The case of now-disgraced Stuart Hall is particularly interesting and not just for the difficulty it causes apologists who say prosecution of historic sex offences is unlikely to lead to a fair trial. Despite Hall making an initial statement following arrest that described the allegations as "pernicious, callous, cruel and above all, spurious" he was eventually compelled to admit his guilt to 14 charges of sexual assault involving 13 females, including one aged 9. Other offences, including that of rape, will remain 'on file' with the victim not wishing to give evidence.
Hall, now described by the Crown Prosecution Service as an 'opportunistic predator' decided to forgo his right to a trial, almost certainly having been faced with overwhelming evidence from numerous victims who did not know each other, but it is said told a remarkably similar story. It's now clear that many additional victims only came forward to name Hall because his identity had been confirmed by police as having been arrested on suspicion in the first place.
At least his guilty pleas have saved the victims from the trauma of having to recount their experiences in court and no doubt he will be given credit for this when sentenced later in June. For those who doubt the wisdom of prosecuting historic sexual offences, several victims have foregone their right to anonymity in order to recount their experiences and the obvious distress caused to them. Hopefully for many, finally being believed and seeing perpetrators in court will give some sense of 'closure'.
As I highlighted the other day, post Leveson, the Association of Chief Police Officers are in the process of changing their policy of confirming the names of suspects. If this is correct, we will have to get used to seeing more instances like this, where apparently a 'comedy legend' in his 70's has been arrested by officers assigned to Operation Yewtree, the team tasked to look into the Jimmy Saville affair.
Potentially this secrecy could hinder more victims coming forward, whilst protecting the reputation of famous people, a situation that could be said to be quite handy for any possible politicians found to be implicated in the Elm Guest House scandal. Actually for those of a conspiracy-minded propensity, it's being said in some quarters that all these arrests of elderly celebs is designed precisely to provide the public with a distraction from the very disturbing goings on at this establishment in the 70's and 80's.
My feeling is that when the true extent of what went on at the Elm Guest House eventually emerges, the political ruling class in this country will find that the shock delivered to them by UKIP and the public on Thursday in the Local Elections will be nothing compared to what might be in store at the General Election in 2015. I think it might be time to find out what Nigel Farage's view is on probation privatisation.
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PS For a very thorough review of the arguments involved in naming suspects or not, go here to the Law and Lawyers website.