Former Isle of Ely MP Sir Clement Freud accused of abusing two girls between the late 1940s and 70s
- Credit: Archant
The late broadcaster and MP for the Isle of Ely Sir Clement Freud has been accused of abusing two girls between the late 1940s and 1970s.
Freud was MP for 10 years until 1983 when the constituency was abolished and became NE Cambs and part of SE Cambs,
Sir Clement died in April 2009, aged 84. He was a Liberal MP for the Isle of Ely for 14 years, being returned at four general elections - until he lost, in the changed boundaries of North East Cambridgeshire, in what appeared to be one of the biggest shocks of the polls of 1987.
Sylvia Woosley, who first met Freud when she was 10 and later went to live with him when her mother’s marriage broke down, claims in an ITV Exposure documentary that he molested her over several years.
A second woman, who wants to remain anonymous, alleged that the Liberal politician also abused her as a child and raped her when she was 18.
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In a statement released in response to the programme, his widow Jill Freud, 89, said she was “deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women”.
In the programme, due to be broadcast on Wednesday, Ms Woosley, now in her late 70s, said: “I just want to clear things up before I die...I want to die clean.
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“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.”
She told the programme she first met Freud, known as Clay, when he was aged 24 and worked at the Martinez hotel in Cannes in the late 1940s. She was 10 and her family was living in the south of France.
Ms Woosley claims that he kissed her on the mouth during a bus trip. She 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.”
From the age of 14, when she lived with Freud and his wife in London for five years, she claims that he frequently molested her, even “playfully” touching her breast in front of his wife, although she believes Mrs Freud had no knowledge of the abuse.
Later, aged in her early 40s, Ms Woosley said she confronted Freud at the House of Commons and asked why he had abused her. She says he replied: “Because I loved you. You were a very sensual little girl.”
The second woman said that she first met Freud in 1971 at her family home as a “lonely, neglected and socially isolated” 11-year-old.
Then a celebrity, he would call her on the phone and tell her she was special and intelligent, and was treated as a surrogate father figure by her parents, she said.
Two years later, after he was elected as an MP, he would take her on trips to Parliament and his home, and would kiss her on the mouth and hug her.
She said: “I felt sick but grateful at the same time. Frightened and unable to move or react in any way.”
When she was 14, she claims Freud asked her and another friend of the same age: “Would you like to get naked and have some fun?”
Four years later, in June 1978, when she was 18, the woman alleges that he came over to her parents’ flat and “brutally and perfunctorily” raped her.
She told the broadcaster: “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.”
Writer, broadcaster and politician Freud, who died at his desk aged 84 in 2009, first became a household name in the 1960s and 70s in Minced Morsels dog food adverts.
A celebrated food, sport and comment print journalist, he also enjoyed a long career as a television and radio personality, regularly contributing to Radio 4’s Just A Minute for 30 years and featuring on shows including Have I Got News For You.
ITV said two of Freud’s children had viewed the documentary before broadcast on their mother’s behalf.
Mrs Freud said: “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.”
:: Exposure: Abused and Betrayed - A Life Sentence will be broadcast on ITV at 11:05pm on Wednesday.
Former MP Michael Meadowcroft in an obituary wrote of how Freud became the MP for the Isle of Ely.
“My recollection is that the contact came via Jeremy Thorpe,” wrote Meadowcroft, describing how Freud won the nomination in 1973.
“He won the nomination by thirteen votes to eight - a total vote hardly evidence for a massive association membership, particularly as he stated that the thirteen were residents of a care home across the road, drafted in to make the numbers look more respectable.”
Meadowcroft wrote that Freud’s by-election campaign “mainly consisted of public meetings in each town and village. Not surprisingly, given his media fame, they were well attended and came to be regarded as almost show business occasions.
“In the town of March there was a large railway goods depot and locomotive shed; Freud told his audience that his grandfather had been a railwaymen - “.... you have heard, I hope, of Signalman Freud.” . It was, he said, a “virtuoso performance”.
Meadowcroft also wrote of Freud’s womanising recalling a “failed example”.
He wrote: “The daughter of two of his constituency officers was a student at Bradford University and he had invited her to join us for the evening meal, obviously as an opening gambit.
“No one then had mobile ‘phones and he had arranged for her to telephone him at my house at precisely 6pm. All day he was obsessed by the possibility of being late back at the house. He took the call and she duly arrived at the restaurant.
“Freud paid great attention to her and made various suggestions as to places that one could go on to after a meal. The young lady was delightfully innocent and completely failed to take the hint. As midnight approached I felt it was time to intervene and I offered to take her back to Bradford. Clement was clearly very put out.”