very successfully created a cross-party 5th columnn of Christian evangelicals in Parliament on the usual anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-censorship fundie stuff.
It was through this group that Alton, Graffius and in particular Wilfred Wong (who worked under Graffius and Alton) were able to set up various Satan Seminars there and inject Sinason's nonsense into the debate. Thus there's a direct link with all these people who clearly have worked hard to try to bury and repudiate the government's Official La Fontaine report which is academically pristine but gave a truth that these fundies simply didn't want you to hear. There is no such thing as Satanic Ritual Child Abuse. David Alton is an activist Catholic whose belief in SRA has been well-established. You will find an image below from Community Care social work magazine (which always erred on the side of pushing belief in SRA throughout the 1990s) in which, in 1994, in response to the publication of the La Fontaine report, David Alton clearly declares he is going to start a campaign to discredit it. I've just laid that campaign bare for you. SAFF covered in detail Sinason and Alton's work in pushing SRA here: http://saff.nfshost.com/goodsin.htm
and there's lots more on Alton's involvement with Wong and Graffius in our article exposing Wong's mad SRA beliefs here; http://saff.nfshost.com/wilfredwong.htm
The SAFF's marvellous analysis of Andrew Boyd and his Beyond Belief video can be seen here:
And wonder at how any sane person can describe 12 ratty pages of indiscriminate unproven nonsense as a major report which will 'turn on its head all previous research'. Excuse me as I pick myself up from rolling around on the floor laughing. The joke is on you, dear reader, if you believed this tosh back in the 1990s.
' 1. The only valid reason for repeating a piece of work is that there is evidence that renders its conclusions suspect. There is no mention of such evidence and it seems unlikely that there was any because the proposed research by Valerie Sinason and Dr Hale did not propose to use comparable data. Moreover my report, The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse, ( ISBN 0113217978 HMSO 1994 ) was extensively reviewed by the Research Department's peer review requirement. "Complaints" about conclusions are not evidence about the work, merely about the views of the complainers, and should not be considered in themselves as reasons for funding further research.'
'2. Ms Sinason's research is presented as though it were funded by the DoH in the normal way. It was not. It was not funded by the Research Section of the DoH (a fact that you omit to mention), there was no peer review of the proposal and neither of the applicants had research experience. I was told by Dr Hale in the summer of 1998 that the research report to the DoH was nearly finished. Now you deny you have it but refrain from mentioning that this means it is nearly 2 years overdue. What has happened? Given that public money has been involved I think a better explanation than was offered is due.
'Professor Jean La Fontaine, emeritus professor of anthropology, LSE
BANNED DOCTOR VOWS TO CONTINUE WAR ON SATANISM
Dr Jim Phillips is a deluded believer in Satanic Ritual Abuse. His interference in the proper treatment of mentally ill patients created many of the 'victims' of SRA who acted as the foundation of the myth for those who wanted to persuade you it was real.
Jim Phillips was featured in award winning documentary maker Antony Thomas's 1993 film "In Satan's Name" (click on Jim's photo above to see a SAFFutube excerpt of his interview with Jim)
An article reproduced below from the Birmingham Post reveals how many of the early SRA 'victims' were worked up from a pool of mentally ill people who needed proper help but got sucked into the SRA controversy and were indoctrinated with SRA motifs and ideas.
When the Police tell us that there have been 500 calls and cases of abuse following a TV appeal on the issue it is people of this ilk, with unsubstantiated and mostly imagined cases, who often ring in and in the process distort reaction to the claims.
Undoubtedly Jim Phillips' is a sad case and he obviously has his own inner demons to tackle.
He is as much a victim of the SRA myth as are his patients.
We have great sympathy for his personal predicament but it is not acceptable for a general practitioner who does not specialise in psychiatry to be encouraged to use his authoritarian position to interfere with the proper psychiatric treatment of patients by indoctrinating them with ideas and fantasies about Satanic Ritual Abuse of which they were previously oblivious and over which they have no defence.
This locks them into being a statistical commodity to be exploited by therapists on the make to 'prove' the existence of SRA to the police and government. Because SRA is a myth it leaves these patients in an incurable position.
The government and the police should now get a firm grip on this phenomenon which has corrupted and tainted child protection for the past 25 years. These people need help, not another witch-hunt.
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