A Note on the Penny Mellor Conviction

From the Essex Halstead Gazette:

AN obsessive woman who breached her restraining order by posting a series of aggressive Tweets towards an anti-abuse campaigner has been jailed for four months.

Penelope Mellor denied two counts of breaching the order, which was put in place in March 2015 and banned her from contacting or posting messages online about Shy Keenan, who lives near Colchester.

However, yesterday a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court found the 57-year-old guilty on both counts.

The “series” in fact consisted of two Tweets: one referred to an alias previously used by Keenan, and the other described her 2008 memoir Broken as “utter drivel”; according to the report, they also included “gun emojis”.

Curiously, the two Tweets dated from October 2015 and August 2016, and it’s unclear why it took so long for the matter to come to court. Perhaps they were not noticed at the time – but who, then, dug them out so much later? The story was also reported in the Express and Star during the trial, but for some reason is no longer available – that piece headlined Mellor’s defence that the alias was actually the name of someone else, accidentally modified by a spellchecker into Keenan’s alias. BBC Essex noted the trial outcome in a Tweet.

Further details of the court case have been posted to Twitter by the journalist Mark Watts, who is best known for his association with the Operation Midland complainant while working for Exaro. However, Watts did not just observe the proceedings in Chelmsford; he apparently had contact with the police while he was there: “detectives tell me that police are asking themselves whether the little Twitter troll friends of Penelope Mellor… will learn the lesson from her jailing today and stop harassing people – especially abuse survivors” (here); and “I predicted to one officer who has been investigating some of this crowd that they would troll several people in response to yday’s jailing of Penny Mellor aka Penelope Mellor. He asked: ‘Can they really be that stupid?'” (here).

Watts also noticed that Barbara Hewson was present, and he says that he reported this important fact to police, who were “very interested”. Barbara had been vocally critical of Keenan’s part in bringing to trial an elderly former headmaster named Jack Mount on historic abuse charges: Mount was cleared in two trials, and when the third was halted due to Mount’s ill health she described the case as having been “a wicked crusade by Shy and her brain-damaged cohort, Sara”. This was an unkind reference to the campaigner Sara Payne, who apparently suffered a stroke a few years ago: she and Keenan were officially designated “Sun Justice Campaigners” by the tabloid in 2012, in which capacity they fronted stories highlighting child sex abuse and asked the public for information pertinent to Mount’s case. Barbara has also made various comments about Keenan of a scathing nature.

Barbara (wisely) deleted the Tweet, but not before it was noticed by Watts, who says he took it to the Sun on Sunday. Jonathan Reilly’s write-up in that paper is now pinned to the head of Watts’s Twitter page, and an article covering the same ground was also assembled by Jonathan Ames at The Times. Given Barbara’s position as a barrister the story might have some news value, but it is notable that the only two outlets who regarded it as significant enough to publish had particular interests of their own: the Sun, to protect the brand of their “Justice Campaigner”; and Ames at The Times, to implicitly justify and bolster a previous story he had written about Barbara (discussed here).

In case there is any doubt, my view is that Barbara ought not to have posted such a Tweet about Payne; and it is clear that some of Penny Mellor’s comments about and to Keenan that led to her 2015 conviction crossed the line, both as regards quantity and content, some of which was vicious. But one gets a sense that Watts’s interaction with the mainstream media has been strategic, and his vague suggestions about the police sniffing around might inhibit reasonable discussion about matters of public interest.

There is no doubt that Keenan was a victim of abuse while growing up – I can still remember quite vividly the special edition of Newsnight from 2000 devoted to the subject (facilitated by Max Clifford, apparently), in which one of her abusers not only admitted what he had done but seemed to think there was nothing wrong about it (he even seemed to believe that his role in introducing her to other abusers was actually mitigation, since he wasn’t he only one doing it). Yet her book Broken was withdrawn by the publisher Hodder in 2014, for reasons that have not been officially explained; and while this is not conclusive evidence of falsehood it does put a cloud over some of her self-presentation.

