23 May Rolf Harris case shows law has to to protect the innocent of poisoned publicity
The morning after Stuart Hall, the ex BBC presenter, admitted a string of sex offences, the Sun newspaper published a front page that cemented my belief that’s it’s time for a change in the law involving those accused of sex crimes.
Unfortunately, after a scan on the net I can’t find the offending front page splash, but it was images of Hall, Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris beside one-another with a sarcastic headline about what’s on the telly tonight.
OK, we all should get the point, that there we were in the 1970s and 80s watching these household names, but they were nothing but perverts!
The problem I have with this is at the moment we know only two of them are!
As far as I’m aware there are no charges against Rolf Harris, but by juxtaposition he has been tarred with the same brush as two multiple sex offenders, one of them classed as one of the worst predatory paedophiles the UK has ever known.
Surrounding this perfect example of the gutter press in full throttle there are three things I hope. One is Rolf Harris, is actually genuinely innocent, as he holds such a special place in the hearts of two generations of people in this country, of which I’m one. Secondly he sues the Sun, which if he is the man we thought we knew, would probably see him give the proceeds to charity, and finally, and most importantly, that he fights to put in place anonymity for those accused of sex offences.
My belief, and surely the belief of all decent people is the law should be about being innocent until proven guilty. However, the Sun and others have already condemned Rolf Harris, and unfortunately the majority of their readership, will do too.
I recall from my days as a reporter on regional newspapers, I covered many court cases, some of these relating to sex, and in nearly all the cases where the alleged perpetrator was innocent, there was always a compelling force to immediately clear his name.
I interviewed men, who had being subjected to an ordeal that had them suicidal, all because of unfounded allegations.
With celebrities like presenter Matthew Kelly and football manager Dave Jones, who was subjected to the cruellest of taunts from thousands in stadiums, they have found it is some job to unstick this vile stenching mud.
If you want an idea of the torment put their names and the words sex allegations into Google. You will soon find out the shadow they and their families have endured.
The nature of life is there are some deranged people out there, those like Savile and Hall, who deserve to have their once good names destroyed. However, it shouldn’t happen to those who just have false allegations about them.
I’ve no doubt if Rolf Harris is innocent, the Sun will apologise and pay up, but the damage will have been done. Sadly there are those out there with the no smoke without fire attitude to newspaper stories, and in an era of dumbing down and an insatiable brain dead celeb culture these simple souls will already have their minds set in stone.
This gaping hole surrounding anonymity of the accused in sex offence cases has to be filled, and with the can of worms from the Savile enquiry providing gutter journalism heaven which has no immediate signs of abating now is the time to act before other innocent lives are destroyed.