Stuart Hall got off lightly. Jeremy Forrest's sentence proves it

Share

Had the broadcaster Stuart Hall been in any doubt that he got off lightly after admitting 14 charges of indecent assault, he would have known better by the end of last week. The 15-month sentence he was given on Monday reflected the law, and the assumptions, of the period in the 1960s and 1970s when he began abusing children and teenagers. Four days later, Jeremy Forrest, the maths teacher found guilty of abducting an under-age girl, got five and a half years in total for that offence and five more (which he admitted) of sexual activity with a child.

Forrest targeted the girl when she was one of his pupils at a school in Eastbourne, East Sussex, and began having sex with her shortly after her 15th birthday. He was a married man of 30, perfectly able to calculate the likely consequences of the relationship. The teenager had neither the experience nor the maturity to work out the cost of an unequal relationship with an older man. Whatever she feels at the moment, she may see events in a different light when she looks back on having sex in cars and in the grounds of a crematorium with someone twice her age; I find it hard to regard an adult who exchanges explicit photos with an under-age girl and kisses her in his classroom as anything other than a shameless predator. That was the view of the judge, who said that Forrest's research into what would happen if he were caught was proof of "the deliberate nature of your behaviour".

Both Forrest and Hall were sentenced for multiple offences, committed decades apart. Although one of Hall's victims was only nine, the maximum sentence for most of his offences at the time he committed them was either two or five years in prison. Now it's 10, reflecting a shift in the way the criminal justice system regards them. His crimes came to light as a result of the investigation into Jimmy Savile, who (like Hall) used his fame and position to get access to victims. Indecent assault and sex with under-age children were crimes in those days as well, but it's clear that some men believed the law didn't apply to them. The late John Peel actually boasted in newspaper interviews about girls as young as 13 queuing up outside his studio to have sex with him.

Teachers aren't celebrities but schools can become microcosms where some individuals consciously cultivate status. Forrest's friends and family described him as a "talented and inspirational" teacher, but that kind of talent can easily be exploited. His victim's messages of continuing love suggest that he created a romantic fantasy which hasn't yet relinquished its hold, but prosecutors regard him as a narcissistic abuser. The fact that he didn't even bother to use contraception every time he had sex with the teenager speaks volumes about his character; this is a sordid story of exploitation, not love.

politicalblonde.com; twitter.com/@polblonde

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn