David Aaronovitch, Beatrix Campbell and Conspiracy Theories

It’s fairly safe to say that David Aaronovitch does not like being challenged by women, especially women who actually know what they are talking about – unlike Aaronovitch who was given a huge platform by BBC Radio 4 to propagate myths about the ritual sexual abuse of children:

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Something of a pot calling the kettle black here since Aaronovitch’s program on ritual abuse neglected to mention a rather impressive amount of peer-reviewed evidence-based research into the reality of ritual abuse, and a number of successful prosecutions of perpetrators in the UK.

Since Aaronovitch seems to think everyone but him is required to disclose their entire life story before being allowed an opinion I obviously have to state that I have met Bea Campbell twice. I chaired a panel Campbell was on at the Nottingham Women’s Conference in 2014, and then said hello to her when she was chairing a panel at the Project Mirabel conference on perpetrator programs in 2015. I also spoke once to Campbell’s current partner Judith Jones on the phone with a query about a project. I’m sure that Aaronovitch, the great destroyer of conspiracy theories, won’t see anything untoward in me questioning his stance on a woman I’ve met twice. If he did, it would scream hypocrisy – a charge I’m sure Aaronovitch is unwilling to accept.

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Obviously, claiming that the only reason women disagree with you is because you have a penis is nothing like a conspiracy theory. Women, after all, are clearly incapable of independent thought and the only reason a large number could be disgusted with Aaronovitch’s program is because of his penis. And, not because he’s ignored a large base of evidence that contradicts his theory – some of which, strangely enough, is also written by men but I haven’t seen Aaronovitch critiquing their credentials with quite such verve.

What I found truly objectionable in Aaronovitch’s complete refusal to recognise that he’s probably not an expert on child sexual abuse (what with his implication that children lie within the program) is that he resorted to a personal attack rather than to engage with the evidence:

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Keeping in mind that my personal knowledge of Campbell and Jones extends to knowing their names and the fact that they made a documentary about the ritual abuse case in Nottingham before they were in a relationship.  I don’t know if they were in a relationship when they wrote Stolen Voices (which was removed from publication as the publisher did not have libel insurance) but 30 seconds on google would no doubt find an answer and a series of inaccurate assumptions and a whole host of conspiracy theories from men’s rights extremists – strangely, Aaronovitch seems to have no opinion on these.

I’m struggling to see why Aaronovitch made the accusation in the tweets above since anyone reading online has access to google to check out the credentials of those making political points – including Aaronovitch who has form for minimising child sexual abuse.

I could get all postmodern about objective truth, bias and knowing, but its pretty clear that Aaronovitch isn’t interested in the truth about satanic ritual abuse considering his deflection of any engagement which tries to mention research or criminal prosecutions. I’ve been googling and have yet to find any evidence of Campbell claiming a global conspiracy of satanic child abuse. Writing about 1 of the very few instances of satanic ritual abuse does not make a conspiracy. Making insinuations about the relationship between two women as a way of deflecting critical engagement with your work reeks of lesbophobia.

But, heh, according to Aaronovitch’s theory of relationships, I’m biased for happening to chair a conference where Campbell spoke. I can’t wait to see the disclaimers Aaronovitch will be adding to every single thing he writes or produces for fear of sharing the same Tescos delivery guy makes him biased about a politician.

I highly recommend reading  part one and part two of Campbell’s response to Aaronovitch, as well as the articles by Dr Sarah Nelson (researcher, writer and media commentator on child sexual abuse at Edinburgh University) and journalist Tim Tate who both appeared in the Radio 4 program but feel that Aaronovitch misrepresented them.

And, then ask what historic allegations and prosecutions for ritual sexual abuse of children have to do with current historic allegations of sexual abuse (not ritual abuse) and systemic child sexual exploitation across the UK.



End Online Misogyny have written a response to Aaronovitch here. Liz Kelly linked to this 2003 article by Aaronovitch called “Don’t look now: In the sordid world of child abuse, fantasy and reality are perilously intertwined”, which is as horrendously ill-informed and misleading as the title suggests.


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