Man Who Accused Cliff Richard Was Already Known as a Fantasist Following Leon Brittan Investigation

An article from David Rose and Rosie Waterhouse in today’s Mail on Sunday reveals new information about the disastrous police investigation into Cliff Richard:

This newspaper has established that one of Sir Cliff’s accusers, a man known as ‘David’, had already been exhaustively investigated by [DCI Paul] Settle and his team, and found to be a suggestible, vulnerable fantasist. David, who had learning difficulties and had been in care, told them he was raped as a boy by both Sir Cliff and Elton John at a sex party, at which media baron Rupert Murdoch and former Labour deputy leader Lord Prescott were also guests.

‘Needless to say, this didn’t happen,’ Mr Settle said.

Yet the South Yorkshire investigation into Sir Cliff took David seriously. Legal sources have confirmed that although the Met had already decided he was not a reliable witness, South Yorkshire detectives – who took over the Cliff Richard investigation from Yewtree – treated him as a ‘victim’.

Settle was formerly in charge of Operation Fairbank, an “umbrella” investigation set up by the Metropolitan Police the wake of “VIP abuse” allegations raised in Parliament by Tom Watson MP in 2012. In 2016 he addressed the Home Affairs Select Committee on the subject of how the police had handled a rape allegation made against the former Home Secretary Leon Brittan by a woman referred to as “Jane”. Settle told the committee that Brittan had “no case to answer”, and said that a subsequent interview under caution (conducted at Brittan’s home, during his terminal illness) had been unlawful. He also described the investigation as a “baseless witch-hunt”, and shortly afterwards he gave an interview to the Daily Mail in a personal capacity, in which he claimed that he had been “frozen out and isolated by senior officers” after Watson had criticised his decision as regards “Jane”.

“David” had also accused Leon Brittan, which was why Settle had been in contact with him; in 1990, David had been introduced by “former social worker and convicted fraudster called Chris Fay” to

a journalist called Gill Priestly, now deceased. In a series of taped interviews with her, David made astonishing claims: that he had been sexually assaulted by Lord Brittan, and ‘trafficked’ to Amsterdam, where he was forced to watch as children were raped and murdered to make ‘snuff’ porn movies.

The story appeared in the Sunday Times that year, in an article bylined to Maurice Chittenden (although the name “David” was not used). Fay – who is close to the conspiracy promoter Bill Maloney – maintained a relationship with “David” that led to further outlandish claims appearing in the media in 2014. This is not discussed in the article (aside from a reference to Exaro), perhaps to avoid too much digression, but also perhaps due to “David’s” selective recourse to the anonymity to which sex-crime complainants are legally entitled.

So why did Yewtree take “David” seriously after Settle’s investigation?

In October 2013, the police records say, [Mark] Williams-Thomas produced the tapes of Gill Priestly’s interviews with David. He approached Mr Settle’s boss, Detective Superintendent David Gray, and played them to him and a detective constable at the ITV studios. The full contents of the tapes have not been disclosed.

Mr Settle said: ‘We had already finished with David, but here was Williams-Thomas apparently trying to reincarnate him as a witness. It was quite apparent the tapes were the musings of a fantasist.’

According to the report, Priestly had played the tapes to Williams-Thomas while the latter was a police officer with Surrey Police, and then for some reason given them to him for “safe keeping” after he left the force in 2000. In 2013, Williams-Thomas made a media name for himself by presenting the Exposure documentary on Jimmy Savile, and he is now established as an expect commentator on crime matters.

“David” retracted his claims in a 2015 Panorama documentary (which I discussed here), and it seems that Williams-Thomas offered him some advice about this ahead of broadcast:

David was to be one of [Panorama‘s] star witnesses, admitting he had made false allegations because he was suggestible and felt under pressure.

Williams-Thomas had promised to consider giving Panorama the Priestly tapes, but failed to do so, say BBC sources. Then, after David had been filmed, Williams-Thomas sent him an email, urging him either to insist on concealing his identity or not to appear at all, drafting messages that he suggested David should copy and send to the BBC.

