Sunday, 28 July 2019

Carl Beech: He Didn't Do It Alone

The tawdry saga that has surrounded the ‘VIP paedophile ring’ fantasist Carl Beech has finally been brought to a close with him being sent to prison for a total of eighteen years (of which he must serve at least half). There was a loud gasp from the public gallery as sentence was pronounced in Court 1 at Newcastle Crown Court, but Beech himself remained impassive and emotionless – as he has throughout the trial – while standing in the dock listening to his fate. 

Carl Beech: 18 year sentence
His sentence, handed down by Mr Justice Goss at Newcastle Crown Court, includes fifteen years for the twelve counts of perverting the course of justice, while the additional three years were given in respect of the sexual offences he’d previously admitted to at Worcester Crown Court (possession of indecent images of children and voyeurism), as well as one count of fraud (£22,000 claimed falsely from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)) and the offence of jumping bail to go on the run to Sweden). There will also be financial restitution required, although it remains to be seen what assets the disgraced nurse, turned NHS manager, still has in order to satisfy the order. 

As the judge told Beech before he pronounced sentence: “You are a highly manipulative and devious person'', adding that: “You maintained your lies of having been abused and you have not shown any remorse''. 

‘You will be believed’ 
Although the prosecution has proved its case against Beech to the satisfaction of the jury and he has been led off in shame to the first of what will doubtless be many cells he will inhabit over the next decade or so, many issues remain unresolved. Ironically, it was left for the defence barrister to raise at least some of them during mitigation, before Beech was sentenced. 

The first matter is the policy imposed on police and prosecutors that complainants in sexual allegation cases ‘will be believed’. As Beech’s counsel rightly pointed out, “With another approach, Mr Beech’s allegations would have been dismissed.” 

Sir Jimmy Savile
And there is much truth in this observation. Had there not been a radical shift towards a so-called ‘victim-centred’ justice system, perhaps malicious and calculating liars and fraudsters such as Carl Beech could not have wreaked so much havoc, wasted police time and resources, and – most importantly – ruined so many innocent people’s lives. As soon as Beech’s allegations started to evolve into what became a multi-tentacled elite paedophile conspiracy theory, embracing not only former politicians (mostly Tories) but also senior military men, ex-intelligence service chiefs and others – including, as one has come to expect, Jimmy Savile – experienced Met detectives should have smelt a very large rat.

Instead, no doubt encouraged by all the attention he and his preposterous claims were getting, Beech started to invent child murders, in which he somehow featured. We also had pet dogs being kidnapped and horses being shot, not to mention a whole host of fellow victims mentioned by Beech but none of whom able to be directly contacted. It should all have seemed much too far-fetched, precisely because that is exactly what it was. There can be no doubt that this ridiculous dogma of 'believe instantly all complainants', imposed from above for ideological motives, created a fertile ground in which fantasists and fraudsters could sew their toxic weeds, some of which – like Beech’s – blossomed into vast, dense forests of lies and conspiracy theories that eventually consumed millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and enormous amounts of police time and resources. 

In the aftermath of the Beech scandal, it’s clear that the preposterous policy of  believing without investigating thoroughly needs to be ditched, both in theory and in practice. The police should be mandated to listen to complaints professionally and to investigate them fairly, without fear or favour.

The Role of the Media 
Long before he came to the notice of the police, Beech was an inveterate and emotionally incontinent online blogger. He shared what we now know were his own lurid, perverted fantasies with others via various internet accounts. He made contact with those who claimed to have had experience of childhood sexual abuse. In some cases, he even misappropriated excerpts from the real life testimony of genuine victims in order to bolster his own fabricated tales. He's not the first to do this. Doubtless, Beech did this because he felt it might reinforce his own credibility, as well as, in his case, of satisfying his perverted obsession with the sexual abuse and torture of children.

