Chris Langham's dad says police and media created 'a lynch-mob'

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The Independent Online

The actor and comedian Chris Langham was "demonised" by the police and the media who created a "lynch-mob mentality", according to his father, Michael.

Langham was released from prison last week following his successful appeal against a 10-month prison sentence for downloading indecent images of children from the internet.

Michael Langham, writing exclusively in The Independent on Sunday, claims that police and lawyers, "infected with witch-hunting fervour", threw his son "to the wolves" to "cover up their shocking inability to arrest any of the actual dealers in paedophile images who... represent the real evil". He accused the police of "zestfully chasing headlines", and said the media failed to report the case fairly.

"It started some two years ago, immediately after his arrest," he wrote. "The arresting officer laid out her stall. No, he couldn't get away with a caution; a role model like him had to face the full force of the law. Such an approach would obviously attract more publicity – bad news for him, good news for the police. Chris was instantly labelled 'paedophile' and 'child abuser' as if they were facts, not merely allegations.

"These words, provoking far more public outrage than any others, including 'terrorist', were drip-fed by the police to the media." He went on to claim that Langham was jailed rather than given a suspended sentence on the judge's incorrect assumption that he had paid for the images with his credit card, when that had never been presented as evidence and they were available free on the internet.

Many of his son's friends in showbusiness abandoned him before hearing the evidence, Mr Langham wrote, although he singled out the comedians Armando Iannucci, John Cleese and Mel Smith for their support.

During the trial, Langham told how he had been abused as an eight-year-old while living in Canada with his parents. Watching the images he downloaded was "like having my face in a chainsaw", he told the court.

His father wrote: "His own sexual abuse as a child was dragged out and waved in front of the jury like a dead cat on a string. The currency that the prosecution dealt in was the dirty money of shame. This was entirely unnecessary – Chris has, in common with most victims of sexual abuse, been living with shame for most of his life.

"He didn't bring himself to tell his mother and myself until 1989, well over 30 years after the event. But that is the poisoned harvest of sexual abuse – it's the victims that carry the guilt."

The fact that Langham had not told Paul Whitehouse, his collaborator on their psychotherapy series Help, of his childhood abuse did not mean he had fabricated it, Mr Langham said. They were developing a sex pest character and Langham said he downloaded the images as research.

"When the opportunity arose – through his collaboration with Paul Whitehouse – to write in a serious way about the subject of child abuse, Chris was apprehensive but resolved to take it on," he said.

In downloading the images, Mr Langham said his son "knew the law but choosing not to think about it, he proceeded to perform an act of monumental stupidity. He'd broken the law, and they caught him. And he is now paying a mighty price. So is his family."

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