Further Thoughts on Steven Messham

Lord McAlpine did not rape Steven Messham. However, Messham believed that McAlpine was his rapist because the police had showed him a picture of his actual rapist and misidentified him as Lord McAlpine.

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Am I the only person who cares more about what the fuck is up with the police than about the shit going down at the BBC? I mean, yes, generally you should show people pictures of the person they’re alleging abused them before you say that that person abused them (even in as vague terms as the BBC did). But it’s an understandable oversight, particularly when Messham appears certain.

But to fucking misidentify someone in a picture? That is a failure of basic policing right there.

Who knows how many people were misidentified by the police and weren’t wealthy and politically powerful enough to be able to correct the record? This issue will disproportionately affect poor people, people of color, and the mentally ill, who are disproportionately likely to end up in prison and less able to clear their records when they are– and men, who are much more likely to be accused of crimes than women. In addition to being an incredible miscarriage of justice, unfairly punishing the innocent, and allowing the guilty to go free, poor policing further marginalizes the already marginalized.

The police should be fully investigated, the reasons for the mistake discovered, possible other cases of the same mistake found and investigated, and procedures put in place to make sure it never happens again. While it was twenty years ago and therefore perhaps the people responsible are not still employed the police, the fact that it happened once is truly horrifying.

Or is it just less popular to criticize police than the BBC?

Photo– juliejordanscott/Flickr. Signs at an anti-rape and anti-violence protest. 

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Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at ozyfrantz@gmail.com or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. I spent two years living in Cymru and Welsh people do not, in fact, hate the English uniformly, let alone anyone who isn’t white.

    Your attempt to smear an entire nation as racists is, in fact, racist.

    • So very True Hugh – and as usual a far more critical analysis of errors is still not in the public domain. What A Surprise (Irony). P^/

      Only 2 years? I have been dealing with the Issues in and around Wales for over 40 years – and I find the false racism caused by negligent ignorance more than racist – it’s crass racism caused by less than ignorance.

  2. Slightly less unbelievable if the actual rapist was a relative of Lord McAlpine, as has been implied, and there was a strong family resemblance. Not good at all, but not completely incredible.

    Also, this was Wales in the 1980s: everyone hates the Tories with a reflexive passionate loathing. It’s something they learn at their mothers’s breasts. In fact this is very much still the case (along with hating not just Conservatives but also the English, anyone from Eastern Europe, and anyone who isn’t white). Lord McAlpine may have been fingered precisely because of who he was. Something similar also explains the BBC’s eagerness to pursue the story as unthinkingly as they did.

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