I mentioned previously that I was reading Greg Dyke’s book ‘Inside Story’, which he wrote in the aftermath of the enormous scrap that resulted in his resignation as Director General of the BBC. Dyke’s book is so full of gems that I’ll never have enough time to blog about them all, but I have decided to blog about the most glittering.
One particularly fascinating and illuminating part of Greg’s book is his account of life behind the scenes at the catastrophe that was TV-am. Although TV-am was famous for being a series of disasters, Greg provides interesting details of the action behind the scenes that led to public spats such as Anna Ford throwing wine over Jonathan Aitken. Greg has certainly provided a good description of how greedy, crooked and unscrupulous many of those involved with TV-am were.
TV-am came into existence in 1983 after David Frost created a consortium to bid for the ITV franchise. The consortium consisted of Michael Parkinson, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Robert Kee. Peter Jay, the former British Ambassador to Washington was both Chair and Chief Executive. Jay had already enjoyed a media career and was well-connected within the industry.
According to Dyke’s book, Dyke was approached by Michael Deakin, who was to be TV-am’s Director of Programmes, for a ‘chat’ before TV-am was launched. Deakin had previously worked as a documentary maker at Yorkshire Television. Readers may remember that in June 1989 Yorkshire Television approached Alison Taylor the Gwynedd social worker who blew the whistle on the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal regarding a programme about it. On 12 Sept 1989 Alison Taylor and a man who alleged that he had been abused whilst in care in north Wales were filmed extensively for Yorkshire TV, but in Feb 1990 the programme about child abuse in Gwynedd was abandoned for a film about child abuse in another region of the UK. I will return to this later in this post.
TV-am was dogged by problems from the outset. Peter Jay and Anna Ford were soon ousted in a coup engineered by Jonathan Aitken, who was thought to be the major shareholder – although it was revealed years later that he wasn’t, Aitken had deceived everyone and the company was actually bankrolled by Saudi money. Nevertheless Aitken was installed as Chief Exec.
Dyke was asked by Jonathan Aitken to rescue TV-am after Aitken took over – Aitken was also still the Tory MP for Thanet. At this point the Chair of TV-am was Dick Marsh, the former British Rail boss and former Labour MP.
Although TV-am was notorious for lurching from one financial crisis to the next, Jonathan Aitken certainly lived an opulent lifestyle. Dyke dined at Aitken’s house at Lord North Street in Westminster – Sir Peter Morrison the Tory MP for Chester who was known to have abused boys in care in north Wales also lived in Lord North Street – and discovered that not only did Aitken employ a butler, but the butler was so outrageously high camp that he was a talking point between Dyke and his wife for months.
Aitken was famous for hosting dinner parties to which powerful figures from the media, politics and business would be invited. It was at one of these parties that Greg met Clive Jones who was later Chief Exec of ITV News. Jones and Dyke became good friends. Aitken was also the convenor of the Conservative Philosophy Group and hosted the likes of Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon and William Rees-Mogg a few doors down from Morrison the child molester.
Dyke describes a world in which crazed megalomaniacs from media, business and politics spend much time troughing and boozing at each others houses, but constantly knife each other in the back. For example, when Greg was told in confidence that Jonathan Aitken was to be the new Chief Exec of TV-am, Greg passed the info on to John Birt, who would later become Director General of the BBC. Birt leaked the information to the Guardian – but Dyke only found this out months later when he received a call from Birt asking Dyke to help him cover his tracks as being the source of the leak because he was now ‘helping the Guardian’ in their battle against Aitken. (In 1995 the Guardian and World In Action exposed Aitken as being involved in some very questionable business practices, to which I shall return later in this post.)
As an example of the degree of goodwill that the TV folk showed towards each other, when Dyke left LWT to take up his post at TV-am, Dyke’s immediate boss David Cox wrote the message ‘fuck off and good riddance’ in Dyke’s leaving card. Dyke’s book is full of such anecdotes – people setting out to embarrass each other in public in as vicious a way as possible at leaving parties, accessing confidential info about each other when they are promoted and thus have access to staff files and then reciting the info that they’ve read on the files at drinks parties etc. The corollary to this was to wreak one’s terrible revenge by gaining promotion and then a few years later returning to the scene of one’s humiliation to kick one’s old adversary in the teeth now that one was their boss. Greg certainly excelled at this – his whole career seems to have been based on the desire to seriously screw other people over. He took great pleasure in later becoming David Cox’s boss himself and crapping on him from a height. I can understand why Dyke would want to shaft these obnoxious people, but he spent years supping with them and treating them like his best mates whilst seething inside and planning to wreck their careers.
Not only do the TV execs in Greg’s world all screw huge quantities of money out of their employers, but they like to be seen to be raking it in – it is a very ostentatious business with much mindless consumerism. Greg boasts about a straightforward fiddle that the execs at TV-am were working to ensure that the bigwigs ended up with company cars nearly as good as the biggest wigs and definitely a lot better than the cars that the plebs were driving. The cars in question were all so expensive that none of them will have been in any danger of breaking down, so one wonders why Greg and his mates thought that it was worth fleecing TV-am over this – particularly as the company was in a state of near bankruptcy throughout the time that Dyke was there.
