Why did Barbara Hewson choose now to enter the debate so controversially?
The charges, motives, political figures, police victimisation, local government corruption and legal ramifications of the Great Celebrity Distraction Campaign took a sensational turn overnight. Further Slog desk research and Slogger informants have together presented a picture bearing all the thumbprints of the Secret State and the Conservative Party at the highest level.
Trawling the internet this afternoon, it was pretty hard to miss the Tsunami of comment about top lawyer Barbara Hewson’s (left) remarks on the subject of solving Britain’s paedophile problem. Just as new Bank of England governor Mark Carney thinks the solution to our export problem is to take Sterling down to parity with the Zimbabwean toenail, so too Ms Hewson thinks the way to eradicate kiddy-fiddling perversion is to lower the age of consent to 13.
I’m unsure as to whether Ms Hewson is merely a simple denialist fluffy (this seems doubtful, but you never know); or a practicalist lawyer trying to put an end to this sad line of old groping hasbeens (whose significance she doesn’t understand); or, er, something else more sinister. Whatever the truth of the matter, more evidence has come to light in the last eighteen hours to lend support to the idea that at least three of this geriatric parade are linked together….and to others higher up.
The Slog has learned that convicted rapist and Blackpool FC Chairman Owen Oyston (left) whose involvement I revealed yesterday – formed a company in 2004. Prominent among the directors of this company are two familiar names giving their profession as ‘actor’: Stuart Hall and Bill Roache. Roache played the Coronation Street character Ken Barlow, and was arrested recently on a forty-year old charge of rape. Mr Hall needs no introduction. The telling connection between these three characters is technical rape of a teenager – that is, under-age sex. Barbara Hewson is a flag of some kind, but whether that be false or otherwise, you can see what she’s getting at: none of these three are paedophiles as I would understand them. They are a distraction from the activities of others. Hewson’s ‘idea’ of consent lowering would in my view backfire – rapidly turning into a farce whereby genuine child molesters would plead ignorance of age….or choose their prey carefully, and end up being innocent of any crime. It is this last possibility that makes me wonder why such an Establishment figure as Barbara Hewson has chosen this moment to stand up and be counted….as something or other as yet unclear.
All three men were accused of sex with girls under sixteen. I have written before of the repeated and robotic way in which the authorities keep on referring to Hall’s alleged crime as “indecent assault of girls as young as nine“. One person involved in the enquiry has so far informed me that there is precisely one case of a nine year-old….and one other believes it was a fit-up. Hall’s previous indiscreet bragging about “having bedded a hundred women” while running It’s a Knockout is not the behaviour of a paedophile, but either that of a randy baldie unable to believe his luck, or a sex-pest and general dickhead – wherever your view sits on the gender-war spectrum of insanity. His indiscretion – as in the case of DSK – probably made him an easy target in the first place.
But an easy target for whom? The truly intriguing thing about Oystons Ltd (the company linked to above) is that it was formed at least twenty years after any of these ‘offences’ occurred. The nature and purpose of the company is vague in the records: but for three blokes in one company to suddenly find themselves charged with exactly the same crime is too bizarre to be a coincidence. And this is where it starts to get interesting.
At the time of his conviction for rape, several prominent figures in the smart Lancashire suburbs close to Blackpool suggested that Oyston had been set up by people close to his ‘victims’. The motive was never in doubt: the Labour Party’s biggest private contributor in the days of Neil Kinnock’s (left) leadership was Owen Oyston. In what several former Labour Party members still believe was a political Dirty Tricks campaign, Oyston wound up being charged on four counts of raping 15-16 year old girls. At the time, he admitted he “took advantage of” women, but again insisted that the use of ‘rape’ was only technically correct in one case, while denying three of the four charges utterly.
This Hansard extract from fifteen years ago is extremely telling, I think (my emphases):
MP for Workington, Dale Campbell-Savours:
“You will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this a particularly difficult issue to raise. Members of Parliament do not usually stand up in the Chamber and allow themselves to be identified with those who would seek to defend a man successfully prosecuted for the offence of rape. What I say here this evening could easily be misrepresented.
I take that risk because I believe that someone must speak up on this case. Arising out of the Oyston trial, I see the danger of future miscarriages of justice, where cases are badly investigated, men are charged with rape and juries convict on the basis of uncorroborated evidence in closely contested cases. I am talking about convictions in the complete absence of medical or scientific support.
