The Daily Mail has published an article linking false memory to the VIP paedophile scandal.
Two key witnesses in the VIP paedophile investigation are being helped by a charity that uses a controversial therapy which can generate false memories, it emerged yesterday.
The pair, who have been championed by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, claim to have suffered and witnessed abuse at the hands of Establishment figures.
But police have been unable to corroborate any of their allegations and serious doubts about these have since emerged.
The witnesses – Esther Baker and a man known only as Darren – are being supported by a charity called the Lantern Project, based in Wallasey in Merseyside.
The charity uses a technique called unstructured therapeutic disclosure (UTD), in which the victims are given the details of the effects of sex abuse suffered by their counsellor.
It describes its approach as ‘reverse disclosure’ in which ‘the victims do not need to tell us what happened to them as we already know, because it happened to us’. The project also refers to victims having ‘memories they have tried for many years to bury deep in their sub-conscious’.
Experts say it has uncomfortable echoes of a previously discredited technique called ‘recovered memory therapy’, which played a part in false abuse cases such as the Cleveland child abuse scandal in 1987 and the Orkney satanic ritual case in 1991.
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.’
Sarah Garner, from the Centre for Memory and Law at City University in London, said the technique rang ‘major alarm bells’.
Miss Baker, 32, who is receiving UTD therapy from the Lantern Project, claimed in January to have been abused in a church setting but did not mention politicians. In May, after widespread publicity about VIP sex abuse, she waived her right to anonymity and claimed that when she was aged from six to 11 she had been repeatedly raped by a former MP and others in a forest at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, as police stood guard.
She also alleged she was trafficked to a flat in Dolphin Square in Westminster for sex parties which included a former cabinet minister. Mr Watson then called for a full investigation into her case.
The former MP she made the claims about was questioned for three hours by police last week. He adamantly denies the allegations against him and says he has serious concerns about the Lantern Project’s techniques.
‘The problem with the therapy is that it is encouraging people to remember things that don’t exist,’ he told The Sunday Times. ‘It is a mechanism for generating miscarriages of justice.’
Darren 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 girl who had died during one sex party. Last month Suffolk police concluded there was no substance to Darren’s claims.
He has not had UTD therapy, but the charity has been supporting him in some of his dealings with police.