A friend and I wondered whether we should report all the gropes we experienced over our lives to the Grand Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry. Some of the offenders may have to be hauled out of their coffins. There was that man in a raincoat who peered through the school railings on hockey days. Hairdressers hired us as Saturday girls hoping for a squeeze after closing time. There was that junior school medical examination where the doctor put her hands down our pants. We wondered why with puzzled amusement.
Now we are ‘survivors’ as much as those who crawled out of a trench on the Somme or fled Belsen.
The inquiry is on to its fourth chairwoman, Professor Alexis Jay. Baroness Butler-Sloss spent a week on the job. Dame Fiona Woolf was forced to resign because of ‘establishment links’. Dame Lowell quit after earning £700,000 in 18 months, taking one of the most generous financial packages in the public sector. Can’t men be trusted with child issues?
With a remit to dig out any abuse in the last 60 years, this ‘overarching inquiry’ could last the century. Among those to investigate are independent and state residential schools: churches, children homes, custodial institutions, medical establishments, sports venues and onwards to British institutions and organisations abroad, present and former members of government, political parties and the security forces.
Waiting in the wings are support services in charge of ‘reparations’ for ‘victims and survivors’, who are apparently ‘reeling, shocked and distraught’ . What seems to be envisaged is a crazed climax of policy by emotion. An apocalyptic flushing out and bonfire of kiddie fiddlers as an atonement for neglecting the predations of Jimmy Saville and others. Any sense of proportion or any distinctions between the seriousness of offences will be swept aside. Nuisance male behaviour such as leering or touch – ups or are now ‘sexual assaults’. All victims are ‘traumatised’ which everybody is these days after any upset or unpleasant experience, big or small – I heard the word six times in one news broadcast. Perhaps people might not take an event or experience seriously unless it portends ‘damage’, particularly life-long ‘irreversible damage’.
Alleged transgressors no longer need know what accusations they face or how they might defend themselves before being publically paraded. Sir Cliff Richard was investigated for over two years over accusations dating back to 1958. The police raid on his home was filmed in collaboration with the BBC and shown worldwide. David Bryant, a former firefighter was recently freed on appeal after almost three years in jail. His accuser was a fantasist and serial liar.
Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini was arrested and spent a year on bail before allegations of historical sex offences were dropped. The Met put the chances of his successful prosecution at three to five per cent, rather than the standard 70per cent – 80 per cent necessary for sending a case to court.
Michael Isherwood was accused by a 16 year old girl of secretly filming her. He was put on bail, had his phones and laptops confiscated, and ordered to stay away from certain areas and people – including his eight year old niece. The images were of Isherwood playing golf. He killed himself.
Lord Brittan died before he could be told that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for an alleged rape. Bishop George Bell, prominent for his resistance to the Nazis, was accused by one complainant 57 years after his death. His own church, aided by newspapers, the BBC and the police, acted as if his guilt was proven and paid out compensation.
Under Operation Midland, a £2million inquiry into claims about establishment figures, Harvey Procter was accused and cleared of three child murders and sexual abuse. He lost his home and job. Also released after a year’s investigation was Field Marshall Lord Bramall, 92; held under caution on totally uncorroborated evidence. This originated with a senior detective calling the fantasies of ‘Nick’ an anonymous accuser ‘credible and true’ without any investigation. Who other than a callous, paedophile sympathiser would doubt a ‘survivor’? I know that nothing can disprove the existence of satanic, child sacrifice rings for those convinced of their reality or disturbed by re-evaluating what might have been innocuous events. Imagination is not far from memory and even fully fleshed accounts can be experimentally generated. All expedited by the monetary prospects for victims, lawyers and counsellors.
There is no coming back. Cliff Richard might well say: ‘Had I not been named worldwide I feel I would still have been able to look people in the eye and not feel afraid that they might be thinking that there is no smoke without fire’. People are forever tainted on the word of unidentified accusers, irrespective of the evidence and whether or not criminal proceedings are ever brought. Float or sink – the witch will die.
The law once heeded the principle expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England in the 1760s: ‘It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer’. Unless they pose a public danger, a person should not be named before being charged and without a full disclosure of an alleged offence.
