The Evidence of Evidence
[I was going to set this bit out as a straightforward list of "For" and "Against", but I realized that that would be an invitation to unscrupulous tabloid-type people to quote the "Againsts" out of context. Hence the somewhat contorted sentences, which are intended to prevent such misuse.]
As regards the specific matter of the collection of extremely nasty paedophile pornography found in Eric's house, the Crown accepted absolutely that there was no question of this stuff belonging to Eric, and that it had been dumped on him by his abusers. Strathclyde Police stated that the gang who abused Eric had stored similar material at the home of at least one other victim.
[There is actually some doubt as to whether this was true, or whether this story was a cover-up for the fact that a member of the gang had told the police the tapes etc. were there, in order to shop another member in return for immunity from prosecution. But either way there was no doubt that it was one of Eric's abusers who cached this pornography in Eric's house.]
Eric insisted that the only time he had looked at the unpleasant material which had been dumped on him was at a police station, while helping to identify the people portrayed - and that far from enjoying it, he was entirely revolted, and the strain of having to see other boys being abused as he'd been triggered an acute mental breakdown. Dr Misra's professional opinion confirms this.
As regards the charge against Eric that he had once exposed himself in the presence of two underage boys (he being in his early 20s at the time) and had taken, or caused to be taken, two "more vulgar than sexual" photographs of himself with these boys, one source described the pose as "flashing" - but I am reliably informed that they in fact showed all three lads "doing a moony".
Eric himself insisted that these photographs had been taken by Francis Currens, one of his abusers. The prosecution interviewed the two boys and does not seem ever to have claimed that the boys themselves said Eric had taken the shots - it reported only that neither boy had any complaint against Eric, and one couldn't remember the incident.
Since one of the shots showed the two boys but not Eric, and the other showed Eric and only one boy, the prosecution's suggestion was that Eric had taken one picture himself and had asked one of the boys to take the other. This was technically possible - but if the boys themselves had confirmed it the prosecution would presumably have said so. Since it didn't say so, this implies that the boys confirmed Eric's claim that the shots had been taken by Currens. Eric himself said that he had been ordered to pose with one boy while the other "watched and laughed".
These photographs were found on an undeveloped film and then developed by the police - so there was certainly no question of Eric having used them for any sexual purpose. He himself said he thought this film had never even been in his house - not even as part of the material dumped on him by his abusers - but had been found at Currens' house and become mixed in with stuff from his own house only at the police station. Since the two men - Cullen and Currens - had almost the same surname and were being investigated by the same team such a mix-up could occur quite innocently.
Examination of the other photographs on the film might have shown who had taken them. If there had been anything there which indicated that the film had been shot by Eric - any scenes of his family or house - that would have been produced as evidence against him. Since there was no mention of it, the other shots (if any) must either have been unplaceable or actively associated with Currens.
In any case, even if Eric had taken these shots, mooning is part of Scottish culture - especially for students - and is accepted as mere horseplay with no real sexual overtones. If you say to most Scots that Eric was convicted of taking two "indecent" photographs they looked shocked and revolted - if you say he was convicted of taking two photographs showing himself and two other lads mooning they look blank and say "What's wrong with that?"
As regarded the 15-second scene of boys dressing which Eric had included in film of a Boys' Brigade weekend, and which the court adjudged to be "lewd", this tape was made with the intention that it would be shown publicly at Christmas - so it was vanishingly unlikely that Eric would knowingly have included a lewd interlude. Everyone concerned, including all the boys, swore the tape was completely innocent. This 15-second clip was the only item out of hundreds of hours of video tape belonging to Eric himself which the police considered to be in any way suspect.
The film did zoom in and out on an undressed boy who walked across in front of the camera - but it did so in a peculiar, flickering way which is absolutely characteristic of an autofocus camcorder focusing all by itself (Eric had extremely poor sight, so was more likely than most people just to rely on the autofocus). The woman running the camp was with Eric at the time and said he was chivvying the boys to hurry and not really paying attention to what he was filming. She made a sworn deposition to the police that she could see nothing sexual in the tape whatsoever - and she wasn't saying this out of friendship for Eric, since she rather disliked him.
