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Aftermath of the arrests
Subsequent developments

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Aftermath of the arrests:

On 2004-JUL-13, the Western Isles Council called in a group of independent social work officials to review the handling of this case. The Council issued a statement which said, in part:

"The council had agreed last November that this would be the procedure following the end of the recent child protection case. As one of the initial stages of the process, the council has invited the Social Work Services Inspectorate (SWSI) to play a role in independently analysing the involvement of the local authority and work will start on that later this week. The SWSI report will come back to the Child Protection Committee next month which will make recommendations for any further process."

Council leader Alex MacDonald said: "This is in line with the council's aim of continuous development in delivering responsibilities for children's services." 1

The residents of the island remain divided.

bullet Rosie Waterhouse of The Guardian quotes a mother of two small children said at the local pub: "There must have been something in it; the police must have had evidence to make arrests."
bullet "Angus" believes that most islanders want the all the accused to leave. He said: "These charges of pedophilia and child sex rings have brought the island into disrepute." Commenting on SRA, he said: "I don't believe in that rubbish myself. But we all knew the Campbells were white witches [a.k.a Wiccans]. We all heard this was what the neighbors were saying before they moved to this part of Lewis."
bullet Ian Campbell, one of the accused men, said:

"The way we were as a family has changed. I find it hard to be close to the kids like I used to be. I can't hug them like I used to. Even now I worry that holding my daughter's hand in the street is going to be interpreted as something different. To be called a pedophile, it's like a sickness inside. I have lost control of my life and I have become very angry. I was also very frightened. When the police were interviewing me about devil worshipping, animal sacrifice and the Satanic stuff, they just believed it was true. It was like a 17th-century witch hunt. If this had happened then, Penny and I would have been burned at the stake." 2

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Subsequent developments:

bullet 2004-OCT: Information about an accuser: An investigation by Stephen Breen of the newspaper "Scotland on Sunday" blew the case wide open -- ironically on 2004-OCT-31 -- Halloween. He wrote:

"A woman whose claims of Satanic child sex abuse helped put eight people in the dock had a history of making false allegations, which was known to police, Scotland on Sunday can reveal."

Angela Stretton was the key police witness in the Lewis abuse case which collapsed this summer with charges against all the accused being dropped."

An investigation by this newspaper has revealed that Stretton was convicted of making false allegations of child abuse in 1987, and that Scots police were aware of her track record of false claims before deciding to press charges."

Last night, several of the accused - some of whom are suing for compensation - demanded to know why they were dragged through the courts by social workers and police on the evidence of a discredited witness....."

Police documents seen by this newspaper show that Stretton told police that Satanic rituals were used in the abuse, and that adults were filmed having sex with children. The evidence included lurid claims of drinking blood, orgies, and slaughtering animals."

Scotland on Sunday reports that Stretton was fined 100 Pounds in 1987 after admitting in court that she make hoax calls to emergency services involving allegations of incest. 3 The Northern Constabulary said that Stretton had also made claims that resulted in others being convicted of criminal offenses. 4

bullet 2005-OCT: Social Work Inspection Agency report issued: This report covering the Lewis Island cases was actually released to libraries across the UK in August. However, after some of its contents were leaked to the press and a legal challenge from the Western Isles Council, the copies were recalled and the issuance of new copies was delayed until October. The Agency concluded that:
bullet Three young girls involved in the case had been neglected, physically abused, and sexually abused.
bullet The BBC stated that: "Social work inspectors said those dealing with the case lacked expertise and that the children should have been removed from their home much earlier."
bullet Alexis Jay, the agency's chief inspector, said: "We found evidence of physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect as well as symptoms and behavior which strongly suggested sexual abuse. We believe that all these three children were repeatedly sexually abused."
bullet The report found that information was shared among various professionals who were involved with the children. However, it was not acted upon.
bullet The report makes 31 recommendations. 5

Scanning the entire 162 page report, we found no references to topics which were to become the foundation of the police investigation. Words such as "satanic" "occult" "pagan" or "wicca" do not appear anywhere in the report's text. In an appendix, at page 148, we found one instance where a teacher that reported that one of the children said she knew "bad people" and described being "tied up by family friends." It is unknown whether this refers to some children's games, or whether it refers to abuse and molestation by adults. Also, on Page 102 of the report, there is a reference to one of the mothers describing "...abuse of her children and others as part of various rituals conducted by numbers of adults." There do not appear to be any other reference to ritual abuse elsewhere in the report. However, there are questions in the report whether her statement can be regarded as meaningful.

Appendix 5 contains an extensive bibliography which includes a 1984 article by R.C. Summit on "The child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome." That paper had been based on earlier research into interview techniques that should be used on children in cases of suspected sexual abuse. Subsequent studies showed that those same interview techniques had often led to false accusations. The syndrome has since been abandoned by child care workers, child psychologists, and police interviewers everywhere, except perhaps in Lewis Island and similar isolated communities. We were surprised to see the syndrome surface again in the 21st century. 6

We suspect that one or more social workers or police officers involved in the Lewis Island cases was a strong believer in Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Further, she or he lumped religious Satanism, Paganism and Wicca together and assumed that all were perpetrators in SRA. Although the SRA hoax was widespread in the 1980s and early 1990s, it has long since been exposed as a hoax elsewhere in the world. Thus, in the Island of Lewis during 2003, a child protection case involving child sexual abuse had morphed into a search for Wiccans, Witches and Satanists who were guilty of ritual abuse.

Because of the discredited child interview techniques used on the children, all of the their disclosures are now suspect and probably cannot be used in a court case. The adults responsible for the sexual abuse of the children will probably never be tried for their crimes. Meanwhile,  for the foreseeable future, the community will probably continue suspect the falsely accused of committing ritual abuse.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Probe into collapsed abuse case," BBC News, 2004-JUL-13, at:
  2. Rosie Waterhouse, "It was like a witch hunt," The Guardian, 2004-JUL-16, Page 6. Online at:
  3. Stephen Breen, "Revealed: the past lies of Satanic abuse witness," Scotland on Sunday, 2004-OCT-31, at:
  4. "Accusers in Isles abuse case had levelled false allegations in the past," 2004-NOV-01, at:
  5. "An inspection into the care and protection of children in Eilean Siar," Social Work Inspection Agency, 2005-AUG, at: This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  6. R. C. Summit, "The child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome," Child Abuse and Neglect, (1984) 7, Pages 177-193.

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Copyright 2004 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-JUL-9
Latest update: 2006-APR-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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