Juliet Dunlop: Knox needs to know she’s not victim

STV presenter Juliet Dunlop. Picture: Ian Rutherford
STV presenter Juliet Dunlop. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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WHEN Amanda Knox touched down on American soil 18 months ago, her homecoming was a tearful celebration. Dramatically cleared of the murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher, Knox had been set free after spending four years in an Italian jail.

She’d had her reputation picked apart in a high-profile trial, every aspect of her character dissected in the press.

The media spotlight was now trained on her newly innocent face. She had the story that everyone wanted. Then she disappeared. Knox announced that she wanted to rebuild her life; to live as normally and as quietly as possible. And by all accounts, that is what she has done, in a third floor flat above a Seattle takeaway.

However, Knox has now decided that she is ready to tell her story. While she’d been rebuilding her life, she had also been working on, rather predictably, a tell-all book. Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir, is, as the title suggests, her version of events. It describes how Knox, an innocent abroad, found herself on trial for murder, only to be freed on appeal along with her former boyfriend.

Throughout the book, she maintains her innocence and claims to be as determined as the police – and Meredith Kercher’s family – to get to the truth of what happened. The Kerchers have said they have no interest in the book; that the real victim is their daughter, but other people are interested and Knox has been paid a reported $4 million (£2.6 million) for the memoir. It would appear that she has decided that a reasonable amount of time has passed, that memories have dimmed – but not too much – and she can justify making a lot of money.

Her timing has been masterful. In March, Italy’s highest criminal court overturned her acquittal and Knox now faces the prospect of a retrial. What better time to remind people that you are an innocent victim, that Italian justice is not fair? And where better to do it than on prime time television?

This week, in an interview planned to coincide with the publication of her book, Knox spoke frankly about her experience. Eyes brimming with barely contained tears, she came across as articulate, determined and well-rehearsed. There was an obligatory appeal for “closure” and a macabre request that Meredith Kercher’s parents take her to see their murdered daughter’s grave.

Knox is also clearly angry about the way she’s been treated and wants to be “reconsidered as a person”. Answering claims made during her trial that she was a “she-devil” and “heartless manipulator” Knox told a close-up Diane Sawyer and even closer camera lens: “I mean, it’s one thing to be called certain things in the media, it’s another to be sitting in a courtroom fighting for your life, while people are calling you a devil. For all intents and purposes, I was a murderer whether I was or not.”

And that was the problem with Knox. She fitted the bill. The day after she discovered her flatmate’s bloodied, partially clothed body, she was filmed kissing her boyfriend at the murder scene. Then there was the other strange behaviour – the face pulling and (disputed) cartwheels at the police station – the fluid alibi and apparent lack of empathy. Knox now describes her actions as the behaviour of a “tone-deaf girl in a trauma”. She has also been direct about the drugs and the much-reported casual sex, saying that she was simply a young woman trying to “find” herself.

And that is the problem with Amanda Knox’s book and the first of what is likely to be a string of interviews. She has turned Meredith Kercher’s dreadful murder into a story that is all about her; how she was treated; how she reacted; what she thought; how she coped.

Knox has undoubtedly been through an ordeal, and is entitled to tell, if perhaps not sell her story, but she has made the mistake of portraying herself as the real victim. She has compared her experience to crawling through a “field of barbed wire” but what about the pain the Kerchers are still living with? As Amanda Knox embarks on an ill-judged, highly profitable publicity tour, she would do well to remember that. Reliving the past so publicly is unlikely to provide “closure” for her or the Kerchers.