As regarded a collection of legal but slightly dubious photographs of boys' fully-clothed behinds, which were said to have been found at Eric's house, the Crown accepted that these were part of the material belonging to Eric's abusers. The Daily Record, however, very prominently reported them as belonging to Eric, and even as having been taken by him - so it may be worth going through the reasons why the Crown's version of events was more probable than the Record's.
The Record reported its anonymous police contact as saying that Strathclyde Police believed Eric was the owner of these photographs and might have taken them. However, The Herald reported that its police contact said the police had identified the boys concerned and confirmed that none of them had even met Eric. [Note for non-Scots: The Herald is one of the most heavyweight papers in Britain. The Daily Record is a fairly low-grade tabloid: it does have some pretensions to covering real news, but is notorious in the newspaper industry for publishing front-page stories which are either complete inventions, wild exaggerations, or years-old news dressed up and presented as a "hot exclusive".]
Since the Record says that its anonymous contact was a senior policeman involved in the investigation into Eric, this automatically means that he was one of those whom Eric was suing for malpractice and incompetence - therefore, a biased source with a vested interest in discrediting Eric.
Although Strathclyde Police showed these photographs to people (including Eric's own lawyer) as having been found mixed in among Eric's own photographs, they had distinctive production marks which indicated they were of different origin to those photographs known to have been taken by Eric, and the Crown later accepted that they were part of the material dumped on Eric by his abusers.
As I understand it the production-marks on these photographs indicated that they had been developed by the police: that is, like the "mooning" shots they had been found on undeveloped film. Given that The Herald's source said that the police had established that Eric had not taken these photographs, and the Crown accepted that he did not own them, far from being evidence against Eric they actually support his version of events. The existence of a series of undeveloped photographs of boys' rear views which the Crown accepted had been taken by Eric's abusers makes it highly likely that the undeveloped "mooning" shots were part of the same set, and Eric was simply one of the many lads who had been made to pose for them.
There was one minor incident, much hyped by the Daily Record, in which Eric was deliberately compromized by his abusers by being forced to shoot a mildly off-colour film involving two sleeping boys, who were not touched in any way nor aware of being filmed. Despite the Record's hysteria there's no doubt Eric was forced into doing this, as another victim of the same group has confirmed Eric's explanation that he was terrorized into it, with great brutality.
This occurred only days before Eric's abusers dumped their porn tapes on him, and was clearly intended to reinforce their control over him. As such, it demonstrates that he was not corrupted by his abusers, nor had become a fellow-traveller of theirs. If they felt they had to terrorize him, crush his spirit and establish a specific blackmail hold over him before leaving him in possession of tapes which incriminated themselves, clearly they were afraid that without this extra hold he'd go straight to the police the instant he was in possession of concrete evidence against them.
In fact, given that there's no doubt Eric had to be brutally forced into compromizing himself, it's a kind of accolade and a proof of his innocence. If he'd been any sort of pervert himself he wouldn't have needed to be forced into such a minor offence. Plus, it's very common for abusers to force their victims to abuse each other - to commit very serious offences - and Eric's abusers had done so with others of their victims. If the worst they could make Eric do was something so minor, at a time when they wanted to compromize him as badly as they could, then he was holding out remarkably well.
That leaves the question of why - if there really was no evidence against Eric - he was ever prosecuted. Technically it was an offence for Eric to be in possession of child pornography even with no motive except terror of his abusers; an offence for a student in his early twenties to "moon" in the presence of an underage boy even on someone else's orders; probably an offence for an almost partially-sighted man to film a putatively "lewd" 15-second clip by waving an autofocus camera around without paying attention to what it was pointing at. None of these things had anything to do with Eric's own sexual behaviour or made him any threat to anybody, but the Crown Prosecution Service only seems to look at whether it can get a conviction - not at whether doing so will serve any useful purpose.
Then, there seemed to be an assumption that just because Eric had been abused, behaviours that would be seen as innocent in anyone else (e.g. mooning) must be sexualized. This is probably a result of the myth that abuse victims are very likely to become abusers themselves.
[A high proportion of abusers have been abuse-victims: but since abusers tend to have multiple victims, if more than a small proportion of those victims became abusers themselves the proportion of child-abusers in the population would increase exponentially. Fortunately this is not the case. Plus, there is a risk that children who have been abused by their own parents or other main carers from an early age will grow up to be abusers in turn, because children learn most of their behaviours from their parents at an early age: but Eric had excellent (adoptive) parents, was abused by someone outwith his immediate family, and was almost an adult, with a well-formed character and behaviour-patterns, before the abuse even started.]
