Tim Tate

Author, Film-Maker & Investigative Journalist

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.

— Ernest Hemmingway

Books

I have been incredibly privileged. Since 1988 publishers – both British and international – have commissioned books I have proposed and occasionally asked me to ghost-write the (true) stories of others.

I am also very fortunate to be represented by the best literary agent in the business – Andrew Lownie. Below is a piece I wrote for his website which explains what passes for my technique.


2018 — ThistleBuy online

The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

A 25-year investigation by two award-winning journalists into the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968 - and Los Angeles Police's extraordinary suppression of evidence indicating it wad the result of a sinister conspiracy.

Extract:

 

It is a cliché that those of a certain age will always remember where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.   The shooting of America’s 35th President flashed around the world on Friday, November 22, 1963. More than five decades later, it continues to exert an unremitting grip on international interest. More than two thousand books have been – and continue to be – published, dissecting every detail of what happened in Dealey Plaza, Dallas that autumn afternoon. Seemingly endless allegations and counter-claims, televised re-constructions and free-floating theories seek to solve a murder which, in the public mind at least, remains shrouded in inconsistencies and mystery – not least because the two official commissions of enquiry reached opposing conclusions on whether the murder was the act of a lone gunman or a sinister conspiracy.

 

By contrast, the second Kennedy assassination almost five years later has attracted much less scrutiny. Unlike the killing of JFK, the shooting of Robert Francis Kennedy in a hotel pantry in Los Angeles was not examined by a successor to the Presidential Warren Commission, nor even by the subsequent Congressional inquiry, the House Select Committee on Assassinations. And yet the scientific facts of the RFK assassination – logistical, pathological and ballistic – have always been much more problematic than those surrounding the killing of John Kennedy.   So, too, the politics.

 

Bobby Kennedy was shot and mortally wounded minutes after winning a key race in the battle to be nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate to face the Republican Richard Nixon in the November 1968 Presidential election.

 

Victory in the California Primary did not guarantee RFK the nomination, but it went a very long way towards it. And, in that troubled and violent year, with America torn apart by race and poverty riots, and with public anger at the ever-more catastrophic Vietnam War exploding on to the streets, to his supporters and detractors alike Kennedy alone seemed to be the candidate promising radical change – at home and abroad.

 

He had run a breathless and insurgent campaign, talking openly about the need for “revolution”. He energised the young, the dispossessed and those desperate for transformation. And they believed.   To those who campaigned for him, it was an article of faith that a second President Kennedy in the White House would signal an end to the blight of urban poverty and racial inequality – twin scourges which had caused riots across America in the years since John Kennedy’s assassination, and which also played a background role in the murder of Martin Luther King Jnr. in April 1968.

 

But more importantly even than that, Bobby’s supporters believed he would halt the war in Vietnam; and since he had, however belatedly, appeared to signal publicly that he was unconvinced by the Warren Commission investigation of his brother’s murder, they hoped, too, for a new enquiry into the troubling inconsistencies surrounding the official account of the events in Dallas.

 

But for as many who loved Robert Kennedy there seemed to be an equal number who despised him. His role as counsel to the Senate committee investigating labour racketeering had earned him the enmity of corrupt union officials, while the war he declared on organised crime as Attorney General in JFK’s administration made him a hate figure for America’s most powerful mob bosses, and contributed to his unending feud with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, Bobby also clashed with the CIA, and his refusal to accede to the demands of the President’s more hawkish advisors during the tense 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis created deep resentment within the senior ranks of the military. Nor did he make many friends on Capitol Hill: his brusque and impatient manner was viewed with deep suspicion – at the very least – by Senators, Congressmen, and much of Washington DC’s political elite.   And his championing of civil rights, racial justice and the plight of America’s farmworkers attracted the loathing of segregationists, white supremacists and some of the country’s major agricultural leaders alike.

 

RFK heard this drumbeat and – particularly after John Kennedy’s assassination – knew what it could mean. As he once remarked to a reporter, “You won’t have any trouble finding my enemies. They’re all over town.”[1].

 

Robert Kennedy’s removal from the political stage that night in June 1968 brought comfort to his enemies, just as it destroyed all the hopes of those who believed in him and the promise of change he represented.

For those political reasons the shooting in the Ambassador Hotel pantry was a crime which demanded a thorough and honest enquiry.

 

But beside that there was an unanswerable scientific case for a rigorous forensic investigation.   Much more clearly than in the JFK assassination, the fundamental facts of RFK’s killing simply did not fit the official conclusion – that the murder was carried out by a lone gunman, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. Within minutes of the shooting, evidence emerged which suggested that Sirhan had not acted alone; within weeks Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office knew that they could not reconcile the findings of the official autopsy with the testimony of key eyewitness to the shooting. But although the police and prosecutors publicly promised a scrupulous and transparent enquiry, they did the precise opposite. For almost twenty years.

 

We came into the case as television producers, separately and a decade apart. We were not the first journalists to raise questions about the evidence: in the years immediately after RFK’s murder a handful of courageous reporters and (sometimes eccentric) citizen-investigators began flagging up substantial inconsistencies in the claims made by Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney. But it appears that we are amongst the longest-lasting.