Carl Beech when he was blogging
Several people who had been genuinely sexually abused also began to suspect that Beech might be a fraud. I’ve had communications from some individuals who've told me how they found him creepy and disturbing. They say that they tried to warn others about Beech at a time when he was being supported – even lionised – by others within the wider support community for abuse victims. However, their warnings seem to have gone unheeded and Beech became increasingly vocal with his extravagant allegations of sex, torture and murder. 

Inevitably perhaps, Beech’s burgeoning online presence attracted the notice of journalists, some of whom were quite clearly looking for major ‘splash’ stories to plaster over their tabloid front pages. One example is the Sunday People (as it then was), which ran with Beech’s rape and murder claims, although it maintained Beech's anonymity. Nevertheless, beyond the fantasist's own claims, there was simply no evidence to back up what he was alleging. 

'Evidence-based journalism'?
It was the involvement of the online Exaro news service (‘exaro’is Latin for ‘I dig up') that really turbo-charged Beech’s tall tales (and those of other fantasists, all referred to by pseudonyms such as ‘David’ and ‘Darren’). Beech himself became ‘Nick’, although he'd previously hidden behind names like ‘Stephen’ and ‘Carl Survivor’. Exaro, under its editor in chief, Mark Watts, whipped up a frenzy by slowly drip-feeding sensationalised parts of Beech’s increasingly bizarre and extravagant claims to the world. These allegations were often picked up by the national media, which then magnified the preposterous tales. However, it should be noted that Exaro had already been pushing ‘celebrity sex ring stories’ before Beech came along. 

Beech's own stories – in some cases later shown to have been ‘harvested’ from the internet or from books already published in the USA about child abuse – were promoted by Watts and Exaro as confirming the accounts of VIP paedophile rings. In reality, this was simply a case of one liar echoing the lies being told by others. In evidential terms, it signified nothing, but because of the use of pseudonyms and the often opaque way in which the allegations were being reported, it was difficult for outside observers to understand how the stories were being generated. It would take evidence given at Beech’s recent trial to expose Exaro’s true role in the affair.

The Political Dimension
At the time Beech started making his false allegations about a VIP paedophile ring operating in, and around, Westminster, there was already a febrile atmosphere. Stories were circulating about dead politicians, such as Sir Cyril Smith, a former Liberal MP.  A book, ‘Smile for the Camera: the Double Life of Cyril Smith, M.P.', had been published in 2014, written we now know largely by Matthew Baker, but also carrying the name on the cover of controversial Labour MP Simon Danczuk. Mr Danczuk’s colourful background is now much better known, but at the time he wasn’t as notorious as he later became. However, he undoubtedly used the book and the concern it generated about historical sexual abuse of children at the hands of  a popular parliamentarian as part of his shameless mission of self-promotion.

Simon Danczuk
Danczuk was not alone. Others were already riding on the rolling bandwagon, including Labour’s current deputy leader, Tom Watson. We know that he met with Beech in July 2014, but as early as 2012 he'd been fuelling the fire over rumours of a Westminster ‘paedophile ring’, even speaking about the issue in the House of Commons. Watson appeared to have a particular animus towards the former Conservative Home Secretary, Leon Brittan. Indeed, the Labour M.P. quoted directly from Beech (then called ‘Nick’) to brand the peer “as close to evil as a human being could get.” By October 2015, Watson was expressing his regret for quoting the phrase, but, by then, much of the damage had been done.

From Tom Watson's Twitter 
Watson had also launched an extraordinary attack against Lord Brittan via Twitter. In one tweet from February 2015, he proclaimed that he had met those accusing the former Home Secretary of rape and believed they were sincere, adding: ‘I think I have made my position on Leon Brittan perfectly clear. I believe the people who say he raped them. Can’t add much else.’

In addition to Watson, other Labour MPs joined in the promotion of sensational paedophile scandals. In December 2014, John Mann was in full flow, demanding that police investigate the alleged murders which he claimed had been committed in order to cover-up a Westminster-based paedophile gang. 

According to the politician, he had handed detectives a dossier involving 22 politicians, including 13 former ministers. By January 2015, the MP for Bassetlaw was confidently predicting that “tens of thousands of victims” were likely to come forward to give evidence to the inquiry into sexual abuse.

