Exposure Abused & Betrayed : A Life Sentence
This aired on ITV1 on 15 June 2016, and looked at the impact of paedophilia on victims in general, and considered the activities of Sir Clement Freud in particular. As Freud died in April 2009, he cannot be defamed under UK laws. His wife, Lady Freud, is still alive, therefore she is protected by UK legislation. And as in Portugal, a person is entitled to a good name for 50 years after death, I shall be using the word ‘allegedly’ frequently.
To clarify a minor point, the gist of the programme appeared in newspapers from early on 14 June 2016, making that the starting point for subsequent reporting about Freud. If the newspapers were informed earlier than that, but the story was embargoed until 14 June, then following events can have an even earlier start.
Exposure focussed on 4 cases in general, with only two of these relating to Freud. Other allegations about Freud have arisen subsequent to the programme. I would like to deal with all of those that I know of in another post, so for the moment, I want to look only at the two in Exposure.
Of these two, the one that got most air-time was Sylvia Woosley, as she was prepared to appear on TV, waiving anonymity. A summary of her story is that she met Freud in the south of France in 1948 when she was 10 and Freud was 24, and working as the manager of a posh hotel in Cannes. Freud befriended the family and befriended Sylvia, buying her clothes and gifts, and taking her on trips in the area. About a year later, on a bus trip, it is alleged that Freud stroked her inappropriately and French-kissed her, definitely not things to do with an 11-year old.
Freud returned to England and married his wife, normally referred to as Jill from her stage career. Sylvia’s family hit rocky times, and Sylvia was sent to England to live with the Freuds. According to Sylvia, the grooming intensified, and the inappropriateness of Freud’s actions escalated. Sylvia was in the Freud home for much of her teen years, but adopted tactics for staving Freud off, such as getting a friend Sonya Markham, to stay.
Then she left the Freud household and set up a flat with her friend. She did it without informing the Freuds where she was, but she had told the nanny she had an incidence of abuse, and that was relayed to wife Jill.
Somehow, Freud managed to track her to her workplace, and wrote her a letter to her complaining about her behaviour. The balloon had gone up. Sylvia got it in the ear first from her mother, then from Jill Freud. And Sylvia then told Jill she had lied about the allegation against Freud.
The second alleged victim wished to remain anonymous and Exposure used an actress instead. This victim surfaced after making critical comments about Freud’s obituary, and Exposure was able to track her down from this.
She met Freud when he came to their family flat in 1971. Note we have jumped forward 23 years from 1948, when Sylvia’s story started. The pattern in this victim’s story is similar. She was aged 11 when she met Freud, and Clement befriended the family, before allegedly starting to groom the child. It is alleged that Freud was making improper suggestions to her, (and more) by the time she was 14. In this case, the victim says she was brutally raped by Freud when she was 18.
It is impossible for me to conclude what was going on here as there are pieces that ring true for me, and pieces that don’t.
Towards the end, Exposure had a short piece from Nazir Afzal, a former chief prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service. He opined that in the instance of Sylvia Woosley, there was enough evidence to bring a prosecution against Freud had he been alive, and that in Nazir’s tenure, he would have done so.
I have to say I am extremely dubious about this. Sometime around 1980, Sylvia confronted Freud. A short while later, he wrote letters to her, inviting her to a weekend in Cambridge. She accepted, and there, by her own admission, had consensual sex with Freud.
In 1987, Sylvia visited Jill to state that she had not lied. It appears Sylvia was down on her luck, and Jill gave her £100 to help. Later, she contacted Clement Freud, and he added a further £500.
Make of these actions what you will. I am simply pointing out that in any prosecution of Freud, Sylvia Woosley would have been facing trial by ordeal.
Now, the bottom line in Exposure is that it did not have a single mention of Madeleine McCann, of Luz, or anything implicit or explicit that tied Freud to either, so how did this particular hare get started running? The clue may be the pre-release news coverage of ‘Freud-is-a-paedophile’. The trick from that point was making the leap to Luz and to Madeleine.
In the meantime, other people and other stories have emerged re the activities of Sir Clement Freud.