How we like to mock the credulity of Americans. Especially when that credulity manifests itself in paranoiac conspiracy theories.
The latest, reported with amazement across the world, is QAnon, a social media-fuelled campaign, which claims the U.S. has been controlled by elite members of a paedophile gang with a penchant for the sex-trafficking of children.
Many of its believers were among those who last month stormed the Capitol — most spectacularly in the form of Jacob Chansley, known to some as QAnon Shaman. He wore, for the occasion, a furry hat with horns.
Then there is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who in a 2017 video supported QAnon’s claims, declaring: ‘There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles out and I think we have the president to do it.’
Many of QAnon’s believers were among those who last month stormed the Capitol — most spectacularly in the form of Jacob Chansley, known to some as the QAnon Shaman
Believe it or not, Ms Taylor Greene now sits as a legislator in the U.S. Congress, a representative for the state of Georgia.
Isn’t it astonishing and appalling that someone spreading such bizarre, defamatory and outrageous lies should be a legislator? Only in America!
Or, rather, not only in America. Our own country, known for more than 150 years as ‘the mother of parliaments’, has recent form on this. We have had our own version of QAnon, which sucked in not only legislators, but also two police forces, most of all the supposedly creme de la creme Metropolitan Police.
Then there is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who in a 2017 video supported QAnon’s claims, declaring: ‘There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles out and I think we have the president to do it’
One of those worst traduced was Lord (Leon) Brittan, a former home secretary, whose widow, Diana, last week gave such a dignified interview to the Mail’s Stephen Wright.
Lady Brittan, a distinguished figure in her own right, revealed just how much the police’s obsessive pursuit of bizarre and fabricated claims against her late husband had blighted his last years — when he was dying of cancer — and how the Met continued to display ‘a lack of moral spine’ by refusing to discipline, let alone dismiss, any of those involved.
The QAnon in this tale is one Carl Beech. For a long time he was not ‘Anon’, but pseudonymous, referred to only as ‘Nick’.
One of those worst traduced was Lord (Leon) Brittan, a former home secretary, whose widow, Diana, last week gave such a dignified interview to the Mail’s Stephen Wright
Beech had concocted a vast paedophile conspiracy which took in a former prime minister, erstwhile heads of MI5 and MI6, retired Army chiefs, not to mention sundry other notables including Lord Brittan and the equally blameless former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor.
All these characters, including two then still living heroes of the D-Day landings, Field Marshal Lord Bramall and General Sir Hugh Beach, were accused by ‘Nick’ of torturing, murdering and trafficking children over many years.
He claimed that not only had he witnessed such ‘satanic’ rituals at a paedophile orgy involving generals and spy chiefs on Salisbury Plain on Remembrance Sunday (when they would all have been at the Cenotaph), but that these characters had abused him by getting wasps and spiders, specially collected for the purpose, to bite and sting him — again, as part of some depraved rite. It was these claims of ‘Nick’ that the officer then in charge of what had become called Operation Midland, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, told the nation — broadcast without a trace of scepticism on the BBC’s main news bulletin — were ‘credible and true’.
The QAnon in this tale is one Carl Beech. For a long time he was not ‘Anon’, but pseudonymous, referred to only as ‘Nick’
All of it. Even the sadistic spiders.
The reason for this was that, in the wake of various police forces’ refusal to take sufficiently seriously the many complaints of sexual abuse levelled by young women against Jimmy Savile, the College of Policing promulgated a new doctrine, which was that any such complainant should ‘always be believed’.
As the QC Matthew Scott observes, this is a complete reversal of the traditional copper’s ABC: ‘Assume nothing; Believe nothing; Check everything.’
Naturally, it follows that if whatever an accuser says ‘must be believed’, then any denial by those accused must automatically be disbelieved.
It was perhaps the most significant recommendation by the retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, in his report on Operation Midland, that while officers should not display disbelief when receiving complaints of historic sex abuse, ‘the instruction to ‘believe a victim’s account’ should cease’.
