Sunday, 11 October 2015

Panorama and me.

I've been 'Tilting at Windmills' again like Don Quixote - taking on a great public authority and getting nowhere.

Over the last few years, a number of celebrities from the 1960's and 1970's have been arrested, charged and imprisoned for sexual assaults on children. In each case there had been plenty of clues about what these serial paedophiles had been up to but they were able to avoid prosecution by hiding behind their celebrity and taking advantage of how, at that time, no one believed children.

Many made regular appearances on the BBC.

Running parallel to these scandals there have also been multiple allegations about senior political figures, top flight civil servants and figures in the military.

Many like Sir Peter Morrison (close aide to Margaret Thatcher and Cabinet Minister) managed to escape prosecution on several occasions.

Apart from M.P's there were highly influential figures like Sir Peter Hayman who was not only a very senior diplomat but also deputy head of Mi6.

Allegations have been made about Home Office Civil Servants and Sir Leon Brittan who was the Home Office Minister at the time. Serious questions have been raised about his failure to act on a dossier of allegations presented to him by Sir Geoffrey Dickens (a fellow conservative M.P.) setting out abuses involving senior politicians and vulnerable children in care.

That file and 113 others involving similar allegations at around the same time have gone missing from Home Office records and despite an enquiry there is still no explanation.

As a result a number of Police investigations into allegations of historic child abuse by senior establishment figures have been launched, the majority as a result of retired Police Officers coming forward to make complaints that their own investigations in the 1980's had been closed down against their wishes and before any prosecutions were made.

Times are different now and people are beginning to ask how so many of those around Margaret Thatcher seem to have been involved and how they seemed to live such charmed lives.

Sir Jimmy Saville, for example, spent 11 Christmases as a guest of Thatcher at Chequers, the Prime Ministers official residence.

There are questions to answer.

Then, before any prosecutions have even been made, the influential 'Panorama' current affairs programme broadcast a 'special investigation' on Tuesday which largely rubbished three victims who may or may not be witnesses against senior political figures of the Thatcher years.

I complained about it and got nowhere; they didn't even answer my complaint but sent me a link to an article the editor wrote which was published on the same day the programme came out.

Then on Friday I was bored with the TV and ended up flipping over to the BBC News channel, and by accident I saw this;

It's me!

No name, no reference to my complaint but it's me!

Newswatch debates the BBC's reporting of the news and clearly I wasn't the only person to complain as there were several little quotes and an interview with a Police Officer.

It's only thanks to Robyn that we could screen grab these shots, it would be beyond me.

Here's another one;

And another;

They took three quotes of mine without giving me a credit, edited them and used them out of context.
Quite apart from ignoring my complaint in the first place.
Here's what I actually said;
Panorama investigated allegations of historic sexual abuse dealing with politicians, the military and 'show business celebrities' in the 1970's and 1980's.

There is an ongoing police investigation into these matters but due to police inactivity and/or political pressure in the past, this is the first time they have been properly investigated. As a result, the allegations occurred a long time ago and that makes it a difficult task.

 Vulnerable victims have  been frightened into silence for decades, witnesses have been ignored when they should have been listened to.

 Part of the Police job is to persuade frightened, embarrassed and vulnerable people that they should relive these allegations and give evidence.

 What was not needed was a programme that appeared to be saying that witnesses and victims had 'made it all up'.

 It's for the Police and the Prosecution to investigate and evaluate the evidence and then decide whether a prosecution is in the public interest.

The effect of this programme is to plant the seeds of doubt in the public's mind as to whether there is any truth in these allegations. Members of the public are the people who would make up a jury in any trial and who would be called upon to decide on the quality of witnesses and what weight should be given to their evidence.

Panorama may put off witnesses, it may influence the outcome of a trial. This was a programme that should not have been made until after any trial had taken place.

I can't think of any other situation when the BBC (the state broadcaster) has publicly rubbished a Police investigation while it is taking place.

If anyone had already been charged, what Panorama did would be contempt of court, a serious criminal offence. Their lawyers have taken advantage of the fact that no one has yet been charged - it's still serious.

I also can't think of a situation where I have actually found myself on the same side as the Police either.

Something is very wrong!

So am I going to have to find the energy to take this further?

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production|)

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