Thursday, May 05, 2016

Is this proof that Jonathan King DIDN'T do it? New evidence suggests pop mogul could have an alibi which puts him in America when teenage boy was abused in UK

This was a shockingly bad prosecution.  It will generate a big payout in due course.  He spent 5 years in jail

As the man who discovered groups such as Genesis and 10cc, Jonathan King was one of the most powerful figures in the music industry.

There was a moment when the impresario seemed destined for high honours, but his world came crashing down when he was found guilty of sexually abusing teenage boys.

Yet there are disturbing aspects to King’s conviction that have never been revealed, let alone discussed in public. And when he wrote to me from Maidstone Prison, I resolved to investigate.

How could it be that the prosecution was allowed to change its evidence mid-trial, giving King no time to respond?

Why were the pop mogul’s alibis not revealed to the jury? And why is a damning confession from one of his accusers still ignored?

Today King is notorious. Yet as I explain in my new book, this is one case of historic ‘sex abuse’ that must be treated with the greatest doubt...

At 8am on November 23, 2000, there was a knock at the blue door of Jonathan King’s house in Bayswater, Central London.

His visitors identified themselves as Surrey Police officers who needed to speak to him on an important matter. Fearing it concerned his elderly mother, King ran down the stairs and opened the door.

He was taken to Staines police station, where he was astonished to find himself being interviewed about a man who claimed King had sexually abused him. The man had tried to sell his story to the now disgraced PR guru Max Clifford, who referred him to the police.

At 8pm, King was charged with historic sex abuse and bailed. When The Sun reported the news the next morning, King responded: ‘I have great faith in the British legal system’ – which showed just how misinformed a millionaire music mogul could be.

By the time the case reached the Old Bailey, the prosecution had dropped the original complaint but – and this is a now familiar story – more complainants had come forward as a result of the publicity. Judge David Paget ruled that King would face two separate trials and imposed a media blackout to avoid prejudicing the outcome.

The indictment contained six charges from five complainants. The first, whom we shall call Witness A, said he had first met King when he was ‘13 or 14’ with his parents and sister.

Afterwards, he had gone to King’s house with a friend and had been sexually assaulted. Witness B said King had spoken to him on Bayswater Road and later invited him to his house, where he assaulted him.

Witness C said that during a family holiday in London in the summer of 1984, he and his parents saw King in a shop in Bayswater and asked for his autograph.

Subsequently he was invited to King’s house and assaulted. He said that on one occasion King attempted to assault him: ‘He asked me to pretend I was a girl and he would have sex with me, but I clenched my buttocks and wouldn’t let him.’

This witness claimed to have been 13 when he met King – he and his sister remembered this because they watched King’s TV show, No Limits.

Witness D said he was 14 when King approached him in a record shop in Soho and took him to an adult sex show. He said he was assaulted on several occasions at King’s house.

The final witness, Witness E, tried to sell his story to the News of the World before being referred to police.

A heroin user, he admitted owing money to drug-dealers and feared for his safety. He testified that he went to see King with his elder brother when he was ‘12 or 13’ and that King ‘touched me on the outside of my trousers’.

Witness E – whom King denied ever meeting – said the pop mogul had given him photographs of Samantha Fox, whose music career he helped launch.

Their testimony was, on the face of it, compelling. Yet I have uncovered new evidence that casts serious and disturbing doubts over King’s conviction.  In fact, King was in the United States when one of the most serious crimes was alleged to have been committed. And the man who accused him of repeated buggery is a drug addict who has since confessed that he fabricated the story to make money.

Allegations of historic sex abuse are notoriously difficult to disprove. But I believe King’s conviction – among the first of the celebrity sex cases that have seemed to obsess police over the last decade – is more concerning when viewed with today’s perspective.

Many celebrities have been released without charge after their accusers have been shown to be misguided, fantasists or – worse – motivated by the promise of a lucrative payday.

It is easy to forget now just how big a figure Jonathan King was in the pop world. Teetotal and someone who shunned drugs, he was a sort of pop Pied Piper, who befriended everyone from The Beatles to the Bay City Rollers. He had a golden touch, too, that would make him a multi-millionaire.

King had his first hit record, Everyone’s Gone To The Moon, while still a Cambridge undergraduate in 1965 –the first of his 18 chart singles over the next 14 years.

As soon as he graduated, he had his own Saturday night ITV show before being chosen as the right-hand man of Sir Edward Lewis, the head of Decca Records.

King discovered and produced Genesis, the Bay City Rollers and 10cc, and was a key backer of The Rocky Horror Show.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a regular on BBC TV and radio. At the time of his arrest, he was about to be made head of music giant EMI.

But a poisonous atmosphere surrounded his arrest – it made lurid news, with anyone standing up for King risking public condemnation. One person prepared to put up a substantial surety was an A&R man King had known for two decades, Simon Cowell.

‘That was a superb thing for a friend to do,’ reflected King. ‘His integrity and generosity do not necessarily square with the image people have of him.’

Others – including Sir Tim Rice and broadcaster Simon Bates – had the moral courage to be character witnesses. A third was Anthony Baker, one of the original presenters of King’s TV show No Limits.

King denied all the offences. He acknowledged knowing four of the men as youths, but said he had shown them ‘nothing but kindness’. He explained he often spoke to teenagers because he had been encouraged as a youth and because he needed to research the latest trends.

His defence team set about dismantling the case against him. A key issue was the dates of the alleged offences and the ages of the complainants.

In the 1980s, relationships between consenting homosexuals between the ages of 16 and 21 were illegal, but a complaint needed to be made within 12 months or the crime would lapse.

Witness C and his sister both said they recognised King from his BBC pop show No Limits when they met him in 1984.

