Max Clifford has a long history of media manipulation. Among his victims are two former Conservative Cabinet Ministers: David Mellor and Neil Hamilton. They and not a few others will undoubtedly be relishing his conviction on eight counts of indecent assault earlier this week and his subsequent sentencing today to eight years behind bars.
A Sky News report of the conviction of Max Clifford
Nevertheless, serious questions must be asked not only about his conviction but about a criminal justice system that allows indeed encourages allegations of serious sexual assaults to be made against the rich and powerful years indeed decades after they supposedly happened, gives those accused the massive task of proving their innocence, offers criminal compensation handouts to the accusers, turns a blind eye to palpable perjury, and cloaks those who point the finger of suspicion in lifelong anonymity, even when a jury rejects all such claims.
Before the militant feminist element defend this perversion of what was once the finest criminal justice system on the face of this planet, they should bear in mind that if this can happen to the Max Cliffords of this world, it can and will happen eventually to ordinary men, including their fathers, brothers, and sons. Indeed, who is to say women will be exempt from this sort of nonsense?
To understand how the Clifford convictions came about we must go back in time. In 1976, the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act provided anonymity in rape cases. The 1992 act extended it to other offences. The rationale for this was that rape is such a uniquely heinous crime that complainants need special protection. Feminists have also argued that without anonymity, many if not most victims would not come forward. Such has been the deluge of propaganda by this noisy, vociferous lobby (usually masquerading as victims’ advocates) that it is now taken for granted in some quarters that a fifth, a quarter, a third or more women globally will be raped or sexual assaulted at least once in their lives. As some of the loonier feminists define consensual sex as rape, and men leering at women as sexual assault, it is difficult if not impossible to argue against the motion.
Fast forward to 2012. Following his death at the age of 84 in October 2011, a plethora of allegations were made against the DJ Jimmy Savile. These resulted in a TV documentary which was screened in October the following year. The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile received wide advance publicity, and the scandal resulted in Operation Yewtree, a wide-ranging police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by celebrities.
Such allegations against Savile were far from new, but before going any further it is important to understand something. Allegations against powerful and indeed not-so-powerful politicians, and against businessmen and others in the public eye, are two a penny and always have been. Think of the conspiracy “theories” surrounding the Kennedy Assassination, and you will perhaps understand. Everyone from Lyndon Johnson to the CIA to the KGB to sundry groups of anonymous conspirators has been accused of being behind what was arguably the most spectacular murder in history.
Where before, the most scurrilous gossip about sex-crazed politicians and celebrities was circulated only as verbal rumour with the occasional anonymous flyer, magazine article or book, there is today no halting the deluge of filth and nonsense that can be found openly on the Internet. To give just one example, how seriously are we to take the claim that Jimmy Savile supplied young boys for Prime Minister Edward Heath to murder on his yacht? As these particular allegations were made a barrister, what hope the rest of us?
That being said, it does appear not only that there was credible evidence against Savile of his abusing underage girls, but that this evidence was swept under the carpet by people in positions of authority at the BBC and elsewhere. For whatever reason.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of this, after the aforementioned programme, the police set about investigating Savile with gusto. Although he could not be held to account, there was and remains the lure of compensation from his multi-million pound estate for anyone of either sex who can raise a claim that can be upheld on the balance of probabilities of being a victim of a sexual assault by Savile, however minor.
At the same time, whether they had worked with him or not, other celebrities came under scrutiny. Apart from Max Clifford, the only one who has to date been convicted, is Stuart Hall. After protesting his innocence, Hall pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges of indecent assault on underage girls. A rape charge was dropped, evidently in return for his last minute guilty plea to the lesser offences. Hall was subsequently charged with further rapes, and is shortly to stand trial.
The biggest celebrity yet to stand trial is family entertainer Rolf Harris. The cases against others were either dismissed or collapsed, although the CPS is continuing to pursue the former DJ Dave Lee Travis with some venom. It is clear that many if not most of the accusers in all these cases are either fantasists or outright liars. The case against Jim Davidson was dropped, partly because he was able to show that two of the offences of which he was accused could not have happened. The evidence against William Roache was particularly tainted. Even many of the allegations made against Savile himself are at the limit of credibility. And does anyone really believe Max Clifford induced a 12 year old girl to masturbate him in a jacuzzi, an outrage this girl kept to herself for three decades?
