Magazine article The Spectator

Perverts and the Course of Justice

Magazine article The Spectator

Perverts and the Course of Justice

Article excerpt

ONE of those bad courtroom dramas on television might have used the scene as a denouement, and then been panned by the critics for its unrealism. A good and faithful servant, accused of felonious behaviour and facing prison, is acquitted thanks to a surprise intervention by a third party. The third party happens to be the Head of State. The former saintly reputation of the accused is immediately restored. God save the Queen.

In the aftermath, a near-hysterical and assiduously briefed press blames almost everybody concerned. The police, thick, bigoted and incompetent as usual, are said to be especially at fault. The Crown Prosecution Service, it goes without saying, is highly culpable. And there is obloquy for the monarch herself, a harmless 76-year-old grandmother who is vilified for the unpardonable offence of having forgotten a throwaway line in a three-hour conversation five years ago about the grief her interlocutor was feeling after a bereavement. Others involved, naturally including the accused himself but also, interestingly, the hated husband of his deceased former employer, come up smelling of roses.

Mr Burrell's re-sanctification has gone down especially badly with some of those who investigated him. The police know that he denied, when his home was raided early last year, having any of the late Princess's chattels in his possession. They subsequently found what on some estimates were 5 million-worth in his attic. They say he offered 12 separate explanations, under questioning, of why they were there. They have doubts, still, about Mr Burrell's reliability, although he has, of course, been acquitted of all the charges he faced in the recent court case.

His carefully crafted public image is of a devoted family man with two children. In the determination of the police to acquit themselves of the responsibility for the collapse of the case and of newspapers who have not bought Mr Burrell's story to spoil it or even him, Fleet Street has been awash with rumours about him this week, many of them apparently well-- sourced. It is a matter of record that there was a Buckingham Palace inquiry 20 years ago into an alleged homosexual orgy that took place on the royal yacht Britannia when Mr Burrell was a footman in the Queen's service: and some are saying that he was implicated in those events. Scotland Yard received a telephone call from an Australian after Mr Burrell's arrest in which the caller described, in some detail, alleged aspects of Mr Burrell's private conduct that might not entirely tally with his public image. There have been various leaks of matters Mr Burrell himself raised in witness statements, and which are now unfortunately subject to an injunction. Police sources maintain that, in their questioning of him, a consistent personality and a consistent story failed to emerge. As the competition between the tabloids increases, we should be braced for more revelations not just about his own personal life, but about the personal lives of others in the close-knit circle of the Prince of Wales's household.

It is said that when the police raided Mr Burrell's house they said they had `come for the Crown Jewels'. The police fiercely deny that any such phrase was used. The 'jewels' in question was a tape recording of an interview conducted about eight years ago between the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and a man in her household. He said he had been homosexually raped by a colleague. The allegations were well-known throughout the household. Last year detectives from Scotland Yard interviewed the alleged rapist under caution, and he denied everything. Unfortunately, his alleged victim was said to have developed a mental illness and the police were aware he would not make the ideal witness in court. Therefore no action was taken. Former colleagues of the alleged rapist describe him as 'a bully' and one who has 'a charmed life'. As one courtier put it, `He was good at making himself indispensable. …

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