By VennerRoad, 8th Feb 2015
Gary Glitter has been convicted of historic sex offences, but is his conviction safe?
Glitter in his prime.
Last week, Gary Glitter was convicted of sexually abusing three underage girls. Mr Gadd’s antecedents were well known to the general public and hence to the jury, so he is unlikely to receive much sympathy. The questions must be asked however: is he really guilty, and did he or any other victim of the Operation Yewtree witch-hunt receive a fair trial?
Unlike some of the allegations made against other celebrities, in particular Jimmy Tarbuck and Jim Davidson, there was credible evidence that he had actually met some of the girls he was alleged to have abused. In 1992, he was the subject of a This Is Your Life programme; one of the guests therein was Tessa Dahl - the daughter of the author Roald Dahl and the mother of the model Sophie Dahl. After his conviction, the Independent newspaper dug out what it called “Chilling footage” of Glitter making a playful shhh gesture to her. Others have found similar sinister meanings in a joke by Rolf Harris, and Bill Cosby’s Spanish Fly comedy routine.
The evidence against Glitter was paradoxically both extremely weak and extremely powerful; weak because much of it was factually incorrect if not outright dishonest; powerful because of brainwashing by anti-rape activists (so-called), whose ludicrous proposition that sexual assault victims seldom if ever lie has been plugged remorselessly by the media - including the BBC - for decades, and is now accepted as holy writ even by the police. Then there is the fact that a woman’s tears are irresistable to women as well as men.
Glitter was represented by Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC who challenging evidence that is now four decades old pointed out to one of her client’s accusers that the events she described could not have happened in 1975 because the property on which they had allegedly taken place had not yet been bought.
“These allegations are totally untrue and you have been exposed by the chronology.”
To this, the witness is said to have replied: “No I have not. It might look like that, but I haven’t.
If there have been mistakes with the chronology, I can’t defend that, but what I can say is that everything I remember about the events I remember as clear as if it was yesterday.”
But, the BBC report continued: “The woman had previously told jurors she remembered a particular room in the basement of the house where she was allegedly attacked.
After being shown a plan of the property she agreed that this could not have been the case as there was no basement.”
This sort of nonsense is not tolerated in the United States where there are statutes of limitations, nor would it be tolerated under sharia. Nevertheless, Glitter was convicted, even though most of the other evidence against him was of a similar quality or lack thereof.
One person absent from these proceedings was former Duncroft pupil Karin Ward, who had claimed previously not only to have seen Glitter having sex with an underage girl in Jimmy Savile’s dressing room, but had claimed too to have been groped by the comedian Freddie Star. It may be that the authorities have realised at last that she and the other women who started this witch-hunt in the first place are not credible.
Having said that, Glitter’s own evidence was far from impressive, like for example his claim that he had himself been sexually abused as a child. It remains to be seen if he did abuse or attempt to abuse any of the women here because he does not appear to have developed an interest in very young girls until he left England for exotic climes, but there is no doubt that if he didn’t actually have sex with girls in the Far East that he did get far too close to at least one eleven year old, so at best most people will view this as karma catching up with him.
After Glitter’s conviction we saw the by now mandatory pronouncements by the police about the victims having shown great courage to come forward. Exactly how much courage does it take to testify against a man who is already a pariah, and to do so not only anonymously but from behind a screen, and with the option of waiving this anonymity at a later date to sell a story for a five figure sum to a tabloid newspaper? Then there is the tea and sympathy dispensed by the police, CPS and organisations like the NSPCC, and even perhaps a claim for criminal injuries compensation in addition to an all-expenses paid trip to the capital. Nice work if you can get it.
What was missing from this farce of a trial and indeed from all the Operation Yewtree trials was expert evidence relating to the frailty of memory. There can be no doubt that most if not all the lawyers involved in these trials are aware of some of the literature concerning false memory syndrome, confabulation and pseudologia fantastica, yet none of them mentions them, it is as though not only the prosecution but the judge and the defence pretend they do not exist.
Were all the witnesses simply lying? Some were, those who accused William Roache and at least one who accused Dave Lee Travis, but let us return to the frailty of memory. Recently, a rather striking example of this came to light in the States when the NBC talking head Brian Williams was caught out grossly exaggerating an experience in Iraq, or worse. He is taken to task here in this video, in which he is clearly exposed as lying. Or is he? It may appear so, but if you watch the whole video, it becomes clear that is not necessarily the case, because someone else who was there - and had no motive to lie - backs up his account. This is more than simply the fog of war; memory is both a complex and a fragile thing. If Gary Glitter’s current accusers had pointed the finger at him the following day, the following week or even the following month, they would have warranted if not uncritical belief then serious refutation. But years and decades on, we don’t know what nonsense has polluted their memories. Even without coaching by the police and others or - God forbid - treatment by therapists - it is quite possible that they and any who come forward in the future to accuse Glitter, Rolf Harris or other celebrities, will have convinced themselves they have indeed been sexually abused.
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