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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Language of reporting - Darwin fraud

I was shocked and amazed to hear this morning that Anne Darwin had received a longer custodial sentence than her husband for her part in the 'canoeing accident fraud saga'.

Earlier in the week Em at Adjust the Sails commented on the harsher treatment and increased criticism Anne was being subjected to, which is unfortunately unsurprising since women are consistently subject to harsher judgements and stronger sentencing in criminal trials - something likely to do with the pure, chaste and caring image of women so keenly promoted in society.

While watching the breakfast news this morning a commentator described Anne as a 'demon', while sat in front of huge images of her walking to court. Not one image of John was shown during this whole report.

There is no doubt that the plot Anne and John hatched is criminal, and I am at a loss as to how they could openly lie to their sons for 5 years about John's death - but it would seem they share at least equal blame. In fact, part of Anne's defense was of spousal coercion - in that her husband forced her into lying to their sons. Perhaps this claim is a desperate lie of a condemned woman or perhaps it's true. Worse crimes have been committed as a result of familial pressure.

On researching the sentences awarded to Anne and John this morning I found that the differences in their sentences is 3 months - Anne receiving 6 1/2 years, John receiving 6 years 3 months. John admitted his deception ahead of the trail which I assume knocked 3 months off his sentence, whereas Anne pleaded not guilty.

While the sentencing may now appear to be justified, the vilification in the media of Anne alone is not.

Guardian coverage
BBC coverage