‘Lock them up and throw away the key’ is a clichéd adage of the extreme Right, lazy tabloid journos and UKIP fellow travellers, against which we are long inured. In most cases, it arises where particularly vicious crimes have been committed against children, the elderly and the vulnerable. In UKIP’s case, they would probably add , ‘and then send them back where they belong’ .
Ched Evans, a professional footballer, was convicted of rape at Caernarfon Crown Court in 2012 and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, serving two and a half years of the term. The jury agreed with the judge that the nineteen year old woman was too intoxicated to have given consent freely, although, curiously they acquitted another footballer, Clayton MacDonald, who had intimate relations with the woman on the same occasion. Evans continues to protest his innocence and an appeal against the conviction and sentence is being fast-tracked through the judicial system.
Social networking has seen a mushrooming of petitions where names are added without too much thought for either the circumstances or the implications. We are regularly requested to agree a line of argument on the basis of preciously scant information. The originators, in most examples, would see themselves as educated, forward thinking and socially progressive. Attracting business and celebrities to support their cause, is certainly an internet force de frappe with alarming consequence for the individuals affected. It would seem that the Evans’ case is a prime example of this phenomenon.
Indubitably, rape is a horrendous crime which research has shown conclusively causes lasting, psychological damage to its victims. Ched Evans would probably agree and has expressed his regret “for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned.” . However, there is a harridan mob and a few bandwagon politicians, with eyes firmly stapled on the coming election, who are hell bent on ensuring that rehabilitation is denied to this former prisoner.
Murder, robbery, and miscarriages of justice are also examples which destroy lives. In some instances, the guilty have not even been arraigned. Although the evidence in his report, pointed conclusively to it, Lord Saville baulked at blaming the British political and military establishment for the murder of fourteen innocent citizens in Derry on Bloody Sunday . A few reckless squaddies and an errant ground commander were singled out as the guilty ones. Thus we are still regularly treated to press interviews with General Sir Michael Jackson, whose notorious ‘shot’ list for forty years destroyed the reputations of the victims, causing their friends and families irreparable, social and emotional damage. General Robert Ford, the NI Commander of Land Forces, was told by experts that deployment of the paras to police a civilian demo was crass thinking. It is inconceivable that PM, Ted Heath, was not similarly informed. Guissepe Conlan, an innocent man, died in prison, largely because of the acceptance of the Lord Denning view that to contemplate that British police might have lied was a ‘ghastly vista.’
There’s a long list of people who have destroyed countless lives but are still accepted in work places and society – Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Henry Kissinger, Geoffrey Archer, the Boards and senior management of most banks, their Lordships Taylor and Mike Watson. I could go on….
Why has working class Ched Evans attracted such odium?