Friday, 16 November 2012

Vengeance is mine, says Lord McAlpine

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Lord McAlpine is going to sue left, right and centre. Good for him. It will teach is no end of a lesson. I'm glad I did not name him on Facebook - I named Peter Morrison who it turns out is dead (so many people are these days) and was probably equally innocent. 

I hope the House of Commons will censure the Speaker's wife for tweeting and for mentioning her vibrator in interviews. 

I want no restrictions on press freedom except the law of defamation and that should be quite enough, but not too much.

Charles Moore is always the voice of reason and hits his best form in today's Spectator:


Those most ready with child abuse accusations are some of the nastiest people in the world. They exploit our natural disgust at the crime to promote hatred while appearing righteous. File in your mind for future reference the dreadful behaviour of people like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Sally Bercow, Tom Watson and George Monbiot. Be very suspicious, too, of those who most zealously assaulted the BBC for not running the Newsnight revelations about Jimmy Savile last Christmas. The BBC’s caution erred on the right side. The fact that Savile was a) horrible and b) dead does not automatically mean that hard-to-prove and often anonymous accusations should have been hurriedly published against him. If such caution had been replicated in the ‘McAlpine’ Newsnight on 2 November, the BBC would not now be headless. Tim Davie, the acting director-general, said in his first interview in the role that the BBC’s task should be to look at ‘the terrible accusations of child abuse’ and work out ‘how we support those victims’. He thus repeated the fateful elision which has caused so much grief and injustice — that an accusation, because it is terrible, is necessarily true. It is a disturbing feature of human psychology that people think this way. A friend of mine served on a jury in which a man was tried for child abuse. The only evidence against him, which concerned events decades ago, was the testimony of two brothers who, in his opinion, were unreliable. But he could make no impression on his fellow jurors. They maintained that no one would falsely accuse someone of something so horrible. They found the man guilty. 

2 comments:

  1. I'd be interested to know what action he took against Scallywag Magazine, which published a whole compendium of shocking allegations, including precisely these ones, in about 1994, in the most lurid of detail and also mentioning who some of their sources were. And against certified weirdo David Icke, who included it in his 1999 book "The Big Secret". Another difference is that these publications openly named him, leaving a huge online legacy of unreferenced allegation and speculation amid the other insane conspiracy theories, ready to be rediscovered by more "mainstream" people after the deeply flawed and botched Newsnight report obliquely hinted at it (Incidentally, the report was supplied by an external team, during a time when normal editorial checks and balances had been compromised owing to the Savile non-broadcast débâcle). And of course Schofield's showing of the list (although, or maybe BECAUSE, the names couldn't be seen) further provoked people to go online and resurrect the slander via social media and blogs, which then would be blamed on the BBC rather than on the original publications in Scallywag and Icke's book.

    I'm being very careful what I say here. The whole thing seems likely to have resulted from mistaken identity at an early stage of investigation (i.e. before the Scallywag "exposé"), twenty years ago or more, owing to certain officers making a very basic error with two individuals who looked very similar, and to the victims being led to believe, erroneously, that this particular abuser was indeed He Who Must Never Be Named. However, I have no doubt that He Who Must Never Be Named had indeed been wrongly identified. I recognise that he is legally innocent and has been defamed, and that this is a very serious matter. And I take the open threats from the legal establishment very seriously indeed, as the definition of defamation seems to be in the process of being widened and we will all need to adjust to this new reality as a matter of extreme urgency to avoid prosecution. I came across the allegations years ago but said nothing, of course, even when the Jimmy Savile allegations proved, astonishingly, to be true, and when the spotlight shifted to North Wales.

    But it is striking that He Who Must Never Be Named is saying how shocked and disgusted he is by these appalling allegations. I suppose it is theoretically possible that he never heard about them when they were published in Scallywag about eighteen years ago, or again by David Icke thirteen years ago... And it is now apparently illegal to question anything he says, for he is an honourable man... Interesting also to note that one of Scallywag's editors was killed in a mysterious car crash in Cyprus in 1996, and the other died "after a short illness", having just been convicted of publishing multiple libellous articles, in 2000.

    But the only still-living source for these particular allegations is Steve Messham, who, although delightful David Mellor and certain sinister journalists jumped in to describe him as an utterly unreliable troublemaking weirdo, was genuinely abused. Not by He Who Must Never Be Named, we must accept, but quite possibly by someone who was somehow confused with him decades ago, and by others as yet unknown. And the investigation into his case and numerous others has met with obstacles every step of the way for at least twenty years. These obstacles must be overcome, and any still-living abusers must be brought to account, whoever they are.

    That is the real point. Institutional incompetence is a scandal, of course, and so is defamation, but institutional aiding and abetting of abusers and criminals is by far the more serious problem, and it must be solved.

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  2. I see you have left Facebook again. Ah well. I never got a chance to read your further comments on this, so please do return soon! In short, false accusations of child abuse (or indeed of anything else) are of course utterly reprehensible. So, also, is the role of police officers in giving an abused person a wrong impression of his abuser's (or abusers') identity. So, also, is the insinuation that the accusers themselves are malicious in claiming that they were abused. Abuse occurred, beyond a shadow of doubt. It was misattributed, partly owing to police incompetence. The correct attribution must now be made.

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