My thoughts about the British False Memory Organisation
A quarter of a century ago information about myself and my supposed false memory was given to the British False Memory Society (BFMS) without my consent. This information has been used to construct all sorts of theories about myself and my memory. It is very bizarre as it was all third-party information. There was nothing objectively true or false about it, no court cases, and no police involvement. It was simply disputed within family conversations. I do not understand how it is ethical for psychologists to affirm that my disputed memories are false without having further evidence.
I believe that this information may have been taken to the dept of Law and Social sciences at Southbank University, London by a member of the BFMS Scientific Advisory Board. The reason I believe this is an article from the magazine Wired (1)which describes how2500 files about false memories were passed from the BFMS to City university and driven there in the back of a mini by a researcher and PhD students to be used for research. However, information about my so-called false memory may also be stored at the Centre for Memory and Law at City University, London, where the present Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the BFMS is a director (2).
The BFMS Advisory board
It is also my understanding that the earliest British research into false memory was carried out by the same people who started the BFMS. The BFMS was established by the now deceased Roger Scotford in 1994 (3) and a year earlier his wife Guri Scotford established the Odin Charitable Trust at the same address. (4) The Odin Charitable trust gave a donation every year to the BFMS of around £45,000 up until the time of Roger Scotford’s death (5) The Odin Trust also gave donations to false memory research. In 1996 it provided funding for a survey of members of the British False Memory Society carried out at Kings College, London (6). In 2002 it provided funding for research into the memory of children (7). In 2006 it provided funding for research into clinician’s beliefs about abuse, memory, and hypnosis (8).
The name of the person who was convicted for sex offences has been removed from the list of advisory board members. However, two deceased members, Prof Larry Weiskrantz and Prof Robert Audley are still listed among the members at the time of writing (11 feb 2021)
Another deceased member of the advisory board was Dr James Ost. His name has been removed from the list of advisory board members. A paper about the contribution of Ost to knowledge about false memory was recently written by prof Chris French (formerly chair of the advisory board) and Dr Kevin Felstead (current Director of Communications) (9).
In recent years, the Odin Charitable trust and the BFMS have been less connected. They are no longer run from the same address and the Odin Trust no longer finances the BFMS or FM research. A few years ago, the BFMS appointed a communications director who lives in the Manchester / Stockport area and the organization is run from there. The Wired article seems to describe how the files were taken from the original address of the BFMS, which it shared with the Odin Trust in Bradford -on-Avon and taken to City University of London.
James Ost` research is particularly upsetting for me because he conducted research into a phenomenon called retractors. A retractor in false-memory-speak is a person who has first been brainwashed by a therapist or self-help literature into believing that they have been sexually abused by their parents as a child. They then attempt to confront or take their parents to court because of this implanted memory. However, with the right intervention they can be persuaded that their memory was false and retract it. They then become a retractor.
I have reason to believe that the BFMS holds information about my own so-called retractor status. However, this retractor status is based on nothing more than a third person account of a family dispute. I do not understand how research conducted into such personal accounts can be used to build theory about memory retraction.
Karl Sabbagh was until recently a member of the BFMS advisory board. He is a filmmaker, the author of many books and an ex-producer for the BBC.
In 2004 he published an article in The Times defending the psychologist Elizabeth Loftus over the so-called Jane Doe case (10) and in 2009 he pulished a book about false memory in which he compares peoples´ anxiety about pedophilia with that of terrorism and explains that they are both part of the contemporary zeitgeist (11) (Sabbagh, 2011. p. 10) Anxiety about terrorism started after 9/11 and anxiety about pedophilia started after the publication of self-help literature about child sexual abuse. Sabbagh’s book was praised by Loftus as well as Lancet and The Financial Times. Loftus wrote:
“A terrific book. Sabbagh’s journey into childhood memory shows keen insight into how it works and what it means. He offers a masterfully original and beautifully written perspective on one of the most fundamental aspects of the human mind.” (12)
In the book Sabbagh describes how used his filmmaker skills to assist in a legal case:
“where two nursery nurses in the UK had been involved in the UK had been accused of sexually abusing a number of children and I helped the legal team by editing clips from many hours of videotaped interviews with children” (13)
This trial was of great importance to the BFMS. It was a libel trial against the Newcastle City Council and when the libel team which Sabbagh was assisting won, the BMFS wrote published several articles in their newsletter about the trial.
