The man who bankrolled Jeremy Hunt’s controversial visit to New York in 2009, John Henry James Lewis, has over the last few years faced (along with his fellow-directors of the Groucho Club, where he is the Chairman) myriad allegations. These include charges that they and/or staff knowingly allowed, and helped cover up, sexual molestation on the premises of the Club…and, once discovered, conspired to delete paedophile links that had been running over many months on the Groucho Members’ Forum Website. It is not known exactly who Jeremy Hunt met from News Corp during his five-day £4,000 trip to the U.S. during 2009. His Commons register entry says: “Purpose of visit: to look into local media ventures. Meetings with representatives of News Corp (including Wall Street Journal), Fox Five and WNET.” But within days of the visit in August that year, James Murdoch told David Cameron over drinks that The Sun would switch allegiance and support the Tories at the general election. This tends to support my growing feeling that Jeremy Hunt was, behind the scenes, a far more important go-between in the foundation-building of a Newscorp-Cameron relationship than has previously been realised. At the time, the Conservative Party said Mr Hunt was on a ‘fact-finding trip’ to discuss local television – and the BSkyB bid was not discussed ‘to the best of his recollection’. But out of over 40,000 broadcasters from which to choose, he saw four: three of which were owned by Rupert Murdoch. And at the time, his constituency website mentioned nothing at all about it – unusual, because if Jeremy so much as breaks wind, it makes the front page lead there. It’s unclear at the moment why a multi-millionaire like JHJ Lewis needs to bankroll a millionaire like Hunt, but visit the MP’s declaration pages, and time after time we read that ‘John Lewis of Dorset’ paid for pretty much everything. Perhaps as a wheeler-dealer across many companies, the Groucho Chairman saw some advantage in helping the species Amerupert Austrolathidoch make it big in British television – I really don’t know. What we can be sure of, however, is that when a consortium led by Joel Cadbury successfully took over the Groucho in 2006, JHJ Lewis entered the melée soon afterwards, being made a director on 24th April 2007. He did so alongside one Matthew Freud, who is best known as the son-in-law of Rupert Murdoch (by his marriage to Shine Chairman Liz Murdoch). Freud has been referred to by the Daily Mail as ‘the most powerful pr operator in British business by far’. He is also quite well known for ingesting an eclectic range of recreational improvement aids. On July 11th 2011 in fact, the Chipping Norton Set’s unofficial King and Queen, Elisabeth and Matthew Freud, threw a party of decadent opulence and excess that saw the political and media elite flock to their 22-bedroom Cotswolds mansion Burford Priory. 24 hours later, the news broke that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile had been hacked by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper.
We can see very clearly from all of the foregoing that the new Health Secretary’s relationship with the fast set sniffing their way around the Groucho, and all points PR and media, is a very real one. His lifestyle is being regularly, shall we say, enlarged by the man in charge over there. And that man has been the subject of disturbing accusations….defending some of which has cost Mr John Henry James Lewis dearly in Court.
Tyrone Murphy (left) has been an antagonist of Lewis’s for some time. I can tell you from first-hand experience that Tyrone has been shoving his tongue down the Blarney Stone since birth, but he is no crackpot.
An award winning filmmaker, director and writer, Murphy is known for tackling controversial issues in his films, and won best international documentary for his Graffiti Gown film on Aids awareness. He is also a former electronic surveillance specialist and investigator. He has been responsible for exposing many illegal bugging operations in the UK, including the illegal bugging operation at the offices of Goldcrest TV & Video in London. He also exposed a bogus IRA extortion racket at a London based solicitors firm, was responsible for the closure of a multi million pound illegal wheel clamping operation, and in his spare time uncovered a multimillion Pound fraud by a bookmaking chain.
Attacked in a lengthy libel court battle with the Groucho Club management (led by Lewis) for almost a year over the ‘illegal surveillance’ allegations in his book ‘The Grouchogate Affair’ – Lewis et al took out the standard super-injunction against publication – Tyrone won the legal battle following the intervention of a Groucho whistle-blower, who came forward and provided a large amount of evidence to support Murphy’s case. Alleges a source close to the case,
“They [Groucho management] told the Judge that they had complied with Data Protection Act regulations, and had only two cameras installed on the premises. On both counts, both the management and the legal team very clearly perjured themselves.”
Why the Groucho’s senior management would want to illegally spy on their clients will be the subject of tomorrow’s equally explosive posting here. But for the time being, we must return to the investigations of film-maker Tyrone Murphy.
Murphy was busy investigating alleged irregularities in the sale of alcohol through the Groucho Club’s website in 2010 when, on November 10th, he stumbled upon obvious evidence that an online site operating under the name of the Groucho Club forum had been used over a prolonged period of time by a network of paedophiles.
‘Site:thegrouchoclub.com’ and ‘Site:thegrouchoclub.co.uk’ were, it seems, search terms on Google listing all the web pages within a specific domain. This is only the case when one ownership group is to some degree or other registered as the domain’s normal user. The forum contained hundreds of web pages and links to pornographic videos and images of young children and infants available for sex. Immediately, Murphy reported the discovery to the Metropolitan Police Service and to CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).
But he quickly realised that the evidence of offensive content was being deleted from the website forum, and, while the evidence was also stored on cache pages by Google of the Groucho Club forum and the illegal content, Murphy discovered that the cache pages were now also being discreetly deleted. He contacted the CEOP and the Met again several times by phone and email. They did nothing.
It looked very much to Tyrone like the Grouchos had been tipped off. Let’s face it, anyone with half a brain would reach the same conclusion.
