The Observer newspaper has noticed strong similarities between the case of Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie and the Satanic Abuse nonsense which surfaced in the 1980s. This week, Reed and Lille won a libel case after a Newcastle City Council 'review panel' published a report claiming the nursery nurses were really guilty of abusing children in their care, even though they had been acquitted by a criminal court.
The setting was modern but, as the judge commented, their story seemed to come from a distant, irrational past. Professor Richard Barker, the chairman of the review panel, whose members Justice Eady found guilty of malice, told the libel court that if a child denied she had been abused, he assumed she meant the opposite. This inverted logic, the judge said, was part of a pattern. If a child said she had been raped or penetrated with a knife, yet displayed no physical sign of abnormality, then, in the view of Reed and Lillie's accusers, 'the absence of physical findings does not mean that abuse has not taken place'. If a child said she had not been abused, that was 'terrorisation by the supposed abuser'.
During the original abuse trial in 1994, Professor Maggie Bruck,
expert on children's testimony, told the court that
were some of the worst and most dangerous she had ever seen, and bear a
remarkable similarity to the techniques used in the Orkney case:
Extremely young and bewildered children were brought in and interrogated (sometimes for over an hour) by one, two and even three interviewers. These interviewers used the full array of suggestive techniques to elicit allegations of abuse. When the children denied they had been abused, they were bombarded with more suggestions, they were scolded, threatened and bribed. When some children whimpered, moaned or begged the interviewers to end the questioning, the interviewers continued.
Journalist Richard Webster looked into the past of members of the disgraced Review Team and wasn't surprised by what he found:
It is no coincidence that two key members of the Shieldfield Review Team have both been believers in satanic ritual abuse. Judith Jones was the social worker at the centre of the 1989 Nottingham satanic abuse case. Astonishingly, Newcastle City Council nevertheless appointed her to the Review Team. Meanwhile, clinical psychologist Jacqui Saradjian has written of satanic cults where 'children were caged, hung, chained, whipped, burnt, tortured, drowned, buried alive, and strapped to inverted crosses and assaulted'.
He concludes that social workers have simply replaced 'organised satanic cults' with the more believable 'pædophile rings' in their fantasies. 'We were terrified - we could have been killed' and How our demons fuel witch-hunts born from demons - The Observer, August 4th 2002.