“The BFMS makes no apologies for making this issue of the newsletter into a special focus on the Shieldfield libel trial…… (it) carries articles which take a comprehensive look behind the scenes to reveal strong links between the Shieldfield and Cleveland crisis. We uncover the part played by child welfare agencies which until now has escaped scrutiny”. (14)
The BFMS was pleased was pleased with this outcome because the libel case which Sabbagh worked on would make it harder to for child welfare organisations to prove the existence of child sexual abuse in the future and the pediatrician who diagnosed sexual abuse was discredited.
“In the fallout from the historic verdict, the practice of consultant paediatrician …. described as “unbalanced, obsessive, and lacking in judgment” in the 400-page verdict, is under review by Newcastle Health authority.” (15)
In the same year as his book was published Sabbagh gave a speech at the AGM of the BFMS. His speech was described in the Guardian by the then chair of the BFMS advisory board, Prof Chris French. French quotes Sabbagh as arguing that:
“If I were a perpetrator, I may well protest my innocence, but I doubt I would join a group that aims to keep this issue in the public eye. I would instead want to sweep it under the carpet and hope that everyone would forget about it” (16)
French also references and quotes from Sabbagh’s book on false memory:
“As Sabbagh asks in his new book Remembering our Childhood: How our Memory Betrays Us, ”After all, if sex abusers all band together and pretend to be innocent, why aren’t there established societies of murderers, burglars, and embezzlers doing the same thing?”
Nine later Sabbagh started to groom a 14-year-old girl who was 60 years younger than himself over the internet. He had begun discussing films and books with her and then progressed to sending videos of himself performing sexual acts. He sent her money and a sex toy and gave her instructions about shaving private parts of the body. He also travelled to another country where he met her in a hotel.
The girl reported her contact with Sabbagh, and he was found guilty of, “sophisticated grooming behaviour directed towards a particularly vulnerable young teenager” (17) and he was made to sign the sex offender’s register. The Oxford Mail reported on the case in November 2019.
Director of Communications for the BFMS said that he was not aware of the case until February 2021 when he was contacted by a journalist from Third Sector. (18) The BFMS director of communications then responded by expressing sympathy for the victim, removing Sabbagh’s name from the advisory board and reporting the charity to the overseer. He stated that Sabbagh had not been involved in the day-day-running of the BFMS but that he had “expressed an interest in false memory-type accusations”.
In 2018 the Director of Communications for the BFMS gave a speech where he described society’s current attitude to child sexual abuse as a moral panic. (19)
Another ex-member of the BFMS advisory board is Dr Bill Thompson. Thompson´s name disappeared from the list of advisory members after an article appeared in the Times Higher Education Supplement in 2003(20). Pornographic pictures of minors were found in Dr Thompson´s possession and a police investigation followed. The case was eventually dropped because Thompson argued he had permission from the police to possess such images to carry out research. He also claimed that the images had been sent to him by the BMFS for consultation.
“they took one folder relating to a live legal case that had some images in it that were sent to me for a legal opinion by the British False memory Society.” (ibid)
In 2002, whilst a member of the BFMS advisory board, Dr Thompson gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee at Parliament. This was an All Party Group (APG) set up by the then MP Claire Curtis Thomas. Dr Thompson explained to the APG that child sexual abuse does not cause long term damage:
“You have been told of course that people who suffer from it then have a living death. That is not true” (21)
In 1995 another member of the BFMS, Dr Elizabeth Tylden (now deceased) resigned from the BFMS advisory board in protest because of Scotford´s support for the new religious organisation Children of God over child abuse allegations from those who grew up in this religion (22). Since that time there more information has become known about the abuse that took place within this group. (23)
An organisation with a high degree of plasticity
My way of understanding the BFMS is that they are rather elastic in their describing their interests and employ language with a high degree of plasticity. When the charity was founded, they wrote a lot about a syndrome called false memory syndrome. According to Kitzinger (2004) over 400 articles were published about false memory syndrome in the UK in 1993-4 by just four newspapers (24). The word syndrome was part of the title of the USA organisation, False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF). An advisory member of that that organisation created a definition of False memory syndrome (25) and it was argued that it the syndrome arose because of changes to the DSM in 1980 (26) At some point the British organisation started to describe false memory as something anyone can have, not only those who have incorrectly remember sexual abuse. Another advisor to the BFMS word syndrome should be dropped (27
). This seems to me to enable both expressions false memory syndrome and false memory to be used interchangeably when appropriate.
