On 2nd November Iain Overton from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism announced this revelation via Twitter.
“If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.”
That night we watched the program and saw and heard Steve Messham, who was raised in a Care Home recount a catalogue of abuse that he suffered at the hands of the very people who were meant to help him. My heart went out to him and I thought him a very brave man indeed to go public with what had happened to him as a small vulnerable boy
Steve stated that one of his abusers was a high ranking Tory, saying “he told me who he was” Like people attending a public hanging Twitter immediately went into overdrive with cries to name the perpetrator. However neither Steve Messham nor Newsnight named this person. Yet one name started appearing over and over again on the internet, no need to name names because it’s public knowledge now and a statement of denial has been issued with threats to sue (how can you sue a program that didn’t name names?)
Yesterday(9th Novemebr 2012) Steve Messham made a very brief statement withdrawing the allegation against this person. Again Twitter and the press went in to overdrive to pillory Steve, the BBC and Newsnight, with the latter having to issue an apology for their investigative journalism.
Whether he was backed into a corner or whether it was a genuine mistake there’s one thing that is being overlooked in all this, Steve Messham was abused as were others. These are vulnerable people who time and time again are being ignored. We should be making sure that their stories are being heard, just as we should make sure that perpetrators are punished and the evil practice of paedophilia is ended!
There have been a few voices in the wilderness of accusation and denial who reminded us that Steve was a victim. I’m adding my voice to those. To repeat – Steve is a victim, we should be doing all we can to support him and others like him. We should not let this issue be sidetracked by whether or not the BBC/Newsnight is at fault.