THE "NOTTINGHAM, UK"
RITUAL ABUSE CASES
The Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax was triggered in the United States by the publishing of
the book Michelle Remembers in 1980. Although the book has since been shown to be a
hoax by three separate teams of investigators, "Michelle" was very influential
in promoting the concept of widespread secret inter-generational groups who sexually
abused and even killed and cannibalized children. The resulting public panic was one of
the prime facilitators of two major California MVMO court cases in Bakersfield
in 1983, and at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach in
1984. These cases were followed by many others in North America, and around the world. The
hoax took five years to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Extensive Incest Cases
In 1988, the first major MVMO case surfaced in the city of Nottingham, East Midlands,
UK. It was known as the Broxtowe Case after the Broxtowe Estate where
multi-generational incest abuse was alleged to have happened within an extended family.
Seven children of an extended family were taken into care in 1987-OCT due to the suspicion
that they had been sexually abused by their parents and relatives. In 1989-FEB, 10 men and
women were charged with 53 offenses of incest, indecent assault and cruelty against 21
children. There was medical evidence that the children were sexually abused, physically
abused, and given alcohol. Close cooperation between the police and Social Services
personnel resulted in successful convictions.
Emergence of Satanic Ritual Abuse
The children's foster parents were asked to record in diaries anything that the
children said about their alleged abuse. It was the contents of the diaries that suggested
that the children had been subjected to more than incest. Allegations surfaced of Satanic
Ritual Abuse including "witch parties", murder of infants, animal killings,
additional abuse by strangers, videotaping of abuse, etc.
The diaries were largely responsible for inducing a split between the police and some
of the social workers. After a separate investigation, called the Gollom Enquiry,
the police concluded that:
||no Satanic or Witchcraft abuse was involved. [In the UK, Satanism
and Witchcraft are often considered a single religion; in
reality they have little in common.]
||there was a lack of evidence to support the allegations of abuse
||the corroborating adults were unreliable.
||no adults outside of the extended family were involved.
||the children and their foster parents were influencing each other in the creation of
||ideas of abuse were being shared by the foster parents at their biweekly support
||the children's stories of Satanic abuse were similar to each other because the kids were
contaminated by the foster parents
The police were concerned that the diaries would be made available to the defense
attorneys. The ridiculous nature of some of the diaries' contents might then be used to
discredit the children's testimony.
These conclusions were not shared by many of the social workers, who appeared to
||the police were attempting to discredit the children.
||the diary reports, including allegations of Satanic abuse were reliable
||there was no contamination of the children's stories; the children's allegations were
similar because they were relating accurate memories of similar events.
||SRA experts Ray Wyre and Dr. Kirk Weir believed that Satanic abuse was involved. The
judge, Mrs. Justice Margaret Booth agreed.
||The list of Satanic abuse indicators prepared in the US closely matched the children's
Joint Enquiry Team
By 1988-JUN. the police refused to investigate any new allegations disclosed by the
children and described in the diaries. The inter-department split deepened as new
allegations of abuse involving additional adults and new locations were made by the
children. The Chief Constable and the Director of Social Services decided to resolve the
conflict by creating a joint unit of 4 full time members, half police officers and half
social workers. None had any previous involvement with the Broxtowe cases. Their inquiry
started on 1989-JUL-10 and lasted for 5 months. They investigated locations disclosed by
the children and adults, and interviewed alleged perpetrators, police, social workers,
foster parents, and experts used by the Social Service Department. They interviewed 12
children who had disclosed ritual abuse. Finally, they examined studies of ritual abuse.
This group, called The Nottingham Police/Social Services Joint Enquiry Team
(JET) issued their "Joint Enquiry Report" at the end of 1989. It was quite
large, totaling 600 pages in 5 volumes, Kenneth Clarke, the Health Secretary and local
Member of Parliament realized that the findings of this team should be generally
circulated in order to prevent similar serious abuses elsewhere in the UK. He asked that a
shortened version be prepared. A "Revised Report" was then prepared in 1990, and
distributed to the Social Services Inspectorate and to the Government. It was then suppressed.
It was never circulated to individual social work departments.
The team began the investigation assuming that SRA had actually happened. They
re-investigated a number of locations identified by the children and adult witnesses where
Satanic ritual abuse ceremonies were said to have been held. These included:
||2 tunnels and
a room at Wollaton Hall Tunnels
||An underground room at St. Mary's Church
||A room under
the stables at a Ruddington private dwelling
||Tunnels running from Old Lodge Gates to
||An underground room in a private dwelling on Derby Road and tunnels which
led to Wollaton Hall and an outdoor swimming pool.
||A swimming pool at a private dwelling
on Lenton Ave.
||A secret passage and underground room with four dead bodies in a house in
None of the rooms, tunnels, outdoor pools or bodies existed. An indoor pool does now
exist at the house on Derby Road, but it is a recent installation and did not exist at the
time of the disclosures. The team concluded that there was no evidence that could support
the children's disclosures.
