Tag Archives: Jimmy Savile

Butler-Sloss quits child abuse inquiry – under pressure from SOCIAL media?

Resigned: Baroness Butler-Sloss.

Resigned: Baroness Butler-Sloss.

Would anybody argue with the suggestion that the social media – including blogs like Vox Political – played the largest part in the removal of Baroness Butler-Sloss from the government’s inquiry into historical child sex abuse investigations?

Until yesterday, Lady Butler-Sloss was adamant that there was no reason she could not head up the inquiry, even though her past associations with people she might have to investigate included her own brother, the late Sir Michael Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s.

It was the social media that found this information and revealed it to the general public – who then complained bitterly to the government.

Do we believe Lady Butler-Sloss where she tells us she “did not sufficiently consider” whether her family links would throw the inquiry into question? It seems extremely out-of-character for a former judge, who would never – for example – have allowed a trial jury to include a relative of the defendant, to claim that she could be impartial about matters involving her own family. It was a clear conflict of interest.

One point that has been glossed-over is the fact that this woman is nearly 81 years of age and from the same privileged background as many of the people she would be asked to investigate. Did she even have the necessary sensibilities – or even the ability to open her mind to current thinking – required to head up an investigation such as this?

Of course, Lady Butler-Sloss was appointed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. She has been accused of failure to carry out “due diligence” – the necessary checks to discover if a candidate can be relied upon to be impartial – but has defiantly claimed that her choice was good.

“I do not regret the decision I made. I continue to believe that Elizabeth Butler-Sloss would have done an excellent job as chair of this inquiry,” she told the Home Affairs select committee. Really? Excellent by whose standards?

We know from Lord Tebbit that there was a ‘hush-hush’ culture in the Thatcher government of the 1980s. He said people thought the establishment “had to be protected”.

Then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – who herself spent a great deal of time with serial child abuser Jimmy Savile – is now seen to have turned ‘Nelson’s Eye’ towards such accusations – the same eye with which he was able to make the claim, “I see no ships”. The eyes of history are likely to take a dim view of such blindness.

And of course the attitude she held is likely to pervade government even now, 30 years later. Perhaps Theresa May wanted this inquiry – which she had resisted for a long time – to be headed by a person who could be trusted not to rock the boat. Perhaps she had been told to select such a person.

Now we must wait for an announcement on a new chairperson. This also plays into the hands of those with skeletons (or worse) in their closets as it creates a delay.

Not only that, but we must all remain vigilant against the possibility that May will appoint another dud. The BBC’s report makes it clear that the requirement for a candidate to have a legal background and the security clearance necessary to be able to read confidential papers means it is hard to find anyone who is suitably qualified and is not part of the establishment.

We still do not know where this will lead and who will be implicated. People like Theresa May and David Cameron will want to protect members of their own Old Guard from retrospective vilification (if Lord Tebbit’s words are to be trusted), and it seems likely they will do everything in their considerable power to fob us off.

It is our responsibility to make sure they don’t.

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Who is the fool who chose Grant Shapps to question BBC trustworthiness?

Shapps v BBC: Take a look at the name on his tag and ask yourself who you think is more trustworthy.

Shapps v BBC: Take a look at the name on his tag and ask yourself who you think is more trustworthy.

Sometimes you have to wonder if the Conservatives are just having a laugh. Admittedly, the jokes would be sick, but it seems the only logical explanation for some of their decisions.

Take the latest attack on the BBC. A Conservative spokesman has said the Corporation should face a cut in its licence fee or be forced to share it with other broadcasters unless it rebuilds public trust after receiving bad publicity over payouts to top executives and the way it handled the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Unfortunately, the spokesman himself is Tory Chairman Grant Shapps, a man who has his own issues in the same area and who is known to have used at least two false identities for shady reasons.

As ‘Michael Green’, in the run-up to the 2005 election and afterwards, he “charged clients £183 an hour for advice on how to make money from the web as well as offering tips on how to beat the recession blues, including splashing out on a jet-ski or learning to play the guitar,” according to the Daily Mail. Apparently he said his use of the name was to keep his business interests separate from his future political work, but he ended his involvement with that business in 2009, four years after he entered Parliament.

