With a strikingly visual banner, a megaphone and several hundred leaflets, a lot can be achieved by even just a small handful of determined campaigners in an English town on a sunny day.
This was Oxford, however, no mere town. As I declaimed from the megaphone, I was conscious that many future politicians, lawyers and senior public servants of this realm were being formed in this place. It will be down to them to safeguard our society from corruption and moral degradation in the future. What Hollie had endured during her childhood up in Scotland and the fact that these crimes have been persistently ignored by the police and authorities, with the English authorities colluding in the cover-up must never be allowed to happen. Sadly, Hollie’s story was not by any means a one-off or confined to Scotland. Paedophilia in its various forms is everywhere and it is on the increase. It must be expunged. For the health of our society the protection of children must become the top priority for everyone. Otherwise in a few decades it will be too late and what we used to call ‘Great Britain’ will be no more. We will be nothing more than a facade of beautiful buildings, parks and gardens, as in this famous town, but behind the facade we’ll be rotten to the core, we will have lost our morals, our humanity and everything on which we prided ourselves in being ‘British’ and for which millions gave their lives in 2 World Wars in 20th century. Things were not looking good in 21st century. So, stop the rot and get behind Hollie’s campaign for justice!
The ordinary townsfolk appeared slightly bemused or maybe even slightly stunned by this sudden oration! A couple of policemen came over and informed us that they had had a complaint from a member of the public. "We’ve only come to tell you this, we’re not going to stop you, you understand, but we do have a duty to inform you and investigate. May I ask you to hand us a couple of copies of the leaflet you are giving out?" "Of course, officer, we’re actually quite pleased to be able to have a word with you because one thing we do strongly believe in the Hollie campaign is that the role of the police is crucial in stamping out child abuse. Do you have a family yourself?" "Yes I do." "Well, I’m sure you would hate anything like this to happen to your own children, wouldn’t you? And I’m sure you joined the Force to protect the public and fight crime?" Yes, came back the reply, and so we continued for a few moments. At the end of the exchange the policeman said he was pleasantly surprised that we had been so polite and understanding in our response to them. "We get a lot of flack from activists usually, it makes our job quite hard at times." I said on the contrary, we in Justice for Hollie regard the police as our main allies, along with the MPs. OK, one force up in Scotland had proved itself to be corrupt and a contingent in Shropshire had not come out of this affair too well either, having raided the home of a disabled young woman and her mother and effectively smashed it up. But we know the vast majority of those who serve in the police are there for the highest reasons, so it is to this majority we’re appealing to put pressure on the relatively few who bring the service down. As he turned to go, the young policeman shook my hand with palpable warmth and I felt he might not forget this encounter.
As always happens, survivors of abuse came by and engaged us with very harrowing stories and entreated us to carry on with this work. "Don’t give up, please, you MUST keep on going!" a young woman called M entreated us. Like Hollie she had had encounters in her childhood with members of the judiciary. It appeared there had been not just one but several in the ring of which she had been a victim. I assured her this was not going to happen and that Hollie’s campaign was going to turn things about for all victims and survivors.
Eventually, after a couple of turns up and down the main streets of the town at very high decibels plus a respectfully silent perambulation around the nearby colleges, out of deference to the students who are deep in pre-exam revision at the moment, we joined the 5,000? strong crowd on the cricket-pitch to watch Oxford and Cambridge slug it out. Here again we were visible rather than vocal but due to the by then extremely powerful breeze we could only just manage to hold up the banner for a few seconds at a time. We distributed the last of the leaflets to the little clusters of students sitting round the edge of the pitch but most were already well into their beer by then. But no matter – it might only take one on-the-ball individual or a little group to ignite this issue into a bush fire around the university.
Returning to our encampment I passed by a gentleman seated on a small tractor who signalled that he knew who I was. He described himself as "a member of the alternative community" and declined to give me his name. I could refer to him as "the man on the tractor". The reason for his squeamishness was revealed when he proceeded to tell me that Oxford was one of the key centres of what we were campaigning about and mentioned some prominent names involved in "it" who, in the wake of illustrious careers spent in service to the law or government had become Fellows or even Principals of Oxford Colleges!
Now, I had come to Oxford today resolved not to name any names and certainly not one particular name, as I do not wish to be arrested by the Grampian Police and carted off to Aberdeen. I have a needy daughter and a cat as well as a campaign to look after. At the same time, I do not like child abuse in any shape or form and am determined to get Justice for Hollie. But I needn’t have worried as the gentleman himself knew The Name. Like the young survivor earlier in the afternoon, ‘Tractor Man’ urged us to continue with this work. "Carry on with what you’re doing and you’ll get there. These people are fundamentally cowards," he said knowingly.
Well, in my experience cowards can get nasty. In 21st century, the bulk of the world’s weaponry is in the hands of cowards who won’t come out and fight openly but who bomb cities from behind their desks in Washington, London or Brussels. And having engaged in this mindlessly destructive activity in the day, the main victims of which are women, children and the elderly, it is not hard to imagine what some of them might get up to at night, and on high days and holidays. Ugh.
Tomorrow Sunday 27th May is the London Race to End Child Abuse in Highbury Fields from 10 am, to raise money for the annual Rally in Trafalgar Square which will be 29th September this year.
Next Saturday 2nd June we’ll be in Shrewsbury and Bath is already lined up for July, with possibly another couple of towns in between, if we can manage. HDJ would love to hear if any others are going to contribute to this Summer of Action for Hollie and do something in your own local area? _Please let us know and we will help provide you with what you need by way of visual aids, etc.
Many thanks to yesterday’s team in Oxford, a brilliant day in all senses of the word.