Once Strathclyde Police started to see Eric as a suspect, that led them to make sinister assumptions about things which would normally be considered completely innocent. E.g., they saw that Eric had a computer, and assumed that meant he was linked up to a porn ring on the Internet - using an elderly single-function Amstrad word-processor and no modem.
They found he had a list of names and assumed these must be paedophile contacts - it proved to be the guest-list for a party he was throwing for his parents' wedding anniversary. They saw he owned two videos and assumed he was running off illegal films - even though neither machine worked; saw that he owned a vibrator and assumed he must therefore be a "gay pervert" (as one tabloid fragrantly had it) - even though he had won it in a raffle at the King's Theatre in front of numerous witnesses, and in any case was known to have an active (heterosexual) sex-life.
No-one under normal circumstances would think that the mere fact that someone owned an ancient word-processor (or even - shock-horror - a proper PC) and two clapped-out video-recorders was evidence that they were a pervert. But the reasoning seemed to be "He's an abuse-victim - so he must be warped - so everything he does must be to do with sex".
Then, Eric himself said that people were more willing to believe that he was a pervert because they saw him as the rather sleazy Wee Burney.
Then, many people (especially in the press) get great excitement from bagging a celebrity scalp. It's a sort of ritual cannibalism, a way of "eating" the famous person's virtue (in the old sense: their perceived power and glamour) - a minor form of the psychosis that made someone kill John Lennon just to go down in history as the man who killed John Lennon.
Also, Eric was very nervous of men he didn't know well (with justification: since his abusers used to take his glasses off so he couldn't see who was assaulting him, any strange man older than himself could be someone who had raped him). But since he also had a powerful personality it probably made him abrasive towards the police rather than meek.
Also, Strathclyde Police are notoriously homophobic - and such men usually assume that a man who's been raped must be gay himself (Eric was heavily into women - and vice versa), and are prejudiced against him accordingly. If they knew Eric hated football and was keen on classical ballet that would have put the tin lid on it.
Strathclyde Police have an established pattern of believing that if they suspect anybody that suspicion in itself proves that they are guilty, and it is therefore their duty to get a conviction by any means - even if that means bullying a desperately ill psychiatric patient into pleading guilty to things which the evidence strongly indicates he did not in fact do.
Above all, if the police/CPS admitted that the investigation into Eric had found no sensible evidence against him, they would also be admitting that Eric was telling the truth about his abusers; and that they had frittered away two years investigating the precise circumstances under which a college boy had once done a moony, whilst allowing a gang of sadistic rapists to continue wrecking children's lives.
Therefore, they couldn't afford to admit - perhaps even to themselves - that Eric was a victim and not a villain. This is born out by the fact that a senior policeman on the case reportedly told the Daily Record that the police had fully investigated Eric's claim that he had been abused, and had found no corroboration. According to the Lord Advocate [note for non-Scots - this is the most senior lawyer in Scotland] no investigation into Eric's allegations had taken place at that time: and when one was eventually made it found ample corroboration.
Strathclyde Police and/or the CPS certainly couldn't afford to admit that Eric was telling the truth about his abusers and that they had failed to act on his accusations if - as the evidence rather suggests - the reason they had failed to act was because they had promised one of those abusers immunity from prosecution.
Eric's problem was specifically with the police at Hamilton, but I should perhaps explain, for the benefit of non-Scots, that Strathclyde Police in general are not the Force's finest (at least, one sincerely hopes not!). When they hit the headlines it is not, generally, because of some crime they have solved but some crime or other malpractice they have committed: because they have carried out a racist assault; or killed somebody by recklessly aggressive driving; or turned a blind eye to gangs of vicious gay-bashers until they beat someone to death.
Perhaps the quintessential Strathclyde-Police-in-the-news story, which occurred in the early 1990s (? or thereabouts), concerned an officer who accosted a youth who was flyposting: this was illegal, so the officer was within his rights to arrest him - but not to bang his head repeatedly on the pavement and tell him that that's what happens to uppity black boys (this lad was a university student, and sued his attacker blind). More recently, in an almost equally classic incident, a Strathclyde officer became over-excited during an arrest and punched a bystander in the face, as a result of which she suffered an epileptic fit and had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance.
