Intermediate word of the day: allegation

An allegation is a public statement saying that someone has done something wrong or illegal, even though this has not (yet) been proved. Allegations are often made against famous people or public officials, who might, for example, face allegations of fraud if someone publicly accuses them of getting money from someone by tricking them. Officials also often face allegations of corruption, when they are accused of accepting money in return for doing things for people.

Here are some other things people sometimes face allegations of:

  • The Portuguese footballer Ronaldo recently faced allegations of tax evasion. Spanish officials said he hadn’t been paying enough tax and hadn’t been honest with them about how much he’d earned.
  • Police officers sometimes face allegations of violence, especially after demonstrations, when demonstrators may be unhappy about heavy-handed policing and may claim they were beaten by the police.
  • Actors, pop stars, politicians and many other public figures may face allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, when women (and, sometimes, men) claim that they have been touched – or even forced to have sexagainst their will.
  • Organisations may face allegations of religious or political extremism and there may be calls for them to be banned and for their leaders to be prosecuted in court.

Once an allegations has been made against someone, sometimes other people then start coming forward with allegations of their own. The person at the centre of the allegations may well deny (or reject) all the allegations and threaten to sue unless the allegations are withdrawn. In other words, they say that unless the people who made the allegations in the first place publicly say that they weren’t actually true, they will to take them to court and try to get money from them. When newspapers make allegations about famous people, the famous people often get their lawyers to demand an apology. They’re very well aware of the fact that allegations can seriously damage someone’s reputation – and their career. And, of course, sometimes the allegations may be false!

Following allegations, the police may decide to launch an investigation and maybe even to prosecute so that everything can be heard in a court of law and the person can be judged. Once it goes to court, the person on trial will be formally accused of a crime and will hire a lawyer to defend them against these charges.

Cover the text. What do you remember?

  •  Say four things people sometimes face allegations of.
  • Say three other verbs that often go with allegations.
  • What might happen to someone facing serious allegations?
  • Why might you decide to withdraw your allegations against someone?
  • What happens if the police take the allegations seriously?

Related stories in the news

A few weeks ago, the first few allegations against the American film director Harvey Weinstein started coming out. This soon turned into a flood of allegations and so many women have now alleged that Weinstein raped them or touched them against their will that sooner or later he will surely face criminal charges. Following the Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, lots of other people have faced similar allegations. The actor Kevin Spacey, for example, is facing an allegation that he tried to force a teenage boy to have sex with him in the 1980s, an allegation he hasn’t exactly denied, but at the same time he hasn’t admitted that he did anything wrong either!

Here in Britain, lots of MPs – members of parliament – are facing similar accusations after a story came out about female members of staff in the Houses of Parliament setting up WhatsApp groups to share horror stories about various politicians. The Prime Minister is talking tough and promising to do do more to stop any abuse happening, but it’s hard to really feel that things will change that much.

In other news, some of Donald Trump’s closest political friends are facing allegations of lying about their connections with Russian politicians, allegations that the Kremlin denies, of course. Trump is, of course, also facing allegations of sexual abuse by several women too. And lots of other people in the film industry and facing allegations of not doing enough to respond to earlier complaints about people like Harvey Weinstein!


  • Can you think of any famous people or politicians who are facing allegations at the moment? What of? How do you feel about these allegations?
  • Can you think of any allegations against public figures that were withdrawn? Do you know why?
  • Has anyone you know ever faced any allegations? When? What happened?
  • Can you think of someone who has faced lots of allegations, but has never ended up in court? Why do you think that is?

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