Monday, May 7, 2012

Unlawfully Killed

We all know clairvoyance is just a magic act, a branch of showbusiness – how could there be such a thing as psychic power? 

18 years ago I was at a dinner party in London when I noticed the lady opposite staring at me a little too intensely. When she caught my eye, she leaned forward and whispered, “You’re going to marry an American”.  Such impertinence, and totally inappropriate, because, having recently divorced my first wife, I was rather publicly in love with an English television presenter, who was sitting next to me at the dinner. 

“And you will have six children,” she went on. This was too much. No way would there be any more children: three was quite enough. I told this story at my wedding at Jo’s parents’ home in Laguna Beach. Baby Izzy was there with my four other children. Everyone laughed, especially at the prospect of my American wife bringing me yet another child. 

But what I didn’t reveal was the rest of what the clairvoyant said that night. It’s been parked at the back of my mind all these years, but was chillingly recalled last week by the coroner’s verdict on the bizarre death of MI6 employee Gareth Williams. 

After dinner, the clairvoyant took me aside. She had something very important to tell me. “Your friend didn’t die the way they say, you know. They said it was sexual and perverted, but one day the truth will emerge.” 

Stephen Milligan MP
I knew immediately she was talking about one of my closest friends.  A respected member of the community, we’d been on holidays together and spent long evenings arguing about politics in his little house in Chiswick. He’d been engaged to a delightful journalist called Julie. He’d been foreign editor at the Sunday Times, a senior BBC journalist, then finally an MP. One day his body was discovered in scandalous circumstances. He name was Stephen Milligan. 

All this I knew, but didn’t breathe a word to the clairvoyant. “There’s a dark, evil force,” she went on. “ and a faraway country. Oman. He went to Oman, or somewhere near there, Yemen maybe, and when he was there he found something out. So they killed him. One day it will all come out and your friend’s honour will be restored.” 

Then she mentioned a name – a famous name. Apparently there was a connection to spying. He had been involved in my friend’s death. It was all weird and nonsensical. 

The police hadn’t investigated Stephen’s death beyond confirming the ghastly details: he was found on his kitchen table, a black plastic bag over his head, a cord round his neck, naked but for a woman’s stockings and suspenders, a small piece of satsuma in his mouth. They called it auto-erotic asphyxiation. In one mad moment, the life and reputation of a brilliant, witty, utterly moral friend, journalist, politician and godfather of my eldest son, had been completely destroyed. 

Cross dressing, auto-erotic asphyxiation: sounds familiar? Stephen Milligan’s inquest may have ruled out foul play, not so Gareth Williams’ coroner this week. 

Williams couldn’t possibly have put himself into the red bag in the bath and there were no fingerprints. Why did MI6 wait a whole week to report him missing, by which time any small scratches on the body would have gone? The verdict: he was “probably killed unlawfully”. 

According to last week’s Independent on Sunday, there have been 17 mysterious deaths linked to the defence or intelligence services over the past 50 years, a third featuring bizarre sexual practices or asphyxia. Men like Stephen Drinkwater, the GCHQ clerk, found choked with a plastic bag over his head; journalist Jonathan Moyle, hanged inside a tiny wardrobe while working on a story about a dodgy arms deal; ex-MI6 agent and writer James Rusbridger, discoverd in a gas mask surrounded by bondage pictures; and Stephen Milligan MP.  

It all reads like a spy thriller, I know. And yet you don’t need to be psychic to know that one day the true story behind all these cases will emerge. But I am quite sure my friend will be vindicated. Because a clairvoyant told me.


hattydaze said...

Will you write a spy thriller one day?
Fascinating story, can't wait for the denouement.
Love Hatstand x

IAN said...

Very Sad - may he RIP !!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Shocking. But it actually makes a lot of sense re the perfect murder as nothing can be proven and the victim's credibility has been attacked beyond the point at which some authorities or families would wish to delve further. Plus the scandal of the mode of death throws normally suspicious people off the scent. Have you read 25 Suspicious Deaths in the Defence Industry by Tony Collins? Fascinating.

Tom Gutteridge said...

I haven't read it - and unfortunately it's now out of print.