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An Open Letter to Max Hastings.

I wish I could admire you more. I admire your writing; I remember you as a reporter on 24 Hours – but I struggle when I try to admire you as a person.
It’s the way in which your principles are indivisibly directed by your personal interests, carried helplessly along by your various friendships and grudges; floundering in a moral wasteland, until rescued when found to be of use to you.
I remember when you came blustering out of your trap back in those early days of the ‘Savile saga’. You were quite happy to accept that there was ‘no doubt’ regarding ‘Savile’s paedophilia’ on the basis of an ‘unspecified allegation of a sexual nature’. You didn’t know the details, you hadn’t witnessed the event, you certainly hadn’t heard the evidence for the defence – but what Ho! You had a dog in this race, it concerned Helen Boaden, someone you had a long standing grudge against. That was sufficient for you to pen one of your long and beautifully written diatribes, denouncing ‘a corporation dominated by men and women who lack both moral compass and journalistic skills’.
Your article appeared on the same day that I started writing about my time at Duncroft. I was unsure whether to believe the allegations regarding Savile – but I was there – so however sure you were, based on gossip, rumour and innuendo,  I knew without doubt that the original story could not be true. I was puzzled by your certainty about something you couldn’t possibly know for sure was true.
Yet you were one of those senior journalists that gave legs to this story, adding your authoritative voice to the growing storm – on the basis, not of fact regarding the story, but of your own personal grudge against Helen Boaden and other senior BBC management. You believed the story because you disliked someone involved in it – and thus you became one of the journalists handing out pitchforks to the waiting mob.
Now you have burst forth into print once again. You don’t know the facts regarding the allegations against Lord Bramall – they are, as were the allegations regarding Savile when you penned your last diatribe, ‘unspecified allegation of a sexual nature’ but you disbelieve them, whatever they turn out to be, based on your 40 year friendship with him.
You call it ‘sticking your neck out’, yet you have barely poked your tongue out. I could tell you more than you will ever understand about sticking your neck out – I have been head, shoulders, and full frontal, exposed to the army of #Ibelievehers, given succour by your article on Savile, and policemen saying ‘come forward, you will be believed’ – but not because he is a friend of mine, nor because I have long standing grudges against anyone involved (though I admit I have developed some healthy grudges since!) nor because I am paid handsomely to fill column inches with my pearls of wisdom –  but because I truly do believe that the principles of British decency and justice should be upheld in order to protect every last one of us.
In a long emotive piece, recalling Lord Bramall’s eminent service to the nation, and the sad state of his wife’s health, you rail against the ‘outrageous witch-hunt which flies in the face of every principle of British decency and natural justice’.
A witch-hunt you were happy to add your ten pennorth to when it suited your own interests.
You say ‘None of us doubt the guilt of Jimmy Savile, whose wickedness started all this’. Really? Who do you speak for? The journalistic mafia who were happy to use Savile as a convenient method of bashing the loathed BBC?
There is ‘no doubt‘ about Savile’s guilt for whom you have never, and never will, hear the case for the defence – yet what is this? The convictions of Rolf Harris, Max Clifford and Gary Glitter ‘seem‘ proper. What strange powers of judgement you have that you can be reasonably convinced by a fair trial and a spirited defence, yet a man who has had neither trial, nor defence, nor do you know of all the allegations made – and I doubt that you have troubled yourself to read through the verbose investigations into those allegations that have been made public’ – is sufficient to leave you in no doubt.
Perhaps it is because he is dead? But then again, you are happy to mount a defence of Lord Brittan:

“But never for a moment could I, and many others who knew him, imagine the former Tory Home Secretary guilty of a sex crime, such as, last year, he was publicly accused of, and which must have haunted the last months of his life.”

Though I note that even Lord Brittan, or rather his widow, doesn’t get the full-on emotive rant against the nightmare qualities of ‘some 20 officers in white overalls entered and spent the next ten hours examining every corner and crevice’ – despite what you may read in the main stream media – it was not ‘Lord Brittan’s home’ that was thus invaded, nor the home of a Field Marshall, even at 91 able to stand up for himself – it was the home of Lady Brittan, an elderly and still grieving widow, now sadly facing alone the nightmare qualities of a Yewtree investigation, so soon after burying him.  As you say – how could it be anything other than a ‘ghastly experience’.
Because although everything you say about this ‘witch-hunt’ is true:

‘we must never forget that accusations of all kinds are routinely made against prominent figures by unhinged or malicious people. The consequences for the innocent are so grave the police should think much harder than they do before launching mob-handed assaults’.

– your concern for the principles of ‘British decency and natural justice’ only apply to those people you like, dead or alive. 

It seems almost incredible that in 21st-century Britain, a man or woman’s reputation can be destroyed without trial by unnamed informers.

It doesn’t seem so incredible to me – it was you, your friends, your colleagues, who were busy shouting ‘fire’ in that crowded theatre – the right to so shout you fought to hold onto when Leveson threatened to curtail it. Now you are brimming over with the injustice of finding that your friend has been trampled as the panicking mob make their way out to the pavement.
I’d have a lot more respect for you if you worried about the ‘principles of British decency and justice’ for every last citizen, and not just those who happen to be friends of yours. I’d have even more respect if you had apologised for handing out pitchforks in the first place.
Tagged as:
Jimmy Savile,
max hastings

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