Friary’s intentions are certainly disgraceful. Introducing sexually explicit language of this kind towards a woman of any age whom you hardly know is contemptible, but doubly so in the case of a 15 year old. It is also hypocritical since he would never have become a councillor in a borough such as Southwark without paying lip service to the ultra feminist agenda on the 'objectification' of women, which is now clear he never believed in. Friary boasted in his blog that 'it is the case that we (have to) behave to a higher standard as we have a representative role every minute of every day whether we like it or not, it goes with the territory'. So he has spectacularly failed to meet the standards he set for himself. Friary would also have remained silent when New Labour introduced the oppressive and unnecessary laws which ensnared him.
In the current paranoia over paedophiles it is easy to grasp why the overwhelming majority of Daily Mail readers commenting on this individual were disgusted by his behaviour and considered he had got his just desserts. However, they should think again as this case has serious implications for the fairness of British justice and moreover illustrates the dangers when paranoia and hysteria replace sound judgment, fairness and common sense. It has always been a principle of British justice that the sentence should fit the crime. This most certainly has not happened here, nor is this the first instance that male notion's of sexual attraction has resulted in serious travesties of justice.
The first thing that is unacceptable about this case is that no child was involved. The person with whom Friary was communicating was an adult male blackmailer. Friary pleaded guilty to the charge, presumably because he was advised that he would receive a substantially higher sentence if found guilty after a trial. However, this decision appears shortsighted as, in cases such as this, it should be for the prosecution to produce the child alleged to have been 'groomed'. As one blogger put it 'what really worries me about this case is that when the police do these stings, there are certain legal limits on what they can do (e.g. never claim to be legal age, don't bring up sex first.). But I wouldn't expect an extortionist to operate with any semblance of fairness whatsoever'. In fact we can safely assume that the blackmailer would have used far more explicit language to entice his victim than would a real life 15 year old.
Let us imagine now what would have happened had Friary been communicating with a genuine fifteen year old. He claimed that he wanted to be a 'father figure' to the girl which suggests that he did not try to conceal his age. In real life it is difficult to imagine that any teenage girl would want to enter into intimate conversations with an overweight fifty something male, particularly one making crude sexual advances. They would find such an individual seriously creepy, and immediately terminate the 'relationship' once the true facts became known. If Friary had concealed his age he would quickly have been found out by his ignorance of teen jargon and culture.
So the threat to teenagers from online sexual predators is greatly exaggerated. This is not to say that many teenagers do not receive unwelcome online communications from these sex pests, but they should have no difficulty in discovering what they are about and rebuff their advances. Unfortunately, it is the case that some men importune women for sexual favours on minimal acquaintance. Teenage girls need to develop the skill to deal with these predators as early as possible. Attempting to keep them sheltered through laws on 'grooming' does nothing to assist this process.
The blackmailer knew his business when he impersonated a fifteen year old girl. If he had pretended to be a nine year old, that is a genuine child, it is extremely unlikely that Friary would have made any attempt to strike up a relationship, since he was looking for a 'hot' and 'sexy' adolescent girl. The blackmailer knew that such men vastly outnumber real paedophiles, thus making a successful sting considerably more likely. The police do the same. Those men caught on the ITV programme To Catch A Paedophile had all been 'grooming' police officers masquerading as mid teen girls. It is worth remembering that many European counties have an age of consent lower than sixteen.
The two comments in quotations at the top of this post are from Daily Mail readers. It is worth assessing whether Friary is indeed a paedophile. The International Classification of Diseases(ICD) defines pedophilia as a 'disorder of adult personality and behaviour in which there is a sexual preference for children of prepubertal or early pubertal age.' It is clear that the girl whom Friary visualised was above this age so by definition he is not a paedophile. But such is the hysteria surrounding this issue, many people have been brainwashed into thinking that it must be right for men attracted to fifteen year olds to be publicly branded as paedophiles. In fact, let’s face it, all men are likely to be attracted to good looking fifteen year olds - it is perfectly natural. So some of the more deranged male commentators on this subject should be a little more careful, since turkeys should never vote for Christmas. If he is not a paedophile, then is Friary a pervert? Since it is natural for men to be attracted to adult women over the age of puberty Friary cannot be a pervert either. Fifteen year old girls can be very attractive, and like it or not, since they are over the age of puberty, they are biologically adult. Nevertheless, despite all this, Friary was certainly a delusional chancer and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.