“This isn’t advocay of press censorship, but it is a call for sensible discretion”

The Ralph Harrington revelations should have come as a surprise to everyone. Never mind whether or not they knew him, he was their tutor/supervisor/best friend in the whole university (as no shortage of people will tell you he was, in the light of his recently aquired celebrity). A ‘lecturers: child porn shame’ is an extremely unusual scenario.

Unless of course you have already got that T’shirt. Ralph Harrington was never meant to be my supervisor, he merely undertook the role when its previous incumbent (Rod Hill) was suspended pending an investigation into the circumstances under which his wife died, and whether or not his mistress was using his house as crack vending establishment.

To qualify this apparent stream of insensitivity, the delicacy of Ralph’s story is neither lost nor wasted on me, as I hope the interview overleaf demonstrates. My point is that Rod Hill had his charges lifted, was proclaimed innocent – but apparently not innocent enough. To this day, within the confines of York, he is seen as a reprobate. His denunciation was enough to seal his reputation, the facts notwithstanding. ‘Innocent ‘till proven guilty’, utterly cliched though the phrase may have become, is a concept rendered irrelevant in such cases and Harrington, therefore, may never be allowed to forget this.

What is particularly unfortunate is that Harrington has been convicted, adding to his potential detraction, and, while this was not what it has been reported as being, it will be more than enough to haunt him in a way that even the unfortunate Mr Hill has not experienced.

This is not an advocacy for some form of press censorship but it is a call for sensible discretion on the part of those who have the ability to damage others with what they say or write. The abuse of such a power is a negligence that it is hard to ethically condone.

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