Now that Elizabeth Butler-Sloss has stood down as head of the inquiry into historic sex abuse, I’d like to nominate myself as Britain’s new paedofinder-general.
If I got the job, I would use the latest scientific techniques to track down every single sexual wrongdoer in Britain, alive or dead. Firstly I would type into Google the names of every person involved in the entertainment industry or politics between 1965 and 1990, followed by a ‘p’; if the word ‘paedophile’, ‘paedo’ or ‘pedo’ comes up in the top ten suggestions then the chances are that the person in question probably is one, so the CSI crime squads can turn up at their house looking for any forensic evidence of alleged sexual assaults from the 1970s.
To make it more rigorous we could then have a public vote, showing a snapshot of the suspect, asking readers of tabloid newspapers whether or not they think he messes with the kiddies; because most of the time paedophiles do look like paedophiles, in my experience. If you wanted extra rigorous checks you could have a committee of celebrities like Phillip Schofield or Sally Bercow to search the internet to make sure the allegations have been verified by more than one random blog.
I suppose I’m slightly sceptical about the whole paedogeddon thing, and the idea that child abuse is as widespread as some of the newspapers believe. I’m not alone; Rod Liddle is writing about the hysteria in this week’s magazine, and now Stephen Fry has spoken out.
They’re right, in my opinion, although I may be proven wrong when vast numbers of politicians are found to have abused children, or covered it up. But I’m prepared to bet otherwise, and the British as a people simply have a slightly weird obsession with paedophilia. Every once in a while the British, or at least British journalists, become hysterical about the subject, and now we’re either about to open up a scandal that will bring down the establishment or see a massive deluded witch-hunt by modern-day village idiots.
Historians will surely find it strange that Jimmy Savile, who when it came down to it wasn’t an especially talented individual, has caused the country to lose its collective marbles like this. Pressured by a newspaper industry that is financially struggling and therefore more vicious than ever (and riven by internecine feuds), the government and the police seem happy, as Fry points out, to abandon the very idea that people are innocent until proven guilty.
Where will it end? I’ll be interesting to see whether the hunt extends to the music industry. It is rumoured (it goes without saying that nothing has been proved) that some of the rock gods of the ‘60s and ‘70s had sex with underage groupies; as with their drug-taking, this was overlooked by an establishment keen to capture some rock glamour and promote brand Britain, a brand that will surely need some PR work after this is all over.
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