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Family Law | Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

We are all aware of the saying, innocent until proven guilty. But what do we actually believe? Is there really no smoke without fire?

It seems that the principle of the presumption of innocent until proven guilty is under threat, despite that presumption being preserved in the Human Rights Act and, further, that this presumption is fundamental within our legal system. Is this presumption truly upheld?

This is particularly relevant to those in the spotlight as they are, in effect, hung out to dry even if found not guilty or never charged in the first instance.

For example, Cliff Richard being investigated by the police following an allegation of sexual assault of a child. This was reported back in 2014. Cliff Richard was never charged and yet this is occasionally referred to in the media. Well, he was actually never charged and yet this still hangs over his head.

Most recently, we have heard of R Kelly being charged with sexually assaulting teenage girls and allegations of a sex cult. In my view, sexual assault is abhorrent, and I am all for eliminating it. However, in this case, R Kelly has yet to be found guilty (pledged a plea of not guilty), and instead of presuming innocence until proven guilty, his name and reputation have been dragged through the mud without even a guilty sentence.

Netflix released a documentary, “Surviving R Kelly”, and they are no doubt making a considerable amount of money through R Kelly’s charge (I note charge and not sentence).

Hey, he may be found guilty. But the point is that he has not yet been found guilty in a Court of law and therefore who are we to drag names and reputation through the mud.

There are too many well-known examples; such as Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, and so on.

Is JLS star, Oritse Williams, a good example of recent? This case hit the headlines and thereafter he house had been burned down in an arson attack, shortly after being found not guilty of rape.

Is it not right that we wait until the outcome of proceedings? That way, we will not shame those that have in fact not committed the crime that they have been accused of. What we need to think about are those who are found not guilty, yet have had their reputations tarnished, documentaries made against their name and are a result of slander.

I am all for those that commit crimes being punished, however, should we not punish those who make false allegations (now that’s a different argument and article altogether) and should we not preserve the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

You hear those say, “if you are not guilty, then why are you worried”. Well, if that person is not guilty, of course, they would be worried. Not only the fear of receiving a guilty sentence but even upon receiving a not guilty sentence, in this society, that person will still be judged and prosecuted by society for a crime they did not commit.

In my view, the presumption of innocence is replaced with a presumption of guilt. What are your thoughts?

The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal advice on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor before you embark on any course of action.

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