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ITV investigation: Politician Sir Clement Freud accused of child sexual abuse

Sir Clement Freud, the late politician and broadcaster, has been accused of abusing two girls in the late 1940s and 1970s.

Two women have told ITV Exposure of the abuse they suffered at the hands of Freud, who died in 2009.

Sylvia Woosley said Sir Clement, who was a close family friend and 14 years older than her, initially started to groom her and touch her inappropriately when he lived close to her parents' house in the South of France, kissing her on the mouth.

He took me to the beach. We went swimming. He took me on the bus and we went up to the mountains to see a friend of his. And he came quite frequently, and he bought me clothes and he bought me presents.

He had a certain power over me which I didn't understand and because it was something new, and it was a man, and I was desperate for a father’s love.

So it was the first time, aged 10, that a father figure comes into my life...

He'd stroke me and he'd kiss me at the back of the bus on the mouth...It was horrible and I didn't like it. I was disgusted and upset.

– Sylvia Woosley

Sylvia was too scared to tell her mother about the abuse and thought her ordeal was over when Sir Clement moved back to the UK a year later.

But when her parents' marriage broke up when she was 14, she was sent to live with Freud, his new wife and baby daughter and the abuse escalated.

Sylvia said Sir Clement started to abuse her when she was 10 years old. Credit: ITV Exposure
Sir Clement Freud with his wife Jill Raymond. Credit: PA Archive
Sylvia told ITV Exposure's Julie Etchingham she was 'relieved' to tell her story. Credit: ITV Exposure

Sylvia eventually managed to get away when she was 19.

One day, when she was in her forties, she tried to confront Sir Clement at the House of Commons.

She said he blamed her for the abuse, calling her a "sensual little girl."

Sylvia has now given a full statement of what happened to her to the police.

She told Exposure that she has carried the guilt and shame of being a child abuse victim all of her life but being able to tell her story now has provided a profound sense of relief.

It destroyed something in me that broke, and I suppose it’s affected my behaviour all my life. I’ve been married twice, my relationships with men. My lack of trust, my lack of self-confidence, my self-destructions.

It’s the child in me that is speaking, actually, and that would like to be freed. And so I’m doing it for the girl in me that wants to be recognised having told the truth and for any others that have not got quite the courage but would like to.

Well go ahead and do it, you know. Stand up and speak find your voices you know because there is no point in keeping it as long as I have. Cause you see, even at my age, at the end it’s come out, so you can’t bury the truth.

– Sylvia Woosley
Sir Clement Freud pictured in 1989, Credit: PA Wire

Exposure spoke to a second woman, on the condition of anonymity, who said she was groomed by Freud in the 1970s, when he was an MP.

He would write letters to her at boarding and take her on trips to parliament. She said in 1974, when she was 14, Freud tried to lock her and her friend in a basement.

In 1978, he invited himself over to the woman's family home, while her parents were away, to cook dinner. She said Freud raped her that night.

Sir Clement's widow Jill Freud, 89, told Exposure she is "shocked and deeply saddened by the claims."

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.

– Sir Clement's widow, Jill Freud
  • Exposure: Abused & Betrayed - A Life Sentence will be broadcast on ITV at 11:05pm on Wednesday 15th June

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