Fleet Street’s complicity in historical child sexual abuse: the story the press will not report

Français : Buste d'une statue appartenant à un...

Français : Buste d’une statue appartenant à un groupe représentant Thésée et le Minotaure, érigé sur une fontaine à Athènes près de St Démétrios Katéphoris à Plaka. Il s’agit d’une copie du célèbre groupe statuaire dû à Myron érigé sur l’acropole qui représentait Thésée combattant le minotaure. Musée archéologique national, Athènes, n° 1664. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1998, Nick Davies wrote the following in a story outlining the scale of institutional child abuse in the UK.

Fleet Street routinely nurtures a crop of untold stories about powerful abusers who have evaded justice.[1]

At first glance, the sentence seems innocuous. We read it quickly and move on to the article’s main point. However, it is a sentence that that haunts Fleet Street and threatens the Goddard Inquiry.

Fleet Street has kept its secrets but most importantly, for its business and its proprietors, it has exploited those stories. They hide these stories in corporate safes, in the editor’s locked desk, or the proprietor’s safety deposit box. The press knows these stories but never tell them. They decided they are not in the public interest to investigate or to tell them. If they had investigated them or published them, they would lose their value as arcana imperii[2], the secret knowledge to exercise power.

The press and police decided who would know about the powerful predators

Unlike lawyers who know and keep the secrets, the press use them. Yet, their secret is shared with the source. In Nick Davies case, the police were the source. Although, Davies worked to reveal the problem, his work also reveals how the press and the police collude to keep the secrets. They decide what was in the public interest. They kept the public ignorant of the threat and the problem’s scale. They would limit the public’s knowledge of powerful predators that preyed on children in care. Their failure to investigate these stories implicitly condoned the behavior.

The regime protects the powerful from the weak and the vulnerable

As Nick Davies recounts, Chris House, from the Sunday Mirror, confronted Peter Morrison ex MP for Chester and the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. However, as Davies explains Morison used the libel laws to silence House. The libel laws show how the regime protects the powerful against the claims of the weak and vulnerable. Moreover, there is no record of Morrison’s arrests in the official record. The official record protects the powerful.[3] When see how the press and police failed to pursue the powerful, we also realize, though, that the secret knowledge served another purpose. Other powerful figures with access to the secret knowledge could use it for their own political or private purposes. In such a relationship, raped children become pawns or prizes for the powerful to use.

Children in care a ritual sacrifice to protect the public from the Minotaurs

The children can be seen as a ritual sacrifice to protect the public from powerful predators. Like the Athenian youths sacrificed to the Minotaur, children in care were sacrificed to powerful predators.[4] A few weak and vulnerable children were the price the public paid to keep their children safe. Instead of a Theseus who slew the Minotaur, the press and the police, with rare exception, failed to confront the powerful predators.

Will the press finally reveal its shameful past or is it above the law?

In light of this shameful past, will the Goddard Inquiry look at the press? Will proprietors be required to tell the Inquiry what they know about powerful predators? Is Fleet Street above the law?



[1] http://www.nickdavies.net/1998/04/01/the-sheer-scale-of-child-sexual-abuse-in-britain/

[2] See for example https://lawrenceserewicz.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/official-secrets-act-and-child-sexual-abuse-inquiry-arcana-imperii-and-the-secrets-of-state/

[3] The official record is usually written by the powerful and protected rarely the weak and vulnerable. https://lawrenceserewicz.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/private-memories-public-accountability/

[4] The children were sacrificed to a brutal tyrant, sent as tribute, as Athens was unable or unwilling to fight. They had lost and this was the price they paid. Minos lived beyond the law unaccountable to anyone but himself even though he appeared to create a stable order, the price was Athenian youths as yearly tribute. What price do we pay to be left alone? See for example, WHAT DAEDALUS TOLD ARIADNE, OR, HOW TO ESCAPE THE LABYRINTH: THE MINOTAUR Paul G. Kuntz The Monist, Vol. 50, No. 4, Symbol and Myth (October, 1966), pp. 488-504. Perhaps no other myth better expresses the idea that might makes right and the strong rule the weak than the myth of the Minotaur. See The Review of Metaphysics. Plato’s “Minos:” the Political and Philosophical Context of the Problem of Natural Right V. Bradley Lewis The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Sep., 2006), pp. 17-53 Such a view might suggest that the UK must slay the Minotaur if it is to found a just political order and escape the one where the strong rule the weak and children are sacrificed the predatory beasts.


About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
This entry was posted in democracy, ethics, journalism, public interest, reputation management and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.