Jonathan King and Mark Williams-Thomas: Some Media Notes

From the Daily Mail‘s Crime Correspondent Rebecca Camber, a couple of days ago:

Jonathan King has blasted ‘false allegations’ after he said sex assault charges against him had been dropped and vowed he would challenge the earlier convictions which sent him to prison.

It came after police were savaged yesterday for their disastrous handling of Jonathan King’s fourth trial on child abuse charges.

…In a withering ruling, Judge Deborah Taylor blasted police and prosecutors. She said Surrey Police pursued the case not in the interests of justice but to repair the damage to their reputation over failings in the Jimmy Savile case.

King was originally convicted of sex offences against teenage boys in 2001; Merseyside Police reviewed Surrey’s investigation in 2014, and according to Camber, in a somewhat awkwardly expressed sentence,

This revealed flaws, while also suggesting that some victims may not have achieved justice.

The result was a new investigation, which began in 2015 and led to charges in 2017 and a trial that imploded a few weeks ago due to disclosure “errors”. These “errors” related to evidence gathered before 2015, and as such the 2014 Merseyside review – described by the Mail as a “secret report” that was “covered up” – is directly relevant; as Camber explains:

The unpublished Merseyside report said officers did not tape full interviews and used short notes and answers to victim questionnaires for statements typed up days or weeks later.

The report warned this practice could undermine other prosecutions were it routine.

In 2014 Surrey Police also learnt that former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, who helped run the original inquiry and is now an investigative journalist, was allegedly offering to sell information on – and introductions to – King’s victims.

The judge said this meant King should never have been charged on evidence taken by Mr Williams-Thomas. Detectives also failed to log their contacts with victims and witnesses and misled a magistrates to get a search warrant.

They did not disclose key matters to the defence including medical evidence about a victim undermining his own testimony.

This allegation about Williams-Thomas – who achieved fame with his 2012 documentary about Jimmy Savile – is discussed further in a second Daily Mail report published the same day. For some reason, this piece is bylined not to Camber but to a generic “Crime Correspondent for the Daily Mail”:

A former police officer in the Jonathan King case who is now a TV documentary reporter offered to sell the names of the pop mogul’s victims, according to a judge.

…But yesterday his professional reputation was called into question after Judge Deborah Taylor delivered a withering assessment of his previous work for Surrey Police on the King case. before he left the force in October 2000 Mr Williams-Thomas was the detective who interviewed the first man to accuse King of sexual assault. He [i.e. Williams-Thomas] was subsequently accused – and acquitted – of blackmail in an unrelated case.

Yesterday the judge said: ‘During the investigation into that offence a document was found on his computer offering for sale names and introductions to victims of Mr King.’

…The judge added that it had been suggested ‘there was deliberate concealment of his previous prosecution and of the documents indicating attempts to gain financial advantage from selling details of Mr King’s case’.

The article also states that Williams-Thomas allegedly retained in his possession notebooks that were the property of Surrey Police.

Although not clear from the above, the blackmail allegation against Williams-Thomas was resolved in mid-2003. This means that the alleged document on his computer offering to sell names was first discovered by police long before the 2014 date provided in the Camber-bylined article [UPDATE: More on this here].

The second article adds that Williams-Thomas has “denied ever knowing the victims’ identities, or offering them for sale”, which leaves open the question of where such an idea may have come from. Perhaps some confusion has slipped in due to Williams-Thomas’s role as some sort of informal agent for “VIP abuse” complainants; for example, in 2014 Camber noted (as did other media) that the initial allegation against Cliff Richard “first emerged in October 2012 when the alleged victim contacted Mark Williams-Thomas, an investigative journalist and former detective”. In 2016, Williams-Thomas was announcing “new lines of inquiry” in relation to the singer, with a “file expected to go to CPS within next 8 weeks”. Journalists who have worked with Williams-Thomas over the years may be able to shed some light on the subject.

