An unfunny old world

mark pearson

                    NIGHTMARE AT WATERLOO: Mark Pearson was correctly cleared of assault


Picture this: You are on the news desk and the phone rings. At the other end is a woman who claims to have been ‘penetratively assaulted’ in full view of a throng of commuters on a packed Waterloo station concourse. You will be highly sceptical given the very public location. But, fair enough, you might continue a conversation rather than muttering the time honoured  "Why do I always get the nutter”. But once it is established by cctv that no clothes were removed and that the whole episode lasted half of one second, you would not give the claim another moment’s thought

Yet when this 60-something ‘famous, award-winning actress’ informed not the news desk but transport police at Waterloo station the case was taken seriously. Even when the video footage showed that by comparison ‘wham bang, thank you ma’am’ is a compliment for patience and consideration in the boudoir. Thus this extraordinary case progressed to the wretched Crown Prosecution Service with the result that a year later Mark Pearson, a 51-year-old artist, was cleared at Blackfriars Crown Court of attacking his accuser. That’s 12 Kafkaesque months of stress and public scrutiny for Mr Pearson while the system ground on at God knows what expense to the taxpayer.

So let’s have the facts, and you might be better not reading this if you suffer from high blood pressure: This woman claimed Mr Pearson digitally penetrated her, violating her inside her underwear for several seconds in the middle of the station. And despite video evidence showing her ‘assailant’ had a newspaper in one hand and was holding the strap of his backpack in the other, he was tracked down using his Oyster card and charged. Even though he was not in range of this woman’s body, let alone her genitals, for more than the half a second as proved by the cameras. Next, the accuser says she screamed but nobody helped her – a claim conclusively disproved by cctv. Indeed Mr Pearson did not break stride, discrediting her other claim that he smashed into her shoulder. And finally she could not pick him out in a subsequent parade.

What arrogance! This case should never have been considered for more than a few minutes

So by now, you must realise there is absolutely no case to answer and that in this instance “we have got the nutter”. Not so the CPS, which proceeds. Not only proceeds but when the hapless Mr Pearson has his day in court it transpires that cctv footage supplied by the CPS had been digitally altered. Mark Bagshaw, the defence solicitor, said: "The cctv was served on us in a way in which it had been altered. The (time) when my client walked past the alleged victim had been slowed down so it looked like he had more time to commit the alleged actions than he in reality did have."

The whole affair stinks. But there is worse: afterwards the head of the CPS Alison Saunders said: "There was sufficient evidence for this case to proceed to court and progress to trial. We respect the decision of the jury." 

We respect the decision of the jury! Bloody hell, what absolute arrogance. How about: “This case should never have been considered for more than a few minutes and we regret putting Mr Pearson through yet another absolute goatfuck by the CPS. We regret that during that time his name was very much in the public domain and that he suffered from stress with this hanging over him. We also regret that the way this works is, in effect, we decide that this man is guilty and then he has to prove himself innocent. And of course that the woman who brought the complaint remains happily anonymous because that’s the way the cookie crumbles guys!”

The woman still has not been named, nor one assumes has she been asked to foot the bill for the prosecution. Well, I say not been named but UK jurisdiction does not apply elsewhere and  at least one US website has already done so. Immediately she has wisely taken down her Twitter account. But ‘famous and award-winning’? Not in the Frame house…

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre