Liverpool is an amazing place. Militant. Unbending. Not frightened to speak its mind. Especially the women. They are a terrifying breed.
What was that you said? Where was I born? Oh, Liverpool, since you ask. I do know of which I speak.
The city has produced many notable characters. Ooh, Derek Hatton, er, John Lennon, er, lets try some women – Bessie Braddock. there you go. ‘Battling Bessie’, as she was known. My aunt stood against her in Liverpool Exchange once; vanished without trace, perhaps one vote from my Nana, the only person who would have dared to vote against Bessie.
One thing that these ardent socialists had in common was a firm desire to tip up the apple cart. To refashion the world to suit Liverpudlians. Didn’t matter how, just scatter the dice. Liverpudlians don’t give in. (They might end up closing the docks, but they don’t give in).
The city has produced other proud fighters – those who have campaigned long and hard over the Hillsborough disaster. The ‘J96’ group as they became known. Activists from that group fell out – there’s only room for one Liverpool sized ego at the top of every organisation – and some of the online activists went onto become prolific trolls, bullying and trying to silence anyone who dared to question the #Ibelieveher mantra.
Another well known Liverpool voice was that of Rory Wilmer. He was the organiser of the Liverpool branch of ‘Fathers 4 Justice’, but later fell out with Matt O’Connor the founder, and formed his own ‘New fathers 4 Justice’ group. Still scaling buildings and demanding justice, but at least only one ego at the helm. Funnily enough, Rory went on to have a considerable on line presence which took great exception to anyone who dared to question the #Ibelieveher mantra.
But then Rory’s father was Graham Wilmer, who claims to be a survivor of abuse himself, and who formed the Lantern Project in Liverpool, to support survivors of abuse. Would you believe he also took to social media, clashing horns not only with the few who dared to question some of the stories emerging, but also with other ‘survivors’ and ‘survivor groups’. Graham later got himself appointed to the original panel of the child abuse inquiry – only for solicitor’s letters to start flying, claiming that he was bullying other panel members and vulnerable victims. In fairness, he was not the only panel member to be so accused. I’ve no idea if the other panel member, Barbara Hearn was a Scouse as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Quarrelsome lot aren’t they? Or put it another way – they were fighting like rats in a sack. I had thought it was just the tension of releasing these suppressed sexual abuses all these years, and steered clear – there was enough going on in the Duncroft saga. If I had given it any thought, it would have been along the line of egos fighting for supremacy. I hadn’t realised the scale of the monies involved.
There is 7 and a half million to be divided up between charities ‘supporting the vulnerable’ for a start. (Hello, anyone we know running a charity here?) then there is the little matter of the undeclared daily ‘honorarium’ plus expenses for sitting on a panel expected to last for 8 years. The publicity, my dear, the publicity, TV appearances, exclusive interviews.
It was getting rough out there in social media land. The foot soldiers slogged it out nightly on Twitter, hurling verbal Molotov’s at each other, and occasionally at the audience, between the cute kitty pictures and motivational posters.
Amongst them was one Esther Baker. Esther, another Liverpudlian, (surprise!) was an ardent supporter of Graham Wilmer. She wasn’t publicity shy, tweeting under her own name, and flagging up her tale of woe.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse both within the family and organised abuse by a paedophile ring in which my father was a part. My abuse started at the age of three. By the age of six I was being regularly raped and abused by various men, some of whom have been identified as “VIP” abusers. By the age of 13/14 I had become pregnant by my father and had a violent, forced abortion.
That tale of woe was posted on the 19th May 2015. Esther says it was posted because:
There are two survivors behind this. We share the title of “survivor” but that is all we have in common. I have been harassed by these two men for the last 5 months. They have threatened to release my name and area to others – they have verbally assaulted me, they constantly harass, belittle, criticise me and others like me on social media. They encourage others to do the same.
Again – you might ask why they’re doing this. Again the answer is simple. It is because I have publicly supported Graham and the previous panel on the Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry. That’s it!! Their personal grudge against Graham because he got the job they wanted themselves has extended to anyone & anything associated with him.
To read Esther’s account in full – she was sexually abused for 26 years from age 3, is gruelling. She made contact with Graham Wilmer 16 months ago. She has made remarkable progress, for within 12 months she had become one of his most prolific supporters on Twitter, under her own name. She has also founded a ‘survivor group’ called Reflections UK, which numbers Graham amongst its supporters. Then disaster struck.
One of the other survivors associated with the inquiry, during the infighting as to whether Graham Wilmer was going to be on this blessed panel or not, threatened to reveal her name and story. She responded by putting her story on Twitter. Without naming names.
Six days after her Twitter confession she was a world wide sensation, on Sky every twenty minutes, with exclusive interviews with newspapers globally. Not just her story, but the full details. Correction. The full details of part of her story. We heard nothing more of the abuse by her Father – who presumably is traceable by the police. Nor of her husband. But we did hear of the ‘Lords’ and ‘Judges’ and ‘uniformed police officers’ who guarded them as they raped six year old Esther in a public park at night, along with a host of other little girls. Then incredibly, we heard how this little 6 year old girl was taken to London at night whilst her Mother was working as a nurse, to be raped in Dolphin Square, and returned before breakfast, whether by the same Lords and Judges, we know not – and a Lib-Dem MP. Not hard to identify, they are rarer than hen’s teeth these days.
Despite the fact that she went on to be abused in Rotherham, scene of so much abuse, and regularly abused and beaten by her husband, until she became alcoholic – her Mother, a trained nurse, had no inkling of what was going on in her life until a month ago.
It is a testament to Graham Wilmer’s skill (as a survivor himself he practises a form of therapy using ‘peer counselling’ by other survivors) with the meagre funds available to his Lantern Project, that he can take such a deeply damaged girl with horrific memories buried for nigh on 26 years, and in a brief 12 months give her the confidence to provide verbal evidence of the links between Lords, Judges, the Elm Guest House, murdered children, indeed many of the threads of the stories the world media have been feeding on for months and which were starting to quieten down.
I am puzzled by one part of her story though:
She broke her silence when she gave evidence to the national child abuse inquiry, which has led to many high-profile convictions, but said she lost confidence in the investigation and decided instead to go to the police in her quest for justice.
I wasn’t aware that there had been any convictions as a result of ‘a national child abuse inquiry’? Has there been a separate one in Liverpool that I’ve missed? You don’t think that Esther could have been confused over what she has seen and heard do you?
Let’s hope that her Mother can remember where Esther’s father is now, or even her ex-husband, and help the police with their enquiries. Whilst Graham Wilmer has been busy tweeting that the now ex-Lib-Dem MP is ‘hiding in plain sight’ and Rory Wilmer’s Twitter account has been unaccountably ‘lost’ by Twitter, not to mention those of several of the other Liverpool contingent of ardent Tweeters regarding child sex abuse by Tory toffs, brave Esther has gone back to her day job managing a bookies in downtown Liverpool.
Not a job for the faint hearted. Talking of faint hearted – the qualifications for sitting on the Victims and Survivors panel are:
a) Experience of issues associated with institutional responses to child sexual abuse
b) Experience of working collectively and collaboratively as part of a team and
c) Holds a current mandate to represent the interests of a defined group of victims or survivors of child sexual abuse.
Gosh! So you have to be the representative of a group of victims – and have experience of working ‘collectively and collaboratively’. A team player and a Survivor’s advocate? Does such a creature exist?
You can catch up with future episodes on Exaro. They seem to be acting as a clearing house for media with empty column inches.
Does anybody know what the fees are for sitting on the advisory panel? And whether you have to be CRB checked in order to do so?