Tag Archives: Rolf Harris

Integrity: the power of independent action

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An article in today’s Independent newspaper by columnist Jasmin Alibhai-Brown reveals how an anonymous letter sent to her by one of TV presenter Stuart Hall‘s child victims was instrumental in securing his recent conviction for the sexual abuse of young girls. (This article contains upsetting details of sex abuse.)

Whilst recently re-watching TV footage of Mark Williams-Thomas‘ ITV ‘Exposed’ documentaries and the subsequent Panorama episode, I was once again struck by a certain pattern of behaviour: how many players in the Savile scandal – over the course of four decades – visibly squirmed whilst trying to explain how they managed to ignore both persistent rumours, first-hand witnesses and their gut instincts about Savile’s violent, predatory tendencies. To varying degrees they knew, but did nothing…

How refreshing then, to see someone with a moderate level of media clout actually take up the baton and, like Williams-Thomas, use her position for the greater good. Reporting the – anonymous – complaint may have come to naught, she may not have been believed; but she listened to her conscience and took the chance and as a result a dangerous criminal has been apprehended. Unlike Savile he is still alive to face punishment.

Some, including the Mirror‘s FleetStreetFox have argued against the publicising of investigations into public figures accused of historic offences, citing the old saw of damaged reputations. The conviction of serial offenders such as Hall firmly refutes this position. Hall initially feigned innocence and vowed to fight the allegations; but publicity surrounding his case encouraged fresh witnesses to come forward and in the face of overwhelming evidence he capitulated and pled guilty.

There’s a lesson here: honesty, integrity and co-operation bring results. The old boys network, built on career-insecurity and awe that protected the likes of Savile is not insurmountable. Two days ago it was announced that Yewtree detectives will fly to Sydney, Australia to interview a 43 year-old witness to improper conduct on the part of Rolf Harris back in the ’90s. Like so many witnesses to such crimes, her fear of not being believed was an overwhelming factor in her failure to come forward previously. This is what hierarchy, what patriarchy does: it creates artificial power structures where the word of one person is worth less than that of another; where concealment of wrongdoing, of criminality is a surer way of maintaining an illusion of personal, or career safety than is honesty.

The cost to our individual and collective conscience, integrity and health is high, however. I hope Savile‘s – on occasion, inadvertant or naive – colluders, as well as his victims can live with that. I suspect both will continue to be troubled.

Alibhai-Brown has shown herself to be a woman of integrity; and thru her example, several of Hall‘s victims are, one hopes, on the road to regaining theirs.

Online Harris-ment

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Noticed a spike in my stats a couple days ago – 515 reads. To put that in context I have just 50 followers and average maybe 30 reads a day.

What’s going on? Bloody Rolf Harris again, that’s what. Arrested this time. His name first came up in Yewtree reports as early as November and he spent Christmas in The Priory afflicted with depression. Scarcely a day goes by when his name isn’t the most popular search term referring readers to this blog, even though I’ve dropped down to the second and third pages of Google/Yahoo!/Bing results. Most of the accused unearthed by Yewtree have come out fighting: it’s only him and a couple others whose names are being kept out of MSM reports, even though his name was leaked by Mark Williams-Thomas so it’s obviously kosher. Weird.

If I was him – and so stressed out by investigations, allegations and speculations – I’d want to get my side in. And surely no-one really buys into this MRA-fuelled guff about false accusations destroying credibility and careers anymore, do they? Roman Polanski, anyone? Hell, Bill Clinton – that paragon of fair and democratic treatment of females – sat on a panel, bold as brass backing The Girl Effect campaign a couple years back. The longer Harris hides away from the media spotlight, the more it looks like he’s got something to hide. Clifford, Starr, Travis et al are ‘out’ and scarcely warrant a mention. Truth is, the abuse of women and kids is just so damn banal; fit fodder for gossip but does anybody really want to know? Steubenville was a case in point: stone-cold photographic evidence of wrongdoing and media and public opinion is way sympathetic to the perps. Same with Michael Le Vell – it’s all about his anguish and damaged career prospects – the aforementioned Harris, and as for Bill Roache and his rapey (and swiftly semi-retracted, but not really) diatribe about reincarnation etc…

If anyone had started a conversation with me a few years ago about ‘rape culture’, ‘male-privilege’ or ‘patriarchy’ I’d probably have been ‘like, whatever…’. Now it’s all I see when I open up my browser. Depressing…

C’mon Rolf; at least give us your side of the story. you know you want to…

State of denial

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And the revelations continue. Today, comic Jim Davidson is identified as the latest in a succession of celebrities to be questioned as part of the ongoing Yewtree investigation into the culture of sexual crime and misdemeanor within the media.