 

Tim’s 1992 documentary for Channel 4 television in Britain, and A&E networks in   he US, was the first to broadcast tape recordings made by LAPD which revealed it to have distorted, falsified and suppressed evidence which suggested that a second gunman had murdered Robert Kennedy.

 

Fifteen years later, Brad’s documentary for the Discovery Times Channel presented scientific proof of that second gunman: forensic audio analysis of a tape Brad uncovered – the only recording to have captured the sounds of the shooting in the pantry – demonstrated unequivocally that at least 13 shots were fired; many more than could have come from Sirhan Sirhan’s 8-shot revolver.

 

Since those films we have – individually and later in tandem – spent decades painstakingly examining all the evidence. At times it has seemed a herculean and never-ending task, involving years carefully examining and cross-referencing tens of thousands of original documents, conducting forensic analysis of rare audio, film footage, video tape and photographs, and tracking down crucial witnesses.

 

This book, then, is the product of more than a quarter of a century’s patient investigative journalism. What is most striking about the Robert Kennedy assassination is that the fundamental evidence – eye-witness, ballistic, forensic and, above all, scientific – points unequivocally to the conclusion that Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the fatal bullets in the pantry. Which raises two more troublesome questions: who did – and why ?

We realise that positing answers to these questions may lead to accusations of conspiracy theorising.   But, although we have found clear evidence of genuine conspiracies, we are cautious about claiming that these alone offer a solution to the mystery.   Our approach has always been to ascertain the facts and then to pursue them wherever they may lead, however uncomfortable that may be.

 

The murder of Robert F. Kennedy was the final American political assassination of a turbulent decade. It, more than any other single act, signalled the end of the optimism and idealism which briefly flourished in the 1960s. It changed the course of both the United States and much of the world beyond its shores. For those reasons – as well as for natural justice – the events of June 1968 demanded an honest, open and thorough investigation by police and prosecutors.

 

This book exists because that did not happen.

 

[1] “The Number 2 Man in Washington” by Paul O’Neill. Life [magazine], January 26, 1962, p.90.


2018 — Icon BooksBuy online

HITLER’S BRITISH TRAITORS

Drawing on de-classified MI5 and other official files, Hitler's British Traitors uncovers the Secret History of hundreds of Spies, Saboteurs and Fifth Columnists who betrayed their country to Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Extract:

This book tells a story which has been suppressed for more than 70 years. It is the story of Hitler’s British Traitors – hundreds of men and women who betrayed their country to Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

 

They did so not on the battlefield, or within the Third Reich, but from the safety of their own homes and offices throughout Britain.   They were an ‘enemy within’, willing and able to spy, commit acts of sabotage and provide information to Berlin during some of the uncertain days of the war, when Hitler’s armies were poised to invade.

 

Most – though not all – were fascists who held the same rabidly anti-Semitic beliefs as the leaders of National Socialism. Most sold out their country in the hope that Germany would win the war; some expected to receive their reward once the longed-for invasion arrived, while others sought – and received – more immediate payment for their treachery.

 

This is, however, a secret history. The official account of the Second World War dismisses the idea of a Fifth Column in Britain as either press-driven scaremongering or a diversionary tactic by the Security Service, MI5, to justify an unquestionably shameful period in which thousands of “enemy aliens” – Italian and German nationals, many of whom were Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution – were interned en masse.

 

 

And yet, files held by MI5, the Home Office and the Treasury Solicitor’s department tell a very different story. Those files, released piecemeal and in a remarkably haphazard manner to the National Archives over the years between 2000 and 2017, show that between 1939 and 1945 more than seventy British men and women were convicted – mostly in secret trials – of working to help Nazi Germany win the war. Among them were Dorothy O’Grady, who sabotaged military communications on the Isle of Wight and drew up detailed plans of south coast defences; George Armstrong and Duncan Scot-Ford who passed military secrets to German Intelligence; William Gutheridge and Wanda Penlington, who cut telephone wires to obstruct the emergency services during air raids; and besides them, a small army of die-hard fascists who volunteered their loyalty and their assistance to Germany’s intelligence services. Four of these traitors were sentenced to death – two were executed – whilst most of the others received lengthy prison sentences.

 

In the same period, hundreds of other British Fascists were interned without trial on specific and detailed evidence that they were spying for, or working on behalf of, Germany. Some of these men and women were lone wolves or members of small, localized networks, but others were very much more dangerous.   The de-classified intelligence files document three separate, if occasionally overlapping, conspiracies to launch a violent “fascist revolution”. That the plots, led by Captain Archibald Ramsay, John Beckett and Dr. Leigh Vaughan-Henry, occurred during the nation’s “darkest hour” – the months when Britain was bracing itself for invasion – emphasises the reality of the threat, not its alleged mythical nature.

 

Why then has this history remained secret, and for so long ? Part of the answer must lie in the inexplicable delay in releasing for public scrutiny the files which document them. There are, however, other factors which helped create the dominant – but false – narrative that the Fifth Column was no more than a chimera – a myth dreamed up by Fleet Street or MI5. The first is the unease surrounding Britain’s policy of internment without trial, and its application to domestic fascists as well as “enemy aliens”.

