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For Sale

I’m still a little baffled as to why drug cheat cyclist Lance Armstrong has suddenly decided to come clean. Only the most naive could have believed that he could have won the Tour de France so many times without using performance enhancing drugs. I made that point for years – but only in private. If I had said the same thing in a public forum, on this website for instance, there’s a good chance Armstrong and his backers would have ruined my life. That to me was Armstrong’s real crime: he tried to destroy those who dared to tell the truth. He didn’t just deny he was drug cheat or say, “so prove it and if you can’t, I’ll sue”. No, he was proactive and highly aggressive when it came to going after his critics. There are plenty of people who have won substantial libel settlements in the British courts and then years later it is come out that what was written was actually true. As a journalist I knew there was a big difference between having evidence that something was true and that evidence not being quite strong enough to prove beyond a doubt in court that something was true. There are no certainties in life and to go before a British civil court is a massive financial gamble. I think some wit said that appealing a civil decision is simply to throw the dice a second time. The sleazier British tabloids thrive on the flip side of that coin – the poor working Joes and Josephines that they libel for the sake of their drivel stories can’t afford to sue. Anyway, the civil and criminal courts both depend on witnesses if they are going to function. Silence the witnesses and the whole process falls apart. I learned a long time ago never to confuse the Law with Justice. And what happens to a person appearing in court depends on the size of their wallet. The Law, as is the case with decent healthcare, is a commodity with a price tag. The best most of us can hope for is never to need either.

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