Friday, February 20, 2009

Daily Mail’s Jan Moir Wants Due Process Respected By Parents

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for influential Jan Moir’s full column.

It is mainly about UK cases of parents not respecting the process, but the Knox campaign also gets a mention.

When Amanda Knox was arrested in Italy in connection with the murder of Meredith Kercher, her family began an incantation of her innocence and a blaring defence of her character that continues to this day

The defense PR campaign here seems to be unique in recent United States legal history. Also TV networks paying out very big bucks for exclusives with defendants’ relatives, as was just reported about ABC, seems something of a first here.

Typically the situation is that it is the victim and their relatives who get all the attention. Often on steroids. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Jan Moir is surprised.

The name of the victim here is Meredith, of course.


I have a great deal of sympathy for the plight of both Meredith’s parents and Knox’s parents.  FOAK is way off target, no question, but I think many of these people sympathize more with their pocketbook than they do with Amanda.  I would like to think I would stand by my kids the way the Knoxs have.  If Amanda is playing them the way she appears to be playing everyone else…

Posted by Arnold_Layne on 02/20/09 at 10:03 PM | #

For the PR campaign to be considered effective, presumably it needs to resonate in Italy and actually help Amanda in some way - other than falsely buoying her up and making her unready for the onslaught from the Sollecito team and possibly Guede that we suspect is to come.

We’ve always thought the best possible defense is the one that she and the lawyers put on in front of the judges and the jury. She did not look very ready for tough questions last saturday, and her two interventions were reported in a somewhat amused and sarcastic way.

Amanda Knox’s own lawyers were critical of the campaign a week or two ago. Some commenters think the lawyers may want her to show more gravitas, though some think they might want her to show a more carefree side.  Hard to know. It might be in Amanda’s own best interests to get serious and focussed, and the campaign might be distracting her there.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/20/09 at 10:38 PM | #

This is an interesting question: do you stand primarily by your kids or the principle. As a child, I recall my mother saying that she would be on my side no matter what happened. I said “what if I’d murdered someone” and I was really shocked when my mother said yes without a second thought. I didn’t get it and didn’t agree with it then. I was more clear-minded then. As I got older, things became more complicated as I learnt that this is definitely neither a simple nor a fair world. I can’t really know what I would do if it was my kid in prison accused of murder. It is much easier for me to imagine doing something like getting them to the shop they’d stolen something from to take it back.

I suppose it is fair to say that Amanda’s guilt has not been proven clearly so it is fair enough for her parents to give her the benefit of the doubt. However, I agree with Moir when she writes: “until verdicts are reached it would be more fitting if parents could tiptoe down the path between loyalty and truth with a little more tact and respect.”

Posted by bluebird002 on 02/21/09 at 12:54 AM | #

It cannot be easy to be a parent having to face the truth of what a child has done. But there is a vast chasm between standing by a child who has done wrong and actively trying to cover up the crime or prevent any consequences.

In England a mother has just been convicted of covering up evidence of her 16 year old gang member son having been the one who shot an eleven year old through the head. He was aiming for a rival gang and missed. More irritated than concerned at hitting the child he just took aim again at the rival. That woman’s actions made her an accomplice to murder, if not in law then in common morality. She crossed that line without hesitation. No attempt was made to have that child face his responsibility. He in turn is on tape boasting of how he is untouchable and the police can find no evidence. That cushioning layer of unquestioning loyalty no-matter what contributed to the ease with which the crime was committed, the lack of morality, the absence of any restraint and the belief that he could just carry on and do it again.

The Knox family perhaps had some justification for feeling that their daughter had become vilified in the press. Defending their daughter against what were still only allegations and taking issue with media distortions was quite legitimate. But they have gone much further: trying to use a media campaign to vilify the investigators and to libel them, to try and silence any objective investigation and most of all to try and use political pressure to circumvent the legal process to free their daughter.

They lept over that chasm spouting praise for their daughter and family with as little regard for the victim and her family, for truth and for justice as did that gang mother. Curt Knox and his paid PR machine has moved from correcting untruths to constantly spouting his own; about evidence, about witnesses and even with snide innuendo about the victim herself.

Ultimately, both sets of parents will have to reflect that perhaps that attitude contributed to their offspring’s belief that they could do anything to anyone, anywhere, and just walk away afterwards and put it down to bad luck.

As for the Knox PR machine, it is doomed to failure. The line ‘‘held without charge for months’’ naturally evokes sympathy whatever the justification from a painfully slow Italian legal system. But that time is past. An open and exhaustive trial is underway and the evidence will be examined in detail.

That bankrupting PR bill would perhaps be better spent on supporting their daughter in a different way. Yes, in loving their daughter no matter what. But in supporting and encouraging her to face that shadow that stands at her shoulder. To reveal the truth whatever that truth may be and not to flinch at the consequences. That is the only path that can allow their daughter some measure of worth and decency in the long run. Wherever she runs, that shadow will still be there, always quietly asking a question and trying to run from it may just drive her mad.

