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22 January 2020

Richard Hoskins (1964 - ) theologian, criminologist

​Hoskins was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, and mainly educated at Uppingham School, a boarding school in Rutland County, where he was sexually abused by a teacher who later was sent to prison. When he was fifteen, he sent off for mail-order oestrogen from Amsterdam. However his father intercepted the package and incinerated all of it at the bottom of the garden. Richard was pulled out of Uppingham, completed his sixth form elsewhere, and was then sent to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to learn how to be a ‘real man’. This led to a Short Service Commission in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

At the age of twenty-one Hoskins, again a civilian, travelled to Africa intending a gap year, but stayed six years until 1992. He and his wife spent most of the time working at the Baptist Mission medical centre in Bolobo, upriver from Kinshasha in what was then Zaire. In 1988 they became pregnant with twins. However the twins were two months premature, and a breech birth was required. The first daughter was a still-birth; the second survived, but only for 18 months.

The Hoskinses returning to Britain in 1992 and Richard read theology at Oxford University. The Hoskinses had two further children. Richard did a PhD at King's College London with a thesis on the doctrine of the trinity among Anglo Catholics at Oxford University in the late 19th century. Richard became a senior lecturer at Bath Spa University teaching African religions, and a senior research fellow at King's College London. The Hoskinses divorced. Richard remarried, and with his second wife wrote several entries on African religions for The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature.

On 21 September 2001 the mutilated body of a very young black male was found floating in the Thames. The police dubbed him ‘Adam’, not knowing his name. Suspecting a ritual murder, they approached Hoskins for his knowledge of African religions. He was then called as an expert witness in many other criminal cases, including numerous high-profile murders, such as those of Victoria Climbié, Jodi Jones and the Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu case (in the last of which the killers claimed ‘kindoki’ – that the murdered child had evil powers). Hoskins was the only registered multicultural expert on the UK national police database at that time.

His first book on this subject was Sacrifice: journey to the heart of darkness, 2005.

In 2006 Hoskins was the lead presenter in Witch Child, a BBC 2 documentary re African children accused of being witches and then severely abused.

In 2009 his son with his first wife, David, then 19 and with mental health problems, climbed an electricity pylon and touched the 33,000 volt cable. He was then in hospital for 42 days before life support was switched off – a decision that his mother, the first Mrs Hoskins had to take.

Soon afterwards Richard’s second marriage ended. Which left him free to explore his feminine side, mainly taking instruction from YouTube videos.

In 2012 Richard published his account of the 2001 murder of ‘Adam’. The Boy in the River was both a commercial and critical success.

In autumn 2014 Hoskins surfed the Dark Web and purchased oestrogen from a site registered in Vanuatu. “They all seemed bona fide and a few even carried expiry dates”. They worked, but they also made him ill. A trip to the doctor, and, as Rachel, Hoskins was referred to the National Health Service gender identity system. By February 2015 she was not only accepted but fast-tracked into the programme. She was now on prescribed oestrogen, and over 18 months had her facial hair removed by NHS electrolysis.

Rachel 2016
In September 2015 Hoskins was asked by detectives of Wiltshire Police to examine claims made by "Lucy X" of a VIP satanic sex-abuse ring which was said to include the deceased former Prime Minister Edward Heath, as part of two separate investigations by the force into sexual abuse. She was addressed as Dr Rachel Hoskins, and so referred to in press reports. She compiled a 40,000-word report, and also went public alleging that some of the evidence presented was ‘preposterous’, ‘fantastical’ and gained through the ‘controversial’ practice of recovered-memory therapy. After the Mail on Sunday article in November 2016 on the Edward Heath investigation in which Dr Rachel Hoskins was mentioned for the first time, questions were inevitably asked.

