My post ‘No Ordinary Methods’ detailed some of the practices and connections of George Carman – and how so many parts of his life and career touched on those who concealed the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal. I have more information concerning Carman’s network, so I’m writing this post for readers interested in how Carman came to be so powerful, who else assisted him and indeed how many people knew about his violent, abusive conduct towards many people but kept silent.
George Carman was a member of the Garrick, a club favoured by lawyers, actors, politicians, newspaper editors and High Court judges. Carman was friends with a fellow member of the Garrick, Sir Robin Day – they had been barristers together in the early 1950s. Sir Ronnie Waterhouse was also a member, as were a number of others who concealed wrongdoing in north Wales. Joshua Rozenberg the legal journalist and broadcaster was a regular at the Garrick in the 1990s – Rozenberg maintains that by then Carman had pretty much stopped visiting the Garrick.
The drinking holes, clubs and gambling dens in Manchester frequented by George Carman included the Embassy Club, where he drank with journalists.
His favourite watering holes in London included:
El Vinos – Carman was often seen at this Fleet Street favourite for lawyers and journos, accompanied by Mungo Fitzpatrick and James Crespi QC. Crespi managed to marry a ‘young nightclub hostess’ who left him after three weeks.
Dalys Wine Bar – this was opposite the Royal Courts of Justice and from the mid-80s was Carman’s regular starting point for a night out.
Wine Press – a regular haunt of Carman’s. He used to drink here with Paul Callan, a feature writer for the Mirror and Express.
Jimmy’z Bar, Sloane Avenue. Carman socialised here with his friend Christopher Moran, a property tycoon. Also with Aidan Barclay – the Chairman of Press Holdings, the owner of the Ritz, Carman’s client and friend.
Blondes, a Dover Street club – a popular haunt of sex workers and gangsters. Carman hung out here with George Best, as well as viscious criminal Frankie Fraser.
Carman was a regular at Le Rififi, Hay Hill, Mayfair. John Obertelli, the owner of Le Rififi, was a friend of Carman. Carman also frequented other ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ such as Bruton Suite, Toppers, Chaplins and L’Hirondelle.
In 1988 Carman visited Amsterdam with his son Dominic. George took the opportunity to tour the sex clubs.
Carman’s favourite casinos in London included Aspinalls, Curzon Street and the Playboy Club. He knew the Manchester casino located next to the Midland Hotel because in the 1970s Carman had applied for their licence on behalf of Cyril Stein, the Chairman of Ladbrookes.
At various stages in his career George Carman lived in Sale, Hale, Wilmslow, Altrincham (until 1980), Huntingdon, Evelyn Gardens Chelsea (1987-93), Wimbledon (both in Marryat Road and in Wimbledon Village) (1993 onwards).
Carman’s close colleagues in chambers will have known much of what he got up to. They included his junior counsel in London, Hugh Tomlinson, who lived in Islington -presumably near to two other junior barristers who had worked in Carman’s chambers, Tony Blair and Cherie Booth.
Frederic Reynold QC was Carman’s London chambers colleague for 29 yrs. Reynold specialises in employment law and has advised both the Equal Opportunities Commission and the BMA.
Fred Turner was a junior clerk in Carman’s chambers. Carman’s senior clerk when Carman was working both in Manchester and London was Ronnie Lynch- he had homes in Weybridge and Salford and commuted between the two.
Another solicitor that Carman knew well was Fabian Williams of James Chapman and Co in Manchester – Williams sent many briefs to Carman and Carman was godfather to Williams’s son.
Carman worked as a Recorder at Knightsbridge Crown Court but resigned in Dec 1983 – so he’ll have been very well known there.
‘No Ordinary Methods’ named many of the high profile clients of Carman, but there were more besides.
After he successfully defended Jeremy Thorpe, Carman acted for the engineering company William Press after a dawn raid upon them by the Inland Revenue – shortly after this William Press became AMEC following a merger.
In 1986 Carman acted for the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, Peter Wright, after Arthur Scargill sued him for false imprisonment. Wright had Scargill’s activities monitored using officers from South Yorkshire. Carman won the case. Peter Wright may well have been an old buddy of Carman’s anyway, because Wright joined the Manchester Police in 1954 and by 1975 was a Chief Superintendent in the Greater Manchester Police. In 1979 Wright was Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and was in that role at the time of the Toxteth riots. He was Chief Constable of South Yorkshire 1983-90. So Wright was at the helm during the glorious days of South Yorkshire Police officers removing their numbers and covering their faces whilst they beat up striking miners at Orgreave as well as screwing up at Hillsborough and then falsifying statements to back up their untruthful version of events. Wright himself amended reports in an attempt to deflect blame away from the South Yorkshire Police even after the grim truth became known. But the only way was up for Peter Wright – he was President of ACPO, a member of the Parole Review Committee 1987-89 and after retirement an advisor to the MoD police 1991-94.