‘Sebastian Fox’ was another alias he used on Howtocorp, the web publishing company he created in 2000.

The two aliases were enough for people to make a connection with ‘Chuck Champion’ of a website called Howtopickupwomennow – but the evidence suggests it is unlikely that this is yet another pseudonym. Besides, the two we already had were enough to make the point that the BBC has no need to accept lectures about trust from Grant Shapps.

Of the BBC (and on the BBC News website) Mr Shapps/Green/Fox said: “They have ended up working in this culture which is buried in the last century, which is ‘we are the BBC, we do what we like, we don’t have to be too accountable’.

“But they are raising £3.6bn through the licence fee, which is a tax, and, quite rightly, the public wants to have sight of how the money is spent. Things like the pay-offs have really caused concern, as have, obviously, things like Savile and [Stuart] Hall [currently in prison for sex offences against young girls) and the culture that goes around that. I think it is one of too much secrecy,” said the man who hid his own business affairs behind false names for the first four years of his Parliamentary career.

Shapps said the BBC should open its books to inspection by the National Audit Office, and open itself up to Freedom of Information requests. He added that there was a “question of credibility” for the BBC over whether it applied “fairness” to its reporting of politics.

How interesting that last point is.

Regarding the bulk of the Shapps complaints, the BBC was quick to point out that the NAO already has full access to the BBC, except for its editorial decisions, and that in 2012 the Corporation responded to more than 1,600 FoI requests and volunteered information on hundreds more subjects.

Then we come to that interesting last point. The BBC spokesman said: “Mr Shapps is right that transparency is key to the future of the BBC. So is its freedom from political pressure.” (Italics mine)

It seems bizarre that the chairman of the Conservative Party should be complaining about the fairness of BBC political reporting. He can only be doing this to imply that the BBC is biased against the Conservatives – but we know that this has already been investigated and the opposite was found to be true.

As reported by this blog in August: “The BBC has a broadly right-wing bias. The study showed that the government of the day generally gets more airtime than anyone else (natural considering it is making policy and actually carrying out the business of government) but in reporting of immigration, the EU and religion, in 2007 Gordon Brown’s appearances on the BBC outnumbered David Cameron’s by less than two to one, while in 2012, Cameron’s outnumbered Ed Miliband’s by around four to one. The same ratios occurred for other prominent members of each party. When reporting of all topics is taken into account, Conservative politicians were featured more than 50 per cent more often than those from Labour in both 2007 AND 2012.”

So now the real motive behind the Shapps attack becomes clear. He wants to coerce the BBC into an even more slavish adherence to the Conservative Party line than it has already, with the threat of losing its monopoly of the licence fee hanging over it.

And he wants to get the public on-side by pushing the discredited claim that the BBC is a den of Lefties.

You’ll have noticed, Dear Reader, that Shapps has not referred directly to any individual news stories. Are we to take it that he opposes the BBC’s failure to report the anti-Tory demonstration outside the Conservative Party conference on September 29? More than three times as many people turned up for that (50,000) as there were delegates in the conference, if I recall correctly.

The Shapps intervention has already received the lack of respect it deserves on the social media. “I see Grant Shapps now loudly slagging off the BBC so we’re all diverted from Hunt’n’Gove systematically destroying the NHS and Education,” Tweeted one member of the Great British public. See recent Vox Political articles for the facts behind those words.

And cartoonist Martin Rowson put the whole affair in context: “Does everyone know that unbelievably fatuous poltroon @grantshapps is Cousin of Mick Jones of The Clash? Weird, huh? Though not as weird as this meretricious delusional oaf thinking anyone ever takes anything he’s ever said ever more seriously than a pool of puppy sick.”

Why is David Cameron tarring gay people with the same brush as paedophiles?

Controversial: Philip Schofield prepares to hand his list of alleged Tory paedophiles to David Cameron on today’s This Morning, watched by co-presenter Holly Willoughby. Concerns over whether he should have done it are totally outweighed by the Prime Minister’s inappropriate reference to “gay people”.

