Ostensibly, the 'Newsnight' fiasco surrounding allegations of child abuse against Lord McAlpine is the latest in a catalogue of recent blunders by the BBC, the cumulative effect of which left former director general George Entwistle with no alternative but to walk the plank and secure himself a rather dubious place in history as the Beeb's shortest-serving top man of all time.
'Shoddy journalism' was the cancer within an organisation for which its head rightly took the blame. My gut reaction was that for once, the man in charge was putting his hands up and taking responsibility for a terrible wrong that took place on his watch. This of course should be respected in an age where directors of failing companies and politicians caught indulging in one form of dishonesty or another cling on for dear life, hoping that some shiny and newer scandal will come along, acing their own and therefore buying an ill-earned reprieve.
But is there more to this than meets the eye? Is this instinctive reaction the one that someone, somewhere wanted to lead the rest of us away from the scent? What has taken place in the last week or so seems bizarre in the extreme, with far too many complicated goings on for them all to have been coincidental.
As the posthumous complaints against Jimmy Savile passed the 300 mark, many of us began to realise that this could not simply be the work of a fucked-up old man and a few of his famous friends, indulging in some afters with underage groupies following television broadcasts. The possibility that a celebrity paedo ring might well have been running in Britain at the time (and to the best of our knowledge, it might still be in business) was a chilling but inescapable thought that would render the late 'Sir James' as merely the first in a long line of dominoes - keep digging and the whole deck will collapse, no doubt revealing some unfortunate truths along the way.
There is a token nod in this direction from the establishment as Gary Glitter, perhaps the definition of low-hanging fruit when it comes to this subject, was re-arrested in connection with goings-on following recordings of Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It. Glitter had of course been busted more than a decade ago over the rather unsavoury contents of his hard drive, with Savile offering a robust public defence of his friend. He then moved to Vietnam, apparently believing that adults nailing children was legal over there, and soon discovered otherwise.
That Glitter is into kids was hardly news, but served as some sort of gesture towards the whole thing being taken 'seriously'. Whether or not he is guilty of these 'new' offences is an entirely different question, one that can also be applied to the catalogue of ex-celebrities who have been the subject of allegations stemming from the investigation into Savile's activities. The picture being built up by this is that Savile not only abused children himself, but 'fixed' them for other famous people to use for their own gratification.
Serious stuff, as yet unproven, but undeniably worthy of further investigation.
As most of you will already have heard or read, Savile was also a seriously connected man who took pride in being able to 'work deep cover' and 'get things done'. As well as spending more than one Christmas the the Thatchers', this third-rate disc jockey was on seriously good terms with the Royal Family for more than a decade, even acting as an unlikely mediator between Charles and Di as their marriage dissolved into the sham that most sensible people knew it was. He also had open house on several hospitals and homes for vulnerable or damaged children, most notably owning a set of keys to Broadmoor, home of Peter Sutcliffe amongst others. In 1988, Savile even was placed at the head of a 'task force' set up to turn round the mental hospital when was believed to be failing.
Then there was the Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey, where systematic abuse of vulnerable young people defined the very character of an institution. We now know that this was amongst the premises over which Savile had free rein and the licence to come and go as he pleased, despite his claims at the time that he had never been there. Photographic evidence established this as the blatant lie that it was.
Apologies if I'm going over old ground here, but how the fuck does a distinctly average DJ achieve all of this? And in the light of suggestions that he obtained children for other wealthy and well-connected abusers, does all of this not strike you as about a hundred times more suspicious than it would already be? The very simple question is - did Savile obtain children for the purposes of physical, psychological or sexual abuse, on behalf of any individual who is still alive?
If there is any evidence whatsoever that he did, then put it to those involved and try them accordingly.
I very much doubt that any of you disagree with this rather basic analysis, which hardly counts as genius material it must be said. As of a week ago, the total haul consisted of Savile (dead) and a few relics either convicted of something else (Glitter) or subject of rumours along these lines for several decades (of course they remain innocent until proven otherwise).
Then the story took a new twist, as the Welsh Care Homes scandal, first investigated during the 1990s, came back under the spotlight. Steve Messham, one of the victims of horrific and systemic abuse that was originally reported on in 2000, claimed that a still living prominent Tory during the 1980s had been amongst those who had helped themselves. Of course we now know how that ended, but we'll come back to that shortly - the significant shift was that this harrowing tale was no longer the confine of former B-listers or those who had passed away, but included people in public life, who were still around to answer questions and face charges should sufficient evidence be available.
What would happen, were it to turn out that a celebrity child abuse ring existed, and included significant members of leading political parties? I know that as a country we don't do revolution and civil disobedience on anything like the scale that (for example) the French do, but one can imagine the reaction of the general public, were it ever proven that the political class were not just thieves, liars and hypocrites of enormous magnitude, but abusers of the young and vulnerable on an industrial scale. There would be mass rioting in the streets, all of the major parties would die overnight, while the establishment would face the prospect of either setting the police and the army on its own people, or being overthrown.
Cue a most welcome intervention from the mainstream media...
Phillip Schofield is hardly genius material either, but then he's not exactly stupid and has decades of experience as a broadcast journalist and host of (pretty useless) television programmes. I'm sure that somewhere in his training the notion of sub-judice would have come up, namely the rules that forbid the media from repeating hearsay or casting aspersions that might compromise the outcome of an ongoing or future trial. So his supposed act of ambush last Thursday, handing a (legible) list of possible Tory paedophiles to Dave live on television, and demanding a response, was far too ridiculous to be a mere accident.
