I’m not sure what both my regular readers think, but I will admit to feeling slightly uncomfortable about the trial of the Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell.
Don’t get me wrong, anyone who has committed crimes such as those of which Mr LeVell was accused deserves everything the British justice system can impose, and whilst I can only assume that the Crown Prosecution Service believed they had grounds to proceed with the charges—they were only on the same balance of probability that Mr Le Vell was later acquitted.
For me, the process must draw into question the strength of a prosecution case, especially for the kind of crime that essentially demands one person’s word against another. To refuse a defendant anonymity —a decision I understand, but with which I’m not sure I totally agree—and attempt a prosecution that is deemed in the public interest is all well and good, but where is the tipping point for the balance of probability?
During the trial, Mr Le Vell’s personal life—his admitted alcoholism and affairs—were laid bare, yet ultimately the jury found him not guilty of all charges: on the balance of probability yes, but not guilty nonetheless. So in the eyes of the Law, no crime has been committed, yet the media vultures were never going to miss the chance to rip away the last scraps of flesh from the carcass of Michael Le Vell’s private life.
But now as one man begins the outwardly daunting task of rebuilding that life (and I'm sure reality will swiftly replace the post-trial euphoria), as well as a shattered reputation, the complainant enjoys the benefit of the anonymity denied to an innocent man—and therein lies my problem.
I’m sure there will be many of you who are far better versed in all matters legal, but to me there seems to be a very thin line between being denied anonymity and a popular presumption of guilt that brings a stigma which even an acquittal cannot totally remove. I would never want to make light of the charges —the alleged crimes were disgusting—but is it really right to retain a secret identity when the legal system has ruled that your accusations could at best not be proven?
Does that anonymity encourage victims to display incredible bravery in revealing the most horrific violations; or can it just as easily offer an avenue for believable fabrications? I certainly don’t have the answers, just concerns...