Carman acted for Joan Collins in 1986 and for Liz Hurley in 1996. He won damages from the Sun for Jason Connery and Stefanie Powers.
Carman won a case for M&S against Granada after they alleged that M&S were involved with the use of child labour.
He represented the Observer after Edwina Currie sued them – Richard Hartley QC appeared for Currie and Carman’s old friend Justice Drake presided. Currie won but it was observed after she published her diaries some years later that the information in them was sufficient for the Observer to have appealed the decision. They never did. Currie also admitted in her diaries that she and other Tories – as well as Thatcher – knew that Sir Peter Morrison, Thatcher’s aide, was molesting under-aged boys. Some of those boys were living in children’s homes in north Wales. Morrison was MP for Chester – not a million miles away from where Carman lived when he worked in Manchester.
Another case of Carman’s also saw him up against Richard Hartley QC with Justice Drake (Sir Maurice Drake) presiding – that was when Carman acted for the People after Mona Bauwens and David Mellor sued them. That case led to the end of David Mellor’s political career.
‘No Ordinary Methods’ explains why I suspect that Carman may have been throwing cases or doing undeclared deals behind closed doors – I explained that I suspected that something along these lines may have happened when Carman acted for the Guardian in 1997 after Jonathan Aitken sued them for libel. Although Aitken was supposedly thrashed at the hands of Carman, Aitken remained on remarkably good terms with him and escaped comparatively unscathed from both losing the libel case and being convicted of perjury. There were a few other aspects to the Aitken case as well. When Alan Rusbridger (the editor of the Guardian)heard that Aitken was going to sue, he stated that the Guardian needed to retain George Carman before Aitken did. Aitken’s side attempted to settle before Court – Lord Saatchi acting on behalf of Aitken had lunch with Rusbridger before the trial but obviously no settlement was thrashed out.
The judge who presided over Aitken’s libel case was Justice Oliver Popplewell. Popplewell ruled that the case should be tried by a judge without a jury. Carman took the decision to Appeal – the Appeal was heard by Tom Bingham, the Lord Chief Justice, who upheld Popplewell’s decision. Popplewell, Rusbridger and Carman were all members of the Garrick.
In 1975 Popplewell, in his capacity as a barrister, defended his 18 year old godson at his trial for credit card fraud – a young man called Stephen Fry. Popplewell and his wife had been friends with Fry’s parents for many years. The Garrick contains many actors as members. At one point Popplewell was Vice-Chair of the Parole Board.
In 1990 Carman acted for businessman Rolf Schild in a libel case against Express Newspapers. Carman lost against Robert Alexander QC who was representing the Express. Presiding judge William Mars-Jones upheld an Appeal against Carman. Nevertheless, Carman continued to enjoy good relations with Sir John Junor the editor of the Sunday Express and they had a very jolly lunch together not long afterwards.
Robert Alexander QC became a Tory peer and was Chair of the Bar Council 1985-86. He represented Jeffrey Archer in his libel case against the Star in 1987 – the case that the Star later took to appeal when new evidence emerged… Alexander retired from the Bar in 1989 and was Chair of Nat West bank 1989-99. He was Chair of JUSTICE, 1990-05 and was Chancellor of the University of Exeter, 1998-05.
William Mars-Jones grew up in north Wales and retained many connections there. He was President of UCNW (now known as Bangor University) whilst Gwynne the lobotomist and paedophiles’ friend was employed in the Student Health Centre. Mars-Jones was a member of the Garrick.
Carman won libel actions for Philip Oppenheimer and Norman Tebbit against David Bookbinder, the Labour leader of Derbyshire County Council.
Celebrity friends of Carman’s included David Tang – who was friends with Sarah Ferguson and Diana -and Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel (Carman was a regular at their dinner parties). Piers Morgan was an admirer of Carman.
Carman acted in many cases involving sport. Benetton were charged with interfering with the refuelling equipment on Formula One driver Michael Schumacher’s car before the German Grand Prix in July 1994 – a second Benetton car had gone up in flames. Benetton were also charged with a lesser offence involving cheating as well. Benetton Chairman Flavio Briatore hired Carman to defend the company and the driver when they were due to appear before a hearing of the World Motor Sports Council of the FIA in Paris. The day before the hearing in Sept 1997 Carman met with Max Moseley. Bernie Ecclestone, the Chairman of Formula One, was also present. Carman succeeded in getting the charges against Benetton dropped.
Carman appeared for the Mirror Group when Graham Souness sued the People after they published allegations that Souness had mistreated his wife and about his divorce settlement. Lord Gareth Williams QC represented Souness and Justice Morland presided. Williams and Morland were old pals of Carman. Souness won, although damages were reduced on appeal.
