NORTHERN Voices, ever since 2012, has been in the forefront of exposing issues surrounding Cyril Smith and child sex exploitation. However, we are concerned about the recent practices of some politicians and certain media outlets with regard to their use of parliamentary privilege and the use of trial by media to potentially influence the process and administration of justice.
On Wednesday in the Daily Telegraph, Mathew Scott wrote:
'In a year's time Harvey Proctor's news conference will be seen either as a chilling display of hypocrisy or as the moment a brave man finally took on the combined might of a misguided Metropolitan Police and a small, nasty and highly influential section of the press and internet.'
Harvey Procter, is a former Conservative MP who was very publicly implicated in 1987, in what was then regarded as a 'gay sex' scandal, when he stood down from his parliamentary seat. He left the House of Commons – after pleading guilty and being fined for gross indecency charges. At present the campaign against certain so-called 'VIP paedophiles' , including Sir Edward Heath, Leon Brittain, and others, has been promoted by the online news organisation Exaro News. Exaro's editor in chief is Mark Watts, a highly experienced journalist who, before setting up Exaro, had contributed stories to the Daily Telegraph.
Mathew Scott writes:
'In an internet trial there are no rules of evidence, no right to insist on answers to questions or even to know the identity of the accuser. “Nick” is anonymous and as a result almost beyond criticism. Why did he contact Exaro in the first place? Did he seek them out, or did they go out and find him? If the latter, why and how? Has he been paid for his story? Exaro has not revealed. Why did he wait until 2014 before contacting the police? Why, for example, did he not do so in 1987 when Mr Proctor was very publicly implicated in what was then regarded as a “gay sex” scandal? Why, as Mr Proctor asked, was a representative from Exaro permitted to be present when he was interviewed by the police? Exaro, again, has not revealed.'
This short-circuiting of the legal process seems to be becoming all too common, in a letter in tomorrow's Rochdale Observer, a critic of the Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, Les May questions the politician's involvement with officers from the Leicester Police force who Mr. Danczuk in a speech to the House of Commons reported to be 'furious' at a decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) not to prosecute Lord Janner. Mr. May who resides in the Rochdale area writes:
'On July 25, 2015, Mr Danczuk received a payment of £10,000 from the owners of The Sun for an article he had contributed to... [and] he declined to say which article the cash related to.'
Les May further points out that 'Mr Danczuk is MP for Rochdale, not a constituency that is within the Leicester Police area.'
And he asks:
'Was the intention to use an extra judicial method of bring pressure on the DPP ...?'
In the case of Harvey Proctor last December the police officer leading the investigation, detective superintendent Kenny McDonald even announced on the BBC that he believed that the victim 'Nicks' allegations to be 'credible and true'.
The journalist, Mathew Scott in the Telegraph, rightly questions this statement from a police officer:
'It was a disgraceful statement. McDonald's job is to investigate, not to judge and most certainly not to broadcast his opinion. Expressing any opinion about the truthfulness of a witness would – as he knows perfectly well – be inadmissible and improper even in the controlled environment of a trial. To announce on national television that you believe a suspect is guilty of multiple rape and murder, before a single body has been found, and months before speaking to Mr Proctor, suggests a mind-boggling level of prejudice and foolishness.'
While no laws may have been broken in either of these cases, and in the case of Mr Proctor there has been no technical breach because he has not been charged, but the spirit of fairness and justice is being damaged.