When the defence pointed out the show was not on air until July 1985, Boy C insisted his account could be corroborated by his mother’s recently rediscovered diary.

Police immediately made a 300-mile round-trip to retrieve the diary, which did record a meeting at King’s house, but said it had happened in September 1985 when the witness was 15.

Witness E recalled being given photos of Samantha Fox when he visited King’s house aged 12 or 13. But Fox’s personal assistant told the court that the pictures could not have been taken before May 1989, which would have made Witness E at least 15.

Through a mixture of proven alibis and doubts over details, the defence demonstrated serious flaws, doubtless to the concern of the prosecution.

But what happened next was as dramatic as it was unfair. The prosecution persuaded the judge to alter the stipulated dates in four of the six counts – effectively sidestepping King’s defence.

According to the new dates, the complainants were under 16 – just. But all were older than originally claimed and the reliability of their original statements was surely cast into doubt.

King wanted to make a vigorous protest, but had no one to make it for him. Neither his solicitor nor barrister was present in court – his barrister had left court to appear at the Victoria ClimbiĆ© inquiry.

King suddenly found himself facing revised charges to which he was not allowed to put a defence.

The judge summed up. Ironically – in view of what would later come to light – he indicated that the defendant should not be condemned because of his inability to provide alibis.

However, the judge did impress upon the jury that the mother’s diary had allowed them to fix some points of time.

King was found guilty on all six charges and jailed for seven years.

Six weeks later, the second case collapsed amid doubts about the key witness. King was found not guilty of all charges, but the media was free to publish lurid accounts of the first case, neglecting to report the acquittal or the extraordinary development of the indictment being changed after the defence case had closed.

It was only when King was released in 2005 after serving half his sentence that the flimsy nature of the case against him was properly exposed.

The case of the diary is the most fascinating. The original charge was King attempted buggery on a day between October 1, 1984 and February 8, 1985. But the dates were changed to between September 6 and 9, 1985.

As a convicted sex offender, King was now not allowed to go to the US, so asked a friend to collect his belongings from his Manhattan apartment. The friend found documents proving that on August 22, 1985, King flew to New York at the BBC’s expense.

On Sunday, September 1, he attended a Bruce Springsteen concert. On the Friday, he had lunch with his US accountant. On September 7, he took BBC employee Ursula Kenny to see the film Back To The Future.  A day later, he went to the US Open men’s final, where he bumped into an old friend, Paul Marshall, a lawyer. On September 9, King did some shopping before flying home, arriving at Heathrow on the morning of September 10.

He renewed his visa on the 11th and flew back to New York on the 12th. He attended the MTV awards on the 13th and began his BBC filming on the 16th.

Passports, bank receipts, American Express slips and other documents prove he and his ‘victim’ were on opposite sides of the Atlantic at the time of the alleged offence.

On March 31, 2006, staff at the Criminal Cases Review Commission interviewed the complainant’s mother who said it was impossible she could have got the date wrong.

They also checked the diary of the witness’s sister, which didn’t correspond either to her brother’s account or their mother’s diary.

The case was not referred to the Court of Appeal, despite the fact the judge had told the jury details that were wrong.

Had the jury known both dates for the attempted buggery were impossible, they would have been entitled to view the evidence with deep scepticism.

The most serious charge against King was Witness C, who alleged buggery. I investigated the claim after someone contacted me with information.

Stuart Williams said he had become addicted to painkillers and then drugs after an industrial accident, and had met the complainant at a counselling service for addicts.

Williams described the man as a ‘professional drug addict and small-time dealer’. ‘We were smoking pot and having a few of drinks,’ recalled Williams. ‘He came out with it. He said King never buggered him. He said, “I said he’d done stuff he hadn’t done, but I thought everyone was doing that.”

'He said he felt guilty, but lied so he could get cash. He sold his story twice – for £45,000 the first time, then £5,000 from another tabloid when King was released.

‘With the £45,000 he bought a maisonette. I don’t know what he did with the £5,000 – almost certainly, it went on drugs.’

Williams added: ‘I’m surprised the courts took him seriously as a witness. He’s making £50,000 out of it, he’s a junkie, and a liar by nature.’

Of course, many historic allegations are true, but there are also reasons why witnesses may not be reliable. They may be emotionally vulnerable and suggestible, and there is also a financial inducement to consider.

Those alleging sexual abuse are guaranteed anonymity and can claim Criminal Injuries Compensation, even if a suspect is acquitted. There are, however, key tests of evidence, all of which were failed in this case.

The first is to evaluate the circumstances in which the original complaint arose. The jury never knew the original claimant was motivated by selling his story because that case never reached court.

The second is jurors must be given a chance to understand the totality of the complaints. The Crown alleged a pattern of behaviour could be discerned. Actually, the Crown produced five men whose complaints ranged from having a hand put on one’s clothing to repeated buggery. Hardly a modus operandi.

The third factor is supporting evidence. The prosecution rested its case on the Samantha Fox photo, which didn’t support the complainant’s version of events, and the mother’s diary, which also contradicted her son’s recollection. And there was another significant problem: the colour of King’s front door.

One witness remembered King’s blue door. Yet the defence proved the door had been painted white until July 1999, raising an obvious possibility the police – who had seen the blue door in November 2000 – may inadvertently have dropped hints. It was a telling indication that the witness’s evidence was not all his own work.

Unfortunately, those administering the criminal justice process did not take the same view. They allowed King’s life to be ruined on the word of a habitual liar who was paid handsomely for his testimony.

The result is that King – once a fondly regarded celebrity – remains a pariah airbrushed from pop music history and British public life.

Original report here

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