Recent news-stories and developments relating to Eric Cullen (or which relate to Eric indirectly by bearing on the reliability of the Scottish press and police force):
Early March 2000:
Strathclyde Police special constable Gilbert Nulty convicted of paedophile offences against young girls, involving threats and the use of police-issue handcuffs.
Presswise, an organization dedicated to the promotion of fair and accurate journalism, publishes a web article summarizing the results of a forum (apparently held in 1996 - but this seems to be the first time it's been on the web, or, at least, the first time it's been on the search-engines) entitled CHILD EXPLOITATION AND THE MEDIA: Over-exposure or cover-up?, which states that "The last testament of the actor Eric Cullen... was to explain how he had been drawn into a network of paedophiles from an early age. He did us all a great service when he braved the BBC’s cameras, despite the hostility of certain sections of the press."
14th April 2000:
The Scottish Sun - which almost alone among tabloid newspapers had behave impeccably towards Eric at the time - publishes an article called A-Z OF BROKEN DREAMS: Tragedy, heartache and falls from grace halt Scots stars (by-line Russell Blackstock) which misleadingly describes Eric, without qualification, as "disgraced when convicted of gay child porn offences" - and declines to publish a (friendly!) corrective letter pointing out that this material belonged to his abusers and that there was no question of Eric being a user of child pornography himself.
18th April 2000:
Channel 4 Cutting Edge documentary on an infamous Scottish case concerning an 11-year-old girl called Moira Anderson, who disappeared from Coatbridge (near Glasgow) in 1957 - having last been seen travelling on a bus driven by a paedophile and convicted rapist called Alex Gartshore who was nevertheless ignored as a suspect. Gartshore's own daughter, Sandra Brown, is campaigning to have the case re-opened and her father's rôle investigated.
In a review in the Daily Mail the following day, Steve Nimmo described the actions of Strathclyde Police thus:
"... Care had been taken not to assume too much about how the police were suspected of mishandling the entire enquiry but what was exposed was a frightening lack of organisation and neglect.
"More astonishing than their failure to search and interview suspects thoroughly was the issue of a lady bus conductor who completely vanished.
"She was working on the bus Moira travelled on and would have been one of the last people to see the girl alive. The police, despite having statements from two people on the bus and Sandra's father who was the driver that night, have not found her.
"One of the witnesses on the bus claimed the police dismissed her evidence out of hand. That combined with the very close relationship between the bus company in question and the police hinted that there was more to this disappearance than many people were prepared to admit..."
Or, to put it another way, "Le plus ça change, le plus c’est la même chose" - the more things change, the more they stay the same...
25th & 26th June 2000:
The Sunday Mail - sister-publication to the dubious Daily Record - turned up with a story purporting to "prove" that Eric was an active paedophile, and the Record followed suit the next day. It was claimed that not long before Eric died his friend and supporter Betty Maxwell Carter saw a film of Eric abusing a boy of about 12, and thereafter deserted his cause absolutely. Supposedly, Betty had gone to the paper about this because she had just learned that Eric's friend Bill McFarlan was writing a book which would portray Eric as innocent, and she felt she could not in conscience keep silent. It was further claimed that Francis Currens, one of Eric’s abusers (here grotesquely described as Eric’s “friend”), was interviewed in prison and also described Eric as an abuser.
Even if the supposed film of Eric committing abuse had existed it wouldn't have proved he was a pervert, since sadly it is all too common for abusers to force their victims to abuse each other. However, the film was almost certainly (im)pure imagination, as it subsequently emerged (see October 2002, below) that Betty Maxwell Carter has mental health problems which cause her to invent dramatic-sounding but completely untrue stories. In this case, the Sunday Mail had not itself invented the story, but had been sold a pup by someone it regarded, wrongly, as a reliable witness.
It should have realized, however, that it was nonsense to say that Betty discovered something so damning it caused her to desert Eric’s cause - since she read the eulogy at his funeral, and continued to be actively involved in the campaign for his memory for at least two years after his death. Futhermore, the fact that Bill was working on a book about Eric was old news, known both to the press and to Betty for years.
The article also described an incident in which Eric was compromized by his abusers by being forced to shoot a mildly off-colour film, not involving actual abuse, and about which there is no mystery since another victim of the same group has confirmed that Eric was terrorized into it - although the paper presented it as proof of Eric's villainy. In this, again, they were misled - this time by their anonymous police contact, who is aware of the real circumstances but isn't going to admit it.
The rest of the article was air and nonsense, dressed up with hype. It was claimed that while Eric was working on a Children's Panel he had kept photographic copies of some testimonies relating to sexual abuse cases. The paper (or perhaps its police contact) assumed he had done so in order to share these documents with his abusers - but then quoted Francis Currens, one of the leaders of Eric's abusers, as saying "He always said he didn't even know how to use a video, yet he could use a camera for that!" - clearly surprized by the existence of these copies which therefore, obviously, had not been circulated among Eric's abusers.
