Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Dame Janet Smith has produced her report into child sexual abuse at the BBC and concluded that the whole of the senior management were completely innocent of anything untoward during those forty years when such as Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall were a blight on children’s lives.
I slept on this shocking judgement and then it dawned on me that Dame Janet’s report is not an isolated example. My mind went back to that other Establishment figure Dame Butler Sloss who was rejected as a candidate for the chairmanship of an earlier enquiry into the sexual abuse of children on the grounds that she was considered to be too close to some of the people her enquiry would be investigating.
And then in a startlement of terrible realisation, I understood that it is always like this.
But before I turn to the generality, let me outline one more particular case:
Mrs Fiona Woolf was interviewed by a House of Commons Select Committee concerning her eligibility to be chairman of a new enquiry into historic child abuse. Charities supporting the victims of such abuse objected to Mrs Woolf’s appointment on the grounds that she is too close to the very Establishment which is suspected of covering up the abuse. They have singled out in particular the fact that Mrs Woolf was at five dinner parties with the late Leon Brittan, the former home secretary.
Mrs Woolf denies being a member of the Establishment. I suppose the next thing we shall hear is Bill Gates telling us he’s not rich.
Not a member of the Establishment? Of course she isn’t…
She was Aldermanic Sheriff of London. Then 686th Lord Mayor of London and residing in Mansion House. Global ambassador for UK finance. President of the Law Society. Honorary member of Middle Temple and on the Court of three City of London livery companies. A governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Chairman of Chelsea Opera.
And now I must call her Mrs no longer for, following her year as Lord Mayor of London, she was created Dame
Nah – not a member of the Establishment – just an ordinary gel!
Not only is Mrs Woolf at the very centre of where it’s at in the traditional Establishment, she is also at the very centre of the new Establishment of Fashionable & Politically-correct Causes. Her declared project when she was elected Lord Mayor was the furtherance of women in executive careers. She is also a big noise in the Raleigh Trust which promotes sustainable development.
Last year she said on the BBC that she has to maintain her “network.” More dinner parties with cabinet ministers, I suppose, and fellow members of the Great and the Good. One of the ways in which she maintains her “network” – so she told us – is to send 3000 Christmas cards. She was asked if she sent a Christmas card to Leon Brittan and replied she couldn’t remember – which might seem to undermine the purpose of sending Christmas cards in the first place.
Not a member of the Establishment?
I must remember to ask her about that at the next Mansion House banquet
In every enquiry into the conduct of a public institution that I can recall, the Establishment figure chairing it invariably pronounces that indeed there have been grievous faults but no blame must be attached to those who had been in charge..
You might object: “But Lord Hall took the blame on the part of the BBC”
It’s all a sham! For then you ask, “What exactly does taking the blame mean here?”
Lord Hall keeps his job and all those senior managers keep their jobs.
Are we then forced to the shocking conclusion that the Establishment covers up for its members?
It’s much worse than that: the Establishment IS a cover up and nothing else..