Accusations against the late PM, Sir Edward Heath, are just the latest in the never-ending round of alleged child abuse cases. Whilst there is no doubt these matters should be investigated and the guilty brought to justice – like Max Clifford, Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter – there have also been notable failings.
The example of Lord McAlpine (falsely identified as a child abuser by BBC2’s Newsnight) clearly shows that mistakes of identity or false allegations aren’t impossible and that justice and fair procedures should apply to the living as well as the dead.
As Sir Edward Garnier, former solicitor-general, said: “This country is the poorer if it continues to allow allegations to be bandied around as if they are the unvarnished truth and for that to be . . . supported by police forces holding press conferences in front of Ted Heath’s house or for them to tip off the BBC to fly helicopters over Cliff Richard’s apartment.”
So, we see another nail in the failing reputation of the UK’s justice system and public trust in the police?
The suspicion is that the police are yet another British institution that’s become removed from the concerns of the vast majority of people who pay for it. Too easily influenced by fashionable political issues; too eager for the spotlight; and fairly useless at doing what people really want them to do.
Incidentally, the entertainer Lionel Blair recently declared, after 60 years in showbiz, that he’ll no longer work with kids because of the risk of being falsely accused of inappropriate behaviour. This is after an incident in Stockport while he was doing panto. Blair asked a little boy, aged about seven, his name. The child looked up at him and replied: “If you touch my nuts, you’re dead.’’
What a sad indictment of these depressing Savilesque times. But time to get used to the fact that Britain is rapidly changing. Uncontrolled immigration; incompetent politicians; overpaid, over-pensioned public-sector bosses who couldn’t organise a you-know-what; a health service on life support despite huge increases in ‘managers’; schools that teach little and allow young people to leave unable to read, write or do simple sums.
But then, we’re all in it together, right?
Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Landscape of Lies,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Soul Stealer,’ ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.79) and iBookstore.
All profits to Cudeca charity.