Like Max Clifford‘s ‘…birth certificate…’ interview, Davidson‘s blog comments (apparently now deleted, see extract below) could be read as a cynical disclaimer in advance of his impending questioning. Was he one of the ‘dirty dozen’ who contacted Clifford? Did he know he was in the firing line? Pure speculation, of course…

‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

‘The Jimmy Savile witch hunt is going a bit silly now. We all are starting to speculate and accuse… even in jest. So no I don’t know who’s next. Well, if I was in the pub with the lads it would be a different story.

‘Everyone has had the nod. Everyone is now an expert. Just pick someone you don’t like and say it’s them. So I’ll be the first one to knock it on the head and belt up. How’s about that then?’

DAILY STAR

‘Front page eh?……Well I was only stating the obvious (Jim’s Newspaper). It just goes to show how much interest this Saville (sic) thing is having. I read a thing today (in The Express) some one saw Jimmy Saville (sic) pinch some girl’s bum . Apparently that is a sexual assault. Where will all this end. As odd as he was, Saville (sic) can’t defend himself.The bloke’s dead for Godsake (sic).

‘Let’s move on and get some important stories in the paper. I haven’t heard anything about Jordan lately. What’s happened?

‘Fund raising for the British Forces foundation tonight. Monday sees me, Bobby Davro, Claire Sweeny and Mike Osman off to entertain the Navy on HMS Dauntless.

‘Spare a thought today for the two British troops KIA. There’s news.

‘Oh and do I really know who the next exposed pervert is?….well, have a guess,because that’s what the press are doing,that’s what we’re all doing!’

PANORAMA

‘How come the BBC can make a program blaming the BBC?

‘It’s like having yourself arrested and then being your own prosecuting barrister!

‘The BBC has finaly (sic) gone mental. This hot bed of leftyness has asked itself the question: “Should we have known?” The answer is yes. We all knew didn’t we?

‘A bloke who’s a loner dresses and acts like a nonce and thinks he is the most important person in the world. Hmmm. I knew… and didn’t do anything. Mind you I had no proof. To me he was just another pervert.

‘There are lots of them in Showbiz. There seems to be more gay ones than straight, but that’s because there are probably more gays in showbiz than most professions.

‘Who’s next to be the victim of a media feeding frenzy? I have the answer to that but like Jimmy Savile it’s only rumours… but when these rumours come out… WOW!’

In the comments section from the DM article, ‘Tenerifediver’ added:

‘This overblown witch hunt is a publicity manoeuvre to divert attention from the Asian paedophile gangs. They are alive and active NOW, and are far greater threat. But they’re not so easy to catch or to prosecute are they? … The Asian paedophile gangs have the Human Rights bill to protect them and the spineless lawmakers who allow it to continue. No. Go for dead people! They have no defense (even if they were guilty)…’