 

Wartime Defence Regulations bestowed on the Home Secretary a draconian executive power, not subject to review by the courts, to detain anyone believed to pose a threat to public safety or the war effort.   The round-ups of thousands of Germans and Italians – many of whom were entirely innocent of any Nazi taint – was unquestionably a shameful period; that hundreds of them died, when the ship transporting them to camps in the dominions was sunk by a U-Boat, exacerbated this open wound.

 

But what emerges from the de-classified dossiers is clear evidence that Whitehall’s own dithering and incompetence was the deciding factor in the chaos of alien interment. Similarly, they reveal a bitter and long-running feud between the Home Office and MI5 over the problem posed by thousands of British fascists – a feud which erupted into a secret war between the Security Service and civil servants. Given this picture, it is not hard to understand why the Home Office was reluctant to release the files.

 

That, however, is only one half of the picture. MI5 must also bear a significant share of the blame. Its operations – particularly in the early days of the war – were amateurish and disorganised. Thereafter, although technically ground-breaking for the era, some of its efforts to control the Fifth Column, and to de-fuse the threats it posed, were ethically questionable to say the least.

 

But beneath these practical issues lies a more fundamental question about the story Britain has told itself about the Second World War. Over the decades since then newspapers, television and the cinema have portrayed the years between 1939 and 1945 as the country’s finest hours: the spirits of Dunkirk, the Blitz and a nation bonded by the rubrics of keep Calm and Carry On, Make Do and Mend, are repeatedly invoked to create an all-powerful narrative of brave stoicism.

 

This narrative is not false. It is simply not the whole story. For all the genuine unity and determination of the vast majority of the population to defeat Hitler, there was also a small – but dangerous – sub-stratum which yearned for the day when his troops could goose-step down Whitehall amid an orgy of swastika flags.

 

Challenging a dominant narrative – especially one which speaks to a nation’s image of itself – is not easy. When the research for this book began there were those who argued that Britain was “not ready” to hear the evidence emerging – belatedly – from official files.   But history, if sometimes uncomfortable, is not binary: the existence of a large group of traitors, committed to transforming Britain into a fascist dictatorship, does not negate the equally-factual heroism of a country which fought – sometimes on its knees – to prevent that catastrophe. As the embodiment of the nation’s wartime spirit, Winston Churchill, told the House of Commons during the First World War, “Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

 

This, then, is the history – the secret history – of Hitler’s British Traitors: a Fifth Column of men and women who committed crimes including espionage, sabotage, and communicating with enemy intelligence agents in the hope of delivering a German victory during World War Two.

 

 

[1] Winston Churchill. Speech in the House of Commons, 17 May 1916.


2018 — Waterside PressBuy online

The Murder of Childhood (New & Updated Edition)

“The Murder of Childhood” describes Ray Wyre’s ground-breaking work with sex-offenders and tells the disturbing story of child serial-killer Robert Black.

Extract:

It is now almost a quarter of a century since The Murder of Childhood was published, and more than a decade since it went out of print.

Why, then, the need for a new edition ?

The first answer lies in the continuing interest in story of Robert Black.   Over recent years – and particularly following his 2011 conviction for the murder of Jennifer Cardy and then his death in 2016 – a succession of documentaries and television news programmes have revisited his case, and sought to explain the scope of his crimes against children.

 

Ray Wyre’s widow, Charmaine, and I are regularly asked to contribute to these films; we try to respond as honestly and calmly as Ray did until his untimely death in 2008.   Ray knew – and taught us both – that the single most important part of his brave and ground-breaking work with sex offenders was to inform the public; protecting children from those who seek to abuse them depends on greater understanding of why, and how, paedophiles seek out their victims.

The second reason for this new edition follows on from that. The world in which the book was written, and the systems then in place for investigating paedophiles and the trade in indecent images of children (IIOC) – what used to be termed child pornography – have changed dramatically in the intervening years.

In 1995 police forces in Britain were only just beginning to realise the scale and impact of child sexual abuse. In the years since then the overwhelming size of the problem has become much clearer – as has the fact that this is not simply a domestic issue, but rather a global crisis which crosses national borders with ease and regularity.

At the heart of this is something which, when we wrote The Murder of Childhood, was then in its infancy. The World Wide Web came into public existence in 1993, but it was slow and cumbersome, constrained by slow dial-up access and with relatively limited content. Today there are more than more than 600 million open websites worldwide (and a vast number of additional, largely criminal sites on the Dark Web) and we take for granted instant access via the smartphones in our pockets. In excess of two billion people worldwide do so.

The dynamic growth of the web, together with the ubiquity of smartphones with cameras allowing still photos and video files to be shot and uploaded to the internet in real time, have dramatically increased the linked problems of child sexual abuse and IIOC. Much as they democratised public spaces, enfranchised law-abiding citizens and helped hold power to account, they have also enabled paedophiles to transcend geographical and cyberspace borders, facilitating their abuse of children and the distribution of child sexual abuse images.