Greg filled TV-am with either his friends or people whose careers that he ‘boosted’ who remained indebted to him – he boasts of ‘helping’ Lynn Faulds-Wood, Mark Damazar and Adam Boulton. He brought in one of his old colleagues from his days as a journalist in Newcastle, Peter McHugh, as well as Andy Webb and Eve Pollard. Pollard was recruited from Fleet street, specifically the Sunday People and later returned to Fleet Street to edit the Sunday Mirror and then the Sunday Express. Greg poached Nick Owen and Anne Diamond from Nationwide and then recruited Wincy Willis, Gordon Honeycombe and Lynn Faulds-Wood’s husband, John Stapleton.
TV-am succeeded in breaking broadcasting rules and conning the viewers by the use of Diana Dors and her ‘diet slot’, in which she advised viewers on weight loss, claiming to be following a diet herself. Dors religiously weighed herself on TV and claimed miraculous weight loss – Dyke admits that he was virtually certain that Dors was lying about her achievement and was concealing weights about her person for the early weigh-ins and then progressively shedding them. Why would Dors be doing this? Because she had a product to sell – a Diana Dors weight loss calculator, which she then promoted on TV-am, which Dyke admits was not permitted under broadcasting rules. Dors requested that viewers wanting to buy her product write to her at TV-am. Ten thousand duped viewers wrote in, but Dyke kept all the letters claiming that they were the property of TV-am. Dors went to Court to try and get her hands on the letters but lost the case. The letters remained in the clutches of TV-am and no viewers received the product that they were conned into trying to purchase. I bet they didn’t even receive an explanation.
Despite the way in which the viewers had been hoodwinked by both Dors and Dyke, after Dors died, TV-am screened a special tribute programme to her. One of the guests was Barbara Windsor who waxed lyrical on camera about how great Dors was and then told Dyke after the show that she’d hated her. Another guest was Dors’ ‘friend’ Jess Conrad who used the tribute programme to dear old Diana to plug his latest record.
You can see how the BBC ended up screening tribute programmes to Savile after his death, whilst not mentioning the side of his life that was most important to him. But then both Dors and Windsor had relationships with serious criminals who ended up in prison and that was always described very euphemistically by the media when Dors and Babs became too old to remain as sex symbols and had to metamorphose into the nation’s aunties instead.
I mentioned that Dyke was imported into TV-am in order to ‘rescue’ it – he is credited as having done so by introducing a puppet called Roland Rat. I never understood how a puppet could actually rescue an ailing TV company descending into debt, it’s not even as if Roland Rat was as good as Sooty and Sweep, but unbelievably media history does maintain that Dyke’s employment of Roland Rat did the trick. There was a worrying moment for Dyke when he received a phone call from the Daily Star telling him that they were going to run a story about the puppeteer who worked Roland Rat hosting a Soho club for rubber and latex fetishists, but it all turned out OK because when Dyke rang the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) to warn them, the IBA told him that they were not in the least bit concerned about such matters. I can’t understand why Greg ever thought that they would be.
However I think that someone should have been very concerned indeed at a few other things at TV-am. Whilst Greg and his mates worked their scam to ensure that they always drove top of the range cars paid for by TV-am, there were masses of other fiddles perpetuated by the management as well as the staff, as the company drowned in debt. One creditor was owed £12k and there was no attempt to pay them. The company never had enough money for basics, staff were told silly lies such as ‘there’s been a computer glitch’ on a regular basis because there was not enough money to pay them, bills went unpaid, the local newsagents were owed so much that they refused to deliver the newspapers for the newspaper review spot, local taxi firms refused to do business with TV-am and thus guests due to appear on the TV couldn’t be collected, writs mounted up but were routinely ignored on the grounds that one has 28 days to respond to a writ, bailiffs arrived at the homes of researchers and tried to remove property after hotel bills that the researchers had signed off had not been paid, correspondents had to use phone boxes because the phone bill hadn’t been paid and the electricity was nearly cut off as well, but ‘somehow’ ‘someone’ found the cash from ‘somewhere’. One advertising agency tried to deal with TV-am by telling them that they wouldn’t make any further promotions until they had been paid the considerable sum of money that they were owed. Greg knew how to respond – he told them that if the advertising agency didn’t continue to work for TV-am Greg would take even longer to pay them the outstanding debt.
Whilst all this was going on, Greg and co drove their flash cars, Jonathan and Tim Aitken – who owned TV-am – continued to run their merchant banking business Aitken Hume International, Jonathan continued to employ his camp butler and hold lavish dinner parties for important folk and Tim’s office at TV-am was crammed with bottles of pink champagne. It was just the ‘staff’ that didn’t get paid – probably the cleaners, canteen staff, receptionists and secretaries ie. those who really needed the dosh. The bank accounts of the ‘talent’ will have remained healthy or they would have walked out. During this time of crisis, someone hit on the idea of paying Chris Tarrant to go out onto the streets and throw buckets of water over people who were smoking cigarettes – because Greg wanted an anti-smoking campaign. I’m surprised that no-one actually thumped Tarrant or even sued him for assault.
