The sentencing of Jeremy Forrest by Michael Lawson QC at Lewes Crown Court to five and a half years imprisonment proves that the so-called British ‘justice’ system is seriously flawed.
The former teacher who had a seven month relationship with a 15 year-old pupil was convicted of abduction and sex with a minor. The pupil is now 16 years-old.
The pupil had a crush on Forrest, and the relationship started when Forrest comforted the pupil who was experiencing personal difficulties.
Their relationship was discovered after the two went to France in September 2012 and were discovered in Bordeaux, France, when Forrest was recognised after an international appeal for their whereabouts was launched in the media.
According to the pupil’s statement, she instigated the trip to France to get away from the personal difficulties she was experiencing, and after being questioned by police and child protection officers over suspicions about their relationship. Forrest accompanied her for fear she may come to harm.
Throughout the course of Forrest’s trial, the pupil and Forrest exchanged mouthed words to each other, with Forrest mouthing ‘I love you’ as he entered the court for sentencing.
The relationship between Forrest and the pupil was consensual, and Forrest had no previous history of any kind of wrongdoing.
No doubt there will be a lot of debate and fall-out concerning today’s verdict, both from those who think he should be imprisoned for longer, and from those who feel the sentence is too harsh – much of it fuelled by ignorance and emotion.
In the tabloid press, and in an attempt to prejudice the jury by the prosecution, Forrest has wrongly been referred to as a paedophile. The fact is that Forrest is not a paedophile and there is no evidence that would support any indication of paedophilia in Forrest’s history.
Paedophilia is an emotive subject and is guaranteed to get the crowds heckling for blood regardless of fact and logic.
As a teacher, Forrest was in a position where trust is an automatic expectation. He should also have been aware that teaching pupils who are going through hormonal changes carries the risk that infatuations and ‘crushes’ may develop. In that realisation, Forrest should have been aware of his vulnerability in becoming drawn into an intimate situation with a pupil.
There is a contradiction in society when we refer to teenagers. On one hand, they are referred to as ‘children’, and on the other as ‘young adults’, which seems to depend on the intentions of the referrer, and which can seriously influence the perception of observers.
Whether society likes it or not, a 15 year-old is not a child and neither are they an adult. To keep it in perspective, the age of consent of 16 in the UK was raised from 13 in the ‘Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885’ in an attempt to stop the trade in the prostitution of young women, where they would be bought and sold.
Throughout Europe, the age of consent ranges from 13 to 18, with most being 15 or 16.
The age of consent has been debated many times in the UK. In the 1970s, as a young lawyer for the National Council for Civil Liberties (now known as Liberty), Harriet Harman advocated reducing the age of consent to 14. As recently as May this year there have been calls to reduce the age of consent by human rights barrister Barbara Hewson.
The emotional development of young people is perhaps the crucial point in whether sexual activity at a certain age is acceptable or not.
This is where things can get really tricky. Whether we are referring to a 15 year-old pupil or a 30 year-old teacher, we have presumptions about their emotional maturity and resilience to being tempted into compromising positions.
The problem is that everyone is different whatever age they may be. A 15 year-old can be highly developed and mature, capable of making informed decisions and being responsible for their actions. A 30 year-old can be emotionally underdeveloped and immature, and not be capable of making fully informed decisions. The opposite also applies.
In some press reporting, this case has been cited as being ‘abusive’ where the evidence has shown that no abuse was involved. If the reports are alluding to a teacher abusing their position of presumed trust, again, there is no evidence to support that presumption. The relationship between Forrest and the pupil occurred as part of a natural process of a developing relationship, not as part of intentional and predatory action.
If we throw in sensationalised reporting and the general ignorance of public opinion, then coming to a realistic and logical conclusion is more difficult.
Forrest should (and ‘should’ is a very big word) have known that becoming involved in a relationship with a pupil was something that would cause both of them significant upset and would affect the rest of their lives. Forrest ‘should’ have known that becoming involved in the relationship would affect his marriage of less than a year, and the parents of the pupil.