It would be pleasant to report that the advances in technology have also benefitted law enforcement efforts, better equipping police forces to combat child sexual abuse. Sadly, they have not: although governments throughout the developed world spend billions to provide criminal intelligence units with state of the art communications monitoring and image recognition software, in Britain very little of this vital resource is devoted to the detection of paedophile offences.   Nor have changes in way convicted paedophiles are treated in prison, and monitored after their release, improved our ability to protect children from them.   If anything, the sombre picture we painted in The Murder of Childhood is more disturbing and dangerous in 2018 than it was when the book was published in 1995.

For this new edition, we have largely left the original text as it was published; but we have added an additional chapter, providing new information about Robert Black’s crimes, as well updating the position on law enforcement systems to investigate paedophiles, and describing the uncomfortable decline in attempts to interrupt their offending with the sort of pioneering therapy which Ray Wyre championed.

I was fortunate to work with Ray for 20 years. Were he alive today I am certain that he would have viewed with frustration and alarm the low priority successive governments have assigned to safeguarding children from those who seek to abuse them. But I also know that his reaction would have been to increase his efforts to pressurise politicians into better, more honest action – and to educate the public which, after all, elects them and tolerates the abrogation of our collective responsibility to those who need protection.

And that, above all, is the reason for this updated edition of The Murder of Childhood.


2017 — John Blake PublishingBuy online

PRIDE

This book tells the story of one of the most unlikely alliances in living memory. In 1984 a small group of metropolitan homosexual men and lesbian women helped keep alive the beleaguered villages of a very traditional mining Welsh mining community. This is the true story behind the hit movie.

Extract:

This book tells the story of one of the most unlikely alliances in living memory.

 

In 1984 and 1985 a small group of metropolitan homosexual men and lesbian women stepped away from the vibrant hedonism of London’s gay scene to befriend and support the beleaguered villages of a very traditional mining community in the remote valleys of South Wales.

They did so in the midst of the most divisive strike in two generations and in one of the most turbulent times in modern British history. Five years earlier, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government had begun a radical programme to change the way the country had lived since the end of World War Two. That cosy, consensual ‘One Nation’ approach to politics was to be replaced with an unforgivingly right-wing approach: there was, in Mrs. Thatcher’s own words, “no such thing as society”. Henceforth greed was not just good but God: making money was more important than making things, private profit was put before public need, and above all the costs of change were to be borne by those least able to afford them.

But the early 1980s was also a period in which another oppressed group came under renewed and sustained attack.

After hundreds of years of persecution, homosexuality had been decriminalized in England and Wales in 1967. But if homosexuality was now the love which dared to broadcast its name, the endemic prejudice against it had not gone away. Many gay men still found themselves in court after being arrested by undercover police, while others received a criminal record for having the temerity to kiss their partners in public. “Queer-bashing” remained a very real threat and high-profile prosecutions targeted some of the nascent community’s most important supporting organisations.  And then AIDS arrived in Britain.

At the very height of this perfect storm, as the government and police battled “the enemy within” in communities across the land, and as newspapers whipped up fear of the “perverts” who had (supposedly) inflicted this lethal new pestilence upon the entire population, two groups who ostensibly had nothing in common – miners and homosexuals – unexpectedly made both common cause and lasting friendship. It was an alliance which helped keep an entire valley clothed and fed during the darkest months of the strike. And it led directly to a long-overdue acceptance by trades unions and the Labour Party that homosexual equality was a cause to be championed.

The story of that seemingly unlikely alliance between the stylish young metropolitans of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) and the very traditional Welsh mining communities of the Neath, Dulais and Upper Swansea Valleys was told in the 2014 feature film, Pride.

The movie, a relatively low-budget British production, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for both the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.   Part Billy Elliott, part Brassed Off, reviews described it as “a rom-com between two communities” and praised it as “impassioned and lovable”, “indescribably wonderful” and “irresistible”.   And so it was: ‘Pride’ was all of those things – and much more besides.

This book began life as a companion to the movie. For years the story of LGSM and the South Wales miners had passed beyond memory into folk-myth. Even the creators of Pride did not initially believe that the events it depicts could have happened.   It is a tribute to them – but more crucially to the men and women of LGSM and the Dulais Valley – that the film stays so close to the historical truth.

But popular as ‘Pride’ became, and as effectively as it brought the legend to life to a diverse modern audience for whom homophobic discrimination has been vanquished by equal-rights legislation and for whom coal mining is something to be studied in history classes, there was – there is – much more of the story yet to be told: much more to discover about how two different communities – each struggling to overcome its own bitter internal arguments and long-established fault lines – as well as facing the power of a hostile government – would find common cause against the odds. And much more to discover how one simple but unlikely act of friendship would, in time, help change life in Britain: forever.


2015 — Elliott & Thompson (UK) Penguin/Random House (USA)Buy online

Hitlers Forgotten Children

Blood runs through this story. The blood of young men spilled on the battlefields of war; the blood of civilians that ran through the gutters of cities, towns and villages across Europe; the blood of millions destroyed in the pogroms and death camps of the Holocaust.

