First, a disclaimer. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned or the Daily Mail on one of its rants.
The Mail is given to hysteria, middle-England angst and a stream of vapid guff about ‘celebrities’ (barely) dressed to pass as news. Like most of our newspapers, it is owned and edited by people who will happily commit to hypocrisy and hyperbole in order to advance their particular angle and boost their rapidly declining circulations.
But whatever the fashionable and the comedians in search of an easy laugh may have you believe, the Mail does, at least, cover some journalistically worthy stories that most of the media ignores – perhaps because those stories don’t fit in with the established leftish-centreist narrative of a paternalistic big state. With my particular interest in the debasement of science by the climate change fraternity, I well remember that David Rose of the Mail was the only mainstream journalist to contemporaneously address the serious issues of trust raised by the ‘Climategate’ incident: even now, 18 months or so later, he remains one of just a handful of mainstream journalists who have ever considered the obvious possibility that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is being massaged for political purposes (this may explain why he seems to have been disappeared…).
It is also worth noting that the Mail gives a home to the excellent Mary Ellen Synon, an incisive and knowledgeable journalist with a fine reputation for investigating the excesses of the EU. Here she is on a German MEP enjoying immunity from prosecution for tax-evasion.
So, the Mail is not all tits, bums and rabid excess…
With all that in mind, who else but the Mail has covered this story, the latest manifestation of the secret justice system that is developing in the UK and which I covered here? Two co-defendants, both allegedly charged with child-sex offences but one – who happens to be a ‘public servant’ – is granted anonymity while the other is not.
I happen to take the view that until proven guilty, all defendants should be entitled to anonymity and particularly so in cases such as this. Mud sticks to any accused even when cleared by a subsequent trial: in the worst case scenarios, when there is insufficient evidence to mount a prosecution, an innocent person gets absolutely no opportunity to make his case with the result that the pre-trial innuendo rarely dissipates.
But as long as we have the present system, its architects and upholders should abide by the rules that they seek to impose on everybody else. Whilst state embarrassment is clearly a factor in this case, that a public servant should be able to claim and succeed in obtaining anonymity suggests, firstly, that anonymity is no bar to a fair trial and, secondly, that the justice system is fully aware of the prejudice conferred by the mere act of publicly charging an individual. Only when those in the public eye suffer the indignities and injustice of that prejudice will anything be done to change it – for the benefit of all and not just a privileged few.