James Anderton

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member


They say you should never speak ill of the dead, but there are always exceptions to that rule.
To borrow a song title from the late, great Serge Gainsbourg, this is a “Requiem Pour un Con” (“Requiem for a Tw*t”).

James Anderton was a first class, Bible thumping, prick if ever there was one. And of course a total hypocrite as well, as many God botherers tend to be. They called him “God’s Cop”, and he was a lethal combination of uniform and Bible.

Greater Manchester Police under his command was notorious for “pornography” raids, porn being defined by them as anything with naked woman in it, including all the perfectly legal soft stuff you’d find in any newsagent. They were notorious for stopping container lorries containing magazines on the border of Greater Manchester and confiscating the girly mags. I found out some years later from an ex copper that they had orders to confiscate any sex mags including all the perfectly legal “pin-up” stuff, but they had orders never to touch the gay stuff for some reason and he said they were never told why.

When the whole “Video Nasties” witch hunt began in the 1980s, Anderton was on it like white on rice, turning his attention from seizing “dirty” books to raiding video libraries. I was working as buyer and sales manager at the time for one of the biggest video wholesalers in the North of England and the stories we heard from our customers concerning Anderton’s raids were horrendous.

When the Director of Public Prosecutions issued their hit list of so-called “video nasties” (every one of which is now available today, perfectly legally), we distributed that list to all of our dealers and they ensured that those titles were removed from their shelves. However that didn’t stop Anderton.

He started seizing titles like “Carrie’, ‘The Omen’ and other such perfectly legitimate, major films, many of which had even been screened on television. I even recall instances where ‘Apocalypse Now’ was being seized as “obscene”. The “rationale” that Anderton’s goons had given when they seized it, was that ‘Cannibal Apocalypse’ was on the DPP’s hit list and “Apocalypse Now’ contained the word ‘Apocalypse’! I kid you not.

I remember at the height of Anderton’s raids, the Greater Manchester Video Dealers’ Association called a meeting in Bolton Town Hall to address the situation, which I attended. The onstage panel included many prominent figures, including Tory MP Graham Bright who had just proposed his Video Recordings Bill, that would eventually lead to BBFC certification of all video releases. James Anderton was invited to the event but declined to come and instead sent a letter which was read out by some vicar on the panel.

Anderton’s letter stated that as far as he was concerned, video dealers were no better than drug dealers or pornographers that sailed as close to the wind as they could and that he would do everything in his power to put them out of business. Of course the place erupted at hearing this and Graham Bright was quick to stand up and make it clear that he did not associate himself with Anderton’s comments.

Anderton’s policy was simply to seize many perfectly innocuous titles for “assessment”, all of which would be returned to the dealer many months later, which had the effect of putting many of the smaller video libraries out of business in the interim, as vast swathes of their stock had been seized. It also resulted in many of the smaller dealers who could not afford the expense of a court case, pleading guilty when their cases came to magistrates’ court and receiving a destruction order on their seized stock.

Not only did this mean that many smaller dealers were put out of business, but that to this day, those dealers have criminal records, for stocking titles that are not only now available for purchase perfectly legally, but many of which have even been shown on television, completely uncensored.

Throughout all of this we were of course wondering when Anderton’s goons would pay us a visit and we eventually got our touch. One morning about a dozen plain clothes coppers descended on our warehouse and proceeded to go through the shelves. It was a very aggressive raid with instances of “You! Stand there and don’t move!”, “You! Stay in that chair!”, etc.

I accompanied them to the floor where our stock was held and they proceeded to go through it with a fine tooth comb while I stood there with their senior officer. a guy called Martin Wellock. After some time they all returned empty handed. They then gathered in a huddle and after a whispered conversation were despatched round the shelves again and this time returned with armfuls of perfectly innocuous titles such as Joan Collins’ ‘The Stud’, ‘Emmanuelle’ and horror films, like ‘The Omen’ and other perfectly legal titles. And of course ‘Apocalypse Now’.

I pointed out to Wellock that ‘Emmanuelle’ was a film that had been shown in cinemas and that ‘The Stud’ and several of the other films seized had recently been shown on TV. The “rationale” he gave me was that they would have to be taken for “inspection” as we could have recorded hardcore pornography over the tapes in question to sell them clandestinely. Again, I kid you not.

I then pointed out to him that in the under-the-counter hard core porn trade, tapes went for a maximum of about a tenner, whereas the tapes he had seized cost us as a wholesaler, between £20-£30 a pop and that would make no economic sense for us to do what he was accusing us of. I also pointed out to him, if we followed his rationale then every tape in the warehouse might be suspect and he might as well seize the Disney titles as well. At which point, rather red faced and furious he squared up to me and threateningly said, “We can do that if you want, clever lad!” He then told me that if I didn’t keep quiet, he’d arrest me for obstruction.

Not the most pleasant of experiences, I can assure you.

Anyway, this led to a further adventure with Anderton & Co. A couple of months later, our stock was returned to us, all without the shrink wraps removed. In other words nothing had been “inspected” and this bore out a long held contention that Anderton’ and his goons were stripping businesses of their stock, in an attempt to stop them from trading. All of the stock was returned to us except for one title ‘Electric Blue’, which was series of the softest of soft core sex titles, containing nothing more explicit than girls dancing naked, covered in baby oil, eating bananas suggestively, etc. We were informed that a destruction order had been issued for this title and we had the option of going to court to contest the order.