My understanding is that the BFMS can use anecdotal metaphors such as tales of people believing in aliens, being implanted with memories of bugs bunny (28) to make their case in a humorous way. This can be for entertaining for readers with little background in the controversy and it has the effect of framing people who remember sexual abuse as irrational. At the same time as the organisation expresses sympathy with victims of real abuse,
This use of anecdotes helps the plasticity of approach and the BFMS will shift focus when necessary. Their name suggests that they are only interested sexual abuse cases where memory is disputed but in fact they move away from an emphasis on memory when it is advantageous to do so. Giving photographs to Dr Bill Thompson to evaluate had nothing to do with memory for example. After the death of Jimmy Saville, the BFMS started to write about a concept they called a “post-Saville effect” meaning that people had started to make false allegations because of exposure to media reports about Saville (32). Recent BFMS newsletters focus on “false allegations” as much as they do about memory – even when these allegations do not seem to have a connection with memory.
This plasticity also means that if the BFMS is questioned critically about the something from its past, its response will be that the organisation is different now to how it was in the past.
Footnotes and References
(1) Bryce, B. ` False Memories and False Confessions: the psychology of imagined crimes`. Wired. July 2017. “In June 2016, Shaw crammed herself, two PhD students and four boxes into her Mini. They were returning to London from the headquarters of the British False Memory Society (BFMS) outside Birmingham. The organisation helps people who have been accused of crimes they claim they didn’t commit. The boxes Shaw was transporting contained the photocopies of thousands of carefully redacted files – call transcripts, court reports and psychiatric records – which describe the approximately 2,500 false memory cases the BFMS has amassed since 1993.” False memories and false confessions: the psychology of imagined crimes | WIRED UK
(2) Centre for Memory and Law, City, University of London.” The British False Memory Society Archive is held at City, University of London. The archive is regularly consulted by researchers and contains a repository of cases (some rare), original papers, a small library, and a wide range of media coverage of false memories digitized on CD.” Centre for Memory and Law | City, University of London
(3) Campbell, B. Stolen Voices: The People and Politics Behind the Campaign to Discredit Childhood Testimony. P 172-173. “The founder of the ‘false memory’ movement in Britain is an accused father. Two of his adult daughters say that Roger Scotford sexually abused them in childhood. He denied this and responded by launching a spectacular counter-attack ……. The ‘British False Memory Syndrome Society’ lent a scientific aura to the allegations – the alchemy of ‘falsehood’ and ‘memory’ stirred with disease and science…. Roger Scotford was a former naval officer turned successful property developer living in a Georgian house overlooking an uninterrupted valley in luscious middle England. He was a rich man and was able to give up everything to devote himself to the crusade.” Quote by Beatrix Campbell: “The BFMSS [British False Memory Syndrome Societ…” (goodreads.com)
Jervis, M. The Road to Shieldfield. British False memory Society Newsletter. October 2002. “The publication of articles about Roger Scotford’s experience of false accusation through “recovered memory” in the Daily Telegraph in March and the Independent in June 1993 opened the floodgates to a rush of complaints about similar problems. The helpline Adult Children Accusing Parents (ACAP) was set up, leading to the foundation of the BFMS as a registered charity later the same year.” . BFMS newsletter. 2002
(4) P.O. Box 1898, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1YS ODIN CHARITABLE TRUST – 1027521 (charitycommission.gov.uk)
(5) Annual accounts are available from the Charity Commission of England and Wales. ODIN CHARITABLE TRUST – 1027521 (charitycommission.gov.uk) THE BRITISH FALSE MEMORY SOCIETY – 1040683 (charitycommission.gov.uk)
(6) Gudjonsson, G. `Recovered Memories: Effects upon the Family and Community`. Davies, G.M. & Dalgleish, T. (red.) (2001). Recovered memories: seeking the middle ground. Chichester: Wiley. The chapter can be read here Recovered Memories: Seeking the Middle Ground – Google Books.
