Bob Lethaby on a week that produced a cut lip for freedom of speech.

What a chilling week it has been for democracy, independent thought and freedom of speech, with the tacky tale of a footballer not going away as the horrendous events in Paris continue to unfold.

Because the whole seedy affair surrounding footballer and convicted rapist, Ched Evans, rolled on and on, I finally, after being persuaded by a solicitor friend, took some time out to read the details of the events of an evening that changed his life and indeed, the life of the girl involved, who is getting hounded by thugs and lunatics.

I am not going to list everything but it is worth going to his website (easily located via Google) cutting out all the sympathetic crap and propaganda nonsense, and reading witness statements and the statement of events leading up to the rape.

It is a sorry and seedy affair involving a totally irresponsible woman and two ill-informed and ignorant young men that ended in disaster when Ched Evans got the brunt of the fall-out, serving two and a half years in prison and facing a career in tatters.

What I found most disturbing though, is the fear within media circles to make comment on what clearly isn’t a black and white situation. In fact, it is a situation where a catalogue of circumstances has many people now doubting a rape had even ever taken place but they are terrified to say it.

However, judge and jury decided it did, so I will run with it for now, but what did disturb me was the condemnation by pressure groups thrown at The BBC’s Michael Buerk because of what he said as a pre-cursor to his excellent Radio 4 feature ‘The Moral Maze’.

Buerk commented that no-one had come out of that evening with any credit, including the woman, which, when you read the events of the evening, is a fair assessment, even if it is not an assessment you might not necessarily agree with. It is just an opinion and the last time I checked comment was supposed to be free.

At no point did Buerk insinuate a rape had not taken place, he was just putting it out there that there was not a great deal of credit due to anyone involved, which would have probably been somewhere near the thoughts of many parents with teenage daughters.

However, Buerk had to apologise for expressing his beliefs or he would have been hounded out of the BBC. The people demanding that Buerk, who is suddenly a mysodginistic potential rapist, be removed from the planet, probably haven’t even read the statement of events that make the whole case flaky at best…in my opinion!

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