Where Roland Rat’s much publicised ‘rescue’ of this shambles came in I do not know.
TV-am had very few advertisers – they only had contracts with three regulars, one of which was Walls Pork Sausages. Lynn Faulds-Wood – a ‘consumers champion’ a la Esther – wanted to use the consumers slot to expose Walls after it had been discovered that Walls bangers contained rather more water than was deemed unacceptable. TV-am decided not to run this particular expose in the light of the advertising revenue that they were receiving from the folk who were selling water rather than sausages.
I found this anecdote illuminating because I remember Lynn Faulds-Wood on TV doing her exposes years ago and I noticed that only certain things were exposed – I concluded that Lynn was following the Esther model of not upsetting anyone important. But Faulds-Wood was considered to be rather less unscrupulous than Esther. John Stapleton, Faulds-Wood’s husband, hosted a daytime ITV show during the 90s called The Time The Place, which was thought to be rather less tawdry and dishonest than Kilroy, a daytime show on the BBC which was screened at the same time as The Time The Place – both shows covered similar topics. I have mentioned previously how Dr Dafydd Alun Jones actually turned up on Kilroy to talk about mental health problems whilst havoc reigned in north Wales and criminal investigations were held into the paedophile ring which he and his mistress Lucille Hughes facilitated and concealed. To my knowledge Dafydd never made it through the doors of The Time The Place, but as on Kilroy, when mental healthcare or child abuse was discussed by John Stapleton and his guests, it was very clear that only certain voices were ever allowed to be heard. Well if Stapleton’s wife wouldn’t even tackle pork sausages, whoever was going to take on institutionalised abuse in psychiatry and the Westminster Paedophile Ring? Particularly if the likes of Jonathan Aitken owned the TV company.
I say that Jonathan Aitken – along with his cousin Tim – owned TV-am, but as I mentioned earlier it was later revealed that Jonathan and Tim didn’t own the company. TV-am was effectively owned by some Saudis who were actually the major shareholders after a deal had been done by Jonathan Aitken to disguise this – an illegal deal, which Tim Aitken claimed to have no knowledge of. Tim Aitken might have claimed to Know Nuzzing about the Saudis who were bankrolling the company, but he did know that the company was trading when insolvent in early 1984 when he asked Greg Dyke to join the Board. Greg himself claimed ‘not to have known’ what trading when insolvent meant – although he does know now.
Greg didn’t like Jonathan but he ‘liked and trusted’ Tim. There was however a problem with Tim in that he was clueless about running a TV company and anyway was far too busy running his merchant bank to even try to run TV-am. It is clear that Tim was a bit of a liability.
TV-am hit yet another crisis in 1984 – obviously Roland Rat wasn’t pulling his weight – and they desperately needed huge quantities of dosh. They managed to tempt in two new investors – Fleet Holdings (who owned the Express Group) and the much loathed (by everyone but Thatcher if I remember) Aussie businessman, Kerry Packer. However Greg and ‘the management’ still needed to convince the other shareholders that they were a ‘strong’ management able to stand up to the unions. The broadcasting unions in the 1980s, like the print unions, were very powerful and their members earned very, very high salaries – it was Thatcher’s stated mission to break them after she had screwed over the NUM and then passed the legislation that Murdoch needed to break the print unions. TV-am were not actually able to stand up to the unions very well – the unions were unreasonable and greedy, but so were the management – the company was in meltdown. However Dyke and co set up a number of intrigues in order to convince the staff that a crucial vote had to go as the management (and shareholders) desired or the company would go into liquidation and no-one would have a job. On the day of the vote, Jonathan Aitken made a show of clearing his office in front of a shop steward, just to convince the unions that it was now crunch point. It seemed that Dyke et al either weren’t convinced that the vote would go their way OR they didn’t have confidence that the company would survive even if the staff did vote the way that Dyke et al were manipulating them to.
Dyke explains that the company was ‘near liquidation’ and that on the day of the vote, the managers all parked their cars outside the building lest they needed a ‘quick getaway’ – I imagine that the staff were pretty close to lynching them all anyway. Dyke calculated that TV-am owed him about £30k and he wanted his dosh – so he looked around for something that he could steal and sell. He couldn’t find anything suitable inside the building, so he stole the keys to the TV-am barge (TV-am was located at Camden Lock).
The staff were sufficiently panicked and manipulated into voting in the way that Dyke and the shareholders wanted, so TV-am lived to fight another day. And rip a few more people off. It was now vital that Tim Nice But Dim be removed as Chief Exec – so the Board hatched a plan to knife the Chairman Dick Marsh, which would then enable them to install Tim as Chairman. For some reason Tim couldn’t be removed altogether, so a vacancy had to be created at the top. It was Marsh who was clobbered.
So in 1984 a new Chief Exec arrived – Bruce Gyngell. I can’t quite work out from Dyke’s book who exactly hatched the plot to stuff Dick Marsh but Bruce Gyngell was brought in by Kerry Packer. Gyngell had come from Australia where he had worked for Kerry Packer’s empire and he became a favourite of Thatch, she really loved Gyngell. He became good friends with her and epitomised Thatcher’s idea of everything that a media executive should be.
