Leading Scottish psychologist, 81, faces claims of sexual abuse

Leading Scottish psychologist, 81, faces being struck off over claims he sexually abused 12-year-old patient in the 80s – as he brands her a fantasist

  • Ian Stephen, 81, is being investigated over the alleged abuse of a young patient he treated in the 1980s
  • The forensic psychologist advised on the television drama Prime Suspect
  • He strenuously denies claims made against him and said woman is ‘a fantasist’

One of Scotland’s top psychologists faces being struck off over allegations of historical sex abuse.

Ian Stephen, a former Clinical Director of the State Hospital at Carstairs, is being investigated by the Health & Care Professions Council over the alleged abuse of a young patient he treated in the 1980s.

The psychologist, who has provided expert testimony at many of Scotland’s high profile trials and who advised on the television programmes Cracker and Prime Suspect, strenuously denies the claims made against him.

Top psychologist Ian Stephen, 81, is being investigated over the alleged abuse of a young patient he treated in the 1980s but strongly denies the claims made against him

Since April, 2019, Mr Stephen has faced a series of HCPC hearings behind closed doors.

At the most recent hearing – which had to be conducted online – an interim suspension was upheld by their Conduct and Competence Committee.

A final judgment will be made at a hearing in November.

But Stephen, 81, claims he did nothing wrong and has told the council, which oversees health and care professionals in the UK, that the woman making the allegations is ‘a fantasist’.

He said: ‘I didn’t hear until February or March last year when somebody mentioned that there had been some accusations.

‘I didn’t actually hear what those accusations were until April or May.

‘At that time I wrote a letter giving a complete description of the history relating to her family and how I came to know her and what she was involved in and so on.

‘She’s a fantasist to be quite honest.

‘There is one situation where she describes when the mother invited me down to visit her.

Ian Stephen helped Helen Mirren (pictured) deliver a convincing portrayal in the gripping 1990s television drama Prime Suspect

‘She makes accusations about what happened during that time, but unfortunately the mother’s dead and I’m not sure if the father is still alive.

‘She says she was aged 12 or something like that which is ridiculous.

‘I can’t remember all the details.

‘But the details she gave of her age and date of birth, everything, were all over the place.’

He also refutes a claim that his accuser struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the alleged abuse.

Instead, he says she craved his attention and made up the stories about him because she was spurned.

He said: ‘She gives a story that I had sex with her in the back garden of her parents’ house which is rubbish because her mother was in the home.

‘The reason she got angry with me was because I wouldn’t go and speak to her and I was spending all my time talking to her mother rather than her.

‘She said she was abused as a child but I never knew her as a child.

‘She was 16 when I was first asked to see her.

‘I haven’t had any contact with her for ages, but she just doesn’t give up.

‘I don’t know the motivation.

‘I think she was probably angry at me because I didn’t give her the attention she was looking for.’

He added: ‘Some years later she had left and gone away down south.

‘She had a boyfriend and they came to visit me on the way up the road to the north of Scotland.

‘That was when she visited my home.

‘There are things like that but there was nothing sexual in it at all.’

The psychologist says his wife doesn’t know about the allegations, but that they were looked into 15 years ago by police.

At the time he agreed to be interviewed with a solicitor present.

‘The police contacted me about it around 2005 and I attended a meeting with them,’ Stephen said.

Mr Stephen was also closely involved in the hunt for the notorious serial killer Bible John who who terrorised Glasgow in the late 1960s, killing three women. Pictured: Artists impression of Bible John

‘They interviewed me and I gave them all the information that I’ve given to you.

‘They followed up and I gave them contacts, all the people who would have had information so I presume they followed that up before they came to their conclusion that they needn’t take things further.

‘The police were very thorough and they found nothing and they have told HCPC that they are not interested in pursuing the matter.

‘The health council have contacted the police a number of times and the police have said the case is over and done with and there’s no prosecution to be made.’

Despite that, Stephen – who began practicing in 1965 – claims he is not being given a fair hearing by the council, which lists him as a Practitioner Psychologist.

He said: ‘I’m concerned that the HCPC tends to take the version of the person making the accusation rather than getting the facts.

‘I wrote a fairly full detailed explanation but the health committee paid no attention.

‘They ignored anything that I said even though my stuff was the facts and hers was a fantasy.

‘To me, they’ve made a balls of it.

‘They lost paperwork and it’s been chaos ever since with things not being passed on and with the person who is supposed to be presenting the case at the hearings totally ignoring anything I’ve said at all.

‘I’ve not been given a fair hearing.

‘I have never abused anybody. I didn’t abuse her.’

A spokesperson for HCPC said: ‘The hearing of Mr Ian Stephen was heard before the Health and Care Professions Tribunal, sitting as a Panel of the HCPC Conduct and Competence Committee on 13 August 2020.

‘The Panel decided to confirm the existing Interim Suspension Order.

‘A date for the final hearing is not yet decided and will be confirmed in due course.’

Stephen says he expects to be struck off at a meeting in November despite having already retired due to ill health.

Listed on his Linked In page as a Consultant Forensic Clinical Psychologist until February 2019, he said: ‘As far as I’m aware all they can do is stop me practicing, but I’ve stopped working anyway due to ill health. I had a hip operation.

‘The reason they stop people practicing is to prevent something happening to people but I’m not practicing.

‘It’s one of those chicken and egg things.

‘I suppose I could be struck off, but I’ve said to them several times that I stopped working in November 2018.

‘This wasn’t brought to my attention until April 2019.

‘There is no truth in these accusations at all.

‘People say things and you’ve got to disprove them rather than them having to prove what they are saying.

‘It is total cock ‘n’ bull so to speak, but I can’t prove it.’

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