'False Memory Syndrome', Memory and the Law Group

The British False Memory Society – a personal story

A quarter of a century ago information about myself and my supposed false memory was given to the British False Memory Society (BFMS) without my consent. This information has been used to construct all sorts of theories about myself and my memory. It is very bizarre as it was all third-party information. There was nothing objectively true or false about it, no court cases, and no police involvement. It was simply disputed within family conversations. I do not understand how it is ethical for psychologists to affirm that my disputed memories are false without having further evidence.

This is the reality of the experience of someone whose life has been directly affected by the controversy surrounding the accuracy of memory – away from the laboratory, away from academic debate – this is what happens to real people in real life. The quote comes from a post sent to us following our coverage of the Memory and Law debacle. The full post is here and contains important and well-researched information about the British False Memory Society, members of its Scientific Advisory Board and the tactics used by the BFMS.

One of the areas that is of particular concern to us is the reference to the Centre for Memory and Law at City University. In the absence of formal, up-to-date, evidenced-based balanced guidance for practitioners and the courts, where will lawyers go? The Centre’s title says it all, and yet it is headed by someone whose links with the BFMS are well-known. Karl Sabbagh, who was convicted of grooming of a teenage girl in 2019, remained an adviser to the BFMS until 2021 who only acted when contacted by a journalist [see here] – how can we trust them?

We continue to urge the BPS to rescind their decision to abandon the work of the Law and Memory Group; to ensure that any future group is properly representative of all the views and controversies; and that any new group is set up to included the voices of those who have experienced the machinations of organisations such as the BFMS at first hand.

Posted by BPSWatch Admin

Important Addition information (16 April 2021)

In the original version of this post a reference was made to the BFMS Archive being held at City University. We have been informed by City University that it “.. does not hold personal data for which the British False Memory Society is a data controller.  Any enquiries about this should be directed to the BFMS. Any files for which BFMS is a data controller were securely transferred to the BFMS from City in December 2017.”.

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