A series of articles written by the photographer Seán Manchester, which had begun to be syndicated by the Times Group Newspapers – owner of titles such as the Barnet Times, Finchley Times, Hendon Times and Borehamwood Post etc, – came to an abrupt halt when Frank Thorne ran a spoiler in the Sunday People, a tabloid specialising in sensationalism and at that time still part of the Mirror group of newspapers.
Frank Thorne’s sensationalist piece in the Sunday People, 9 October 1977 was based on his collaboration with David Farrant who, then as now, is exceptionally antipathetic toward Seán Manchester. Farrant had not long been released from prison when his collusion with Thorne took place. The Sunday People article came about when Seán Manchester refused to collude with Thorne on an investigative piece he had begun to have published as a commission with the Times Group Newspapers. This resulted in Thorne harassing the photographer’s parents on the doorstep of their Islington home. Seán Manchester asked the journalist to desist on the grounds that his parents were not involved, nor responsible for any story he might be looking to find in order to spoil the original, and that one of them, his father, was unwell. Thorne ignored such pleas and Seán Manchester was obliged to meet the journalist, albeit briefly, at the offices of the Sunday People on 5 October 1977 in order to prevent any further harassment of his parents. Such is the blackmail exerted by some tabloid journalists. This meeting confirmed the photographer’s worst fears. It became apparent that Thorne, who suffered from a serious alcohol problem which eventually cost him his job with the Sunday People, was in contact with David Farrant who was naturally willing to go along with anything the newspaper wanted which might cause Seán Manchester distress.
Thorne wrote in his spoiler:
“[Seán Manchester] claimed to have investigated this new Nazi threat which advocated recruiting children at schoolyard gates. Pictures showed black-shirted youths wearing Nazi insignia. More sensational still was a photograph of a man in Nazi officer’s uniform, complete with swastika, iron cross and sadistic-looking riding crop. In the article Manchester described this somewhat theatrical character as ‘The Commander’ – in charge of a para-military ‘task force’ and parts of an underground national group known as ‘Column 88.’ All rubbish. Although the Commander is clean-shaven he bears a striking resemblance to the now bearded Mr. Manchester. And having done someme investigation myself I say that he faked the whole episode. When I challenged him he could not verify one detail of his so-called investigation. Unable to name one name, or nail one Nazi. This is hardly surprising. As we discovered after tracking down one of the swastika-sporting men in his pictures, taken outside a schoolyard. This man, I found is a 24-year-old labourer called John Pope. Pope is a Satanist who prefers his own ‘fancy dress’ of black magic robes to the Nazi gear Manchester persuaded him to wear. He admitted that Manchester provided him with a swastika armband to pose for the picture. ‘This was all Sean’s idea,’ said Pope at his home in Barnet. ‘I’ve not even heard of the League of Imperial Fascists. I want nothing to do with the resurrection of Hitler. I thought it would help Sean with a good story. But he’s made me out to be a Nazi recruiting officer. He conned me’.”
John Pope afterwards complained to the Press Council about everything attributed to him and about him by Thorne. The following signed and witnessed statement transcribed from his original taped recollection was made at the insistence of Pope’s father, Fred Pope, who resented his son’s treatment by the newspaper:
“On the evening of 6 October 1977, two men called at my home at [address deleted], Barnet, Hertfordshire, and without identifying themselves demanded to see me. My father thought they were police detectives by their manner. When invited to come inside, they refused and insisted that I accompany them to a nearby car. That is when they first revealed themselves to be working for the Sunday People. One, calling himself Frank Thorne, tried to make me say that a photograph of a man in a Nazi uniform was Seán Manchester. They showed me a copy of the Borehamwood Post and tried to make me say that the article called ‘The New Nazis’ was false. But they would not let me read any of the article and did not refer specifically to the ‘League of Imperial Fascists.’ They told me that I would be guaranteed future mention in their newspaper if I co-operated, but I was not prepared to let them use me in this way. The following evening I telephoned the Sunday People and asked to speak to the News Editor. I complained to him about his reporters’ methods, especially Frank Thorne, and reminded him that I belonged to a survivalist group that had political connections, further about which I did not wish to elaborate. I did not seem to get any satisfactory replies, so I spoke to him again on the telephone on Saturday morning, 8 October 1977, by which time I had been told by Seán Manchester what Frank Thorne had alleged I said on Thursday evening, which I knew to be false. I did not identify any person in the photographs shown to me.”
A statement (ref; CFW/SP/P6282/6/3/78) issued by Mike Clarke, editor of the Borehamwood Post, was noted by the Press Council. This greatly respected newspaper editor denied all the remarks attributed to him by Frank Thorne in the Sunday People article. He underlined the fact that he had most definitely not said the words, nor anything similar, to the effect of “I’m afraid I’m left with egg on my face. I shall be taking legal advice.”
The following complaint was lodged by Seán Manchester with the Press Council:
“The Sunday People newspaper concocted an inaccurate article about me which they did not correct when presented with Mr John Pope’s statement and other evidence which showed none of Frank Thorne’s allegations against me to be true. Photographs belonging to me were used in an article without my permission. I was, however, promptly paid a sum of money for their use, which, unwisely, I accepted as compensation for what amounted to copyright theft. From the start I had made clear to Frank Thorne that I had no wish to ‘collaborate’ on the Nazi story as (a) it was my work, and (b) the Sunday People’s ‘treatment’ of my work, as proposed by Frank Thorne to me, was one I found to be unacceptable. Frank Thorne then threatened to use my material with or without my permission. None of the quotes attributed to me are true. I did not state to Frank Thorne that the ‘Nazi recruiting picture of John Pope’ was ‘faked.’ I did identify the person in the picture [of the ‘Commander’]. This was ignored by Frank Thorne.”
