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This morning an 81-year-old man was arrested in Wilmslow on suspicion of raping an under-age girl, in 1967. He hasn’t been charged as yet, just hauled in for questioning. The story would probably have gone no further than the Manchester Evening News, but for one thing. The man involved has been named as Bill Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street for 53 years and as such has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest serving soap actor.

If Mr Roache is eventually charged and convicted, then I don’t care how ‘historic’ the allegation is, he deserves to feel the weight of justice, and I have no pity for him. But if he is not, if he is innocent, what damage will have been done to him? 

I support absolutely, the right to anonymity of victims of sex crimes. However, the present post-Savile climate has led me to wonder, given the extent to which mud sticks and even a disproved allegation can taint, whether accused persons should have the same right, at least until charged, and possibly until they are convicted. Dunno. What do you think?

Categories: General
  1. May 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    First of all I take on board comments made by Victim Support etc re the dilemma facing those suffering from offences that occurred years ago. On the other hand there have been cases of allegations made simply to achieve a few minutes of fame. Ironic is too feeble a word to describe the situation where Max Clifford has represented a number of people who have made allegations of this sort only to fall victim himself. The ‘fame at any price’ culture prevalent today leaves me with a very uncomfortable feeling re all of these allegations.So on balance true justice can only be served by protecting the anonymity of all concerned. Your previous post ‘The Mills of God’ sums it up perfectly

  2. Joy
    May 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Anonymity for the accused was just what Bill Roache had been fighting for in light of the charge against his colleague Michael Le Vell. I agree with that wholeheartedly as I am sure there are some who are simply jumping on the bandwagon now, but it does leave one wondering……

  3. Simon Reid
    May 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    As long as the press remain a law unto themselves there will be no change to the present situation of trial by media.
    Any attempt to protect the anonymity of the accused – even under the argument of a man being innocent until found guilty – will only be met with cries from the press that their right to freedom of speech is being curtailed and that we are entering a draconian state.

    Thankfully, in the case you’ve cited here, the accused has come clean and admitted to his offences. In other cases though, where men, and women, are innocent, the press will continue to destroy lives for profit, and they won’t care.

  4. May 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    The press have never been in a weaker bargaining position, Simon.

    As for the case I’ve cited, look again. Bill Roache is denying the allegations.

  5. Simon Reid
    May 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Sorry, I was guilty of doing fourteen things at once there. My bad. In error, I was referrring to the case of Stuart Hall, not Bill Roache.

  6. Simon Reid
    May 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Odd as this may sound – I welcome my error.
    It provides a practical demonstration of the argument for and against press regulation.

    I made an honest mistake. My inaccuracy was caught, and now stands corrected. If newspapers and other news providers, where there is a reasonable expectation that inaccuracies would not be reported as facts, were to apply the same standard as QJ does to his blog – which I realise is for opinion and not news – regulation of the press would not be the major issue it has become.
    The problem occurs when inaccuracies are deliberately made in order to procure profit. That needs to stop.
    I’m sure most people can agree that doing nothing is not an option. But I fail to see how allowing the press to govern themselves and further damage the reputation of their own industry is an option either.

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