Extract:

But blood, too, as an idea: the Nazi belief – absurd as this seems today – in ‘good blood’, precious Ichor to be sought out, preserved and expanded. And with it, the inevitable counterpart: ‘bad blood’, to be ruthlessly eradicated.

I was born in 1941 in the depths of the Second World War. I grew up in its wake, and under the shadow of its brutal progeny, the Cold War. My history is the history of millions of ordinary German men and women like me.

We are the victims of Hitler’s obsession with blood, as well as the beneficiaries of the post-war economic miracle that transformed our devastated and pariah nation into the powerhouse of modern Europe. Our story is that of a generation raised in the shadow of infamy, but which found a way to struggle towards honesty and decency.

But my own story is also that of a much more secret past, still cloaked in silence and shrouded in shame.

I am a child of Lebensborn.

Lebensborn is an ancient German word meaning ‘fountain of life’, twisted and distorted by the word-smelters of National Socialism. What did it mean in the madness of Nazism? What does it mean today? My search for the answers – to uncover my own story – has taken me on a long and painful road: a physical journey that has led me across the map of modern Europe. It has been an historical expedition, too: an often uncomfortable return to the Germany of more than seventy years ago, and into the troubled stories of those countries overrun by Hitler’s armies.

The journey has also forced me to make a psychological voyage into everything I have known and grown up with: a fundamental questioning of who I am, and what it means to be German. I will not pretend that this is a simple story: it will not always be easy to read. But neither has it been easy to live.

I am not, by nature, overtly emotional. The expression of emotion, such a commonplace thing in twenty-first-century society, does not come easily to me. I have spent my life attempting to suppress my inner self, to subordinate my feelings to the circumstances in which I have grown up, as well as to the needs of others.

But this is a story which, I believe, needs to be heard. More, much more, it needs to be understood. It is not unique, in that there are others who have endured much of what has shaped my life. But while I share a common thread with thousands of others who passed through the vile experiment of Lebensborn, to the best of my knowledge no one else shares the particular twists of fate, history and geography that have defined my seventy-four years on earth.

Lebensborn. The word runs through my life like the blood coursing through my body. To see it, to understand it, demands much more than a superficial examination. The search for the roots of this story requires a deep and intrusive investigation of the most hidden places.

We must start in a town and a country that no longer exist.


2015 — John Blake PublishingBuy online

Yorkshire Ripper – The Secret Murders

In 1981, Peter Sutcliffe, the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’, was convicted of thirteen murders and seven attempted murders. All his proven victims were women: most were prostitutes.

Extract:

Astonishingly, however, this is not the whole truth. There is a still-secret story of how Sutcliffe’s terrible reign of terror claimed at least twenty-two more lives and left five others with terrible injuries. These crimes – attacks on men as well as women – took place all over England, not just in his known killing fields of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Police and prosecution authorities have long known that Sutcliffe’s reign of terror was longer and far more widespread than the public has been led to believe. But the evidence has been locked away in the files and archives, ensuring that these murders and attempted murders remain unsolved today.

As a result, the families of at least twenty-two victims have ben cheated of their right to know how and why their loved ones died, while the plight of other who survived his attacks has never been officially acknowledged.

Worse still, police blunders and subsequent suppression of evidence ensured that three entirely innocent men were imprisoned for murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper. They each lost the best part of their adult lives, locked up in stinking cells for more than two decades.

This book, by a former police intelligence officer and an award-winning investigative journalist, is the story not just of those long-cold killings, of the forgotten families and of three terrible miscarriages of justice. It also uncovers Peter Sutcliffe’s real motive for murder – and reveals how he manipulated police, prosecutors and psychiatrists to ensure that he serves his sentence in the comfort of a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison cell.


2014 — Metro Books/John Blake PublishingBuy online

For Team and Country

This is a book about The First World War. It is a book which tells individual stories of remarkable sportsmen – men who were heroes in a way that their counterparts today have, perhaps, forgotten how to be.

Extract:

Imagine the reaction – your own as well as that of newspapers and television – were the most prominent stars in sport to exchange their football or rugby shirts for army uniforms; if Wayne Rooney, Jonny Wilkinson, Andy Murray and Graeme Swann volunteered to serve indefinitely in Afghanistan or Iraq.

A century ago the brightest sporting stars of their generation did just that. Hundreds of thousands of sports stars rallied to their country’s colours: many never returned from the mechanised carnage of The Great War. The names of Walter Tull, Edgar Mobbs, Tony Wilding and Percy Jeeves are unfamiliar today – lost in the terrible lists of the dead of World War One. But they belong among the pantheon of true British sporting heroes. All were – quite literally – at the top of their game: all made the ultimate sacrifice in ‘the greatest game of all’ – war …

Their stories are told here, their sacrifice pulled from the fog and pain of world war to represent the heroism of all those who gave their lives – but in particular all the sportsmen who heard the final whistle in the terrible carnage of that conflict.

