A Martian visiting Britain in recent months might be a little confused as to the nature of human morality – not to mention as to where on the body we have our sexual organs. First the country becomes consumed by the wicked behaviour of man who lightly touched a woman’s knee. Then, a man who was found guilty of drugging and raping 19 women is quietly approved for release by the Parole Board as if his offences were no big deal. It emerges that he was suspected of 100 more rapes, too, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) never even bothered to charge him with those.
The scandal of John Worboys’ planned release – which former Director of Public Prosecutions and now shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has been struggling to explain today – has at least made the front pages. The story of Theodore Johnson, jailed this afternoon for 26 years for killing a third female partner – that after twice being released following previous killings, has until now passed with little comment. In 1981 he hit his wife with a vase and tipped her over the balcony of their flat – a crime for which he was only charged with manslaughter. In 1992, following his release from jail, he strangled his new partner with a belt. On that occasion he pleaded diminished responsibility and spent just two years in a secure psychiatric unit.
The Today Programme and the Guardian did at least cover the Theodore Johnson story, but only to try to deflect blame away from the criminal justice system and onto men in general – both quoted a criminologist who put down Johnson’s offences to what he sees as society’s ‘normalisation’ of misogyny. In other words, it’s the fault of all men – except, possibly, Private Eye’s Tim the Househusband.
I know it is unfashionable, but I don’t think I will be a long way from the sense of morality experienced by the vast majority of the British public if I propose that men who kill women – along with women who kill men and the other two permutations – be almost always jailed for their whole lives, their fate put beyond the bleeding hearts who seem to control the Parole Board. Rapists, too, should spend a very long time behind bars – so long, that is, that they are first convicted in a fair trial, not one where there is a presumption of guilt and the outcome has been manipulated by withholding of important evidence.
Meanwhile, boorish behaviour by men towards women should be treated as boorish behaviour, best dealt with a firm slap by the woman at the time of the offence – not dredged up in some cases decades later and broadcast along with an invitation for other ‘victims’ to come forwards and possibly share in a large pot of compensation.
That just leaves Keir Starmer. I don’t want to defend Damian Green, who fibbed about not knowing that police had found porn on his office computers, nor Michael Fallon, but it does seem to me that Starmer’s CPS was the far greater enemy of women. If ever there was a case for a government inquiry it is into the scandalously lenient treatment of John Worboys and – until he was jailed for a minimum of 26 years this week — Theodore Johnson. If Starmer had anything to do with the decision not to follow up Worboys’ 80 or so other suspected rapes, he should go.