Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Alleged allegations


Do journalists even think about where they’re putting the word “alleged” as an incantation to ward off accusations that they might be making unproven accusations of criminality? Here’s a paragraph from today’s Guardian:

Scotland Yard has launched a criminal investigation into claims a child was killed by a paedophile ring alleged to have high-level connections to the establishment.

The Guardian understands the claim involves the alleged killing of a child during the alleged activities carried out by members of the ring.

There was an alleged killing during alleged activities. Shouldn’t that be “alleged members of the alleged ring”? If it turns out the members didn’t actually carry out any activities, then they wouldn’t really constitute a “ring”, would they? Conversely, if this was a “paedophile ring”, as the first sentence asserts, implicit in that is that there were activities, including paedophile activities, so why are they referred to as “alleged activities”? Perhaps “alleged child”, if it’s not yet clear if this particular crime has any basis in reality.

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