The witchfinder

The witchfinder; She believes satanic abuse is common. So does her feminist Marxist lover. Was she really, then, the right person to sit in judgment on two nursery nurses falsely accused of paedophilia?

Source: Daily Mail – London
Publication date: 2002-08-03

Bizarre is a word that hardly begins to describe the horrendous story which unfolded this week in the High Court. Two nursery nurses – Christopher Lillie, 37, and Dawn Reed, 31 – had had their lives ruined by wrongly being branded paedophiles, in a report commissioned by their local council.

On Tuesday they left the court without a stain on their character, having been awarded the maximum possible libel damages of pounds 200,000 each in compensation.

The judge suggested that if he’d had the power to give them more, he would have done so.

Indeed, according to the judge, Mr Justice Eady, summing up at the end of the pounds 6 million action, the council report was malicious in a way which ‘cannot be explained on the basis of incompetence or mere carelessness’.

What the court was not told, however, was that one figure central to the report had already been totally discredited through her involvement in a child abuse report – and had made a crusade of supposed ‘satanic abuse’which verges on the obsessional.

They would not have known that Judith Jones, one of the inquiry team of four in Newcastle, led a similar inquiry some 13 years ago in Nottingham under her married name, Judith Dawson.

That report was later condemned-after a detailed investigation involving senior social workers and police-as inflammatory rubbish, as we shall see.

So how did Judith Jones, who markets herself as a child abuse counsellor, come to be engaged by leftwing Newcastle Council as one of the four members on the panel of this sensitive and volatile inquiry?

MS JONES, 51, is a woman with a chequered and controversial history. A mother of two sons from her marriage at 21 to a computer programmer, she has lived for some years with the feminist Marxist author Bea Campbell in a two-bedroom terrace in the Byker area of Newcastle.

The two women share a passionate – some would say obsessive – belief that there is widespread satanic, or ritual, child abuse in this country.

They have continued to proclaim this belief over many years, despite a curious lack of evidence.
Ms Campbell, indeed, was said during a debate in the House of Commons to ‘subscribe to the view that one in four of the population are abused as children’.

Everyone, of course, is entitled to their beliefs, and no one would doubt the two women’s genuine desire to save children from abuse. But in the case of Judith Jones, there is strong evidence to suggest that her personal approach to what is believable and what is not is somewhat eccentric.

And one is entitled to think that in the case of two nurses alleged to be paedophiles feeding their lust and offering children to others, you would not want eccentricity but caution and sensible judgment.

When the then Judith Dawson led her team of social workers investigating child abuse in Nottingham, where she was then working, there had indeed been a revolting case of incest.

But her team claimed to have unearthed a satanic frenzy that involved ritualistic murder. An inquiry into their report found the satanic claims to be utter nonsense, and Judith Dawson’s reputation should have been in tatters.

John Gwatkin was joint chairman of the Nottingham inquiry carried out together with police, and yesterday he explained just why he was ‘totally appalled’ when he learned that Judith Jones was sitting on the Newcastle panel.

HE SAYS: ‘In my opinion, she is totally unsuited to do this kind of work.

As soon as we started our inquiry, we began to feel that she was totally ignoring any evidence that contradicted her preconceived ideas.

‘It was as though the evidence we had presented to her never existed,’ says Mr Gwatkin, who was director of social services at Newark, Notts, but has since retired to Lincolnshire.

‘It beggars belief that someone with such a closed mind should be appointed to sit on a panel investigating alleged child abuse at a nursery school in Newcastle.’ Retired Detective Superintendent Peter Coles, who was involved in ritual abuse investigations in Nottingham, also remembers Judith Dawson and her team – and a particular incident involving a child who had allegedly been microwaved.

‘I was slightly mischievous, and said to one of Judith’s team that I had checked this out and it couldn’t be right – because experts had told me if you did that, the baby’s eyes would explode and the door of the microwave would come off.

‘I was just kidding, but before long one of the team came back and said disclosures had now been made about babies’ eyes being taken out before they were microwaved. These claims were pure invention.’ One is surely entitled to recall these bizarre incidents in relation to the libel judge’s comments about claims of the Newcastle panel that they ‘must have known to be untrue’.

And yet, as we know, Judith Dawson’s career did not plummet.

On the contrary, she lectures widely and is on the Law Society’s list of expert witnesses for ‘family child issues’, including child abuse and lesbian or gay families.

John Gwatkin believes her career was saved because his inquiry report was never published by Nottingham council. [See this resource]

Judith Dawson is understood to have complained that it was sexist, because her team of four were all women.

Two years ago, when it suddenly appeared on the internet, she was no longer using her married name but her maiden name of Jones – and, he says, ‘many people didn’t realise it was the same person’.

Precisely at what point Judith Dawson left her husband Brendan, whom she married in 1972, is not clear. But before very long the two women were not only fuelling each other’s fixation with ritual abuse and collaborating to produce articles discussing its presence in Nottingham as proven fact – but were being talked of as an ‘item’.

In 1992, Judith moved to work in Sunderland – Bea, who has described herself as a ‘horrible, queer Marxist’, lived in nearby Newcastle – and in 1997 they decided to cement their relationship by deciding to live together after discovering line-dancing.

By this time, Judith Jones and her appointed colleagues at Newcastle were well into their three-year investigation (at around pounds 25,000a-year each) into the alleged serial child abuse by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed.

Those two people’s lives were about to be torn apart, as the libel judge said, in a manner that was more than ‘incompetence or mere carelessness’.

The report that the libel judge has just demolished was published in 1998, and the following year Jones and Campbell co-wrote a book, Stolen Voices, which excoriated people who doubted the extent of satanic child abuse.

One reviewer called it ‘a sad case of false ideology syndrome’, and Jean La Fontaine, the emeritus professor of social anthropology at the LSE, found ‘facts which are not true’. The book, she said, was ‘long on rhetoric, short on fact’.

The book, however, never arrived in the shops. Many threatened legal action, and one engaged the late George Carman to write to the publishers, The Women’s Press. ‘We never distributed the book because of a legal warning,’ it recalls. ‘They could still be sitting in a warehouse somewhere.’

So why was Judith Jones on the report team? Newcastle Council advertised for independent experts and drew up a shortlist.

Ms Jones stood out as someone ‘who had been working in Newcastle for many years and had strong links with the region’, and she was appointed ‘because of her expertise and experience in child protection and family work’.

So much for what happened in Nottingham.

This week, as the two nursery nurses stepped outside the shadow that has dimmed their lives for nine years, Judith Jones and Bea Campbell were away on holiday, apparently soaking up the sun.

Unbelievably, with the judge’s condemnation still ringing in her ears, Judith is said to be considering writing another book with Bea – about the Newcastle fiasco.

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