Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: The Highgate Vampire and the Hampstead Witch Hunt

These were the people in your neighbourhood: David Farrant's 1971 photograph of French occultist, Martine de Sacy, supposedly engaged in a Wiccan cleansing ritual performed at the scene of Necromantic rites in the Cory-Wright vault at Highgate Cemetery, UK. De Sacy's later comments on Farrant conflicted with Farrant's version of events. Image Source © David Farrant/Hampstead Christ Church.

One of the most disturbing political and social rumours to emerge in the past two years is the Pedogate story of worldwide child slavery, black magic, and ritual sacrifice. It was widely dismissed in the mainstream media as vicious disinformation, spread to bolster populism, nationalism, neo-fascism, and anti-Semitism. Indeed, it does revive the ugliest medieval anti-Semitic hoax, the blood ritual myth.

My interpretation does not consider Pedogate's counter-factual aspects to be true. That is, I do not believe in the anti-Semitic hoax. Rather, I consider more carefully how disinformation can be exploited and I have written here on the kernels of fact upon which the myths are based. I have argued that the Pedogate rumour has real underpinnings in the Internet's exacerbation of child porn and child sexual exploitation. And the rumour has had further practical applications in the new development of Internet politics. These stories are not without substance, as successive scandals demonstrate.

One aspect of this disinformation is a rage against, and dehumanization of, the upper tier of society in the post-2008 recession era. Today's example considers an incredibly damaging and frightening set of accusations leveled at the well-to-do inhabitants of Hampstead, London, from 2014 to 2017. The Hampstead case is part of the Pedogate moral panic, and concerns terrifying accounts of child abuse and Satanic practices. The locals in Hampstead have denied the whole story; all accusations remain unproven.

Highgate Vampire tabloid coverage. Image Source: The Vampirologist.

The Hampstead Millennial witch hunt has curious precedents. During the early 1970s, a dubious white witchcraft occultist named David Farrant claimed to find evidence of black magic rituals in the neighbouring community of Highgate, London. A map showing the locations of Hampstead and Highgate on either side of Hampstead Heath is here. Hampstead Heath is an ancient parkland in North London, which covers 320 hectares (790 acres). You can see pictures of it here.

The areas around Hampstead and Highgate span the boroughs of Camden, Haringey and Islington. Note that they are situated just north of Westminster and the City, London's parliamentary and banking districts. Image Source: Map of London.

Sketch map of Highgate. Click to enlarge. Image Source: Sian Pattenden.

One report claimed hospital porter David Farrant admitted to being a High Priest who set up magic rituals himself. Farrant accused the Highgate townsfolk of harbouring a Satanic cult, which he tried to combat with his own brand of white magic. Extended accounts of Farrant's adventures are here and here. Image Source: Friends of the Bishop.

Camden New Journal (10 September 1998). In 1998, Farrant still claimed that a vampire lived in Highgate cemetery, and wanted to run ghost tours there. Click to enlarge. Image Source: David Farrant.

The Post (28 July 2000). Click to enlarge. Image Source: David Farrant.

Farrant was accused and convicted of setting up the evidence of black magic rituals himself, and of sending voodoo dolls to the police. He served time in prison; but subsequently sought to profit from the ensuing tabloid uproar he had created over a supposed 8-foot-tall Highgate Vampire, who had taken up residence in the local cemeteryFarrant remarked on his Website:
"The photographs [of the ritual residua] ... were all taken in the Cory-Wright mausoleum at Highgate Cemetery in 1971. ... The mausoleum in question is not as easy to find as some of the grander monuments in the cemetery, hidden away from the ‘tourist’ paths. Its unusual placement presumably played a significant role in its choice as a ritual space for a group of black magic practitioners based in Highgate who were using it during 1971, if not much earlier.

The photographs taken by myself and my [British Psychic and Occult] society were intended to act as a record of our discovery of this group’s activities, which in light of their choice of location and the sigils and glyphs involved were naturally interpreted by us (I still maintain, correctly) to indicate necromantic and extremely negative magical rituals. 
Amongst the remains of rituals which we discovered were the burnt down stubs of thick black candles, along with inverted pentagrams and other symbols chalked upon the floor. A heavy marble bust, representing one of the gentlemen whose ashes were interred within the mausoleum had been moved to the apex of a triangle around which these symbols were inscribed, indicating that there had been some potential attempt to communicate with his spirit in a necromantic and entirely unwholesome fashion. Despite the fact that I had openly sent these photographs to the Ham and High in an attempt to put a stop to – or ‘discourage’ – such practices – the photos’ presence in my home some three years later when I was raided by the Police in preparation for what would become my Old Bailey ‘witch trial’ ... .

