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A Live Wyre

"False Allegations Action Scotland" re: Ray Wyre, the "Expert"

Ray Wyre credited as a child protection expert and a sex crime consultant. He began his current career as a probation officer trained in social work in UK prisons, in his past he trained to become a Baptist Minister. It is during his time at HMS Albany, that Wyre began to branch away from accepted methods for handling those convicted of sex offences.

It was normal for a convicted person to meet on a one to one basis with the Probation Officer, Wyre chose instead to give 3 or 4 the same appointment, though he denied that he considered this to be a group. At the time, the Prison Officer's Association were unhappy with this, as they felt it introduced unnecessary risks to the meetings.

The value of group therapy in these situations is also disputed by research. It has been found in at least one study (Romero and Williams, 1983) that "the addition of group psychotherapy to conventional probation supervision did not significantly reduce sex offender recidivism".

Wyre continued to pursue his own methods and in the 1980's began to influence social work child protection practices more heavily. In 1988 he introduced the satanic ritual abuse (SRA) element to the large scale Nottingham case. Having been contacted by Tim Tate, journalist, Wyre passed on lists of 'satanic indicators' (lists of symptoms which are claimed to indicate the child has been a victim of SRA) to the children's foster parents. He also briefed them on what to look for, encouraging the foster parents to keep journals on the children's behaviour and anything the children discussed.

In the subsequent enquiry into the case, Wyre was heavily criticised for his actions and influence on the case. As the bizarre allegations became more and more fantastic, a rift formed between police investigating the case, who could find no evidence supporting the allegations, and the social workers, who were adamant that this abuse had occurred. Police refused to accept any further allegations, and refused to accept as evidence the journals that Wyre had urged the foster parents to keep.

A committed believer in the SRA movement, Ray Wyre continued to spread his beliefs, as did other workers swept up in the tide of hysteria. An associate of Wyre's, Pamela Klein, also lectured at joint training conferences for police and social workers on the subject of SRA. Originally from Illinois, and a rape crisis worker, Klein's activities had previously been criticised by an Illinois judge, who stated that she "was not a legitimate therapist" and that she was not licensed to practice.

Wyre and Klein both were instrumental in spreading the SRA movement through Australia and New Zealand. Klein's list of indicators included bedwetting, a fear of ghosts and nightmares. Four of those involved in the infamous McMartin pre-school scandal in the US, also targeted Australia and New Zealand. Almost immediately cases with strikingly similar allegations to those already seen in the US and UK sprang up.

Despite being criticised for his influence on the Nottingham case, and warnings that training workers to look for these indicators, and the methods used to elicit the desired responses from the interviewees were dangerous and should be stopped, Wyre continued.

In June 1994, another satanic ritual abuse case broke in Pembroke, Wales. It was revealed that workers in the case had attended a 3-day conference held by Wyre.

It was in 1988 that Wyre set up the Gracewell Clinic in Birmingham, the first clinic designed to treat men convicted of sex offences.

Men were referred to the Clinic for treatment following an assessment, it also required - as with all SOTPs (Sex Offender Treatment Program) - that the men voluntarily agree to receiving treatment, and that in doing so they admit guilt and responsibility for the offences of which they have been accused. In the case of a man who has been sentenced, a refusal to admit guilt and to participate in a treatment programme can see him returned to court and re-sentenced. A claim of innocence is never accepted as such, and instead is always considered as a denial by the accuser to accept what he did.

In 'Men and Crime', Issue 13, summer 1992, Wyre admitted that a form of treatment used at the Gracewell Clinic, was that of 'masturbation satiation'. A technique originally devised by W.L. Marshall, which makes us of deviant or illegal material as part of the therapy, and claimed by some to be effective in reducing re-offending. It is a form of therapy which any innocent man would likely find upsetting and disturbing.

Though alternative therapies such as electro-shock aversion and foul odour are reported to be successful, researchers want to see verbal or masturbatory satiation become a standard treatment. Wyre further recommends that treatment is mandatory.

Opinions on Wyre's methods include the following; "cognitive therapies have become confrontational and frankly coercive." "(T)here is something of a culture shock for those with a foundation in traditional psychotherapy when confronted with Wyre's methods." It is pointed out that there is no doctor-patient relationship, and none of the confidentiality that medical ethics normally require.

Wyre claimed that at that time, no one who had been treated at Gracewell had re-offended. This is not the achievement that it appears to be. Wyre excludes from the outset, via the assessment, anyone who he feels he cannot work with. If he chooses to refuse to treat someone who's behaviour is so far detached from what would be expected from an average member of society, that there is little or no hope of rehabilitation, and instead chooses to treat men who have little or no criminal evidence against them, it is no surprise that he can claim that none have gone on to re-offend.

Incredibly, he has also admitted that the questionnaire which was used in the assessment pack he provided the men with, received similar responses from the accused and from ordinary men in the community. Exactly what value and purpose this questionnaire had if the answers were the same from all men is unclear. You could assume from this that all men have the potential to act on deviant fantasies, or the accused he is treating are innocent.

Further indication that Wyre seems to have difficulty in differentiating between those who are innocent and those who are guilty is shown in his list of 'characteristics of child sexual abusers', on an information leaflet published for child care organisations in Australia.

