Oft’ times, when I am struggling to resolve opposing opinions, I will stare out the window and try to put myself in a similar position, using the nearest approximation I can find in my past life. Thus it was that I found myself trying to figure out what would have stopped me reporting abuse, had it occurred.
What if Ms Jones had sexually abused me at Duncroft (perish the thought!!!) – who would I have reported it to? She was, in effect, in loco parentis; who else would I have been in contact with in those blissful days before social workers were invented? I believe I had a ‘welfare officer’, but who she was or how to contact her, I’m not sure I ever knew. Hell, I didn’t even know how to find my own grandmother. So I can quite understand how it is that a young person would find it difficult to report someone who was so close to them, and had the power over them, of a parent.
What if it was a visitor to Duncroft? A famous pop star? Hmmn. Depends what the quid pro quo was of the abuse. If it was a stolen kiss in exchange for cigarettes, then I might well have chosen not to report it – the benefits to me outweighing so called ‘justice’. Had it been more serious than that – what would have been my fears at reporting it? Certainly not the ‘alleged power’ of such a pop star. Ms Jones was a far more powerful figure in my life. I might though, in later life have realised that it was abuse and spoken out.
What if it had been a famous politician? There was such a famous politician who visited Duncroft. Famous to other people that is. R.A.B. Butler. For at 15 I had no awareness of who or what Rab Butler was. Who, I hasten to add, no one, not even the loonies, has ever accused of any disreputable behaviour. I mention him only as part of my mental experiment to figure out whether I would have been frightened to have reported any ‘abuse’, had it occurred, at his hands.
The answer, has to be a categorical No! Simply because at 15, the ‘power’ that is allegedly wielded by ‘VIP politicians’ was unknown to me – and I would suggest, to any other 15 year old at the time. ‘Power’ was something possessed by those with the ability to give you a clip round the ear; to deny you dinner that night; to prevent you going out when you wanted to. The nebulous sort of power that the conspiriloons are fond of quoting – the freemason connections, the awards from church and political figures, the power to ruin police careers, weren’t common currency in the 60s and the 70s. So I am deeply suspicious of the volume of people who now claim that they were so well informed as 50s, 60s and 70s teenagers, that it was the unspoken ‘power’ of wealthy ‘VIPs’ that led them to stay silent until these ‘enlightened’ days of social media and safety in numbers.
Over the week-end, I was sent a copy of the document that has been supplied to the Goddard Inquiry regarding Greville Janner’s alleged ‘offences’ – supplied? Nay, demanded, by that Inquiry. It makes for shocking reading.
Greville Janner’s name came into the public domain regarding any suspicion of being an abuser in 1991. Up until the point at which Frank Beck shouted out his accusation in open court, every individual now involved in publicly reviling his memory, had been so well informed as to the potential power of politicians and their possible tentacles of influence, that not one of them had ever breathed his name to a single person in authority?
Now you might be tempted at this point to say – they were too frightened to go to the police, or social workers, or carers; ‘they had been silenced’.
That would be to overlook the fact that the police had already come to them, all 400 of them.
The Leicestershire Police had carried out extensive inquiries in the lead up to the Frank Beck trial, and had interviewed 400 people – children who had been in his care, social workers who had dealt with them, carers who had had daily contact with them. Whilst those who had been under his care as children were not too frightened to name Beck, the person with the most control over their lives, as an abuser; nor some others who worked with him, indeed, victims have seen convictions in respect of that abuse and received compensation – every last one of the 400 individuals was independently so fully conversant with current affairs and the possible powers of a politician that not one of them breathed his name? Not one? Even in passing?
Frank Beck shouting out Janner’s name in open court allowed the media to have a corker of a story. It resulted in the matter being raised in parliament. Which in turn fuelled the story further. These events coincided with the advent of social media.
Until social media, groups of people with similar interests were confined geographically. Whilst train spotters might have travelled round the country, and first world war historians arranged the occasional meet in northern France, then unless there was a geranium cuttings society in your neck of the woods you were pretty unlikely to acquire an obsessive interest in the ways and wherefores of pelargoniums. Social media didn’t just put people in contact with each other, like the invention of the telephone. It allowed you to easily seek out others on the basis of a shared subject matter.
Some of the people on social media were anti-semites, keen to make mischief against any prominent jewish name; some were anti-left wing politicians, keen to make mischief out of any prominent Labour name; some were anti-establishment, keen to make mischief against ‘VIP’ politicians of any hue; some were keen to enlarge the pool of those who were receiving compensation from various authorities in respect of abuse which they could now claim was corroborated by the sheer fact that there was ‘more than one’ of them.
It wasn’t the police that ‘missed an opportunity to prosecute Janner in 1991’ as so oft quoted – it was the alleged victims who missed their opportunity. Not one of the 400 took the opportunity to ‘have their voices heard’ that the internet now claims was denied them.
Some of those who have belatedly found their voice to complain of sexual abuse at Janner’s hands many very well be the same people who had already received compensation for the abuse carried out by others at Beck’s children’s homes. Nine of the complainants were resident in Beck’s homes. For a national figure as Lord Janner was, it it not curious that the only allegations to emerge originate from Leicester inhabitants? Do paedophile offenders with connections to national charities for youngsters operating nationwide only offend against the citizens of one town? How curious.
We will never know – for all are cloaked by anonymity. Thus protected from prurient gaze, they will be allowed to tell their tale at the Goddard Inquiry – unchecked by cross examination, unrestrained, anonymous and forensically unchallenged witnesses in the full glare of national publicity. I note with alarm, that based on this, that Ben Emmerson, QC, counsel to the inquiry, has said that ‘findings of fact‘ will be made in the case of individual complainants.
Waiting in the wings of this theatrical posthumous ‘finding of fact’ will be the six complainants who have already lodged their civil claims for compensation, thus pre-judging the only opportunity for the family of Lord Janner (who are not listed as core participants to the inquiry with the commensurate right to cross examine witnesses) that they would have had in the civil courts.
It will be a monstrous failure of justice, and a catastrophic pandering to the internet campaign to ‘claim a scalp’ if the Goddard Inquiry make a finding of fact ahead of the civil cases.
Justice cooked to a temperature demanded by the current hysteria is no justice at all. It is inedible.