Gudjonsson, G. H. (1997a) The members of the BFMS, the accusers and their siblings. Psychologist, 10, 111–114.Google Scholar
Gudjonsson, G. H. (1997c) The members of the British False Memory Society: the legal consequences of the accusations for the families. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 8, 348–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gudjonsson, G. H. (1997b) Accusations by adults of child sexual abuse: a survey of members of the British False Memory Society (BFMS). Applied Cognitive Psychology, 11, 3–18.3.0.CO;2-U>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Funding for Gudjonsson’s research was sponsored by the Odin Charitable Trust which donated £11,140 to Kings College, London in 1994 and £16,260 in 2003. Declaration of this funding can be found here: https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/en/externalorganisations/odin-charitable-trust(a53bddd9-20ba-48df-b8c3-f412e410ac74)/projects.html?period=allThe
(7) Freeman, N. Williams, S. Wright, D. “Inhibiting children’s memory of an interactive event: the effectiveness of a cover-up Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology. September 2002. 16(6): 651–662 (2002). Finance from The Odin Charitable trust is aknowledged in the article. One of the authors, Daniel Wright, is now a member of the Advisory Board of the BMFS. “Children are generally more susceptible than adults to suggestive interview techniques. Children’s memories of an event can be altered and added to by presenting post-event information” Inhibiting children’s memory of an interactive event: The effectiveness of a cover-up | Request PDF (researchgate.net)
(8) French, C and Ost, J (2016) Beliefs About Memory, Childhood Abuse, and Hypnosis Among Clinicians, Legal Professionals, and the General Public. In Burnett, R. (red.) (2016). Wrongful allegations of sexual and child abuse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ost, J., Wright, D., Easton, S., Hope, L., & French, C. (2013). Recovered memories, satanic abuse, Dissociative Identity Disorder and false memories in the UK: a survey of clinical psychologists and hypnotherapists. Psychology, Crime & Law, 19(1), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2011.598157 “An online survey was conducted to examine psychological therapists’ experiences of, and beliefs about, cases of recovered memory, satanic/ritualistic abuse, Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder, and false memory. Chartered Clinical Psychologists (n=183) and Hypnotherapists (n=119) responded. In terms of their experiences, Chartered Clinical Psychologists reported seeing more cases of satanic/ritualistic abuse compared to Hypnotherapists who, in turn, reported encountering more cases of childhood sexual abuse recovered for the first time in therapy, and more cases of suspected false memory. Chartered Clinical Psychologists were more likely to rate the essential accuracy of reports of satanic/ritualistic abuse as higher than Hypnotherapists. Belief in the accuracy of satanic/ritualistic abuse and Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder reports correlated negatively with the belief that false memories were possible.” I surmise that the research for this above chapters/articles may have been made possible with the help of a with a grant of £9200 from the Odin Charitable Trust in 2006. A grant was made in order research clinicians’ beliefs about abuse, memory, and hypnosis. The application was submitted by Dr James Ost in collaboration with Prof Chris French, Mr. Simon Easton, Dr Daniel Wright. Information used to be available from the online CV of Dr Chris French, Goldsmiths. University of London. http://www.gold.ac.uk/psychology/staff/french/. But it has now been removed so one would have to write to Goldsmiths for further clarification. French is the former Chair of the BFMS Advisory board and Wight is a member. Ost was a member until his death.
(9) Felstead, K & French, C. (2001) Dr James Ost’s contributions to the work of the British false memory society.