Subsequent commentary 

The Mail has also published other articles about the case outcome, all with polemical overtones. A further item credited to Camber accuses King of having “taunted” his accusers by claiming to have been “cleared”, while a profile by Alison Boshoff refers to his “DJ swagger” and to a “string of convictions”, which is an odd way to describe one trial, even though there were several complainants. (1)

More substantial, however, is an op-ed by Nazir Afzal, who is celebrated for his past work as a Chief Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service. Afzal writes:

When new accusations were made against him, detectives assumed he was guilty and didn’t try to reach the necessary benchmarks of proof. (There is also a concern now that King might use this shambles to try to have his previous conviction quashed.)

Their failures were shocking. Full interviews with alleged victims were not carried out, notes were not typed up until weeks later and, worst of all, evidence was hidden.

Afzal’s analysis here is confused about the timeline: he has actually listed old failings that were revealed by the Merseyside review in 2014, before the new investigation even started. The issue is how old material was misrepresented in 2018, as is made clear from Matthew Scott’s account of the judgment on his blog:

Complainant A’s evidence – seemingly the very first witness ever to make a statement about King [in 2000] – did not in the end form part of the original trials, and a count relating to it was “left on the file,” where it remained until 2018. At that point the prosecution applied to resurrect it, in order to join it to the new case. They told the court that they had made full disclosure, and on that basis the judge allowed counts based on A’s case to be joined to the new trial.

This is why “deliberate concealment of [Williams-Thomas’s] previous prosecution and of the documents indicating attempts to gain financial advantage” was an issue, and why “King should never have been charged [in 2017] on evidence taken by Mr Williams-Thomas [in 2000]”.

The implications, as Matthew explains, could be grave:

Of course there may be some innocent explanation for all this. Cock-ups tend to be rather more common than conspiracies. Mr Wiliams-Thomas was not prosecuted for any offence relating to corruption or misconduct in public office, so we should not assume that he was guilty of any wrongdoing. One would like to think not, because a police officer, or an ex-police officer, making money by selling the contact details of complainants, or even thinking about doing so, is the sort of thing which utterly corrupts not just one case but potentially every case in which he is, or has ever been, involved. (2)

Excursus: Jonathan King and Anna Raccoon

Regarding the merits of King’s original prosecution in 2001, Matthew Scott refers to Bob Woffinden’s analysis of the case:

In his final 2016 book, The Nicholas Cases, Woffinden… made a compelling case that the original trial had been unfair and produced evidence that suggested King had a strong alibi for one of the offences – he was in America at the time, as attested by several witnesses and documents discovered after the trial. Another of Woffinden’s revelations was that the main complainant in the case against King had, reportedly, after the trial, admitted lying against King for money: he had also apparently sold his story for £45,000 to one newspaper and £5,000 to another.

I had a brief email exchange with King in 2015, after he wrote a private message thanking me for a post I had written about an event involving Paul Gambaccini and Chris Jefferies. Before he contacted me, I received an message of introduction from the late Susanne Nundy (or Susanne Cameron-Blackie), better known as Anna Raccoon, in which she said that “I’m not given to writing references for too many people – but for Jonathan – I am happy to vouch for him”. She went into further details, although the rest of her message, sent by Twitter DM, has been lost.

The news in 2017 that King was to stand trial once again came as a shock to Anna, who at that time was entering the last stage of her illness. She lost confidence in her original judgement that King had been a victim of a miscarriage of justice, and she began to post prejudicial Tweets about the case. She also repudiated all of her writings that critically scrutinised high-profile abuse allegations (including a forensic dissection of the Savile “Duncroft” claims, drawing on her own background as a former resident of the institution); she issued apologies to extravagant “VIP” accusers and their vicious associates, and turned on old friends and allies. It was a sad end; I was put in mind of crude evangelical tracts that imagine Voltaire recanting on his deathbed, or an elderly Charles Darwin repudiating the theory of evolution.

Notes

1. The offences were said to have occurred between 1983 and 1989, but the trial was in 2001. Someone skimming the background might misread the earlier dates as referring to earlier convictions, thus providing the “string of convictions”.

2. This measured assessment is in contrast with Williams-Thomas’s own rhetoric about Matthew. In 2015, Williams-Thomas said on Twitter that he had blocked him due to his “views about child abusers & his small group of pro paedophile followers”. He did not explain what these “views” were, although he inferred something disreputable from Matthew’s criticism of the decision to make Greville Janner attend court despite a medical diagnosis of advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Further details here.

26 Responses

  1. Regarding Anna Raccoon & Jonathan King, if I recall correctly it wasn’t so much the news that he would face another trial that shocked her but more that she felt he had misled her over the number of complainants (of which she had believed there was only one).

    As she was quite clearly not seeing things with her usual clarity – and under the circumstances it’s a miracle she was able to engage at all – it’s impossible to know whether that feeling of having been misled was grounded in reality or not, or even what it might have meant HAD it been a well founded belief. (For example, King may not have wanted to burden her further with his problems when she herself was facing up to her imminent passing. Perhaps he’ll clear the matter up if he pops in.)

    And while it may be true to say that she “turned on old friends and allies” it would be remiss not to mention that she was also turned UPON by people without the excuse of being at death’s door, medicated beyond the limits of most people’s comprehension and with the concomitant clouding of judgement to which we unfortunately had to bear witness & which was exploited by the freaks who cosied up to her at the end. Some of them had previously rejoiced in her suffering (or claimed that it was all a put-on as she wasn’t really ill, total bastards that they are) but they’ll just have to live with the fact that a great part of Anna’a output was preserved by those who truly cared about her, with a special mention for The Blocked Dwarf:
    https://annaraccoon.com/

  2. The man is a complete egotist. Describing him as having “DJ swagger” far being polemic is quite mild.

    • An odd comment from one who regularly comments on King’s website.
      An egotist?. More like a convicted person who will not skulk around as the media demands and if they do not do so as ordered, are then insulted with idiotic statements like “DJ swagger” whatever in the hell that means. King clearly refuses to enter into the game demanded by a non-thinking public who jump when ordered by the gutter media to believe that even once a person has done their sentence, they be refused entry back into society when the whole basis of conviction and jailing is that once you have “done the time” it is your right to re-enter society as a member with full rights. Or is the entire notion of probation, mentoring and all the so-called efforts that prisoners go through whilst incarcerated just a sham?

      • Eric,

        I have posted on his website, but not recently, because it can be an interesting place to discuss current affairs, politics, music, etc.

        It’s true that he has some talent. His constant boasts about his connections with musicians and how he was really the person behind the success of X, Y, or Z band or musician, however, show that ‘egotist’ is a fair description. And then there were his frankly offensive comments about the late George Michael at a time when his family were grieving his death. I guess you guys turned a blind eye to those comments, while fulminating (justifiably, granted) about the way Anna Raccoon was being treated during her last months by certain people she had considered friends or allies.

        He can ban me from his site if he likes, that of course is his right.

      • “In the beginning King created the heavens and the earth and light pop. Now the earth was formless though not quite empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of King was hovering over the waters and around the backstage area of the Walton Hop. And King said, “Let there be lads,” and there were lads…”

        Etcetera. Ho ho ho!

  3. “Regarding Anna Raccoon & Jonathan King, if I recall correctly it wasn’t so much the news that he would face another trial that shocked her but more that she felt he had misled her over the number of complainants (of which she had believed there was only one).”

    Bandini, yes that was also my understanding of the situation at the time, and I think she stated he had led her to believe that the one allegation had resulted in NFA by the DPP, which was not the case, as the matter did go to trial.

    • I was one who Anna quite viciously attacked merely for asking another of her supporters if they thought (like me) that the drugs she was taking (and they were extremely heavy painkillers- the type that does distort thinking- let’s not kid ourselves about this fact) were having an effect on her thinking. Her attack was way out of proportion to my question and she thundered at me as though I had grievously betrayed her. It basically confirmed that she was in an awful state of anger over her coming death and the painkillers were exaggerating that. I’ve seen this before- people who robustly& bravely take on life as she did and who you think are the ones who will face the inevitable bravado can wilt in the final days.

  4. Luckily as the first effect of the drugs wore off, Sue (Anna) returned to us, apologised to me at length and we remained dear, close friends and allies until the very end.

    • Jonathan King, as you are here, do you have any comment on the Wikipedia claim that when Chris Denning was first convicted way back in 1974, you summarily dismissed him?

      A lil hypocritical on your part, no?

      • Also in relation to your claim that Sue aka Anna ‘returned to us’ can you explain what you mean by that?

      • I fired Chris long before he was convicted and why would it have been hypocritical? He was a great plugger; lousy manager. And Sue returned to reality some weeks before the end.

      • “Why would it have been hypocritical”

        Because you’re also a nonce. That’s why.

      • The Wikipedia thing is actually Denning making that claim: “He [King] sacked me when I got into trouble for the very same thing that he is accused of. We haven’t been friends since.”

        It’s from a badly-written Telegraph piece from Sean O’Neill:

        “It was during investigations by the National Criminal Intelligence Squad into Denning’s activities in the Czech Republic that some of his victims also made allegations of abuse by King.

        Several of the men who made statements alleging that they had been abused by King also claimed that they had been victims of Denning. A number said they had been introduced to King by Denning.”

        Eh? Denning’s victims mentioned King, then these then went on to mention Denning. Well it’s certainly a ‘ring’ of sorts, like a snake eating its own tail.

        Not sure when in 1974 Denning was first convicted, but here he was in September of that year launching his own record label – ‘Live Wire Records’ – something which might suggest the cord between them had already been severed:
        https://books.google.es/books?id=twcEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT65&lpg=PT65&dq=billboard+chris+denning&source=bl&ots=30KYiMh-xU&sig=K2-dLYEtTixHHMoaa_WZbPMyEIE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiqsequmuHcAhXrx4UKHTv5BZsQ6AEwAHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=billboard%20chris%20denning&f=false

        But I’m off to bed now so will leave this for any poteen-fuelled researchers to follow up!

      • Not sure if you´ve seen this, TDF:
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6034953/BBC-Radio-1-founding-DJ-Chris-Denning-cleared-abusing-underage-boy.html
        “New blow to Operation Yewtree as paedophile who was one of Radio One’s founding DJs is cleared of abusing an underage boy… … This could not be reported because of the trial of pop personality Jonathan King [b]ut King’s case has collapsed and all charges against him have been dropped…”

      • Bandini, yes I did see it. It’s probably what ‘triggered’ me to go over to Wiki and see what their write-up on Denning said. In the interests of full disclosure, I have a Wiki account, but rarely use it, and have made no edits to the pieces on either King or Denning.

      • That Telegraph piece from 2001 about Denning refers to a 5 year statute of limitations in the Czech Republic for sex crimes. Contrary to what Eric might assume of me, I do actually agree with a statute of limitations for the vast majority of alleged sex crimes, though 5 years strikes me as too short.

    • Oh for God’s sake don’t bother with tdf who seems to inveigle websites as he did with Anna Raccoon (as he does with King of Hits) and lays what seems a pathway of reasonableness to seemingly lure people in as a supporter and then launches an unexpected broadside of idiocy as perfectly illustrated by the words “nonce”. Go back to the News of The World days tdf where your thinking was formulated. You can buy old copies on the web that have the favourite ” Vicar in a saucy sex romp with parishioner” tales.

  5. Thank you so much for clarifying.

  6. Bandini is funny, I’ve never drunk poitin. One of the few things I’m scared of.

    I will be in the environs of Dublin city centre between the hours of 11:00 in the a.m. to 16:00 pm next Wednesday due to certain meetings. The latter timeline might be extended, who knows.

    By the way, anyone that has a weak liver probably wouldn’t want to go drinking with me. Just some sensible advice.

  7. Jonathan King a ‘geek’, Denis Corday a ‘silly fluffy man’. From Mike Hume writing about the Walton Hon in Spiked in 2003. Make of it what you will:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/6814#.W3Rg9fZFzIV

  8. I posted this on Jonathan King’s blog but I think it is also worth putting up here.

    Former Irish Supreme Court Justice Adrian Hardiman’s review of Paul Gambaccini’s book (I suspect the date at the bottom is wrong, incidentally, as he quotes comments made by Hillary Clinton in 2016):

    http://www.drb.ie/essays/kafka-on-thames

    “Perhaps we expect too much of the law. Childhood games of Cluedo ‑ Colonel Mustard, in the library, with a candlestick – and detective stories from Wilkie Collins to Stieg Larsson have created an expectation of simple justice, scientific resolution and finality. But life’s not like that, or not any more. “

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