Gyngell was of course ruthless, rather mad and some thought him predatory. He was noted for wearing pink to such an extent that his staff called him the Pink Panther, he was very superstitious and distributed company key fobs and watches to the staff and urged the staff to rub these objects to channel positive forces and although he was very rich and very greedy he maintained that he was deeply interested in Eastern spirituality and was enthusiastic about Zen, meditation and insight philosophy. Yet Gyngell was no monk. He was a notorious shagger – although he was happy to lecture the media industry about morality – and according to Greg, when Gyngell arrived at TV-am he asked Adrian Moore, the Director of Production, which of the women who worked there were an ‘easy lay’.
In 1986 Gyngell married Kathy Rowan who worked as a producer at TV-am. Rowan had previously worked at LWT.
During 1987-88, Gyngell became involved in the most enormous battle with the technicians union ACTT at TV-am, Murdoch-style. He was encouraged by Thatcher who maintained that the ITV unions were ‘the last bastion of restrictive practices’ and the dispute ended in a three month lock-out. Gyngell ran TV-am for a number of months without the union members – other people were simply recruited to do the jobs that they were doing. Gyngell did break the ACTT and 200 members at TV-am never returned to their former jobs, although Gyngell suffered a heart attack which was attributed to the stress of the dispute.
In his capacity as Chief Exec, Bruce Gyngell gradually booted out all of Dyke’s mates and then kicked out Dyke. Dyke joined TVS and his old mate Clive Jones followed him there shortly afterwards.
Gyngell did succeed in returning TV-am to profit by ruthlessly targeting programming costs and for a while it was the most profitable TV company in the UK – it was floated on the Stock Exchange.
However, in 1991 Greg wreaked his terrible revenge which led to TV-am going out of business. When the ITV franchises came up for auction, Greg – who was by then Chief Exec of LWT – put together the Sunrise consortium (which became GMTV) to bid for the ITV breakfast franchise. As a result of legislation that Thatcher herself passed, the bidding process was blind – so no-one knew what any other bidders had bid – and the franchise had to be awarded to the highest bidder. Greg’s Sunrise consortium put in an enormous bid many millions bigger than TV-am’s bid, so Sunrise/GMTV were awarded the franchise. Poor old Gyngell struggled on for a bit but in 1992 TV-am closed down.
Gyngell and Frost held a farewell party to celebrate TV-am going out of business and Gyngell was delighted to tell the guests that he had received a personal letter of apology from Thatcher, who was distraught that legislation that her Gov’t had passed to ‘encourage’ the likes of Gyngell had inadvertently blown up in their faces and led to his end. Thatcher couldn’t understand what had happened. Er – ill-thought out legislation and a bunch of backstabbing crooks conducting business in the way that you had encouraged Thatcher? It is documented that Gyngell broke industry rules when he arrived at TV-am by negotiating a £1.2 million advance payment for an advertising campaign by a toy company. There won’t have been any comeback…
After the death of TV-am Gyngell became Executive Chair of Kerry Packer’s Nine Network. In May 1995 Gyngell was appointed MD of Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Group (Yorkshire TV had merged with Tyne Tees), replacing John Fairley. Ward Thomas was Chair of YTT. Gyngell’s post ended when Granada took over YTT in 1997.
Bruce Gyngell died in 2000, but his wife Kathy lives on. Kathy Gyngell is described as a ‘right wing operative’ who is a research fellow for the Centre of Policy Studies. She is the co-editor of the website Conservative Woman and she’s even managed to find her way into the Guardian on a number of occasions. In July 1999 (whilst Bruce was still alive) she co-founded a right wing media monitoring company with David Keighley, the former Director of Corporate Affairs at TV-am. This company was dissolved in 2006 and superceded by another company, Newswatch, which was dissolved in 2009.
In 2006 Kathy co-authored a Centre for Policy Studies report with Ray Lewis. In this report, Gyngell was described as the Chair of the Addiction Working Group of the Social Justice Policy Group, the Conservative think tank established by Ian Duncan Smith.
Readers might not recognise the name of Ray Lewis, but I won’t forget it. Ray Lewis was appointed Deputy Mayor of London by Boris in 2008. Lewis had wowed Ian Duncan Smith with his ‘remarkable’ work with black youth in Newham at the Eastside Young Leaders Academy. Lewis had wowed a lot of people actually – Stephen Norris and Francis Maude were Trustees of Eastside, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu was the Patron and donors included Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers. In 2005 Cameron’s first photo op as Conservative Party leader was at Eastside.
