Posted by: Witch Doctor | November 10, 2012

North Wales : The Witch Doctor is flummoxed.


Well, My Black Cat, they are saying that there is another victim in The North Wales child abuse scandal.

Lord McAlpine, (Alistair McAlpine, Baron McAlpine of West Green) is that victim. He is understandably upset that his name has been linked to child abuse in a children’s home. The truth is very difficult to come by in situations like these. Lord McAlpine is the one person who knows the truth about himself beyond any doubt.

Everyone is apologising unreservedly to Lord McAlpine and rightly so because, irrespective of his statement today, it has always been the case that Lord McAlpine was innocent.

Fortunately in the UK, an individual is innocent until the legal system finds him guilty using due process.

However, The Witch Doctor often cannot fathom out The Humankind at all.

Even taking into account that the abuse took place many years ago and facial features change, why is it that Stephen Messham did not himself look at a photo of Lord McAlpine to confirm that he was indeed the man responsible for his alleged abuse? He was making extremely serious claims on TV after all. Has he never checked out Lord McAlpine’s photograph on the Internet? If not, why not? Does he not have access to a computer? Would it have brought back painful memories perhaps?

Even although a name would not be published, Newsnight must have known the suspect’s identity or the programme would never have seen the light of day. Why did the legal department behind Newsnight not make damned sure that Stephen Messham was shown several photos of Lord McAlpine now and at the time of the Thatcher government and give him the opportunity to confirm or refute or even be indecisive about the identity of his alleged abuser well before the programme was scheduled? Why did they not have him sign a statement that the photos were or were not those of his abuser and abort the programme if there was even a miniscule of doubt about the identity?

None of this makes sense to an old witch. She is scratching her head and wondering why she doesn’t get it.

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  1. Using Occam’s Razor, the explanation is that Stephen Messham was telling the truth and is now lying. Otherwise, as you say it doesn’t make sense. Even if you think Messham is unreliable, it defies comprehension that Newsnight would make such allegations without doing the most cursory of checks. The potential for libel would be too great.

    • The claim that Lord McAlpine was the perpertrator was part of a decription involving repeated visits, a American Express card; a Rolls Royce; afershave etc. McAlpine has only ever been to Wrexham once (one more time than me!) has never had a Gold card or a Rolls Royce according to his statement yesterday. It is not just the photograph that was misremembered.

      What happened in a variety of institutions years ago is going to be very hard to establish with any degree of certainty. Memory plays tricks over that period of time and is often unreliable.

  2. It is not just Newsnight. The independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism apparently was involved also. Presumably they did their research anDd presented it to Newsnight to polish it up into a programme. It seems inconceivable that both these independent organisations failed to do the most basic “investigations” e.g. “Mr Messham, here are some photographs of the man you alleged abused you. We need your written confirmation that this is the same person before we proceed any further.” It should have been clear that anyone who had experienced the trauma of child abuse and was giving an account of something that happened decades ago is likely to be a poor witness. We would all be poor witnesses in these circumstances.

    Perhaps there are too many fingers in the pie of investigative journalism. Perhaps there are too many mediocre “leaders.” Perhaps it is not adeqately funded. Perhaps everyone thought the most basic things had been done by someone else. Perhaps it is protocol driven. Perhaps someone forgot to put their specs on and ticked the wrong boxes.

    Whatever happens investigative journalism should not be allowed to wither on the vine because mistakes are made, since that would herald the beginning of the end of freedom for us all.

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