Sir Bernard Hogan Howe stood up very well to John Humphrys’ cross examination this morning on the Today Programme on Radio 4. He was defending the way in which the Met Police had conducted the investigation of serious sexual abuse allegations as part of Operation Midland.
I have been concerned for some time now that the child abuse pendulum is starting to swing against the victims and in favour of the alleged abusers. I have seen it swing in both directions at least once in the last 20 years, that I have been involved in the field of childhood sexual abuse.
Unfortunately it is impossible to be dispassionate when discussing abuse because it is such an emotive subject. It is thus not surprising that it evokes polarised opinion.
Indeed it is being debated on Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show as I write this blog. I have blogged on this subject before but to summarise my thoughts:-
- It is the job of the police to “investigate” not judge the veracity of the allegations.
- The Crown Prosecution must decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to put a case before a judge and jury. They are independent, and must remain so. Even so they have come under criticism particularly in relation to Lord Janner.
- The truth or otherwise of allegations should not be debated in the media. The 2 Panorama programmes which criticised “Nick”, should not have adopted the bias which was evident. As Hogan Howe said, there is an awful lot of evidence which the Met Police has, but cannot reveal because Operation Midland is an ongoing investigation. Thus the programme was trial by media without knowing the full picture.
- It is tempting to say that the same media furore would not have been evoked if a member of the general public had become the subject of a routine house search following an arrest for offences of child abuse.
- Whilst there is an argument that anonymity should be preserved until after charge, the more public the persona of the accused, the less deserving is their argument that the media have become interested in the story.
- Abuse survivors are saying amongst themselves that the objection to the investigations of celebrities or former members of Parliament simply reinforces their suspicion that the power of the establishment once again is behind the media coverage.
- The adverse publicity will once again help discourage the many thousands of victims from coming forward.
- Have Operation Midland had difficulty in obtaining corroborative evidence for the very good reason that victims have been intimidated into silence by the adverse publicity being generated by the power of the media?
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