As I write, the sad news about Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Assembly Member who has been found dead after his suspension for the Labour Party, has broken in the news. It would be improper and indecent for us to speculate about these events, and we must respect the wishes of his loved ones for privacy at this impossibly difficult time.

The accusations levelled against Mr Sargeant were, as far as we know, unknown to him, a similar situation to the allegations made against Tory MP Charlie Elphicke. Whether any of the #accusations, that the media has taken such gusto in reporting, are true remains to be seen and it is wrong to try to second guess the outcome of what may prove to be legal cases.

Advertisements
Advertisements

We should not stand for our representatives debasing our Parliament. More importantly, we can say though is that now we all have a duty to stand up for the presumption of #innocence for every single person.

Our duty

The great English judge Sir William Blackstone came up with his eponymous formulation that:

”It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

This phrase has come to form the cornerstone of British liberty, that no man will be presumed to be guilty in the eyes of the law until it is proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law. This is what we are renowned for, British justice is the envy of the world. If we have anything to be proud of in our colonial past, it is that we left behind the ideals of liberty and fairness.

We have, therefore, a duty to uphold that which has been passed down to us.

Advertisements

Not because we have a macabre desire to make real victims go through their ordeals again and again. I have sat there whilst someone very dear to me was quivering with fear at the prospect of telling a court of strangers about the domestic abuse she had suffered. I know that struggle. It takes unimaginable bravery to stand up and do such a thing, and anyone who can do so has my utmost admiration. But, it is necessary. No matter how much I sat there wanting to scream at everyone present that it was so obviously true. The #Case and every case had to go through the proper process and ensure that justice prevails.

Sexminster

Kipling encapsulated the approach that we need perfectly:

“If you can keep your head when all about you;

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you”

It is not easy, nothing worth doing ever is, and yet, when we see those we send to represent us in Parliament and movie stars accused of all manner of perversions, we must moderate ourselves. Perhaps some of it is true, perhaps not.

Advertisements

But justice is not dispensed in the court of public opinion or from the front pages of the newspapers.

We have all seen these allegations, and we have all considered whether it is true or not. We can’t stop ourselves from this natural inquisitiveness, but we must always remember that sufficient evidence is required before we can come to any firm conclusions.

There is an air of the witch hunt about this, the mob has been whipped up and they want to see something done. Sir Michael Fallon won't be missed, whatever Tory apologists say, he was one of the worst Defence Secretaries in our history. Neither, I think, would most of our sub-standard #Mps, but they ought to be cast out for their ability (or lack of) not because fifteen years ago they flattered themselves into thinking that a pretty, younger woman would want a red-faced, old lecher putting his grubby hand on her knee. That they felt confident enough in their position of authority to do that is not something I am especially comfortable with, but let us get a sense of proportion for goodness' sake.

No doubt, some will call it “victim blaming” and see it as an attempt to protect sex pests, but it is nothing of the sort. I am glad that we might now start to question the sexual revolution (Sorry, but I can not stand the ludicrous “Sir” Mick Jagger). I think that the cheapening of sex becoming a distant, sordid memory is something to look forward to. I will be glad to see those, who have been proven in a court to have broken the law, punished. Here's to some more prudishness and reminding our representatives that we expect them to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the Palace of Westminster.

However, we must always remember to cherish the presumption of innocence. Allowing it to die with good intentions, the source of many problems, will not protect our liberty and deliver justice. One day, it might be you who is at the receiving end of such an accusation, and then you’ll be glad of these old liberties. #Presumption Of Innocence