Michael Le Vell – Mud Sticks

Michael Le Vell court case

If you’ve been following this case in the news, you’ll know that Michael Le Vell, the actor who plays Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, was accused of sexually abusing a six year old girl. The girl, who is now 17 and hasn’t been named to protect her identity, says that he systematically abused her over a number of years and although the Crown Prosecution Service originally dropped the case through lack of evidence, Mr. Le Vell was charged with 19 offenses following a review of the evidence in early 2013.

Yesterday, I was driving home from picking up lunch for Husband and I, listening to Radio 2 when the news broke that Mr. Le Vell had been found innocent. As I walked into the house, I said to Husband “Have you heard? That nonce from Coronation Street has been found innocent”.

And therein lies my point. Despite the fact that a jury of his peers had found Michael Le Vell completely innocent, in my head, I’d still branded him a child molester.

When it comes to offenses of a sexual nature, especially when they involve a minor, as soon as someone is implicated it becomes very hard to forget the accusations, even when someone is found guilty. I have no idea why the young lady involved would lie about such a thing, but it happens a lot.

I’m by NO means a fan of Neil and Christine Hamilton, but what is it you remember about those two? Is it Mr. Hamilton’s political career, or their desperate attempts to shake their image off on a number of reality TV shows? Or is it the fact that they were both accused of rape by a young woman in 2001? As it happens, that woman served a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice with her entirely false accusations, but does anyone know about that? I doubt many do.

When people make false claims, it allows them to wield a certain amount of power over others, and what’s perhaps even more damaging, is that it adds to our culture of victim blame. What happens to the next person, a genuine victim, who isn’t believed because of too many people crying wolf and leaving the general public jaded?

And the fact that there is no anonymity in place for people who’ve been accused is another huge problem. Had Michale Le Vell been allowed a closed trial, he wouldn’t have been dragged through the media and his very downtrodden image wouldn’t be synonymous with a slew of headlines proclaiming him to be something he’s now been proved not to be, without reasonable doubt.

Michael Le Vell has been proven innocent by a jury, and the way that our criminal justice system works means that we must believe that. Innocent until proven guilty, and all that, but I suspect he’s going to find it very difficult to shake the branding that has been placed on him. There will always be doubt, people scrutinizing him, strangers pulling their kids away from him with an almost imperceptible tug at the sleeve.

So, despite the fact that Mr. Le Vell is very much innocent, to many people he will always be considered guilty.

Mud sticks.

14 thoughts on “Michael Le Vell – Mud Sticks

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  2. ‘It happens a lot’.
    Really? How can you substantiate this?
    That’s a pretty powerful and dangerous, not to mention false statement to make. I’m shocked.
    I think there is more cause to be writing blogs and being upset for the many cases of rape and sexual assault that don’t end in conviction either because the victim was too afraid to press charges or because the amount of evidence they needed to ‘prove beyond reasonable doubt’ was unattainable, and so they are then branded a liar. Experiences that are far more damaging and far, far more common.
    I appreciate this isn’t the point of your article and that you aren’t claiming not to care for those victims, but to say ‘it happens a lot’ is adding to a misogynistic and woefully commonplace myth that many women make up such allegations.

    PS – Hi Jayne!

    1. I appreciate your point but what I was actually trying to highlight, and appear to have failed to do so, is that false claims of this kind are hugely damaging to genuine cases and ADD to the feeling of “well, I won’t be believed anyway”. My point was not to add to any form of misogyny, but to acknowledge the fact that a small minority of women think that they can wield accusations of rape as a kind of power over others, which is damaging to both the people they accuse and other victims who seemingly lose credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world.

      Also, I wasn’t comparing the issue of false claims against cases where justice is not had, and quantifying it isn’t easy; there are around 200 cases a year (http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/6478/1/Dow) which are found to be ‘malicious’ in their falsity, but the cases which are withdrawn or found to have no evidence (which amount to about the same number) can’t be considered truly false and could simply be down to women feeling threatened or disbelieved; which is exactly what is so damaging about women making false accusations in the first place. I’ve also found several reports of women being jailed through persistent false reports (links below, apologies for Daily Fail source).

      As I said in my post, I’m no stranger personally to this issue, though I’ve never taken any action because I was a child at the time and 20 years have passed. I’ve been more or less told outright that I have very little recourse in terms of pursuing any kind of justice as the evidence is zero. My condemnation was not of women who have been assaulted and especially not those who’ve never found justice for what was done to them, it’s of the women who cry wolf, the way the media handles cases of this kind and the general attitude of the public, who’ve been forced into this horrible cynicism and cycle of victim blame.




