The disc jockey Neil Fox was yesterday acquitted of ten charges of indecent and sexual assault against women and girls. The accusation was that he had committed the offences between 1988 and 2014.
As these things go, the allegations were not particularly serious. They involved unwanted “French” kissing, bottom and breast grabbing and the allegation that Mr Fox had put his hand up various skirts. The worst was perhaps an allegation that he had engaged in sexual activity with a 15 year old girl.
One of the more unusual aspects of the case is that Mr Fox chose to be tried in the Magistrates Court rather than in the Crown Court. This meant that the verdict would not be decided by a jury, but by a bench of magistrates or a (professional and legally qualified) District Judge. In fact, as things turned out he was tried by the Chief District Judge, Howard Riddle and a pair of lay magistrates. This is the Magistrates Court equivalent of a seven judge Court of Appeal. It is very unusual.
Continue reading “Neil Fox’s character has not been vindicated, it has been assassinated”
Oscar Pistorius has had his conviction and 5 year prison sentence for culpable homicide overturned by the South African Court of Appeal. It has been replaced by a finding that he was guilty of murder. Instead of re-sentencing him itself, the Court of Appeal has sent the case back to the trial judge, Thokozile Masipa. Continue reading “A few thoughts on Oscar Pistorius”
What should happen to people who make false allegations?
The issue has been put into stark focus by the publicity given this week to the case of Geoff Long.
Mr Long had a daughter called Tina from an unsuccessful first marriage. In 2010 she went to Brighton police and claimed that he had systematically abused her over thirty years earlier when she was aged between 8 and 16.
There was apparently no corroboration to her allegation, but it led to Mr Long’s prosecution. The jury believed Tina, and he was convicted. He received a sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
To rub salt into his wounds Tina then gave her story to a magazine, which published it under the headline “34 years on I finally made him face up to his hideous crimes.” Continue reading “Should we always prosecute people who make false allegations?”
Harvey Proctor’s news conference on Tuesday was either a chilling display of hypocrisy, or the moment a brave man finally took on the combined might of a misguided Metropolitan Police and a small but nasty and highly influential section of the press and internet. By so publicly denying the appalling allegations that have been levelled at him, Mr Proctor has ensured that his accuser’s claims – that he and other boys were raped and tortured, and in three cases murdered by a paedophile ring that also included Leon Brittan, Ted Heath, various Generals and the heads of MI5 and MI6 – can no longer be ignored.
The allegations come from a man with the pseudonym “Nick.” Amongst many other appalling sexual crimes Nick says that Mr Proctor threatened to castrate him with a pen-knife and was stopped from doing so only by the intervention of the former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath. And worse even than this, Nick accuses Mr Proctor of murdering two boys, and implicates him in the murder of a third. No bodies have been found and the identity of the boys allegedly murdered – though the subject of considerable online speculation – is unknown. Continue reading “Harvey Proctor, Exaro and the pursuit of justice”
I had rather naively thought that a central part of Conservative philosophy was that, unless there is strong evidence of harm that can be prevented or alleviated by Government action, it’s usually best to let people live their lives without interference from the state. Theresa May’s Home Office thinks rather differently. It proudly announced last month that since 2010 it has banned more than 500 new drugs, as though this were an end and a self-evident good in itself.
Well, we now know it was not an end, it was a beginning, and 500 banned substances were just a taster. In its Psychoactive Substances Bill the second reading of which is to take place in the House of Lords next week, it has made proposals to ban all “psychoactive substances” apart from a few defined exceptions.
Did you know that tea was a “psychoactive substance”? Well under this new law it will be, and you will be allowed to drink it only as a special exemption from the normal rule. Continue reading “Theresa May wants to ban pleasure”
I was 15 when I met Cliff Richard.
I was a pupil at a boys only boarding school. Every Sunday – this was back in the 1970s – we all had to attend a religious service. Mostly these took place in the school’s wonderful chapel but every so often speakers were invited to give a religious talk in a more secular setting. One of these was Cliff.
He was a star, albeit no longer a very trendy one, and there was great excitement as the day of his visit approached. Not only would the great man sing, play his guitar and entertain us in his characteristic happy-clappy-Jesus-loves-you sort of way, he would also answer questions, so it was said, “about anything you like.” Continue reading “Sir Cliff Richard and historic sex cases: is our justice system fair to old men?”