From my Eastern Daily Press column...
Anyone who knows David Prior (former Tory MP for North Norfolk) will testify to the decency of the man. His former constituents in North Norfolk and the staff at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital will have been shocked at his very public arrest this week. But let us remember that arrest does not imply anything. What should shock us more is the very public way this was done. Someone somewhere wanted it to be in the public domain, and I don’t think we have too far to look to know where the news was leaked from. Whoever it was had an agenda.
This is not the first time it has happened. I well remember the case of Neil and Christine Hamilton being arrested on suspicion of rape and being put through months of hell before they were completely exonerated. But in those few months the ‘no smoke without fire’ brigade had a field day. The Metropolitan Police had tipped off the press that they had been arrested and a phalanx of cameras was waiting to greet them at Ilford Police Station.
The same thing happened more recently to Lord Levy, when he was arrested in the Cash for Peerages inquiry. Whatever happened to the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’? It seems if you a public figure you have to put up with this sort of thing nowadays.
I don’t blame the EDP for splashing the Prior case as a big story. It is. But perhaps someone in Norfolk Police, or maybe the Norfolk Health Service, should be hanging their head in shame this weekend for putting a transparently decent man and his family through hell. And perhaps the rest of us should be asking ourselves what their agenda is.