I've been a journalist for nearly twenty years. While I've always agreed with JFK's contention that secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society, I nevertheless accept that in certain criminal proceedings, the imposition of reporting restrictions on the media is necessary to ensure a fair trial. It's important to note that once a jury has received the case and has retired to consider a verdict, the reporting restrictions are lifted, with the exception being that the press will probably still have to refrain from naming the alleged victim. Now before you go getting all hot under the collar and accuse me of hypocrisy because of my previous statements about the UK's family court system, think again. There are no juries in family court proceedings. An appointed judge hears the case and makes a decision. It is a breathtakingly biased system which sees local authorities place evidence against parents before a judge, evidence that the parents cannot see nor contest. It is truly Orwellian and must be dismantled. So back to reporting restrictions....

Live streaming outside a court house, filming defendants in a rape or grooming trial and putting that film on social media with headlines like "Child Rapists Exposed" is at the very least foolish and reckless, but worse, could result in a mistrial potentially putting sex offenders back on the streets. I say potentially because how dare anyone convict any man or woman as a child rapist before the conclusion of a trial? William Blackstone famously said that; “It is better to let ten guilty men go free than to convict one single innocent.” Absolutely right. Canadian lawyer Eleanor J. Funk puts it thus: "The presumption of innocence seems easily forgotten in the so-called “court of public opinion”. When high profile criminal cases capture media attention, the public opinion seems to sway towards presuming the person is guilty – before he even steps foot inside a courtroom to have a judge or jury determine whether or not he is guilty. This ‘presumption of guilt’ in the public’s opinion can be devastating to reputations; careers; families, and almost every other aspect of life. Even if eventually found ‘not guilty’ in a court of law, recovering from a public smearing of one’s name and reputation may prove impossible." 

No real journalist, no qualified man or woman would attempt to film the participants in an ongoing rape trial once let alone TWICE. I can only conclude that a person who would do that was in fact doing it to serve their own interests, to promote a narrative that placed themselves at the heart of the story, as some sort of crusader for justice and children's rights, when in fact their actions could plausibly see victims denied justice. I believe in freedom of speech and thought. I've said time and again (my radio show historic guest list proves it) that we've got to support the right to free speech of those with whom we most vehemently disagree. However, the events of the last few days are not a free speech issue. What we witnessed was the utterly reckless behaviour of a violent convicted criminal, whose conduct could have resulted in not only a mistrial in the case he was "covering" but may have also prejudiced upcoming cases and denied justice to victims of grooming gangs. That's not journalism, it's merely showboating. That's a case of "Hey look at me, I'm the man, standing up against the child rapists!" But in The Century of The Self, in the era of identity politics, supporters of such idiots lap it up rather than question the motives.

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