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article imageOp-Ed: Stuart Hall — A man without honour

By Alexander Baron     Oct 25, 2013 in Crime
Last year, Stuart Hall was awarded an OBE. This year it was revoked. He is the latest in a long line of names who have fallen from grace.
The announcement of the award in the Queen's New Year's honours list was made by the BBC on New Year's Eve 2011-2. At the time it seemed well deserved. Certainly in his heyday, Hall had been a popular TV presenter, fronting It's A Knockout for most of the 1970s and 80s; he had also worked for decades as a football commentator, but it was probably his charity work that led to his receipt of the OBE.
After the Savile revelations, Hall was one of many celebrities who were arrested on suspicion of a variety of alleged sexual offences against young women and mostly younger girls.
Allegations made months, years or decades down the line are rightly treated with a certain reservation, and on the face of it the case against Hall seemed weak; he gave that impression, claiming after an early court appearance that his life had been a living nightmare; he denied all the allegations emphatically.
Then, when the big day came, he pleaded guilty to 14 charges of indecently assaulting girls as young as 9 years old between 1967 and 1985. He had also faced one charge of raping a young woman, but that was dropped. Reading between the lines, he was offered a deal: plead guilty to the "lesser" charges and we will drop the rape charge. Although there will have been no physical evidence after all these years, Hall appears to have taken some victims to his home, and their descriptions were sufficient to destroy his veneer of plausible deniability.
Hall was granted bail until he appeared in court again to be sentenced, but the resulting 15 months was considered inadequate by many, even allowing for his great age, and after complaints by ordinary members of the public, the Attorney General referred the case to the Court of Appeal, where the Lord Chief Justice doubled it.
That might have been the end of things, but for Hall it is only the beginning. This week he was taken from his prison cell to a police station to be questioned about further assaults. He has now been charged with 15 counts of rape against two girls, one as young as 11. This is an altogether more serious matter, and while he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, it is fair to say that if any of these charges stick, he will die in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court again on November 8.
Also this week, Hall was stripped of his OBE by the Queen. That is of course the least of his problems, but he is now truly a man without honour. A large number of people have suffered the same fate over the years, some more notorious than others. The ex-wife of former Cabinet Minster Chris Huhne was stripped of her Companion of the Order of the Bath at the end of July, a fate entirely of her own making.
Only one woman has been stripped of a damehood - Jean Else - on account of financial irregularities, although she did not face criminal charges.
Arguably the three most notorious individuals to be stripped of honours in Britain were the traitors Roger Casement, Anthony Blunt and Kim Philby. Casement was born in Dublin at a time when Ireland was under British rule. Uniquely, he was detained in the Tower of London, and after a highly publicised trial was executed in Pentonville Prison on August 3, 1916 during the Great War, a sad end to an otherwise distinguished career. Anthony Blunt and Kim Philby were both members of the Cambridge spy ring. Notoriously, intelligence officer Philby defected to the Soviet Union in 1963. Blunt, on the other hand, carved out a career as an academic after betraying his country, and was granted immunity from prosecution. He was stripped of his knighthood in 1979, four years before his death.
The notoriety of Casement and Blunt is of course of an entirely different nature from that for which Stuart Hall will now be remembered, but there can be no doubt that it has been well earned, whatever the outcome of the new proceedings he is currently facing.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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