Thursday, 8 October 2015

Tom Watson: Abuse Of Privilege

Three days after Leon Brittan’s death in January this year, Tom Watson, a Labour MP and now the party’s deputy leader, said that the deceased peer was “as close to evil as any human being could get”. That was the opinion of one of the people who had told Mr Watson they had been raped by Lord Brittan, a former home secretary. Mr Watson wrote that he “stands accused of multiple child rape. Many others knew of these allegations and chose to remain silent. I will not.”

After many months of inquiries using dozens of officers, the Metropolitan police has informed Lord Brittan’s widow that its investigation into her late husband is now at an end for lack of evidence. Mr Watson might reflect that those “many others” privy to the allegations stayed silent because they judged them to be false.

Following the BBC’s Panorama revelation that one of Lord Brittan’s chief accusers now admits he may have been confused over his identification, having been encouraged to name him by campaigners, perhaps Mr Watson will consider that having quite properly passed on his information to the police, he should have remained similarly mute. That, surely, would have been the correct course. Allow the proper authorities to assess the veracity of the information and in the meantime keep his mouth shut.

Mr Watson, however, rather revels in keeping his mouth as open as possible, as often as possible. In 2012, he used the platform of prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons to refer to the existence of a “powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”. He wrote to the prime minister suggesting that the organised abuse of children might have taken place in Downing Street. He said that senior politicians, some of them still holding powerful positions, had been involved in widespread child abuse and its concerted cover-up. He added that he had been told these powerful people might kill him if he did not stop pursuing his allegations.

Conspiracy theories are precisely that — theories. They are often wildly implausible, spinning a vast web of conjecture from one or two isolated strands of truth. Such theories, fascinating while they may be to devotees, should never be employed to destroy a man’s reputation, unsupported as they are by anything worthy of the name of evidence.

From the cramped 18th-century coffee house to the 21st-century chatroom, public figures have always been the subjects of rumour, innuendo and gossip, only a fraction of which tends to be true. Not every well-known personality is a Jimmy Savile in waiting. Panorama exposed several other purported witnesses to, or purported victims of, Mr Watson’s alleged “powerful paedophile network” as either dubious or delusional characters.

Mr Watson’s final intervention before Lord Brittan’s death was to write to the director of public prosecutions demanding that he be interviewed by police. This served no purpose other than to ensure that the dying peer’s name became publicly linked to the investigation.

In the cause of righting what he considered an injustice, Mr Watson perpetrated an injustice himself. As a politician who has made something of a fetish of demanding apologies from various agencies for what he judges to be past wrongs, Mr Watson should now consider offering one to Leon Brittan’s family. 

The Times leader.

Worth publishing in full - and, yes, I know there's Murdoch/Watson beef - but the man, self-appointed Witchfinder General meets Citizen Kane, seems drunk on power.

PS Daft statement on the Panorama programme by the Met - issued before they'd seen it.

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