Also, Keenan and Payne have a specific discourse about abuse that is arguable, that Keenan sums up as “Anti-Victim Prejudice” (AVP). As explained in a 2014 op-ed for Huffpost, this is a wide-ranging concept that includes not believing accusers: “Every time we talk about paedophiles, they bang on about those who may be falsely accused.” Such expressions of doubt should be “outlawed” – a proposal that may have seemed reasonable to some in 2014, when all manner of “VIP allegations” were flying around, but is now obviously reckless, after the collapse of a number of investigations (several of which, it should be noted, Watts was invested in) and issues around police disclosure. Keenan traces “AVP” to the Paedophile Information Exchange, who she says managed to “manipulate judicial and social policy” in the 1970s.

It is also worth remembering that Mellor’s 2015 trial included a surprise appearance from the TV presenter Esther Rantzen, who famously founded Childline in the 1980s. As reported by Mail Online (sic for “Jimmy Saville” rather than “Jimmy Savile”):

…Dame Esther today discussed allegations by child sex abuse victim and justice campaigner Shy Keenan that were printed on the front page of the Sun under the headline ‘Abuse campaigner: I told Esther Rantzen about paedo Jimmy Saville 18 years ago.’

She said she ‘would have remembered’ if she had been told by Ms Keenan that Saville, Gary Glitter and Jonathan King were child abusers.

If she had been told of such an ‘explosive allegation’ Dame Esther said she would have told her to go to the police.

…Dame Esther told the court: ‘The Sun journalist told me Shy Keenan told them that I said they were too rich, too powerful and that I, Esther Rantzen, could do nothing about it.

‘I said that’s absolutely untrue. I never took the view that anyone was too rich or too powerful. I have a track record in this.’ 

The Sun article appeared in October 2012, shortly after the Exposure documentary on Savile, and it comes across as bandwagon-jumping. Most obviously, given Keenan’s position in public life since 2000, why had she not raised the issue with the journalists and senior police officers with whom she was now in contact as a campaigner (a point discussed in some detail by Moor Larkin)?

The current “hot news” value of Mellor’s conviction ought not to obscure this wider context. Nor should reasonable people be intimidated by Watts’s boasts about his contacts with police and liberal use of the word “troll” to discourage discussion.

5 Responses

  1. Unfortunately for Watts, I was present on day 1 of this hearing as well, and was seated with the press throughout. Contrary to his suggestion on his Twitter timeline, I was not there for the second half of day 2, because I had a prior engagement elsewhere. Watts did not cover the previous trial, so it is unclear why he took an interest in this one. Watts is notorious for his promotion of unsubstantated claims of VIP abuse via Exaro, and his use of the word “survivors” is typically a shorthand for Exaro accusers. It is not obvious, of course, what connection there is between them and the complainant in this case. But by his public intervention, Watts has drawn attention to the possibility of such a connection.

  2. The message here is that those who fancy becoming “campaigners” against abuse and other matters should be very wary of allowing themselves to be used by downmarket tabloids or websites like Exaro which trade on sensationalism but can easily turn on their contributors if need be if it all goes belly up. I have a contact who poured out his soul about his own abuse to Exaro on the belief the atmosphere in 2014/15 was conducive for him then to talk about such a difficult subject only to be dropped like a hot brick as he says his story did not fit into the sensationalism of the Elm Guest House or Dolphin Square. Now he fears all his email exchanges with Exaro may appear one day on the net. While victims are accorded life-long anonymity and I’m sure whoever controls Exaro’s records are diligent, mistakes happen. The matter of child abuse or any abuse for that matter needs to be handled delicately and by professionals. Those in the media and those amateurs who delude themselves they are experts because they are genuine victims can cause more problems than they solve and especially when the bandwagon moves forward as it always will and times change.

  3. The astonishing jailing of Penny Mellor when a non-custodial sentence was easily avaiable is yet another indication of how the Elite and MSM are trying to censor and bring the internet under their control using ham-fisted methods.

    The offense was one of ‘ignoring’ a court order. Whether the tweets were factually correct or not is almost irrelevant.

