Thursday, 17 September 2015

Paul Gambaccini: Guilty Until...

It’s a witch-hunt that will be regarded by history with the same disdain and derision with which we now regard the Salem witch trials in Massachussets,” he says. Having lived through the McCarthyism era in the United States as a boy, he sees clear parallels between the hunt for reds under the bed then and the search for paedophiles.

“The FBI couldn’t arrest Stalin, so the authorities either blacklisted or arrested folk singers and screenwriters as if that could contain him. And now, having failed to stop Jimmy Savile in his lifetime, the police have diverted the spotlight on to persons who had been alive in his time as if sexual perversion was an airborne contagion.”

Of Operation Yewtree, set up in response to the Savile affair, he says: “If it had been a football club it would have been relegated. It lost such a high percentage of its cases.” The Crown Prosecution Service is in his view “the ministry of lies”.

Having talked to many of the other high-profile figures involved in cases like his, he is convinced that the justice system has got out of balance, with the rights of accusers put before those of the accused. “There has been an inversion of the principle of the foundation of the British justice system: innocent until proven guilty.”

The police have, he believes, embarked on what he calls a “reign of terror” — going on fishing expeditions rather than following leads. “They had a dedicated phone line and they invited members of the public to accuse celebrities and they said: ‘You will be believed.’ ” When a fellow broadcaster, Liz Kershaw, told him she had been telephoned by the police out of the blue and asked whether she had ever been groped by Dave Lee Travis, Gambaccini concluded that there had been a “mutation of the British justice system from a centuries-old internationally respected evidence-based system to one based on subjective rumour and accusation”.

He was horrified to hear Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, describe accusers as “victims”. Some “of the people who make allegations of sexual abuse aren’t telling the truth . . . The overwhelming majority of allegations made against celebrities during the witch-hunt have been false, many of them preposterously so.” While the price paid by those accused of sex crimes is enormous, he points out that there are no consequences for anyone fabricating allegations. “It’s a win, no-lose situation.” ...

Gambaccini — who has been openly gay for decades — is convinced that homophobia has also been involved. “There is a disturbing tendency in these cases to think that gay men have underage partners, for which there is no validity and statistics. It’s a merging of concepts by an undiverse police force. When I came to this city I was horrified by the ‘pretty policeman’ campaign — when the police would tart up their youngest and best-looking police officers and have them go into public parks and toilets and seduce gay men into making propositions at which point they would be arrested . . . The institutional homophobia of the Metropolitan police has evolved.”...

Profile in The Times.

Fagburn is trying to think of a word or phrase for when the British police are too corrupt and crooked for words, but I guess it's just 'policing'.

PS Extracts from My Year Under Yewtree.

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