Saturday, 10 October 2015

Mail playing politics with paedophile allegations

In an impressive new low, the Daily Mail has resorted to using the investigation into a allegations of child abuse by MPs and other powerful individuals to attack Tom Watson, one of the people who has pushed the issue into the light.

In a long-on-fulmination-but-short-on-credibility piece penned by Guy Adams and Stephen Wright, they accuse Watson of selectively targeting Conservative MPs in his campaign.

Their 'smoking gun' is that Watson refrained from putting his name to a letter calling on police to invesigate Lord Janner, a Labour peer and Britain's second least convincing victim of dementia after Ernest Saunders, and echoes claims made in the Telegraph that Watson is singling out Conservative MPs for his attention:
In April, for example, he called the Daily Telegraph a ‘disingenuous, lazy’ and ‘failing’ newspaper.

Its crime? To have published an editorial suggesting that party politics meant Watson was not pursuing (Labour’s) Lord Janner with the same vigour as he had gone after the (Conservative) Lord Brittan.

Watson denied double standards. He claimed his differing levels of activity with regard to the two cases were down to a simple fact: ‘I have spoken directly to survivors of Leon Brittan. I have not spoken directly to any survivors of Lord Janner.’ A fair explanation. Or at least, it would be if it were true. But it isn’t. For, as Watson revealed in an interview with the Guardian newspaper last year, he very much has met Exaro’s witness ‘Nick’, in what he called a ‘very, very traumatic and difficult conversation’.

This is important because ‘Nick’ claims to be a former victim of Lord Janner. Earlier this year, Exaro reported: ‘Janner, now 86, sexually assaulted him at several unidentified venues in London between 1979 and 1982.’ It is possible, of course, that ‘Nick’ and Watson never discussed Janner during their meeting, and that Watson was unaware of ‘Nick’s’ allegation against Janner. But still, Watson has met one of Janner’s alleged victims.
Dates are important here.

The Guardian interview took place in 2014, when he refers to talking to Nick.  It can be read here.

The exchange between Watson and the Telegraph took place in April 2015.  The Telegraph editorial is dated 17th of April, 2015.  Watson's response is dated the same day and can be read here.  Amusingly, Watson highlights a tweet he issued on the 16th of April, about the Janner case that makes a joke of the Telegraph's claim that "There was a strange silence in some quarters yesterday".

Only, there wasn't, and the Telegraph would have known this if they'd had the sense to look at Watson's tweets.

Like the man said, a lazy newspaper.

 Nick's claim that he was abused by Lord Janner appears in an Exaro piece by Mark Conrad, published on the 18th of April, 2015.

So the Mail's damning evidence of double standards is that Tom Watson didn't know, six months before the story broke, that 'Nick' was going to implicate a Labour peer.  Tom Watson's statement, when he made it, was absolutely true as far as he was aware.  It's pathetic stuff, essentially a tarted-up version of yelling,  "Tom Watson is a big fat discredited LIAR because he can't see into the future."

The Mail is trying to destroy Watson's reputation, for a political purpose - the very crime it accuses him of.

There are oddities in the column.  It describes a woman who accused Leon Brittan as 'discredited':
The discredited testimony of ‘Jane’ was among the matters detailed in a sensational BBC Panorama documentary entitled ‘The VIP Paedophile Ring’.
In fact, Jane was not 'dscredited,' at least not as a result of any information provided by the Mail. Her claims were not substantiated - not surprising, given the incident was alleged to have taken place in 1967.

'Nick' also described the murder of a school friend that had been staged to look like a hit and run accident.  The Mail blandly advises that, "And no public murder of that nature was reported in the media at the time."

Obviously, the incident would not be described as a murder!

I assume Adams and Wright are intelligent people.  So why are they making such obvious efforts to mislead and confuse readers?

They say they are sceptical of the stories being put out by the likes of 'Jane' and 'Nick'.  Fine.  Then examine their stories carefully and judiciously.  Don't make laughable tenuous aspersions based on Tom Watson's lack of precognitive powers, or attack a claim on false grounds such as their deliberate murder / man slaughter mix-up,

I am also very concerned about some of these stories, and expect that some of them will turn out to be false.  Unlike the Mail, I am less concerned about the reputations of a few MPs than I am about the likely impact it will have on genuine victims of child abuse.

And the Mail's politically motivated attacks isn't making things any easier for them.

Prediction

There's nothing stupider on the internet than putting down your thoughts in an indisputable form.  So that, of course is what I am going...