Four dirty tricks they played during the Jani Allan case: Nick Cohen and David Connett in London and Chris McGreal in Johannesburg peer into the murky background surrounding last week's Jani Allan libel case
Sunday 09 August 1992
Even before the jury came to the conclusion that South African journalist had not been libelled by a Channel 4 programme about Eugene Terre Blanche, police had been called in to investigate the dirty tricks.
There have been hints that factions inside the neo-Nazi Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) movement of Terre Blanche or the South African security services have been running amok in London in the past fortnight. But, by yesterday, detectives investigating the incidents were rapidly coming to the conclusion that the conspiracy theories were without foundation.
They, Channel 4 and, though to a far lesser extent, one of Ms Allan's supporters, believe that the subterfuge and violence were the acts of unrelated individuals, each with a different axe to grind. Four dirty tricks have come under the spotlight:
The Mystery Diary. On the second day of the case a brown paper parcel was given to George Carman, Channel 4's counsel. Inside was Ms Allan's notebook from 1984, giving explicit descriptions of a supposed relationship with a married Italian airline pilot. As Ms Allan had previously said she would never have had an affair with a married man, the effect of Mr Carman's production of the diary was devastating and speculation has centred on who sent the document to the court and why.
It seems now that the mystery has been solved. Channel 4 advisers said they had given a statement to the police which conclusively showed that the diary had not been stolen by a sinister force.
They would not give details, but three different sources said the document had been left in the home of an English couple Ms Allan stayed with after arriving in Britain in 1989.
Anthony Travers, a former British representative of the AWB, who befriended Ms Allan before the trial, agreed with this account. 'The diary was obtained by a one-time friend,' he said.
The police do not seem to be carrying out a major inquiry into how the diary was obtained. All calls to one of the homes where Ms Allan stayed in Britain were being intercepted by the operator last week.
The filthy faxes. If the arrival of the diary helped Channel 4's already strong defence, the faxes sent to South African and British newspapers on the fifth day of the case could have undermined the character of Linda Shaw, one of the TV company's key witnesses, or intimidated her before she gave evidence. The papers received a draft statement from Andrew Broulidakis, a friend of Ms Allan, which was not to be given as evidence in court.
Mr Broulidakis told the jury that he had seduced Ms Shaw, Ms Allan's former flatmate in an attempt to find out what evidence she was giving on Channel 4's behalf.
Journalists who received the faxes said the draft statement went much further and gave a detailed and near pornographic account of the pair's encounter. The judge ordered the police to investigated this 'most serious contempt of court'.
A Stabbing on the Strand. On Day 11, Mr Travers, who was a spectator at the trial, staggered into an alleyway off the Strand opposite the High Court. He had a wound in the back. Mr Travers told The Independent on Sunday that he had been attacked in the lavatory of the George pub next to the alleyway. A man with a blue jacket came up behind him, stabbed him with a stiletto knife and briskly walked out.
There were no witnesses and no one saw the attacker leave the pub. No one noticed that Mr Travers was hurt until he got out of the building. He discharged himself from hospital and was reluctant to speak to the police at first. The wound was not serious.
Mr Travers is something of a rarity - an English supporter of the exclusively Boer AWB.
He lived in South Africa from 1948 to 1959. Since his return he has kept in touch with the country with a short-wave radio in his living-room. 'My loyalties are with the Afrikaner volk,' he said.
When Mr Travers was stabbed a court usher received a call saying Peter Carter-Ruck, Ms Allan's solicitor, had been stabbed. This fuelled rumours that the intended victim was Peter Carter-Ruck. The explanation seems to be that as Mr Travers was lying in an alleyway he said to a passer-by 'tell Carter-Ruck I've been stabbed'. In the Chinese whispers that followed it got translated to 'Carter-Ruck's been stabbed'.
The Burglaries. Ms Allan's flat near Kingston upon Thames was broken into during the hearing. Ms Allan also said she received a death threat when she answered a telephone call in the court ushers' offices. The hotel room of Stevie Godson, a Channel 4 producer, was also turned over.
Ms Allan suggested after the case that pro-government forces in South Africa wanted her to lose so that Terre Blanche would be 'irreparably damaged' in the eyes of his 'God fearing Calvinist followers'. It has also been suggested that the AWB wanted to steal a manuscript of a book she was writing about the organisation. Travers said the book was dynamite.
A photograph of a front cover of a book called White Sunset is in circulation in London. It shows Boer horsemen riding across the Veld. Some chapters have also been seen.
But 'Kays' Smit, Eugene Terre Blanche's former deputy and a principal defence witness, said he doubts that Ms Allan could supply earth-shattering revelations about the tactics of the extremists.
Smit, now leader of the far right HNP said: 'This started back in 1988. We had a discussion at my place, there were several of us, and Jani says she's going to write a book about the right-wing. But she isn't an Afrikaner, she doesn't know Afrikaners. She doesn't understand us.'
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