Jimmy Savile died 51 weeks ago today.
There was a Panorama programme on yesterday evening. You may well have seen it by the time you read this.
It’s the one about the BBC not broadcasting a programme about the alleged sexual assaults the DJ celebrity carried out on minors. Panorama broadcast evidence which suggests a Newsnight investigation last year was dropped because it would have clashed with tribute programmes broadcast last December.
Is it just me or have we been flooded with similar revelations recently?
The Hillsborough revelations were pretty dreadful. And now there’s evidence of a similar cover-up about the ‘Battle of Orgreave’ during the miners’ strike. And the endless saga about phone-hacking on which the Leveson enquiry is due to report in a few weeks. And, of course, a steady trickle of revelations about the private goings-on by those – politicians, church leaders, lawyers, teachers – who are meant to set national standards of conduct.
It’s over twelve years since Rebecca Brooks – now at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal, then a newly appointed Fleet Street editor – campaigned for a national paedophile register. At the time her actions were much praised. Her paper seemed to unearth all sorts of information that we felt it was right to know about what certain child predators were doing. ‘Publish it! Publish it!’ the nation cried, not asking how such information was obtained. Nor indeed what use was made of it by those who didn’t even recognise the difference between a paedophile and a paediatrician.
When those who act as the nation’s watchdogs on morality are found to be guilty themselves, what should we do? Calling out for them to be punished mat make us feel better but it doesn’t ensure any better standards in future.
National responsibility is beyond us. We don’t control other people. But we do – or should – control our selves. Before we can criticise we need to be sure that we ourselves are transparent – the same on the outside as we are on the inside.
There’s a very scary statement – one of many scary statements – made by Jesus.
He was referring to the widespread double-standards of religious leaders. He said this to his followers: “Beware of the influence of those who’re often in the public eye – their hypocrisy. There will be a time when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. So, whatever you yourselves have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!”
I’d have thought that even the possibility of that would be an effective restraint.
By Nigel O’Dwyer, who leads Goring New Life Church