The Metropolitan Police have put out a statement that the Panorama programme which sought to undermine their Operation Midland Investigation into Dolphin Square might prevent other victims from coming forwards, and undermine their existing investigation. I gave an interview this morning to BBC London in which I said some of the following but not all because there wasn’t time:-
Interference with Police Prosecution
- It was inappropriate to seek to undermine a police investigation which hasn’t reached a conclusion, and about which, for tactical reasons they cannot comment.
- We saw 3 witnesses being interviewed last night. For all we know, the police have spoken to many other witnesses who give supportive testimony. Here at Simpson Millar, we have dealt with many police investigations over the last 20 years. Usually the witnesses the police use in a career paedophile type prosecution are the tip of the iceberg. The programme was thus biased because it didn’t show ALL the evidence.
- Viewers could easily be led to believe that abuse did not happen at Elms Guest House, or Dolphin Square at all. Other stories in the media lead one to the conclusion that quite the reverse is true.
- The programme was angled against the Police and the victims, and by inference the media outlet Exaro News. In order to inject some balance, there were some witnesses talking about genuine experiences of abuse and how the system had helped them, but their inclusion was only really tokenism to bias rather than a genuine attempt to represent the views of the abused victim. The programme never mentioned surprisingly that they do not know how strong the evidence they have not seen, which Operation Midland has amassed.
- It is said that 27 officers have been working on Operation Midland, so clearly they have been busy searching for evidence for quite some time.
The Court not the Media
- The correct forum for an examination of the evidence against any individual is a Crown Court where there are rules of evidence which prevent bias, and ensure fairness to both sides, not just the accused, but in particular the victim/complainants.
- We saw in this programme an interview clearly designed to persuade the victim “Dave”, that he was mistaken in his evidence. Because of the way it was edited, it was difficult to ascertain what he was saying. I didn’t think he denying that he was abused, quite the contrary, but that he was not the victim of Leon Brittan. The fact that he was the victim of serious abuse seems to have been omitted, which meant that the programme was distorted and clearly edited to prove a point, or at least imply one.
Effect on Victims
- Following my interview on the Victoria Darbyshire Programme yesterday, in which I said that I was concerned that the broadcast of this programme would discourage other victims from coming forward, I received an email from a victim who said he agreed, and that the media coverage even before broadcast had made him feel like giving up. He had been trying to persuade the police for several years to take his allegations seriously, and was finally getting somewhere.
- It no doubt takes great courage to give evidence of abuse against powerful public figures. Any courage victims did have, will no doubt, after this programme, disappear, which means that the abusers, if indeed the allegations are true, have won.
Is there any motivation for the BBC to broadcast a programme attacking allegations against celebrities when they themselves are under the spotlight for alleged failings when dealing with the victims of abuse by Jimmy Savile?
I have seen the pendulum swing to and fro in the last 20 years. The last time it swung against the victims was in 2003 after a Home Office Select Committee enquiry. The police, following that enquiry, lost interest in non-recent abuse prosecutions, and were terrified of “trawling” for evidence. This eventually led to their eventual criticism for not taking victims seriously most recently. Let us hope that the same thing does not happen again.