Many of the cases that Carman lost resulted in people being accused of deeply unpleasant things being exonerated – as in the cases of Gordon Anglesea and Peter Adamson. Carman lost when he represented the Mail after they published allegations of sexual abuse involving Indian boys by former charity head Joe Homan. He lost when he represented the Mirror Group over three articles that they published concerning Dr Doolittle aka Dr Anthony Percy, after it was alleged that he failed to attend a seriously injured patient. Carman also lost for the Sunday Express regarding their allegations concerning Peter Bottomley sharing a platform with Martin McGuiness.
In 1996 Carman represented cricketer Imran Khan after Khan was sued by Ian Botham and Allan Lamb. Botham and Lamb were represented by Charles Gray QC and Justice French presided. Carman won the case despite the production in Court of a letter of apology to Botham written by Kahn after the incident concerned.
Carman represented the Sun in 1999 when Bruce Grobbelaar sued them after they accused him of match-fixing. Grobbelaar was represented by a man well acquainted with Carman, Richard Hartley QC. Justice Gray presided. Carman lost the case. After Carman died, the Sun appealed and won.
In 1999 the News Of The World alleged that Lawrence Dallaglio dealt in coke and ecstasy during the 1997 Lions tour of South Africa. Dallaglio resigned as captain and pulled out of a planned Australian tour. Twenty four hours later he held a press conference, denying any drug taking in 1997. The RFU appointed a panel to examine the allegations. The Chair was Sir John Kay, a judge known to Carman – also the judge who issued a High Court injunction against me upon the affidavits of two Gwynedd social workers who both perjured themselves. One had never met me, one had met me at most three times. The injunction was granted because I had written too many letters of complaint about Gwynedd Social Services, Gwynedd Health Authority and Clwyd Health Authority re the misconduct of their mental health staff.
After Sir John Kay’s panel considered Dallaglio’s case, charges were laid against Dallaglio, who then met with Carman. The tribunal was due to be Chaired by retired High Court judge Oliver Popplewell – who had presided over Jonathan Aitken’s libel case in which Carman had acted for the Guardian and won. Carman persuaded the prosecutor Richard Lissack QC to drop the drugs charges in a ‘behind the scenes’ deal – Carman then got Dallaglio off the charge of bringing the game into disrepute.
Charles Kennedy once asked Carman at a party if he’d like to be a Lib Dem peer – Kennedy asked Carman to speak to Lord Razzall about it. Yet Carman never appeared on the Lib Dem peers list, although no reason was ever given.
A reader has sent me a link to an article that Carman’s son Dominic penned for the Guardian in Oct 2012, in which he explains his fears that his father may have covered-up for Jimmy Savile. Paul Connew the editor of the Sunday Mirror in 1994 maintained that at the time, the Sunday Mirror had ‘credible and convincing evidence’ that Savile had abused two women whilst they were in a children’s home years previously. Connew explained that the in-house lawyers at the Mirror Group plc didn’t dare risk publishing because they feared that Savile would sue them, using George Carman. Dominic explains that in 1992, Savile’s lawyers retained Carman ‘over a different matter’ – he does not say what. Although Carman had previously been very good mates with the Mirror Group and had acted for them himself many times, in Oct 1993 he acted against them – successfully – on behalf of Elton John, winning substantial damages. Dominic alleges that it was this that terrified the Mirror Group when they were faced with the decision as to whether to publish the Savile story.
Dominic has missed something here. By 1994, Maxwell was dead and David Montgomery had become Chief Exec of Mirror Group plc – Montgomery had been appointed in 2002. In his capacity as Chief Exec, Montgomery had purchased sizeable portions of the Independent and the Independent On Sunday. In 1994 Gordon Anglesea sued the Independent On Sunday – as well as Private Eye and HTV – for alleging that he had sexually abused boys in care in north Wales. Carman acted for the defence. Carman lost – as I explained in my post ‘Y Gwir Yn Y Byd – Additional Comments’, I really do believe that Carman threw that case. A matter of weeks later, one of the young men who gave evidence that he had been abused by Anglesea was found hanging from the stairwell of his block of flats in Wrexham. A verdict of suicide was returned. If one was going to hang oneself it would be more usual to do so in one’s own flat, not in the stairwell. In 1992 five witnesses to the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal were killed in an arson attack on a building after being invited to a party there. One survivor who publicly stated that witnesses were being murdered was found dead himself shortly afterwards. (For the full story regarding this mass murder, see post ‘The Silence Of The Welsh Lambs’). In 2016 Gordon Anglesea was imprisoned for the historical sexual abuse of boys in care in north Wales. HTV, Private Eye or the Indie On Sunday did not take a case to appeal, although they were forced to pay Anglesea huge damages in 1994.
Dominic mentions in his article that after the Coronation Street actor Peter Adamson aka Len Fairclough had used Carman to get him off an indecent assault charge, no action was taken even when some years later Adamson sold a story to the Sun admitting that he had been guilty exactly as charged.
Carman had that effect on people. They were very, very frightened of him.