It’s what they say when they’re caught off-guard that really defines a politician.

Today, comedy Prime Minister David Cameron was caught off-guard by Philip Schofield (of all people) – and the result was not funny at all. In a This Morning interview, Schofe handed over a piece of paper with three names on it, of Conservatives accused of being involved in child abuse.

The presenter said there were many allegations online about people who might have carried out abuse, and he had been able to find the names on the list after searching for about three minutes. He said they were people Mr Cameron knew, and asked if the PM would be talking to them.

Cameron’s response: “There is a danger that this could turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay.”

Gay? What, gay in general? Everyone else is talking about paedophiles, David; why did you just broaden it into a debate about homosexuality?

We don’t want to know about your prejudices, David. Paedophiles do not have to be, by definition, gay.

If a responsible adult wants to engage in a same-sex relationship with another consenting adult, that is none of my business, nor yours, nor the State’s.

It is a world away from what is under discussion. Paedophilia is the action of an irresponsible adult, engaging in an inappropriate physical relationship with a minor – of either sex – who is therefore legally unable to give consent to it. That is our business, and I suggest you concentrate on it, starting with the allegations against the members of your party.

Mr Cameron went on with a personal warning to Schofe: “I’m worred about the sort of thing you are doing right now – giving me a list of names that you’ve taken off the internet.”

On one level, that was never going to work. Public sympathy will always be on the side of Philip Schofield when a politician tries to intimidate him (as I think Mr Cameron was trying to do). And there is an argument that it is in the public interest for Schofe to put evidence before the Prime Minister that accusations are being made in a public forum and that he needs to do something about it.

Having said that, I should add a few words of caution, because the PM was absolutely right to warn against a witch-hunt.

Back in 17th century America, witchcraft was the taboo; in 1950s America, it was Communism. Now, here, it’s paedophilia. The link between them is that an accusation automatically led to the belief that the named person was guilty of the crime, whether they had committed it or not.

I know a man who is in prison at the moment after being convicted of abusing a child. I was at the trial and heard all the evidence and I am convinced that he did not do it. It’s my opinion that the accusation was enough to sway the jury. The gentleman concerned won an appeal against an intial conviction, at which the presiding judge overturned the verdict after asking for the factual evidence on which the defendant had been convicted and being told there was none. He sent it back for retrial and the jury convicted him again – as I say – because in my opinion he was accused of the modern version of witchcraft. Or Communism.

No organisation exists to represent the interests of a person who has been wrongly convicted of paedophilia. Once a person has been tarred with that brush, it sticks to them for life.

The whole issue of paedophilia is therefore surrounded by abuse. Abuse of children. Abuse of the system by people who accuse the innocent (for purposes of their own). Abuse of the system by police officers who refuse to investigate legitimate allegations (as we’ve heard in the Jimmy Savile affair). Abuse of the system by politicians who want to cover up the involvement of their colleagues in a scandal (as it has been alleged).

But, Mr Cameron, you can’t judge that a person is a paedophile according to whether or not they are gay.

Police move on campaigners for “criminal acts against DWP”

Having Mr Bean in the Cabinet – or at least his alter-ego, Rowan Atkinson – might not be as ridiculous as this image suggests. He talked more sense in a 10-minute presentation about free speech than the Department for Work and Pensions has in the last two and a half years.

Some of you may be aware that police invaded the home of a campaigner for Disabled People Against Cuts, living in Cardiff, just before midnight yesterday (October 26).

Apparently she had been accused of “Criminal acts against the Department for Work and Pensions” – being that she has been highlighting the deaths of sick and disabled people following reassessment by Atos and the DWP for Employment and Support Allowance.

No charges were brought against the lady concerned and it is generally considered that this was an act of intimidation.

Since then, I have been informed of three other incidents in which police either visited campaigners at home or stopped them in the street to, in colloquial terms, “put the frighteners on them”. Two were vulnerable women with mental illness, one of whom lives alone.

The forces allegedly involved were South Wales, Dyfed Powys and North Yorkshire Police.