 Talk of ‘witch hunts’ and ‘publicity manoevres’ has its consequences, though: it serves to dilute in the public mind, the severity of the implications of the proliferation and sheer mundanity of sexual violence in our societies; and Davidson‘s remarks and Tenerifediver’s message board comments exemplify perfectly most of our misconceptions around violence in general and sex abuse in particular
  • violence/sex abuse are exceptional – far from the truth: under a system of hierarchy violence is inevitable, and the circumstances under which it is condoned are largely a matter of political expediency.
  • specific allegations against – purportedly – ‘soft’ targets are part of a campaign of misdirection from ‘real’ culprits – again, misleading: ‘tip of an iceberg’ would be accurate. One of my major concerns from the outset – the surfacing of allegations against Savile in the wake of his death – was finger-pointing towards specific organizations (e.g. the BBC) at the expense of recognizing (sexual) violence as an inherent feature of hierarchy/patriarchy. The distinction to be made – if any – between ‘legitimate’ violence as perpetrated by soldiers in the ‘theatre of war’ (telling phrase) or by parents under the aegis of ‘discipline’, and ‘abuse’ is, at best, a murky one. Patriarchy inheres a parent/child relationship model between state/authorities and population which tacitly legitimizes a significant proportion of violence in interpersonal/intercultural/inter-class situations (and I admit Dworkin‘s definition of women as a class unto themselves).
  • That the outing of offenders is part of a left wing agenda – if exposing an undercurrent of violence in society is on anyone’s agenda, it’s a feminist one: historically, the left and right demonstrate much of a muchness in their adherence to the patriarchy/hierarchy which gives rise to conflict and abuse.
  • the conflating of gender and race – history is littered with examples of attempts to tie the tendency towards violence onto genes specific to certain ethnic groups. This is troubling and misleading on two counts: that such pronouncements are almost without exception made by majority/oppressor populations against minority/oppressed populations, and, that it locates the cause of violence primarily in nature when, in fact, nurture is overwhelmingly causal. This has implications in gender terms, as well as racial ones. Taboos around violence perpetrated not only against, but also by women remain hugely problematic in today’s societies, as well as historically. Women do commit acts of violence – though to date no women have been implicated in the Yewtree investigation – and find themselves judged not only by the ‘normal’ standards applied to male offenders but additionally as contravenors of ‘natural law’ in societies terms. Patriarchy shafts us all (too often literally) but some more than others.
  • The spurious correlation between homosexuality and sexual abuse – read Guy Kettelhack‘s insightful Dancing Around The Volcano to hear how the Gay community is coming to terms with with ‘deviant’ sexuality (arguably better than their straight counterparts) and foreground the fact that 95% of sexaual violence is male on female, like this
  • perpetuation of the notion of an arbitrary ‘line’ between acceptable behaviour and abuse – of course, no-one would pretend that bum-pinching=rape, or that sexist ‘jokes’ or comments are equivalent to financial sex-discrimination, but – and it’s a big but – they all sit on a continuum of attitudes and behaviours that characterize an inherently unjust, undemocratic society and culture. It was telling that Jamie Kilstein’s ‘rape jokes’ drew abuse from sexist men and approbation from feminists – we all know what’s going on and too many of us would rather it was kept quiet. A sense of entitlement is bred into males and milking that to the max is the gold-standard for climbing the ladder: this certainly appears to be the case with Savile who ascended to ‘untouchable’ status within a plethora of organizations. Who on God‘s earth would think it reasonable having a pop DJ on the board for Broadmoor? If there’s a better example of the failings of the ‘old boys network’ I’ve yet to hear…
What’s becoming clear is that – Yewtree‘s three, Savile, Savile and others and, others categories aside – there are two categories of police witness in the YT investigation: those who allow their names to be published and – in Davidson‘s case, presumably, since he’s yet to issue a formal statement – make public their denial – those who hide behind injunctions. If Harris, and the several thusfar un-named protagonists in the Yewtree investigation are innocent of any wrongdoing they would be well-advised to peek out from behind the curtain of injunction and allow their testimony into the arena of public debate as the likes of Clifford and Starr have done. (Aside: the vast majority of hits on my blog are via search engine terms ‘Rolf Harris‘ + ‘Operation Yewtree’ – none for Clifford/Starr). If they feel they’re being made guilty by implication, or association then let us hear their denial. Harris is, if reports are to be believed suicidal. The fault for this rests with a hierarchy which privately rewards the very abusive, violent and discriminatory behaviour that it purports publicly to find morally repellent. Taboo and fetish are old-accustomed bed-fellows and the ‘high’ inherent in practising taboo behaviour is proportional to the moral indignation and shame of being outed. With such a deep rooted double standard in place is it any wonder men deny allegations of sex crime, well-founded or not. But there’s denial and denial and for all our sakes – especially for our future women and children – we need to know what and who we’re dealing with. If it’s left up to the gossip-mongers, they’ve already been found guilty, whilst our culture walks free and we all lose.