But as Sir Richard wrote in the Mail last week: ‘As far as I know, not one of my recommendations has either been accepted or rejected by the Metropolitan Police.’
Oh well, Henriques only delivered his report in October 2016, and the Met can’t be expected to rush.
In fact, as regards Carl Beech’s accusations of ‘VIP child sex murders’, it seems to me that those at the very top of the Met were not so much credulous as cynical.
In 2019, I went to see the then 95-year-old Field Marshal Lord Bramall at his home in Surrey — the home which had been turned over by a large group of Met officers while his wife, Avril, lay dying with Alzheimer’s, and to which they had gained access with a search warrant issued by a local magistrate after the police falsely claimed to him that there were no known ‘inconsistencies’ in Beech’s claims.
All these characters, including two then still living heroes of the D-Day landings, Field Marshal Lord Bramall and General Sir Hugh Beach, were accused by ‘Nick’ of torturing, murdering and trafficking children over many years
‘Dwin’ Bramall, from his wheelchair, told me that after the investigation had been (very belatedly) concluded, the then Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, ‘sitting where you are, Dominic, in that chair, said to me: ‘We knew almost at once that none of these ridiculous allegations applied to you, but we could not stop making you a suspect for a further ten months, because we in the Metropolitan Police would have been accused of not investigating properly.’ ‘
Shocked and yet not surprised, I said to Lord Bramall: ‘So it was all about their public relations?’
‘Exactly,’ he replied. ‘Their own public relations.’ It was a devastating rebuke from a man who had given so much to this country. Yet in 2017, it was Hogan-Howe that Theresa May — who as Home Secretary drove the policing policies that sanctified Carl Beech — made a peer.
And the Johnson administration has recently appointed him a ‘board member’ of the Cabinet Office. What a farce.
Then there was Wiltshire Police, whose Chief Constable, Mike Veale, spent years and considerable amounts of public funds on Operation Conifer, set up to ‘investigate’ Beech’s claims of paedophile torture, murder etc etc against the late Sir Edward Heath.
Veale, even more reprehensibly than his Met colleague Kenny McDonald, told journalists that he was ‘120 per cent certain’ of Ted Heath’s guilt.
In fact the claims about Heath, which Carl Beech had exploited for his own reasons, originated with the professional conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed ‘son of God’, David Icke.
In his 1998 book, The Biggest Secret, this seemingly deranged former football reporter and TV presenter asserted that Heath had been a practising Satanist, paedophile and child killer. In some respects, the whole ’10 Downing Street child sex’ fantasy derives from Icke, the UK’s eerie anticipation of QAnon.
And yes, we have our own versions of Marjorie Taylor Greene. It was the former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson who wickedly, in the week of Leon Brittan’s death, repeated Beech’s private claim to him that this innocent figure was ‘as close to evil as a man could be’.
And it was Watson who, equally publicly, claimed (again, channelling Carl Beech) that there had been ‘a paedophile network linked to 10 Downing Street’.
It is because of his behaviour in this matter that Boris Johnson rejected the peerage nomination for Watson submitted by his then party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Yet there was a Conservative MP who joined Watson in his claims of Beech’s veracity, including about Lord Brittan.
In 2017, it was Bernard Hogan-Howe that Theresa May — who as Home Secretary drove the policing policies that sanctified Carl Beech — made a peer
This MP, supporting Watson, declared: ‘It’s the biggest political scandal in British history . . . very senior people engaged in terrible acts and were then protected by the Establishment. I have no doubt at all about that.’
This was Zac Goldsmith, who, after losing his Richmond Park seat in the 2019 General Election, was . . . given a peerage by his friend Boris Johnson.
So we should be a bit more careful before denouncing Americans as uniquely credulous in believing conspiracy theories about satanic paedophile elites in the heart of ‘the Establishment’.
And neither can our own legislature look down its nose at the U.S. Congress for harbouring people who took up such claims with wild-eyed enthusiasm. We were there first.