Reports in the last few years include the Stuart Gair case, a cause célèbre in which, following Gair's conviction for the murder of a male prostitute in Glasgow, all the significant witnesses subsequently came forward to swear that Strathclyde Police had bullied them into lying in court, and had in fact written their "evidence" for them and told them what to say (after 11 years in prison Gair was finally released in September 2000, pending an appeal); a Strathclyde policeman charged with the assault and robbery of an elderly couple; a senior Strathclyde officer relocated after repeated extreme sexual harassment of W.P.C's; a high-profile case involving another Strathclyde policeman who used to hammer on the bible while screaming racial abuse against an Asian subordinate, and who was likewise shuffled sideways and allowed to continue working (even though he was obviously irrational, unstable and aggressive); and a group of Strathclyde officers who got roaring drunk and into a bar-fight while on duty and in uniform.
This is not an exhaustive list. In June 1999, when I was setting up this website, there were two such incidents within a few days of each other.
In the first a Strathclyde officer was accused of severely beating a pensioner with whom he had been having a "neighbours from Hell" dispute. Charges were dropped - on the basis of his statement that the beating had been administered not by him but by a second Strathclyde officer...
In the second incident, an 89-year-old, partially-sighted Asian man was attacked by racist thugs and beaten so badly that he lost an eye. Strathclyde Police, on being called to the scene, got him to sign a paper saying he didn't want to make a statement - without calling for an interpreter, even though the victim had little English and probably didn't know what he was signing. They then failed either to call an ambulance or to help this almost blind man to find his glasses and white stick. They then refused his request to take him home, and instead sent him back to his family on a public bus on his own - seriously injured and covered with blood.
Aside from the question of why he was ever charged, the other obvious questions are why Eric didn't go to the police himself, especially once he had his abusers' tapes as evidence, and why he would have plead guilty if he wasn't.
As regards not going to the police, Eric had every reason to fear what "punishment" his abusers would give him if they found out - they might even kill him (probably as unpleasantly as possible). In any case, for fifteen years he had been very heavily conditioned to believe that he was dirty, unworthy and completely helpless to take any action against them.
He knew that if he revealed what had been happening to him the press might get hold of it and make it hideously public. Apart from the sheer embarrassment, he wanted to protect his parents from learning what had been done to their beloved son - and his abusers had convinced him that everyone would recoil from him in disgust once they knew. He felt guilty and contaminated because his abusers had made him part of their dark world, even though his rôle in "that scene" had been solely that of unwilling slave.
To do anything as pro-active as taking the tapes etc. to the police he would first have had to think about this stuff, and then think about and describe being gang-raped to a complete stranger. That's quite apart from the fact that his abusers had deliberately compromized him, so that if he did go to the police he would have to get into some very complicated explanations.
Much later, when he was in reasonably good mental health and surrounded by loving friends, the stress of having to remember his abuse in detail while giving evidence drove him to take an overdose. At this point, isolated and miserable, he would probably have had a panic-attack and collapsed at the mere idea - or at the mere thought of his abusers' tapes, which brought back nightmare memories of having been forced to pose for such images himself.
Above all, he was paralyzed by clinical depression - overwhelmed by horror and misery, and quite unable to take control of the ghastly situation he had been landed in by his uncle and his uncle's gruesome cronies.
As to why he would have pled guilty if he wasn't, the basic answer is that he was bullied into it at a time when he wasn't fit to plead.
He was, for example, told that if he refused to plead guilty the case wouldn't come to court for another whole year; and that if he insisted Currens took the mooning shots then he would be cross-examined by Currens himself in court. He was told he would not be allowed to plead guilty to only two of the four charges - it was all or none, so if he continued to insist that e.g. he had had no sexual motive for making the BB tape then he would be regarded as pleading not guilty to having his abusers' sick tapes in his house, and these would then be shown in court as evidence, in his presence.
Having to watch these images at the police station - images of his abusers treating other boys the way they had treated him - had already destroyed all the defence mechanisms which had kept him sane; so the threat of being forced to look at what he called "this filth" again was psychological torture. And if he had fought the case he would have had to remember and describe his abuse in detail - things he found agonizingly difficult to speak about even to friends, let alone to strangers, in public, in a hostile situation.