A penetrating insight into farcical attitudes to rape

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Along with Operation Yewtree’s exposure of sexual violence perpetrated by once-loved showbiz institutions come the predictable bad-taste jokes…

‘My wife wanted me to spice up our sex life and meke her feel young again – the white wig and cigar didn’t go down too well…’

‘I hear Rolf Harris has dropped “Two Little Boys” from his set for the upcoming tour…’

…and so on…

The ‘rape joke’ is arguably comedy’s most contentious trope. Racist and homophobic jokes pretty much disappeared from comedy routines back in the ’90s, even if they’ve made a belated comeback appended with an ironic wink. It’s the nature of comedy to push the boundaries of decency and acceptability but it’s telling that concessions to the sensibilities of minority groups so often don’t extend to women. Comics don’t really know – and the best of them will admit, as Henning Wehn did at a gig at a gig in in Lewes recently – whether their routine is actually funny or just offensive until the crowd laughs: the other side of the coin is that the audience really doen’t know what it finds funny until the comic points it up with his ironic aside; her barbed observation. Actually, what’s really funny falls broadly into two interconnected categories: the truth, and the lies and misdirection we deploy to skirt uncomfortably around it.

You know the guy’s onto something when he can riff on sexual violence and feminists praise him for it. In fact, he has received some harsh criticism and abuse, via Twitter and Youtube, and mostly from those he refers to as ‘the rapey man brigade’. Because he tells a truth that they and many others don’t want to hear; a truth that is – in  this case, literally – laughable.

There was nothing funny about the reaction of certain elements within the gaming community when feminist (and avid video game fan) Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a study of the portrayal of gender within video games… except… well isn’t it funny, deeply ironic , that the mere prospect of such study being prompted an outpouring of exactly the kind of hostile, misogynistic sentiments that her project sought to expose: an irony one suspects, that said gamers were blissfully oblivious to. But the backlash to the backlash is the real story: in the same way that Mark Williams-ThomasExposed… documentary enabled so many of Savile‘s victims to come forward with their stories and seek catharsis, even justice, of a kind; so Sarkeesian‘s campaign, or rather the backlash against it, emboldened others equally discomfited by the culture of sexism within gaming to make their voices heard. Games may be ficticious, much as pornography and Hollywood are ficticious (and at least game producers don’t have to grapple with the ethics of employing real actors and actresses – though on reflection that might be a problem in itself) but if the end user is oblivious to the fiction then the distinction  (between it and truth) is arguably moot.

You have to stir the waters to bring the detritus, and the treasure, to the surface.

Like Sarkeesian, Kilstein dares to tell the truth. making said distintion clear. Like Sarkeesian, he brings down a shitstorm onto his head; from conservatives – that means people who want things to stay as they are; people who fear change: which specifically means men – and admittedly, some women too – who want to keep on raping, keep on getting away with raping and/or enjoy for themselves the dubious benefits of a society in which rape and the nebulous threat of rape (amonst other violences) provides them with political, social and economic capital. And like Sarkeesian, Kilstein is brave enough to go public and face down his critics; albeit thru the medium of satire.

‘… They would call me some kind of homophobic slur (a frequent conservative trope, to conflate disparate, albeit commonly politically-subversive positions: homosexuality, liberalism, feminism, leftism etc…) or they would be like “I hope you get raped”, “I’m raping someone you know” (and ludicrously) “I’m gonna rape a steak” (but note the parity in content and tone with the Sarkeesian backlash). My favorite were, there were like some homophobes that combined their homophobia and rape so they’d be like “I’m gonna rape you, queer!” And I mean that’s kind of progressive, sorta liberal of the guy like “Oh I hate gay people so much but I hate you more I’m gonna get over my fucking fear of gay people when I rape the shit out of you.” I was like “I’ll take one for the team on that…’

From a critical standpoint it’s crucial that Kilstein is satirizing misogynistic attitudes, not mocking or belittling rape victims, in contrast to the kind of rape ‘jokes’ that rightly draw much feminisic ire: from a comedic standpoint, less so: that  ‘jokes’ may superficially reinforce predjudice doesn’t necessarily render them unfunny. In much the same way that it’s not fair or reasonable to project the responsibilty for violence onto its victim – or indeed, media, guns or ‘society’ at large – nor is it fair or reasonable to project the responsibility for verbal offence onto the ‘offender’. This might at first glance appear contradictory but it highlights an intrinsic difference between verbal and physical offence:  one can learn from and combat a sexist/racist/homophobic ‘joke’ or comment  in real time – and via the internet, forever more – in a way that a victim of rape or shooting can’t. We have a shared responsibility to engage in a public discourse where the violent underbelly of our so-called civilised society is concerned. (Kilsten’s) comedy has a valid role to play here:i