In fact Eric, who had a degree in psychology, was working on a thesis about sexual development; so if he did keep such copies they will have been case-studies to use in a section on how sexual development is affected by abuse. Many abuse victims find it helpful to analyze their own and other victims' suffering and turn it into academic study, as a way of reasserting control over their own lives.
If anything, this passage just confirmed that Eric had not been corrupted into becoming one with his abusers, as the Sunday Mail and Record wished their readers to believe. Evidently, Currens and co. had tried to make Eric do something for them involving a video - and one can clearly hear the echo of Eric, ducking out of doing it without getting himself beaten up, by flannelling manfully and exaggerating his own mechanical incompetence.
The rest of it was supposed to "prove" that Currens knew Eric to be an abuser (despite the fact that Currens had previously told the Fiscal Depute that he was quite certain Eric wasn't an abuser). When you took away the hysterical journalese, what was left was a claim that Currens claimed that a) Eric had once made a bad-taste, sarcastic joke about abuse and b) that Eric had once asked to see two of Currens's boy-victims in private, and Currens didn't know what Eric wanted to see them for. [Knowing Eric, it was probably to warn them to get away from Currens while they still could.]
If Currens actually did know Eric to be an abuser, it would have to be based on something more substantial than one sarcy crack and his having once spoken to two boys in private - and Currens would presumably have told the paper something more substantial, and it would have printed it. If the worst evidence that Currens could come up with, after 15 years of abusing Eric and doing his best to corrupt him, was one bad joke and he-once-asked-to-see-two-boys-and-I-don't-know-why, that's actually pretty good proof of Eric's essential, incorruptible innocence.
12th & 13th August 2000:
There are reports in the press that the daughter of an unnamed man described as "one of Scotland's most prominent lawyers" is claiming that her father is a paedophile who raped and beat her from the age of four. She reportedly claims that a number of other senior Scottish lawyers formed an active paedophile ring with her father. According to The Mail on Sunday "It is claimed the woman's father has incriminating evidence which could topple many senior members of the Scottish legal profession and that he has used the evidence to block any official investigation of the alleged abuse."
If this is true - which at this point is of course an open question - then there is no longer much mystery as to why the Crown Prosecution Service "lost" the records of Eric's uncle's prior conviction for a serious sexual assault on a young boy; or why it ordered the police not to act on Eric's evidence against his abusers; or why there has still been no investigation into the ringleader of those abusers.
Father Jim Nicol, a Catholic priest in Motherwell (near Glasgow), was found to have been downloading gay pornography from the Internet. Responsible media sources reported that none of the people in these images was underage or doing anything illegal, and that the police weren't charging Fr Nicol with any offence; so it was purely a matter for his bishop to consider whether he was suited to the celibate life-style (possibly not!). Despite this, the Daily Record, the hysterical Glasgow tabloid responsible for most of the wildly innacurate stories about Eric, published several pages of foaming-at-the-mouth SHOCK HORROR hype in which it heavily implied (without quite saying it definitely enough to be sued for libel) that Fr Nicol was a paedophile - so successfully that even someone I know who has direct personal experience of tabloid lies and miscarriages of justice took it for granted that the poor man was a child-abuser. On the basis of this completely false accusation the Record got up a successful petition to have Fr Nicol dismissed from his post.
2000 (month unknown):
Publication of the book A Stranger Here Myself by Rab C Nesbitt writer Ian Pattison. This book is presented as the autobiography of Rab himself, but it seems clear that some of the text which purports to be Rab talking about Wee Burney is really Ian Pattison talking about Eric.
I don't neccessarily agree with the sentiment - Eric certainly had plenty of plans and wanted to stay around for a good long while yet - but it's still a nice thing to have said.
The Daily Record distinguished itself by printing two screaming front-page headlines which were both complete fabrications, with no factual basis at all - so entirely untrue that the Record's stupidity and dishonesty became a news-item in other papers. The first front-page fantasy, on March 27th, claimed that an unemployed man on the dole had won £1 million; the second, on April 10th, that a toddler still wearing nappies had been arrested for vandalism in Leith (a port contiguous with Edinburgh) - with the headline VANDAL AGE 2 NICKED IN HIS NAPPIES.
To be fair to the Record - though why I should be I don't know, since they never are to anyone else - the fictional £1 million win was not invented by them but by the man concerned, who had conned them with a false story. But it still demonstrates that they don't make even the most cursory effort to check their "facts" - and the fantasy about the vandal in nappies was all their own invention.
All of which just goes to show how much credence should be given to the Daily Record and its sister-paper the Sunday Mail's wild stories about Eric - i.e. none at all.
The Record followed this up by publishing a freelance journalist's interview with Alistair Taylor, a Scots-born oil engineer held hostage in Colombia - against the wishes of Mr Taylor's family and the advice of the Foreign Office, who feared that this interview might disrupt the negotiations for Mr Taylor's release.
