The hard cases are what make good law. You take a guiding principle and test it at the edges. Is it murder if I only meant to hurt him? This is imaginary right? Enter manslaughter.
On Fighting Talk, (Radio 5 Live Saturday mornings at 11.00 a.m. - the best show for sports loving blokes ever) they have an item called 'Defend the Indefensible'. To test their debating skills panellists are asked to argue that, for instance, Usain Bolt is over-rated or Manchester United would be better off changing their manager more regularly.
I am about to do that so please understand.
One of the hard fought for principles of the legal system in this country is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Another is more obvious - you can't put a dead person on trial. Now I realise that there is so much smoke around the Savile corpse that you would be pretty daft to deny the presence of flames. Fair enough. But to make the leap from allegation to guilt without a trial. We don't do that round here. We're civilised.
We do not like to think of ourselves in the same breath as those who threw rocks at the van taking Venables and Thompson to court for the Bulger trial. We do not sit comfortably with those who drive paediatricians out of town because they sound like paedophiles. So we should not, unless we change the law, talk of Savile's crimes, however tempting that might be. We speak about the serious allegations made against him. No more.
Theippaper, which is normally very good, fell into this trap over four pages last Saturday. Shame on it.
This piece is not intended to trivialise sexual, or any other sort of, abuse in any way