Received 15 Jun 2020, Accepted 20 Jan 2021, Published online: 08 Feb 2021 Dr James Ost’s contributions to the work of the British false memory society: Memory: Vol 0, No 0 (tandfonline.com)“The British False Memory Society (BFMS) is a registered charity founded in 1993 in response to an epidemic of false claims of past childhood sexual abuse by adults in therapy. The accusers believe they have recovered unconscious memories of a hidden past, but scientific and other evidence raise the possibility of false memories or retrospective reappraisal. The BFMS aims to raise awareness about false memory and to reduce the impact of the resulting false accusations. Dr James Ost was an active member of the BFMS’s Scientific and Professional Advisory Board. Three lines of his research were particularly relevant to the work of the BFMS. The first of these was his investigations of retractors. His insights provided a deeper understanding of processes involved in the formation and subsequent rejection of false memories and beliefs relating to such allegations. He also carried out experimental studies providing empirical proof that false memories can be implanted under well controlled conditions. Finally, he carried out, and produced reviews of, surveys of misconceptions about the nature of memory, thus highlighting issues that have major implications for the working of the legal system. Dr Ost also served as an expert defense witness on a number of occasions.”
(10) The Jane Doe case belongs to US false memory history not that of the UK, so I do not want to get into it here. However, the support that Loftus received from the British Psychological Association is interesting. Recovered Memory Project » No Congratulations Here (brown.edu). An interview with Jane Doe can be found here. ‘Some days I think I was molested, others I’m not sure’: inside a case of repressed memory | Memory | The Guardian
(11) page 10 In Sabbagh, K. (2009). Remembering Our Childhood: How Memory Betrays Us. Oxford University Press.
(13) page 109. Sabbagh, K. (2009). Remembering Our Childhood: How Memory Betrays Us. Oxford University Press.
(14) Greenhalgh, M. (October 2002) Editorial. Newsletter of the British False Memory Society. . BFMS newletter 2002
(15) NEWS FEATURES. Newsletter of the British False Memory Society. BFMS newletter 2002.
(16) French, C . Families are still living the nightmare of false memories of sexual abuse. The Guardian. 8 april 2009. Families are still living the nightmare of false memories of sexual abuse | Science | The Guardian
(17) Walker, Will (28 September 2019) Paedophile Karl Sabbagh, author and film maker, jailed for grooming child | Oxford Mail
“Sabbagh began talking to his 14-year-old victim about films and literature, but the conversation soon moved on to him sending videos of himself performing sex acts. The 77-year-old …. went on to ask the child to ‘stop shaving her pubic hair’ and later sent her a vibrator in the post. Sabbagh – who has written numerous novels and produced documentaries – eventually met his victim, despite being some 60 years her senior, at a hotel in Dublin but no sexual activity took place. At his sentencing hearing at Oxford Crown Court yesterday presiding Judge Peter Ross called the grooming ‘sophisticated’. He said: ”You are a man who apparently is eminent in both the literature and academic world. Much of your behaviour in my view would count as fairly sophisticated grooming behaviour directed towards a particularly vulnerable young teenager.” Outlining the case prosecutor Lisa Goddard said that Sabbagh originally communicated with his victim towards the end of 2016. As the relationship, via e-mail, Kik Messenger, texts and phone calls, developed the pair exchanged sexually explicit images and videos. Prosecutors said many of these represented the highest category of banned imagery – in category A. Months later Sabbagh met with the child at a hotel in Dublin but the court heard that nothing sexual took place at this 40-minute meeting. He later went on to post her items including a vibrator, jewelry and 100 Euro. Detailing the extent of the abuse Ms. Goddard said: ”He requested photographs of her without her underwear and commented he would like it if she stopped shaving her pubic hair. ”There was talk about vibrators and in fact he did bring her one. ”He sent a video of himself masturbating, there was talk of meeting her.” Speaking of the meet-up in Dublin she said he had grabbed her arm which made her realise the seriousness of the communications. Prosecutors added that the victim – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was ‘in a fragile state’ and described her as vulnerable during the abuse. When he was arrested Sabbagh made no comment to police at interview but went on to admit one count of grooming of a child under 16. In mitigation defence barrister Alison Gurden said that her client did not represent a high or medium risk of being a future danger to the public or to children. She added that he was ‘very well renowned in the academic and literary world.’ Sentencing, Judge Peter Ross, jailed Sabbagh for 45 months and ordered that he sign the sex offenders register for life.”