This debate is about the case of the rape of a 16-year old girl by a 57-year-old man. I am arguing that the case raises issues of public policy and natural justice.
This was one of a series of six such allegations made against this man. A magistrate found no case to answer in three of the cases. A Crown court acquitted him in two. The allegations, which a jury upheld, were that the man indecently assaulted a young woman, whom I will call J, in the back of a car in the presence of two other passengers, one of whom was her friend. Twenty minutes later, J alleged, he raped her in his own bed in his own home. Both allegations were challenged by J’s friend Lysa Rubotham, who was in the car and in the bedroom.
Mr. Oyston asked to meet me in the House of Commons and told me that he was the subject of a conspiracy–his words. He was being prosecuted for rape. I could not comment on the issue of conspiracy–I have no knowledge of those matters. He told me that he had been very stupid, an admission he was subsequently to make in the course of his trial. He also told me that he had been having sexual relationships with young women. He seemed to me to be admitting that he had taken advantage of his position as a media tycoon.”
A very consistent account from Oyston, given to the MP after his release in 1998. But there’s more. Whoever wanted Oyston out of the game went to great lengths to maximise the chances of conviction. Separate juries were sworn in for each rape charge, and the judge ruled the trial could not be reported until all the sex charges against him had been decided. Aye-aye, that sounds familiar.
Certainly, senior political figures had been trying to nobble Oyston for years. Sir Robert Atkins (left) was once John Major’s closest confidante in the Commons. He was the MP for South Ribble from 1983 to 1996, and a minister at the Department of Trade and Industry and Northern Ireland. Oyston took legal action against Atkins for defamation: it is alleged by two Slog informants that his very sudden retirement as countryside minister at 49, ‘to spend more time with my family’, occurred because Oyston had a case – and Number Ten wanted the Major Cabinet distanced from the scandal.
Another player in the drama was the Tory MP for Blackpool South from 1964, later Lord Blaker. As a major bidder for regional media licences, he was a direct rival of Oyston’s, whose media ambitions were massive.
Another still was wealthy local property developer Bill Harrison, who developed an enormous caravan park on Marton Mere. This patch of marshland was owned by Blackpool Council, and leased to Harrison without any rival bidding by the Conservative Council leader, Len Broughton. The deal was slammed by both the Caravan Club of Great Britain and the Sunday Times. But Harrison’s career seemed unstoppable. He became friendly with MI6 agent Airey Neave, murdered by the INLA after organising Margaret Thatcher’s election as Tory leader. During Tory conferences at Blackpool, Margaret Thatcher landed by helicopter on the lawn of Greyfriars, Bill Harrison’s home at Preston, where she used to stay overnight. Several other government ministers stayed at Greyfriars during that time.
Now here is something which, twenty years on, hits a somewhat sour note: Owen Oyston’s lawyers were three weeks away from a hearing in the conspiracy to defame case against Atkins, Blaker and Harrison referred to earlier when, before dawn on February 9, 1995, a team of 11 Manchester Police officers drove up a rough track through the woods below Oyston’s manor house and hammered on the door of his country pile, Claughton Hall. They carried warrants for Oyston’s arrest on charges of rape, indecent assault and procuring girls for sex. The rest is history. But history has a habit of boomeranging into the present.
Stuart Hall is known for his strong Labour Party leanings, and Bill Roache considers himself a small ‘l’ liberal these days. A close friend of Hall’s is Tom (now Lord) Pendry, the Labour peer. Hall campaigned for Pendry in the 1979 general election having appeared on the Labour MP’s leaflet under the headline, “Tom’s a Knockout”. Pendry is also a friend of Owen Oyston, sharing with him a passion for soccer. A year after the Oyston case, Pendry was widely expected to get the job as Minister of Sport in Tony Blair’s Get Better Government; in fact, he was 10-1 on favourite with the bookies. Inexplicably, he didn’t get it: the job went to the utterly astonished Tony Banks. One wonders whose hand at the end of a long arm tapped on the shoulder of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.
Very little these days is as it seems. We are still short of much information about the Celebrity Distraction Strategy being employed by person or persons unknown. But as it stands now – even as one who has never supported the Labour Party – some if this feels not so much a case of Defence of the Realm as Defence of the Conservative Party.