Dr Misra has stated his belief that Eric pled guilty because he was just too exhausted and ill with depression to fight it. As Eric's friend journalist (now MSP) Dorothy Grace Elder put it, "... he'd been so broken on the wheel that he would literally have pled guilty to anything...".
In any case, for fifteen years Eric had been conditioned just to give in and do as he was told when anyone threatened him - having learned the hard way that all that fighting back would get him was worse hurt.
Further to the above, in June 2000 the Sunday Mail - sister-publication to the dubious Daily Record - turned up with a story headed "WEE BURNEY... THE VILE TRUTH" which purported 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 discovered that he was really a child-abuser - that she saw a film of Eric abusing a boy of about 12 - and thereafter deserted his cause absolutely. Supposedly, she had just learned that Eric's friend Bill McFarlan was working on a book which would portray Eric as innocent, and her conscience would not allow her to keep silent any longer.
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 there had been a real film of Eric abusing a boy it wouldn't have proved he was a pervert, since it is sadly extremely common for abusers to force their victims to abuse each other; nor had there been any indication of how old Eric himself was supposed to be in this film. But it would have raised big questions about Eric's honesty, since he had told friends he had never committed abuse, even under orders.
However, it subsequently became apparent that Betty Maxwell Carter has severe mental-health problems and a history of inventing dramatic, untrue stories. E.g., according to press reports she dramatized her involvement with a charity called Facilitate, which supports young people with suicidal tendencies, by inventing a quite imaginary brother who committed suicide; and showed the press a photograph which was suposedly of this dead brother but in fact showed someone completely different, alive, and not related to her in any way. She is supected of having made up one of her supposed fellow committee members, and signed false signatures (including her own contract of employment) on behalf of this imaginary associate.
Her reported claim that she had found out that Eric was an abuser, and had therefore deserted his cause just before his death, had been obviously inconsistent right from the first - since there had been no such breach between them. Au contraire, she read the eulogy at Eric's funeral - and I remember her afterwards, white, dazed and shaking and babbling that he had won all his battles - and continued to fight for his reputation for years after his death. She also knew about Bill's planned book for four years before the Sunday Mail article appeared. In the light of later developments, it's clear the whole story about her seeing incriminating film of Eric etc. was just one of her bouts of losing touch with reality.
With or without Betty's little fantasy, the Sunday Mail's version of events was actually not nearly so damning as it tried to make it sound. If one takes away the obvious journalistic colour - the bits where they make statements about people's private thoughts which they couldn't possibly know - there's very little in it. Even if everything the paper claimed was said by its interviewees really was said (which is a very big "if" indeed), it didn't really add up to much.
[In case anyone thinks I'm exaggerating/being paranoid by suggesting that the paper's interviewees might not have said anything like what they are reported to have said, consider the following. In summer 1999 The Big Issue in Scotland - one of the most serious-minded and reliable papers in Britain - interviewed me about this website. Since this is an unusually honest publication there was actually nothing in the resultant article which I would disagree with - the sentiments expressed were fine. But it included what was supposed to be a longish verbatim quote from me - supposedly my actual words - and, I kid you not, the only words in it which were mine were "Eric", "was" and "and". Acording to them, I said "Eric was no pervert, and everyone should know that." What I actually said was "It cannot be stressed too loudly or too often that Eric was not, and was not convicted of being, and was not charged with being a user of child-pornography".]
The paper claimed that while Eric was on a Children's Panel he kept photographic copies of accounts by children who had been sexually abused. The Sunday Mail did its best to put a sinister spin on this, claiming he had made these copies in order to share them with his abusers, and that he had joined the Children's Panel for that very reason; but the only way anyone could possibly have evidence that Eric made these copies for a sexual purpose would be if they were found with the pornographic material which even the prosecution said belonged to one of his abusers - or were not in his possession at all but in the hands of one of those abusers. In which case it would presumably be something he was forced into against his will. He was still being routinely abused at the time he joined the Children's Panel, and if it was a case of "Copy those notes for us or we'll torture you" he might have done as he was told.
