Response to “The Press”

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2009 at 11:15 am

Dear Friends,

 You may well be aware of my reported comments, regarding a recent high-profile trial, in The Press on Saturday: personal and ill-advised correspondence made public (written after the media made public and made much of horrific injuries, the awful and unfounded claim of provocation, raking-over an alleged relationship history). 

 The recent trial of Clayton Weatherston has caused great public comment, and – as one closer to the events at the time (both in terms of geography and, particularly, people) – I was concerned from beginning to end with the way The Defence conducted themselves.  I felt and feel that the family of Sophie Elliott were put to anguish, grief, delay and public hurt unnecessary and unmitigated by Weatherston’s legal team.  Perhaps those legal persons had little choice in that, perhaps not.  Anecdotally I am aware that some colleagues were unimpressed by their conduct.  Regardless, and not wanting to associate myself with the likes of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, victims and their families must surely not be further abused through some sort of legal game-playing.  As a legal lay-person, that’s what our justice system sometimes looks like in such circumstances.  Aiding and abetting.

 I believe in a God whom we sometimes name as Judge, but who is not dispassionate and cold.  God does take sides, and claims his cause with that of the poor, the weak, the voiceless.  Who chooses to claim the Cross: death, dishonour and abuse.

 I should not have emailed in offence, frustration and yes, anger, the office of the Queen’s Counsel concerned; but she, and we, do not live in some pristine legal vacuum.  Precisely this kind of compartmentalised and dysfunctional view of the world lies at the very heart of this appalling crime.  I should not have been naïve and inattentive enough to imagine such correspondence would not be used by the recipient in the media.  I did not, of course, comment in any way publicly during the trial about my concerns, and would not have subsequently, had not Mr King approached the media.  I want to make it clear that my correspondence is in no way associated with the reports of threat and abuse that Weatherston’s legal team have reported following the trial.  That is utterly inappropriate.  My words were strong, but certainly not hateful.

I do hope, as per my intention at the time, that Mr Weatherston can come to terms with his actions.  He needs our prayers, as do the Elliott family, as does our justice system, our prosecutors and defence counsel.  With the media, their job is unlike any other: sometimes they hold lives, reputation, memory in their hands.

May those who have died, particularly at the hands of others, rest in peace.

May God’s healing and comfort be with those who long for it.

May God give us wisdom to know when, where and how to act,

                                                                                                                                Fr Tim


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