Ever since the Jimmy Savile scandal blew up, we have witnessed a parade of yesteryear’s stars being dragged before the courts to face historic charges of sex crimes. The degree to which the police and CPS have been pursuing these cases seems to be in direct inverse ratio to the impunity both bodies granted Savile during his life. Now a jury has unanimously thrown out the CPS case against Bill Roache, perhaps we are seeing sanity return and the spirit of Salem subside.
What the police seem to have been doing is this: arrest a celebrity with great fanfare and then sit back and wait to see if accusers and witnesses will come forward to corroborate the scant evidence that they have at the time of the arrest. They seem happy to proceed with no one single charge for which they have good evidence, but a package of charges, each insufficient in itself, but, they argue, forming a pattern. Now, in some instances these allegations may indeed be true, but can they be proven beyond all reasonable doubt, as the law requires, and is a fair trial possible at this long remove?
In many other countries the vast majority of these charges could not have been made, due to their law codes including statutes of limitation, under which charges must be brought within a set time period, varying according to the seriousness of the crime. Quite commonly the most serious crimes are excluded from such limitations, and certainly some of the charges which have been made against the various celebrities are indeed very serious, but there are many lesser charges which seem trivial.
I am reminded of John Herne’s remark during the trial of Archbishop Laud’s trial in 1645 (quote found here):
John Wilde arguing for the prosecution, admitted that none of Laud’s actions amounted to treason, but argued that all of them together did. Herne … retorted that “I crave your mercy, [Wilde]. I never understood before this time that two hundred couple of black rabbits would make a black horse!”
The question that remains, after the dust settles on all these dubious prosecutions, is; why, if even a fraction of the allegations against him are true, was Saville protected from prosecution? This is someone who moved in the highest circles of society, up to and including prime ministers and members of the royal family. The authorities, the secret services etc. must have known at least of the allegations. Even I had heard the stories, and I’m nobody. How could they not?