He was irresponsible in not considering the effects of his and the pupil’s actions on others. He was a fool for letting himself become involved with one of his pupils, and he was a fool for not taking full account of the effect of his and the pupil’s actions.
If we imprisoned everyone who had acted irresponsibly and made foolish decisions about personal relationships then probably 90% of the population would have a criminal record.
The main ‘crime’ that has been committed here is that he did not consider his position of being a teacher, and the expectation of the public that teachers do not become involved with pupils.
After spending nine months on remand and for his misjudgement, It would have been sufficient for him to have been considered as ‘time served’ and released. He should be banned from teaching having breached the code of the profession.
Being sentenced to five and a half years for his stupidity is ridiculously excessive.
It is worth noting that the extradition of Forrest was manipulated. The application for extradition did not include allegations of Forrest having sex with a 15 year-old, because if they had, he could not have been extradited from France, because that is not a crime under French law and would have cast serious doubt on the motivation for the extradition application.
We have heard nothing about the ‘personal difficulties’ the pupil was experiencing at the time. It is clear that her parents were unaware, unable, unwilling, or unapproachable to help her with those, and she felt the need to find solace in Forrest.
Forrest is not the only teacher to have been in a relationship with a pupil.
Both males and females have been prosecuted for having sexual relationships with pupils, some of them obviously predatory with no mitigating circumstance of establishing a relationship in the longer term.
Observing the Twitter hashtag of #Forrest after sentencing, it is clear that the majority of British public who chose to ‘tweet’ based their assumptions on ignorance and tabloid reporting. Fortunately, there were many others who took an objective and rational look at the ‘crime’ versus punishment argument.
There were references to the disparity in sentencing between Forrest and Stuart Hall, many citing that Hall was a paedophile and Forrest is not, and others citing that sentencing to five and a half years for being in a relationship or being ‘in love’ was far too excessive.
Interestingly, none of the ‘tweeters’ have referenced the government paedophiles who have yet to be properly investigated and prosecuted for their sadistic involvement in paedophilia. Take the case of the Elm Guest house where there has been no significant public outrage that people who are still very much alive and associated with politics and government have not been brought to justice – even though there is substantial and real evidence of their perverse activities.
As with the government, the British ‘justice’ system is rotten to the core with a slight veneer of respectability.
Take the recent case of the ‘artist’ and paedophile Graham Ovenden.
He was sentenced to a twelve month suspended sentence after being found guilty of being a sexual predator on girls as young a nine over a forty year period.
His ‘art’ (look it up on the internet for yourself) was owned by figures in the public eye, such as Lord McAlpine who himself has recently been in the public eye over allegations that he was involved in paedophilia.
Prior to his recent sentencing, Ovenden has been investigated twice for creating child pornography, and the criminal cases against him rejected on the basis that the photographs were ‘artistically significant’. But it wasn’t his art that was the focus of the trial.
According to the prosecution and evidence presented at his trial, Ovenden used his ‘art’ as a way to gain access to girls and sexually molest them.
There is a world of difference between the purposely predatory paedophiles in high places, with political and other contacts through the ‘old-boys’ network which they can use to cover-up their evil activities, and the development of a mutual relationship based on attraction by a pupil and a teacher.
The fact remains, that although foolish, the relationship between Forrest and the pupil was genuine and mutually consensual, and the sentence imposed on him is politically motivated rather than being just.
The people we DO need to see sentenced to the longest terms possible are those who have yet to be brought to the public’s attention, something that we may never see because it could be extremely embarrassing to the government, if not bring the government down.
William Hague is a good example. While he carries on espousing his warmongering rhetoric, he seems immune from his involvement in the enquiry in to the Welsh care home scandal where children were transported to London for the pleasure of his political colleagues – colleagues he personally protected from the arm of the law.
Before coming to ill-informed judgements based on mainstream media manipulation and sensationalism, the people of Britain need to get educated about the reality that controls them and protects their masters.