Sunday, 12 November 2017

Trial By Media

As many of my followers are probably aware, in 2012 I was publicly arrested as part of some police 'Operation' for an allegation of an inappropriate after-shower inspection in 1981, following a supposed P.E. lesson. The accuser was then 11 years old. The facts that a) I have never taught P.E. and b) I have never taught 11 year olds in a thirty year teaching career did not prevent the very public arrest and the subsequent, immediate, widespread publicity. I was driven to the cusp of suicide and, had I been cursed with a sensitive nature and had not endured a tough boarding school education, I would certainly have carried out this awful act.

It was the publicity which drove me to despair. You see everything you have built up ruined by the court of public opinion. The untutored mob of the evil internet (none had ever met me) repeatedly entreated me to kill myself at that time.

And still anonymity is refused to those facing a mere allegation.

On a TV debate programme I watched earlier today, the journalist Yasmin Alibhai Brown stated that, on the other side of the argument, Harvey Weinstein would not have been exposed had his name been kept out of the press. Yes he would have been - it would have happened straight after he had been found guilty in a court of law. This is the time to publish, thereby humiliate, people accused of abuse. Anyone who has had to experience his or her name being published in a story of alleged child abuse will testify to the horror of the experience: it's degrading, it's unalloyed cruelty - even if one is totally innocent. I had never met my accuser!

The police use this process of naming accused people to harvest (trawling, it's called) statements from other accusers, who are not hard to find if you offer a generous compensation payout at the end of the process. Indeed, money is paid out even if the accused is not charged or is found not guilty. What the police lack in quality 'evidence', they make up for in quantity, if they can.

We no longer live in an age when people are afraid to step forward to claim abuse. Even if Weinstein's name had been kept away from the media, local Hollywood gossip would have spread that the police were investigating him. But his name should NOT have been put officially into the public arena until he is found guilty of an offence in a court of law.

Otherwise, we maintain a system whereby accused people are used as an unfortunate by-product of the way we administer so-called justice. If this continues, then, I fear, there are going to be many more people, just like Welsh Assembly Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant, who are driven to take their own lives. I know exactly how Mr. Sergeant felt, as do the hundreds of people who have also faced this appalling practice.

1 comment:

  1. Trial by media helps no one. The police are not implementing the recommendations of the Henriques independent review . Meaning those accused will carry on being named, while the accuser's identity is not known. I feel so sad for the family of Carl Sargeant. My OH told me the other day , that he understands how Carl felt. There needs to be a re-balance in these kind of cases. Many are being FA of SA, and they are branded guilty fro the start. Guilty until proven innocent - how can you prove your innocence, when no evidence is needed to secure a conviction. Other than the words of others ?