But there is a deeper story, too. A story of how sport was, for Britain at least, a defining metaphor for the duty of war; a story, too, of how sport was the first and most vital recruiting sergeant for the British Army – and yet also became a lightning rod for wider anxieties about the war, its conduct … and the class divisions which it began to expose.
Just as no sector of society was left unscathed, so no sport was left unmarked by the slaughter that claimed so many young and vibrant lives. But just as the war changed – perforce – sport in Britain, so too did the role of sport and sportsmen shine an uncomfortable light on the society which produced them. From that day, the fourth of August 1914 when Britain declared war on Germany, nothing would ever be the same again.


2013 — John Blake PublishingBuy online

Slave Girl – Return to Hell

This book began with an e-mail and a letter.

Extract:

The e-mail came from a reader of Slave Girl­, the book which told Sarah Forsyth’s story of being tricked into international sex slavery and her difficult, often flawed struggle to break free of its tentacles.   Had we, the e-mail asked, stopped to look at the wider picture ? Did we know that there are, even by conservative estimates, 27 million slaves in the world today – more than twice the number of men, women and children who were snatched and transported from Africa over the entire 350 years of the historical international slave trade ?

The answers were – to my shame – no on both counts … Those unanswered questions led me to devote an entire year of my working life to investigating modern slavery in all its forms … The result was an eight-part documentary series, broadcast throughout the world, which told the stories of modern slaves in countries as diverse as Brazil, Pakistan, India, Haiti, Thailand and China …

The letter arrived while I was making the slavery series. It was from Sarah, and it spoke for itself ..

“Hello Tim. I thought it was about time I wrote and apologised for my terrible behaviour you had to endure while working with me on our book. From what I can remember – and believe me that’s not a lot – I know I must have been awful …

“A lot has happened since then. I am finally free of drink and drugs – even the medication I was taking. I am no longer addicted to anything and, for once in my life, I am in total control …

“I feel so lucky to have escaped from the sex industry. How many women like me has it consumed: ensnared, chewed up, spat out ? How many women this very day and this very moment are still trapped within it – in Britain, in the Netherlands, anywhere, somewhere in towns and cities across the world ? …

“So, Tim, is there something we can do to change that? So many readers of our book have written with such kindness: they have given me the strength I need to be who I now am.   But there are countless women like me who need that support right now. Is there some way we could together do something – anything – to give them help ?”


2013 — John Blake PublishingBuy online

Diamonds at Dinner

The gateway loomed before me. Beautiful and soft-seeming in the summer sunlight, but solid and strong and – from where I sat in the front seat of the little blue car – forbiddingly tall. I glanced at the older man in the driver's seat.

Extract:

He smiled, reassuringly: but I felt the butterflies growing more frantic in my stomach.

We had been driving for what seemed like an age. From Worcester railway station we quickly left the town behind, following small and empty country lanes as they wound past fields and dense woodland.

I had no idea what direction we were going in – north ? South ? – I couldn’t have told you, much less where exactly we were going to end up. We seemed to be travelling mile after mile, ever deeper into the very heart of England. For a young town girl like me the endless rolling landscape felt alien and somehow frightening. I had never seen so many fields, so much open country.

I pushed myself down lower into the car’s seat, thinking of the cosy little cottage I had left behind me, of my little sister and brother, and of Mum and Dad who I had left – for the very first time – so many hours before. Had I ever even sat in a car before ? Certainly not alone with a man and an older man to boot. I had never been so far away from home or felt so alone and isolated.

With a start the car slipped under the imposing stone arch and slowly picked up speed along a narrow and winding driveway. Huge swathes of open parkland slipped past, with a wide and sluggish watercourse running through it: did these people have their own private river ? In the distance I saw stone buildings – some of them looked like the ancient Greek temples I had seen in schoolbooks – scattered randomly across the never-ending acres of the estate.

The driveway seemed to go on forever, and then, as we rounded a last bed I saw it: a huge stone mansion squatting, impassive, in the middle of the park, and bathed in the soft afternoon light. It had two impossibly tall wings on either side of central entrance which was flanked by round pillars, each at least 20 feet tall. A third massive wing – almost as big as the others, and very clearly a separate courtyard with stables – was joined to the left hand side of the main building. I had never seen anything so big, so grand in all the nineteen years of my young life.

This, then, was Croome Court. This vast and magnificent house was to be my new place of employment, and my new home. I should have felt excited, astonished or grateful for the chance to live in such a wonderful place. Instead, as the car pulled up on the crunching gravel, I felt as if I’d gone to prison.


2013 — John Blake PublishingBuy online

Girls with Balls – The Secret History of Women’s Football

Boxing Day, 1920, Goodison park, Liverpool

Extract:

Everton football ground is filled beyond capacity. Fifty-three thousand men, women and children pack its stands and draughty terraces. A further 14,000 would-be spectators are locked out of the ground and line the nearby streets. The 22 players need a police escort to get into the changing rooms. Pathé News cameras patrol the touchline.

These extraordinary crowds – the biggest Liverpool has ever seen – have come to watch two local rival teams play a match for charity. But this is no normal derby match, much less a standard charity fixture. Eleven of the players are international celebrities: their team is the biggest draw in British – and world – football.

