John Inman: dead actor dug up and beaten with sticks
Time to toss another dead body on the paedophile police pyre. The People leads with news of a police investigation into the life of the late actor John Inman. Did he “sexually assault a boy” aged 13? Dunno.
But emotions have been stirred. There is “fury”.
Once upon a time, the Sunday tabloids were full of shagging footballers, pimping Duchesses and five-times-a-night bonkers. Now we get allegations made against the dead. The celebs never did stop extra-marital sex. But the tabloids did stop covering them. It’s easier – and cheaper – to go after the dead.
The paper’s story thunders:
Police are investigating claims that the late Are You Being Served? actor John Inman sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy in 1970s. The iconic TV star, who played camp shop assistant Mr Humphries in the BBC series, is the latest high-profile name to be linked to claims of historic abuse.
One claim and John Inman – innocent in life – is stuffed in the box with Jimmy Savile and Rolph Harris.
When John Inman died in May 2007, the Mirror wrote:
JOHN Inman, star of TV sitcom Are You Being Served?, died in hospital early this morning after a long illness.
The actor (pictured above), 71, died in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London, at 4am. He had suffered from hepatitis A and had been taken into hospital for tests after problems with his liver.
His manager Phil Dale said: “John, through his character Mr Humphries of Are You Being Served? was known and loved throughout the world. He was one of the best and finest pantomime dames working to capacity audiences throughout Britain. John was known for his comedy plays and farces which were enjoyed from London’s West End throughout the country and as far as Australia, Canada and the USA.”
No word on any crimes. But now:
Detectives confirmed the probe after dad-of-two Peter Grant claimed he was forced to perform sex acts on the star in a hotel room in Torquay, Devon, when he was a schoolboy.
Is it fair that a claim against a dead man who died with an unsullied reputation is front-page news? Anorak’s views are not about the alleged victim’s testimony and claims. They are not for us to decide. This is about how a claim becomes front-page news, and why?
But Inman’s family have branded the investigation a witchhunt and and are worried that ‘all sorts of people will say anything in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal’. The much-loved star’s niece, Debra Inman, said: “I’m in total shock. Accusing him of this is just awful. It’s unbelievable, horrendous. You look at all the Jimmy Savile stuff and who is jumping on the bandwagon – people seeing an opportunity. John was a national treasure, a lovely man.”
Nothing screams witchhunt like a front-page splash in the Sunday tabloids.
..according to claims made to Devon and Cornwall police, the actor was a predatory paedophile who used an accomplice to lure Peter Grant, then a 13-year-old, to his hotel room.
Once more, this is not about the veracity of Mr Grant’s claims. The hope is that the justice system apprises the facts and reaches a satisfactory and correct conclusion. This is about the reporting on a single claim being amplified in the media.
This from the police:
“Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating an allegation of historic sexual abuse by two men against a boy in Torquay in 1979. The investigation, being led by the Force’s Sexual Offences and Domestic Abuse Team, is at an early stage and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
It would be. Yes. But Inman’s dead, so speak freely:
Divorced Mr Grant, from Torquay, told the Sunday People : “Inman’s friend said I would be perfect for a role in a play – that was his hook. It was suggested that Inman could help me out with it, but I needed to help him. I don’t think he had any thoughts at all about being found out. He said ‘I’m going to get you a role, but don’t tell anyone about this (the abuse) or I won’t be able to’ “When he died and he was on TV, I was very, very angry.”
Mr Grant says he spent the summer of 1979 using leisure facilities at the Imperial Hotel when he claims he was approached by Inman’s friend.
“He was flashing suggestively. I was naive and didn’t really think too much. It was a men’s changing rooms and people did get naked, so I didn’t really think. He was being complimentary about me and making me feel good. He found out that I was doing some amateur dramatics. He basically just said how good I looked and went on to say would I like to come up to his room and meet John, and that I was perfect for a role in a play. I went up to his room and met him and it was pretty much chit-chat. John Inman started saying how lovely I was and it was suggested that he could help me out with it, but I needed to help him.
“I didn’t realise what it was at the time, but he encouraged me to perform a sex act on him. I had a very sheltered upbringing and I didn’t really understand. It ended and it was, ‘Great to see you, I’ll be in touch about the role’.”
The incident was allegedly repeated at least twice more in the hotel over the next month, each time with Inman’s friend approaching the boy… It is also claimed to have happened a final time in the dressing room of the Princess Theatre. Grant said he was around 16 when he watched porn and recognised what he’d done as a child.
Reactions to the story are encapsulated in the paper’s comments section:
An alleged crime, it’s victim and the dead celebrity become something to debate.
Who needs facts when you have audience participation?