Friday, October 05, 2012
Saint or Sinner?
When King Charles II was restored in 1660 he began (in my view as an ardent Royalist quite rightly) to pursue the Regicides who had conspired to execute his father, Charles I eleven years earlier. Those who had not fled abroad were duly tried and often hung, drawn and quartered much to the satisfaction of Queen Henrietta Maria, the sainted King’s widow. However the main culprit, Oliver Cromwell had of course inconveniently died in 1658, but not to be frustrated Charles II had his body exhumed from Westminster Abbey and duly hung in chains at Tyburn and his head displayed on a pole till 1685.
This brings me on to the late Sir Jimmy Saville. I have no idea if he committed offences against young girls over many years, certainly there were many rumours and of course the alleged offences are the most disgraceful and appalling. I can understand the need of any victims to want closure and to see some sort of “Justice “dispensed. However, Sir Jimmy is dead and what exactly are the Police supposed to do about the allegations that they now appear to be investigating? Saville cannot be brought to trial and receive the jail sentence he deserved if guilty. Metropolitan Police resources are overstretched as it is (ask anybody who has been burgled recently) and quite why tens of thousands should be spent investigating a dead man I am not sure. We have had a sort of trial by media, rather appropriate as Saville constantly used the media for self promotion, but what can we do about it now?
We can ensure procedures are in place in the BBC and elsewhere to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again but frankly if we start investigations every time some unsavoury ( and usually malicious) rumour is circulated about public figures we would have to double Police numbers. Just because someone is unmarried, dresses flamboyantly and is somewhat eccentric does not automatically make them a paedophile. The press treatment in early 2011 of Chris Jefferies , who had nothing to do with the murder of his tenant , Bristol student Joanna Yeates cost a number of National papers large sums in libel payments . The appalling vilification he received seemed to be based on the fact that he had been a teacher at a private school, dressed eccentrically, and had a wild hair cut and the final “peculiarity “ had been a Liberal Democrat Councillor!
When in 2007 I repeated often aired rumours that the former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath had been warned about his cottaging activities in the 1950s there was a parade of the outraged great and the good saying I was destroying the reputation of a great man . No I was just repeating what was common knowledge and in my view made no difference to his reputation (that of being a bad Prime Minister who betrayed Britain by taking us into the EU and then spent 30 years in a giant sulk having lost the Tory Leadership to Mrs Thatcher). Likewise I have no idea if the many rumours around the late Sir Cyril Smith Liberal MP for Rochdale and his interest in young boys are true but I would not suggest an expensive Police Inquiry to find out, especially in Rochdale which has on going serious issues around child abuse to deal with. Anyone who has read the posthumously published diaries of Tom Driberg, a now forgotten Labour MP, Chairman of the Party, Peer and journalist, will know that the many rumours about him in his lifetime were true with knobs on!
So when the media / Police have “convicted“ Sir Jimmy Saville what do we do ? Well taking a leaf from King Charles II we could dig up Sir Jimmy’s rather tacky gold coffin and put it in a cell in Pentonville Prison for a couple of years and then Justice will have been done?