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Anorak | Adam Johnson: underage sex, a gun and the tabloids’ invitation to bury a footballer

Adam Johnson: underage sex, a gun and the tabloids’ invitation to bury a footballer

by | 3rd, March 2015

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Adam Johnson has been arrested for “SUSPICION OF HAVING SEX WITH A GIRL OF 15′. It’s the Sun’s big news story. It’s also the front-page story in the Daily Star, Daily Express, and Daily Mirror.

It the lead sports story on the back page of the Express and Mail :

 

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Adam Johnson is 27. The girl he allegedly had a sexual relationship with is below the age of consent. But the key part of the story, the bit that makes it travel, is that Adam Johnson plays football for Sunderland in the Premier League. He has played for England, too, and Manchester City. So. He’s front-page news. And five yeah, FIVE plolice cars SWOOPED” (Sun) on his “six-bedroom mansion”.

Who do they think he is, Cliff Richard?

Sunderland have moved quickly to suspend their employee. Is that fair? Or is it just what Sunderland think will play out well with the elite and the public?

It’s worthwhile to look at the law on sex. In England and Wales, the age of sexual consent for women has been set at 16 since 1885, when campaigners fought to raise it from 13 to prevent child prostitution. Key to promoting that law change was the journalist William Thomas Stead. He wrote lurid stories about “The Violation of the Virgins” and “The Confessions of a Brothel Keeper”. Readers lapped them up. Sales of his London newspaper skyrocketed. He helped create the style that would become the tabloid way.

Make it big. Make it loud. Give them a story no-one can ignore.

In 2010, the Chartered Institute of Journalists honoured the man billed as Britain’s first investigative journalist:

William Thomas Stead was acknowledged as Britain’s leading campaigning and investigative journalist in the late 1800s, particularly for his work in exposing the white-slave trade and child sex abuse in London’s brothels by the nation’s upper classes. This resulted in the passing of the Criminal Amendment Act which raised the age of consent from 13 to 16.

As part of his campaign, Stead “bought” a chimney sweep’s 13-year-old daughter (Eliza Armstrong) for £5 which earned him a three-month prison sentence. He continued to edit the Pall Mall Gazette (which later merged into the Evening Standard) from his prison cell.

Journalism matters. Words can shape your views and get things changed. Popular journalism can be dirty, messy and gutteral. And it is powerful. And we love it. Because without the ability to stir things up, make mistakes and dig deep into everyday stories, criminals, banks and matters the elite would rather you ignored there is no freedom of speech.

But sometimes, the innocent get the tabloid treatment.

Back to sex now. But what is sex?

In England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales we have to be 16 or older to have homosexual (gay) or heterosexual (straight) sex. ‘Sex’ means penetrative sex, oral sex or masturbating together.

What happens if you have underage sex?

The law sees it as sexual assault it’s a criminal offence. This is because in the eyes of the law we are unable to give informed consent to sex when still a child.

A boy/man who has sex with a girl under 16 is breaking the law. Even if she agrees.

If she is 13-15, the boy/man could go to prison for two years.

If she is under 13 he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Posted: 3rd, March 2015 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink