Criticism of Janner Decision Prompts “Pro Paedophile” Accusation

From Mark Williams-Thomas, on Twitter (30 June):

Barrister Matthew Scott from Pump Court  says Lord Janner is a helpless, senile man who should not be prosecuted… (Here)

The Tweet includes a link to an op-ed by Scott in the Daily Telegraph. Shortly thereafter, Williams-Thomas published a follow-up message:

Just realised who Matthew Scott is -been blocked for ages given his views about child abusers & his small group of pro paedophile  followers (Here)

Williams-Thomas is an investigative journalist; he was responsible for the 2012 Exposure documentary about Jimmy Savile, and he is now a frequent presence in the media as a commentator on the subject of historic sexual abuse. As such, it is alarming to see the casual way that he implies – without a shred of evidence – that Scott’s article was written in bad faith by a man with reprehensible views about sex offences against children.

In response, Scott asked Williams-Thomas to explain “What are my ‘views about child abusers’ that led you to block me Mark?”; Williams-Thomas did not deign to reply, although he did later confirm that he was not suggesting that anyone who follows Scott on Twitter must be “pro paedophile”. Presumably, though, we should be warned that anyone who expresses agreement with Scott’s views is at risk of being so accused. Inevitably, Williams-Thomas’s Tweets inspired enthusiasts to post abusive and defamatory comments about Scott, and Williams-Thomas hasn’t felt the need to discourage such behaviour.

Scott’s op-ed decried the recent decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to subject Janner to a “trial of the facts”. As he explains:

The procedure was introduced in a 1991 Private Members’ Bill by the Conservative MP John Greenway in order to protect those rendered unfit to plead through mental illness, who were forced to either plead guilty or be detained in a mental hospital.

So it is something of an irony that a procedure originally intended to protect the vulnerable should now be invoked to put a patently senile man before the courts.

…Lord Janner may well be a guilty man; it may well be that the CPS ought to have prosecuted him years ago. But he may also be innocent; indeed, the law presumes him innocent. The injustice that may have been committed by failing to prosecute him when a fair trial was still possible cannot be righted by committing another injustice now.

…Alison Saunders [the Director of Public Prosecutions] was right. Such a prosecution will serve no reasonable purpose. The trial now threatens to be a revolting spectacle in which a criminal court – egged on by sections of the press and MPs who should know better, compensation-seeking lawyers, and internet commenters, many of whom are motivated by undisguised anti-semitism – will be employed for no purpose other than further to traduce a man who can do nothing to defend himself.

I share these concerns, and it looks very likely that the CPS caved in to forces that it has a duty to resist: political and public pressure. Indeed, a leader attacking Saunders in the The Times blithely includes the observation that “Mrs Saunders underestimated the desire not only of the alleged victims but also of the wider public to hear the allegations aired in a court of law.” But I don’t see how it is Saunders’ job to “estimate” what “the wider public” think about things; indeed, taking such a factor into account would probably hinder objective decision-making. I’m sure that it would be easy to whip up popular support for a posthumous trial of Jimmy Savile, but that wouldn’t make such a thing sensible – and putting on trial a man whose mind has been destroyed by Alzheimer’s amounts to much the same thing.

Scott has also come under criticism for raising the spectre of anti-semitism. This can be over-stated: it is perfectly reasonable to believe that Janner has a case to answer, and that past opportunities were missed due his status, without indulging in anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. However, internet searches for “Janner” + “Jew” yield results that are unedifying, including fringe conspiracy sites that are widely cited on Twitter by those who claim to be drawing attention to “establishment coverups” and the like.

There are also concerns about Exaro News. Anti-Jewish comments have been posted by readers as comments on the site, and on at least one occasion an anti-Jewish statement has been silently edited by the site owners. This was spotted by Scott in April; a reader who described Janner as “another rich Jew” had his comment amended to “another one”. This helps to obscure the reader’s anti-semitism, but it is a less than satisfactory way of dealing with the problem.

Exaro also recently published a bizarrely pointless article headlined “Revealed: How Lord Janner Lobbied for Israel as Backbench MP“. Janner had a long-standing association with the Zionist Federation, and served as the body’s president for a time; of course he “lobbied for Israel” at every opportunity, and the word “Revealed” in the headline is gratuitous and absurd. Given that the head of Exaro News, Mark Watts, used to work for Iran’s Press TV, one is left with an troubling impression.

The claims against Janner that will be heard before the court concern allegations relating to Leicestershire; the “trial of the facts” will not include further allegations made by Exaro‘s star witness “Nick”, which relate to claims of VIP conspiracies in London. Scott has also been critical of Exaro‘s general approach to publishing details of “Nick’s” various allegations.

Scott has also recently attracted crank criticism on Twitter due to comments he made in a radio documentary about the recent “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare in Hampstead. The Hampstead allegations were so extraordinary and excessive that they were shunned by most commentators on organised sexual abuse, although their primary promoter, a woman named Sabine McNeill, had formerly worked with John Hemming MP.*

Footnote

*The Hampstead accusations also recently featured in a two-part radio documentary about Satanic Ritual Abuse scares by David Aaronovitch. A campaign group called “Everyday Victim Blaming” made an official complaint to the BBC about the programme, on the grounds that SRA is true. Details of the complaint were posted to the EVB website, and included an endorsement of the Hampstead claims. However, this element was recently silently edited out from its website.

2 Responses

  1. “raising the sceptre of anti-semitism”? pics plz

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