    The actual crime of ‘causing offence’ is farcical in an open public forum in which the kettle continually calls the pot black. In the melee of opinion, theory, claim and counter-claim which Citizen Reporting has unleashed, the anti-democratic Xist structures which previously silenced dissent have been overrun and are unable to cope. Jailing previously honest citizens like Penny Mellor does the criminal Justice System serious harm.

    The only time the courts appear to take notice is when it directly contradicts their power, as in the six breaches of court orders by Sabine McNeill, the prosecution of gobby James Goddard for ‘non-violent assault’ of Anna Soubry MP, and of course the celebrated and continuing persecution of TommyRobinson and other New-Wave reporters, some of whom have been banned from entering the U.K. to investigate what passes for democracy here because Xists don’t like to hear from critics.

    The people pushing for this iron-fist against Citizen Reporting are the very same power structures which have historically benefited from purveying fear stereotypes which polarise the people against themselves; the MSM, The government, and Parliament. Technology has broken the MSM-government axis and their recent actions to censor free-speech will be seen as too few, too late, the genie won’t go back in the bottle.

    For instance, the ‘crime’ that James Goddard committed was to face Soubry with honest if loutish criticisms paralleling her equally as despicable comments about Brexiteers, but the MSM unanimously portrayed Goddard as being a Nazi thug. An insult which in itself had been so over-used by both Leavers and Remainers that it has almost lost its moral impact anyway .

    In fact Goddard said ‘You are doing Hitler’s work’ . This was a reference to the completely unfounded conspiracyloon meme that the EU was an organisation originally set up by ex-nazis to unify Europe after the failure of the 3rd Reich. So Goddard’s insult was concomitantly pejorative about Nazism. In other words he isn’t a Nazi!

    The EU-3rd Reich theory is nonsense but when a free citizen cannot be allowed to vent his OPINIONS to a representative of parliament there is something seriously wrong with democracy in Britain today.

    Note that Soubry had to suffer a belligerent mob outside parliament and edited extracts were shown by ALL the MSM news-channels to support the idea that Soubry was beset by Nazis, the truth shown in, Citizen Reporting (streamed video) of the incident shows that Soubry was protected from any harm by three constables at her side.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mppVchHyaiA

    These ‘unwashed’ Protesters had challenged MPs outside the ‘bastion of democracy.’ Their ‘leader’ , Goddard, was therefore silenced on a trumped up ‘non-physical’ assault’. charge and arrested FIVE days after the event, no doubt after the powers that be consulted with the police to discover something to pin on him.

    This was a charge which Soubry herself might have faced if any influential Brexiter had had the push to complain about her insisting that all Brexiters were ‘racist and fascists’ to millions on TV. see:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNyQu5mJfR0

    The unanimous MSM support for Soubry and the hyper-sensitive response of her colleagues in Parliament were a nicely timed bout of self-righteous indignation which allowed MPs who may have feared rebellion from their own constituencies as people actually stopped being sleeping voters and, probably for the first time in their lives, began to engage with the ‘democratic’ process properly instead of just trusting in their ‘betters’.

    To add insult to injury and suppress Goddard’s opinions even further they also stopped his Twitter account and cancelled his Paypal account to starve him of the ability to speak and act. This is now a regular method of censoring and silencing alternative views which the Elite does not want to hear. Goddard apparently lost his job some weeks earlier for his pains in protesting against a Parliament that would allow a citizen to be made personna non-grata simply to silence opinions it did not like.

    There is a democratic revolution going on here which is being utterly mishandled by MPs and the Government. It has little to do with Brexit and will not stop after Brexit occurs. The dead-hand of feigned democracy does not work anymore and sweeping change is occurring. Penny Mellor and Goddard etc., are the footsoldier casualties in a system which is striving to impose 20th century power-shadows on the 21st century world. There will be more of them until it becomes clear to everyone, even MPs themselves, that Parliament is now working against the people instead of for the people.

    Opportunist propagandists like Mark Watts are of course just MSM parasites who can be relied upon to unconsciously force the issue at every turn, little realising they are partaking in their own demise.

    John Freedom,
    SAFF Area organiser.

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