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Rod Liddle

What does it take to save a she-devil? Good PR

Here’s a tip for nowt: if you’re thinking of travelling to Italy, don’t keep a dildo in your washbag.

8 October 2011

6:00 PM

8 October 2011

6:00 PM

Here’s a tip for nowt: if you’re thinking of travelling to Italy, don’t keep a dildo in your washbag.

Here’s a tip for nowt: if you’re thinking of travelling to Italy, don’t keep a dildo in your washbag. Put it somewhere that intimates to the authorities a certain discretion and reserve. You don’t want to inflame the Italian public: show them a naked dildo and they may very rapidly reach the conclusion that you are Satan, or more likely one of his infernal handmaidens, and probably guilty of everything.

The only people who come out of the Foxy Knoxy affair with any credit are the family of the murdered British girl, Meredith Kercher, who expressed quiet bafflement at the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, but added that they respected the decision of the Italian court. They have been, throughout the last four years, the only party not to have behaved like shrieking, partisan mentals; and perhaps the only party who had a right to actually do so.


One assumes they had their fingers crossed when they made that comment about respecting the Italian court, mind. If they do, they’re about the only ones. The case against Knox and Sollecito was undermined firstly by police and forensic incompetence and secondly by a chief prosecutor who closely resembles one of those deranged maniacs from a Monty Python sketch. Giuliano Mignini is a man obsessed by Satan, witchcraft and all kinds of devilment, as well as the Freemasons. Show him a parking violation and he’ll probably claim Beelzebub is behind it. He has, in the past, dragged the Infernal Lord and Master into a number of cases where his presence was not really required. He has accused journalists of Satanism, as well as showing a predilection for locking them up on unspecified charges when they criticise his procedures. Shortly before Kercher’s murder he was convicted of abusing office. He dragged the Devil into the murder inquiry: Amanda Knox, he said, was a ‘demonic, satanic, diabolical she-devil’. Evidence for this analysis derived at least partly from the fact that the murder was carried out at Halloween — when, as everyone knows, goblins and ghouls wander about the land wreaking havoc with their infernal dildos; Mignini was eventually dissuaded from pursuing this line too fervently.

However, he did have the aforementioned dildo in his hand — Amanda carried one in her washbag, apparently — and this signifier of sexual depravity was played for all it was worth in the Italian press, and later the British press. In the first stages of this case, the story was about this attractive young woman from America and her apparently rapacious sexual appetite. She was, according to Mignini, devoted to lust, drugs and alcohol. One of Italy’s top crime writers got on the case, a woman called Fiorenza Sarzanini. According to Sarzanini, Amanda Knox was ‘always thinking about sex’ and that sex was ‘one of the predominant aspects of her life’. Later, Ms Knox was to win a £30,000 invasion of privacy and defamation award from the writer — it is not often that convicted murderers are able to win this sort of a case, you have to say. But if the image stuck with the public in Italy, overlaid with heavy suggestions of occultism and general foreign weirdness, it stuck also back here in England, where the worldly shag-happy Knox was contrasted with the cheerful, innocent, decidedly British Meredith Kercher. Kercher, it was often pointed out, kept her room nice and tidy, whereas the satanic Knox was, like most diabolical creatures of the netherworld, a bit of a slattern.

It was also reported, as if any more confirmation were needed, that Knox once had sex on a train, although I am not sure what train. But anyway she was ‘wild’ and a ‘man-eater’ and took ‘drugs’ and had a ‘drink’ and held a party at which people were ‘draped over each other’. What’s more she ‘boasted’ about all the men who had sent her letters of adoration while she was banged up in prison — her mind (or rather ours) never allowed to wander very far away from sexual intercourse.

It was a different story in the USA, of course, and particularly in Seattle, the city from which Knox emerged. There, the press and public whipped themselves up into a different kind of frenzy, as sort of unquestioning cheerleaders for their girl. This was the US, and especially the west coast, at its most outraged and arrogant, beside themselves with fury that this fresh-faced Yankee girl not long out of high school could be man-handled by these awful wops with their meatballs and spaghetti, mafia and third-division judicial system. Relations got so bad between the two countries at one point that a US-Italian organisation was entreated to intervene because the Italians felt that the attacks upon their legal system were seriously damaging. But they did not let up.

Everything changed pretty soon, in any case, because the Knox family hired themselves a PR team. Soon we discovered that she had been nicknamed Foxy Knoxy because her hair was the colour of a fox’s pelt, rather than because she went like the clappers. The dildo in her washbag was just a little-bitsy pink rabbit dildo, a sort of jokey gift from one of her friends which she carried around, perhaps in the hope that it would bring her good luck. Far from being at it like knives all the time, all Amanda and her boyfriend Raffaele wished to do was hold hands, kiss each other and maybe cuddle a little bit, we were assured.

There were undoubted problems with the forensic evidence in the case, but you can’t help thinking that it was the PR wot won it in the end. 


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