However, the Sunday Mail itself then went on to quote Francis Currens, one of Eric's three main abusers, commenting on this in surprized tones which, if accurate, make it plain it was all news to him. He supposedly said that Eric had always claimed he couldn't even use a video, let alone use a camera for something so complex - which, if true, clearly shows that Eric's abusers had tried to make him do something for them involving a video, and he had flanelled his way out of it by claiming he didn't know how to. Far from being Currens's willing collaborator as the paper wants us to believe, this shows Eric being as uncooperative as he could get away with without getting beaten to a pulp.
Clearly, any use Eric might have had for such copies was a private one, not shared with his abusers. Eric, who had a degree in psychology, was planning to write a thesis on sexual development: so if he did keep copies of accounts by other abuse victims they will just have been case studies to use in his work. It's common for abuse victims to want to turn their suffering into an academic study as a way of reasserting control over their own bad memories: also common for them to want to look at accounts by other victims, in order to put their own experiences into perspective.
Indeed, Eric himself stated publicly that he had joined the Children's Panel partly to further his studies in psychology.
There's nothing at all suspicious about it. The police may well have assumed there was something suspicious and sexual about it: but they also assumed that because Eric had a list of names these must be his contacts in a paedophile ring (it was the guest-list for a party he was throwing for his parents); and that because he had a computer he must be hooked up to a porno-ring on the Internet (using a single-function Amstrad wordprocessor and no modem).
We were told that Currens had seen film of Eric committing a minor indecency. This film/incident actually is evidence for Eric's innocence - since I understand that another victim of the same gang has confirmed that Eric was forced into it by his abusers in order to compromize him, and that it needed great violence to make him obey. If he'd been an abuser in his own right as the Sunday Mail claimed, he wouldn't have needed to be forced. And one certainly would expect Currens to be aware of this miserable little incident, since the threat of being abused again by Currens was one of the things used to make Eric do as he was told.
Typically, the Sunday Mail‘s version of this incident is made to sound as melodramatic as possible; and it includes a lot of detail about e.g. about other people’s reactions to it, which could not possibly have been known to Currens. If the paper didn't just make it up then it could really only have come from the police.
During and after Eric's court-case the Record repeatedly printed information it claimed to have got from an anonymous "senior detective close to the inquiry". This information came to them via a reporter who was later himself arrested (though not convicted) on drugs charges, and most of it was either very distorted or flatly untrue. For example, according to this anonymous source the police had fully investigated Eric's claim that he had been abused and had found no corroboration. According to the Lord Advocate himself this was a flat lie: no investigation into Eric's allegations had been made at that time, and when one was made later it found ample corroboration. So the Record/Sunday Mail's anonymous police contact is known to be unreliable.
The Record's unreliable anonymous senior policeman is probably DI Steve Heath, the leader of the team investigating Eric. We know this because the paper slipped up and printed the same statement twice, once attributed to DI Heath and once to its anonymous contact. We know that DI Heath is himself an unreliable source because it was he who made the statement that Eric's allegations of abuse had been investigated - which the Lord Advocate himself says was a lie. I understand it was also DI Heath who misled the press by telling them that the link between Eric and Currens was that the two had "met in a gents' lavatory" - deliberately giving the impression that Eric had been an adult gay man cruising for sex, when in fact Eric had been fourteen and in school uniform at the time, and had been taken to the said gents' lavatory by his uncle so Currens could rape him. Both statements were made at a press briefing given by DI Heath - an illegal briefing on a sub judice case, as a result of which the Lord Advocate had to instruct Strathclyde Police that they were never under any circumstances to do anything like it ever again.
So we know that the Sunday Mail/Daily Record's anonymous source is unreliable and fed the press distorted and inaccurate information about Eric. We know that DI Heath fed the press distorted and inaccurate information about Eric - and we know that DI Heath and the papers' anonymous source are probably one and the same. DI Heath certainly has strong personal reasons for wanting to discredit Eric and Eric's supporters, because at the time of his death Eric was suing him for incompetence and malpractice; and Eric's friends the McFarlans were working on a book which would make the extent of DI Heath's incompetence plain. DI Heath is also at the centre of allegations that the police deliberately refused to investigate the man Eric said was the ringleader and worst of his abusers - leaving an alleged serial rapist and torturer of young children free to continue raping his way around Greater Glasgow.
