Saturday, December 01, 2007

Miranda Grell: The appeal verdict

From the Waltham Forest Guardian:

The court heard from prosecutor Gareth Branston that Grell had told one prospective voter: "Don't vote for Barry because he's a paedophile. Have you heard about him sleeping with Thai boys? His boyfriend is 16. He's dirty."

Subsequently, Mr Smith, who is gay and shared a home with 39-year-old Ching Thian Chubh, with who he had contracted a civil partnership, was verbally abused in the street. It was clear from what was said that his abusers believed him to be a paedophile.

Judge Birt and his colleagues took just 20 minutes to dismiss the appeal today.

The judge said : "We find no substance whatsoever in the appellant's allegations of collusion. We find the appellant's own evidence to have been contrived and not honest.

"In these circumstances the appeal is dismissed on both charges.

This verdict has not yet made the hubristically named Justice for Leyton Ward site that was set up to proclaim that Grell was innocent and the victim of a wicked plot.

But you will find there an article which Andrew Lock wrote for Tribune. It concludes as follows:

The implications of Miranda Grell’s conviction and appeal outcome are serious and should interest us all. If her conviction is upheld, serious questions must be asked.

Will all candidates be forced to take a witness out with them everywhere they canvass for fear of a ‘he-said she-said’ prosecution being brought against them?

Will any person in their right mind think it’s worth standing for their local council and risk being put through the ordeal Miranda is enduring?

Will the wider electorate - already disillusioned with party politics in general - bother voting in local elections if the worrying trend of an increasing number of campaigns ending up in court continues?

The answers to Lock's questions are No, Yes and There is only one case in court. The way to avoid trouble of this sort is to refrain from slandering your political opponents.


James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

Grell's mistake, surely, was to bring witnesses with her when she was out canvassing?

What they don't seem to understand is that proving something like this is spectacularly difficult. I've come across several similar incidents over the years. Only the most blatant of cases will ever get this far.

Anonymous said...

It's not quite the only court case: there's another one in court at the moment, involving Labour and allegations of lying about their Lib Dem opponent again:

But you're right about the general point. The only people who will be put off by this are those who would be tempted to label their opponent a paedophile. And a good thing too if they have second thoughts about such behaviour in future.