Is it right that Amanda Platell faces a police investigation for looking at child porn?
Amanda Platell, the former press secretary to William Hague, wrote an article in yesterday’s Daily Mail in which she examined how easy it is to access child pornography. Later in the day, Mark Williams-Thomas, the “child protection expert” who exposed Jimmy Savile, reported her to the Metropolitan Police and now Ms Platell faces a police investigation.
In the feature, Platell made clear why she had decided to write about this taboo subject before sharing some truly horrific details:
“I apologise to Mail readers, who may feel this is not appropriate journalism for a family newspaper and that we should not give such obscene material the oxygen of publicity. But someone has to speak up”.
“… The fact is that these repulsive videos are available in every home in this country via Google, the search engine most children use to do their homework. They are a malign cancer, which is beginning to undermine any sense of moral structure in parts of British society. They are images depraving perverted appetites, and children like Tia are dying as a result”.
“… I have found writing this article a deeply troubling experience. It was the most upsetting experience in my 30 years of journalism. But I passionately believe that we all need to fight this evil”.
“So what have I learnt? That no matter how distant abuse may seem from our comfort-able, middle-class lives, it is an evil that we are tolerating, however unintentionally, by not standing up to Google and other Internet giants”.
Just as with the rock musician Pete Townshend, who used a credit card to register with a website advertising child pornography, though, Platell has broken the law by seeking out and looking at such information and imagery. Townshend was cautioned and in their statement about his case, the police commented:
“It is not a defence to access these images for research or out of curiosity”.
On Twitter yesterday users suggested “I hope they throw the book at her” and described the writer as “irresponsible” who produces “bad journalism”. After the former policeman and child protection campaigner Mark Williams-Thomas reported Ms Platell to the Metropolitan Police, the following statement was issued:
“Officers from the Specialist Crime and Operational Command unit are in liaison with the Daily Mail”.
In a January 2010 article, also for the Daily Mail, about her experiences trying to become a British citizen, Ms Platell stated:
“The questions they ask range from the predictably bureaucratic to the utterly bizarre. ‘Have I ever been charged with a criminal offence for which I have not stood trial?’ No”.
“’In times of peace or war, have I ever been involved in war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity?’ What? In Hampstead?”
“Have I ever engaged in activities which indicate I might not be a person of good character?’ Hmmm…”
Ms Platell may have thought such questions “bizarre” back then. The questions she almost certainly will face now about paedophilia will indeed be a hell of a lot worse.
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