When Showbiz Meets Politics

Whilst writing and researching for this blog and discovering how dodgy an awful lot of the ‘expert witnesses’, lawyers and judges were who were involved in cases that I’ve written about here – as well as of course my own case – and after uncovering some of their very interesting networks and connections, I started thinking of a few high profile cases in which people were imprisoned for serious offences but robustly protested their innocence whilst making some intriguing allegations that were potentially explosive but never went anywhere. And I remembered Jonathan King. Jonathan King was a man who ‘produced’ truly dreadful happy-pop, a rather irritatingly bumptious self-congratulatory celeb who hit the buffers in 2001 when he was sentenced to seven years in prison for child sexual abuse. He was completely trashed in the media and even the vacuous presenters on daytime TV who had only a short while before been toadying to the ‘millionaire music mogul’ were denouncing him as the scum of the earth on air. King’s career didn’t recover after his release from prison – he was ruined in a way that for example Michael Barrymore wasn’t. A sexually injured corpse was found in Barrymore’s swimming pool whilst Barrymore was in residence, which one would have thought would spell the end for him really, but after a much publicised nervous breakdown and some shedding of tears on air, Barrymore ended up back on prime time TV again. King however was never allowed back among polite company. Ever since his arrest King has furiously maintained his innocence and stated that he was stitched up – some of the things that he did probably did him further damage, such as garnering the support of the likes of Simon Cowell and clapped out former Radio 1 DJs and articulating his view that Jimmy Savile was a wronged man, but once he was out of prison he busied himself writing his account of what had gone on and he also produced a notorious ‘musical’ entitled ‘Vile Pervert’. Basically King alleged that he had been targeted for being gay, that the allegations against him were completely fabricated and that there had been some very dodgy legal manoeuvres in order to secure his conviction. He also claimed that he had been at Cambridge with the judge who sentenced him and that this judge had been involved in gay sex himself whilst at university. King was roundly labelled a particularly unsavoury paedophile who couldn’t take his punishment like a man, but I did notice that the judge didn’t sue him for defamation…

Recent evidence has emerged however suggesting that King may indeed have been the subject of a miscarriage of justice. This evidence includes one of King’s accusers admitting that he’d concocted his story for money, King actually being in the U.S. at the time of one of the alleged offences, statements being fabricated and the dates of the alleged offences being altered during the course of the trial. A number of people outside of King’s business circle are now suggesting that he was indeed wronged. It is now very evident that at the time that King was being pursued by the police, through the courts and then denounced by daytime TV presenters, that scores of other celebs – including Savile – were known to have been committing sex offences against children yet were treated very differently to King. The explanation usually proffered is the one that King originally espoused – it was a witch-hunt because he was a promiscuous homosexual man, rather than a promiscuous heterosexual man. This is possible, but King was jailed in 2001 – there were plenty of out gay celebs by then, indeed people in the pop music industry have been declaring themselves gay or bisexual since the early 70s. David Bowie launched his career on such claims. So I wondered if King had an enemy in a high place. I haven’t found the answer to that question, but whilst I was researching the background to King’s arrest and conviction, I came across something far more salient to this blog.

