When the Savile revelations broke, I, like many others, was horrified as it dawned upon us much of his public posturing was a means to an end – and that his only real and relentless devotion was to gaining access and opportunities in order to abuse vulnerable people, many of whom were children. I sought refuge and answers in books, mostly biographies, in search of another sense of Savile that we could all have seen, had we allowed ourselves to.
It has to be said, “Hiding in plain sight” is quite the understatement of the century. With retrospective knowledge it appears to be “Taunting in plain sight”. The more you listen to Savile’s words and what he actually told us about himself at the time, the more you realise:
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke 1729 – 1797
and as Savile told us,
“It wasn’t power; it was an effect.” (As it Happens, Savile, 1974)
and lest we forget:
“The best business in the world is to own a government.” (God’ll Fix It, Savile, 1978)
My response to the Savile revelations had, over the past 3 years, crystallised into an application below to undertake a PhD at City University’s Centre for Law, Justice & Journalism. My LLM was at King’s College London, 2000-2002, mostly in human rights and labour law, part-time while working as a Legal Knowledge Manager for a well-known financial information and media corporate.
Although I was initially unsuccessful in my 2014 application to the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism:
“We felt that your critical approach to the legal legacy of Hayman’s case was well thought out and that you deployed a clear conceptual framework. Your proposal has the potential to make a very interesting PhD. Unfortunately, we are unable to supervise your PhD at the Centre at this time.” (24th October 2014, City University Centre for Law Justice & Journalism)
in 2015 I have been fortunate enough to secure a bursary to commence doctoral research with Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge.
Abstract as submitted below:
Hayman’s Legal Legacy: A Society Divided by the Rule of Law
Is a man to be excused the due process of law, other things being equal, because he is well-known?
(Butt, Ronald, ‘The Questions Unanswered in the Hayman case’, The Times, London, 26th March 1981)
Non-Technical abstract (400 words)
“If a man is to be excused the due process of law, other things being equal, because he is well known, then we are indeed in a two nations society.” (Butt, Ronald, ‘The Questions Unanswered in the Hayman case’, The Times, London, 26th March 1981)
In 1981 a parliamentary historian Ronald Butt expressed concern that the Director of Public Prosecution’s refusal to prosecute Sir Peter Hayman (a British High Commissioner of Canada and Deputy Head of MI6), suggested as a nation, Great Britain was a society divided by the rule of law. As co-correspondent and member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, Hayman was afforded anonymity under the name ‘Henderson’ and was conspicuously absent during a trial of fellow PIE members.
Thirty-four years later, in an era of financial institutions deemed too big to fail, can it now be said that in the wake of revelations about Savile and others, some reputations remain too big to face trial?
This research asserts that (1) the increasing number of institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse by public figures (such as Savile and Cyril Smith) and (2) the subsequent ‘missed opportunities’ to prosecute high profile figures, suggest an emerging pattern in post-war Britain for the rule of law to be eclipsed by the magnitude of an accused’s celebrity or reputation – all of which contributes to other current calls demanding deeper inquiry as to the health of the rule of law constitutionally. Access to and efficacy of constitutional tools potentially capable of remedying breaches in the rule of law are reviewed, including judicial review of Decisions Not to Prosecute and the exercise of Parliamentary Privilege by MPs, alongside the Crown Prosecution Service Victims’ Right to Review Scheme (June 2013), and a consideration of more radical remedies such as Truth and Reconciliation Tribunals.
Phrases like ‘moral panic’ can serve to minimize and mask very real compromises that may have occurred in the application of the rule of law (and consequent due process) as applied to public figures in positions of power, particularly when subject to allegations of child abuse. Sensationalist “shock scandal scoop” reporting of incidents of organized institutional child abuse by the press often both fuel assertions of ‘moral panic’ while simultaneously failing to explicitly engage with the wider constitutional, legal and political implications of the revelations.
This research aims to place Decisions Not to Prosecute public figures in the context of six decades of child abuse scandals, as reported by the press, to assess whether in today’s climate it is now not only imperative, but also possible, to address the constitutional impact of allowing the question unanswered in the Hayman case to remain so.
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Extremely useful consolidation and collation work has been done by Operation Greenlight, making information more accessible and searchable:
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