7th June 2001:
Ephraim Hardcastle of The Scottish Daily Mail comments that:
This is typical: very reminiscent of the Record's behaviour towards Eric, when among other things it reported that Eric's friend Bill McFarlan had decided he could not produce a film with Eric owing to the scandal surrounding him. This was true up to a point - except that it had happened more than two years previously, before Bill and Eric became friends and before Bill knew the true facts of Eric's story. The Record, on the other hand, presented it as if it had only just happened, and was proof that even Eric's close friends were ashamed to be associated with him in public.
25th June 2001:
The Scottish Daily Mail reports on a case in which, in October 1998, a 16-year-old girl named Kelly Rumsey reported to Strathclyde Police that she had been raped at a holiday camp. Although she was very upset Strathclyde Police initially refused to let her father be present to support her during the medical examination (though they eventually relented), pressurized her to drop the complaint by telling her repeatedly that a medical examination was very expensive and giving her the impression she would have to pay £750 herself, and told her (almost certainly wrongly) that they might not be able to find a female doctor to carry out the examination. She became so upset and hysterical that she falsely said that she had lied, in order to be allowed to get away from the police station; whereupon Strathclyde Police locked her in a cell for two hours for "wasting police time".
On her return to her native Leeds, West Yorkshire Police matched DNA stains found on her clothes with the DNA of a known sex-offender - so there is no realistic doubt that she really was raped. However, detectives are forbidden to investigate crimes which took place outside their area, so the case could only be conducted by Strathclyde Police - and they are refusing to re-open it unless specifically instructed to do so by the Crown Office.
On 8th August the Daily Record reported on its front page that Firsat Yildiz, the unfortunate Turkish asylum-seeker who had been fatally stabbed in Glasgow a few days before, had "conned his way in" to Britain. Like a lot of the Record's stories this was partially true and yet completely misrepresented the case in the most spiteful way. The Record presented it as if Mr Yildiz had been a cynical con-artist looking for a cushy life: whereas other papers reported that he had been passionately in love with the idea of Britain all his life, and had always longed to come here not promarily for venal reasons, but because of this life-long admiration for the country which, in the event, brought about his death. The Record's coverage of Mr Yildiz's murder, and of asylum-seekers in general, was considered so inaccurate, and so calculated to stir up Glasgow's already simmering racial violence, that the paper was picketed by a mass demonstration.
On 14th August the Record carried an "exclusive" story about Celtic footballer John Hartson, claiming to have hot new never-before-told news that Hartson has had hair-transplants. This despite the fact that Hartson actually fronts advertizing campaigns for hair-transplants, and has done for three years.
It is reported in the press that former Dumfries & Galloway police inspector Adam Carruthers, already convicted of rape, may have been Scotland's most prolific known rapist - with 38 suspected victims.
It is also reported that a US investigation into users of child-porn websites uncovered many British paedophiles - including 70 police officers.
17th-23rd October 2002:
The Daily Record runs a series of front-page exposés on Betty Maxwell Carter, revealing her to be a chronic fantasist - although without of course mentioning that this means its own June 2000 accusations against Eric, based on supposed evidence given to it by Betty, had also been fantasies.
[Of course, one has to treat anything which appears in the Record with extreme caution - but other more respectable papers at least confirm that Betty is being investigated by the Scottish Charities Office.]
Betty had been chief executive of a charity called Facilitate Scotland, intended to help children suffering from suicidal depression. According to the Record she had explained her interest in this charity by claiming that her brother had committed suicide, even though she never had a brother and the photograph which she claimed was of him was of someone else who is both alive and completely unrelated to her. She had also claimed to have held meetings attended only by herself and another director who in fact seems to be a figment of her imagination, and had had her contract (for "up to" £65,000 per annum) signed by this probably imaginary co-director. On a previous occasion she had been suspected (though evidently not convicted) of a major insurance fraud.
She had also made her husband a signatory to the charity's bank-account, even though he held no official position with Facilitate.
[The Record being the Record, some of its accusations against Betty were probably equally false. For example, it accused her of having invented a story that she was an ordained minister in order to counsel people under false pretences - but Betty is overwheeningly, obsessively Christian and as such probably is a minister.]
I don't really doubt that Betty did genuinely love Eric and was devastated by his death: and her really excessive religiosity etc., combined with the fact that she was admitted to a psychiatric ward within days of making her June 2000 accusation against Eric, suggests she is mentally ill (possibly with some variant of Munchausen's Syndrome), rather than the cold-blooded deliberate liar that the Record assumes. But it certainly demonstrates that her reported claim that she had seen film of Eric abusing a child, and that this had caused her to desert his cause shortly before his death - a thing of which there had been no visible sign at the time - was a complete fantasy.
Whether she is an intentional liar or a mentally-ill fantasist, if there is any truth in the Record's reports then clearly nothing Betty says can be trusted. It is therefore worth noting that this unreliable, Walter Mitty-ish character is a former Strathclyde police officer - as is her husband, who also appears to be somewhat shady.