On any view, the historical abuse complaints made against well-known public figures have been handled badly. Two public figures in particular have been identified, and by all accounts, by the same complainant who remains anonymous. Who will be next? It’s anybody’s guess. After all, in this absurd compensation culture which encourages deviants to make groundless complaints knowing they will be investigated thoroughly, the muck rakers have a field day. Aided and abetted by secret briefings from Plod to the Media, helicopters hover above a high profile ‘raid’, and photographers jostle outside the home of a suspect, targeted as they are by little or no evidence, but arrested, held in custody, interviewed ad nauseam and then released on police bail, only to be told several months later that no further action will be taken. Lives may be destroyed, but no matter in the fruitless and clumsy pursuit by Plod of nonexistent evidence. And months later, with shed loads of taxpayers’ money down the drain, Plod refuse to apologise for the hurt and distress they have caused.
Chief Plod, the grandly named Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, is soon to be frog marched, kicking and screaming, before the Home Affairs Select Committee, and he has been left in no doubt that an apology to Lord Bramall is the very least to be expected if he is to save his job. I remind my readers that Lord Bramall is a highly decorated soldier, now aged 92, whose home was raided by 22 officers in the presence of his dying wife before he was interviewed under caution for hours on end. Until very recently, Chief Plod had refused to offer any sort of an apology, but he has been told, very firmly, that no apology means no extension to his contract. He is now panicking, but it may be too little, too late.
I am not suggesting that allegations of serious historical abuse against well-known public figures should not be properly investigated. Nobody should be above the law. But I am suggesting that once the allegations have been properly investigated and found to be wholly without substance, there needs to be some sort of reckoning, and where it is found that Plod handled the investigation crudely and insensitively, they should be brought to book. In addition, where part of that reckoning cries out for an apology, Chief Plod should have the decency to offer one. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of maturity as well as contrition. Perhaps Plod are fearful of an action against them for compensation. That would be a turn up for the books.
For some, and Chief Plod is one, sorry seems to be the hardest word.