Psychologist who worked with fantasist Carl Beech suing Mail on Sunday for defamatory allegations
A psychologist who briefly worked with convicted fantasist Carl Beech is suing the Mail on Sunday over “serious defamatory allegations” that she “gave legitimacy” to his false claims of a VIP paedophile ring.
Dr Elly Hanson is bringing a High Court libel case against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, over a July 2019 article which claimed she had “befriended” Beech and was “among those signed up to the idea that anyone claiming to be a victim of abuse must be believed”.
Last July, Beech was jailed for 18 years for 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud for lying to detectives about the supposed existence of a murderous VIP paedophile ring and claiming £22,000 in compensation for his false claims of abuse.
The article by criminologist Richard Hoskins, titled “The expert who exposed Carl Beech’s lies in the Mail on Sunday blames psychotherapists for the foul abuse ‘memories’ they helped create”, said Beech “should have been stopped at the outset” and that it took Mr Hoskins “10 minutes of reading his ‘evidence’ to realise it was poppycock”.
It also said that “there is no doubting the importance of the therapists in this case”, without whom “none of this might have happened”, and criticised “the psychotherapy industry” for “its cavalier approach to truth (which) has ruined lives, traduced reputations and damaged criminal investigations”.
Dr Hanson is now suing the Mail on Sunday, claiming that the allegations are untrue and could cause “irreparable damage to her career as a freelance psychologist”.
She says that both she and a psychotherapist, Dr Vicki Paterson, were “prominently identified as having treated Beech as part of the investigation” and that the article “expressly blamed (them) for helping create his ‘foul abuse memories’”.
Mr Justice Nicklin was asked on Thursday to determine the “natural and ordinary” meaning of the article on the basis of written submissions.
Dr Hanson’s barrister, David Hirst, said the meaning of the article was that his client “was one of two key psychotherapists who had been instrumental and blameworthy in ruining the reputations of blameless public figures, wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and damaging future investigations of child sexual abuse by their deluded encouragement and legitimisation of an obvious and malicious fantasist, Carl Beech”.
He added that the article meant Dr Hanson “helped create, fuel and legitimise Carl Beech’s false abuse memories through her personal contact and treatment of him”.
David Glen, representing Associated Newspapers, argued that Dr Hanson’s suggested meaning did not “distinguish between the separate roles which the article clearly states were played by a psychotherapist, Vicki Paterson, in enabling Beech to ‘recover’ and then ‘develop’ and ‘embellish’ his false claims, and the claimant’s subsequent involvement in events”.
He said the article did not allege that Dr Hanson had any role in the “memory recovery sessions in which Beech’s claims developed”, adding that her involvement was said to be “one stage removed from that process”.
Mr Glen concluded that the natural and ordinary meaning of the article was that Dr Hanson “gave unjustified credibility and legitimacy to Carl Beech’s fantasies”, which demonstrated “a lack of professional judgment” and showed “a cavalier approach to the truth”.
Mr Justice Nicklin is expected to give his ruling at a later date.
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