Thursday, 12 January 2006

Hold it right there, Kelly

How dare she attempt to defer and deflate criticism by implicating Ministers of all colours of making such similarly incompetent decisions over child protection over the years.

"There will be many Ministers, on both sides of the House, who will have similar experiences of this sort..."

Let us be very clear:

We now exist in a post Soham period;
The Soham case occurred under Labour's watch;
The current scandal was determined post Soham and by a Labour Minister.

I am very proud of Mr Willetts, the Shadow Education Secretary, that he has not risen to Mrs Kelly's jibes, and that he takes care not to belittle this issue by turning it into a political game.
The Minister responsible should have the decency and personal integrity to stand up, accept responsibility, apologise and take what's coming to him / her.

I had the dubious privilege of being the senior Courts press officer responsible for organising the media coverage of the Soham trial in 2003. I sat through most of the trial, walked through the scene of crime, and saw the deposition site. I was aware, long before the end of the trial, not just the extent of the failings of the system but also the lengths to which the police forces involved were going to minimise the coverage and impact of their failings post trial.

This trial rightly proved to be the straw that broke the public's acceptance of incompetence in this area, but it seems the Government has neither noticed nor acted. Some idiots out there are claiming media incitement, but as in most cases the media are reflecting public concern, not provoking it.

You and I can sit here now and visualise the meeting that we would have chaired the day after the publication of the Bichard report, we can probably state the actions that we would have demanded and authorised and we can imagine the sincerity with which we would have left no stone unturned in this area.

Can one imagine a more damning accusation than that despite all that has gone before, you, the Education Secretary, might still be failing to protect the nation's children from predatory and beguiling paedophiles.

Ruth Kelly, the now frantic and desperate Education Secretary, is clutching at straws . It is a matter of shame that she has cleared and pursued this line of defence and her tawdry inferences will backfire.

She claims that the Tories are missing the point and confusing the differences between the Sex Offenders List and List 99. But the truth is, as we all know, there should, by now, be no differences to be confused about.

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