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Rod Liddle

The Nigel Evans case proves that juries are smarter than our liberal elite

Ordinary people still put common sense and fairness ahead of crusading zeal – thank God

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

You may remember this little gem of a story from a month or so back. Justifiably worried at the ramping up of rhetoric by western politicians over the crisis in Ukraine, Blackpool ‘beauty technician’ Gemma Worrall took to a social media site to ask the — presumably rhetorical — question: ‘Why is our President Barraco Barner getting involved with Russia, scary.’ Why indeed, Gemma? The scorn and hilarity was of course immediately forthcoming at this fantastic level of pig ignorance, and lots of people, including me, wrote spiteful things about Gemma’s IQ level.

Gemma was indignant at being publicly reviled as the most stupid woman who has ever walked the earth and revealed to sniggering reporters that, in fact, she possessed 17 GCSEs. This should tell you more about the intellectual rigour required these days to acquire a GCSE than it tells you about Gemma, I think. Having seen some of the stuff my oldest son has had to revise for his GCSEs, I suspect that a block of Cathedral City cheddar cheese could manage at least a C grade in one of the sciences. These are not overly taxing exams — but I digress. Some people wondered, in mock astonishment, that human beings as thick and as badly informed as Gemma were allowed to vote and — worse, still worse — serve on juries. Grotesque levels of public stupidity, such as Gemma’s, are frequently cited as reasons for abandoning the jury system altogether, because the matters are far too complex for crassly ignorant northern halfwits to comprehend, still less adjudicate upon.

Sometimes I’m tempted to agree, such as when I’m stuck for half an hour behind some lard mountain who is unable to understand the simple instructions on a self-service ticket machine, and keeps jabbing away with a fat sausage finger at the wrong bloody button, a look of bemused incredulity on his dumb porky face. But the appalling case of Nigel Evans MP, and those of many others arraigned under the offices of the increasingly controversial Operation Yewtree, should swiftly disabuse us all of such a notion.

The lowbrow public may not know how to spell Barack Obama, or be entirely au fait with the name of the country of which he is leader. But like Gemma, they are worried about the hyperbole from our political elite over the Ukraine, and on an entirely different issue they are not prepared to simply swallow bundled charges of historical sexual abuse against famous or slightly famous people without asking questions. In other words, unlike the elite, they do not appear to have been distracted by a politically charged (on both issues) crusading zeal, but are guided instead by common sense and fairness. Perhaps this is because they are too thick to understand the bigger issues; that, I think, is what our liberal elite would tell you.

The former deputy speaker Nigel Evans, a charming, witty and good-natured man, was finally cleared last week of nine counts of sexual abuse of young men, including one charge of rape. Fighting the patently absurd case against him has cost him his job (with its extra salary), his entire life savings in legal fees (which will not be repaid, despite his total innocence) and 11 months of sheer, unmitigated torture. He is understandably bitter, furious that his case was prosecuted by the police with a ‘zeal’, as he put it; a zeal occasioned by a politically driven obsession, I would reckon. On the evening after he was cleared of all charges, the liberal elite’s favourite media conduit, Newsnight, interviewed one of Evans’s supposed victims, repeating all the charges. I hope Evans sues them.

It is not just Evans, of course. Past-it slebs including Jimmy Tarbuck, the actor Bill Roache, the comedian Jim Davidson and the soap star Michael Le Vell have either been recently acquitted of similar historical charges or have been told by the police that they will be left alone after many months of highly publicised allegations. The former disc jockey Dave Lee Travis was also cleared of 12 out of 14 charges, but has since been told that he will face another trial on the two charges where the jury could not agree, along with one further charge. Freddie Starr was arrested 18 months ago and then re-arrested three further times, placed on bail and still not charged. Whatever the outcome of his case, the way the police have conducted the process is hugely unfair, regardless of whether or not you found Freddie in his prime about as funny as gas gangrene. There are more potential trials in the pipeline, and we will have to see whether they fare any better.

Starr was arrested under Operation Yewtree, which was set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and seems all too credulous about any and all claims made about famous individuals, regardless of whether they happened 20 years ago and the facts of each specific claim. The common sense, the rigour, has long since departed.

In the case of Evans (not a Yewtree case), incidentally, the jury heard that three of his alleged victims did not themselves believe that they had been the victim of any crime whatsoever. And so the jury did what any sensible jury would do and acquitted the politician. But that is still not good enough for the elite, which insists that those who feel Yewtree might have overstepped its limits and that at least some of these elderly famous people may be having their lives ruined for no good reason are simply ‘abuse deniers’. This PC mantra and the resulting conclusion that bringing these ancient cases of abuse against old men is necessarily in the public interest seems to have been swallowed whole by the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions.

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