Letters: I was ‘groomed’ by my beloved husband

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 24 June, 2013

Share

I find it somewhat disturbing that my beloved husband’s gentle and old-fashioned courting would nowadays be considered as “grooming”, given that we met when I was 15 and he was 30.

Even worse, he is a teacher, although never my teacher. Presumably our three children are the product of abuse.

I am equally, if not more, disturbed by the disparity between the five-and-a-half-year sentence given to Jeremy Forrest for falling in love with the wrong person and the 15 months given to Stuart Hall for a decades-long campaign of child sexual abuse.

E Rogers, Burnley, Lancashire

 

Now that the trial of Jeremy Forrest is over, the knives are out for him – not least of all, E Jane Dickson’s (“Same sad old story of opportunism”, 21 June).

Forrest is down, let’s kick him! “Paedophile”, “underage sex”, “groomed” and other emotionally loaded words are being heaped on him, as well as his being accused of manipulating an emotionally unstable 15-year-old.

All the accusations of his having had a relationship with an underage girl are, of course, true and I am in no way disputing that, but for me (not least as a former teacher) his far greater crime was the abuse of his position of trust.

The girl may have been only 15 while this relationship was conducted, but her testimony was not one I would have attributed to one so young: she appears to have been articulate and to have taken a great deal of responsibility for the relationship on herself.

She is 16 now and her  degree of maturity is clearly that of a much older young woman. To emphasise the tendency of girls to have crushes on their teachers is merely a putdown. True as it may be, it appears from this girl’s own words that it was much more than a crush.

She seems to have felt alienated from her family, and her school appears to have been either unaware of the relationship or unwilling to act. While the primary blame for what happened must be ascribed to Forrest, he is far from being the only one to have acted irresponsibly – and it does seem that he was committed and he did care.

Dr Michael Johnson, Brighton

 

It has been reported that the age of consent in France is 15 and that Jeremy Forrest would not have been guilty of sex offences had he been living and working there.

Because the relevant age here is 16, he is found guilty of such offences – increasing his sentence by four-and-a-half years.

As the judge also imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning Forrest from future unsupervised contact with children, his career as a teacher is destroyed.

Although he abused a position of trust and may have been weak and foolish, I do not see him as a paedophile, which is how  he is being labelled.  His pupil was not a prepubescent child but a teenager on the cusp of young adulthood, who in France would be seen as old enough to engage in a sexual relationship of her choice.

Why is he being pilloried in such an extreme fashion?  And isn’t the real damage caused by this affair likely to be to the student herself, who is left feeling so guilty at her perceived ruination of the man she felt herself to be in love with that she calls “I’m sorry” across the courtroom to him, as he is taken down?

Charles Becker, Plymouth

 

It is amazing how a “child abduction” case, with a penalty of a year suddenly becomes a “sex with a child” case with an extra penalty of four-and-a-half years. The girl was not a child nor an unwilling participant, despite the prosecution’s talk of “grooming”.

I hope the couple will survive their ordeal after  their loving but ill-advised  relationship.

Barry Barber, Great Malvern, Worcestershire

 

GM the best way to deal with hunger

Lesley Docksey (letter, 22 June) says that for millennia “humanity existed very well on organically grown food”. Not so. For most, hunger was the norm.

Undernourishment increased the lethal nature of infections such as tuberculosis and measles, and famine was regular. The blight that killed the organic potato crops in Ireland in 1845 happened long ago, but its political impact lives on. So does its cause, Phytophthora infestans. GM will probably be the best way of seeing it off.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

 

Paul Donovan (letter, 22 June) must think up a newer argument against GM crops. His old one, that new ideas are introduced so that a local monopoly can be obtained to drive out competitors and put up prices, failed when town-centre shop-owners tried to stop the opening of supermarkets.

Presumably, his point applies to any improvement, such as to our phones, TVs, cars etc. The desire to stop progress will fail because we, the consumers, like it.

GD Morris, Port Talbot, Wales

 

In their eagerness to educate the public on the benefits of GM, maybe ministers and scientists could start by explaining the net benefit to humanity of having a herbicide-resistant crop, which results in the vastly increased use of herbicide, herbicide residues in our food, environment and water, and the creation of resistant weeds requiring yet more potent herbicides – which would not have been needed if the crop had not been resistant in the first place.

