Esther Baker alleges politician was in group whose influential members abused young girls in Cannock Chase in 1980s and 90s.
A woman has waived her right to lifelong anonymity to allege that a well-known politician was part of a VIP paedophile ring that sexually abused children in the Staffordshire countryside in the 1980s and 90s.
Esther Baker, 32, said the politician was in a group whose influential members routinely abused young girls in Cannock Chase as uniformed police officers stood guard.
In an interview with the Guardian, Baker said she had identified several of her abusers – including the politician – to police after summoning the courage to speak out.
“I’ve spoken out because I hope witnesses will come forward,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be the first one to come out and speak about it, it’s scary but I felt almost forced to come forward to protect myself. Once it’s out there there’s no point them trying to shut me up.”
Baker, who lives in Liverpool, has given graphic and detailed testimony to detectives in interviews spanning 33 hours. A further 18 hours of evidence-giving has been planned, with detectives considering taking her back to Cannock Chase where she was abused over 20 years ago.
The 32-year-old broke her silence in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday morning. Since it aired, she has been inundated with support from fellow child abuse survivors.
Baker told the Guardian she was first abused by the politician when she was around six years old. Working with police, she has established that the abuse continued until she was at least 11.
Detectives have been told that the politician, who is still alive and of the current political era, would make her sit on his knee while she played the piano and on other occasions sexually abused her on Cannock Chase fields. He cannot be named for legal reasons.
She says she believes a lord and a judge were also involved because their titles would be mentioned while the attacks were taking place. “I was brought up in a religious household and … I thought they were on God’s authority,” she said.
“I knew they were important but I always thought they were more important in the church. That’s what I related it to at the time. But I knew there were ones that were more special than others.”
A small group of police officers, some uniformed, stood guard while the abuse was taking place, she said, and other times they would join in. One of the officers she recognised from church.
On one occasion Baker tried to flee the abuse but was chased and caught by one of the officers standing guard. He told her he was sorry, she said, but still took her back to where the attacks were taking place.
She now believes the officers could hold vital information about the abuse meted out to children in Cannock Chase.
Asked whether she had a message for other child abuse survivors and witnesses, she said: “Just that it’s time to come forward. If we all come forward then they can’t stop us now. They could back then but they can’t now if we all come forward.”
In a highly unorthodox statement, Jon Drake, assistant chief constable of Staffordshire police, underlined how seriously the force was taking Baker’s allegations when he said officers recognised “the horrific nature of what we are investigating”.
He said: “Staffordshire police is in the early stages of investigating a number of very serious allegations from the 1980s and 90s. Specially trained officers are carrying out a number of interviews with the victim to build up an understanding of what took place, and her recollections of all those involved.”
Drake said detectives were determined to thoroughly gather any evidence that would help bring offenders to justice. He added: “To be clear, regardless of role, anyone who has been involved in criminal offences will be investigated to provide justice for the victim.
“Child abuse is a terrible crime, whenever it occurs. We are keen to hear from anyone who knows more about the allegations, or any other victim of child sexual abuse, and they can contact the police through 101, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
“In this specific case the victim has made the decision to waive her right to anonymity. Staffordshire police wants to reassure anyone who has been a victim of any form of child or sexual abuse that their anonymity will be protected.”
Baker is receiving ongoing support from Merseyside-based group the Lantern Project, which offers counselling and advocacy to survivors of child sexual abuse.
Police last week revealed the enormous scale of alleged child abuse they are investigating. Ch Const Simon Bailey said 1,433 men – including 76 politicians, 43 music stars and 135 TV, film or radio entertainers – have been identified by abuse survivors.
Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, lauded Baker’s bravery and said her decision to speak out would help others come forward.
“For everyone that does speak out it chips away at the wall of untouchability that victims feel their abusers have,” she said. “There has been a stark sea change in attitudes to survivors who have come forward since 2013, in the post-Savile era.
“Ten or 15 years ago the response would have been very different – she wouldn’t have been believed – but Staffordshire police have taken it very seriously.”