As last week's horrifying news from France dominated the European and global news cycles, much of the media's attention toward the growing allegations of British political elite being involved in a ring of child rape has notably subsided. Online, however, a group of activists—some associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous—have been pushing for more attention to be brought to this deeply unsettling issue percolating in the UK. Their efforts are being organized under the hashtag banner of #OpDeathEaters.
In December, Scotland Yard made the shocking admission that new allegations pertaining to the rape and murder of young boys by so-called VIPs in Britain's political world are true.
A man who goes only by the pseudonym Nick came out to the media and the authorities to allege that he was the victim of rape and abuse by high-profile political figures in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. According to Kenny McDonald, the detective in charge of the investigation into Nick's claims, "Nick has been spoken to by experienced officers from the child abuse team and experienced officers from the murder investigation team. They and I believe what Nick is saying is credible and true."
Nick went on to tell the BBC that children who were swept up in this VIP ring were brutally abused, and would be attacked if they did not obey the men who were holding them hostage. He also describes what appears to have been a fairly brazen operation: "People who drove us around could come forward. Staff in some of the locations could come forward. There are so many people who must have had suspicions. We weren't smuggled in under a blanket through the back door. It was done openly and people must have questioned that and they need to come forward."
Just as Britain was processing the shocking news of child rape and murder by its political elite, in January, Prince Andrew was accused of having sex with a minor who alleges she was the "sex slave" of a billionaire. A lawsuit brought against the US Department of Justice by a woman named Virginia Roberts has alleged that Jeffrey Epstein—a disgraced financier and known friend of Prince Andrew who, in 2008, pleaded guilty to "felony solicitation and procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution"—had forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew.
Epstein himself is no stranger to allegations and lawsuits pertaining to sexual crimes involving children. Three 12-year-old girls were allegedly brought to Epstein from France as a "birthday gift." He has also been sued over a dozen times by girls who claim they were abused while underage, all of which were settled out of court. A former Palm Beach police chief whose department investigated Epstein in 2005, after complaints were brought to them by the parents of a 14-year-old girl, told the Daily Beastthat Epstein's case was "minimized by the State Attorney's Office, then bargained down by the US Department of Justice."
The core of Roberts's claim against the DOJ is that they should throw out the plea deal given to Epstein in 2007.
As for Prince Andrew, he and Buckingham Palace have categorically denied that Roberts's claims are true. He may even be immune to the lawsuit, as it was filed in American courts. Prime Minister David Cameron, however, has so far refused to defend Prince Andrew publicly.
A photograph of Prince Andrew, with his arm around a 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, has since appeared in various media outlets.
In her suit, Virginia Roberts claims she was used "for sexual purposes to many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister and other world leaders." Photographs have placed Stephen Hawking and Bill Clinton on Jeffrey Epstein's private island—which has been described as an "Island of Sin"—though no such allegations have been brought against either man.
VICE contacted Heather Marsh, an activist who, in her words, "set the objective [for #OpDeathEaters] and brought the initial research and story to the Internet where it has been taken up by Anonymous and others." Marsh does not identify as a member of Anonymous.
According to her, the central objective of #OpDeathEaters is to "establish independent, internationally linked, victim-led inquiries into high-level complicity, obstruction of justice, and cover-ups in the pedosadism and child-trafficking industries." Its targets are: "Those in positions of power who control or enable the industry, globally."
When asked about the media attention to this issue so far, Marsh rated it "ridiculously low," adding that this is "the biggest story to break in the UK in centuries."
She continued: "What media coverage there is from the more prominent outlets is a diversion instead of investigation. Media has consistently depicted the rape, torture, murder, abduction, and blackmail of children as 'child sex' or a 'sex scandal' and the child victims as 'prostitutes' or even 'rent boys.'"
The connection between Epstein and Prince Andrew, Marsh believes, "could potentially implicate members of the royal household and others in their circle in not just complicity in the crimes of child trafficking and rape but also in obstruction of justice and influence peddling in criminal networks."
To be clear, Prince Andrew is being accused of having sex with Roberts when she was a minor, who claims she was forced on him by Epstein as part of "an orgy with numerous other underaged girls." He's not being accused of child trafficking itself.
In critiquing the media coverage of the Prince Andrew allegations thus far, Marsh pointed out that it is often "presented as a 'salacious' story about 'Prince Andrew's personal life' instead of the matter of urgent public interest it is." She went on to say: "The equally urgent stories [about high-profile human trafficking rings] in other countries are also ignored in both their own and international media, and all of these stories are presented as isolated incidents instead of the interconnected global network of influence and potential blackmail they are part of."
While Marsh's claims of an "interconnected global network" of human trafficking by high-profile politicians and powerful figures are impossible to prove, it is true that much of the reporting on the Prince Andrew allegations fails to contextualize it against the Scotland Yard-approved claims of a British VIP child rape and murder syndicate, which, at the very least, is believed to have operated in the 1970s and 1980s.
Marsh told VICE that Britain's new #WeProtect internet filter, meant to keep child porn off the web, is also making research into this subject difficult for her counterparts in England. She also is very clear to distinguish the seriousness of the crimes of Epstein, the proven allegations against British VIPs in the 70s and 80s, and the potential wrongdoing of Prince Andrew, as different than just "lonely men in their basements," adding: "They were officials with drivers, security, an army of staff, secret services, courts and police covering for them and years of victims and they belonged to international networks."
When asked about the success of #OpDeathEaters thus far, Marsh told VICE: "My initial goals were to have a core group of researchers, journalists and activists accept the validity and scale of the story and begin looking further, to change the propaganda in the way the story was covered, and to have the momentum unstoppable by Christmas. I believe those things have been successful. Having this fairly unbelievable story widely accepted was the biggest hurdle, and one I had to bank all of my credibility on, but it is not questioned by anyone who has seen the data."
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