Murphy wrote to the Groucho’s owners Graphite Capital (this was the route via which Lewis became involved during early 2010) whose boss Rod Richards (left) apparently wrote back to say they were satisfied that the club’s managers felt their server was secure. The club management took this line with the Met Police, when they eventually got round to asking about the alleged porn connection. Contacted by the Guardian newspaper, The Groucho told its reporter that the domain had been hijacked ‘on the day we changed the server’. For some reason, Rusbridger’s finest seemed happy with that highly implausible explanation. But Tyrone Murphy alleges that, when asked for a response laer, the Club management again changed their story to the ‘we know nothing’ line.
A problem for the Groucho’s top managers with this last version, however, is that Mr Murphy has reams of page-capture evidence lodged in a bank vault showing links from the site to displays of child sex, bestiality, anal rape, and other forms of pornography.
Tyrone Murphy is at present working on a Parliamentary version of his Grouchgate book to be lodged therein under privilege as the basis for an early day motion. In this volume he will be calling upon the evidence of some very heavy hitters.
One of these is likely to be Westminster Council Tory former leadership candidate Glenys Roberts (left) a features writer on the Daily Mail. She has been described in media far beyond the Mail as ‘that rare commodity – a councillor with common sense, integrity and courage.’
Of late, Roberts has been appalled to discover that the Catholic Church local to the Groucho in Dean Street has an upstairs room which, it appears, has been used for the production of paedophile porn.
Uniformed sources, and others close to the case, confirmed to The Slog early this evening that London’s Metropolitan Police have been investigating ‘possible pornography links between that church and the Groucho Club’.
I also understand that Councillor Roberts will confirm that belief, although as of now The Slog has been unable to reach her. (She didn’t win the leadership election, by the way – which is a shame as Ms Roberts said at the outset, “ I am conducting a daring experiment. Is it possible to stand for a major political post without succumbing to the culture of secrecy, doublespeak, cover ups, spin and downright lies which we have come to associate with politicians these days?” )
DCI Graham Grant, Head of North London Region Child Abuse Investigation Teams at the Metropolitan Police, has thus far declared the Groucho Club to be clear of any evidence of paedophile links. He was not available for comment today. I will try him again tomorrow, as there are other issues about the Groucho that strike me as suggesting he has an inordinately trusting nature. More on all that as the week progresses.
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It’s funny how, no matter how hard one tries to see the blue sky above Jeremy Hunt’s perky head, there always seem to be clouds of a dark nature scudding about.
Three things in particular that seem to follow him around are Cameronesque leg-up style influence, surveillance issues and Newscorp – although some would add that they are all the same thing.
Jeremy never seems to tell us everything. He says that he made his money as an educational entrepreneur – but not that he had a monopoly supply to a quango that made most of his money. He insists he was fair to all parties in the Newscorp bid – but not that he has associations and shared business interests with the Murdochs that go back years. He tells the Commons he has given full disclosure of his Newscorp communications – but keeps back over a hundred emails….while insisting he has done nothing wrong. He tells of four meetings in New York with the Murdochs – but not why he chose to speak almost entirely to Newscorp while on ‘a fact-finding mission’. And he describes the bankroller of this little trip as ‘Mr John Lewis of Dorset’ – but hides the fact that Lewis’s main base is in London, he is a multimillionaire Tory strategist, and the powerful head of a major media hangout.
Judging from the serious allegations swirling around the management heads at The Groucho, one can see why Hunt didn’t want the connection to be easily traced. But even though the Prime Minister David Cameron has chosen to distance Hunt from media matters (and his defence of this man is at times enough to make one wonder if there is any ‘hold’ involved) we are still left with this incontravertible fact: although he doesn’t personally need the money, Jeremy Hunt continues to be almost the kept creature of a JHJ Lewis, the Chairman of a company whose senior management stand accused of destroying the evidence linking them to a pornographic paedophile site…and who, it seems, perjured themselves on the issue of illegally using video surveillance.
Is it likely that David Cameron doesn’t know this already? I don’t know. But like Hunt, the Prime Minister seems to have the knack of surrounding himself with suspect money, creepy influence, perjurers, drug users, and Murdoch cronies. This is turn has caused him to be in denial about a simple reality: the majority of voters in Britain no longer believe a word he says about the EU, the Metropolitan Police, Hackgate, or his various meals with the Murdoch family.
Following yesterday’s reshuffle, Cameron’s Minister of Education is a man who has called Murdoch “a unique and towering media influence and a great man”, and his Minister of Health a bloke who plasters a sort of teenage Rupert-crush all over his constituency website. There is nothing Roop would like better (now his online world has fallen apart) than to diversify into educational and health information, broadcasting and sponsorship. In 2009, the new Health Secretary co-authored a pamphlet (with Dan Hannan, as it happens) arguing for the NHS to be dismantled. He is thus just as likely to be objective about public health services as he was about Newscorp’s bid for UK media supremacy.
Similarly, it’s extremely hard to find anyone outside the most rabid Tory supporters in 2012 who thinks Jeremy Hunt is a truthful man. One hears the phrase about some politicians that they are ‘sparing’ or ‘economical’ with the truth, but Hunt’s version of it seems to border on the homaeoapathic. Which is entirely appropriate, as until quite recently he was a great fan of homoaeopathy – but has since “moved on” according to his new Department.
That’s the thing with Jeremy: he’s always moving on – aka, dumping on his professed principles…and advisors.
Jeremy Hunt’s former special advisor Adam Smith was told his job was safe hours before being ordered to fall on his sword after damaging emails between the Government and the Murdoch empire were revealed earlier this year. Smith told Leveson the Culture Secretary had assured him over evening drinks that the aide was only doing his job, and that he should not worry. But the following day, Mr Hunt spent the morning in meetings before calling his assistant in and telling him ‘everyone thinks you need to go’. Nice.
TOMORROW: DOES HUNT’S BANKROLLER ILLEGALLY SPY ON HIS CLIENTS…AND IF SO, WHY?