Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Have I got news for Ian Hislop

Ian Hislop, his puzzled face much in evidence, seemed rather pleased with the way he dealt with the Jimmy Savile story on Have I Got News for You last week. (The good news is that the link will take you straight to that segment of the programme: the bad news is that it will work for only a couple more days.)

The central point of his argument ran:
"The truth is no one actually knew - and if they did they should be prosecuted."
But this will not do. It is becoming increasingly clear that many people did know about Savile. Among them were his victims, who should certainly not be prosecuted.

Ian Hislop edits a magazine with a strong investigative strand - that is the reason I still buy Private Eye, because the humour element rarely cuts it for me these days.

And if you edit such a magazine you need a good instinct for judging which of the many rumours that swirl around celebrities may have something in them and the courage and tenacity to investigate them. From that point of view neither Hislop's performance here nor this week's issue of his magazine (which concentrates on mocking the press over Savile) are particularly encouraging.

What we needed was the approach of David Walsh, the journalist who, in 1999, first questioned Lance Armstrong’s remarkable performance in the Tour de France:
“Everybody would say, ‘what evidence have you got?’ I would say, ‘well I don’t have enough evidence to ever prove to anyone that he’s guilty…I just feel that I have huge responsibility, a huge need, to go and ask a lot of questions’.”
That quotation comes from a post on the blog of Stuart Syvret, who has certainly shown courage and tenacity in pursuing the delinquencies of the authorities on Jersey.

He quotes them in a characteristically long post that questions BBC Jersey's strange unwillingness to investigate the sacking of the island's two senior police officers by its government following Jersey's child protection scandal - a scandal in which the government was inescapably complicit.

If anything good comes of the Savile affair it may that the Jersey authorities are forced to hold the inquiry they promised at the time of the scandal. They have been backsliding ever since.

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