However two months after Lewis’s appointment as Boris’s deputy, Lewis resigned after a number of public revelations about his past activities. In 1990 Ray Lewis had been ordained as a Church of England priest and in 1993 he was appointed the vicar of St Matthews in West Ham. In 1995 Lewis was accused of exploiting vulnerable pensioners by borrowing a total of £41k and not repaying it. There were also allegations of sexual harassment and Scotland Yard had received a string of complaints, including blackmail. Lewis denied all the allegations and no charges were ever brought. In 1997 Lewis left the UK for Grenada where he organised a charity raffle – the first prize was a car, but the winner never received it. Then a Nigerian bishop complained that a charity that he had set up with Lewis had been drained of its funds, £8k – Lewis had been the Treasurer. The Diocese of Chelmsford reported the matter to the police – no charges were brought. Neither were any charges brought against Lewis in 2000 when he was arrested on suspicion of deception over a house sale. However, the Church barred him from Ministry and preaching. Lewis also claimed to be a magistrate – he wasn’t. In 2000 Lewis worked as a prison chaplain, then joined the Prison Service and for nearly two years worked as a junior governor at HMP Woodhill Young Offenders Institute. It was after that that Lewis set up Eastside.
After Lewis’s past became public in 2008, the man who stripped Lewis of his rights as a priest, the Rt Rev Roger Sainsbury, the retired Bishop of Barking, stated that he’d been an admirer of Eastside and believed that Ray Lewis had reformed. Sainsbury’s successor, the Rt Rev David Hawkins, saw Lewis with Boris at a day of prayer event and wrote to Boris telling him that Lewis was no longer an authorised Minister in the Church of England and suggested that Boris should get in touch. Boris did not respond. Several weeks later a TV journalist approached the C of E for the background on Lewis and it was then that the story came to light.
The longstanding Labour Council in Newham admitted reporting in 2005 on allegations of physical abuse at Eastside – Scotland Yard confirmed that five allegations were investigated, but were all dropped.
Duncan Smith suggested that all this dissatisfaction with Lewis was designed to ‘get at’ Boris. He stated that Newham Council ‘is on the left and hates Ray Lewis and his methods which are not for the fainthearted’. Duncan Smith does of course describe Eastside as dispensing ‘tough love’.
The chaplain at Eastside, the Rev Bruce Stokes, a Baptist Minister, maintained that anyone working ‘this way with kids’ was ‘bound to be investigated’ and that he thought that it was probably Lewis’s ‘personality and style’ to which people objected.
The London Evening Standard claimed that the mess was all the fault of the Church.
After Lewis’s resignation, everyone was very keen to distance themselves. The child protection officer at Eastside, Dapo Abidoye, had ‘nothing to say’. Neither did Richard Atterbury, the co-head of global finance at Lehman Brothers and a Trustee of Eastside. John Sentamu issued a statement explaining that he did not have ‘any involvement, or fiduciary obligation, relating to day-to-day management’ at Eastside.
Dear old IDS claimed that the media and Lewis’s political enemies were ‘crushing a good man’. The Rev Stokes stated that Lewis ‘comes up with answers. It feels he has been completely stitched up’. Stokes was saddened that in the wake of the controversy surrounding Lewis that similar academies planned elsewhere in the UK were unlikely to go ahead.
No-one ever got to the bottom of the Ray Lewis and Eastside business, because a planned Public Inquiry into the whole affair was scrapped after Lewis resigned.
However I think that Ray might have made his mark years before the shit hit the fan in the wake of all those complaints about him in the 90s after he’d managed to become ordained.
At the time that the Ray Lewis business became public in 2008 I was sharing a farmhouse in Gwynedd with my friends. One of my friends was a Buddhist and was a member of a Buddhist sangha which had connections to a number of other Buddhist communities. A few months before Ray Lewis hit the media, a Buddhist asked us if we could put someone up who had just left a community and was in need of somewhere to live. This lady subsequently moved into our house and although she was very friendly it soon became clear that she had serious mental health problems and seemed very traumatised and very angry. She stayed with us for many weeks and we got to know her quite well. Whilst she was staying with us, I had appeared in the newspapers talking about abuse in the mental health services and our guest asked me how I knew that such things were happening. I told her some of what had happened to me at the hands of the mental health services and said that I knew that it was a major problem.
Our guest – whom I will call D – had already told us that back in the 80s she’d been a social worker in London but had spent many years living in various different communities. I guessed that D had some sort of breakdown and had been unable to work. When she discovered that I had experience of abusive psychiatry, she did what quite a few other people have done and told me about her own bad experiences. D had been through a nightmare. She described receiving dreadful treatment after being sectioned in a London hospital – she had been diagnosed with psychotic depression, had been given ECT against her will and claimed to have been physically and sexually assaulted by staff in the hospital. When she finally got out of there – after many, many months, D got as far away from the mental health services and anyone connected with them as possible and started travelling around the UK living in alternative communities.
The problem that any patient who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness finds if they try to communicate being on the receiving end of abusive mental health services, is that they are not believed. As I have detailed on this blog, diagnosing serious mental illnesses in people who have been abused by the welfare state or have been witness to things of which other people would rather remain unspoken is a remarkably common way of dealing with the problem. Everything that D told me rang true – she described the sort of casual institutionalised abuse that I witnessed in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, in Springfield Hospital, in the Hergest Unit and that I hear about frequently. But then D told me about the circumstances of her admission to hospital.
