Tag Archives: Home Secretary

The sex toys, the Home Secretary, the “rough” family and the serial killer(s?)j

I try to vary what is in this blog.

Comedy, media, a little bit of crime and sub-cultures that perhaps go under-reported. At heart, there is one major core – people, people, people – but quirky is always good too. Quirky funny or quirky worrying.

I guess today’s blog is on the quirky worrying side. Three stories…

This morning, I looked at my e-diary for 7th October 1999 and there was this entry:

Malcolm Hardee outside Grover Court in 1995

Comic Malcolm Hardee told me a story. I think it was true.

I talked to comedian Malcolm Hardee on the phone this evening. He said police had stopped the car of (an independent TV producer we both knew) when the producer was driving through London. They opened the boot of the car and found a vast collection of vibrators and sex aids. The News of the World newspaper had got hold of this story and (the producer) heard they knew, so he went to them in a pre-emptive strike, saying: “They were for a new TV comedy show.” This was not true. But the News of the World did not run the story.

Now back to 2014.

This morning I got an e-mail from John Ward – mad inventor and designer of the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards. He sent me a link to an online website.

Currently on this site, you can buy:

  • a slimline digital camcorder for £27 (reduced from £99.99)
  • a 5-piece ceramic non-stick saucepan set for £19.99 (reduced from £129.95)
  • an online do-it-yourself Forensic Psychology course for £29 (reduced from £220)
Save 87% now on an online Crime Scene Investigation course!

Save 87% now on an online Crime Scene Investigation course!

The online do-it-yourself Forensic Psychology course has “15 modules, including mental disorders, serial killers, abuse and more”.

The sales blurb reads:

There’s no denying our fascination with crime, from watching reruns of Breaking Bad to reading about real-life crime investigations. But if you’d like to delve deeper than the tabloids into the criminal psyche, we’ve seized just the deal… The course outlines the research methods required to understand criminal minds, covering mental disorders, psychiatric defences, eyewitness testimonies and more.

Module 9 of the course covers “Mental disorder as a defence.”

John Ward’s comment to me was: “I quite expect the next one to be about of How to Conduct Your Very Own Autopsy. It’s a strange world we survive in.”

Which brings me to Story Three…

Alan Johnson (left) at the Sohemian Society last night

Alan Johnson (left) chatted at the Sohemian Society last night

Last night, I went to a Sohemian Society meeting at which Labour MP Alan Johnson was talking about This Boy, the first volume of his autobiography, set in the squalor of 1950s and 1960s Notting Hill in London.

One tale linked Alan Johnson – a future Home Secretary – with a crime.

In Notting Hill, there was a young man called Johnny who was the brother of Alan Johnson’s sister’s boyfriend. Johnny came form a ‘rough’ family. You did not mess with this family.

Alan Johnson said last night: “Johnny had had his time a a Teddy Boy, but now had a wife and two kids and a respectable job with Express Dairies as a milkman.”

Empty milk bottles on a doorstep

Empty milk bottles on doorstep in British days of yore

In those days, every morning, milk was delivered to people’s doorsteps and, usually once a week, the money was collected. Alan was a milk boy, assisting Johnny on his milk round.

“Every couple of streets,” Alan Johnson said last night, “Johnny would stop the milk float, look in the mirror and comb his Tony-Curtis-with-a-DA hairstyle.”

Johnny was not someone you messed with.

“There was a place called Ruston Close,” Alan Johnson explained. “At No 10, Johnny would always send me in on my own to collect the money on all these different floors while he sat there (in the milk float).

“I used to say: Why don’t you come in there with me?

“And eventually I found out it was because it was 10 Rillington Place. It was so notorious, they had changed the name to Ruston Place.”

John Christie

John Christie – he certainly killed women

10 Rillington Place was where John Christie was alleged to have killed at least eight women including his wife, whose body was found under the floor boards in the front room. The bodies of three of his other victims were discovered hidden in an alcove in the kitchen.

Alan Johnson last night: “I would walk in on my own as a 10-year-old into all these dark floors and get the money from all these West Indian families who had been put in there and behind those walls were where Christie put his victims. Johnny – a former Teddy Boy – was too scared to go in. So he sent a 10-year-old kid in.”

Timothy Evans

Timothy Evans – he may have killed his wife

John Christie had had tenants at 10 Rillington Place.

Among them were Timothy Evans and his wife Beryl and their infant daughter Geraldine. Beryl and Geraldine were murdered.

Timothy Evans was prosecuted for murdering them. John Christie was a key prosecution witness. Evans was found guilty of murdering his daughter and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed on 9th March 1950.

Three years later, John Christie was found to be a serial killer. He was hanged on 15th July 1953. Before he died, Christie admitted to killing Evans’ wife Beryl but not to killing Evans’ daughter Geraldine (for which Evans had been convicted).

An official inquiry conducted in 1965-1966 concluded that it was “more probable than not” that Evans DID kill his wife Beryl (for which he was not convicted but to whose murder Christie had admitted) but that he did NOT kill his daughter Geraldine (for which he was convicted and to which Christie had not admitted).

Albert Perrrepoint

Albert Pierrepoint certainly executed both men

Both Evans and Christie were executed by Britain’s official hangman Albert Pierrepoint.

After being pinioned for execution, Christie complained that his nose itched. Pierrepoint told him: “It won’t bother you for long”.

So it goes.

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A VIP’s surprise visit to see a burnt-out UK immigrant removal centre

I first met mad inventor John Ward around 25 years ago. Despite being admittedly eccentric, he has held down a stream of very sensible jobs. He used to work for the Barclaycard credit card company and, at one time, held a gun licence for several weapons.

