I had deliberately stayed away from this story. Something about the age of the child and the nature of the injuries made me very cautious. It was fairly obvious from the early twitter comments that there was a lot of knee jerk reacting going on/about to occur.
If it was true that the infant had been raped, and if it was proven that a named person was responsible, than all the opprobrium in the world heaped on their head would not be sufficient. Would I stand in the way of a mob planning to pull them limb from limb? Probably not. No. Definitely not.
Within hours the Tweets were that the infant had died, and the ‘arrested persons’ had gone from being ‘child rapists’ to ‘child murderers’. A mob gathered outside first their house, then the house of the grandparents, where at least one of the arrested persons were supposed to be. Police reinforcements had to be called in to deal with the increasing threats of violence towards the occupants. An ugly situation.
Taking several steps back from the scene – consider the following: Nobody had been charged, let alone found guilty. Two people in the same house as the infant had been arrested – and released on Police bail which they are expected to answer today. We don’t know whether anyone else was alleged to have been in the house when the child was injured. We can presume they were not in the house when the police arrived, or they would also have been helping the police with their enquiries.
We don’t even know what caused the child’s injuries. I have spoken to the Police team handling the enquiry. As at 4.30pm today, we do know categorically that the child is still alive, despite the rumours to the contrary. As at 9.30 am this morning, five days later, we also know that ‘police are still struggling to establish the means by which this infant sustained its critical injuries’. Shall I repeat that? Still struggling to establish the means by which this infant sustained its critical injuries.
The child has many injuries, a multitude of broken bones, and has suffered a heart attack. We don’t know how – the police do not know how. That much is agreed. However, since only a man can be legally capable of rape, and since the infant is male, this is being described by the foreign media as a ‘gay rape’; it is taken as a ‘given’ that such an act occurred. That is speculation.
It is speculation which moved this story from being yet another bitterly regrettable tale of violence towards a helpless infant, into one of world wide interest. It is not, yet, the ‘open and shut case’ of a one month old baby raped, and the perpetrators arrested and released – with mob violence called for to act where the police do not. The Police do not yet know what caused his injuries, nor who.
Chief Superintendent Neil Jerome has given me this quote in the last few minutes:
`Due to the baby’s tender age and the medical care he is currently undergoing, it has not yet been possible to carry out the relevant scans and assessments for the police investigation. The baby’s well-being is our top priority, and once it is safe to do so my officers will continue with this aspect of the investigation to find out how the injuries were caused and whether criminal offences have been committed.
`Two people who were arrested in connection with this incident remain on bail whilst the investigation continues.
Quite apart from the obvious danger to a ‘fair trial’ – which is the right of everyone in this country, however heinous the charges – being put in danger by the amount of naming and shaming that has gone on in Facebook and other social media organs; quite apart from the dangers of media falling into the Chris Jefferies trap yet again, what really concerns me is this:
‘Somebody’ put that information into the public domain in the first place. That somebody was obviously not a member of the public – had there been anyone else in that house, they would also have been arrested. So the ‘somebody’ has to be either police, or other emergency response staff, such as ambulance, or perhaps a member of social services.
Rather than Lord Leveson chasing Guido round the block for publishing information that ‘Campbell the Mouth’ had already sent to journalists, should he not be pursuing this case?
Whatever the truth behind this story, and I am not in any way defending those who abuse a child, somebody in an official capacity put the trial of possible perpetrators at risk, and released inflammatory speculation to the press or social media which could have resulted in innocent people – I am thinking of the grandparents in particular here – at grave risk.
Either they simply cannot be trusted with information which should have remained within the enquiry team – or they did it because they knew they would receive money for the tip off.
That warrants an enquiry.