The Daily Mail carries an interesting story today of how a therapeutic centre has had its NHS funding removed because the treatments given at it may produce false memories. Memories were recovered using something called ‘unstructured therapeutic disclosure’, by which the patient was not required to say they had been sexually abused, instead the counsellor told them about the effects of sexual abuse, thus removing the necessity of individual volition. One of the therapists said, ‘the victims do not need to tell us what happened to them as we already know, because it happened to us’.
But a number of experts say it is reminiscent 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.
The two main ‘victims’ metnioned in the article were Esther Baker and ‘Darren’.
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.
Miss Baker, who has had close dealings with the disgraced ‘investigative’ news website Exaro, also alleged she was trafficked to a flat in Dolphin Square in Westminster for sex parties which included a former cabinet minister. Mr Watson [the Labour MP] then called for a full investigation into her case.
The former MP about who she made the claims was questioned for three hours by police in October. He vehemently denies her allegations and says he has serious concerns about the Lantern Project’s techniques.
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.
In September Suffolk police concluded there was no substance to Darren’s claims.
That month, it emerged he had been previously sentenced to two years in jail for making hoax bomb calls, nuisance and threatening calls about neighbours and criminal damage, had falsely confessed to the murder of a prostitute in the midst of a high profile police manhunt, and a judge had once accused of him of telling “some pretty whopping lies” at the conclusion of a court case.
According to reports in October, Darren has not had UTD therapy, but the Lantern Project has been supporting him in some of his dealings with police.
Once again there has been an extensive investigation into the claims made by those who’ve undergone therapy which it has been recognised could generate false memories, and once again nothing concrete has been found.
NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group has made a statement on its website saying:
‘Recently, however, the CCG has been made aware of, and continues to have concerns regarding, the governance of the service, the therapeutic model used and the use of unqualified staff.
‘Unfortunately, following the review, and as the CCG were not assured in these areas, a decision has been made to cease funding the service.’