Well that was the cry that went round our office when the news broke that William Roache, the actor who has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street since the very beginning, was the latest celebrity to be arrested under the Operation Yewtree investigation.Â His name can be added to the list of many well known entertainers and prominent people, who have all recently been arrested and questioned, in some cases charged with offences.
Of course under the law of this country all these people are innocent until proven guilty, and I must warn you now, Â if youâ€™re reading this because you think I might have some inside knowledge Â about these cases and the allegations, then you are sadly mistaken!
The details that came out about the late Jimmy Savile were shocking and frightening.Â As I type this the news has broken that Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty to allegations of indecent assault.Â As a Solicitor who acts for victims of abuse, I have heard many stories over the years, and have had no reason to doubt them.Â A great deal of the information about Jimmy Savile sadly echoed many other stories I have heard.Â Abuse is all about power, and those in the entertainment industry at the time were in a perfect position to wield that. Some of the stories that have been told seem to be difficult to doubt.
Following up on my completely non-scientific little survey, when the news about Roache broke, I took the opportunity to do a little more â€śearwiggingâ€ť and I can inform you that the overwhelming response amongst our staff was â€śthatâ€™s ridiculousâ€ť and â€śnot another one â€“ whoâ€™s next?â€ť.Â What I am concerned about is â€“ is the whole thing now Â going too far?Â And by arresting and publicly naming so many people in the public eye, is the whole concept of abuse being belittled?Â If the â€śaccusedâ€ť are subsequently not prosecuted, what message does that send out to the victims of abuse out there, who have been following the story?Â Are they less likely to tell their own tales of past experiences?
The pendulum has certainly swung in favour of the victim.Â When I started dealing with compensation claims for abuse victims it was patently obvious that the attitude of the authorities had always beenÂ not to believe the victim, especially if they were a child.Â A lot of the damage was done to these people not by the abuse that they suffered but by the frustration and despair caused by their repeated failure to get the message across.Â Many victims had complained to the authorities in some form or another, but had not been believed, and in the case of children in care, most had been punished for making those reports.Â Â In the main, my clients were not that bothered about receiving monetary compensation (although sadly that was the limit of what could obtain for them): what they wanted more than anything else was for their stories to finally be believed.Â It is good to know that finally the police are taking allegations seriously, and it seems to have taken the Jimmy Savile revelations to turn things around in that way.
Anyone who has been following these news items will know that there are other high profile people who have been arrested, and who have subsequently been informed that no action will be taken.Â But whatâ€™s done is done and, as they say â€śmud sticksâ€ť.Â There must have been allegations against these people, some no doubt were made seriously, others may have been dishonest or malicious, some might be incidents which we might look on as abuse now, but at the time were considered playful flirting, one thing is certain,Â we will never know.
What worries me now is the seemingly unending trawl through high profile entertainers of the 60s and 70s, and the publicity that surrounds them.Â As someone who acts for abuse survivors I certainly would not want to stand in defence of anyone who has carried out any form of abuse, but what if they havenâ€™t?Â What if the allegations are malicious?Â All that can result is a permanent dent in that personâ€™s reputation.Â Then the victim who might have come forward stops to think â€“ their accuser wasnâ€™t believed â€“ why should I be?Â The perception then lives on that people in the public eye have somehow got away with it, again.
I am not sure thereâ€™s an ideal solution.Â If the arrested people werenâ€™t named then the argument is that this would prevent other victims coming forward â€“ if you hear that someone is being investigated for abuse and they, in fact, abused you, then you are more likely to tell your story, and potentially that could get the police the corroborative evidence they need for the CPS to secure a conviction.Â But does it really benefit anyone to see the names of TV legends and others splashed all over the tabloids at such an early stage in the investigations, particularly when nothing comes of it further down the line?
Oh, I donâ€™t know, my brain hurts. Whatâ€™s for certain is that it doesnâ€™t look like any of this is going away for a whileâ€¦..