Boris Johnson has since described it as "a pretty rum piece of journalism" and "a very curious thing for the producers to allow to happen". Well, no shit Sherlock. In fact were one a 'crazed conspiracy theorist' operating in the 'lawless sphere of t'internet', one might even be tempted to think that this now immortal piece of television was deliberately contrived to drive up ratings while simultaneously sabotaging the prosecution of anyone who was on that list, or thought they were on that list, or thought that members of the jury might think they were on that list.
Perish the thought, eh?
On Question Time, the 'rising star' of the Labour Party, Chuka Umunna, offered his own unique and brilliant piece of insight "I think what Phillip Schofield did was foolish, stupid and grossly
irresponsible. And frankly, rather amateur. It's not what you expect of
serious broadcast journalism."
Really? Fuck me, now I understand why I've never seen Andrew Jennings or John Pilger pull that trick on camera. All of the pieces are suddenly starting to fit...
Any decent lawyer would of course play this card to the max and invite counsel to conclude that the defendant could not possibly receive a fair trial in these circumstances - case dismissed and game over.
The most telling element of this story is that despite committing a blatant and potentially catostrophic act of sub-judice live on national television, Schofield remains in his job. Doesn't that strike you as unusual?
Meanwhile, the 'Newsnight' brand decided to contract out their investigation into the Welsh Care Homes scandal, relying heavily on the evidence of Steve Messham. As we now know, Messham claimed that this senior Conservative figure had been amongst those who had abused him, but did not name the man involved. It was then exposed by the Guardian that the man he was referring to was Lord McAlpine, and this was almost certainly a case of mistaken identity, meaning that McAlpine was completely innocent.
To be wrongly accused of a ghastly crime as he was must be a horrific ordeal in itself, and my heart goes out to the man.
Fast forward to today's Mail on Sunday, where it emerges that Messham had been deemed an unreliable witness during the original investigation, had falsely accused a police officer of sexually assaulting him and reacted violently when cross-examined during the first inquiry, leaping out of the witness box and throwing punches at the opposing barrister. The full story can be found here - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2231212/Steven-Messham-Astonishing-story-BBC-DIDNT-tell-troubled-star-witness.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490
It's worth stating here that while Messham appears to have contrived or imagined one or two tales of abuse over the years (as his lawyer accepted) that he did genuinely go through real and undeserved pain, inflicted by adults he should have been able to trust. What is likely is that the catalogue of abuse has blurred into a kind of sick montage, with the precise names, dates and faces involved with specific incidents slipping from his immediate recall. That his experiences have confused and disturbed his mind to the point where little appears to be certain, this is absolutely not his fault, and that disgusting piece of Tory filth David Mellor was bang out of order, calling Messham a 'weirdo' on national television earlier today.
The questions I would love to know the answer to are:-
1. Why did the BBC, rather than using people employed by the corporation for the very purpose of investigative journalism, contract this work out to another media organisation?
2. Why, given that the discrediting of Messham as an unreliable witness was already out in the public domain, did the Bureau of Investigative Journalism rely so heavily on him when presenting their case? Were they so desperate for cash that they pushed ahead with the story, regardless of the flimsiness of the premise on which it was based?
From a distance, it sounds like the very deliberate exploitation of a vulnerable and confused man who has been through an ordeal that you would not wish on anyone, then replayed the details over in his head to the point where faces and places have become at best sketchy.
And back to Schofield - where did he get his information? T'intenet of course...
The most positive aspect of the internet is that it has removed the monopoly position that those in public life held over social and political discourse. Established journalists with friends on the inside may dismiss bloggers and independent scribes as 'social inadequates spewing their bile from Mum's basement', but the serious point is that now, everybody really is entitled to a view of the world and for their opinion to be taken semi-seriously by those who can be bothered reading or listening. 'What matters' is now a discussion point for all of us, not just politicians and members of the establishment.
We owe much of that to the internet, so it's little wonder that the same establishment wants to control and regulate it.
I'll leave you with this - the best way of analysing a situation is by looking at its winners and losers, who lost out while others got the outcome that they wanted. If we look at this from the perspective of motive, means and opportunity, then it breaks down as follows:-
While the police investigation into Jimmy Savile centred around other ex-celebrities, all was well - arrests were made and several people interviewed.
The possibility that those in public life were involved in the industrial scale abuse of children then arose when the Welsh Care Homes scandal re-surfaced.
Within 36 hours, we've had two situations that have been presented to the public as monumental fuck-ups by rival media organisations, competing for ratings.
One contracted the work out and excluded journalists who would have understood the potential fallout of the BBC getting it wrong again, having shelved the initial Savile investigation.
They're now presented with the claim of having not run the good story, but run the bad one, while their star witness has now been established as being a frightened and confused man who cannot be relied upon when guilt has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Meanwhile, on another channel, a high-profile TV presenter commits sub-judice live on air and compromises any investigation into current or former Members of Parliament. Despite this, he remains in his very well paid job.
Two major acts of sub-judice, both committed by the mainstream media exclusively against the political class, with no reference whatsoever to other accused persons - they remain fair game and will be offered up as pieces of meat to the general population.
Politicians and ex-politicians are now virtually immune from prosecution.
Meanwhile, the State is set to step up the crusade against expression via the internet, and monopolise public discourse once again.
Coincidence, or the mainstream media colluding to protect the establishment and get them a result?
Unlike the mainstram media, I'll leave you to make up your own mind. Take care and I'll catch you soon.