A campaign to give suspects anonymity unless charged and the imposition of a time limit on historic cases met with furious denunciations on the grounds that it would cause ‘significant harm’ to victims seeking ‘closure’. Bodies like the End Violence Against Women Coalition objected because the ‘whole community’ should know who’s accused. Without charge? This seems to be lusting after wreaking arbitrary and disproportionate revenge rather than justice.
The witch hunting mania of the 1600s took place primarily in poorly governed regions like the minor Germanic principalities. Along with conniving, ignorant rulers, they lacked strong national or ecclesiastical courts that could apply rules of procedure and evidence. Such rules existed in states which mostly escaped the craze. Matthew Hopkins, the Witch-finder General, operated in the chaos of the English Civil War. The campaign he unleashed resembles the paedo hunts of today.
Britain developed a centralised judicial system espousing impartiality very early on. Now, whether new or revitalised, lesser powers and sectarian interests are increasingly operating their Kangaroo courts. Behind closed doors, they can pursue vendettas, exclude, penalise and grant sanctuary as they choose.
Rotherham council, police and social services long worked to block information about Asian gangs abducting, trafficking and assaulting hundreds of girls, even after the perpetrators had been jailed for multiple rapes –one with a broken bottle. It continues, with four men granted anonymity for life after heavy police and council pressure; the reason being that they might be ‘pilloried and/or targeted in their communities’. They are entitled to special privileges denied not only to other rapists, but guiltless bell ringers and Cliff Richard.
Sharia councils and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal are now allowed to resolve civil and family disputes in accordance with Islamic law. They have pushed the Crown Prosecution Service to drop charges related to cases of domestic abuse; encouraging women to reconcile with their violent spouses irrespective of court orders, risk assessments and safety planning.
Action can be now taken by academic institutions against students accused of sexual assault, harassment or ‘hate-crimes’, even if police do not prosecute. Incidents ‘perceived’ to be malevolently motivated are ‘hate-crime’. Words and gestures have become intrinsically injurious akin to casting the evil eye. Even a wolf-whistle can harm. Obsessive ‘safeguarding’ to avoid all risk reinforces subjective assessments of interference or abuse – annulling protestations of innocence.
For an offence to be established, it must be intentional. Without this there can be no freedom. Its annulment accompanies the incorporation of inequality into law-making, with white, heterosexual males the lowest caste. The institutionalisation of offence seeking feeds competitive victimhood, with the hyper-vigilant deriving moral authority from claims about wrongs suffered, present or past.
How will the abuse inquiry reconcile itself with today’s educational orthodoxy that youngsters must be able to ‘have active, enjoyable sexual relationships when they choose?’ Or that, according to established child rights advocates, ‘under 13 year olds have a right to a ‘private sex life?’ With the legal age of consent effectively redundant, there are the calls to abolish or reduce it. Activists, wishing to distance themselves from accusations of paedophilia, talk of nine year olds having enjoyable, consensual sex with adults as their ‘conscious choice’.
The answer to any problem is always more and earlier sexual information and contraception. Kids are kitted out with condoms and primed with cartoons showing copulation then urged to try out how ‘bodies feel good when touched’.
Despite exaggerated assumptions about children’s ability to make independent responsible decision, they are incapable of understanding sexual encounters like adults Much predation is not a sudden violent assault, with victims convulsed by ‘trauma’. Children often allow abuse to happen because of developmental immaturity. They later realise they were violated for the gratification of trusted adults who traded on their inability to distinguish a ‘good’ from a ‘bad’ touch.
Will the inquiry intrude into the territory of those complicit sexualising forces at work in education and health as well as the media and call for the strict demarcation of an age below which sex, sought or not, is impermissible? Unlikely. This is a giant scramble in the dark testifying to the need to return to those principles that prevent society making unwitting victims of innocents. As such a return cannot be achieved in the present atmosphere of sexual licentiousness, it is pointless.
Patricia Morgan is the Author of ‘The Marriage Files.’ Wilberforce.
‘The War between the State and the Family.’ Transaction’