uk: Michael Langham: My son Chris was demonised

Even before his trial started, the actor who was convicted of downloading illegal images was assumed to be guilty – in the press and in the courtroom itself, writes his fatherOn 14 September I attended the sentencing of my son, Chris Langham, at Maidstone Crown Court, and was both impressed and astonished by the humanity with which the fall from grace of this otherwise gentle person was handled. The judge, summing up, emphasised that the defendant was not on trial for being a paedophile; he was on trial for downloading illegal images. The defending barrister wound up his resolutely persuasive plea by reading a letter from the defendant’s wife – a loving and moving description of the Langham family at home. And, in the course of cross-examination, the widely respected psychiatrist Dr Meehan confirmed that the defendant is not in any way a danger to the public. (Chris Langham had been consulting Dr John Meehan on a weekly basis for almost two years, and he arguably knows Chris better than anyone else alive.)This civilised scene amazed me because the case, until now, had aroused widespread outrage – even calls for the death penalty from some quarters – while vigorous rebukes, criticising the process that victimised Chris (describing it as a “gross injustice”), came from some of the more dispassionate press. Some reports lingered over the sexual offences of which Chris had been completely cleared. The press emerged with little credit. Why should this be? Such transparent prejudice surely demonstrates the alarming success of the Kent police in their demonising of Chris Langham. It started some two years ago immediately after his arrest; on the principle, it seems, that one is deemed innocent only until one is arrested.

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