Yet they are all full time factory workers – amateurs in an increasingly professional sport – and they are women. The Dick Kerr’s Ladies of the Dick, Kerr & Co Ltd munitions works in Preston. The male football establishment is terrified by them. And so it resolved to abolish women’s football: forever …

This is the story of the longest-running secret in British football: a rattling yarn of determination and guts as well as jealousy, prejudice and betrayal.

It is the story of devious men … and girls with balls.

Review:

Tim Tate’s witty, well-written and deeply sympathetic book is a fitting monument for … all the intrepid women who turned out to play the beautiful game in the teeth of male scorn.

Jane Shilling, Daily Mail


2009 — John Blake PublishingBuy online

Slave Girl

The horrific story of Sarah Forsyth – a young British girl, tricked and trafficked into sex slavery in Holland’s red light districts, has been on the best-sellers lists for more than three years. It has sold in excess of 300,000 copies and been published in four countries.

Extract:

It has also attracted almost 1,300 individual reviews on Amazon – almost all of them favourable, but with a handful refusing to believe (despite the conviction of her trafficker) either that Sarah was an unwilling victim or that she could not have escaped.

When we wrote the book, Sarah was still in the grip of addictions to drugs and alcohol – both of which began during her time as an unwilling prostitute in Amsterdam.

Extract:
More than anything it was the dogs.

There were two of them – bull mastiffs, sat on the other side of the door, day and night. I was locked in anyway, but if I even tried the handle the dogs would bark wildly and I knew that within seconds someone would be there to check on me. I was scared of the men who came running to the door of that shabby, dirty, miserable flat, but most of all I was terrified of the dogs. I knew what they could do – would do, given the chance – if the men let them at me.

Afterwards, that’s what no-one seemed able to grasp. ‘Why didn’t you run away ?’ they asked. ‘Surely you must have had some chance to escape ?’

But the dogs were always there. Between them and the men – and the drugs they fed me day in, day out till I didn’t know which way was up and I’d reached that terrible place where I needed them as much as I hated them – there wasn’t a hope, really.

They knew that, of course. They’d worked hard to get me like that: to get me hooked on crack cocaine. That, and scaring me beyond belief by blowing a young girl’s brains out in front of me.

I staggered through those days, weeks and months, each day the same: men and drugs, more drugs and more men. My life was ebbing away as slowly as the water in the dirty brown canal which oozed towards the North Sea. How many men paid their 150 guilders for a few minutes of rough and selfish relief ? I couldn’t tell you: by the time I might have thought to keep count, I wouldn’t have been able to …

No, there wasn’t any escape from that hell. Not until that day when through the haze of my addiction and desperation I saw half a slim chance and somehow found the courage to snatch at it …


2008 — John Blake PublishingBuy online

Roger Cook’s 10 Greatest Conmen

There’s something about a clever con. In the anthropology of criminal activity, the confidence trick is a long-term survivor: for more than 500 years con artists have been creating ever more inventive ways to part gullible victims from their cash.

Extract:

The scams they have created have proved universal and remarkably adaptable: they cross language and national boundaries with some ease and even the extraordinary seed of modern communications has made little impact on the essential elements of the con.

A variant of one of the very first ever confidence tricks – the Elizabethan-era Spanish Prisoner Letter scam – is alive and thriving today in the instantly connected age of e-mail, text messages and video conferencing.

And the public at large seems to have a sneaking respect for the twisted genius of some of the more intricate scams. This is despite the fact that the crooks who perpetrate these scams are typically unrepentant rogues, arrogantly living the high life of fast cars, and extraordinary but undeserved luxury – while their victims lose their savings, their homes, their self-respect and sometimes their free will and even their lives. Nevertheless, it is also true that there is a certain guilty pleasure to be had from hearing about a well-worked con …

Writing their stories has been an interesting project involving, as it did, a determined attempt to separate myth from fact. Some of the cases we had dealt with personally and could write about from first-hand knowledge. In other cases we faced the uphill task of evaluating swathes of contradictory documentation and sometimes trying to create something factual but original from multiple sources that repeat each other, almost to the word …

We hope that we’ve succeeded in our efforts and that you ‘enjoy’ the results.

Just not too much.


1995 — PenguinBuy online

The Murder of Childhood

This book told the story of Robert Black, a child sex killer. It did so using more than 40 hours of interviews with him, recorded on audio tape, by the late Ray Wyre, Britain’s leading expert on sexual offenders.

Extract:

Despite the fact that Black had asked Ray to work with him and had agreed – in writing – that the audio tapes could be published, and despite the fact that he was already serving a life sentence for his crimes, he obtained an injunction (using tax payers’ money) to block the book and a documentary film Ray and I made for Channel 4.

It took several months and a substantial legal bill to overturn this injunction and ensure that both book and film could be published.

This is the story of Britain’s worst serial child sex killer and the process by which he came to talk candidly about his crimes for the firs time in thirty-five years of offending. It is simultaneously the story of the process of entering the killer’s mind for the first and only time in all those years.