D had been working as a children’s social worker in inner London in the 80s. She was white and was a doctor’s daughter who’d grown up in Bath. The young people that she was looking after once she had qualified were predominantly from ethnic minorities, in inner London. That wasn’t the problem. The problem arose when D noticed that the practices of her colleagues were a very long way from the practice and theory that she had been taught whilst she was training. The shit really hit the fan when two of the teenagers whom she was responsible for – girls of 13 and 14 – told her that they were being forced to have sex with a man who was entering the children’s homes. This man was some sort of youth worker. D told her senior managers what the teenagers had told her. She was told to ignore what the girls had told her, not to speak about it again because the man whom the girls had named was ‘big in black politics and he’s untouchable’. D told me that the name of this man was Ray Lewis.
D was horrified. I gained the impression that when this happened she hadn’t been qualified long and she was still idealistic. She was very concerned for the welfare of the girls and became even more concerned when the two girls who had previously alleged that they were being sexually assaulted told D that other kids had experienced similar problems.
D returned to her managers – and made the fatal mistake of reminding them that the children in their care had been raped, were being put at risk further by the social services lack of action and that what was happening was illegal and contrary to all good social work practice. D was referred for ‘medical help’. D’s own dad was a Top Doctor – she might not have realised what organisations use the less scrupulous Top Doctors for. D was told that she was depressed and unfit for work. Which she might well have been by then – I can imagine how distressing a young, newly qualified, idealistic social worker would have found all this. D was sent to a psychiatrist – she did of course tell them what was going on in her workplace and that she was not going to keep quiet about it as ordered. D was sectioned. Not only was she diagnosed with ‘depression’, but it was ‘psychotic depression’. Just in case anyone might be in danger of believing anything that she said…
The treatment was successful! D was destroyed, she left social work and indeed London and took up an itinerant lifestyle wandering around the UK staying in a variety of alternative communities. She had been doing this for years by the time that she arrived at our place. She knew that she had been very distressed by what had happened in London, both at her workplace and at the hands of the caring sharing mental health services and she had made a number of attempts to access therapy and care. On every occasion that she did so, once the therapist had heard her story somehow the therapy came to an end. D was untouchable – which tends to happen to people who have witnessed organised child sexual abuse. One manifestation of D’s distress was quite obsessional cleaning. She knew this and would offer to clean in return for a place to stay – our place was spotless whilst she was with us, it was incredible. We weren’t the only people who noticed how good at cleaning D was. Some of her therapists did as well. At one point she was offered a job in a Rudolph Steiner Care Home in the midlands. The deal was supposed to be that she would do a few hours cleaning each day in return for free training and tuition in Steiner care. Once she arrived however somehow she ended up on the cleaning full time and no tuition or training was forthcoming. After six months she realised that this wasn’t going to change so she left.
So how did D arrive in north Wales? D was offered a job as a cleaner at a place called Trigonos in the Nantlle Valley in Gwynedd. The Nantlle Valley is really beautiful and Trigonos is a conference centre favoured by alternative types – it is next to the lake, under the mountains and supplies organic food and other necessities of alternative life. Trigonos’s main custom seems to come from the Bangor University Mindfulness Centre – nearly all their courses for training Mindfulness practitioners and teachers are held there and they used to hold their conferences there as well. D knew about this and thought that it would be a suitable environment for her. However when she arrived, she found that she seemed to be working very long hours for very little pay. She moved out of Trigonos after a few months seeking somewhere else to live which is how D eventually ended up at our house. D stayed with us for many weeks and then moved on to a community in Scotland. It was just after she left that Ray Lewis hit the headlines. A few months after that I encountered one of the more irresponsible members of the family that runs Trigonos. When he found out which house I lived in he realised that I was one of the people who had taken in D. I asked him why she had left Trigonos. I was told ‘she was a fucking brilliant cleaner but she was a nutter so we got rid of her’.
The vast majority of the Mindfulness trainers who practice their loving-kindness and compassionate meditation at Trigonos are former social workers, many of whom were employed by Gwynedd and Clwyd Social Services – whilst the paedophile ring operated in those organisations. One of the leaders of many of those courses at Trigonos is a Judith Soulsby. Soulsby is a former psychiatric social worker with the Arfon Community Mental Health Team. Her colleagues were the people who perjured themselves in an attempt to have me imprisoned after I alleged serious abuse in the mental health services in north Wales. Not only does Judith train Mindfulness practitioners at the centre where the cleaners are not allowed to be nutters, but Judith has co-authored with Professor Mark Williams and was part of the original team who set the con that is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy on the road (see post ‘The Biggest Expert Of The Lot’).
Now for a few more details on Jonathan and Tim Aitken who lived like kings whilst their TV company owed money to the little people.
Tim Aitken is the grandson of Lord Beaverbrook and is rather less illustrious than his cousin Jonathan. Since Jonathan ended up in prison Tim has distanced himself from him. A recent newspaper article suggested that Tim spends most of his time on his yacht.
Jonathan is the son of Tory MP Sir William Traven Aitken. Selwyn Lloyd, the Chancellor of the Exchequer under Harold Macmillan, was a friend of Jonathan’s dad which was how Aitken got to meet the PM whilst he was still an undergrad at Oxford reading law – Aitken wrote speeches for Selwyn in his summer holidays. At Oxford Aitken was Chair of the Oxford University Conservative Association – he did try to become President of the Oxford Union but was unsuccessful.
