OPERATION YEWTREE AND THE WITCH HUNT FOR SEX OFFENDERS – If there is one thing I have learned in life it is the simple fact that we all agree to disagree. Agreeing or disagreeing is what makes up our individuality and ultimate shapes us into whom and what we are.
Before I get into this article and its debate I want you to at least be able to appreciate that we all have different points of view and that the views of others must be at least respected if your view is to be afforded a level of respect.
I doubt I have to fully explain Operation Yewtree which was initiated by Scotland Yard in the wake of Sir Jimmy Savile’s death and the pursuing allegations over child sex abuse throughout his years.
Left: Rolf Harris | Right: Max Clifford - Accused of Child Abuse under Operation Yewtree
I remember the day I read the news that Sir Jimmy had died and I noticed the hordes of celebrities and public pouring out their regret for the loss of a man that gave so much to charity throughout his life.
Of course as history tells us; no good deed ever goes unpunished and it wasn’t long after Sir Jimmy’s death that people started to come forward with allegations of child sex abuse.
It wasn’t the first time that these allegations had been raised; on the contrary Louis Theroux posed the question to Sir Jimmy in a televised interview in which he denied any such activity.
In 2007 Sir Jimmy was question by the police over allegations of sexual abuse at a Children’s Hospital but due to insufficient evidence the investigation was eventually dropped.
As the news video report above suggests; most victims believed that coming forward while Sir Jimmy Savile was alive simply would not have been believed due to his standing in the community and his persona of being one of the most loved BBC celebrities; which was bolstered by his flamboyant fund raising for Children’s Charities.
There are mixed feelings over the allegations with many believing that Sir Jimmy was a prolific sex offender while others feel that this is nothing more than a witch hunt that is designed to compensate the victims financially from Sir Jimmy’s estate.
On the 11th January 2013 the Metropolitan Police released a detailed report that featured on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ which detailed the prolific child abuse and noted that Sir Jimmy could have been prosecuted on at least three separate incidences but the allegations were ignored.
Operation Yewtree has caused the BBC much humiliation with allegations of cover-ups while BBC bosses were fully aware of what Sir Jimmy, and others, were up to, which leads me onto the on-going Yewtree investigation.
Left: Jim Davidson | Right: Dave Lee Travis – Accused of Child Abuse under Operation Yewtree
One thing is apparent and that is that the investigative services and the BBC, at the time, failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse which has now spawned a wave of victims coming forward with detailed allegations of what is believe to be widespread abuse by a number BBC staff; not just Sir Jimmy Savile.
In order to write this article I asked a number of my friends to give their views and as I expected these was wide and varied. Most believe there is sufficient evidence to suggest Sir Jimmy was a paedophile and is guilty of the crimes alleged. However the view is also one of an on-going witch-hunt whereby the police are simply questioning anybody and everybody and making accusations of those who came in to contact with Sir Jimmy during his career.
These allegations are backed up by alleged victims who now appear to come from everywhere; it appears there is not a day that goes by without another victim coming forward to point the finger at a celebrity which if pursued and found to be accurate in a court of law will result in a civil action for damages.
As Operation Yewtree gained momentum so did the number of celebrities that became accused of child abuse. To date the police have interviewed, arrested and are now prosecuting a plethora of TV personalities and others under Operation Yewtree.
It is interesting that this morning a Barrister, Barbara Hewson, has come out and argued that Operation Yewtree is nothing more than a celebrity witch hunt in which most of the alleged offenses are little more than misdemeanours and further stated that Operation Yewtree is nothing more than a ‘grotesque spectacle’ that has nothing to do with either justice or of public interest.
It is Barbara Hewson’s view that none of these men would either have been accused or hunted down by the police if not for their status of being a celebrity.
Barbara Hewson further stated that the age of consent should be lowered to 13 years of age in a bid to end the relentless pursuit of old men, mainly celebrities, in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
With the recent prosecution of Stuart Hall, Barbara Hewson noted that his offenses are nothing more than a misdemeanour which under any other circumstances would not have been given so much airtime and neither would the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have been bothered to prosecute such a case if the person involved had not been a TV personality.
Barbara Hewson also feels that it is time, if justice is to be seen to be done, that the law is changed to prevent anonymity for complainants.
“What we have here is the manipulation of the British criminal-justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle. It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest” Barbara Hewson, Barrister
Barbara Hewson’s opinions, originally published for online magazine ‘spiked’ has come under attack from a number of children’s charities including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (nspcc) who view her comments as ‘ill-informed’ and that coming from a seasoned Barrister simply ‘beggars belief’.
While all of the celebrities, that have been questioned and arrested under Operation Yewtree have denied the allegations, there are some that have acknowledged that ‘resistance is useless’ and that the public nor the justice system wants justice but rather a spectacle of dragging TV personalities through the mud. As they say in the news industry; there is no better news that bad news – it’s what sells newspapers and boosts visitor attendances to their online publications.
While the NSPCC is notably upset by Barbara Hewson’s remark she didn’t let their remarks go unanswered and retorted with the following statement;
“Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt’ are not comparable to cases such as the Ealing Vicarage rape or Fordingbridge gang rape and murders from 1986 and anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.
As for the likes of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPC) they are nothing more than Moral Crusaders who have infiltrated Operation Yewtree for their own gain in heightened publicity.” Barbara Hewson
With the recent prosecution of Stuart Hall who has pleaded guilty to abusing children as young as nine years of age most would agree that this is a crime that cannot be defended nor condoned in any argument.
Above: Stuart Hall – Accused of Child Abuse under Operation Yewtree
The argument here is as to whether there is validity in the on-going pursuit of suspects in Operation Yewtree and this in my view can only be determined by those who have been victimised by those accused. We cannot, as a society, condone, hide or indeed trivialise accusations of child abuse and to suggest such a thing would be against the grain of a moral society.
We must, at all cost, defend those who are vulnerable and some will certainly view Barbara Hewon’s suggestion of lowering the age of consent to 13 years of age totally abhorrent.
Do you think that Operation Yewtree should continue to hunt down those accused of child abuse 40 plus years ago or should the police close the book on historical abuse? Have your say… leave your comments below.