Keeping tabs on the tabloids

WITH yet another celebrity arrest – the 73 year-old comedian, Jimmy Tarbuck – over an alleged assault dating back to the 1970s, you have to ask yourself when is this celebrity-targeting going to end?

Whilst I don’t condone what Tarbuck or his fellow celebrities are accused of, I do have some problems with the manner of their arrests.

First off, the lack of anonymity given to those faced with historical sexual offence claims. According to common law, people are innocent until proven guilty, and they should be entitled to anonymity, at least until a court orders otherwise. 

When the mere fact of an arrest (which the police and the tabloids have every interest in widely publicising) can effectively kill someone’s career, the balance is in the wrong place. It’s simply wrong and flies in the face of justice for their accusers to be able to make, anonymously, public accusations. 

And how exactly can you convict someone beyond reasonable doubt after 40 years? Which is why I find it so amazing that the police spend scarce public funds investigating these claims.

Would this be so if the defendant wasn’t a celebrity? Is there maybe here a bit of envy of the “rich and famous”?

Another problem is that Britain today suffers not just from a blame culture, where someone always has to be identified as the wrongdoer, but it’s also a litigious society bent on getting compensation at any cost to the victim. 

Yet another problem is that, 40 years ago, consensual sex with underage girls, though illegal, wasn’t considered as serious as now, at least not by the BBC.

If it had been, why weren’t there checks by the BBC on the age of groupies besieging its stars’ dressing rooms? Thus, elderly men are now being charged with 40 year-old crimes due in part to a shift in attitudes. 

So, the 1970s are getting a hammering but I expect the revelations to be ongoing, rather than grinding to a halt in 1979. But there’s such an air of sadness about it all, as it feels like the happy childhood years of many are being deconstructed and turned into something embarrassing. 

Any day now, the Blue Peter tortoise, Captain Pugwash and Zippy from Rainbow will be hauled in for questioning …

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Retribution’, Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ ( available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89; £0.77) and iBookstore. Profits to Cudeca.

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