George Carman’s defence of Geoffrey Prime & Peter Adamson

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The article that first prompted me to read George Carman’s biography:

How my father may have helped Jimmy Savile escape justice (The Observer, Sunday 14 October 2012, Dominic Carman) – The son of George Carman QC recalls the powerful effect he had on newspaper groups and points out Savile retained Carman in 1992 in another matter, so that when Paul Connew of The Sunday Mirror wanted to publish a photo of Savile at Haut de la Garenne children’s home, Jersey, newspapers were aware of who they might be up against and what their odds of winning would be:

“Roy Greenslade’s blog last Wednesday reported that Paul Connew, when editor of the Sunday Mirror in 1994, did have “credible and convincing” evidence from two women who claimed that Jimmy Savile had been guilty of abusing them at a children’s home. Though “totally and utterly convinced” they were telling the truth, the paper’s lawyers, after a careful assessment, decided it wasn’t strong enough to risk publication. The risk was libel and the substantial costs and damages that the newspaper could face should they lose a subsequent high court case from the litigious Savile. To the in-house lawyers at Mirror Group, the risk seemed too great. Connew went further in talking about his guilt relating to this onNewsnight last Thursday. But there is perhaps another angle to the story.

In 1992, my father, George Carman QC, had been retained by Savile’s lawyers over a different matter, which never reached court. By 1994, the name Carman, and what he could do in cross-examination, put such fear into the minds of litigants, lawyers and editors that libel cases were settled and, in some circumstances, perhaps stories were not published. Savile may have been one of those. As an indication of Carman’s universal demand, and the respect he instilled, one has to look no further than theGuardian itself. In 1995, the editor, Alan Rusbridger, when faced with a libel action from Jonathan Aitken said: “We’d better get Carman – before Aitken gets him.” They did and Aitken lost.”

There’s three points of interest I noted so far from Dominic Carman’s biography of his father published 12 years ago

1. November 1982: Carman defended Geoffrey Prime, a KGB spy (Spotlight on Abuse: Geoffrey Prime, PIE member)

2. July 1983: Carman also defended Peter Adamson, better known as Len Fairclough from Coronation Street, lover of Pat Phoenix

3. During the 1970s George Carman was standing counsel to the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, James Anderon (p.78) a connection he tries to use when caught drink driving during the Thorpe trial in November 1978 although to no avail – Carman is fined £150 and banned from driving for a year!

'The Two Of Us' 1973 Pat Phoenix and Peter Adamson

‘The Two Of Us’ 1973 Pat Phoenix and Peter Adamson – Click to listen to the record on


1. Carman and Prime

“By contrast, the next high-profile client caused him disgust and revulsion in equal measure. Geoffrey Prim was a Russian-speaking civil servant charged with spying. At Cheltenham GCHQ Britain’s secret communications headquarters, he spied on behalf of the KGB for fourteen years, handing over hugely damaging information on the entire NATO security operation in Europe. As if that was not bad enough, he was also a paedophile with detailed card-index files of little girls in the Cheltenham and Gloucester area. Additional charges were brough of indecent assault against three schoolgirls. Perveted sexual activity may have made Prime a target for the Russians. But this is purely conjecture.” [p.112 below]



No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman, Dominic Carman (2002) p.112


PIE member Geoffrey Prime complained to the Press Council about News of the World allegations

The Press and the People: … Annual Report of the Press Council, Volume 26
Press Council, 1982
[Page 112]

Spy’s complaint not upheld

A complaint by convicted spy Geoffrey Prime that the News Of The World made false allegations against him and declined to correct them was rejected.

Alex Marunchak had said Mr Prime, jailed for 38 years, was originally arrested for sexual offences against young girls. He had made many espionage contacts through a child-sex network in Britain and America. Police feared he may have used these to blackmail prominent people in all walks of life.

Using the alias Jacques DuGay he had joined NAMBLA. a North American association closely linked with the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in Britain. US police confirmed he contacted other perverts through NAMBLA and may have blackmailed top people into supplying information. Security chiefs feared the KGB would continue blackmailing his contacts.

Mr Prime’s solicitors told the editor it was untrue that Mr Prime belonged to or had contact with NAMBLA or PIE, that he blackmailed people or gave the KGB information for blackmailing, that he had espionage contacts, and that he ever used the name Jacques DuGay. They asked for a published retraction.

Mr Henry Douglas, legal manager, replied that following a tip-off by a Scotland Yard contact the News Of The World spoke to other police in Los Angeles and New Jersey and learnt that after police raids on NAMBLA members’ homes Mr Prime’s name and alias were very familiar to them in a list of UK paedophiles. The newspaper carefully checked with British police sources and would not publish a retraction.

Adjudication: The News Of The World has told the complainant’s solicitors and the Press Council of the steps it took to verify with American and British sources the allegations it published about the complainant Mr Geoffrey Prime, following his conviction. In the Press Council’s view the newspaper did as much research as it could before publishing its detailed story. Despite their view that the allegations about Mr Prime were fanciful and inconsistent with the known facts, his solicitors have failed to satisfy the Press Council that the allegations were false. The complaint against the News Of The World is, therefore, not upheld. (U9823-1983).