John Mann MP
Unsurprisingly, these grandiose claims appear to have gradually petered out. The prosecution, conviction and jailing of Beech is likely to have put the final nail in the coffin of the conspiracy-in-high-places theory. Yet none of these assiduous promoters of the lies and sexual fantasies of Carl Beech and others, such as ‘Darren’ and ‘David’, have made formal public apologies for the wild accusations that they were spouting, nor taken any real responsibility for the damage their irresponsible and presumptuous behaviour has caused, both to individuals and to our national institutions. 

Social Media
As became clear from the evidence given in court during his trial, Carl Beech – under various pseudonyms – first started peddling his fantasies concerning sexual abuse online long before they came to the attention of the national media. He quickly recruited a wide circle of followers, supporters and promoters who were convinced that he was a genuine ‘survivor’ of extreme abuse, both physical and sexual. No doubt the vast outpourings of praise and encouragement he received online for his ‘bravery’ fuelled his desire for attention. 

His followers on Twitter soon formed a protective circle around ‘Carl Survivor’ (among other names he was using). His claims – no matter how bizarre or preposterous – were promoted as gospel truths and anyone who dared to criticise him, or even question his tortuous accounts of abuse, was mobbed by his followers. I, and many others, who raised the possibility that Beech’s claims might be fantasies or lies, were smeared and attacked. Some of us were labelled ‘paedo apologists’ by Twitter users we’d never even met, many of whom were cloaking their real identities online.

Vast conspiracy theories were developed by the most extreme of Beech’s online cheerleaders. Totally unrelated snippets of information, much of it misquoted or downright false, were laboriously threaded together in a bid to smear those who dared to call out the increasingly fantastical lies of ‘Carl’/’Nick’. Online campaigns were run targeting critics or those campaigning against false allegations and miscarriages of justice. In the most extreme cases, there was actual real world harassment of certain individuals, involving the police and the making of malicious false allegations to people’s employers and even the intimidation of their families. In essence, the #IBelieveNick support group had become an irrational and dangerous cult, in which facts and truth were disregarded. 

Carl Beech's video interview
I believe that many of these extremists acted in this way because they wanted the allegations that Britain was being ruled by an elite group of predatory, murderous paedophiles to be true. They harbour a deep hatred of authority – the police, the armed services, politicians, journalists, the intelligence services – and cannot resist any opportunity to de-legimitise our national institutions. So what better tool to weaponise than stoking fears of paedophilia. During the period 2012-2019, it seems that it was no longer the old ‘Reds under the beds' conspiracy theory, but the ‘paedos in high places’ that people could be made to fear.

As more and more people get their news – accurate or inaccurate – online, it became a fertile hunting ground for the #IBelieveNick mob. Misguided, often vulnerable, people were being groomed and recruited via the internet. Some of these folk are genuine victims of childhood abuse and a couple have told me how they were initially taken in by ‘Nick’ and his supporters. In some cases, they later discovered that their personal histories were being looted by Beech and others to construct false narratives of sexual and physical abuse. Yet another example of the deceitful way in which Beech and his ilk exploit and misuse innocent people.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the online #IBelieveNick cult is that it's still going on, albeit in a much weakened form. There have been notable ‘defectors’ who have tried to distance themselves from the Beech crew. Twitter timelines have been purged and a few people are even proclaiming loudly that they were duped and are among his ‘victims’. However, to date, there have been very few genuine apologies for all the unjust smearing of reputations, verbal attacks and actual threats that were made online. 

Some of the victims whom Beech has injured most, including Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor, are still being attacked and defamed online by the die-hard extremists, who continue to maintain that Carl Beech is innocent and is now being ‘silenced’ by the state, in order to prevent others from coming forward. Utterly preposterous as this falsehood is, it is being still being circulated via the internet.