After Oxford he worked as a journalist and in 1970 ended up on trial the Old Bailey for breaking the Official Secrets Act, after passing classified information to a Tory MP Hugh Fraser, although he was acquitted. Between 1968-70 Aitken worked for Yorkshire TV, presenting regional news shows. Aitken had ambitions to enter Conservative politics from a young age and he struck up a friendship with Fraser – that ended after Aitken had an affair with Fraser’s wife Antonia. Aitken’s account of his life as a young man stresses how he had no money and therefore knew that he had to make his own way in the world. So he does what everyone who finds themselves on their uppers does – he launched a merchant bank and became Chairman of Slater Walker Securities.
In 1973 Aitken met Prince Mohammed bin Fadh of Saudi Arabia and became close friends with the Prince’s personal secretary after Aitken ‘organised hospital treatment’ in the UK for the Prince’s secretary’s mother. What all that was about I don’t know, but if Jonathan Aitken was involved it won’t have been clean.
In 1974 Aitken was elected as Tory MP for Thanet. At about this time he had a relationship with Carol Thatcher but it ended in tears – literally – and Margaret Thatcher never forgave him. Aitken’s falling out with the Thatcher family was notorious ad it was suggested that it was the reason why he remained on the backbenches for so many years although he clearly thought that he ought to be PM.
In 1979 Aitken married a neighbour of Prince Mohammed’s personal secretary. He blotted his copybook soon after by having an affair with a prostitute, but his family forgave him.
In 1980 Aitken wrote to Thatcher alleging that Sir Roger Hollis, the former Director General of MI5, had been a double agent working for the Soviets. This info had been given to Aitken by CIA spymaster James Angleton. The allegation against Hollis caused an almighty row and led to Chapman Pincher’s 1981 book ‘Their Trade Is Treachery’, which in turn led to the publication of ‘Spycatcher’ in 1987.
Aitken’s Saudi friendships came in handy for propping up Aitken Hume International and for bankrolling TV-am. Aitken was forced to resign from TV-am when it was revealed that Aitken Hume was a front for Saudi control of TV-am.
Aitken cultivated friendships with some rather unsavoury people, including the well-known sexual harasser Tory MP Alan Clark, who described Aitken as ‘my old friend and standby for many a dirty trick’. Aitken was also known to leak damaging info about his fellow Tory MPs. Aitken was close friends with Tory MP Richard Shepherd and for some reason ended up as godfather to Diane Abbott’s son. One of Aitken’s book launch’s was attended by Christine Keeler.
Aitken complained in the Commons about the excessive secrecy of the security services, but maintained close contact with some present and former officers. Malcolm Turnbull – who later became PM of Australia – was Peter Wright’s lawyer when Wright was trying to get his book Spycatcher published and approached Aitken in an attempt to reach a settlement between the British Gov’t and Wright. Aitken ‘tried to help’ but failed.
In Nov 1990, three months after the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, Aitken flew to Oman as the Sultan’s guest to attend a meeting of Le Cercle, a right wing group formed by former intelligence agents, of which Aitken was Chairman. The dreadful Alan Clarke was present as well – Clark alleged that Le Cercle was funded by the CIA.
After John Major became PM, he appointed Aitken Minister for Defence Procurement – the Saudis were delighted with this appointment as were MoD arms salesmen, but a great many other people weren’t.
Between 1988-90 Aitken was a Director of BMARC, an arms exporter. Whilst he was a Cabinet Minister, he signed a Public Interest Immunity Certificate in Sept 1992 relating to the Matrix-Churchill trial which gagged documentation including that relating to the supply of arms to Iraq by BMARC when he was a Director of that company.
Aitken became Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1994 and subsequently faced questions about defence contracts and Saudi money. He resigned in 1995 after allegations that he’d breached Ministerial rules, still lent his house to Michael Howard during Howard’s leadership campaign.
In 1995 the Guardian published an article regarding Aitken and Saudi arms deals. Journalists from Granada’s World In Action also helped with the expose. On the day that the article was published, Aitken held a press conference at the Conservative Party Offices in Smith Square and very pompously denounced the allegations. He stated that if World In Action screened the programme ‘Jonathan Of Arabia’ that was scheduled for that evening he would sue for libel. The programme was screened as promised and Aitken began a libel action against the Guardian and Granada.
In June 1997 the action collapsed after George Carman acting for the defence produced documentary evidence demonstrating that Aitken had lied during the trial. Evidence also indicated an arms deal scam with Aitken’s friend and business partner, the personal secretary of Prince Mohammed bin Fahd. It was also alleged that if the case had continued, Aitken had been prepared to have his teenaged daughter lie under oath.
Aitken was imprisoned for perjury and served seven months. Whilst he was in the slammer he experienced an almighty religious conversion and has since taken to writing about prayer and matters theological.
Aitken was faced with a legal bill of over £1 million – he was allowed to drop the case on promising to pay costs, but escaped from his liability by declaring himself bankrupt. The Guardian observed that most of Aitken’s assets were conveniently owned by other people.
