The wife of late British broadcaster and politician Sir Clement Freud has issued an apology to his alleged sexual abuse victims, saying she is “shocked, deeply saddened and profoundly sorry” for the actions of her husband of 58 years. Jill Freud, 89, said she sincerely hoped the women who accused him “will now have some peace.”
Allegations that Freud — a grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and brother of painter Lucian Freud — was a pedophile, who sexually abused girls as young as 10 for decades, were aired on British television on Tuesday night. The story unfolded after one of his alleged victims, Sylvia Woosley, contacted ITV’s Exposure documentary team. She was put in touch with the team by a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who noticed a comment she made online under an obituary he wrote after Freud’s death in 2009. She described herself as “one of his 1000s of sexual ‘victims,’ still surviving” and Freud as “an evil, conniving, ruthless user for his own bottomless ego of all he came in contact with.”
Since the documentary aired, former ambassador Murray said he had been contacted by more people claiming to be victims of Freud. “I have been contacted by seven people this morning,” he told The Independent on Wednesday. “I don’t have concrete intelligence, but it seeks there are a lot of claims that there is more stuff out there.”
He drew a comparison with the case of British TV entertainer Jimmy Savile, whose abuse victims came “pouring out once the gates [were] opened.”
Woosley said Freud befriended her family in 1948 and began abusing her when she was 10 years old. Four years later, in the wake of a family crisis, her mother asked Freud and his wife Jill to care for Sylvia. She claims the abuse continued until she moved away at age 19. “I just want to clear things up before I die … I want to die clean,” Woosley, in her late 70s, said in the documentary. “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 would just like to return to the child I was before I was molested physically, before I was introduced to that side of life too early,” she said.
A second woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the documentary team that Freud began abusing her in the 1970s, when she was 11, and “brutally and perfunctorily” raped her when she was 18. “I live in constant terror that I’ll be found out, exposed,” she told the program. “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.”
Detectives investigating the disappearance in 2007 of 3-year-old Madeleine McCann have also been alerted to the fact Freud had a villa at the resort where she went missing. He befriended the McCanns in the weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance, although his family says he was not in Portugal at the time she disappeared. The McCanns are said to be “horrified” at the revelations of pedophilia.