It is not an easy story to read. It has not been easy to write or to publish. From the outset it aroused strong emotions both in ourselves and in those to whom we spoke. Sexual crimes, particularly crimes against children, arouse intense emotions within our society and yet are profoundly ill-understood phenomena.

We did not enter this project lightly. We have written, broadcast and lectured extensively on paedophilia, child pornography and the policing of sexual abuse. Nonetheless, from the first page we each examined our motives in writing the harrowing pages that follow …

The story of Robert Black’s assaults on very young children exemplifies – magnifies in grim clarity – many of the major issues of how society sees, understands and deals with men who abuse. His offences stretch across thirty-five years. There is no authoritative estimate for the number of his victims: we can only guess, based on what he himself now says, that he molested hundreds of young children and abducted dozens. At least eight of them may have died.

Men who abuse children, especially if more than one child is involved or if a disturbing degree of violence is used, tend to be dismissed as ‘beasts’, ‘monsters’ or ‘madmen’. These terms offer a convenient dustbin into which ordinary people can hurl their disgust and anger. Convenient, understandable even, but dangerously wrong.

The first purpose of this book is to highlight and challenge this knee-jerk response. Men who abuse may commit monstrous crimes, but they are not recognisably monsters. They do not have two heads, sloping brows and deep-set eyes. In the street, in the pub or at work they are not noticeably different from the rest of us …


1992 — MethuenBuy online

Murder Squad

Why murder? What is it about the taking of a life which simultaneously so fascinates and revolts?

Extract:

From Marple to Morse, Poirot to Wexford, the act and detection of homicide has attracted a loyal following amongst consumers of detective fiction. And with fiction, so fact. ‘True Crime’ books are amongst the most popular of all non-fiction published today. Inevitably murder – the gorier the better – is the most common theme.

When we were approached to write this book – itself a companion to a television documentary series aimed squarely at a popular audience – we both had, in different ways, some experience of the reality of murder.

As a probation officer and later a therapist, Ray had worked – and indeed still does – extensively with some of Britain’s most notorious killers, from the gangland brutality of Reggie Kray to the child-killer Colin Evans.

Tim, as an experienced journalist, had seen and reported a number of cases from the other, more public side. He had also worked closely with a number of police forces both in London and throughout Britain on cases concerning child pornography and extreme sadistic abuse.

What struck us both was that the public perception of murder, influenced perhaps by its fictional representation, was almost completely the reverse of reality … Our primary goal, therefore, was to portray the business of murder as it actually is in Britain today, whilst attempting to steer clear of prurient and gratuitous reporting…

The Metropolitan Police … agreed to allow both authors and film-makers unprecedented access to a working ‘murder squad’. For ourselves, we were assured that there would be no closed areas, no subjects ‘off-limits’ and no control over what we eventually wrote. And so it proved: doors and, more crucially, filing cabinets were opened for us, with no attempt to hide what lay behind or within them.


1991 — MethuenBuy online

Children for the Devil: Ritual Abuse and Satanic Crime

This book brought me the dubious honour of being sued for libel. A police officer referred to in its pages alleged that readers could draw an inference from four paragraphs (in a book of almost 100,000 words) that he was corrupt.

I had not intended any such inference, for the very good reason that the officer was not corrupt. The book was certainly critical of his handling of a controversial case of alleged ritual sexual abuse of children, but neither I – nor the very experienced libel lawyer who checked the manuscript for problems before publication – believed that an inference of corruption could or should be drawn from the text.

But libel law – particularly where inference rather than an outright defamatory statement is alleged – is a very difficult business. In this case, the problems were exacerbated by the employer of key defence witnesses, whose criticisms of the detective were quoted in the book: this organisation refused my publisher’s lawyers access to the employees to take pre-trial statements.

The publishers were left with little choice. They settled the case before it went to trial. They – and I – issued a full public apology to the police officer and paid him a substantial sum in damages.

I do not blame the officer for bringing the libel action. He believed, quite genuinely, that the ordinary reader would draw a damaging and false inference about his honesty. I repeat: I intended no such slur.

But I do regret the outcome. No other book – before or since – has attempted thoroughly to investigate – with an honest, secular and open mind – the claims and counterclaims of those who argue that ritual abuse is a widespread phenomenon and those who insist that it does not exist at all.

The book answered the latter question definitively by detailing a series of successful prosecutions – here, in Britain – of adult men and women for the sexual abuse of children during what courts heard and accepted were satanic rituals. It also showed that many of the more dramatic claims made by those convinced of an international conspiracy of satanic abusers were often either driven by their own religious position or stemmed from amateurish and contaminated questioning.

The result has been that, ever since, ritual abuse has been “the third rail” for anyone tasked with investigating or therapeutically helping victims of sexual abuse: touch it, and – professionally, at least – you die.

The book is still findable on Amazon and in libraries. I urge anyone interested in the protection of children to read it and to make their own minds up about this most intractably difficult issue. But if you do, please bear in mind that you should draw no inference from it about the police officer – because none was, or is, intended.