Charity reports itself to regulator after Third Sector alerts it to sex offender on advisory panel

A charity has reported itself to the regulator after Third Sector made it aware that a convicted sex offender was part of its advisory panel.

Karl Sabbagh, an author and filmmaker, joined the British False Memory Society's scientific and professional advisory board in June 1994, after expressing an interest in false memory-type allegations, according to the charity.

But in September 2019, Sabbagh, of Crab Tree Close, Bloxham, Oxfordshire, who was 77 at the time, was convicted at Oxford Crown Court of grooming a girl under 16.

He was sentenced to 45 months in prison and made to sign the sex offender register for life.

Since being alerted to Sabbagh’s conviction by Third Sector, the charity said it had cut all ties with him and filed a serious incident report with the Charity Commission.

As a charity that produces research on the issue of false memory, BFMS often deals with cases of adults accusing family members or other relatives in contested historical sexual allegations.

The adult accusers allege they have recently remembered childhood abuse, of which they had no previous memory.

Victims of false memory might continue to believe vehemently that their memories are accurate, despite objective evidence to the contrary, according to the BFMS.

In a statement, the charity said Sabbagh was not involved in any research or policy development for the BFMS, or the day-to-day running of the charity.

It said it had removed his name from the BFMS website and any paper publications.

Kevin Felstead, director of communications at the BFMS, said: “Prior to receiving your email earlier today, the BFMS was not aware that Sabbagh had been accused, let alone convicted.

“On behalf of the charity I would like to state on the record that we utterly abhor his behaviour; our thoughts go out to the victim and to her family.

“The BFMS is a registered charity which provides information and support on the topic of false memory-type allegations. However, we are very much aware are that child abuse is widespread.

“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.”

The charity said it would review all its policies and procedures.

The regulator confirmed that the BFMS had filed a serious incident report and it was examining the information provided to determine its next steps.

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