The Attorney General complained to the Press Council about the Sun’s Geoffrey Prime allegations

Annual Report of the Press Council, Volumes 29-31
Press Council, 1982/1983

[Page 113]

Attorney General’s complaint upheld

The Sun produced no evidence for its allegation that at the trial of the spy Geoffrey Prime the attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, held back mention of the accused man’s involvement with a child-sex organisation to avoid embarrassing security chiefs, Council said when upholding Sir Michael’s complaint that the editor refused to withdraw this false allegation and declared that the editor should either have substantiated or withdrawn it.

Brian Dixon had reported that Prime’s perverse obsession with little girls, which laid him open to blackmail, was not discovered by the security services. Papers found at his home showed he belonged to a child-sex organisation, Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), but no evidence about the find was given at his Old Bailey trial. US spymasters were furious and could not understand how British vetters did not discover Prime’s peculiarities. They were convinced the Attorney General did not mention the involvement with PIE to save embarrassing British security chiefs.

For the Attorney General, Mr J. Nursaw, complained to the editor, Mr Kelvin MacKenzie, that Sir Michael knew of no evidence connecting Mr Prime with PIE, and the Director of Public Prosecutions had assured him police found none. The Attorney General sought a prominent correction as soon as possible. Mr MacKensie replied that Mr Dixon stood by every word. His source was a senior police officer. One of the magazines found at Mr Prime’s home was sold only to PIE members. He would not run a correction but would write to Sir Michael.

Adjudication: The Sun’s story about the background of the spy Geoffrey Prime was written by a reporter of long experience and high reputation, Mr Brian Dixon. He has provided the Council with a detailed statement of what proved to be true – background information about Mr Prime which he gathered from a long established but unnamed contact. Mr Dixon has said that the contact also told him police found two Paedophile Information Exchange magazines at Mr Prime’s home. The magazines were later mentioned to the reporter by a senior London police officer, also unnamed, and another anonymous police contact said the Americans had expected Mr Prime’s involvement with a child-sex cult to come out at his trial.

Mr James Nursaw was the legal secretary to the Law Officers’ Department at the time – is this a role of legal adviser to the Attorney-General? I guess the buck has to stop somewhere. Else. With a civil servant. As usual. Interesting question I’d never considered before: ‘Who advises the lawyer who advises the Attorney-General who advises the government of the law?’


No Ordinary Man, p.113, Defending Geoffrey Prime


 2. Carman defends Adamson

In July 1983 George Carman defended Peter Adamson, a 53 year old actor who had played Len Fairclough in Coronation Street almost from its inception in the early 1960s. Despite eye witness accounts from two police officers who saw the assaults with their own eyes, on site due to the fact Adamson made a regular habit of Saturday morning sessions at Haslingdean swimming pool, near Blackburn Lancashire. Carman was able to point out that 80 out of the 82 words of their descriptions of Adamson’s assault in their notebooks were the same calling the evidence ‘incestuously identical’. Getting Adamson off the hook sealed Carman’s reputation as the Great Defender and in 1988 Adamson added to that reputation by confessing his guilt to The Sun in a front page exclusive.

Compare and Contrast the Wikipedia entry on Adamson’s alleged assault and subsequent(who passed away in 2002):


On 24 April 1983, a Sunday newspaper reported that Adamson had been arrested for indecently assaulting two eight-year old girls in a public swimming pool in Haslingdenwhere he had assisted as a part-time instructor. One was allegedly assaulted the day before, the other on 16 April. The police complaint alleged that Adamson’s hands had strayed while giving the girls swimming lessons.[2]

He was represented by the barrister George Carman QC, who had a prominent career defending celebrities. On 26 July 1983, a Crown Court jury found Adamson not guilty. The following year, after his wife’s death and still suffering financial woes and drinking problems, he was allegedly persuaded by freelance Sun reporter Dan Slater to change his story following several bottles of whisky. Adamson was alleged to have told Slater “I am totally guilty of everything the police said”….”But what I hope you will print – there was no sexual intent.”[2]

As a result, Lincolnshire Police interviewed Adamson who categorically denied the confession. No charges were made against him.”


In February 1983, Adamson was suspended from Coronation Street after selling stories about the show and cast to a tabloid newspaper. Following his arrest for alleged indecent assault in April 1983, Granada Television decided not to support him financially through his legal problems. Although he was cleared of the charge in July, he was sacked from Coronation Street by producer Bill Podmore on 26 August 1983 for breach of contract when it was discovered Adamson had sold his memoirs for £70,000 afterthe previous warning, in order to pay the £120,000 legal debts from his trial.[2]

Although his last actual appearance in the series was shown in May 1983 (which had been filmed before his suspension), Len Fairclough was killed off-screen in a motorway crash in December 1983. To demonise the character, it was revealed that he had been returning home from an affair, cheating on wife Rita (Barbara Knox).[2]

Adamson celebrated the character’s death by delivering an obituary on TV-am dressed as an undertaker.








Daily Mail – Street’s shamed Len Fairclough dies 










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