Innocent Until Proven Guilty; What It Really Means

Scales of Justice

Scales of Justice

A legal principle
The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” is a widely misunderstood legal phrase. It is a principle of law, a legal instrument that should ensure fair trials. The police, the lawyers and judges should regard the accused as innocent and put the evidence to the test.
It is the prosecution and investigators who are on trial because they should never present a case to court until they have gathered irrefutable evidence. Irrefutable that is to the best of their knowledge. It is the prosecution who has to prove guilt and not the accused to prove innocence.
So why do I say it is widely misunderstood? It is widely misunderstood and often deliberately ‘misunderstood’, by critics of the media (particularly new media), barrack room lawyers and criminal apologists. It constantly comes up in criticism of articles on this blog, but this blog is not a court of law, this blog is not part of the prosecution, this blog investigates and reports facts, the same facts the mainstream media (MSM) publishes. Where the evidence is overwhelming I may go further and ignore the MSM self imposed rules. Sometimes, as the Editor I may give my opinion, but my opinion is expressed mainly in the comments not the articles.

Some scenarios

I will now illustrate this argument with a couple of scenarios, and for simplicity I will keep make the suspects masculine.
Imagine waking up at 3am, and there is a stranger in your bedroom. He is putting your valuables into a sack. You tackle him and knock him out and call the police. Is he a burglar or is he not a burglar? YES! He is a burglar, he is not really innocent.
The second scenario; a neighbour enters your home and rapes your wife. You are not there, but she recognises him and tells you who it was. Your wife is an honest woman and does not tell lies.The police are called and make an arrest. Is your neighbour innocent or guilty? GUILTY! He is guilty of rape, he is not in reality innocent.
You know the answers
The answer to both those scenarios is guilty! You see the legal principal of “innocent until proven guilty” is not fact, it is a presumption. The victims know who the guilty are, witnesses also know who is guilty, and the perpetrator knows he is guilty.
The accused must be presumed innocent so that the investigators and prosecutors gather evidence and present that evidence to the court and prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is indeed guilty of the offense. That is the basis of a fair trial.
The presumption of innocence does apply to news reporting as well of course. However, what if a witness writes the report or a video shows the incident in indisputable detail? What if documents are available that proves guilt? Is it wrong in those circumstances to report the accused as guilty? I don’t think so, providing that the report does not prejudice the fairness of the trial.
How many innocents could have been saved?
If the Internet had been available 50-years ago, many victims of Jimmy Savile, the MP Cyril Smith, ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath and ‘Lord’ Alistair McAlpine would have been saved from their abuse. This is why I interpret the rules less strictly than the MSM, they can’t publish a word without a lawyer passes it. Except of course, they are willing to overstep the mark when hacking a dead girl’s mobile phone.







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