i Editor's Letter: The best and worst of the British public


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The Independent Online


The stories that have dominated the news this week have revealed the best and worst of the British public. The desperately sad incident of missing five-year-old, April Jones, now a suspected murder case, showed community at its best. Hundreds came together in strength for what, unfortunately, looks like a vain attempt to find April alive.

As I type, I am watching a middle-aged male local volunteer, a stranger to the family, being interviewed by the BBC. In tears, he says he will not give up on the search despite a police request to stand down. Needless to say, my heart goes out to April's family.

And then, there's Sir Jimmy Savile. Let's leave aside, if we can, the horrendous nature of the alleged abuse to consider a potential cover-up at among others: the BBC, charities, schools – perhaps the police. The number of people who have emerged from the woodwork to say "well, everyone knew, but…" brings shame on us all. Almost as bad is the reaction of those in the public eye who continue to damn the victims, not the perpetrator.

Why did they wait so long? Why didn't they report it then? Why would it carry on for years? Why speak ill of the dead? We have heard all these and worse this week, as woman after middle-aged woman finds the courage to speak up. Because that's what they are these women, courageous. The continuing scepticism demonstrates clearly why Savile was never successfully prosecuted during his lifetime. It is further proof that we must open this can of worms fully if for no other reason than to help any victim of such abuse, be it from a celebrity, stranger, family member or friend, feel more confident in coming forward and being believed.