The Daily Mail have written a vile piece smearing an abuse survivor. It is a classic example of victim smearing and is thoroughly disgusting. Let us go through each agonising point they make and examine how they are utterly fictitious yet using rape apologistic beliefs as a heuristic to allow their vile claims to sit comfortably and unquestioned in the minds of their audience.
“Newsnight failed to say that Messham triggered a 1994 libel trial by falsely claiming to have been abused by a senior police officer. His story was shown to be riddled with contradictions, costing the publications which reported his claims a total of £375,000 in damages and £1 million costs.”
When police officers rape, they have a cavalcade of their porcine comrades to cover for them. That the official investigation into the case failed is hardly a surprise: the police were the ones investigating it. It has been shown time and time again that they cover for one another: see Hillsborough, see the police coverups of their own active forging of rape investigations. This is likely to be no different and cannot be taken in any way as proof that Steven Messham has a track record of lying about abuse. Instead, he has a track record for being disregarded by virtue of having been abused by those with power.
“Messham physically attacked a lawyer at the Waterhouse public inquiry into sexual abuse in North Wales. He screamed obscenities at the barrister who was questioning him, leapt out of the witness box, and threw punches at him.”
An abuse survivor is angry! This is hardly surprising considering the emotionally traumatic event of having been systematically abused and raped by people with power, in conjunction with a public inquiry failing to fully investigate what happened to him. He was denied justice. That is a reason to be angry.
“Documents proved some of Messham’s evidence to the inquiry to be false. Although Sir Ronald Waterhouse concluded that Messham had experienced abuse, he described him as ‘an unreliable witness’ who was unlikely to be trusted by any jury – a conclusion also reached by the Crown Prosecution Service.”
Again, a powerful man has dismissed a survivor of abuse. Survivors of abuse are often taken to be unreliable witnesses due to their vulnerability and young age, and the fact they have experienced busloads of fucking abuse, repeatedly. Several people in a position of power, who, for some reason or another failed to investigate claims and dismissed a key witness. Why is the survivor being blamed here?
“Even Messham’s lawyer concedes he may be ‘disturbed’ and that he may have made up some of his claim.”
Messham needs a better lawyer. Incidentally, the lawyer actually said this: ‘People who are vulnerable . . . a good part of them is so disturbed that they’re not going to be wholly consistent and reliable.” That is somewhat different from the Mail’s claim that the lawyer said he made it up, isn’t it?
“In 2004, Angus Stickler, the reporter behind this month’s Newsnight story, was publicly criticised for interviewing Messham on Radio 4 without mentioning he was facing charges of defrauding a charity he ran for alleged abuse victims. Messham was later acquitted.”
So Messham didn’t defraud a charity? How is that in any way related to his credibility as a witness for child sex abuse?
“In 2005, Messham was also cleared of a £33,000 benefits fraud. He admitted concealing savings of £40,000 – a result of compensation for the alleged abuse – when he made claims for income support and housing benefit, but insisted he had not intended to be dishonest.”
Again, what on fucking earth has this got to do with sexual abuse?
“Newsnight’s key claim that Messham was prevented from naming Lord McAlpine and other supposed paedophiles at the Waterhouse inquiry was clearly untrue. Transcripts show Messham could say whatever he liked about anyone he chose – and that he did so with abandon over his two weeks of testimony, during which time he did allege that a man referred to only as ‘McAlpine’ had abused him.”
This is (A) a criticism of a TV show, not what he said, and (B) completely ignoring the fact that Messham spent years thinking it was McAlpine due to a police officer showing him a photograph of the perpetrator and telling Messham it was McAlpine. Again, it’s got literally nothing to do with his credibility as a witness.
In all, then, the Mail have smeared an abuse survivor as a cheap attempt to get linkbait and profit from what happened to him, all the while continuing to create a climate where survivors are not believed. The only people who profit from this are abusers and perpetrators of rape. I have not linked to this article, because I don’t want to encourage the Mail’s cosy relationship with rapists, but the quotes are verbatim.
It is crucial that we believe Messham. He was raped and abused, and what happened to him must be investigated. The excuses the Mail have provided for him being denied justice are a vile, transparent attempt at a smear and an attempt to reinforce the culture which allows these horrific things to happen.
Addendum: the “journalist” who wrote this has a track record of trying to discredit witnesses in child abuse cases where the establishment are implicated. I can’t say I’m surprised, though I am utterly disgusted.