In her Goodreads blog, she wrote 
“I was worried about reaction to my public and police profile. I needn’t have been. Most of my friends and family have been fantastically supportive and it helped that other public figures have acted as pioneers. When I eventually dragged myself to my GP she was brilliant and the NHS took me through counselling and then onto properly prescribed treatment. … I’d like to think we’re reaching a point in society when gender transition or gender-flex no longer matter. We certainly fixate too much on isolated body parts as human identifiers. … What’s important is to be true to yourself and value yourself. And for others to accept you for who you are. Be happy. That’s all that counts.”
In October 2016 Hoskins, apparently as Richard, went to Paris for the release of the French translation of The Boy in the River, published as L’Enfant dans la Tamise.  From there Hoskins flew to Bangkok and took a train to Malaysia “on the trail of both traffickers and some practices in the world of spiritual healers …..On a personal level I feel like the real Richard is back”.

In December Hoskins was back in Bangkok for an orchiectomy and facial feminisation surgery with Dr Sutin Khobunsongserm. This cost £15,000 and included only one night’s stay. Recovery had to be done in a hotel. Hoskins began to doubt the path she was on. In March 2017 Rachel received a referral letter for vaginoplasty at Brighton’s Nuffield Hospital, but instead went as a private patient to Nightingale Clinic, London. They diagnosed her as suffering from complex PTSD: multiple severe traumas, from the deaths of two daughter in Zaire, from the death of David, and from the gruesome nature of her police consulting work. Hoskins underwent intensive trauma counselling, and returned to being Richard, taking male corrective hormones.

In January 2020 he wrote an account of his gender journey for the Mail on Sunday.
“For a decade, I ran and ran. I tried to escape my life, my very identity. I changed my
gender to leave Richard and his life behind. Inspired by youthful images of smiling women, I grabbed the chance for a different life. I know I’m unusual and that few others have experienced the multiple traumas to have befallen me. I accept, too, there are some people who feel they have no choice but to change gender and I have sympathy, although I suspect the true numbers are small. For the few who genuinely feel they have no choice, perhaps a third gender would be a way forward: neither male nor female. For as I know all too well, it is nigh impossible for surgeons to replicate female body parts in full, nor can they alter the XY chromosomes with which most men are born. There is, after all, an added issue here about respect for women born as women. Looking back, I sometimes think that I was insensitive, that in my rush to change identity I trampled through places which rightly afford women their own dignity and space. What really gave me the right to use ladies’ loos, for example? Most of all, we need to recognise that gender transition can, in truth, be a misguided attempt to escape the person you were born to be – and demand a halt to this dangerous headlong charge.”

*Not the NZ trans activist Rachel Hoskin.
*Not the Christian Nordic writer Richard Kelly Hoskins; nor the Cornish writer Richard Hoskin.


There are passing mentions of novels by Hoskins. The first one was apparently called The Ritual Killer and published in 2015. However the book is in neither Amazon nor World.Cat. In addition, the article “Kimbanguism” in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, written by Hoskins and his wife cites a 2003 book by Hoskins on the topic. This too is not found in either World.Cat or Amazon.

Hoskins is listed on the Wikipedia page for old Uppinghamsians.

Virginia Prince had a PhD in pharmacology, and listed her doctorate in the context of sexology and counselling.   This was at best misleading.   Hoskins has a PhD in theology and is referred to as the criminologist Dr Hoskins.   I really doubt that the trinitarianism of  John Illingworth contributes much to the study of ritual murder.    Not that I regard Hoskins' skill as a criminologist as being any the less for being learnt on the job, but the use the Dr title in the context is misleading.

