Editor preface: As the BBC looks set to make money out of telling the Jimmy Savile story, the issue of historic child sex abuse is back in the spotlight.
Amongst the very many lies, obfuscations and offensive statements made by Boris Johnson in the course of his political career, perhaps the most hideous and reprehensible was his claim that investigating cases of child sex abuse brought by survivors later in life would be “spaffing money up the wall”. ‘Spaffing’ has now been normalised as a word to describe waste/squander – bad enough in itself in this context – but Johnson almost certainly used it in its schoolboy slang, sexual context.
Whilst Johnson came under fire for the crassness and insensitivity of his comments, prefaced as they were by his suggestion that “an awful lot of police time is being spent looking at historical offences and all this malarkey”, the scale of opposition was nowhere near enough to lead to an apology or for calls for his resignation.
However, one person at least won’t rest until the member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip says, simply: “Sorry – it was a shocking thing to say.”
That person is Clare Sheahan or ‘Sunnyclaribel’ as she is known to thousands of supporters on Twitter:
“I was a happy-go-lucky child and loved playing with friends. Sadly, my lovely father died when I was only four years old, but my wonderful mother did her best to bring up six children under eleven years of age, with little help. She wasn’t just my mother; she was my best friend.
“At the age of ten my peace of mind and life ahead changed forever. No longer a happy-go-lucky child, but sullen, quiet and deep into my shell.
“I stayed at a friend’s house and, unbeknown to my mother, my friend’s father was a paedophile. I had a two-week stay and on the first night he came into my bedroom in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted me. I wanted to scream and scratch his face, but all I could think about was what would happen to my best friend and all his other children. Maybe they’d be taken away and that would be my fault, so I kept silent, even though my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going to die.
“I reported the paedophile later in life. Sadly, he was dying so I couldn’t get him into court. I speak out on Twitter in the hope it will help others come forward, rather than taking the horror to their graves, as so many children have done.
“The hardest thing in my life was burying my wonderful mother. Second hardest was walking into a police station to report the paedophile.
“Boris Johnson saying on the radio that spending money investigating child sex abuse survivors coming forward later in life was ‘spaffing money up the wall’ was one of the most disgusting/vomit-inducing comments I have ever heard. And the fact it came from a Member of Parliament, who obviously should know better, is outrageous.
“I discussed Boris Johnson’s ‘political opinion’ with a wonderfully brave friend of mine, who was raped as a little boy whilst in care and ended up on the streets, and I burst out crying. Johnson’s words were like a slap in the face to me.
“I can fully understand the thousands of perverts out there having that political opinion, but for a Member of Parliament to express such a view? I find that mind-blowing.
“I am sad to say, there are thousands of individuals like me, victims of abuse. I freeze if I see someone who looks like the paedophile who assaulted me. I freeze if anyone says ‘I’ll be back’, as it is the last thing he said when leaving my bedroom after the assault. Flashbacks every day. Nightmares.
“By law, we are all entitled to seek justice when a crime is committed against us. I would like Boris Johnson to tell every person in the country why he doesn’t think that applies to brave child sex abuse survivors coming forward for justice, support and, hopefully, some form of closure.
“How many individuals have to tell him he should make a grovelling apology before that happens? If he had an ounce of decency, he would have done that a long time ago.
“Over to Boris Johnson to respond, if he ever finds a backbone. I won’t be holding my breath on that one, but I’ll keep on asking. Will you join me?”
When Clare made a statement to the police about the paedophile who assaulted her as a child, she finished off by saying she wouldn’t forgive the perpetrator for as long as she lived. Now she says the same about Boris Johnson.
“What is really needed is facing a stark reality. A paedophile will always be a paedophile and sexually attracted to children. That will not change, unless a miracle happens. They will always be out there.
“Every child deserves a childhood they want to remember and it’s about time their ‘human rights’ came into play. It used to be a subject swept under the carpet, because it is such a revolting topic. Survivors are now coming forward in bucket loads, but lots of them are let down and must wonder why they bothered.
“There has to come a time when the government and the justice system say enough is enough, get off their arses and come down hard on these offenders. Words do little, it is action that is needed, a stronger government, a justice system that works.
“We need MPs who really want to make a difference. People who suspect a child or children are being sexually abused coming forward, instead of feeling awkward if they are wrong. Parents looking out for a sudden change in the behaviour of their child. Be that person who makes a difference in children’s lives. Don’t wait for others to do it.”
As Clare has pointed out many times:
“If every MP had experienced the absolute terror a child feels when assaulted by a paedophile, there would be 650 people standing up for victims of abuse.”
What will YOU do?