‘You could argue troubled people seek a place where their pain finds sympathy. But you wouldn’t extend that charity to Donald Trump when he suggested he was Charlottesville’s real victim.’ Photograph: UPI/Barcroft

Two months after the New York Times’s first story about Harvey Weinstein, a pattern has been established. A woman steps forward to claim that she has been the victim of sexual harassment. Almost immediately, the accused – or a man speaking on his behalf – responds with talk of a witch-hunt. Last week it was the turn of Australian TV presenter Don Burke to deny claims that he is a sexual predator and to say he is being unfairly targeted.

The week before, the singer Morrissey, in his now-familiar role as professional provocateur, had his say on the sexual abuse story, asserting that “anyone who ever said ‘I like you’ to someone else is suddenly being charged with sexual harassment”. In recent days the Tory MP Sir Roger Gale also talked of a “witch-hunt” while Jeremy Clarkson warned darkly of “innocent men forced to live like hermits”. Now deputy prime minister Damian Green has been defended by his friend and fellow MP Crispin Blunt, along with the Daily Mail, which is claiming the first minister of state is the victim of a “cynical vendetta” being waged by the police. Meanwhile in the US, Jerry Moore, brother of Roy, the Republican Alabama senate candidate accused of abusing underage girls, claimed his sibling was being persecuted “like Jesus”.

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