Monday, 21 April 2014


By Jim Black

I do not profess to know with any degree of certainty whether Oscar Pistorius is innocent, or guilty of the charge of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
But I am certain in my own mind of one thing - the almost daily televised circus transmitted by BBC from the Pretoria High Court is tasteless, tacky and utterly demeaning to the man dubbed “The Blade Runner.”
It is bad enough viewing newspaper photographs of Pistorius looking haunted without also listening to the sounds of his sobs, retching and general despair.  Mercifully, so far we are spared the sight of the accused, given that he remains off camera.
But I cannot understand why the world at large lusts after the sounds of the man’s misery, for none of this does anything to serve the cause of justice in a dignified fashion.
This is not some TV Soap, or an excuse for yet another helping of reality TV. A young woman died in the most appalling circumstances and it is right that Pistorius should have to answer for shooting her.
But is it right that the principals in this case – the accused, judge, jury, prosecution and defence teams - should be afforded an opportunity to become actors, if, indeed, they have a mind to?
I think not. The chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel certainly does not need any make-up artist to improve his appearance before the director shouts “lights, camera and action”. He already appears to be enjoying his new celebrity hugely.
I had the good fortune to interview Pistorius three years ago during the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews and he came across as pleasant, articulate and quick-witted. He also somehow manages to largely disguise the fact that he is physically challenged to such an extent.
Appearing to be a “nice guy” does not, of course, testify to innocence or guilt. That is for the jury to decide.
But Pistorius is entitled to a trial without the rest of the world looking on as if it were some sort of unsightly peep show.
Whatever the verdict, Pistorius will have to live every second of every day for the reminder for his life with the knowledge that he ended the life of a woman he professed to love and that is punishment enough, surely.
Is there really a need to share his despair purely to satisfy the ghoulish desire of the public at large?

WE Brits pride ourselves on fair play. So, why is it that the Crown Prosecution Service appears to feel a need to indulge in a witch hunt against Dave Lee Travis?
The CPS is behaving in a manner reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-homosexual and communist purges of the 1940s and 50s.
As in the case of Oscar Pistorius, I have no certain knowledge of DLT’s innocence, or guilt.
But the stench of McCarthyism is rife. One is almost tempted to suggest that certain individuals are engaged in a drive to “get” the former disc jockey at all costs.
The fall-out from the odious goings on of the late and unlamented Jimmy Savile have been far reaching and it is right and proper that each incident related to alleged sex attacks should be investigated thoroughly and the perpetrators called to account.
But I cannot help worrying that for some it may also an opportunity to settle old scores.
As recently as February, Travis, now 68, was cleared by a jury of 12 indecent assaults.
He claimed at the time his life had been ruined at great financial and moral cost to him and his wife, adding that he now wished to simply get on with what remained of his time on earth.
But barely two months on, he faces trial again on two charges that saw deliberations fail to reach a verdict.
Those two alleged indecent assaults happened in 2008 and in the early 1990s. So the nightmare continues for DLT.
Personally, I feel a deep sense of unease that traditional British justice is being hijacked in the wake of Savile to appease the accusers of those who were complicit in covering up for the monster and his kind in the first instance.

TRAIN operators First ScotRail, the organisation I love to hate for its incompetence and flagrant disregard for the comfort and safety of its passengers, has done it again.
Part of the main line from Dundee and Perth to Glasgow is being closed on May 17 – the day Dundee United play St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup final.
Engineering works between Perth and Larbert mean the line can’t be used. Fans will either have to use trains re-routed through Fife and suffer delays, or take to the roads instead.
Network Rail has issued an apology, but insists there is nothing it can do as these engineering works have been planned for two years.
ScotRail, meanwhile, is keen to discuss with the competing clubs how they can help fans travel to and from Glasgow.
I have a much simpler suggestion: Postpone the work for 24 hours - like you do services without prior warning, consideration or care for your valued (?) and regularly inconvenienced customers that you don’t give a damn about.
No, here’s an even better idea: Hand over the rail franchise to a competent body that does give a damn!