The children disclosed a wide range of Satanic ritual abuse:
||babies being killed by being jumped upon, shot, having their heads bashed against the
floor, thrown on a bonfire, killed by a monster, stabbed in the stomach, killed by
crocodiles, sharks and a dragon
||fetuses being extracted by Cesarean section
||adults having dead babies hanging around their necks
||babies buried and also dug up
||Jesus chopped up and eaten
||a child forced to drink blood from a cut
||babies cooked in an oven, chopped up, eaten by sharks
||Witches removing a fetus, killing it and then making it better
||children being forced to eat spiders
||being sexually abused in an underground room at the church
||adults dressing up as witches, ghosts, clowns and monsters, then going to a hospital to
abuse the babies as the doctors and nurses watched
||an adult putting on a cloak and flying
||adult witches turning the children into frogs
Essentially all of the diary allegations were made by 4 children from three foster
homes. It was only after Ray Wyre briefed the foster parents with "Satanic
indicators" on 1988-FEB-9 that the children started to disclose stories about:
||strangers being involved in the abuse, and
||abuse happening outside their own homes
Mr. Wyer's services had been acquired by Social Services as an expert in SRA. His
indicators of SRA came from an alleged expert from the US, and included: "transportation
to other places, animal sacrifices, drinking of blood, eating flesh, defiling children
with urine and feces, monsters and ghosts, a mysterious church, killing of children
etc." Foster parents were urged to ask their children about these indicators, and
to document the results.
The team concluded that animal slaughter, Witch dancing, medical operations, child
killing etc. could not have happened as disclosed by the children. The inter-unit walls in
the council houses where many of these events are alleged to have happened are paper-thin;
neighbors would have noticed. The team was able to trace many of the symbols and images
described by the children to children's fantasy books about Witches, TV programs and to
props used during therapy sessions; the latter included "Witches costumes, toy
monsters, masks, unclothed dolls, a toy medical kit, rubber snakes and plastic
spiders." They concluded that there was much cross-contamination among the foster
parents and the children.
The team decided that:
"We had not found any physical corroborative evidence in the Broxtowe case and no
longer believed the children's diaries substantiated the claim of Satanic abuse. In our
view they reflected other influences and were open to alternative interpretations. Our
research indicated that nobody else [in other countries] had found corroborative physical
evidence either. All the evidence for its existence appears to be based upon disturbed
children and adults claiming involvement during interviews by social workers,
psychiatrists, and Church Ministers who already themselves believed in its existence. It
seemed possible that Satanic abuse only existed in the minds of people who wanted or
needed to believe in it. In the USA the result had been a modern day witch hunt which had
ruined the lives of many innocent people.
Joint Enquiry Team Conclusions & Recommendations
||With regard to the social workers involved in the Broxtowe case: "In our view
two years later on an unshakable belief system in Satanic ritualistic abuse appears to
have developed which could easily lead into a modern day "witch hunt"; (as has
happened in the USA). All the elements appear to us to be present; rigid preconceived
ideas, dubious investigative techniques, the unwillingness to check basic facts, the
readiness to believe anything, however bizarre, the interest in identifying prominent
people, with widening of the net to implicate others and the unwillingness to accept any
challenge to their views."
||"That there is no evidence of Satanic ritual abuse in the Broxtowe case or its
||"That it is doubtful whether the practice of the type of Satanic ritual abuse
being promulgated by the Social Services Department actually exists. It has never been
substantiated by empirical evidence. We have come to the hypothesis based on [...]'s case
that evidence can actually be 'created' by social workers as a result of their own
||"That parts of the Social Services Department appear to have developed over the
last two years a belief system in ritualistic Satanic abuse which is unwittingly resulting
in children being encouraged to believe in and allege bizarre abuse. This could lead
eventually to grave injustice and if unchecked it has the ingredients of a modern 'witch
Among there many recommendations was the following:
||"The use of the current information on 'Satanic' ritualistic abuse
within Social Services should be stopped immediately in the absence of any empirical
evidence to support it. Presentations using this material, which in our view has no
validity, should also cease immediately as it is contagious.
The fears of the team about the contagious nature of SRA beliefs turned out to be
accurate. Perhaps because the report was suppressed, no action was taken to prevent future
courses involving SRA misinformation; no effort was made to counteract the presentations
with accurate information. Mr. Wyer gave a three day, joint agency training program to
social workers and police in the Pembroke, West Wales area. Shortly after the program,
children in the area started disclosing stories of ritual abuse. This resulted in the
largest Multi-victim, Multi-offender (MVMO) ritual abuse trial
in British history. The ritual abuse hoax then spread to other social services departments
throughout the UK in the early 1990s. Cases emerged in Rochdale
the Orkney Islands and Ayr. The UK Government commissioned
Professor Jean La Fontaine to conduct a national study of SRA.
Her findings confirmed those of the JET report: no secret, underground network of
Satanic cults exists.
In 1991, author and television producer Tim Tate had a book 1published.
He accused Detective Superintendent Peter Coles of concealing evidence and being
responsible for a "dirty" campaign against social workers. Tate claimed that
wealthy individuals may have been involved in the abuse, that Coles authorized police
surveillance of social workers, and that some children remained trapped in abusive
environments. Coles headed the 1988 investigation at Nottingham. He sued Tate and the
publishing company who "retracted the allegations completely, apologized
unreservedly and agreed to pay very substantial damages and all the officer's legal
costs." 2 There are rumors that the settlement was
for 50,000 pounds (about $80,000 USF).