‘DON’T tell the BBC we have spoken,’ he wrote, ‘just say you have spoken to a friend who has given you advice.’

Williams-Thomas appears to have a remarkable private archive: in August, in the wake of the Jonathan King mistrial, it was revealed that he had retained notebooks from his time at Surrey Police.

The Rose and Waterhouse article notes that Williams-Thomas has “has openly boasted that he was the source of up to 20 suspects’ names being submitted to Operation Yewtree”, and Settle is quoted as describing him as “reckless in the extreme” in disclosing information to the media. The article notes his use of Twitter to break news of arrests and developments in the cases of Freddie Starr and Jim Davidson (both eventually shown to be innocent), and his gratuitous use of “#savile” and “#jimmysavile” hashtags in relation to these – as well as his late criticisms of South Yorkshire Police when it was evident that the Cliff Richard investigation had foundered.

25 Responses

  1. Regarding ‘David’ (i.e. AA) our reliably cracked old pal, Mad Mary, has some info & a recording – “taped about 25 yrs ago by Andrew at my house just before his diappeared/kidnapped (making front page of the times)” – of even poorer quality than the back-to-front, upside down & out of focus photos of the Elm ‘guest list’:

    “He came to NAYPIC in the early 90’s and had the misfortune to meet Chris Fay who put him in touch with Gill Priestly of MSM…”

    The Mail-piece takes a side-swipe at those more deserving of a full frontal assault:

    “However, others were taking David’s allegations seriously. He was introduced to reporters from the now-defunct Exaro News website. This spectacularly unreliable witness became a source for multiple, lurid stories…”

    Didn’t he just!

    • Just a thought, but why would Surrey Police have been involved? (“Priestly had played the tapes to Williams-Thomas while the latter was a police officer with Surrey Police…”)

      I can find precious little about this journalist, MSM or otherwise. In fact I’ve found nothing so far…

    • A bit more on the mysterious journalist said to have handed recordings over to MWT, though as it apparently comes from the pen of AA / ‘David’ it’s not easy to make sense off:

      “And then the shocker? Came
      The question was,
      Who were you in a bisexual relationship with well at NAYPIC?
      Will it could not have been Mary Moss could it?
      And it couldn’t have been that cute Chris Fay could it,
      He was the cheekiest one,
      So who the hell who is it,
      , Gill Priestly, Well, she added A reputation in the 60s with Maxwell,
      And her son Ben would of belt me one in the face if I had done…”

      This might suggest that Priestly was part of NAYPIC. Then again, God knows!

  2. My memory of NAYPIC in the 80s was Mary Moss, leather jacketed, raising a finger at soc services conferences against ‘children’s rights’ being disrespected. This was Islington by and large never let it be forgot who subsequently launched a ‘get right in there’ policy for all. I think want Moss was trying to convey as ‘children’s rights’ at the time wasn’t what was promoted subsequently by NAYPIC.
    Fay was a Greenwich councillor much beloved by David Hencke and the SWT editor at the time. (1988-90) There were a number of ‘hell-raising’ protests in children’s homes as I remember with Fay the chief protaganist/publicist.

    Unfortunately he latched on to the ‘sex abuse’ hysteria and falsely accused local MP Peter Bottomley in his enthusiasm. The false claims were relayed in the Daily Mail and possibly Private Eye? It resulted in a massive settlement in favour of Bottomley but in the meantime, Fay had to ‘support’ his wild accs by engineering distressed fantasist Carole Kazir, and any other casual acquaintance, (Andrew Ashworth for instance)into false claims about Elm Guest House & other newsworthy targets (the list a moveable feast in itself).
    And so it goes on.All about ‘me’. But it turned out that Fay was the fraud after all. All about ‘me’.

    • Margaret, are you saying that Fay & Hencke knew each other as far back as circa-1990?!? I wasn’t aware of this.

