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Religious Studies academic appears as expert on Rochdale Satanists documentary

'We are not witches' Parents talk of their living nightmare text in the style of newspaper headline over an aerial shot of Manchester

Dr David Robertson, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, provided his expertise in a documentary on the infamous Rochdale Satanists scandal.

When Evil Came to Rochdale, broadcast on Channel 5 on 28 April, explores the 1990 case of six families accused by social service workers of the satanic ritual abuse of children. Children were taken into care, placed into foster homes and barred from all contact with their families. For some, it would be an unbearably long time before they saw their parents again.

The documentary by Big Deal Films takes the scandal as a starting point to explore infamous Satanic panic cases - a type of moral hysteria fuelled by overzealous law enforcement, unsubstantiated statements from children and suggestive interrogation by therapists and prosecutors.

Dr Robertson notes that “I'm old enough to remember the original Satanic Panic - when I was fifteen, the Minister complained to the local paper about our role-playing club using the church hall for sinister purposes.”

On his involvement in the documentary, he says that “despite the personal connection, and the somewhat tabloid title, there is a serious issue addressed in the documentary - religious discrimination.

“It is a story about how outrageous and fantastical claims were taken seriously by the media, police, psychologists and governments because they came from members of an established religion, leading to innocent people being arrested, separated from their families and suffering decades of stigmatisation.

“As the documentary shows, this is the real danger - and we still haven't dealt with it.”

Discover more about Dr Robertson’s research.

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