Bambury Guardian. 2 October 2019. Bloxham paedophile jailed | Banbury Guardian “Sabbagh, 77 …… was jailed for 45 months by Judge Peter Ross and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life. The grooming of the victim, via a number of electronic communication devices and platforms, occurred between November 24, 2016 and February 28, 2017.In addition to the imprisonment and the registration as a sex offender, Sabbagh was also subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) until further order by the court. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 and had the electronic device of a computer complete with its hard drive confiscated by police. Between 1984 and 2018, the Worcestershire born Sabbagh ……. has published 13 books mostly about historical events and produced documentaries for both British and American broadcasters.”
(18) Delahunty, S. `Charity reports itself to regulator after Third Sector alerts it to sex offender on advisory panel` Third sector. Feb 2021. Charity reports itself to regulator after Third Sector alerts it to sex offender on advisory panel | Third Sector
“A charity has reported itself to the regulator after Third Sector made it aware that a convicted sex offender was part of its advisory panel. Karl Sabbagh, an author and filmmaker, joined the British False Memory Society‘s scientific and professional advisory board in June 1994, after expressing an interest in false memory-type allegations, according to the charity. But in September 2019, Sabbagh, of Crab Tree Close, Bloxham, Oxfordshire, who was 77 at the time, was convicted at Oxford Crown Court of grooming a girl under 16. He was sentenced to 45 months in prison and made to sign the sex offender register for life. Since being alerted to Sabbagh’s conviction by Third Sector, the charity said it had cut all ties with him and filed a serious incident report with the Charity Commission. As a charity that produces research on the issue of false memory, BFMS often deals with cases of adults accusing family members or other relatives in contested historical sexual allegations. The adult accusers allege they have recently remembered childhood abuse, of which they had no previous memory. Victims of false memory might continue to believe vehemently that their memories are accurate, despite objective evidence to the contrary, according to the BFMS. In a statement, the charity said Sabbagh was not involved in any research or policy development for the BFMS, or the day-to-day running of the charity. It said it had removed his name from the BFMS website and any paper publications. Kevin Felstead, director of communications at the BFMS, said: “Prior to receiving your email earlier today, the BFMS was not aware that Sabbagh had been accused, let alone convicted. On behalf of the charity, I would like to state on the record that we utterly abhor his behaviour; our thoughts go out to the victim and to her family. The BFMS is a registered charity which provides information and support on the topic of false memory-type allegations. However, we are very much aware are that child abuse is widespread. “Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.” The charity said it would review all its policies and procedures. The regulator confirmed that the BFMS had filed a serious incident report and it was examining the information provided to determine its next steps.”
(19) “There is a moral panic about child abuse. We are fixated on this as a society. It is so easy for anybody to make an allegation, especially relating to young children. If a young child makes even a silly allegation such as “My grandmother has abused me emotionally because she has called me a ‘spoiled brat’”, then the safeguarding officer, who has to take all complaints seriously, will record, investigate and maybe refer it on.“ Faction July 2018 . BFMS
“The sentencing is savage. I was contacted last week by a lady whose husband just got nineteen years, and she was desperate, and I said I have one option for you. A barrister, who is well known, and she will review your entire file for a flat fee of two and half thousand pounds. There is no guarantee that she will find any review points, but she might. She is doing two other cases for me” FACT newsletter. July 2018. BFMS
20) https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/child-abuse-expert-to-sue-police-after-raid-on-home/174130.article “Criminologist BT plans to file a lawsuit against the police after they raided his home and office as part of an investigation into child pornography. The investigation has apparently been abandoned. Reading University has lifted its year-long suspension of Dr T, an expert witness in child sex-abuse cases, and invited him to return to work. The university has been informed by Thames Valley police that they would not be bringing any charges against Dr T. Dr T said: “On the basis of apparently anonymous and malicious calls, the police smashed in my door and took my computers, teaching materials and legal casework. Ten months on I have not been interviewed, arrested or charged, but my career has been in potential ruins. ”He has instructed a solicitor to help him prepare a claim for damages against the police. Although Dr T’s early research focused on pornography and sex work, his later work on child sex abuse has helped