How do I know that this group were based in Highgate? Well amongst other ‘clues’ (such as the spate of threatening letters which I received after publishing photographs of the remains of their rituals, all of which had North London including Highgate postal stamps) the bottle of methylated spirits which I photographed at the time and which has been included below bore the label of the Highgate Village chemist. I can only presume that this was left in situ because of its helpfulness in keeping a fire alight for a prolonged period of time where the need to represent the element of fire was present."
In the 1970s, Farrant was supposedly a Wiccan High Priest. His critics and rivals claimed he was a know-nothing, wannabe Satanist, at best a bad influence in a murder case - at worst, evil and one of the actual perpetrators of unsettling goings-on in these London boroughs.

To this day, Farrant insists that he was a paranormal researcher on the trail of a coven of far more frightening local Satanists. Farrant believed and believes that the spectral vampire was part of their activities. He implied that the local black magic practices he encountered were profoundly negative, and directed toward material gain in London life: economic and social advancement, sexual connections, and the crushing of business or professional rivals. In 2012, he recounted the whole Highgate Vampire story in a five-part interview: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5.

Farrant stands by the claim that he found the aftermath of Satanic rituals and sacrifices in Highgate Cemetery, and set up white magic ceremonies to restore these locations. Then he reported on what he had discovered to the authorities, but did not engineer the original rituals himself. The Highgate Vampire inspired the Hammer horror film, Dracula A.D. 1972, which you can watch here, here, or (in Spanish) here.

David Farrant - BBC 24 Hours Oct 1970 (1970; 2011). Video Source: Youtube.

The Vampire of Highgate 1982 (1982; 2012): "This video made by students from the North London Polytechnic in 1982, really portrays the early interest of the media in the infamous case of the 'Highgate Vampire', an unearthly apparition that was reported by many local residents. It includes candid interview archive footage of David Farrant, as well as an exclusive sequence showing the performance of an occult ritual in his north London home." Video Source: Youtube.

David Farrant - In Search of the Highgate Vampire (1997; 2012). "Shot in 1997, this film represents the first foray of the BPOS into independent film making. Directed and produced by BPOS stalwart Dave Milner in association with his then film company Darkhouse Productions, it rapidly became an underground cult classic through its distribution at 'outsider' outlets such as Forbidden Planet. Conceived during an era when the Highgate Vampire Society was at full flourish, and attracting the creative talents of goth icons such as Dee Monique, it is unashamedly infused with the camp-gothic sensibility of the decade." Video Source: Youtube.

Dracula a.d. 1972 - Trailer #1 (1972) © Warner Bros. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

This was not the first nor the last time that this part of North London has been considered a hotbed of occult practices. Online rumours recall that there were further concerns in the area during a controversial moral panic in the late 1980s over the founding of the Temple of Set in the UK (see here, here, here, here, and here).

Farrant commented to the press on the disappearance of a young Italian mother and her child in North London's New Barnet in 1983; the mother was involved in a Highgate occult group. “Girl and baby occult mystery,” Hampstead and District Local Advertiser (21 April 1983). Click to enlarge. Image Source: David Farrant. He discussed this case in 2012, here.

More from the same case, 11 years later, when the mother and child had still not been found and the mother did not come forward to claim an inheritance in Italy. "'Black magic' search goes on as missing mother gains inheritance," Finchley Press (10 August 1994). Click to enlarge. Image Source: David Farrant.

Set was the ancient Egyptian version of the older Mesopotamian, Sumerian and Canaanite god of storms, Ba'al. Later, these deities became conflated to produce our current vision of Satan. In 1993, the temple's high priest in the UK, David Austen, confirmed that Set is worshiped in the country, but he denied engagement in any illegal ritual practices.

The children in the Hampstead case, Alisa and Gabriel Dearman. Image Source: You Think It's a Joke.

In 2014's Hampstead case, two children, a boy and a girl, in the same affluent part of London were interviewed by the police over lurid claims that their British father, Ricky Dearman, had molested them. They said that he involved them in Satanic rituals which included murdering and cannibalizing infants - with the participation of 18 other children, and several other parents and the teachers at Hampstead's church and Christ Church Primary School. They also testified to the police that they were regularly raped at school, in the local church, and in hidden rooms in local houses.