Tate subsequently produced a Cook Report on the ITV network in the UK which
promoted the Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax. It received negative reviews from the critics, and
was criticized by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.
Publishing the JET Report
Tim Tate produced a TV program in 1997-MAY called "Death of Childhood"
along a similar vein. That allegedly was the trigger that prompted three reporters (Nick
Anning, David Hebditch and Margaret Jervis) to publish the suppressed Nottingham
"JET" report on the Internet 3 in 1997-MAY.
The copyright holder, Nottingham County Council, obtained a High Court order 4
to force the reporters to remove the report from their web site. However, by
then, many mirror
sites 5 were carrying the JET report.
A mirror site operated by Jeremy Freeman from British Columbia, Canada was closed down 6
after threats by the Nottingham County Council. Their solicitors even demanded that he remove a
hyperlink that he had installed to a functioning mirror site!. They Emailed him (in part) "This
is still publication on your website and for so long as the hypertext link remains it will
continue to be an infringement of Nottinghamshire County Council's copyright by you."
This raises a novel issue in copyright law as it applies to the Internet. Does a
hyperlink to another site violate copyright law if the latter site is violating a copyright? Cyber-Rights
& Cyber-Liberties (UK), a non-profit organization promoting freedom of speech on
the Internet, has issued a number of press releases on the JET report and on the hyperlink
The case against the three journalists was scheduled to be heard on 1997-JUN-23.
However, by that time, the Nottinghamshire County Council seems to have conceded that it
is helpless in the face of an Internet "mirror" campaign organized by Cyber-Rights
& Cyber-Liberties (UK). The Council issued a press release which stated that "bringing
this action was the right thing to do." Tim Bell, the Chair of Social Services
stated that: "We have been faced with a technology running at a pace which exceeds
the law's ability to adopt to deal with it and the best interests of Nottinghamshire
people would not be served by running up large bills in difficult areas of law."
The JET report was re-installed at its original site. 3
Yaman Akdeniz, founder of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) stated
that: "There are currently 35 mirror sites and every time the County Council tried
to stop the publication of the JET Report, their action spawned another dozen mirror
sites. This case is reminiscent of the unsuccessful attempts of the UK Government to stop
the publication of the Spycatcher novel in 1986 in Australia which involved the memoirs of
Peter Wright, a senior officer in MI5 from 1955 to 1976. Spycatcher was also published in
the USA and Canada following its initial publication in Australia. As in the case of
Spycatcher it proved impossible to stop the publication of the JET Report; the genie is
out of the bottle."
On 1997-JUL-31, Richard Scott of the Nottinghamshire County Council's Policy and
Information Division issued a media information sheet titled "County Ends
Internet Action". He stated that the Council has "concluded its legal
action over the publication of the JET report on the Internet." This statement
appears to be false. According to one knowledgeable source, the council has failed to meet
3 deadlines for signing the consent decree which will lift the injunction. Meanwhile, the
injunction was still in place, so that the three reporters risked being in contempt of court
if they restore the report on their Web page.
In the information sheet, Mr. Scott expresses concern over:
||the issue of protection of copyrighted material
||the privacy "interests of the individuals and communities it works with"
||the cost to the taxpayers of any protracted legal action
At no point in the information sheet do they express any concern for the dozens of
children and parents in various locations in the UK whose lives have been severely
dislocated because of the Satanic panic. If the Council had published the report when it
was first available, the panic might not have spread across the country. Other social
service agencies might not have seen imaginary child abusing Satanists under every rock,
and might not have destroyed so many English families.
Tim Tate, "Children for the Devil: Ritual Abuse and Satanic Crime",
Octopus Group (1991)
British Press Association Newsfile, "Libel Damages for Abuse Inquiry Chief",
Nick Anning, David Hebditch and Margaret Jervis created an unofficial site containing
the abbreviated JET report. Called "The Broxtowe Files", it still is
located at: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~dlheb/Default.htm
The JET report was erased from the above site by a court order arising from
There were allegedly at least 35 mirror sites containing the full JET
report as of 1997-JUL-3. A sampling of the mirror sites active on 1997-AUG-5
Jeremy Freeman from British Columbia, Canada, published the JET report but was forced to
remove it by the Nottingham County Council. See his experiences at: http://www.jeremy.bc.ca/jetrep1.htm
Another site was also threatened by the Nottingham council and forced to remove his
mirror site. A copy of the threatening letter was published at: http://fsinfo.cs.uni-sb.de/~hirvi/mirror/jetrep.htm
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) has a periodically updating series of
press releases on the JET report. See: http://www.xs4all.nl/~yaman/jetrep.htm
Electronic Frontier Canada has a list of hyperlinks that connect to
many web sites describing the Nottinghamshire fiasco. See: "Nottinghamshire's
Secret Shame," at: http://insight.cas.mcmaster.ca/org/efc/pages/nottingham/
Last update: 1999-OCT-15
Author: B.A. Robinson