BBC News and Presumed Innocence

Apr 26th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

A man has been arrested after a goalkeeper was allegedly punched during a League Two football match.”
BBC News – Arrest after Bury goalkeeper assault

This is careful language taken to an absurd point. Look at this picture:

The goalie has been punched. He has not been allegedly punched, he has been punched. Now, it’s necessary to presume the innocence of the person pictured punching him because that’s how the law works. He might turn out not to be guilty, from a strict legal point of view. There are all kinds of reasons why he might not, officially, have punched the goalkeeper.

But the goalie has been punched all the same. It’s not an allegation, it’s a fact, which doesn’t require that somebody has been found guilty. Just as a “Not Guilty” verdict in a trial doesn’t actually change whether somebody has been raped, nor should this.

I just don’t understand the BBC’s choice of language – no criminal conviction is required in order to confirm that a punch took place, so how is this one “alleged”?

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