‘Men always say women have it so easy because they can get laid whenever they want. Why, a woman can just walk down the street, point to a dick and, before she can count her lucky stars, that dick will be inside of her. I wish I had women chasing me at every turn! I could just walk down the street by myself at 3 in the morning and be like “Which one of these ladies is gonna take me to street-fuck land?” Sometimes they wanna fuck me so bad, they are literally chasing me in a frantic, horny, serial-killer-like state! Sometimes, with a weapon, probably to show me he has other talents than chasing! Some girls may say this is assault, but the onus is on the girl, for being out at A PLACE and WEARING THINGS! The world is your orgy!’

(my emphases)

The tragedy – and which gives Kilstein‘s satire its edge – is that too many men and women buy into exactly this kind of hype. Victim-blaming is endemic in our culture and nowhere more so than where violence against women is concerned; in her 1988 essay M’learned Friends (British feminist) Joan Smith wrote, ‘Some of the assumptions that USED TO [?] apply routinely in the area of coercive sexuality immediately come to light: most strikingly, the idea that men live their lives on a hair trigger and can be provoked to violence by the most insignificant stimulus, a notion which parallels the old proposition that women must behave with circumspection at all times because of men’s uncontrollable sexual urges.’ (my emphasis). But not everyone accepts this cynical reading of  human relations. Earlier in the same polemic, Smith quotes one Justice Rougier in his summing up of a 1988 case of indecent assault and GBH over which he presided: ‘Women … are entitled to dress attractively, even provocatively if you like, be friendly with casual acquaintances and still say no at the end of the evening without being brutally assaulted … you broke her jaw just because she wasn’t prepared to go to bed with you.’ Even in 1988, a man more representative than most of male privilege and power was able to recognize the existence and pervasiveness of a rape culture. By this time Savile had been getting away with enacting his violence for over two decades. To date, admittedly scanty reports on the progress of Yewtree nonetheless suggest he was a far-from-isolated case. The price of denying said rape-enabling culture is exemplified by 500+ belated reports of devastating violence and intimidation perpetrated by Savile, his colleagues, colluders, apologists and deniers in the media; and there’s every reason to believe that that’s the tip of a very large iceberg. And here’s the thing: rape works. It intimidates and silences people. It’s taken 40 years for Savile‘s crimes to be openly discussed and taken seriously:  which is why media players such as Sarkeesian and Kilstein, as well as survivors of Savile ought to be deserving of our praise.

Ace in the house of cards

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Max Clifford has ‘…nothing to hide…’ [Sky News]

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/max-clifford-no-truth-sex-claims-095205959.html

Irony aside, and with details of the case against him still sketchy at present – he reveals only that one charge dates back to ’77 and another a couple of years later –  it’s almost pointles to speculate on his possible innocence or guilt; suffice it to say that players on all sides will be watching developments with interest. Thru his lofty position in the world of PR, Clifford is undoubtedly privy to a great many potentially damaging untold stories from within the world of politics and media. He’s on record admitting to knowledge of the late Tory MP Alan Clark‘s sexual activities with underage girls ‘…the only slightly serious side is that he’d actually interfered with those girls from the age of fourteen.’

‘…It’s easy for me because I’ve got all the evidence; I’m the one that’s hidden it from the world…’ he says. If his covertly-recorded remarks left him open to accusations of collusion and failing in his legal and civil duty; then I’m equally concerned by his opinion that a middle-aged man soliciting underage girls for sex is ‘only slightly serious’. Sadly, such a view remains all too prevalent; nowhere more so than in the corridors and smoking rooms of the Old Boys Club, whose membership has more need than most for the services of PR from the likes of Max Clifford Associates.

It seems inconceivable then, given his connections and elevated status within the media that Clifford could have been unaware of his own impending arrest. With media nous honed over five decades in the business and – one may reasonably speculate – ample time to prepare his strategy, he’s better positioned than most to respond. In retrospect, his October revelation that  .‘Major stars from the ’60s and ’70s … concerned because of their hedonistic lifestyles’ …  are terrified of being named in connection with … Savile …’ could be interpreted as a forward excercise in damage limitation. Thru it he certainly sought to frame impending revelations in a historical context of ‘innocent times’; simultaneously playing down their seriousness whilst applying a ‘Life On Mars’ spin which (ha, ha!) implied that such things couldn’t happen today. They can and do, of course: Savile and those like him in all walks of life, not just the famous and well-connected, perpetrate their crimes over the course of a lifetime and it’s scarcely inconceivable that some of those major stars are still behaving ‘like it’s the ’60s’ today.

