Now that we know the full extent of the historic sex offence charges that have been levelled against ace media publicist Max Clifford, it shouldn't come as any surprise that his prepared statement to the assembled media throng was an absolute masterclass both in damage limitation and appeal to public sympathy.
He did stray from the script though, as this ITV interview shows and in answer to an inaudible question from a reporter said "None of this would have happened without Savile."
I thought that was quite revealing and it will be up to each individual to make of it what they will, but I'm fairly sure he's absolutely right. It is only because of the whole sad sorry Savile affair that many, many victims of sex offences now feel able to come forward in the more confident knowledge that their stories will be heard and believed.
Yet another result of the Savile affair has been the new investigation into historic child sexual abuse at North Wales children's homes and reported here. Amongst other things, we are now entitled to ask exactly as to why the previous investigation by Sir Ronald Waterhouse failed so miserably? Is it a case of piss-poor work, or more alarmingly, evidence of a cover-up? I would remind readers that we are still awaiting the results of police investigations into exactly what went on at Elm House, a certain west London guest house frequented by lots of politicians of all political parties in the 70's and 80's.
Ever since the Savile story first broke, I've been becoming increasingly concerned regarding siren voices from all sorts of quarters, basically casting doubts upon the direction of travel as a result. To be honest it's made for some very uncomfortable comment by people I normally have high regard for and has just a whiff of the weasel words normally associated with holocaust denial.
It ranges from references to a possible 'witch-hunt', to a suggestion that the passage of time somehow invokes the notion of a statute of limitation. I've heard questions raised of the ability of the accused to have a fair trial, to the 'difficulty' of overlaying our current attitudes towards appropriate sexual conduct, with the practises and mores of the past. From notions of 'victims' just wanting compensation, to 'false memory syndrome.'
To probation officers, all this and a whole shed-load of other stuff is very familiar indeed on the part of many of our clients found guilty of sex offending. Such denial, minimisation, obfuscation and distorted logic are pretty common in my experience as a way of explaining rape and indecent assault, and I suspect it's partly because of these traits that so many perpetrators have never been brought to justice. It's also partly down to 'apologists' as well though.
To be honest I think the pendulum has at last swung in favour of any victim of a sexual offence being able to feel confident that their complaint will be treated seriously both by the police and Crown Prosecution Service. In the end it will be up to the legal process and a jury to consider the evidence and come to a judgement, but at least there is now a better chance that victims will get their day in court too.
As an aside, both the police and media now find themselves in somewhat of an embarrassing quandary regarding the passing of information from the former to the latter. With so many police officers and former police officers finding themselves being charged with basically selling information in the past, together with nervousness on the part of the media post Leveson, I notice the suggestion by CC Andy Trotter of ACPO is basically to say nothing in future.
Readers will recall it took months for the news about Rolf Harris being interviewed by the police to emerge officially and only when The Sun decided to bite the bullet. We could soon be in the position of having secret arrests. Makes you think, doesn't it?