WITCH HUNT FOR CELEBRITY PAEDOPHILES – Yesterday Michael Le Vell was acquitted on all charges of child sex abuse. After the trial Mr. Le Vell’s family members gave a press statement that condemned the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for engaging in nothing less than a public fueled celebrity witch hunt for paedophiles.
There are many who believe that Mr. Le Vell’s case should never have been brought to a court of law and yet despite the CPS failing to provide any evidence and where the jury’s decision was unanimous, the CPS remain adamant that prosecuting Mr. Le Vell was the right thing to do.
Within less than a month after Jimmy Savile was laid to rest reports and allegations into his sexual misconduct with children flooded the newspapers. Such were the extent of allegations of child abuse that Scotland Yard set up Operation Yewtree.
Operation Yewtree was established in order to uncover the truth behind the child abuse allegations laid against Jimmy Savile. Unfortunately whilst there is a clear degree of evidence it was obvious that Jimmy Savile could never be punished for his crimes.
In the perusing months Operation Yewtree extended its reach resulting in a number of high profile celebrities and TV personalities being taken in for police questioning; some being charge and some being let free whilst further inquiries were made.
Of the people questioned, including Stuart Hall, Dave Lee Travis, Max Crawford, Freddie Star, Rolf Harris and Jim Davidson but to name a few; Operation Yewtree was begining to resemble a 13th Century Witch Hunt which was fueled by the public’s desire to have these men humiliated and punished and to sell vast amounts of newspapers on the backs of the stories.
So where do we stand? Was it wrong to prosecute Mr. Le Vell? The issue here is that we are all very protective of children; no matter whose child it is.
With cases of Mark Bridger and Michael Philpott the public were further filled with both outrage and fear and therefore appeared obtuse as to who the police brought in for questioning or who the CPS prosecuted; providing it was seen that something was being done to protect our children.
My fear is that we are crying wolf and we are all aware of how that story ends. The trouble is we are in real danger of turning into a skeptical and sinister society due to our lack of trust. The issue here is that we appear willing to publicly humiliate anyone simply to satisfy our need for a very public trial and, even though Mr. Le Vell has been vindicated, I doubt very much if he will ever truly heal from the wounds that the public, press and authorities have inflicted upon him.
I am not suggesting for one moment that the police should cease and desist from tracking down and arresting paedophiles but this should be done in such a way so as to protect a person’s identity until the CPS has solid evidence that would secure a conviction.
During Mr. Le Vell’s trial he told reporters of the anguish he felt over the lies and allegations laid upon him and became so distraught at times that he often contemplated suicide.
The CPS was ordered before the Home Affairs Select Committee over the case and again the CPS defended its position stating that ‘the decision to prosecute was the right decision’ and that the case was ‘properly brought before the court’. The CPS felt that it would have been wrong not to bring the case to court and was within the public interest to do so.
Mr. Le Vell, whilst now completely vindicated, did tell reporters that despite of the unanimous acquittal he still feels like his life has been destroyed and no matter where he goes there will always be the stigma and public skepticism attached that he could be a paedophile.
The CPS, in defense of its actions, did point out that there are safeguards within our judicial process in that each case is presided over by a judge and that a jury has the ultimate say.
The CPS stance is clear in that just because such a case results in an acquittal of the defendant should not suggest that it was wrong to bring it to court.
We often like to perceive that our justice system is open and fair; it was of course James I who indoctrinated the idea that ‘justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done’.
This is the very reason why courts have a public gallery and a jury system. However in cases such as these the victim (or accuser) is afforded complete anonymity; even after the defendant has been acquitted. Could this be viewed as a way of hiding the truth and whether indeed such a person exists – could the CPS fabricate such a person in order to bring a case?
We would like to think not but it is human nature that dictates that we do not like to lose and therefore it is not surprising to see cases where people have been wrongly convicted or acquitted due to evidence presented.
In the case of children we do have a high duty of care to consider; after all if their allegations are indeed truthful then they have certainly suffered enough trauma without having to drag them through a very public case.
What is the answer? Is this simply a witch hunt? The truth is that we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t but our overwhelming sense of morality will not allow us to look the other way if there is a possibility that someone has committed a crime and where that crime involves a child then our morality takes a step higher in order to preserve their innocence.