Guilty or not, Clifford is a position as powerful as it is precarious: with a career’s worth of insider information on movers and shakers from the international media and political communities he has a high-scoring hand to play in the game currently unfolding in the world media. Will he play his cards close to his chest as he did regarding Alan Clarke; or will he deal out a few low-scoring names to keep himself in the game? The latter seems unlikely. Nonetheless, there are almost certainly many terrified ‘names’ – not to mention less successful peers in the PR fraternity – who would love to see Clifford leave the table and it’s tempting to conclude he has been ‘shopped’ by some such individual or group. Over the course of his career he’s tangled with both major political parties, for example: is it coincidence that longstanding ‘conspiracies’ suggesting all roads lead back to government in the netherworld of paedophilia, threaten once more to be borne out once and for all, if inquiries promted by Savile and Bryn Estyn are conducted with due diligence and impartiality?  The danger for him then, is that as big a player as he is, there are others with higher stakes and better hands. Could we be looking at another Steven Messham, or even a David Kelly on the verge of his opening bid?

With the revelations concerning Savile, and speculation – following the questioning of Freddy Starr (a former client of MCA), Dave Lee Travis, Rolf Harris and a still-un-named 70-something celebrity – at an all time high, we have an unprecedented opportunity to face up to the scandal of organized sex abuse and institutionalized violence which paradoxically support the civilized facade worn by society whilst rotting its body from the inside. It’s not just parliament that is a ‘house of cards’: pluck out the right one and everything may well come crashing down; and that may turn out to be a very good thing for the safety and wellbeing of generations to come.

Not such a nice one, Cyril – and the ‘boy’ who cried ‘Rolf!’

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Three days after Mark Williams-Thomas outed Rolf Harris via Twitter as the ‘fourth man’ in the Operation Yewtree investigation and the mainstream media is still playing dumb – or maybe smart: perhaps in the aftermath of the Leveson enquiry and an ill-fated Newsnight documentary, they’re simply on their best behaviour. Alternatively, Harris has taken out an injunction, strongly suggested by newspaper reports’ familiar wording ‘cannot be named for legal reasons’. But how many well-known Australian, children’s television presenters in their 80s, with waterfront property in Berkshire (currently besieged by camera crews from major press corporations) can there be?

A confidante of Harris‘ is quoted by media sources as saying

“Quite frankly I think police should be ashamed of what they are doing … Is everyone who has ever worked with that man Savile going to be hauled in? He is being tainted with guilt by association.”

Actually this is misleading, since police sources have clarified Harris‘ questioning falls within the third, ‘others’ sub-category of Yewtree and is thus unconnected to Savile. Also, and contrary to a large percentage of Tweets claiming that Harris has been arrested, he was in fact merely questioned and subsequently released without charge.

Exponents of the MSM and public users of social media alike, love to trumpet British justices’ lofty maxim of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ – much as I and others in the catering profession glibly adhere to the fanciful notion that ‘the customer is always right’ – and many are doing so in this case. It is a conceit, however – one that only the truly naïve would take at literal, face-value – as evidenced by the case of MP Cyril Smith which – eventually, and posthumously – made national headlines, though, as with Savile, never resulted in formal criminal charges.

A strong Prima Facie case – including a confession from Smith himself – was first presented by Greater Manchester Police to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 1970. It was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who nixed it. This also happened on two further occasions in 1998 and 1999. Whilst not necessarily conclusive evidence of the widespread conspiracy mooted by the likes of David Icke (who, as one of the few long-term campaigners outside of the Women’s Movement to have worked to expose institutionalized sexual misconduct and violence, forever pissed on his own credibility chips by tainting potentially believable stories of corruption with fairy stories involving Satanism, lizards and alien blood-lines) it certainly proves that as far back as the ’60s, authorities were colluding to suppress knowledge of serious criminal activities perpetrated by the ‘great and the good’ in public life. This will inevitably lead to increased public and press speculation regarding knowledge and suspicion of paedophile activity within the care system, Whitehall and even the DPP itself. Also, as Williams- Thomas Tweeted later, conversing about the broader issue of institutionalized sex-abuse :

‘We can learn a lot from the past -but only if we want to.#Savile has changed a climate & given confidence for many to report’.

