Saturday, 20 April 2013

Rolf a perv? I just don't buy it

Just to be clear at the start of this post - I am not for a moment suggesting that anyone who is guilty of abuse (however long ago that abuse took place) should not be brought to account. Nor am I suggesting that those who have been genuinely abused should be denied the satisfaction of seeing their abusers brought to justice.
There simply should be no hiding places for those who prey on the vulnerable and the defenceless and I am all for punishing such individuals harshly and publicly.

But, having said all that, am I the only one who is becoming deeply, deeply concerned about Operation Yewtree?
For those of you who are not aware of Operation Yewtree, this is the police investigation into allegations that the shell-suit-attired and heavily-blinged entertainer Jimmy Savile has systematically abused half of the world's population.
Now, please don't misunderstand me - I'm not suggesting that Jimmy Savile is innocent; the weight of evidence in this particular case appears to be overwhelming. Nor am I suggesting that there aren't other perverts out there, not least young-thai-boy-loving former 70s pop-peacock, Gary Glitter.
But with yesterday's news that the one-and-only Rolf Harris (adopted Aussie, painter, singer, Animal-Hospital dude and, in my eyes at least, all-round good-egg with a fine beard) has been arrested and questioned (and more importantly, publicly named) in relation to a single allegation of sexual abuse which took place decades ago, is there not a worry that whilst the intentions of the Yewtree investigation (to expose those who used their wealth and their influence to satisfy their depravity) were soundly based, there is now a risk that the investigations themselves begin to create a whole new set of victims - aging entertainers and celebrities whose reputations (and therefore their livelihoods) are left in tatters as a result of the insidious workings of the 'Court of Public Opinion' and the clear approach of the media that everyone associated with Yewtree is guilty until proven innocent (but even then, we'll always express doubt) and that there can't be smoke without fire.

Now I may be wrong (I have been before, though I can't quite remember when...).
There may be substance to the allegations against old Rolfy.
And if he is guilty, then it is right that he should be punished.
But by the same token, can we ensure that if the allegation made against him proves to be false or proves to be nothing more serious than a playful pat on the bum, then there is just a much coverage of the declaration of his innocence as there has been about his possible guilt.
Oh, and if the allegations are actually proven to be false, can we ensure that the vindictive person who made them is treated as harshly by the media and the law as Rolf himself would undoubtedly have been if they had ever been made to stick...and that includes ensuring that if the false-accuser sells their story of 'Why I Lied About Rolf' to a tabloid newspaper, any money they receive goes to pay for the cost to the taxpayer of investigating their false accusations, or as compensation to the person whose life they tried so hard to ruin.
Better still if it went to pay for the time they should spend in prison for trying to pervert the course of justice.