The broadcaster Paul Gambaccini has written a book called “Love, Paul”, a journal of the terrible year he suffered following his false arrest as part of “Operation Yewtree”. His story poses some big questions about our institutions and whether people are really innocent until proved guilty.
Gambaccini was arrested in the middle of the night in October 2013. The police seized his personal possessions, he was smeared in the usual sections of the gutter press and, as an innocent man, had to pay out tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees whilst being effectively unemployable. A year later, there being no evidence whatsoever of wrong doing, he was exonerated and the case was dropped. As far as some were concerned, he was guilty as charged right from the start.
The Labour Party in general and Ed Miliband in particular come out very badly in this story. Gambaccini has been a prominent member and fundraiser for Labour through two decades, but when push came to shove the comrades dumped on him. Bearing in mind Gambaccini had not been charged with anything, Miliband’s minders decreed that he could not attend the usual Labour christmas party because “it would not look good for Ed” if he was photographed with him or even if Gambaccini was in the same room as him. Now pardon me, but is this weak or what? Did not Miliband or his minders not consider manning up and announcing that there was no reason why the broadcaster could not attend? He had not been charged with anything, but the party’s cowardice won the day, condemning an innocent man to more months of distress. Miliband subsequently announced that “Operation Yewtree” had his full support which sounds good in itself, but let us not forget there are other well known people who have also been falsely accused of all sorts of offences. His “full support” for an overarching investigation with a net so large innocent people were being dragged into it? Not, I suggest, Miliband’s wisest words.
With some, the stench of scandal never goes away. There can be no smoke without fire, say the conspiracists. The police must have known something. Well, it turned out they knew nothing and a reputation, in the eyes of some, is tarnished.
I never believed that Gambaccini was implicated in any wrong doing, just as I believe Cliff Richard is another innocent victim. What I do find very offensive is having them hung out to dry before a voracious media who thinks anyone is fair game even when the evidence is thin or in the case of Gambaccini non existent.