Hoskins is not the only trans person to get better service for already being on hormones, blackmarket or otherwise.   However it was very marked in his case.  Perhaps because he graduated from private school and Oxford.  Most applicants for NHS gender change get such slow service that they have plenty of time to reconsider.   In addition it seems that even in 2016, Hoskins was not really presenting as female.   While news articles in various newspapers referred to Dr Rachel Hoskins, the person interviewed on television was a slightly androgynous Richard Hoskins - see video below.
  • Richard Hoskins. The Trinitarian Theology of John Richardson Illingworth and William Temple: and the implications for contemporary Trinitarian theology. PhD Thesis, University of London, 1998. Published as The Doctrine Of The Trinity In The Works Of John Richardson Illingworth And William Temple, And The Implications For Contemporary Trinitarian Theology. The Edwin Mellen Press, 2000.
  • Richard Hoskins. "Social and Transcendent: The Trinitarian Theology of John Richardson Illingworth Re-examined”. International Journal of Systematic Theology, 1,2, July 1999: 185-202.
  • Richard Hoskins. Sacrifice: journey to the heart of darkness. Little, Brown, 2005.
  • Richard Hoskins & Faith Warner. “African Religions and Nature Conservation”, “Biodiversity and Religion in Equatorial Africa”, “Kimbanguism” in Bron R Taylor (ed) The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. Thoemmes Continuum, 2005.
  • Richard Hoskins. “Muti and African Healing”, “Muti Killings” in Bron R Taylor (ed) The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. Thoemmes Continuum, 2005.
  • Ian Cobain & Vikram Dodd. “How media whipped up a racist witch-hunt”. The Guardian, 25 Jun 2005. Online.
  • “King's Sociologist of Religion presents documentary”. King’s College London, 4 April 2006. Archive.
  • Witch Child, with Richard Hoskins, BBC 2. 4 April 2006. Online.
  • Richard Hoskins. Boy in the River: a shocking true story of murder and sacrifice in the heart of London. Macmillan, 2012.  Translated into French by Marie Causse. L’Enfant dans la Tamise: Mautres rituels et sorcellerie au Coeur de Londres aujourd’hui. Belfond, 2015.
  • Richard Hoskins. “How a criminologist probing the ritual 'boy in the Thames' murder had to confront the personal tragedy of his own daughter's mysterious death in Africa”. Mail on Sunday, 19 May 2012. Online.
  • Richard Hoskins. “How London became the child abuse capital of the world: Trafficked here by gangs, prey to pimps, paedophiles and murderers... the booming trade in 'lost' children that shames us all”. Mail on Sunday, 2 August 2014. Online.
  • Rachel Hoskins. “Gender: are you sure you know?”. Goodreads, January 1, 2016. Online.
  • Rachel Hoskins. “A Trans response to Greer & Humphries”. Goodreads, January 5, 2016. Online.
  • Richard Hoskins. “The Witch Children: Tortured by evil exorcists, but 'multicultural' Britain is too liberal to admit they exist”. Mail on Sunday, 30 April 2016. Online.
  • Martin Beckford with Rachel Hoskins. “Sir Edward Heath accuser is a 'satanic sex fantasist': Police warned by OWN expert that ritual abuse claims are false - including how the former PM 'went to candlelit forest for paedophile parties' ”. Mail on Sunday, 26 November 2016. Online.
  • Robert Booth. “Ted Heath's accuser 'gave child abuse inquiry fantastical evidence'”. The Guardian, 27 Nov 2016.  Online.
  • Richard Bartholomew. “Police Probing Recovered “Memories” of Satanic Ritual Abuse Involving Former Prime Minister Edward Heath”. Bartholomew’s Notes, November 27, 2016. Online.
  • Rachel Hoskins. “Going public as Rachel Hoskins”. Goodreads, November 29, 2016. Online.
  • Jean La Fontaine. Witches and Demons: A Comparative Perspective on Witchcraft and Satanism. Berghahn Books, 2016: 59, 61-2, 64, 71, 72n13, 81.
  • “Should we have the right to decide our own gender?”. The Big Questions, BBC1, 5th February 2017. Archive.
  • Richard Bartholomew. “Expert: Satanic Ritual Abuse Claims are the “Core Strand” of Wiltshire Police Investigation into Edward Heath”. Bartholomew’s Notes, April 16, 2017. Online.
  • Richard Hoskins in David James & Jane Lunnon (eds) The State of Independence: Key Challenges Facing Private Schools Today. Routledge, 2019: 115-6.
  • Richard Hoskins. “Academic had gruelling sex swap surgery and then changed his mind at the last minute - and is now accusing the 'transition' industry of pushing vulnerable people like him into irreversible operations they'll regret”. Mail on Sunday, 11 January 2020. Online.
  • Lara Keay. “'I was very convincing': Academic who detransitioned four years after living as Rachel says he was 'hurtled through the system' and would never have changed gender if he was assessed properly by therapists”. Daily Mail, 21 January 2020. Online.

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