Sketch map of Hampstead. Click to enlarge. Image Source: Jonathan Addis.

The cityfolk of Hampstead hit back against online vigilantes who automatically assumed they were guilty. The children's Russian mother, Ella Gareeva Draper, was publicly attacked for teaching the children to make up stories to ruin their father's reputation. She and her new boyfriend, Abraham Christie, were judged to be the abusers, and both were portrayed as sketchy characters. The mother hit back at the father, Dearman, asserting he was an actor who was tangled up in the porn industry, child porn, and snuff films.

The children's allegations of abuse were bad enough, but their claim that a hidden Satanic cult dominates one of London's most expensive enclaves alarmed the UK establishment. The siblings claimed the school and church were involved, the police, the foster care service, the courts.

Horrifically, the children named local restaurants (McDonald's, Starbucks and Pizza Express) in relation to the murderous sacrifice of babies. The boy claimed that the teachers and parents had Satanic tattoos and piercings hidden on their private areas. He even made detailed drawings of tattoos, distinguishing marks and birthmarks on the accused molesters, which were leaked onto the Internet. The judge and appeal judge in this case did not mention tattoosNo one in the community was asked to submit to the indignity of a strip search. Thus, the boy's testimony regarding distinguishing marks was never investigated.

Medical reports, leaked to the Internet, confirmed that the children bore physical scars from being regularly sexually abused, although that report was later peer-reviewed and amended to state that the scars could have originated from non-abusive situations.

After a judicial review concluded the mother had coached the children to make the accusations, her son and daughter were removed from her custody and placed in care in September 2014. In August 2015, the Dearborn children were rumoured to have been put under their father's supervision and moved to California. The mother fled the UK police, insisting that the authorities were compromised and involved. She claims she has never seen her children since they were removed from her custody.

The Guardian dismissed the children's testimonies as false memories. You can see the father's interview with the BBChereThis is the mother's website and her statements are herehere, and here. Ella Gareeva Draper regularly appears in interviews on conspiracy theorists' vlogging channels on Youtube. A sympathetic May 2017 interview with her is here and a June 2017 video from her is here. A June 2017 blog post denouncing the mother is here.

The children's leaked statements to the police are here. The children later retracted their statements and blamed their mother's boyfriend for their testimonies and/or confabulations. Their maternal grandparents appeared on Youtube, asking for custody so they could remove the children to Russia.

Concerned citizen activist, Belinda McKenzie, one of several who supported the mother in the case, outside the posh fitness club at 99 Kensington High Street in Hampstead W8 - which she felt advertised sinister messages: Equinox Made Me Do It (May 2015). The leaders of this citizens' group were slapped with restraining orders to keep them out of Hampstead. Later in 2015, McKenzie planned to leave the UK, to the delight of critics, who claimed she ran a fake children's protection charity from Highgate. Video Source: Youtube.

This spectral mythology is one of the key signs of a moral panic and it drew the Hampstead case into a much larger forum of wild rumours. The case fueled online speculation about a cover-up in the community and the courts, with equally adamant counter-accusations from the community about a crazy witch hunt. Some concerned citizens, like the woman above, involved themselves: the school staff and members of the community were (to their horrordoxxed online and Websites posted questionable collections of information.

Notice that believability in this case depends on superstition and belief in reputation. You can read a completely rational-sounding, civilized, and believable dismissal of the entire story, here. The community newspaper reported that it was the mother who had tortured the children, not the father. If one believes in Russia's interference in western affairs, attacks on the western establishment, and Russian online disinformation campaigns, one would question the credibility of the mother. The children's account perfectly fits the blood libel hoax, which hails back to the middle ages and is all over the Internet. The blood libel has long been - and remains - a common superstition in Russia; and the mother has claimed she believes in the blood libel in an interview.

On the other hand, classist, cultural, and political biases can travel in either direction. If one dislikes élites, one would suspect the folk of Hampstead's Camden borough. While the mother and her boyfriend were accused of child abuse by the town, and this accusation was confirmed by the judgeAnna Pauffley, neither was charged. The mother claims that the very people the children accused of abuse were called in by authorities for media damage control when the allegations surfaced.