The mere fact that the paper has this information (however exaggerated) indicates that much of the article is based on material fed to them by their anonymous police contact - who has already shown himself to be a liar. Quite apart from Betty Maxwell Carter's colourful inventions, it seems clear that the Sunday Mail got much of its story from a proveably unreliable source with a strong personal need to discredit Eric - so anything coming from that source should be taken with a very large pinch of salt. Indeed, under the circumstances it seems likely the entire article was sparked off by this dubious police contact - in order to cover up malpractices by the police, and discredit a book which would detail their continued failure to act on evidence about an organized paedophile ring operating on the east side of Glasgow.
We are told that Eric (who in fact had a great enthusiasm for adult women) supposedly said to Currens that he had "a boy in every town". The important thing to note here is that Eric was an intensely sarcastic man who could rarely resist a good punchline if it occurred to him. It would be a rather sick joke - but he was in a sick situation, and it is normal for people in a very stressful situation (such as surgeons, soldiers or policemen) to develop a callous humour about it as a defence-mechanism.
We are told that Eric once asked to see two boys who had been abused by Currens, and Currens admits he doesn't know why or what passed between them. Evidently whatever Eric was up to he didn't want Currens to know about it - whereas men who really are paedophiles seem to glory in boasting of the details to each other. Given Eric's subsequent behaviour he was probably warning the boys to get well away from Currens while they still could.
It is claimed that Currens says Eric was an abuser. But even if he said anything much like what he is reported to have said - which is questionable - even the Sunday Mail says Eric insisted he was forced into anything dubious he might have done - and Currens was the person he said forced him! It's like, Guy A accuses Guy B of being a murderer, and then the paper interviews Guy B on the subject of whether or not Guy A is truthful... and blithely takes his word for it.
Furthermore it was previously reported (by a very much more heavyweight paper than the Sunday Mail) that Currens had assured the Fiscal that Eric had never been an abuser in any way, shape or form, and was involved with child pornography etc. only as victim and subject. He was also reported to have expressed a wish to apologize to Eric for what he had done to him.
If Currens did know Eric to be an abuser it would have to be based on something more substantial than one bad-taste joke and Eric having once seen two boys in private and Currens not knowing why. If he did know something serious he would presumably have told the Sunday Mail, and the Sunday Mail would have printed it. After 15 years of Currens abusing Eric, if the worst evidence he and the paper between them could produce against Eric was one sarcastic crack and he-once-asked-to-see-two-boys-privately-and-I-don't-know-why, then there was nothing to find.
The idea that Currens could "know" Eric to be an abuser and yet be unable to produce any evidence for it makes no sense. The idea that he could know Eric was guilty and yet assure the Fiscal of Eric's complete innocence, at a time when Eric was giving evidence against him, makes no sense. At least, I suppose he might have done so, and expressed a desire to apologize to Eric for what he had done to him, just to make himself sound like a reformed character - but if that was the case, why would he publicly change his story at a time when he himself was getting close to being eligible for parole?
However, if Currens did say to the Sunday Mail anything much like what the Sunday Mail says he says, the following scenario makes perfect sense of it.
Currens originally told the Fiscal that as far as he knew Eric had never been an abuser, because he knew he and others had tried and failed to force Eric to commit abuse - and perhaps he genuinely did feel bad about what he had done to Eric, since he had been on Peterhead Prison's STOP programme which teaches abusers to understand the effects of their actions on their victims. The Sunday Mail's reporter then told him that Eric had made copies of accounts by abuse-victims (neither of them being aware that these were case-studies for Eric's thesis), and that Eric's friend Betty Maxwell Carter had said she had seen film of Eric committing abuse (neither of them knowing that Betty was a Walter-Mitty-esque fantasist).
Currens, knowing Eric hadn't been forced into committing abuse by his abusers, and believing Betty must be telling the truth because she was a friend of Eric's and he didn't know any reason why she would lie, assumed from this that Eric had committed abuse and had done so of his own free will - and that Eric had made a fool of him by convincing him of his innocence. He therefore fished through his memories of Eric for anything which might seem at all suspicious and might fit in with that. And all he could find was one bad joke and he-once-asked-to-see-two-boys-privately-and-I-don't-know-why...