      Hencke has always tried to claim that Fay wasn’t that important to his incredible ‘Boy Brothel’ tale despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary – such as palming off (ooh-err!) Zac Goldsmith with the ‘minister in the sauna photo’ crap which came uniquely from Fay. Here’s Hencke lying as usual:

      “There are two separate sources. First my original source – not Chris Fay who a colleague met – was a former local government officer on Richmond Council… … It wasn’t complaints from survivors but the residents who lived on this smart Barnes street. They were fed up with people coming at all hours, seeing children going into the guest house, and having posh chauffeur driven cars…”

      Posh cars? Sounds like he could have written for the Morning Star nevermind the SWT.

      • Yes, if not directly then indirectly. Hencke had a column in SWT and Fay was a SWT informer. Hencke regularly met with the editor. The editor at the time was very keen on the Fay political ructions in South London children’s homes (multiple news reports) and Hencke was a interested in scandal as the Guardian’s westminster reporter outside the lobby.
        When Jon Gilbert became editor mid 90 Hencke was dropped. The whole Greenwich fiasco didn’t interest me at the time and nor did Hencke. Except he was a scandal name-dropper as I remember from social outings. I once tried to interest him in something real and his eyes went into the middle distance talking about his deceased cat.

      • Could it have been the traumatic loss of his pet that pushed Hencke over the edge & into the abyss of madness? If it died, squashed beneath the wheels of a Rolls Royce – or perhaps of fright after having had some bangers tied to its tail during a ‘Satanic ritual’ (such as Halloween or Bonfire Night’s precursor, Mischief Night) – it could all make sense!

        Poor Hencke – no pussy to stroke, seeking solace in fantastical tales of brothels brimming with boys’ bottoms…

      • FAO Bandini mainly.

        It hasn’t been moderated yet, but for what it’s worth, my reply to Andrew/David’s nonsense:

      • Cheers, TDF.
        I had noticed that the idea of ‘another list’ had been posited, and that Hencke – rather than rolling his eyes & groaning as any sane person would do – found the information “very interesting”.

        God, please no! Can you imagine going through it all again, only this time with a different ‘list’?!? Aaaargh!

      • FAO TDF mainly:

        Direct yourself to Hencke’s favourite place: the bottom.

      • Ok thanks Bandini. Not sure why that trial is on in Newcastle, apart from that, no surprises. He was always going to find himself in front of the beak at some point.

      • Will the judge permit Nick to regale the court with his pomes?

  3. MWT also released Rolf Harris’s name on Twitter with the #Savile and #sexual offences hashtags months before he was arrested or charged, to a frenzy of retweeting.

  4. Game over for Mark Williams-Thomas, this, plus the outing of Nick/Carl abroad has him truly beached.

  5. […] according to unconfirmed content in comments on an article on Richard Bartholomew’s “barthsnotes” website the alleged connection between […]

  6. RE Bandini As i remember the cat was very old and had to be put down. But he told me this to excuse the fact he was not listening to my story. In the HoC tearoom. It closed my information down in effect. But really, I later realised, he was not interested because it wasn’t on his radar. Can’t remember what it was about but something , Nspcc, Cleveland and Children Act I think, but he didn’t tune in to my concerns.

    When I spoke to him about Elm Guest House a few years ago I realised what a poor memory he had of everything back then.

  7. The involvement of the Mirror in all this requires investigation; so many of MWT’s exclusives appeared there. I wonder whether this fine Reach organ now regards MWT as “toast” (a word used to me yesterday by a key ITV executive)? I’m delighted to have been the conduit for the spotlight on MWT albeit a rather uncomfortable couple of years getting here. Jonathan King.

  8. The bottom line: Staying afraid often keeps us from truly living.
    Presently there is a benefit that flows through heaven and earth.
    Did he talk about some of your behavior you just just shrugged off?

  9. David Hencke has excreted another article:
    I’ve commented in order to correct at least a couple of his false statements & wretched lies.

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