Lucy Flint, Liss, Hampshire

 

Nazis of the 21st century

A Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head for daring to suggest that girls deserve to be educated.

A 14-year-old son of a Syrian coffee-shop owner executed in cold blood for telling a customer that he would not even extend credit to the Prophet.

Girls as young as 12 married off to men who are old enough to be their grandfathers.

Women who are raped stoned to death along with their attackers.

And President Obama wants to open a dialogue with the Taliban?

It is no more possible to reason with Islamic extremists than it would have been to reason with  the Nazis. Islamic extremism is spreading, and failure to recognise that it is the 21st century’s Nazism and deal with it accordingly will lead to the same dire consequences that followed the free world’s reluctance to confront Nazism when it first reared its head.

Robert Readman, Bournemouth

 

Jamie’s empire:  a hint of greed

James Thompson’s excellent article “The world’s his oyster” (22 June) made me sad. I greatly admire Jamie Oliver’s efforts to improve eating habits in the UK, but his expanding empire smacks of a new colonialism, not to say greed.

He works hard and deserves the rewards, but if I were his mum, I’d ask him to see his projects through and make them the very best he can. I fear he’s spreading himself too thin. Jamie “could do better” in schools, and plaudits for Fifteen have never been overwhelming.  Build on what you’ve started and improve, I say. And don’t give up on the campaigning – the tide is turning against the food industry.

And do we really need yet another chain of formulaic and average restaurants turning our towns into replicas of each other?

Minty Phillips, London SW18

 

Eavesdropping is nothing new

I don’t understand why we are so surprised about the latest revelations of governments spying on citizens. It has been going on for years. In the late 1960s a colleague in Liverpool had the contents of a phone conversation relayed back to her by a public servant.

A friend was a telephone operator and told me that some phones were regularly monitored and phone calls recorded. And although it was a dismissable offence, his colleagues regularly listened in to a prostitute’s conversations.

Just because we now have electronic communications doesn’t mean that the practice stopped.

Jane Eades, London SW11

 

Why can’t they stick to the path?

“Doing as you are told” (“Ethical clash in the middle lane”, 18 June) is something we Brits are particularly sensitive about. It is a five-minute cycle ride along and over the river from our house to the local shops. It is almost all off-road and the track is clearly labelled, with a black surface for pedestrians and red surface for cyclists.

I have never cycled the whole way without negotiating at least one pedestrian on the cycle track. Why can’t cyclists stay on the cycle path and pedestrians on the footway?

Jenny Macmillan, Cambridge

 

Equal wrongs

How encouraging it is to see more glass ceilings coming down in the continuing fight for gender equality. The Care Quality Commission, an organisation populated heavily by women at its highest levels, has shown itself to be the equal of any male-dominated organisation when it comes to scandal and incompetence.

Paul Harper, London E15

 

Saatchi’s failings

I wonder if John Walsh intervened when his son was so publicly bullied by Charles Saatchi (Notebook, 20 June). I would have found it impossible not to defend my son – and equally difficult not to criticise Saatchi’s appalling taste in art and apparent inability to recognise history’s place in our spiritual lives.

Sara Neill, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

 

Royal scoop

Congratulations to Deborah Ross (21 June) on getting so much inside (no pun intended) knowledge about the impending royal birth and particularly on getting it published in your columns – which are noted for ignoring most things royal. Could we now have an update from her on the health of Prince Philip?

Nick Maurice, Marlborough, Wiltshire

 

Syria vs Saudis

If I were a woman, would I be better treated in Syria under Assad or in Saudi Arabia?

Brian Ellis, Wigan

 

Role reversal

So a CIA whistleblower flees  to Russia in his search for sanctuary. Am I missing something?  Didn’t it used to be the other way  round?

Steven Calrow, Liverpool

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
If Miliband is PM, it is expected that Cameron will stand down as party leader quickly  

Election 2015: The Ed Miliband I worked with in Downing Street

Nick Rowley
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living