Whoops

A few days ago the Prime Minister appeared on ‘This Morning’ during the interview he was ambushed by Phillip Schofield on the abuse scandal currently engulfing the country. Schofield had spent only a “few minutes” on the internet searching for the high profile member of the Conservative party who was alleged to be involved.

Now there’s no secret that there were at least one or more members involved in the scandal, some of the names are in the public domain already so it’s highly unlikely David Cameron isn’t aware of who they are. Much in the same way the Premiership footballer involved in the Super Injunctions wasn’t an open secret.
During the interview Cameron warned of a “[Gay] Witch hunt” many saw this as a veiled insult that being gay is equal to being a paedophile, it could be. Or it could be something more rational, that in the minds of some being gay is a “sexual deviancy” that is akin to paedophilia. It turns out the more widely discussed name was in fact innocent of the allegations but this was revealed too late.

Last Friday the BBC’s flagship current affairs show ‘Newsnight’ broadcast a report into the North Wales abuse scandal. In it, one of the victims Steve Messham revealed that a senior Conservative from the Thatcher administration had abused him. Newsnight had the scoop, they had the name but in the report the name was omitted  They didn’t even contact the person offering them right of reply. The report broadcast immediately added fuel to a mob mentality online and in the media on the identity. Many high profile journalists named them online, the wife of the Speaker of the House – Sally Bercow- also named him online. 2 days ago that person came forward to deny the reports.

Lord McAlpine, a former conservative party treasurer released a statement, in it he says:

“I must publicly tackle these slurs and set the record straight. It is obvious that there must be a substantial number of people who saw that I had been identified in the internet publications as this guilty man and who subsequently saw or heard the broadcasts or read the newspapers in question and reasonably inferred that the allegation of guilt in those broadcasts and newspapers attached to me.”

Last night Newsnight under the supervision of a senior BBC executive apologised for the error, it also carried the apology of Steven Messham who said the man in the photograph he saw at the time was said to be that of McAlpine and after seeing a photo of him from that time period recently he is now aware that it wasn’t him. Newsnight, Phillip Schofield and the internet got it wrong. I will admit I too have seen the list of names online, some of them I can’t see being involved. I’m guilty of passing on the names in conversation as, I suspect, has nearly everyone else who is interested in this story. David Cameron was right, this has become a witch hunt. Innocent people are being dragged into this story and the nature of the allegations are career ending for almost everyone involved. The British public despise child abusers, these stories can make even the most reasoned and rational person turn into a foaming lunatic demanding blood.

McAlpine is now pursuing legal action, it is highly likely Newsnight will be the main target they behaved irresponsibly it was a massive failing of journalistic standards in pursuit of a story. Newsnight already had a massive story linked to all this. They refused to run it.

Their story?

That TV superstar Jimmy Savile was a serial child abuser with victims in their hundreds.

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