overturn convictions in at least 20 cases. He was praised by Law Lords in Scotland last year for helping to overturn a conviction for child rape, which carries a seven-year sentence. He gave evidence to the House of Commons home affairs select committee last year in its investigation into miscarriages of justice arising from flawed interviews by social workers and police in child-abuse cases. Dr T said this week there was no child pornography on any of his computers, but said images of children were present in a hard-copy file taken by the police. “They took one folder relating to a live legal case that had some images in it that were sent to me for a legal opinion by the British False Memory Society. It was material I was entitled to possess. Let me be clear – where I find that pictures clearly are obscene, I will advise that they cannot be defended.” Dr T is entitled to protection against prosecution for possessing material as he falls into the categories of people singled out by the Child Protection Act of 1978 – academics conducting research and experts employed within the criminal justice system. But he said the problem facing academics was that the protection could be used only after prosecution. He said this was preventing important research into child pornography, and left all academics and experts open to malicious allegations .Dr T was concerned that the police appeared to have obtained a search warrant without telling the magistrate that he was an expert witness and he was angry that the police have had access to case files. A police spokeswoman said that the officer in charge of the investigation was on leave, so there could be no confirmation of the status of the investigation or comment on any aspect of the case .John Brady, director of personnel at Reading, told Dr T last November that the police had informed the university that its investigations would be completed by the end of December and that there was “nothing to suggest that charges would follow”. The university would not comment.”
Two years after this article was published, the University of reading announced that its Department of Sociology was to close. “It has been agreed that the Department of Sociology at the University of Reading is to close. The proposal to close the Department was made by a University Review Group and was subsequently endorsed by the Senior Management Board and Senate. The proposal was accepted by Council (the University’s executive governing body) at its meeting on Wednesday 14 December. The Department will be closed with effect from July 2008. The interests of existing sociology students will continue to be a priority during the closure process. Over the course of 2005, a University Review Group conducted an in-depth review of the Department. The University’s Corporate Plan is to direct resources so that they strengthen areas of established excellence and support academic activities where there is a realistic potential for excellence, or where the University has a competitive advantage or other strategic interest. The Review Group could not identify a scenario in which the Department of Sociology might realistically fulfil these criteria. End”. University statement concerning the Department of Sociology – University of Reading. Release Date: 14 December 2005. University statement concerning the Department of Sociology (reading.ac.uk)
(21) Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1040-1055). Select Committee on Home Affairs. Thursday 11 July 2002. Parliament UK. Minutes of Evidence House of Commons – Home Affairs – Minutes of Evidence (parliament.uk)
(22) Sinason, V. (1998). Memory in Dispute. Karnac Books.
(23) O´Hare, P. Children of God cult rapist jailed for ‘horrific’ offences. BBC Scotland. 7 August 2020 Children of God cult rapist jailed for ‘horrific’ offences – BBC News
(24) Kitzinger, J. (2004). Framing abuse: media influence and public understanding of sexual violence against children. London: Pluto.
(25)Campbell, S. (2003). Relational remembering: rethinking the memory wars. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
Campbell argues that, “Kilstrom´s definition of False Memory Syndrome is better read as a definition of multiple personality disorder severed from its connections with child sexual abuse and genuine dissociated memories”.
(26) Merksey, H Multiple Personality Disorder and False Memory Syndrome. In The British Journal of Psychiatry , Volume 166 , Issue 3 , March 1995 , pp. 281 – 283 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.166.3.281
(27) Shaw, J. The nineties called: they want their jargon back. Scientific American. February 16, 2016. Stop Calling It False Memory ”Syndrome” – Scientific American Blog Network
(28) Spinney, L. We can implant entirely false memories. The Guardian. 4 December, 2013. ‘We can implant entirely false memories’ | Science | The Guardian
(29) Bryce, B. ` False Memories and False Confessions: the psychology of imagined crimes`. Wired. July 2017“Shaw has collaborated with Kevin Felstead, Director of Communications for the BFMS, in examining 2500 cases provided by the organisation, to discover how false memories are created and the manner in which they evolve over time. The spectre of bad therapy looms large over these cases, now compounded by what Dr Felstead has called the ‘post-Savile effect’. “