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2 September 2023

Peter Wilby: an updated statement

By New Statesman

On 18 August it was reported that Peter Wilby, a former editor of the New Statesman, was convicted after he admitted viewing images of child sexual abuse. He was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The New Statesman staff and management had no knowledge of Wilby’s arrest or charges before they were reported on 18 August, and are shocked and appalled to learn of these horrifying crimes.  

Wilby, 78, was New Statesman editor from 1998 to 2005, and remained a contributor until 2022.

Update

The New Statesman has now completed an internal review of all articles related to child sexual abuse that were published during Wilby’s editorship, or subsequently contributed by Wilby as a writer.  

Approximately 19,000 articles were published during Wilby’s seven years as editor, of which 126 have a significant reference to child sexual abuse or paedophilia. Of those 126 articles, 12 contain comments or arguments that could reasonably be interpreted as either minimising the seriousness of child sexual abuse, or as questioning the integrity of victims, whistle-blowers, police or journalists investigating allegations of sexual abuse of children. Four of the 12 remained available on newstatesman.com as of 18 August, and they have now been taken down.  

Subsequent to his time as editor, Wilby contributed 659 columns or pieces to the New Statesman from 2006 to 2022, of which 37 contain a significant reference to child sexual abuse or paedophilia. Of those 37 articles, four contain arguments that the degree of public concern around child sexual abuse is out of proportion to the actual scope and scale of the horrendous crime. Those four articles have been taken down. 

Wilby’s author profile has been updated to include a link to this statement.