By 2017, insane rumours about this case became more bizarre, as conspiracy theorists maintained that the children appeared in a Superbowl ad, narrated by George Clooney. Conspiracists link the Super Bowl to Satanic rituals and child trafficking - and to what they believe was a psyop around the 2012 Sandy Hook school killings. Conspiracy theorists assumed that this commercial paraded the two children's 'availability' for further occult practices. Blogs and vlogs interlace an ever-growing urban legend; forums and underground chatter capture the imagination with these missing children as protagonists, lost, exactly as if they were in a fairy tale.

My Daughter, Audi Super Bowl ad (2017). Video Source: Youtube.

These rumours exploit taboo, shock and fear. The Internet vastly inflates older dynamics of gossip and rumour. A similar set of allegations in the 1997-2012 Hollie Greig case in Scotland paralleled the Hampstead case; the Scottish Sunday Herald condemned the Greig case in terms of the "devastating fantasy" of "internet scandal." From 2012, the Savile case also revived the Satanic Panic of the 1970s-1990s for the Internet generation.

To paraphrase Tristan Harris, technological modalities, including online conspiracy theories, 'race straight to the bottom of the brain stem' (hat tip: -J.). The Internet plays in the realm of the collective unconscious and sparks unprecedented change while intensifying fear of change. Combine this with a harsh economy, and the results are incendiary. Thus, the taboos exposed here channel the underlying, unconscious stress people feel when immersed in information which has a life of its own, separate from facts, which may or may not exist.

See all my posts on Horror.
See all my posts on the Paranormal.
Posts on the Occult are here.
Click here for my posts on Ghosts.

Check out other blogs observing the Countdown to Hallowe'en!
Image Source: 4Chan.

ADDENDUM (3 July 2018): In an unrelated video, the brilliant but paranoid London vlogger, swilliamism, takes us on a tour of Hampstead Heath and connects this area of the city to Google's AI research and development. Google is training its AI by being fed Hampstead population's medical records.

Google Wants To Know You Inside Out (4 May 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

ADDENDUM (23 July 2018): The mother, Ella Draper, and her boyfriend gave an update interview in 2016, here. The mother's Youtube channel is here.

Image Source: eBay.

In May 2018, an eBay promo featured Ricky Dearman, the father, apparently with his children. The video suggests he is based in the UK and his son, now known as Gab Williams, is running a 2017-award-winning eBay account, 'Wonderful Slime,' which sells slime as a toy, here. It's odd that the account won a seller's award in 2017, because it garnered a fairly high negative feedback rating in that year. See reviews from disgruntled slime customers, here.

Enter the 2018 eBay for Business Awards UK (16 May 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

In the video below from 11 July 2018, a vlogger believes that social media accounts may confirm that the Dearman children are living in Los Angeles under the surname Williams, while their father is living there as Richard Ford. The case is still followed online by anti-Hampstead conspiracy theorists, who do battle with Hampstead defenders and anti-conspiracist trolls. The entire story continues, testing the public to see what they will believe.

Hampstead: Ricky Dearman Resurfaces With Children (11 July 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

ADDENDUM (22 November 2019): A video from 2019 investigates the vampire of Highgate Cemetery and mentions Farrant's death earlier in the same year.

The Vampire of Highgate Cemetery In Plain Sight (31 October 2019). Video Source: Youtube.


  1. There are so many aspects to the Hampstead SRA hoax which can escape a superficial examination, and I'm afraid this article falls into the trap of accepting some assumptions as writ.

    For example: neither the mother nor the boyfriend were charged with child abuse, although this was discussed by police, for the simple reason that the serious abuse in question took place in Morocco. The police are unable to lay charges in cases that take place out of this country, as there is no possible way they can investigate them properly.

    The class issue is an interesting one. Superficially, those who send their children to the school in question are viewed as "upper class"...but anyone who listened to the evidence given in the two court cases which have emerged from the case would quickly realise that the families are a much more heterogeneous group. As it happens, Christ Church Primary School runs on a "pray or pay" scheme: families who are members of the neighbouring church can send their children to the school for free—a bargain considering the school's high Ofsted scores.

    Speaking of class, Belinda McKenzie, who was one of the original perpetrators of the hoax, not just a "citizen activist", is a member of a "landed" family with rather lofty connections. She was educated at Oxford, and currently lives in a rather nice house on a leafy street near the Highgate tube station. She was deeply involved in promoting the Hollie Greig hoax, and in fact was one of those who transformed it from a mere "paedophile ring" hoax to a "Satanic ritual abuse" one, on the grounds that the media and conspiracy community would take more notice of the latter. Wherever one sees Belinda, one can expect to also see "donate here" buttons prominently displayed.

