The Economou/de Freitas story was destined to attract global attention in these feminista times. He said/she said has become the bread and butter of the media – but ‘he said’ followed by the suggestion that she was so distraught at the full weight of #Ibelieveher failing to kick in that she then committed suicide became a centipede of a fast running story.
Ms de Freitas moved from being just another ‘victim’ to the ultimate iconic victim of an uncaring judicial system which couldn’t bring itself to speedily convict a predatory man on the strength of an allegation, but insisted on ‘testing’ the evidence in a manner which no woman should be expected to endure.
Those who support such a change in our judicial system might have a point, were it not for the fact that not all ‘alleged victims’ tell all of the truth all of the time…
When they don’t, they inflict massive damage to a man’s reputation. To say that such damage is ‘no minor slight’ as it has been said today, by District Judge Ikram, is a monumental understatement.
As it happens, the CPS declined to bring rape charges against Mr Economou, and given the flimsy evidence they have considered sufficient to support prosecution in the past couple of years, one could sardonically surmise that Mr Economou must have been able to prove that since a date roughly six months before Ms de Freitas was even born, he had at all times been accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, a company of armed Highgate feminists, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, not to mention corralled in Guantanamo prison.
Mr Economou was incensed to be so accused. Climbing the walls, scorched earth, take no prisoners, incensed. His friend, Sebastian Gosden-Hood, gave evidence that he was ‘going after her’. He himself said that he wanted her ‘locked up’. He took out a private prosecution against her for attempting ‘to pervert the course of justice’. She first appeared in court eight months after she had made the allegations.
His mood was not improved in the November when the Daily Mail made the decision to name him as the person against whom the allegation of rape had originally been made and he found himself on the receiving end of the batshit crazy #Ibelieveher lobby. For them, the mere fact that there had originally been such an allegation meant that it was true, she was being persecuted for having made it, and the only reasonable course of action left to them was to hang, draw, and quarter Mr Economou on her behalf…
Now amongst those who had never met Ms de Freitas, knew nothing whatsoever about her beyond the fact that she was female, and thus must be supported in her fight against this ghastly ‘man’, was someone who thought he did indeed know Ms de Freitas very well indeed. Her Father. Probably the only person in this fraught situation, other than Mr Economou, who should have been uttering a single word. That includes the Daily Mail.
The media have a lot to answer for in this mess.
Mr de Freitas believed his daughter absolutely, quite understandably; we should all have such a father. Of course, in believing that his daughter was not telling lies, he was also implying that she was raped, and thus that Mr Economou was a rapist.
In the December, the CPS, unbelievably given their track record, formally took over the private prosecution – at Ms de Freitas’ suggestion – and decided that there was sufficient evidence that Ms de Freitas had made a false allegation and a trial date for 7th April 2014 was set. Possibly not the outcome she had expected.
Three days beforehand, on the 4th April, Eleanor de Freitas committed suicide.
The media smacked their lips and moved in.
In November 2014 The Guardian interviewed Mr de Freitas, who sincerely believed that since his daughter was suffering from a mental illness, rather than being a straightforward liar, neither Mr Economou nor later the CPS, had any business prosecuting her. It was a valid train of thought – however the manner in which it emerged in print left Mr Economou feeling that he was yet again being accused of being a rapist.
He felt that the manner in which the affair was being discussed in the media meant that his only recourse was to display what he felt was evidence that Ms de Freitas had lied and was a liar, equally in the media. Keen to silence what he thought was the catalyst for a fresh round of social media threats towards him, he settled on sending Mr de Freitas evidence of what he saw as Ms de Freitas’ lack of honesty – to wit, screen shots of her website advertising her services as a masseuse or call girl.
His grievance was the suggestion by David de Freitas that his daughter had been wrongly prosecuted and that he had inferred that there was no evidence against her. It was being suggested that Eleanor de Freitas was a ‘victim of rape’, which in his mind, was a lie and was still suggesting that he was guilty of the rape. He also became aware that there was to be an interview broadcast the following morning on BBC Radio 4 but did not in fact know that David de Freitas was to be appearing.
The receipt of this material, and also several similar packages of evidence sent to Mr de Freitas’ solicitor, were the basis of the Harassment charge that Mr Economou has been found Not Guilty of this morning. That just leaves Mr Economou’s tort for defamation against Mr de Freitas outstanding…
It seems that you can get bloody angry at being accused of rape and equally incensed at the implication that you were guilty months after the police had decided to take ‘no further action’ and not be found guilty of harassment when you take what seem to you to be reasonable steps to convince someone not to fan the flames any longer.
Hopefully, the Judge who is called to decide whether Mr de Freitas has defamed Mr Economou in his interviews takes a similarly nimble dance through a judgment and decides that you can be so staunch in your defence of your daughter’s honour that you make unwise statements that could be construed, etc., etc., but were not intended maliciously….
Because both these men have had every reason to be angry, hysterical even, loath the very mention of each others name, invoke every voodoo curse going – in their own private milieu.
It is the intervention of the media, flogging their wares, that has fanned the flames to their current state.
Nobody will ever know what effect the publicity had on Eleanor’s tragic decision not to face the consequences of her allegation.
Let us see how the media play the latest instalment tomorrow.
*The full judgment can be read here; I have advised the court office that they have rather a crashing error in 6.iii – they may issue another copy in which case this link will cease to work.