In the latest act of the comic opera that is the life of Jonathan King he has unwisely decided to adopt the role of wronged tragic hero.
In the latest act of the comic opera that is the life of Jonathan King he has unwisely decided to adopt the role of wronged tragic hero. Emerging from prison on parole after serving three-and-a-half years for indulging in sexual activity with boys aged as young as 13, he compared himself with Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Michelangelo and Oscar Wilde. In a shameless attempt to curry sympathy Mr King has conducted a no-holds-barred campaign via his website and telephone calls to the media. He has written hundreds of letters to everyone from the Prime Minister to the royals as well as cultivating intense friendships with people as unlikely as veteran Observer interviewer Lynn Barber, certainly not a woman I would like to cross swords with, and (unlike Mr King) I've never packed a flight bag with questionnaires about sex and naked pictures of myself and gone cruising about in a Rolls-Royce looking for boys under 16 to masturbate. If I were being really cruel I might think that Jonathan had applied his undoubtedly successful "grooming" techniques in nurturing his relationship with Ms Barber, especially in the period after her husband died and she was, not surprisingly, grief-stricken.
Even Jon Ronson, who wrote a long and revealing profile of Mr King in The Guardian as well as presenting a television documentary on the subject, admitted at the end of the day that he liked the man. Why? How can we feel anything but revulsion when a highly intelligent, successful middle-aged man who buggered under-age boys claims that he's as much a victim as Sally Clark and Angela Cannings, both wrongfully convicted of murdering their babies? And is he sorry? Forget it. Mr King left prison claiming he had a "brilliant time" and used the occasion to promote his latest single, a mushy ballad entitled "My Love My Life", once recorded by Abba.
Much has been written about Jonathan King's allegedly "chirpy" manner, and rather less about the fact that, when the chips are down, he is a bully, pure and simple. To drive around in a Rolls-Royce offering lifts to young boys isn't exactly normal behaviour. But then Mr King's view of the world is so warped we shouldn't be surprised at the bilge he spews out in order to promote himself. In the sleeve notes for his CD he claims it shouldn't be played by those who only listen to music by artists whose morality they approve of!
Jonathan King considers his behaviour perfectly acceptable in the world of pop - where impressionable young people can easily be persuaded by unscrupulous rich and famous men to do more or less anything to be included in a world of fame and high earnings. According to Jon Ronson, when the police raided Mr King's house, they found 10 overnight bags packed with questionnaires about hobbies, including sex, as well as pictures of nude women and some of himself naked. Mr King would use them to claim he was doing "market research" and ask the young boys he picked up if they liked his television series, eventually encouraging them to masturbate. He then had penetrative sex with some of them. In the end so many boys came forward with their stories (27, going back 32 years) that it was decided to divide all the charges into three separate trials. Luckily for Mr King, after he was convicted at the first trial, and acquitted at the second (because the boy turned out to be 16), the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to go ahead with the third trial.
The law may have been subsequently changed to permit sex with 16-year-olds, but King's behaviour mirrors that of other powerful men in the entertainment business. Tam Paton, manager of the Bay City Rollers, was convicted of child sex offences, as was Chris Denning, once a Radio 1 DJ. Larry Parnes regularly had sex with teenage boys. Deniz Corday, who ran the club in Walton-on-Thames where Paton, King and Denning were regulars, told Jon Ronson that paedophiles should be defined as someone who has sex with people under 13. According to Mr King, he is innocent because all the boys he lured into his little games knew what they were doing and enjoyed it. But how can a middle-aged man with regular appearances on television, a column in a national newspaper, who drives around in a flashy car, claiming to know half the pop aristocracy, really think that a 13-year-old from Surrey would be an equal participant in sex?
Mr King's brother Andy claimed he wore pink pyjamas in jail as a silent protest, just as homosexuals were forced to by Nazis. For gay men and women in pop music the sight of Jonathan King proclaiming himself as their spokesman must cause enormous disquiet. Managers, artists, writers, directors and producers do not want to have sensitive issues such as the age of consent aired on their behalf by a man who seeks to justify his criminal activities as the norm. Everything Mr King has done and said since he set foot outside jail last week has made it more difficult for parents to encourage their children to enter the world of pop, and far more difficult for reputable managers, agents and producers to work with children. The fact is, he is a serial paedophile and an unrepentant one.
Mr King's website describes him as "the King of Hits". Once that was certainly true, but his new record is garbage and will have as much impact on the charts as one by a singing donkey. He is full of self- aggrandising claims, from producing the Bay City Rollers to the Rocky Horror Show. Both may be true, but the detail, the exact scale of his input strangely lacking. The website claims his Tip Sheet magazine (founded in 1993) is "the most respected music weekly publication in the world". Try telling that to Rolling Stone! He has "been offered the chairmanship of several large music corporations but has turned them down". I could just as easily claim to have been offered the director-general's job at the BBC - how would you know?
Mr King will stop at nothing in order to put his views across. As a BBC executive I was asked by the channel controllers to cancel two series that he made for us. It was felt that they were past their sell-by date and we needed to move on. Through his columns in The Sun he embarked on a long period of trashing every programme my department made, printing false ratings, and endlessly inflating his own success. Finally, the BBC had to threaten to sue before the drivel stopped. In 1987 he claimed in The Sun the Pet Shop Boys had plagiarised Cat Stevens's "Wild World" in their hit "It's a Sin". He refused to admit he was wrong and after being sued, settled out of court. The damages were donated to charity.
Mr King claims he has been hounded by the press, and has served a longer sentence than the norm because he is a celebrity, but then declares it was his fame, his talent and his celebrity status which attracted boys in the first place. He says he has spent half a million pounds on his defence, but if he was so sure he was innocent why hire someone to represent you who quotes Ronald Biggs, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, Kenneth Noye, Saddam Hussein and Harold Shipman among their clients? A man who the Law Society says has no legal qualifications they recognise? Mr King calls the press vindictive, but declaring himself a victim is obscene. And the makers of TV news programmes who gave him the oxygen of coverage to air his views should be ashamed - had they no concern for his victims? While he waits for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to decide whether he has grounds for an appeal, expect to hear the sound of bullshit at full volume issuing from King HQ.