In the interim, we had discovered two interesting aspects of the law surrounding these seizures. In the midst of these raids, two highly graphic horror films (perhaps the most graphic of all) were never seized in Anderton’s raids, namely ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Friday the 13th’. Both were Warner Brothers titles and in those days Warner along with Columbia, did not make their titles available for sale. Instead dealers would take out lease agreements with these companies and pay a monthly fee for each title and return the stock if they decided not to continue with the leasing. When titles were confiscated in raids, the owners of the tapes (the dealers) were the ones that were prosecuted. However in the case of the aforementioned titles, Warners was the legal owner of the tapes and Anderton would have to prosecute them and not the dealer, hence those titles never being seized.

The second thing we found out was why the likes of HMV were never raided. The law at the time was that if a shop being raided was part of a chain, then every single store in that chain, nationwide, had to be raided and on the same day and at the same time of day, hence HMV, Virgin, etc, never being raided.

We decided to contest the confiscation/destruction order in court. We also opted for the case to be tried in criminal court before a jury, whereas Anderton’s crowd relied on people opting for the less expensive option of a magistrate’s court, where the magistrate invariably upheld the police prosecution.

But first of all we purchased a copy of the same Electric Blue title we were being prosecuted for, from HMV’s Market Street store in central Manchester. Then we phoned Greater Manchester Police to register a formal complaint about said title being stocked by HMV. Of course they took no action. When we eventually came to court we produced this evidence and our lawyer destroyed a highly embarrassed representative of Greater Manchester Police on this point. We also insisted on the Electric Blue title being played in the court. The result was that we were acquitted with the judge offering the opinion that the most offensive thing about the tape we had just viewed was that it was tedious in the extreme. RE-SULT! :)

As well as attempting to destroy small businesses under his jurisdiction, Anderton was also instrumental in destroying the career of a man who was considered to be the most honest senior cop in the country, his own Deputy Chief Constable, John Stalker. Stalker had been assigned to investigate the suspected existence of a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland at the time, where executions of IRA suspects, as opposed to arrests, were supposedly unofficial policy. This all came to a head when a completely innocent man was shot dead when mistaken for an IRA member.

The young man in question was shot dead in a hay shed in Lurgan and Stalker discovered that a MI5 bug had been planted in the location. His attempts to retrieve this evidence was repeatedly hampered and he was eventually removed from the investigation and a smear campaign against him was launched.

Anderton was a willing and enthusiastic participant in this smear campaign, removing Stalker from his post on the basis of a trumped up investigation. At the centre of this investigation was Stalker’s friendship with a Mancunian businessman. Kevin Taylor whom he had got to know as their daughters were schoolmates. Extraordinary efforts were made by Anderton to discredit both Stalker and Taylor by linking them unsuccessfully to members of the Quality Street Gang, a bunch of local dodgy Mancunian characters.

Anderton’s goons had even even asked local drag artist Foo Foo Lammar if Taylor or Stalker had ever been seen in any of Manchester’s gay bars or dancing with other men. It was a blatantly transparent attempt to discredit Stalker in an effort to derail an investigation that would have come up with embarrassing findings at a time when peace negotiations in Northern Ireland were under way.

Stalker’s supporters in the media and beyond smelt a rat and cried “foul”. In the event, Stalker was fully exonerated by an inquiry and his suspension lifted. But the affair took its toll on both him and his family and he decided to resign in 1987. Kevin Taylor successfully prosecuted Greater Manchester Police for malicious prosecution and received more than £1 million in damages. What would Jesus have said about all that Mr Anderton?

Despite his unusual policy of never seizing gay pornography, Anderton was also a notorious homophobe and made national headlines when at the height of the AIDS crisis he opined that AIDS was “God’s punishment”, that gay people were "swirling about in a human cesspit of their own making" and that homosexuality should be re-criminalised.

Doing God’s work also included resurrecting an old Victorian law in order to charge gay men in Manchester with ‘licentious dancing’. In this case, licentious dancing simply meant two men dancing together. Further criticism followed when he spoke of administering corporal punishment to criminals to make them "beg for mercy" and he also stated that lawbreakers "should be punished until they repent of their sins", adding “I'd thrash some criminals myself, most surely..." Flagellation of course being a “thing” with religious fanatics.

All of this resulted in calls for his resignation, but he survived, thanks to backing from Maggot Thatcher. Yes, he was her kind of cop!

He also stated at one point that gays had obviously been raised in families with no morality or sense of decency. But this remark was to prove his undoing as he was hoist with his own petard and was finally shut up on the whole gay issue by a tabloid front page revelation, “God’s Cop’s Daughter Is A Lesbian’; a newspaper article in which his daughter came out as gay and condemned him in no uncertain terms. After that there wasn’t a peep out of him again on anything at all until he retired shortly after. Doncha jus’ love a happy ending?

Rot in peace you sanctimonious turd!

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