A compelling piece of evidence presented to the Press Council was Frank Thorne’s complete reliance on collusion with David Farrant. Nobody other than Farrant was able to “identify” the neo-Nazi Commander in the stolen photograph. For legal reasons, Thorne fraudulently added John Pope’s name to the identification, but Pope absolutely denied making any such identification as his signed statement of 9 December 1977 attests. Furthermore, Pope, off the record, claimed that he had been “roughed up” by Thorne and the accompanying journalist when they took him away from his home for interrogation in their car.David Farrant made a statement of his own in view of its enormous publicity potential, which he duly signed on 2 January 1978. It was lodged with the Press Council. Farrant’s statement follows:“I received a ‘phone call from Trevor Aspenal of the Sunday People who enquired about my relationship with Seán Manchester and the British Occult Society. I told him there was no change and that we were still strongly opposed to each other. I then spoke to Frank Thorne of the same newspaper who asked me if I could identify Seán Manchester in a picture. I told him that I would be able to. He then arranged for me to attend the Sunday People’s offices where I was shown a photograph of someone in a Nazi uniform. He then showed me a number of other photographs of men and women in Nazi uniforms. I identified one of the men as John Pope. I agreed with Frank Thorne that the original picture shown to me could have been Seán Manchester.”
In fact, Seán Manchester gave Frank Thorne the name “John Kane,” which is the name he had been given by the Commander.
Six months after publication of the spoiler, it was time for the journalist to reward Farrant with some promised publicity for his co-operation. Thorne accompanied Farrant on a train journey to Grimsby where he was photographed with “fiancée” Nancy O’Hoski outside a church for a half-page feature about their proposed wedding. Published in the Sunday People, 16 April 1978, Thorne’s article opens with the following words:“Self-styled witch king David Farrant – the man jailed for desecrating a tomb and threatening detectives with voodoo – has a new shock in store. What’s more, Britain’s best-known Prince of Darkness is dreaming of a traditional white wedding.”The article quoted Farrant as saying; “I want to put my ghoulish past behind me now. Either I give up witchcraft or Nancy.”
Soon after the story was printed, Farrant gave up Nancy O’Hoski, a speech therapist (Farrant suffers from a nervous stammer). They obviously did not get married. This was a cruel stunt played by Farrant on Miss O’Hoski and the public. Then came a very curious turn of events. Within days of the publicity generated by his abandoned wedding plans in the Sunday People, Farrant prepared to stand as a candidate in the forthcoming British General Election. He launched what was described as the “Wicca Workers Party” to the cry of “Wiccans Awake!”Journalist and editor Peter Hounam wrote a front page story for the Hornsey Journal, 30 June 1978, that thundered:“A new peril for candidates fighting the marginal Hornsey constituency emerged this week with news that some of their supporters who indulge in witchcraft may switch their votes to the ‘Wicca Workers Party’ in the General Election. David Farrant, who lives in Muswell Hill Road, is fighting under the slogan ‘Wiccans Awake’.”
Farrant became more confident and published a letter in the Hornsey Journal
, 21 July 1978, which stated:“It is not my intention to use your letter columns to promulgate the views of the Wicca Workers Party or to become involved in futile argument with any of your readers, but having seen the opinions expressed in the letter columns of the Journal, I feel that I should set the record straight. In fact, the WWP is a serious political party and has growing support from people all over the country; including other political groups with whom we are now amalgamated.”
John Pope continued with his neo-Nazi associations, and published articles in the journal of the south-western branch of the National Front, an organisation with overtly neo-Nazi views. He has belonged to survivalist groups and has always managed to maintain contact with some of the most extreme movements to have existed on the far right. He still resides at the London home of his late uncle, Bill Binding
, who was in the news in 2001 when he attempted
to join the Conservative Party:
“Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith says he will be looking at whether action is needed over reports that a former deputy leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Britain has joined the Tory party. Bill Binding, 76, from Clapton, east London, who stood for the far-right British National Party (BNP) in the 1997 election, told the Guardian he had left the Klan four years ago after deciding different races were genetically alike.”
William Binding’s nephew John Pope nowadays runs Jack the Ripper
tours in East London. On his website
, Pope describes himself as “a master of the black arts, a third degree witch and Odinist … a natural shaman and master of Yoga and other preternatural mysteries and systems.”
He also claims to be a descendant of Robin Hood, as well as being of “blood line to Jack the Ripper and Dracula.”
For decades he and his close associate David Farrant have been openly hostile toward Seán Manchester. Pope, who nowadays styles himself “Pope-de Locksley,”
is dubbed on his website as “The Scariest Man in London.”
David Farrant has a long history of association with people holding neo-Nazi ideology. He connects, for example, to names such as Philippe Welte and Jean-Paul Bourre, two Frenchman who greatly admired Hitler at the time Farrant was in collaboration with them in the 1980s. Farrant’s self-published pamphlet Beyond the Highgate Vampire includes a photograph of Jean-Paul Bourre whom he describes in the caption beneath as “a leading Satanist attempting to invoke the Devil.” What he fails to mention is his close friendship and collaboration over many years with Bourre. There are others with whom Farrant has been associated who have far right views and connections. Kevin Chesham, someone closely associated with the neo-Nazi Satanist Kerry Bolton of New Zealand, has more recently been a collaborator in David Farrant’s longstanding hate campaign against Seán Manchester.