This in a nutshell demonstrates why, in spite of (in my opinion, much-exaggerated) fears of a witch-hunt, it is imperative that every case is properly investigated, including, where possible, the interviewing of suspects and other witnesses. In a statement regarding the original complaint against Smith in 1970, Nazir Afzal (Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS) agrees, concluding his statement by saying ‘Any victims who are considering coming forward should not be dissuaded by the decisions of the past … [t]he decision made in 1970 would not be made by the CPS today.’

It is also equally important that these matters be openly and freely discussed; a conversation that a MSM overburdened with regulation, and subject to injunctions on behalf of those rich and well-connected enough to serve them might find harder to report. It bears reiterating that it is not the government, the DPP or the CPS which are ultimately on trial here, either in the media or thru the courts. As the buck doesn’t really stop with the BBC or the education and care systems for enabling and acting – or not acting – to conceal Savile‘s criminality, nor does it stop with politicians and prosecutors in Smith‘s case; although they were arguably in a more powerful position to act should they have so wished. The real culprit is our (male) establishment, hierarchical to a fault and a two-faced arbiter of specious morality. That the likes of Savile and Smith moved in higher circles differentiated the nature of their offences little if at all from similar crimes committed within the domestic sphere, schools, churches, sports clubs and other less-lofty institutions inhabited by the great unwashed. One common feature of sex-crime (amongst other moral and criminal outrages) is the degree to which institutions and their membership – whether the government, the police, the state, the church or the family – have historically connived and colluded to protect the integrity of the establishment at the expense of individuals’ integrity and safety; the integrity and safety of women, children and minorities in particular.

As I applauded Philip Schofield for raising the issue of criminality within The Commons, so I applaud Williams-Thomas for doing likewise in his profession. If it is regrettable that apparently innocent parties such as Lord McAlpine have, and will inevitably continue to become embroiled in this unfolding scandal, then the fact that said scandal has gone unpublicized and its perpetrators unpunished for so long is infinitely more so: indeed, ‘regrettable’ barely begins to describe it. Let it unfold, and in the full glare of publicity, the better to banish the shades of deceit and denial. If the MSM allows itself to be unduly constrained by regulation and legal machinations then it may well find itself made redundant, in similar manner to the way that old media within the entertainment industry is likely to be made redundant by filesharing, streaming and direct-marketing and selling. Efforts to stem the flow of information and other media content via email, Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere have thusfar proved largely ineffectual. Napster, anyone? This is a two-edged sword, mind – the once maverick Facebook shows signs of succumbing to the old institutions’ double-standard: yesterday it removed a page sharing information on the identities and whereabouts of convicted sex-offenders, in response to a court order; yet in the past it has repeatedly failed to take down pages created by sex-offenders for the purpose of grooming and procuring children for sex. This is not to say that the internet and social media are inherently bad things: they’re neither inherently good nor bad, and on balance the benefits probably outweigh the drawbacks, but they do place responsibilities on us as citizens of today that previous generations have not had to contend with. We need to embrace and discharge those responsibilities to the best of our ability. To talk of ‘learning lessons’ has become trite in recent years; glib jargon that glosses over a personal and collective desire to do anything but; to wish a problem – whatever it may be – away. But there are lessons here, for anyone ready and willing to learn: that denial cannot wish problems away; that the very means – in this case social media and the internet – that enable organized criminals to a heretofore unprecedented degree, might also empower their opponents and ultimately bring about their (criminals’) undoing. If old media are losing out to new in consumer market-share it’s because they are still playing by redundant, old institution-led rules that fail to take account of new realities. In days gone by, Fleet Street and its imitators around the world would have been champing at the bit to report in full on stories such as Harris‘s. McAlpine‘s  rearguard action – which as justified as it may superficially be, ought not to discourage future testimony from abuse victims – and any potential fallout from Leveson must not be allowed to plug this current volcano of truth.

If enough good people speak out then evil will not triumph.