Saturday, November 20, 2010

Institutions at The Edges of the Sea

Short notice requirement to travel to crown court at edge of sea this week. To arrive in time, necessitated rise before 5am - rather more exotic train destinations possible from Wimbledon station then than are on offer at rush hour. Was able to take 0543 Weymouth train switch at Basingstoke for branch line to Reading just in time for coffee and fast train to West country seaside Crown Court arrive at 0943 phew!

Sad trial of rogue trying to cash in on current negative sentiment towards catholic priests by blackmail attempt. His counsel argued that blackmail could not have taken place as even if his allegation against the priest was true suggesting that nothing illegal or critical was involved so there could be no blackmail.

Very impressive judge made the jury leave whilst lawyers battled it out on what it is to be a catholic in secular Britain today. Defence counsel said that a catholic nurse might refuse to help in an abortion operation but the surgeon's actions would still be legal and not reprehensible. Judge was not accepting any such suggestion and to my surprise and pleasure strongly defended the catholic position. He made plain that for blackmail purposes one had to look at the reputation of the victim in context, which for a catholic priest meant being sensitive to the victim's beliefs rather than any secular mores.

No sensitivity at all shown by the British media however when walking the priest back to his car on the edge as photographers jostled and harassed. Later the newspapers published all the graphic and false allegations thus with clinical efficiency doing the blackmailer's job for him.

The subsequent bracing walk along the sea shore was really needed. Back at court the jury took barely three quarter of an hour to return a guilty verdict and the rogue was sent down for 5 years. Meanwhile one good innocent catholic priest was recovering from the character assassination attempt. The blackmailer failed and is punished; the newspapers almost succeeded and go scot free.

My conclusions on this snapshot of real establishment life in Britain this week are that British trains are better than many think; British judges are as fair and tough where necessary but the British press and its photographers can get away with murder - almost.

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