First arrest as investigation progresses amid warning about smearing of abuse survivors

By Mark Watts and David Hencke | 16 August 2015

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Video: Esther Baker on how police have stepped up abuse caseDetectives have turned their scoping operation into allegations of child sex abuse by a former MP and others into a full-scale criminal investigation.

They are investigating allegations by Esther Baker, who has waived her right to anonymity, that she was sexually abused as a girl by a group that included the former MP, police officers and others in woods in Staffordshire. The MP, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has no publicly-known connection with the county.

The upgrading of the investigation came just over a fortnight ago as police made what they expect to be their first arrest, a man – not the former MP – accused by Baker of sexually abusing her. Speaking in a video interview with Exaro, she says: “It was definitely a step that I have been waiting for, and I am just happy for the police to continue their investigations and justice to go forward.”

A spokeswoman for Staffordshire Police said: “A 64-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of rape and conspiracy to rape in connection with the ongoing investigation into allegations of historic sexual abuse. He remains on bail pending further inquiries.”

Exaro understands that the man is due to return to police next month.

In May, Exaro revealed how three women had come forward to allege the same former MP carried out sex attacks on them as girls.

At the time, the MP spoke to Exaro, on condition of anonymity, to deny the allegations. He said that he was the target of false accusations, saying: “I contacted the police to say that I believed that there was a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice about to be committed.”

The German television channel, ARD, interviewed Baker for a report this evening about the issue of child sex abuse in the UK for Weltspiegel, a current-affairs programme.

Baker was also one of three abuse survivors who featured in a special report that Exaro helped to make on the ‘Westminster paedophile network’ for Australia’s 60 Minutes last month.

In a nine-minute video interview with Exaro, Baker also tells why she decided to go public. “It was actually safer for me to become in the public eye,” she says. “It became quite clear to me that I had to, I had to go public with it for my own safety.”

She is one of several abuse survivors who have had to endure an onslaught of smears on social media. “Some of them I have actually had to report to the police, as part of the investigation now,” she says.

The report on German television came after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) named Sir Edward Heath, former prime minister, last week as featuring in an investigation in Wiltshire.

Exaro revealed last week that the number of police forces that were investigating Heath had mushroomed to more than a dozen before it was announced that Wiltshire Police would lead on the allegations against the ex-PM.

Interviewer: Mark Watts
Camera and lighting: Peter Proniewicz-Brooks
Editing: Natasha Rees
Production: Alex Varley-Winter

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

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