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Sir Clement Freud: Historical Child Sex Abuse Claims

Sir Clement Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and younger brother to artists Lucian Freud, has been accused of historical child sexual abuse.

The former BBC broadcaster and liberal MP, who died in 2009, is alleged to have molested and sexually abused three girls between the late 1940s and 1970s.

First Victim

Appearing on the ITV documentary, ‘Exposure: Abused and Betrayed – A Life Sentence’, Sylvia Woosley claims that Freud sexually abused her for years.

Now in her late 70s, Ms Woosley said:

“I just want to clear things up before I die… I want to die clean.

“Having been so hard on myself, trying to destroy myself so many times, you can’t bury the truth forever, it needs to be heard.

“I don’t want to take this to my tomb. I would like to just return to the child I was before I was molested physically, before I was introduced to that side of life too early.”

Ms Woosley told the ITV show that she had first met Freud when she lived with her family in the South of France. At the time, 24 year old Freud was working at a hotel in Cannes. Ms Woosley was only 10 years old.

Speaking of the time that that Freud kissed her on the mouth during a bus trip, Ms Woosley said:

“I was disgusted and helpless. I just didn’t react in any way because I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do.”

Ms Woosley told the program that when she was fourteen, after the breakdown of her mother’s marriage, she went to live with Freud and his wife Jill in London. She claims that during this five year period she was frequently molested.

According to Ms Woosley, when she was an adult in her late 40s she confronted Freud outside the House of Commons. She claims that when she asked him why he abused her as a child, he replied:

“Because I loved you. You were a very sensual little girl.”

Second Victim

The Liberal MP’s second victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the show that she met Freud when she a “lonely, neglected and socially isolated” 11-year-old in 1971 at her parent’s home. When Freud was elected as MP two years later, he would kiss her on the mouth and hug her when taking her on trips to Parliament and his home. She said:

“I felt sick but grateful at the same time. Frightened and unable to move or react in any way.”

The woman also claims that when she just fourteen, Freud asked her and a friend of the same age:

“Would you like to get naked and have some fun?”

Then four years later, she claims Sir Clement Freud “brutally and perfunctorily” raped her at her parent’s London flat. Speaking of the sexual abuse, she said:

“I live in constant terror that I’ll be found out, exposed.

“I’ve already suffered across nearly 40 years. It’s not simply to be labelled as depression or mental illness, this is disempowerment, self-destructiveness and grief.

“This is what real suffering looks like.”

Third Victim

Following the claims of historic sexual abuse by the two women on the ITV show, a third victim has come forward and spoken of her abuse at the hands of Sir Clement Freud.

64 year old Vicky Hayes claims she was raped by Freud in the mid-60s when she was a teenager.

Mrs Hayes said that she first met Freud when she was just 14 as he used to frequent her father’s Lincoln seafood restaurant, known as Syd’s. According to Mrs Hayes, when she was 17 Freud took her on an overnight trip and this is when the rape took place. Mrs Hayes said that she did not disclose the assault to her parents at the time, claiming that her father would have ‘killed’ Freud if he knew.

She went on to say:

“I just lay there afraid, scared and he forced himself on me and took my virginity.

“You don’t expect a friend of your parents to rape you.”

Mrs Hayes reported the rape to Suffolk Police in 2010, however a spokesperson for the force said:

“This was formally recorded but as the suspect was no longer alive, there were no further lines of inquiry.”

Letter to 16 year old

Another woman, Janet Rawlerson, claims to have received a letter from the former broadcaster when she was just 16, despite never having met Freud. He reportedly found out her name after he noticed her at a literary awards ceremony they both attended in the late 70s.

Mrs Rawlerson claims the letter, which she received at the publishing office she worked for at the time, was written on Commons headed paper and was marked ‘personal’. The letter read:

‘Dear Janet, if you are not doing anything more interesting on Thursday Nov 23rd, will you come to the Palace Theatre in Regent St at 6pm?

‘I am doing a broadcast and would then take you to dinner. Sincerely, Clement F.’

Mrs Rawlerson spoke of how she ‘freaked out’ upon opening the letter, adding that her father was ‘furious’. She added:

“The things I have read from his victims make me feel cold to the bone.

“When the letter arrived I had no idea how he discovered my name. I freaked out and my dad was furious. I’m so relieved I ignored the letter. “

Reaction from widow & former Liberal peers

The claims of historical child sexual abuse relating to Sir Clement Freud have prompted his widow, Jill Freud, to apologise publicly. In response to the first two women to come forward, Mrs Freud said in a statement:

“This is a very sad day for me. I was married to Clement for 58 years and loved him dearly.

“I am shocked, deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women. I sincerely hope they will now have some peace.”

A statement from the Liberal Democrats called the claims of historical sex abuse “horrific”:

“We are desperately sorry to learn that lives have been ruined by a man whose public face was so greatly at odds to his true character.

“Clement Freud was a senior figure in the Liberals, our party’s predecessor, and we are deeply shocked and horrified by this news.

“Our party was never aware of what happened, and our hearts go out to the women who were affected.”

Sexual Abuse Claims – Expert Advice

Hampson Hughes Solicitors specialises in directing sexual abuse claims in a considerate and compassionate manner. Our Abuse & Criminal Injuries Department is headed by Greg Neill – Greg is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).

For an open and friendly conversation about your situation, and to find out how we can assist you relevant to your individual experience, call 0800 888 6 888 or email

You will be given the direct-dial of your case handler, meaning that you will always be able to reach the person you need.

Sources: BBC; BBC; Daily Mail

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