    I do have one request: that you block out the faces and names of the children in this post. Publication of their images and anything which could identify them is illegal, and although their case has become extremely public, there is still a court order outstanding which prohibits their identification. I believe that as bloggers we have a responsibility to the children in this case to shield them as much as possible.

    Incidentally, the mother in the case inadvertently admitted a few months ago that the thing is a hoax: she admitted that when she said that her first husband, her eldest son (now an adult) and her ex's new wife were all "cult members", she'd been under stress and had misspoken. Interestingly, however, in the "video evidence" that the mother and her boyfriend had the children make while they were en route from Morocco to the UK, the children stated that their older brother "was in it" and that he HAD sexually molested them. Given that the videos were intended to be the sine qua non of evidence in the case, and that the children were supposed to be believed unequivocally, this disparity rather jumps out at one. Since it was pointed out on Hoaxtead Research, the mother has remained silent.

    If you're interested in a more in-depth look at how the Hampstead case progressed, and how the children involved have been ruthlessly used by those with various axes to grind and coffers to fill, you might like to know about the FAQ on the Hoaxtead Research blog: https://hoaxteadresearch.wordpress.com/hampstead-hoax-faq/

  2. SL, Thanks very much for your comments and link to your website. My readers will be happy to look at your information. This case is highly offensive, contentious and troubling. I explained how the case arose in relation to both sides of the question, and noted that the spread of the information is part of the evolution of Internet culture.

    Further, my larger point - and something I had not seen discussed anywhere else on the Internet in relation to this case - was that there was a pre-existing set of similar, weird and disputed allegations in the same area of London, running back decades. In that case, the person making the allegations, David Farrant, went to prison for making them. And yet, decades later, he is now on social media, still discussing this area of London, and profiting from it.

    Moreover, there is another historical dimension, in that the mother Ella Draper claims to believe in the Russian version of the blood libel hoax. The allegations in this case constitute a new Millennial version of that hoax.

    I do not believe in the blood libel hoax. However, I have been careful to point out on this blog that real abuse and crimes can co-exist with rumour and myth and it is very difficult for outside observers to distinguish between the two. The problem is that the absolutely true existence of the latter (a hoax, a disinformation campaign) does not completely discount the possibility of actual crimes being committed. Both can be true at the same time.

    In other words, you can have lunatic conspiracy theories and you can have a corrupted society or broken system, with crimes occurring therein, simultaneously co-existing.

    I wrote about fake news this summer and my conclusion was, yes, fake news, deliberately skewed stories, and disinformation campaigns exist; at the same time, abuses and corruption do exist. The Internet is exacerbating exposure of both. And the falsity of one does not discount the truth of the other.

    I am not speaking about the facts of the case. Rather I am speaking how it works as a channel of public grievance, how it works in terms of mass psychology and mass communications. I indicated that the spread of the Hampstead narrative means that the system and society at large are deeply troubled due to economic distress. Possibly there is anger at how the UK is being managed in the neighbouring boroughs, in the City and Westminster. Rightly or wrongly, the outside perception is that Hampstead is one of the places where people who work in the City and Westminster go to sleep at night, and if there are problems in the public space, there are problems in the private sphere too.

    I would add to that that I have developed a thesis on this blog that the Internet is a living version of the collective unconscious, so we should expect to find all matter of horrifying rumours on it. I'm not saying that is a good thing; I'm merely identifying the trend.

    Now, when a strong counter-narrative such as yours appears to debunk hoaxes, based on the facts of a case, it looks to angry and disenchanted Internet users like a cover up, an effort to deny their popular criticisms of the whole system. Without meaning to, the more strongly you make your case against the mother, and point out the virtues of that community, the more it looks to hoax believers like the hoax is real - that there is a powerful attempt to stamp out the general discussion of worrying information and maintain appearances that all is well in the establishment. Arguing against the hoax ironically makes the hoax stronger, because counter-arguments look like a suppression of information and an abuse of power, which is the real core of the popular grievance.

    On the Internet, this is known as the Streisand effect. The more you try to suppress an offensive narrative, the stronger it becomes.