Although Aitken lost his seat in the 1997 General Election, within a year was appointed as a representative of the arms company GEC-Marconi.
In 1999 a DNA test revealed that Aitken was the father of Soraya Khashoggi’s daughter – the Soraya Khashoggi’s husband became very rich by arms dealing.
In 2004 some Conservatives in Thanet proposed that Aitken return as the Conservative candidate, but this bright idea was vetoed by Michael Howard. In the same year Aitken declared his support for UKIP.
In 2006 Aitken became President of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
In Nov 2007 he led the task force on Prison Reform with Ian Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice to ‘help form Conservative policy’.
The names of two independent TV companies crop up constantly in Greg Dyke’s book – LWT and Yorkshire TV. The most powerful people in the media world seem to have passed through those organisations, as well of course as the BBC. Because the really big players in TV are so few, they all just rotated between the BBC and the independent companies as they climbed higher and higher. The same names pop up constantly and those names also toady shamelessly to Gov’ts of all hues. If you’re the BBC the Gov’t has got you over a barrel because you depend upon them for the continuation of the licence fee and the renewal of the Charter and if you’re an independent company you’re out in the free market depending upon the Gov’ts policies that affect the operation of that market. Gov’t can do great damage to TV execs, the execs dare not upset Gov’t. So one can see how easy it would be for the few influential people in the media to ensure that nothing was ever screened on TV that might lead to the identification of public figures abusing children in care for example.
My post ‘One Dangerous Fucker’ describes how Marjorie Wallace has done a really great job suppressing info concerning the use of psychiatry in concealing child abuse – Marjorie’s long term partner Tom Marjerison was the founder of LWT.
Yorkshire TV is as much as a key player as the BBC. As previously mentioned, it was Yorkshire TV who in Sept 1989 actually began filming a programme about child abuse in north Wales. By Feb 1990 the programme had been abandoned. So let’s look at Yorkshire TV.
The Director of Programmes for Yorkshire TV 1984-92 was John Fairley. Fairley was born in Liverpool and went to school in the north west of England. He began work with the Bristol Evening Post in 1963 and moved to the London Evening Standard in 1964. Between 1965-68 he was a radio producer with BBC Radio – so he’ll have known a Jimmy Savile then. Between 1968-78 Fairley was a TV producer for Yorkshire TV – Savile country. My post ‘A Very COHSE Relationship With Some Very Nasty People’ details how one of the paedophiles’ friends from north Wales migrated to Yorkshire and ended up in a position of very great influence. Fairley was MD of Yorkshire-Tyne Tees TV, 1993-April 1995. He then became Chief Exec of UKTV. Fairley lives in Ryedale in North Yorkshire.
Sir Paul Fox was Head of Programmes for Yorkshire TV, 1973-86, then MD of Yorkshire TV, 1977-88. Earlier on his career he had been Head of Public Affairs at BBC TV and Controller of BBC 1. Between 1986-88 he was Chairman of ITN and MD of BBC Network TV between 1988-91. My post ‘Ian Brockington’s Mischief’ details how a friend of mine who wanted to make a documentary about what had happened to me at the hands of the mental health services was subjected to an extended campaign of harassment and then unlawfully dismissed from her job at the Royal Television Society in 1991 – Paul Fox was President at the time. Fox picked up his knighthood in 1991.
Ward Thomas was CEO of Grampian TV between 1961-67, MD and Chair of Yorkshire TV between 1967-76 and then again between 1993-97. Between 1971-84 he was MD of Trident TV (and Chairman between 1976-84). Trident TV was formed as a holding company for Yorkshire TV. After 1980 Trident also purchased casinos, including casinos owned by Hugh Hefner – the deal included the Playboy Club and other ‘gentlemen’s clubs’. Ward is now very elderly but remains as non-executive Chair of Irving International, a media consultancy.
Yorkshire TV did battle with the technicians union in 1979 – Ward Thomas and Paul Fox were the two executives who were instrumental in fighting the unions. So they’ll have got on well with Thatcher then – as with Murdoch they’ll have been relying on her to pass the legislation to enable them to break the unions. They won’t have wanted to broadcast anything even hinting that her mate Savile and her aide Peter Morrison were molesting children.
In 1980 Jonathan Aitken had a go at owning a TV station based in Yorkshire. In the 1980 franchise round several Yorkshire TV staff submitted an application backed by Aitken, although they were unsuccessful.
In 1966 Jonathan Aitken co-authored a book with Michael Beloff. Michael Beloff was the barrister who in 1996 instructed the insurers of Flintshire County Council to suppress the Jillings Report into the abuse of children in the care of Clwyd County Council because what had happened to the kids was completely indefensible. The insurers told Flintshire that if they published the report they would withdraw insurance cover and the Councillors themselves would become personally liable for the damages payable to anyone who sued which would result in the loss of their homes and bankruptcy. The insurers also recommended that the Chair of the Social Services Committee, Cllr Malcolm King – who had been dangerously unco-operative with the paedophiles and their friends – should be sacked if he managed to discover what was in the Jillings Report and publicised it.