  • pro-offending attitudes
  • insensitivity to child issues
  • desires to work with vulnerable children
  • excessive attention given to a particular child or group of children
  • gift giving
  • taking children on trips
  • isolates children from other adults
  • photographs children
  • use of contact therapies, massages, etc.
  • regular trips to known "child sex tourism" countries
  • appears to have no adult social life
  • heavily involved in work but has poor relationships with colleagues
  • gaps in references
  • uses questionable language or phrases

Some of these indicators would clearly apply to genuine offenders, however, most of these characteristics can also be applied to any normal, innocent person. How many parents take their children on holiday, photograph them and buy them gifts? Some now use baby massage as a way of soothing fretful infants. Social workers and child protection experts (of which Wyre is considered to be one) have desires to work with vulnerable children. How many adults now have two or more jobs? With financial demands increasing, this is more common, these adults, whether single, in a relationship or parents could be considered to have no social life or heavily involved in work.

This list of indicators is at best unhelpful, at worst, dangerous.

Another controversial aspect of Wyre's treatment regards the conversion of some alleged abusers, into men with homosexual relationships. He considers that it is better for men who are believed to have abused boys, and who appear to be unable to conduct a relationship with a woman, to enter into homosexual relationships.

Gracewell continued to treat men until it's closure in 1993, however Ray Wyre was not the only person working at Gracewell whose methods have been considered controversial.

In August 2003, a woman (whose name was changed to prevent her being identified) who had volunteered at Gracewell in the 1980's and continued to work there until it's closure, revealed what most people would consider an unhealthy obsession with convicted men.

It was claimed that she was in love with the men, some of whom where convicted child killers, with which she regularly corresponded and sometimes visited. She claimed to provide them with emotional and financial support and that this benefited the men. Amongst those whom she considered to be her friends, were Sidney Cooke and Robert Maudsley, who ate part of his victims brain with a spoon.

She also admitted to writing to Ian Huntley, charged with murdering the two Soham schoolgirls.

This woman, who was a psychology student at the time of the report, also claimed to have been abused as a child, and who had fallen in love with her abuser. The desire to befriend men such as Robert Maudsely came following her abusers rejection of her. "I love men because of - not in spite of - what they have done." she said.

The fact that Wyre allowed a person with what appear to be extremely bizarre, unresolved personal issues volunteer at Gracewell, is in stark contrast to the opinion he voiced during a Care Standards Tribunal hearing last year.

A social worker who had worked in social care with children for 30 years, brought an appeal against the decision made by Charles Clarke to place his name on the Protection of Children Act List.

Though this social worker did not have any allegations made against him, and had no convictions for any offences involving children, he had admitted to a colleague that he considered himself to be a paedophile, stressing that he meant this in the literal sense of the word.

He had on one occasion considered seducing a young boy who had been cleaning the social worker's car. It was also claimed that the social worker would have liked to access child pornography, but never had done so.

Ray Wyre was called to give evidence as an expert witness. His evidence was described as both "illuminating and unhelpful". Wyre's continual reference and comparison to other men he was working with was considered a hindrance to understanding the case before the tribunal. It was pointed out that Wyre's agency had not been involved in assisting the social worker, and the focus had to be on his case alone.

Wyre considered that the possibility that the social worker had abused in the past was small and even less so with regard to the chance of his abusing in the future. At the same time, Wyre did accept that the element of sexual attraction towards boys was "quite high".

His evidence then was favourable towards the social worker. Despite this, Wyre admitted that he could not employ this person in his agency. He considered that he employs people to do a job and does not expect them to bring "additional baggage". He would expect someone with personal problems to get professional help.

This did not prevent him continuing to allow the female volunteer referred to above, to assist at the Clinic, with whom he had 'agreed to disagree' over their respective therapy techniques.

Though the appeal was won by majority, the Chair took the unusual step of recording his dissenting views.

Wyre's opinions were further questioned regarding snuff videos. He is quoted as having viewed snuff films first hand in America. Apparently however, when contacted, he denied having seen one, and claimed that what he saw was instead a sophisticated simulation. Though he insists that the FBI did have such films in their possession and claimed that they were available in England, both the FBI and Scotland Yard dispute this.

The cult expert at the FBI's training academy at Quantico, Virginia, Ken Lanning, has stated that in 20 years of searching, he has never found a documented case of a snuff film anywhere in the world.

Scotland Yard also denied their existence in England, a detective in the Obscene Publications Division is quoted as saying "I'd be the first to know if there were any in Britain. There just aren't."

His current organisation, Ray Wyre (UK) Ltd., is based in Milton Keynes and claims to provide services to the accused and their families. He and his associates are regularly called to provide expert evidence in criminal cases in the UK and beyond. They claim to recognise the importance for independent assessment and that this also leaves "the possibility that the alleged offender is innocent of the allegations." The requirement for the accused to admit his guilt, together with Wyre's all-encompassing indicators make this meaningless.

One former associate, Charles Fortt, was also a probation officer and had been the principal therapist and clinic manager at Gracewell, is now an independent consultant on sex crime and domestic violence.

Ray Wyre continues to be a regular speaker in conferences regarding child protection or the management of sex offenders (though he does not consider an adult abuser who was abused as a child to be a 'sex offender'), in the UK and worldwide.

This month Wyre was in the news again, calling for a new organisation to be formed to tackle self-employed persons who may be considered a risk to children. Working with him is Labour MP Dan Norris. Norris has a background in social work and child protection. His allegations against colleagues whilst working as a teacher in a care home prior to his training as a social worker, resulted in dismissals and the closure of the home.

Wyre is currently involved in a prominent residential school case in Scotland.

Penny Campbell
15 February 2006

 
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