Why did police mislead victim over identity of his abuser?

This is NOT the man who abused Steve Messham when the victim was a child. But if he wasn’t, why did a police officer tell Mr Messham he was?

It’s well-documented by now that abuse victim Steve Messham has apologised to former Conservative Party Treasurer Lord McAlpine after he realised that his claim about the identity of the man who abused him when he was a child were inaccurate.

It seems he was shown a photograph of his alleged abuser by police, back in the 1990s, and was told it was Lord McAlpine. This was not the case, as he discovered on Friday when he was shown another photo and realised his mistake.

This has led to a backlash against the BBC’s Newsnight programme, which covered Mr Messham’s allegations. Newsnight did not mention Lord McAlpine’s name; that came out via other means, but still the programme has come under attack.

Everybody seems to be going to great lengths to avoid some obvious questions:

Who was the man in the photograph shown to Mr Messham in the 1990s?

Who was the police officer who showed it to him?

And why did they lie to Mr Messham about the identity of the person in the photograph?

I also find it very disturbing that this vindication of the Conservative lord comes so soon after the incident on This Morning, when presenter Philip Schofield handed a list of alleged Conservative Party paedophiles to David Cameron. It looks like a hasty attempt by the Party at a whitewash: “Oh no, we don’t have paedophiles in our organisation. Look – the allegation against Lord McAlpine was wrong.” And the implication: “No, we’re not going to look any further into this.”



  1. christine redmond November 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    stinks of corruption yet again….the elite covering for the elite ????? 23 years to get the truth for hillsborough 23hrs for this to be investigated ??? its almost laughable, do they really think the public are so thick….dirty rotten scum, tory’s behind corruption yet again.

  2. Roger Green November 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    All way too sketchy for my liking.. If it looks like bullshit and it smells like bullshit… then it surely is bullshit.

  3. worthwhite November 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Looks like an attempt to discredit Mr Messham somehow… Its all looking very fudged at the moment, like confusion and denial tacticts are at work….

  4. Stephen Whitaker November 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    We do not know that the police did lie to Mr Messham about the identity of the person in the photograph.It’s a case of shoddy journalism and not knowing that there are two distinct branches of the Mcalpine family. It’s probably the journalists who mislead Mr Messham.

    • Mike Sivier November 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      Why is it shoddy journalism? We don’t have any reason to believe that any reporter has done as you suggest. Reporters have to go on what they are told by the people concerned in the events being recounted. Mr Messham has told the world that the police officer who showed him that photograph claimed it was the former Conservative Party treasurer, and his recent statements relied on that being the truth. How could a journalist have misled Mr Messham about information he was given more than a decade ago – long before this story?
      We’ve heard nothing to indicate that Mr Messham was not shown a photograph and told it was the person he claimed. It’s not a good idea to speculate on what happened because people will seize on that and take it as fact.

  5. Susannah R November 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Channel 4 News reported one other victim of abuse who had also been shown a photograph by police and told it was Lord McAlpine. But, yes, the Newsnight team should have shown photos to Mr Messham before broadcasting, and they should have contacted the unnamed culprit for his comments (although presumably if they’d shown the photo, Newsnight wouldn’t have run the programme in that form if at all).

  6. mdj November 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    All this leaves us none the wiser, but with more questions to ask:
    Why did Mr Messham never come across or search for another photo of the man he claims to have abused him over all the years since? It seems to show a curious lack of interest.
    Why has Lord McAlpine never sued others who have been bandying his name in this context for many years?
    Can we have any certainty what the police told Mr Messham? I wouldn’t expect the average PC to have much idea which McAlpine was which.

  7. Barrie Singleton November 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    When Radio 4 “Any Questions” covered Savile, I wrote a comment to Any Answers asserting that a paedophile matrix can be assumed in high places, and that it would be, RIGHT NOW, running damage limitation strategies. Any Answers read out my comment BUT WITH FIVE CONFUSING WORDS ADDED. My complaint about that impropriety, is being fended off by BBC as I write; but why was my comment “interfered with” (to coin a phrase?) Something is very wrong at the BBC.

    • Mike Sivier November 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      Was this last Saturday’s Any Questions? I’ve downloaded the podcast but have yet to listen to it. I’m wondering what the five confusing words were.

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