It is important to note this is not necessarily a “female” thing. Recently the MP Nigel Evans who is an out homosexual, stood trial for and was acquitted of rape – buggery being now charged as such here. Although Evans had clearly been abusing his position to proposition young men for sex, his behaviour fell far short of sexual assault. One of the so-called victims in this case said he’d gone to bed with Evans without considering their behaviour sexual.
So what was the evidence against Max Clifford? As these alleged offences were committed over twenty years ago, what evidence could there be? The bottom line is that it was Clifford’s word against theirs, in effect the word of the frightened little woman against the suave media manipulator. All Clifford could do realistically was call character witnesses; there was no shortage of those, but at the end of the day they did him no good.
One of Clifford’s “victims” wrote to him after the Savile scandal broke; Clifford kept that letter but did nothing about it. In retrospect that was probably unwise because it accused him overtly of being a paedophile. It is possible this woman was a fantasist rather than a liar, but the jury has spoken, and because they took so long to deliberate, they cannot be said to have shirked their duty. Not only Clifford but his company seems to have gone down the tubes; this morning, anyone attempting to log onto the website of Max Clifford Associates will have been greeted with a simple message “This site cannot be found.”
One person who is happy with this state of affairs is the lawyer Liz Dux who said “ it’s vital to give confidence to other victims that a conviction can be achieved so many years after an event without DNA or other types of scientific corroboratory evidence.” She might have added “or any evidence at all”.
That a lawyer can make such an assertion openly does not bode well for the future of justice in England. In Scotland which has not only a unique 3 verdict system but requires corroboration, Max Clifford would almost certainly never have been brought to trial. If Liz Dux and the “wimmin’s movement” get their way, no man will be safe there either. Under the much excoriated Sharia law, there would likewise have been no case to answer. Indeed, corroboration is often demanded here in more serious cases. In March 1999, the South London Press reported that career criminal Wayne Hurran who was serving a lengthy prison sentence had confessed to the murder of a bouncer, two other murders and a string of violent crimes. However, the judge had dismissed the case because of both the lack of evidence and Hurran’s mental condition. There are many such cases – real crimes including murders with real victims. The only “evidence” against Max Clifford is the uncorroborated testimony of alleged victims adduced decades later after a well publicised trawl. The fact that we may dislike Clifford and people of his type should not blind us to these uncomfortable facts.
Let us return to Dave Lee Travis. One of his accusers claimed he had groped her on a visit to a hospital where he was opening a radio station. However, Travis had visited the hospital with his wife; not only that, but there was extensive video evidence of the visit. At what point exactly was he supposed to have snuck off and groped the “victim” or anyone? In spite of this and many other blatant lies, none of the accusers of Dave Lee Travis or any of the other celebrities who have faced arrest in the wake of the Savile revelations have or will face prosecution for perjury, wasting police time, or anything else.
Not only that, but the authorities have added to the ordeal by charging Travis with a further count of indecent assault in addition to the charges on which he is to be retried. The view of the CPS appears to be that if enough mud is thrown, some of it will stick. In spite of protestations that this is not a witch-hunt, it is difficult to interpret it as anything else. Are we really expected to believe that a significant number of the men who have appeared on our TV screens over the past five decades are serial gropers, degenerates or even rapists?
There is an easy solution to this nonsense, a statute of limitations for all crimes for which there is no physical evidence or corroboration. No reasonable person would suggest that a rapist should not face prosecution if for example credible evidence – DNA or CCTV say – comes to light years or even decades later, but the sort of nonsense here that has resulted in innocent men having their names dragged through the mud by chancers and fantasists is an affront to justice.
Unless something like this is done, we will in future see all manner of allegations made against not only the rich and famous but against teachers, doctors, and Heaven knows who else, and they will then be faced with the uphill task of proving their innocence against allegations made by anonymous accusers, a task which is all but impossible, as the people organising this witch-hunt know all too well.
[The above article was published originally May 2, 2014 with a linked video. I have uploaded that video and another here].
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