King was investigated by the National Criminal Intelligence Service after someone approached the publicist Max Clifford, trying to sell a story alleging sexual abuse by King and a number of other men. Of course Max Clifford himself has now met the same fate that befell King – he has been imprisoned for sex offences, one involving an under-age girl. When Clifford was charged and then convicted, he too protested his innocence but got the Jonathan King treatment and numerous people crawled out of the woodwork testifying that he was an utter toe rag. But Max Clifford was a man who would definitely have enemies – he had wrecked a lot of careers. Unlike King, Clifford’s circle didn’t stop at showbiz – Clifford’s business involved people in politics as well. Clifford himself always claimed to be a Labour supporter who was so angry at what he claimed was the mismanagement of the NHS over many years by the Tories that he wanted to damage John Major’s Government – he claims to have handled a few stories to embarrass the Tories. But Clifford was a friend of Murdoch’s right hand woman Rebekah Wade (now Rebekah Brooks) and has caused a bit of difficulty for Labour politicians as well. He stands accused of breaking the story involving Ron Davies that caused Davies to stand down from the Welsh Assembly Government and David Blunkett maintains that Clifford was involved in the media story that precipitated his second resignation, Blunkett being a serial resigner a la Mandelson. Clifford himself admits that he handled the selling to the Daily Mail of the ‘tell all’ diaries of Tracey Temple, which caused much entertainment for those of us who think that John Prescott is the most appalling old git. That was in 2006. In the same year, Clifford announced his intention to expose politicians who fail to abide by standards expected in public office. He claimed to have a ‘dedicated’ team of ‘loyal’ investigators. Clifford maintained that he has always been interested in more than just money, that he couldn’t stand hypocrisy in public life and was particularly disgusted by lying politicians. Now if in 2006 Max Clifford had wanted to expose lying politicians who had damaged the NHS, he could certainly have done so – because in that year I e mailed him and told him that I had documentary evidence of a number of politicians who had concealed serious wrongdoing in the mental health services, both in Wales and elsewhere. And I didn’t ask Max for any money either – I wrote to him on the advice of a friend as threats and harassment from the north Wales mental health services rained down upon me and my friends and the disgusting Brian Gibbons, then the Health Minister for Wales, wrote me a letter refusing to investigate my complaint, telling me that ‘this correspondence is closed’. There were deaths and imprisonments of Hergest patients on an almost weekly basis and I wanted everything exposed. I never received a reply from Max and I just presumed that because I hadn’t offered him a story about Gary Glitter he wasn’t interested – I had no knowledge then of Max’s desire to nail a few political hypocrites. But I’m wondering if Max was rather more interested in my e mail than I thought that he was – Max will have a much better nose than me and I bet he realised that there will have been a link between my story and the north Wales child abuse ring, which had by then received huge media coverage. What if upon receiving that e mail he realised that he could do what he had always really wanted to do and expose a bunch of politicians who had not only stood by whilst patients had died but who’d concealed a paedophile ring as well? Is that why Max might have been telling people in London that he was going to expose some politicians and assembled a team of undercover investigators?

Shortly after I e mailed Max, I started to get worried. Much of my evidence and all the e mails regarding the wrongdoing of the mental health services were on the computer that I used to use at work in a shared office in Bangor University. I discovered that whilst I was out of the office someone had been accessing my computer. Someone was also rifling through my desk regularly. There was one person in this shared office who was working on a joint project with the North West Wales NHS Trust and I wondered of it was her – she had at one point yelled at me that my investigations into the NHS ‘were threatening her career’ (they were as well because I later discovered that she was in cahoots with some of the worst offenders in the local NHS and had been up to allsorts). So I tightened my security procedures. Shortly after I purchased a new laptop and began to gradually use that and transfer everything over. Before I’d finished, my old computer was stolen. Yes, an ancient crappy, third or fourth hand computer given to a PhD student on her uppers as a favour was stolen. It was stolen along with three other old computers from the same office. My PhD supervisor had placed them all in the corner along with mine, ready for eventual disposal. They were stolen by a former member of Bangor University staff who had until recently shared the office with me and others. He was witnessed by a colleague arriving with a van and removing the computers in broad daylight. My colleague rang the university authorities to report what was going on and the thief was ordered to return them. He gave a bizarre explanation for the theft – that he was setting up a consultancy and thought that the University wouldn’t mind if he helped himself to a few old computers. Unfortunately the authorities at Bangor believed that my supervisor had encouraged him in this – he hadn’t, my supervisor knew nothing about the theft until I visited him at home and told him. My supervisor was baffled by this man’s behaviour and was speculating that perhaps he’d had a breakdown. But my supervisor was a vey trusting man – and he didn’t know that I’d written to Max. But one thing that I did know about the man who made off with my computer was that he had a famous brother-in-law – a man called John McTernan, who at the time was the Director of Political Operations for a man called Tony Blair.

