16 Jun 2016

Sir Clement Freud accused of abusing girls

8:19 am on 16 June 2016

The late British broadcaster and MP Sir Clement Freud - a grandson of Sigmund Freud - has been accused of abusing two girls between the late 1940s and 1970s.

Sir Clement Freud

Sir Clement Freud Photo: YouTube

Sylvia Woosley, who first met Freud when she was 10 and was sent to live with him at 14, told the Exposure programme that he abused her for years.

A second woman, who wants to remain anonymous, claimed he abused her as a child and raped her when she was 18.

His widow Jill Freud, 89, said she was "deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women".

In the documentary, Exposure: Abused and Betrayed - A Life Sentence, due to be broadcast this week, Ms Woosley, now in her late 70s, 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."

She told the programme she first met Freud, known as Clay, when he was 24 and worked at a 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."

She said he frequently molested her during the five years she lived with Freud and his wife in London, where she had been sent to live at 14 years old following the breakdown of her mother's marriage.

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."

'Real suffering'

The second woman said that she first met the Liberal politician in 1971 at her family home as a "lonely, neglected and socially isolated" 11-year-old.

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 Freud came over to her parents' flat and "brutally and perfunctorily" raped her.

She told the programme: "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."

ITV said two of Freud's children had viewed the documentary before broadcast on their mother's behalf.

In a statement, 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."

A statement from the Liberal Democrats called the allegations "horrific".

It said: "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."

Who was Sir Clement Freud?

Born in Vienna in April 1924, Clement Freud was a grandson of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Another grandson was Clement's elder brother, the artist Lucian Freud.

His idiosyncratic pet food commercials with Henry the dog launched him on a long career as a television and radio personality.

As well as becoming a celebrity chef, he contributed to BBC Radio 4's Just A Minute for more than 30 years, and featured on shows including Have I Got News For You.

A Liberal MP from 1973 to 1987, he was knighted in 1987.

He had five children, including the TV personality, Emma, and the PR guru, Matthew.

Freud befriended Gerry and Kate McCann after their three-year-old child disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007.

In her book, Mrs McCann said she and her husband were invited to lunch at Freud's Praia da Luz home several weeks after Madeleine's disappearance.

Freud died at his desk aged 84 in 2009.