The only thing in the article which is even potentially, remotely suspicious relates to the incident of the photo's showing Eric (in his early twenties) and two younger boys "mooning". It is claimed by the paper that Eric offered one of the boys a bribe so they might touch each other - a detail which is inconsistent with the statements made by the prosecution at the time.
According to the Sunday Mail, if Eric had not pled guilty one of the boys would have given evidence against him - evidence that Eric had offered him a bribe to touch him. This is at odds with the summing up in the Court of Appeal, which was that neither boy had any complaint against Eric and one couldn't even remember the incident, and that the offences of which Eric had been accused involved no physical contact.
Who, in any case, would know what the boys would have said in court - or would be in a position to convince the paper that they knew? It's not likely the paper got this from the prosecution team, since they said neither boy had any complaint. It's so far from anything that was ever said before that one wonders, in fact, if it came from Betty Maxwell Carter, and is just another of her little fancies. If not then it must have come from the paper's anonymous police contact - who is almost as unreliable as Betty, for reasons which are saner but more venal.
Even if this accusation were true, its significance depends on whether or not Eric was telling the truth when he said Currens was present, and he was simply following Currens's orders because he was too scared and cowed to argue. Neither the paper, nor the police, nor the prosecution ever says whether or not the boys confirmed Eric's claim that there was another, older man present calling the shots - which probably means they know the answer, and it doesn't suit them to admit to it because it confirms Eric's story.
[Also, although it's true people sometimes do crazy things, it seems at least unlikely that Eric would have said Currens was present and took the photographs etc. if it wasn't so. If it was a lie it's a lie he would be caught out in as soon as the police interviewed the two boys - so it would be a foolish and a pointless lie, and Eric wasn't usually a fool. OK, Eric's friend Betty tells foolish lies like that - but Betty is known to be mentally ill, whereas Eric had a clean bill of health from one of the top psychiatrists in Britain. He was traumatized, but he wasn't in any way mad.]
In any case, it has to be nonsense for the Sunday Mail to claim that Eric was a cynical, lying villain, concealing from his supporters the “fact” that he was an habitual child-abuser - not unless he was floridly insane or a full multiple personality, either of which his psychiatrist (one of the foremost experts on sex offenders and their victims in Britain, who has stated publicly that Eric showed no trace of any perversion whatsoever) would have noticed.
If Eric had been a deliberate, habitual child-abuser as portrayed by the paper, then he would have got off very lightly by only being convicted of such minor charges. It would have been truly insane to do as he did and keep bringing the matter of the abuse to public and legal attention, risking disclosure of his own perversion with every breath - rather than just lying low and letting it all blow over. According to the Sunday Mail we are supposed to believe that Eric’s abusers had damning evidence against him which they could have revealed at any time - and that nevertheless Eric did everything in his power to get the police to investigate and interview them, and to confront them in court himself!
It wasn't even as if he needed to clear his name in order to get work - since he was already being offered parts and auditions for parts, and in any case had pretty-much decided to chuck acting, and was all set to go back to university. The only sane explanation for Eric's high-profile campaign against his abusers is that he was absolutely sincere in his desire to protect children from such men, and in his willingness to go through psychological agonies to do so.
It was stated by the Crown that an extensive police investigation had absolutely cleared Eric of any suggestion that he was a child-abuser. If he had been as the Sunday Mail supposes, the police would have to have been incredibly incompetent to have missed it... of course they were incredibly incompetent, but at the same time they were trying to pin everything on Eric that they could possibly scrape together, so if there had been any pattern of abusive behaviour by him they would presumably have found it.
Also, insofar as there is a child-abusing "type" Eric was signally not it, since abusers are nearly always people who have problems forming close social/emotional relationships, especially with adult women - whereas Eric had an absolute genius for close social/emotional relationships, especially with adult women (see The Evidence of Character). He was reported to have made a remark about having thrown himself into work for the Boys' Brigade etc. because it was "anything to keep me away from that scene", which could be taken to mean his abusers may have tried to turn him into one of them: but if so it didn't work and he was struggling to get away.
Unless he was truly mad - and Eric was the sanest person I’ve ever met, despite his shattered nerves - his determination to return to court in order to confront his abusers with the details of his past shows he didn’t have anything very wicked to hide.