I don’t know what legislation these constables were quoting as the legal grounds for these intrusions. It seems likely it may have been the Public Order Act, section five, which states, “(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”

But this applies only if a person has been the victim – not an organisation like the DWP.

If it is the Public Order Act, then this provides an opportunity to quote Rowan Atkinson’s speech at the ‘Reform Section 5’ Parliamentary reception earlier this month.

Mention of Mr Atkinson may have already invoked, in your mind, the ‘Constable Savage’ sketch from Not The 9 O’Clock News, in which a police officer is berated for arresting the same man on charges of “Walking on the cracks in the pavement”, “Walking around with an offensive wife”, and “Looking at me in a funny way”, amongst others.

If it didn’t, go and watch the speech because he makes free reference to that sketch in it.

“I suspect [I am] highly unlikely to be arrested for whatever laws exist to contain free expression because of the undoubtedly privileged position that is afforded to those of a high public profile,” said Mr Atkinson.

“My concerns are… more for those who are more vulnerable because of their lower profile – like the man arrested in Oxford for calling a police horse ‘gay’.”

He said: “Even for actions that were withdrawn, people were arrested, questioned, taken to court… and then released. That isn’t a law working properly. That is censoriousness of the most intimidating kind, guaranteed to have… a ‘chilling effect’ on free expression and free protest.”

He said: “The reasonable and well-intentioned ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature. It is what you might call ‘the new intolerance’ – a new but intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent.

“Underlying prejudices, injustices or resentments are not addressed by arresting people; they are addressed by the issues being aired, argued and dealt with, preferably outside the legal process.”

Hear, hear.

Of course, this all makes the police look even worse than they’ve been made to seem in recent weeks. First the Hillsborough cover-up came out into the open, then the (many) Jimmy Savile cover-ups, and now – yet again – it seems the government is using police services across the country as a tool for political repression.

The ability to rely on an impartial system of law and order underpins the whole of British society. Use of the police in this way erodes confidence in law and order and, therefore, in society itself.

Police intimidation of those who speak out against the injustices of the DWP and its Atos employees is not only an attack on free speech; it is an attack on the entire philosophy on which our society is based.

How can we trust the police over April, after the Savile and Hillsborough cover-ups?

I’m not convinced I trust the police any more – especially when they say they’ve got the right man in the April Jones case.

My reason may surprise you. It all has to do with Jimmy Savile, my own experiences of Dyfed Powys Police, and the Hillsborough Inquiry.

It seems the Savile case has turned up large numbers of people who said they complained that the veteran TV and radio presenter had abused them, but that they were turned away by the authorities. Nobody did anything.

By last Friday evening (October 12), there were 300 leads and 40 alleged victims. Lord Falconer said on the BBC’s Any Questions: “People were obviously complaining about his behaviour and if you complain that you are being abused by somebody in power, whether it be a parent and a child, an older person and a child, a person in authority and somebody who is a fan, and you are told, ‘Just forget it – it never happened’, that makes the thing so much worse.

“The evidence that that happened is pretty overwhelming now… A particular newspaper identified a gentleman who complained about it; he was told that nothing would be done about it. Complaints were made, and they were rejected.

“Once you complain and nothing is done about it, you so undermine trust in the institutions, and we know this from other events that have happened, for example, the attitude that the Roman Catholic Church took to persistent abuse.”

This is the experience of my girlfriend (I call her Mrs Mike in this blog). Her mother got into an unfortunate relationship with an extremely abusive man in the mid-1970s, when Mrs Mike was seven. My girlfriend had to endure 10 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse (of the worst kind) before she was able to get away.

She was not, emotionally speaking, able to make a complaint to the police until four years after that and, from what’s been said above, you should already know what they told her: “There’s no evidence. We’re not going to do anything.”

They did say they would keep her information on file indefinitely, and if anybody else came forward, they would reopen the case. This has turned out to be a lie.

