Magazine article The Spectator

No Justice

Magazine article The Spectator

No Justice

Article excerpt

Rougemont

This is by far the saddest column I've written in 24 years, and certainly the most frustrating. It has to do with a judicial decision that mocks justice, a ruling that renders null and void the cri de coeur of a young woman from beyond the grave.

Let's take it from the start. Four years ago, an incredibly beautiful girl kills herself aged 20, leaving a note naming the man she claimed had sexually abused her from the age of 12 to 14. She was Philippine Lambert, daughter of Baron Philippe Lambert and his wife Marion. The Lamberts are an old and aristocratic Belgian banking family. The accused is Vincent Meyer, president and benefactor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. The extremely rich Meyer is the grandson of Andre Meyer, of the banking Lazard Frere dynasty, and a man who befriended the Lamberts, and who 'was in our house almost daily over a period of three years, was glued to us, in fact, speaking highly of the way we lived and how well we were bringing up our children . . . '

Meyer was accused of rape and sexual misconduct towards a minor and arrested by the Swiss authorities shortly after Philippine's suicide. He has always denied any wrongdoing but was remanded in custody for three months and was eventually released on 2.5 million bail, one of the largest ever demanded by a Swiss court.

Earlier this year, however, the Swiss court ruled that he will not stand trial, despite the public prosecutor's statement that the charges against Meyer 'were not inconsiderable'. The case was a difficult one from the start. The court was anxious to have `witnesses of the acts' of abuse. Child molestation does not take place in public and in front of witnesses. What was most important, in my opinion, was that the facts reached the statute of limitations - everything that took place before September 1992 was not permitted in court. …

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