I was never nervous about him working at Barclaycard.

Yesterday, he told me about something which happened almost ten years ago, when he was working at the occasionally controversial Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre for American-owned Aramark Facilities Management who had a contract with the Group 4 security company which had a six-year contract from the UK government to run the detention centre.

No government contracts are ever simple.

On February 14th 2002, Yarl’s Wood was almost entirely burned down during a riot by disgruntled detained would-like-to-have-been immigrants. It did not re-open until September 2003.

John tells me that, “one particular morning, a little while after the place had settled down to sort out the mess caused by the fire, there were phones ringing everywhere, telling people about the imminent arrival of a VIP from the Government who would be on a whistle-stop tour of the site and would we all  ‘please see that everything is cleaned up spick-and-span’ for the VIP who could not be named, even to us, for security reasons.

“All the cleaning staff set-to with a vengeance and not a speck of dust could be seen after the Cleaning Manager went round everywhere with a pair of white cotton gloves on to test for any small grains of dirt which might have escaped the sudden high profile purge.

“Even though the Centre was ‘stood down’ and not operating normally due to the fire damage, cleaners still cleaned everything spotless each and every single day regardless, as the contract to do so was given by Group 4 and was still ‘active’. You literally could have eaten your dinner off the floor it was kept so clean. But it was cleaned up even cleaner than clean for this soon-to-arrive government VIP. They did not want him to see dirt anywhere.

“A short while before the VIP was due to arrive, word got round as to who it was. The reaction on the faces of the staff was something to behold.

“The visit, when it happened, took all of 12 minutes. The ministerial Jaguar sped into the Reception Area and the VIP got out with his entourage and wafted into the building and, almost as soon as the Minister arrived, he departed.”

John Ward tells me they had no feedback on what David Blunkett, the blind Home Secretary, thought of the super-clean state of the Centre and, he adds, “the comments of his guide dog were not recorded either, but I heard some of the comments of the staff who had been desperately re-cleaning everything for the visit. They were not impressed by irony.“


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Lower costs and corruption with the creation of a national UK police force?

The government reckons it can make large savings on the cost of policing by making cutbacks to “backroom” posts which will not affect the numbers of police on the streets. I have no idea if this is true or possible, but there obviously could be large savings to be made by cutting duplication of bureaucracy and by centralisation – all the more so if a National Police Force replaced the local police forces we currently have.

I understand the arguments against having a National Police Force – basically, that we don’t want  policing to be controlled by central government because there might then be a short, slippery slope to a police state.

But we already have the Special Branch, MI5, GCHQ, Echelon and god alone knows who else roaming the country observing us. The motorway cameras are linked centrally and the local police CCTV cameras can be linked-in. if someone tries to detonate a bomb in Haymarket in London, the perpetrators can be linked relatively quickly to an attack at Glasgow Airport and people can be arrested on a motorway in the north of England. All because the various national government, local government and police cameras around the country can be accessed centrally.

Yes, I know… this is all being done not by the government itself but by the independent police and/or possibly by the Special Branch and MI5 (in reality called the Security Service and, not surprisingly, never known by its initials).

But, let’s be real, this is the 21st century. Crime is not limited to national boundaries, let alone county boundaries. I really do not think (much as I’m sure they are loveable people) that the Dumfries & Galloway Police are really resourced to outwit a South American drug cartel with a turnover of billions of dollars per month.

There is also the corruption factor.

Larger bureaucracies, by and large, are less prone to corruption than local, smaller organisations. In my lifetime, there has been very little corruption at national government level in the UK. Some, but not a lot. Local government, of course, has always been prone to corruption because of old-boy networks. It’s a question of size. I am old enough to remember the much-admired T. Dan Smith scandal in North East England.

The UK is relatively large and it seems to have little national political corruption.

The Republic of Ireland is much smaller and seems to run almost entirely on corruption – the Charlie Haughey factor, I think – everybody knows everyone else. It’s amiable and admirably Irish, but widespread. Political corruption Scotland I know nothing about, but the size of the country’s population and its concentration in the central strip between Glasgow and Edinburgh doesn’t bode well.

Corruption in the current English police forces (according to the National Criminal Intelligence Service in 1998) has reached Third World levels though, to be honest, that’s no different to the 1960s when the Richardsons (always far more sophisticated than the Krays) were rumoured to have an Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police on their payroll. In 1966, the Metropolitan Police was so corrupt that Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, was reported to be thinking of replacing up to 70% of the Met’s CID with officers from Birmingham, Devon & Cornwall, Kent and Manchester… and, frankly, if he thought there were un-corrupt police in Manchester in the 1960s, he must have been taking some seriously strong illegal substances.

When Roberto Calvi of Banco Ambrosiano was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge, there was a persistent rumour that one million pounds had been paid to someone in the City of London Police to obstruct, divert and stifle the investigation.

It always seemed to me that the bungled investigation of the Stephen Lawrence killing in 1993 – which resulted in the Met being officially labelled as “institutionally racist” had less to do with racism and more to do with corruption. In a pub, a Customs & Excise investigator working on a separate case saw the criminal father of one of the suspects hand over a bulging envelope to a police officer working on the Lawrence enquiry. To add surrealism to corruption, at that time the criminal father was wanted by the police but was living quite openly in South East England. I rather suspect some other brown envelopes may have found their way into other policemen’s hands.

At the moment, the Home Secretary oversees the Met; other police forces are overseen by local government committees. If the police forces in England were centralised into a single English Police Force – or, even better, if it were politically possible to create a single UK Police Force – there might be less blatant police corruption and the centralised bureaucracy would presumably be much cheaper because duplication would be cut.

On the other hand, of course, the bribes might just get bigger.

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