Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Chips (On The Shoulder) With Everything

Clare Irby with, we assume, her knickers on.

Clare Irby with her clothes on

From the Express (but you could take your pick of other outlets):

A SOCIALITE accused of having a drunken romp with a stranger on a plane wept tears of joy yesterday as she was acquitted.

[…]

It was claimed that Miss Irby, who had been on holiday in Goa, drank large amounts of red wine, allowed [fellow passenger Daniel] Melia to fondle her breasts and stripped to her knickers. … [she] was accused of leaving her two-year-old son alone and crying while she kissed and caressed Melia.

One passenger claimed Miss Irby told Melia she was feeling more relaxed than usual because of “all the opium I’ve been taking”.

… witnesses including four air stewardesses and the captain of the flight from Bangalore, said Miss Irby and Melia were “loud and disruptive” during the flight.

… Miss Irby was said to have continued to demand “more and more” wine from the crew. She allegedly called them over every 10 minutes, was rude and insulting and even threw a dirty nappy onto the seat behind her.

I’ll bet that was a fun trip.

There are two things about this story that I find somewhat depressing. First, the alleged behaviour, about which plenty of condemnations have already been made and which I agree with.

The second troubling aspect, though, is the reaction to her acquittal. Now it seems the result of the trial hinged on whether she was still drunk by the time the aircraft entered UK airspace.

Judge John Denniss told the jurors they had to decide whether Miss Irby had been drunk on an aircraft while in the “territorial jurisdiction” of the UK. This started about 20 minutes before the 11-hour flight landed at Heathrow at about 5pm, he said.

In the light of medical testimony and the flight schedule, the jury appears to have decided that she was not.

Yet that’s not what happened according to the wisdom of the callers to Jeremy Vine’s show this lunchtime, as well as various online comments. Miss Irby, it is implied, got off because she had status / money / was an heiress. Short of bribing the jury or the judge, I’m not sure how those factors had any bearing on the jury. (OK, so Miss Irby may have had a good lawyer … but that doesn’t negate the validity of the legal arguments put forward).

People are entitled to their bitter and spiteful views, of course. Nor am I going to excuse Miss Irby’s behaviour – indeed I am as disappointed as anyone that she will not face punishment if what allegedly happened did happen, but try this: what if the accused had been of an ethnic minority? Would we be hearing speculation that she only got off because she was black? Of course, not; at least not much beyond the BNP message boards.

My point is this: Clare Irby was born an heiress, so why is it OK to let rip with prejudice against class or money when most decent people wouldn’t dream of doing so in reference to race, or some other characteristic bequeath by the circumstances of their birth?

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One response to “Chips (On The Shoulder) With Everything

  1. Peter Arronsen September 17, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    That’s frightening, Neil, I totally agree with you!

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