Posted by Faustus on 02/21/09 at 11:41 AM | #

We must also remember that Raffaele’s family are under investigation for trying to use political connections to get the 2 top police investigators on the case removed. His aunt Sara also tried to to use her connections to get the then Minister of Justice to intervene because the trail in Perugia was ‘going the wrong way’.

Both sets of parents know that AK and RS are in jail because they gave several and conflicting accounts of events and claimed that they can’t remember where they both were because they smoke pot. These accounts would not be considered credible under ANY system of justice. The parents have had 15 months to explain this to their children.

Posted by Kevin on 02/21/09 at 05:22 PM | #

I think all the comments above are right on target.  A question to which I would love to know the answer is whether the Knoxes (Knoxen?) dreamed up the whole slander campaign or whether some “helpful” people proposed to do it “for a small fee” and took advantage of their sitch.  If the latter case, FOAK them.

Posted by Arnold_Layne on 02/21/09 at 05:39 PM | #

Yes, the Knoxes and Amanda’s legal team did distance themselves from the FOAK campaign, at least. I could be cynical about that though.

Posted by bluebird002 on 02/22/09 at 05:05 AM | #

Bluebird002 “Yes, the Knoxes and Amanda’s legal team did distance themselves from the FOAK campaign, at least. I could be cynical about that though.”

It was pretty genuine from all that we hear. There was some real tension growing up there.

And I offer you a quick example of how the campaign backfired, and has already come to hurt the legal team and what they are trying to achieve for Amanda Knox in the court-room: Sollecito getting up on the first evidence day at trial, and saying in Italian to, in effect, all of Italy that he had only just met that girl. Hinting she’s radioactive, in effect.

The interests of AKs team seem to be best met with zero degrees of separation between AK and RS. The interests of RSs now seem to be best met with a zillion degrees of separation between AK and RS.

For this reason, I am wondering if Curt Mellas and Edda Knox have already fired the hapless David Marriott and asked the rest of the FOA to please go away. Heavey seems to be gone and maybe Ciolino. In fact the only place any of the FOA appear to be surfacing now? On the toxic defense blogs. Not too many minds to be won over hang out over there!

In fact, perhaps not too many minds, period.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/22/09 at 06:04 PM | #

Arnold: “A question to which I would love to know the answer is whether the Knoxes (Knoxen?) dreamed up the whole slander campaign or whether some “helpful” people proposed to do it “for a small fee” and took advantage of their sitch.”

Yes Arnold, you often zoom in on some of the most interesting questions here. This is the “did they jump or were they pushed” question that might make for some great doctorate theses in sociology.

As you already hint, the true answer is probably; a bit of both. We could imagine removing one key player from the equation and a vastly more effective strategy emerging back then.

The evil-Mignini meme has been one of the great red-herrings not just of this case but of this century. Even just a few hours of checking in Italy would have shown them that this player rather justifiably had a pineapple put up his tail, and has been obsessional about trying to to hide that ever since.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/22/09 at 07:50 PM | #

Faustus, it is indeed quite a shocker to see some wild and dishonest put-downs now surfacing of Meredith herself. Whether they are scripted or rehearsed or co-ordinated is something that we are checking out.

And yes, it does seem like AK could use use some kindly talking-down right about now. Because of the reasons you suggest, and because it would seem the prerequisite of a smart defense. She runs the real risk of a meltdown otherwise, either during her own cross-examination or during the testimony from Guede and Sollecito. Her lawyers seem like her best friends here. The very best faces on her side.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/22/09 at 08:49 PM | #

Peter - no, a fee need not be required based upon their historical behavior and demonstrated “chump level” when given marching orders for any task. It takes a true professional sleezeball to orchestrate and inspire such a following and darn it anyhow where IS that money going to come from? (oh, I forgot about let’s see, loyalties, free drinks and headsets, peanuts & air fare!!)

It’s my opinion the Knox PR campaign does not have to look beyond their own finite arena to initiate a “smear campaign” - that’s not a very tall order for them.

Why their behavior and attitude on some recent posts I saw TRULY REQUIRED deleting, none similar to those administered by the very colorful Ms. Candace Dempsey.  All are evidence enough to me of just how inconsiderate and over the top this camp is.

Reading about their behavior and watching them on the tube, oh and plus seeing first hand - like at the FOA fundraiser event at Salty’s - these people will stop at NOTHING to justify their cause - to the point it is spooky. They are a very troubled camp and I put nothing beyond their willingness to make a point.

And no, it is not alright in my book to protect a criminal - yours, mine or ours.  Tell them you love them and nothing will ever change that BUT there is a difference between supporting the person and supporting their behavior. 

If a person is held for trial for murder chances are there is a grave amount of evidence and it would only be cruel to lead your child on to think everything will be okay.  If it turns out to be a not guilty case, hey great - you can’t be held for “not believing me” - you did your best to demonstrate your love in the best way you know how, however, what’s it going to be like when everyone around is smiling and saying “oh, you’ll be fine, honey” when frankly it’s not.  Who will the child believe and trust for the rest of their cell ridden days??

Warm regards this snowy day in Whistler, BC!

Posted by Professor Snape on 02/23/09 at 01:20 AM | #
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