I do hope that this year is better than last year for everyone, and I must admit I look forward with optimism. We have vaccines rolling out across the world, where I live in the northern hemisphere the winter solstice has passed and each day is longer than the last. 2020 saw many stories come to an end and chapters close and it is my hope that 2021 brings healing peace and a coming together.
I also want to see a pardon for my mother for her crime of being attacked by a man who had a history of violence against her, in fact just a history of violence. I am currently working on a family statement to be added to our application for pardon, it has been James Harbridge’s idea to talk a bit about the personal and family impact of my mother’s conviction in 1963, to write a victim impact statement type of thing. It’s been much harder and more emotional than I thought, but does focus the three reasons why what we are doing is so important: To correct the story that is our history about those events, for her family, and most importantly for her, because she was a human being.
When I was a child I had a toy gun, it was a Luger, or that was what was written down the side. It was painted black metal and quite a lot of the paint had chipped away so it looked mottled with silver. There was no grip - it had broken off on its travels, so it was awkward to hold and a very sorry looking toy. I remember the toy gun because on more than one occasion Chris held it in her hand and told me or told friends, “This is a real gun to protect me from Lucky Gordon, if he comes here I will shoot him”.
This story doesn't end with ‘and It was a real gun!’ It is not that type of story, but hopefully it illustrates how I grew up understanding that Gordon was a real threat. There is another thing the story illustrates that is harder to write, because I can’t tell you that my mother always knew herself that it was just a toy gun. Fear is a strange partner.
In these blogs I have talked a lot about my mother’s humanity, something that I always felt was missing from the story of Christine Keeler. It is harder to talk about the price that my mother paid for being Christine Keeler. All stories have context and Christine Keeler was quite damaged by what happened to her in 1963 - that much must be obvious to anyone, but it is also true that my mother always loved me and did all any mother could do to keep me safe. I plan to talk about this more on the blog.
I have been doing a lot of reading on perjury in the English courts, how it is used and what it means. I believe that the charge of perjury was used as weapon against my mother, a tool to punish her, and to mangle the words of Mandy Rice-Davies “I would say that, wouldn’t I?”
In 2015 Andy Coulson, the ex-editor of The News of the World, was charged with perjury, and he was acquitted. Mr Coulson had lied on oath but in Judge Lord Burns’ view, “Not every lie is perjury,” and the lie did not change the course of the trial. Link
There are not that many perjury cases, over the last 100 years they average out at 150 per year - Link
But I do wonder how many of those charged with perjury are women, women who have claimed they have been assaulted or raped. It’s interesting research and there seem to be a number of people doing the same research raising real concerns about how historically the courts have ‘aggressively’ prosecuted woman with perjury where their initial assault charges couldn’t be proved.
Katie Baker has written a few articles on the subject, here is one on buzzfeed - Link
Woman Against Rape have run a six year campaign with concerns about the use of perjury against the victims of abuse.
If rape, stalking and physical assault is really about power, as is often claimed, isn’t the ultimate show of power seeing your victim go to prison for what you did to them?I wonder how powerful Lucky Gordon felt when Christine went to prison.
I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to think that perjury was used to punish my mother, In fact I don’t think she would be the only victim of this weapon, even now.
I will leave you with another story to show how Christine had power taken away from her and how that can impact those around her. A long time ago in the early 1990s I did some bookkeeping work for Freddie’s Model Agency, invoices and payments, things like that. One morning I went up to their stairs and in the hall as you entered their upstairs office was a huge three metre tall poster of a model sitting in that chair in that pose, made to look just like my mother. It was an advertising campaign for bread with the slogan, “It tastes great with nothing on”. It featured one of their models and putting the poster up was a deliberate gesture to embarrass me or maybe to embarrass my father, as the owners were friends.
As mortified as the young me was to be confronted by that massive poster at my place of work, it could still be taken as just good fun. I did know that Christine would not have received a penny from a campaign like this, and seeing her used always stung me a bit.
So I was mortified by the poster and I had a vague sense of injustice, but I wasn't going to let anyone else see that, The one thing I can’t remember was who tried to give me a lesson on that poster and about that campaign. knowing full well who my mother was, they told me with some pride about this wonderfully clever idea, how it get around copyright and how unimportant that original model was, “You are just piggy backing, riffing, off a cultural icon, the picture that is not Christine Keeler, she was only a model and not even a very good one I hear”
I swallowed a lot of pride, that poster was on the wall every time I went there. If I had been older and braver I would have pointed out the obvious: “She so unimportant and yet you are still using her to sell your bread”
Incidentally, the model from the campaign, Helena de Bondt, sent me a kind message when Christine passed. So while some people think models are unimportant, at least some have their humanity.