  3. I think he shouldn’t have been named, what other flaws there are in the system are there regardless of whether he was named or not. Why is it that people who are found guilty of crimes (such as the Bulgar killers) are allowed protection but not someone who has yet to be prosecuted – it all needs a dam good looking at.

  4. I did watch this case quite closely interested as to what the outcome would be and unable to make my mind up if I thought he was guilty or not.
    Even when the verdict was made I still had that ‘Really?’ thought in my head as I do today. I know too that if you have excellent lawyers and enough money you can swing stuff your way. I really really hope the girl didn’t make it all up and if she did I hope it comes to light and she pays for her slander, then and only then would Mr Le Vell be cleared

  5. I had a conversation with the man about this last night. With my ex police head on I know full well that innocent in the eyes of the law doesn’t necessarily mean innocent in terms of the offence committed, I’ve seen way too many people we knew to have committed an offence get away with it due to the case collaspsing/CPS dropping it or juries finding them innocent etc so I always say only the accused and the accuser know the truth in any instance.

    But from a personal and even a police point of view, identifying people who have been accussed of such crimes can be very damaging if they are found not guilty. People accused of rape, paedophilia etc are remembered and become hate tagets and innocent people can be caught up in the hate and seriously injured. The Jamie Bulger case comes to mind where men were and still are being identified on the internet as the killers, one particular photo I saw had the same boy identified as both boys and two different men on it, the same photo was edited a few hours later to include pictures of both boys and two different men, thus implicating 3 men, one of whom was definitely innocent, but his face was by then splashed all over the internet. What if someone saw him and attacked him in the street thinking he was one of the killers?

    At the same time identifying those accused of such crimes does allow for other victims and witnesses to come forward and maybe give them some hope that they can bring charges too. My partner is of the opinion that all people who have accused someone of such a crime of which they are found innocent should be identified and shamed almost for daring to ruin someone elses life, but again I come back to being found not guilty is not the same of actually being innocent of the crime and that could prove damaging to the people who want to report such crimes – they simply wouldnt do it if they feared being identified. It’s hard enough to go through the ordeal of reporting such a crime and trying to obtain a conviction let alone with the fear that you may be identified should something go wrong. Of course there are some people who have wrongly accussed others of these crimes and they do deserve to be punished for that. It’s a difficult one to know what is best but in cases that involve sex offences and those against children a little caution should always be exercised in terms of how the person bringing the charges is treated whether the person accused is convicted or not.

  6. Another thought provoking post, and I certainly see where you are coming from. The “no smoke without fire” thinking is probably in built in us to protect us but it sure makes it very hard for those found not guilty to restart their lives.

  7. It’s a tough one for me if I’m honest. Having been a victim and seeing just how much evidence the CPS needs before they even consider taking a case through to court I naturally lean to the overly-suspicious ‘not guilty doesn’t mean totally not guilty’ stance and that’s not something I can shake.

    1. I’m in the same boat as you – I’ve been deliberately careful with my wording because legally speaking, he’s been cleared of all charged and I don’t want to land myself in hot water for using a potentially libelous phrase or word.

      I don’t tend to speak about it on this blog, but I’ve also been a victim of abuse as a child, which is probably why this case pressed so many buttons for me and I hate the thought that someone may not have gotten the justice they deserve especially, as you say, if the evidence was in place.

      Having said that, I still feel that crying wolf can be hugely damaging in genuine cases, for both the accused and other victims and I still think with our media as it is, everything should be kept anonymous until a verdict has been come to, so that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ can be maintained. While reading some of the news reports of this case during my research for this post, I noticed a very negative tone towards Michael Le Vell, right from the beginning and the way that newspapers influence the public is staggering.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  9. I agree. There’s definitely a case for the accused to remain anonymous. I think the prosecution’s defence of that is by naming someone you encourage other potential victims to come forward and in the post-Saville era I suppose we’re all extra conscious of that. But I have to say I have never watched Coronation Street in my life and I have absolutely no blinkin idea who Michael Le Vell is so personally I cannot understand why the coverage has been what it has. But that’s probably because I spend a lot of time under a rock.

    1. I’m not a soap watcher either, I only knew of ‘Kevin Webster’ through a childhood of parents and grandparents watching them, but they’re more or less banned in this house! I’m all for anything that helps other victims to get help, but as you say, the implications of naming before a verdict can be more damaging in the long run. In fact, people have been physically harmed, even after they’ve been found innocent of these types of charges. Thanks for commenting.

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