Other Institutions
It should not be forgotten that Beech worked for many years for the NHS, initially as a nurse, later as a manager. He also worked for the Quality Care Commission, as well as being a volunteer with the NSPCC. Moreover, he served as a governor at two schools. He continued to contribute to NAPAC publications. Pretty much all of the above organisations have announced that there is no evidence of misconduct by Beech in any of these roles. However, given that we now know his sexual offending spanned a significant period in time, including during the years 2012-2017 when he was with the NSPCC, giving hundreds of primary school age children talks about how to keep themselves safe from would-be abusers, serious questions do need to be asked. Surely there needs to be an independent inquiry that looks at any institution where Beech held positions of responsibility? 

Even though Beech had no criminal convictions until January of this year, there should have been concerns about some aspects of his conduct. His obsession with the sexual abuse, torture and killing of children should have been obvious to anyone who came across his endless blog posts and social media accounts. I would suggest that the alarm bells should've started ringing back in 2007 when he published – under the pseudonym ‘Nurse Lucy Samuels’ – his trashy account of his work for the NHS entitled ‘Nurse, Nurse!’ The fact that the marketing of this book was linked online to Beech’s sex shop ‘Lucy’s Delights’ should have caused some internal consternation. But, as so often in the scandal of Carl Beech, no-one seems to have done any investigation. Was any patient confidentiality breached by the book? Again, seemingly no concerns. 

Perhaps the most important lesson that must be learned from the Carl Beech affair is that there should never again be unquestioning belief in those making complaints to police, particularly concerning allegations of a crime where is no direct evidence. Misguided policies, such as ‘you will be believed’, must be ditched forever. All complaints must be treated with respect and professionalism by police officers, as should those who are accused. The new Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, does seem to understand the challenges facing the police and the CPS in the post-Beech era. 

As I’ve said many times before, the job of the police should be to believe neither the complainant nor the accused before a rigorous investigation has been conducted. All relevant leads should be followed, no matter where they may go. All evidence should be shared with the CPS prior to a decision as to prosecute or not. And during that investigation, no names of suspects – save in rare cases where there may be a risk to the public or to specific individuals – should be released to the press. In fact, there should be a presumption of anonymity until, at the very least, the point of charge. Personally, I'm campaigning for anonymity until conviction or a guilty plea in the case of sexual allegations, given the far-reaching damage that can be caused immediately names of the accused are publicised.

Beech in the dock
When Northumbria Police was called in to investigate Carl Beech for perverting the course of justice and fraud, its detectives showed how a thorough, professional police investigation should be carried out. Every lead was pursued, every witness who could be traced was interviewed, even those who had known him as a schoolboy were interviewed. Beech’s estranged family and relatives were questioned. His communication devices were examined forensically and his possession of illegal images of children were discovered. Every lie he'd told in his previous police statements was tested against the testimony of others or documentary evidence. His copious online ramblings under various identities were sifted through to highlight the strands of his noxious fantasies. In short, Beech was – as they used to say – ‘banged to rights’.

And when he went on the run in a bid to evade the legal consequences of his criminal activities, he was tracked down to Sweden, apprehended and then extradited to face justice. Now he is where he belongs: behind bars for at least nine years and then under probation supervision for a further nine years, so prevented from causing any further misery or havoc. 

We mustn’t become complacent. There are other Carl Beechs out there and at least some of them are quite capable of telling the most outrageous lies about crimes that have never taken place. Innocent people are already rotting in jail because of liars, fraudsters, revenge-seekers and fantasists with unscrupulous moral codes and perverted imaginations. We owe it to all their victims to reform our criminal justice system and to make the appeals process fit for purpose. If this takes significant financial investment, then that’s what will be needed. Perhaps we could reduce or eliminate the amount of taxpayers’ money that is currently being claimed by fraudsters like Carl Beech and serial rape liar Jemma Beale. We mustn’t let this opportunity for change pass us by.


  1. Well done, Simon: this touches on a broad range of necessary aspects of this sorry saga. I see the final paragraph as the most important: get the unknown number of falsely accused victims out of prison.

  2. Great article. A must read. Every one of Simon's recommendations should be implemented