Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thought for the Day

As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol an hour ago:

My worst night's sleep ever followed a midnight call from the custody sergeant at the police station. 'Your son has been arrested for burglary.'

As we may well recall, Jo Yeates, a young Bristol woman, was murdered four years ago by Vincent Tabak, who is now in prison for the crime.

The film about her landlord, Christopher Jefferies, a two-part TV drama which concludes tonight, has been the subject of much conversation.

So although only helping police with their enquiries, having been arrested on suspicion of murder, a lot of journalistic digging took place, as if he was guilty. Can you remember what you thought at the time? The Sun called him 'Strange Mr Jefferies'. Unjustified rumours about his sexuality were published. He was described as a peeping Tom.

Jefferies has received an apology from the police for the distress caused during the investigation. He has successfully sued a number of newspapers and given evidence to the Leveson Enquiry.

My son was not charged but released, within 18 hours, having been caught up in something bad a crowd of young men did. He slept with the door open for a few days after that - because he could.

The police were great. CCTV cameras were part of the process by which innocence was proved and no journalists asked me about the gap between my example as a vicar and my parenting skills. Thank goodness.

Being eccentric is not a crime.

Being a young man near a crime is not a crime.

And crucially, being arrested is not a crime.

Beware of jumping to conclusions of guilt.

'Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' A persecuted, innocent man said that.

No comments: