The Heywood grooming case had a surprising coda yesterday as Shabir Ahmed was convicted at Manchester Crown Court on 30 counts of rape. The 59 year old divorced father of four was revealed to be the one presence of the Heywood case that, at the time, could not be named for legal reasons. Once the jury had found him guilty, reporting restrictions were lifted, and very soon after he was duly named.
In a bizarre twist, Ahmed was not revealed to the jury as one of those in the Heywood case, but chose to very openly tell them anyway. He will be sentenced later, but having already been handed a 19 year stretch, he cannot expect to regain his liberty for a long, long time – maybe not this side of his shuffling off to meet what Dave Allen might have called “his own God”.
But what was most revealing about the case over which Ahmed was convicted yesterday is that the victim was a young Asian girl. Think about that. One of the conclusions drawn by much of the Fourth Estate after the conclusion of the Heywood case was that the group of men convicted had gone after white girls because they would not go after Asian ones – the racial subtext.
This enabled the usual why-oh-why aftermath – “political correctness gorn mad”. Indeed, the Mail’s tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn was on hand almost immediately to tell “these men ... view white girls as trash – easy meat, to be raped at will” and that they were “motivated ... by their own wicked brand of racial and cultural bigotry”. No prizes for guessing who’s been keeping schtum today.
The rest of the press haven’t exactly distinguished themselves, either. Littlejohn’s own paper waited until the ninth paragraph of its report to let readers know that the victim in this case was Asian. And readers of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have to wade through “Paedo gang king” and “Grooming beast” before reading the news in the fifteenth paragraph of that article.
Interestingly, it is the Express whose report requires the least scanning to find the news, coming as it does in the fourth paragraph of their copy. And the BBC report linked above doesn’t mention this crucial detail at all. All that is singularly unfortunate, because although it underscores the misogyny at work, it shows that the idea of a racial element is plain flat wrong.
But one pundit who at the time of the Heywood case talked of “A Muslim community disproportionately involved in criminal behaviour targeted at non-Islamic people” has been silent. Why might that be? Maybe because that person is Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips. And Mad Mel doesn’t do apologies or retractions, not to Muslims.
It’s high time she started. And the rest of the Fourth Estate, too.