Well I never knew if any of my evidence did fall into the grubby hands of John McTernan in the wake of the Brinks-Matt Ancient Computer Robbery, but I’ve got even more evidence now McTernan and it’s completely safe from you and your thieving brother-in-law.

Max Clifford remains in prison but continues to protest his innocence. I have no idea whether he is guilty or not but I do know that there are an awful lot of people who should be in there in prison with him.

Shortly after McTernan’s brother-in-law made off with my computer, but before Max Clifford was arrested, I was contacted by an investigative reporter who wanted to make a TV documentary about my encounters with the mental health services. She read the incriminating evidence and met me a number of times and was very keen to run the story. The day before we were due to start filming she telephoned me and asked me to name a public figure in Wales who knew some of what had happened to me but who was not involved in any wrongdoing whatever. I refused, so she asked me again if I would name this person telling me that she’d protect me if I was frightened of them. I replied that I wasn’t frightened of them – this person had done nothing at all wrong and I was not going smear an innocent person. I never heard from this journalist again after she told me that if I changed my mind they’d still run the story, but only if I changed my mind… I have never worked out what this journalist’s motives were – but I did know that those we know and love were desperately trying to damage the person that I was asked to smear, because they were rumoured to be close to Carwyn Jones no less and this seemed to be an attempt to get at the Labour Party in Wales. I also subsequently discovered that the dreadful Robert Bluglass’s daughter Amanda worked in the media herself. So I don’t know if this had been an attempt at a political sting or if it was a mate of Amanda’s trying to extract her father and his pals from a very big mess – but now I’m wondering if the ‘journalist’ might have been one of Max’s ‘undercover investigative reporters’. But it doesn’t matter now – I’m publishing it all myself on this blog and I’m not asking myself to smear innocent people.

Footnote: It was I think Rhodri Morgan who stated that the Welsh Gov’t wanted to put ‘clear red water’ between themselves and Westminster. Blair also seems to have had a problem with the Welsh – there is film-footage of him available watching sport on TV whilst yelling ‘it’s the fucking Welsh again’. Be my guest Tony, read along with me my blog post ‘The London Connection’ and feel free to film me afterwards yelling ‘it’s fucking New Labour again’.

Before I sign off, I’m pleased to announce that another topic covered by this blog recently has cropped up on the ‘IPM’ programme today, female genital mutilation that is. IPM often broadcasts some very odd things, but they’ve excelled this week. The programme featured a primary school teacher ‘raising awareness’ among her pupils regarding sexual abuse and FGM, very young pupils as well. Some of the stuff was fairly mainstream with it being explained to children that it wasn’t a good idea to participate in conversations with people who asked you to remove your pants in their presence, but then we moved into the tropes of the exotic. The primary school teacher concerned had invited all the parents along to talk to them about FGM – and to ask them to ‘share their experiences’. It transpired that one parent had actually undergone the most extreme form of FGM, thus had had nearly all of her external genitalia excised and much of what was left sewn up. So she told the other parents all about it. The primary school teacher, remarking upon the success of this meeting, commented that when the infibulated woman had stopped speaking, ‘you could hear a pin drop’. I bet you could – parents evenings have certainly changed since I was alive. During the short time that I worked as a teacher it never occurred to me to ask the parents to describe the state of their genitalia to each other, we just used to discuss the children’s progress.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Sally Baker

I am a writer and a sociologist, originally from Somerset, but I've been based in Wales for most of my life. I had my first encounter with a mental health professional in 1984 at the age of 21. My GP described this man to my then partner - who also became a sociologist - as someone who had experienced 'considerable success'. My meeting with this psychiatrist was a disaster and we attempted to complain about his insensitivity and highly inappropriate behaviour. That was the first time we were threatened and pressurised to withdraw a complaint against a mental health professional. This man is long dead - he was a retired psychiatrist from the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, T. Gwynne Williams, who was working shifts in the student health centre at University College of North Wales (now Bangor University). We discovered years later that this 'successful man' was notorious - he had been an enthusiastic lobotomist...

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