Mrs Mike’s mother remained in that abusive relationship for 28 devastating years. During that time, she made repeated attempts to get away, to report the abuses against her to the police, and to get criminal proceedings started against her abuser. On every single occasion she was told by police officers to go home, and that they were not going to do anything. Every time. They couldn’t say there wasn’t any evidence because these occasions were immediately after incidents of violence or abuse. But they weren’t interested.

Back to Any Questions, which also discussed Hillsborough. As Greg Dyke, a former BBC Director General, put it: “Hillsborough, as we now know, is a massive institutional cover-up… The police behaved… appallingly. They made a mistake which created the thing in the first place… But the cover-up is not acceptable under any circumstances. And then the briefing of the press to blame it on the victims of Hillsborough, and saying they were drunk, and saying they urinated over other people, and stole from them is beyond contempt.”

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said: “The challenge to confidence in public institutions, if there is evidence of systematic cover-up… is very, very damaging.”

Lord Falconer again: “96 people died in a disaster to which the police very substantially contributed. For 23 years the police told lies about what had happened and the families of the 96 who died felt utterly obliged to protect the reputations of those whom they loved, who had died. And this was despite the fact that the police continued in the cover-up, the judges who looked at it failed to spot the cover-up, the other police forces that looked at it failed to spot the cover-up and it took the Bishop of Liverpool and a panel of independent people, utterly separate from the traditional organs of the State who look at these things to uncover the truth.

Those 23 years of pain and suffering should not lead to the situation where people say, ‘It’s too late’ and the families don’t get justice. A family member whose son died in the disaster said, ‘My other children were very young… they grew up during those 23 years and I never noticed them growing up; I don’t know what happened’. Another person, who is a mother, said that she was 42 when her loved ones died. She’s now 65 but she still feels like she’s 42; those 23 years have been lost – and the idea that they should not get justice after 23 years is an utter affront to our society.”

After Mrs Mike’s mother finally escaped, she contacted my girlfriend and they went to the police jointly. They believed that the evidence my girlfriend had provided previously, coupled with the evidence of her mother (who was finally able to talk about it, having got away from her abuser’s controlling influence) could lead to a conviction. And what did the police say?

“We’ve destroyed that file. It’s gone.”

My experience of police investigations into child sexual abuse (and the abuse of adults), is therefore exactly the same as that endured by the Jimmy Savile whistle-blowers – the police didn’t want to know. And, like the police involved in Hillsborough, they covered up the evidence, ensuring that the person responsible for ruining these people’s lives would never face the justice he richly deserves.

The physical and emotional effects of such abuses are so devastating I do not believe it is possible to describe them in a way that another person could understand. You would have to live through them – and I would not wish that on anybody.

What does this have to do with the April Jones case?

The service involved with Mrs Mike’s case – and that of her mother – is Dyfed Powys Police, the same force that has been investigating the kidnapping of April Jones.

Consider the situation with April. She was abducted. Police were informed. Did they work out how far away a kidnapper could have travelled in the time between the last sighting of April and the missing person’s report being made, arrange to block all road routes leading away from Machynlleth and search vehicles on their way out? No. And that’s just the obvious course of action. I wonder what else they didn’t do.

They instead concentrated on searching the land in and around Machynlleth. They arrested a man 18 hours after April went missing. She was not with him. We do not know what evidence was found which led to his arrest. We are led to believe that the suspect was known to police previously.

Under those circumstances, it is easy to question the investigators’ actions. Under pressure to come up with a perpetrator at short notice, did they pick up their list of known felons, find one who (we are told) knew the victim and her family, who had a record, and turn him into their scapegoat?

In the time period under discussion here, that poor little girl could have been spirited out of the UK, right under the noses of the authorities. I do not believe it is reasonable to accept that the police did everything in their power to find her, considering the information we have about what they did.

I will only be prepared to believe Dyfed Powys Police have the right man if, when the case comes to court, he can make a full and frank confession that he kidnapped and murdered April, without any duress having been put upon him by investigating officers.

Otherwise, considering the record of the Dyfed Powys force, I will fear yet another police cover-up.

Will the upcoming election of Police Commissioners lead to increased confidence in a service that is utterly discredited? I wonder…