Policing Downshire in the Noughties – Feeding a Friendly Journalist
It was a cool damp evening as Bill Overend walked through the turnstile, at Abbottsfield, the home of Abbottsford Town Football Club and it was buzzing.
He would normally walk the longest route around the ground and soak up the atmosphere but as he was late he took the direct route and entered the big new all seater north stand from the northeast corner.
The rest of the usual group had already congregated in the usual place with the exception of George Tiplady who had to suffer the company of the ACC in the director’s box.
None of the group had ever seen so many supporters for a Conference match, there had been big crowds on the few occasions the Knights had reached the FA cup third round, but this was unprecedented.
It was a measure, of the importance, of remaining in the Conference to the people of Abbottsford.
Moments before kickoff Bill leant forward and put his hand on Bobs shoulder.
“Bob, don’t rush off after the game, John and I need to have a word.”
The Fulltime Score was Abbottsford Town 2, Forest Green Rovers 0,
The players would have taken a lap of honor had it not been for the pitch invasion, the Police and stewards made no attempt to clear the pitch, they just ensured that the players and the officials left the pitch in safety and weren’t hugged to death by the supporters, they even hugged the referee and the Police, but eventually everyone calmed down and briefly reflected on what they had seen and began drifting away.
The friends said their goodbyes and pledged to be back in August and that just left Bill, John and Bob who hung back from the rest and began to walk slowly down the steps.
“What did you want to see me about?” Bob asked.
“Did you hear about the recent crackdown on curb crawling?”
“What? Sprocketts latest initiative you mean?”
“That’s the one” Answered John.
Sprockett was the Home Secretary and the constabulary’s lord and master and what he wanted he generally got.
“Well amongst the usual dross we trawled a “name”” Continued Bill and that got Bob’s full attention and he stopped walking,
Bill and John looked at each other and Bill nodded.
“Sir Robert Hitchman” John said.
Bill and John continued to walk down the steps, but Bob was rooted to the spot, then when what he had heard sank in he ran down the steps and caught up with them.
“The Minister of Propaganda?” Bob asked. “Picking up tarts?”
“We didn’t say that” Bill said.
“Oh, don’t disappoint me now after getting my hopes up” Bob pleaded.
“He was stopped for curb crawling after his third pass, but he wasn’t after girls” John clarified.
“What then?” Bob was nearly shouting. “Please tell me it was boys”
“No, it wasn’t boys either” John said
“He was after the girl’s underwear” Bill said trying not to laugh.
“What?” Bob said and was smiling.
“He was buying soiled knickers from the prostitutes” John said. “He had a carrier bag full of them”
The three men stood laughing until a foul-mouthed steward moved them on and they moved on down the steps.
“What are you charging him with?” Asked Bob.
“Obstructing the Police” Bill replied and anticipating Bobs next question. “For giving a false name and address”
The steward re-appeared and uttered a few more expletives in their direction.
“If you lot don’t move on I’ll have the Police on you”
At this Bill and John both produced their warrant cards and thrust them in the steward’s face.
“Now piss off before I have to get my card out” Bob said and when the steward was out of earshot Bill said.
“I’m sure he’d be very impressed if you showed him your press pass Bob”
When Sunday morning came so did the revelations, The sordid tale of the fall from grace of the Director General of the BBC, Sir Robert Hitchman.
Namely his unsavory predilection for soiled undergarments and their acquisition from the local prostitutes of Willowdean.
The Hitchman story had made the front page of the “Sunday News” a paper known less than affectionately as the “Sunday Screws” so it was definitely their kind of topic, and the numerous inside pages on the story carried the byline of Bob Philips Abbottsford freelance journalist.
There were interviews with some of the prostitutes involved and photographs of some of the items he might have purchased.
Even on the Sunday morning television slots the talk was of little else than the Hitchman story.
On the BBC the story was covered with some relish and there was a sense of payback from some of the current affairs presenters.
On the next afternoon DCI Overend and Superintendent Tiplady were on their way up the stairs when they met Leonard Billany coming the other way.
Billany was a solicitor who wasn’t fussy who he represented, he was known as Villainy Billany or more often just as Villainy.
“Hello Villainy” Said Overend. “Which paragon of society are you representing today?”
“All my clients are innocent until proven guilty” Villainy answered pompously.
“So which particular innocent are you here for today?” Asked Tiplady.
“I have just been to see Mr. Tabritzian”
Tabritzian was the man they collared with the substantial cache of stolen goods after the Fox and Flowerpot raid.
“And?” Overend queried.
“He has a proposition” he said and Tiplady and Overend looked disinterested.
“He wants to deal”
“What do you think this is LA law?” Asked Overend.
“He is willing to provide certain information pertinent to your inquiries” Villainy said
“Ok we’ll set up an interview at the prison sometime in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be in touch” Said Tiplady.
The two officers walked past Billany and continued their way up the stairs.
“There was another matter” Billany called after them.
“I have been asked to act on behalf of Sir Robert Hitchman”
“Really?” Both men were incredulous and could barely suppress their laughter.
“We feel that as Sir Robert has been an outspoken critic of the police in the past that this is just a malicious prosecution”
“It’s out of our hands I’m afraid” Tiplady said feigning regret.
“As you know it’s the CPS who decides what cases to prosecute”
“I will be meeting with him on his yacht this weekend” Billany answered with renewed pomposity.
“You be careful you don’t fall overboard, we wouldn’t want you to be eaten by sharks” Said Tiplady.
“Oh, I don’t think the sharks will eat him” Offered Overend.
“Really? Why not?” Asked Tiplady.
“Professional courtesy” Replied Overend, and they could no longer restrain themselves from laughing.
“Very funny” Said Billany almost falling down the stairs.