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Page 18, 29th July 1989

29th July 1989
Page 18
Page 18, 29th July 1989 — Television

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Dennis Hackett

The prospect of Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street falling within the jurisdiction of a Labour Council is a fearful one to Lady Shirley Porter, leader of Westminster Council, and one to be prevented at all costs. According to a Panorama special (Lady Porter — The Pursuit of Power, BBC 1, 19 July), some of the costs have involved the illegal use of ratepayers' money for political ends.

The programme came as the district auditor was conducting a hearing into the sale of three cemeteries for 5p each to developers, an event which obviously precipitated Panorama into breaking its seasonal silence. Protesters are still picketing the town hall. The district auditor has heard that Lady Porter brushed aside advice and the former council chief executive, Rodney Brooke, told Panorama he had given two specific warnings that maintenance could suffer because of the sale.

Relatives of people buried in the 5p cemeteries — all of which are outside Westminster's boundaries and one of which is in Mrs Thatcher's constituency — said that they had difficulty in finding the graves of their loved ones. One, Mrs Linda Taylor, said she had been accused by Lady Porter of having attended Labour Party meetings, though she was in fact a lifelong Tory. She had recently obtained an apology in the High Court. Another, Mr Eric Sanders, also a consistent Tory voter, had been unable to have his murdered son buried alongside his mother. His principles, he said, had taken a nasty knock.

Other allegations were that Lady Porter had tried to persuade council officers to do political work, had sought to compile personal dossiers on the opposition, used ratepayers' money for political propaganda, and had tried to hire five political activists to infiltrate tenants' associations hostile to the Tories. She was not present to defend herself. Panorama said she had declined to be interviewed; after the programme Lady Porter told the press that she had been refused the opportunity to appear live.

The reporter John Ware did a good, if necessarily inconclusive, job for Panorama and its off-season return was fascinating viewing.

Roger Cook is a fearless investigator of the sleazy and the fraudulent. In The Cook Report (The Devil's Work, Thames, 17 July) he was concerned with an "explosion" of satanism in Britain. He links it with various crimes throughout the country, some of them especially horrific, like the Nottingham child abuse case involving 36 members of one family, ten of whom were sent to prison for a total of 150 years. The case, which brought to light crimes of sodomy and incest over a period of years, ended with 23 children being made wards of court.

A 15-year-old girl appeared in silhouette to describe how she had been forced to take part in satanic rituals three times a week for ten years. Her mother said she had been made pregnant, aborted, and the foetus sacrificed on an altar. Mr Cook then went to Leeds to interview a man who runs a shop called The Sorcerer's Apprentice, but our investigator was thwarted when the man called the police.

Mr Cook was more successful with Michael Aquino, said to be the selfappointed representative of Satan on earth. He was in Britain to ordain a former member of the National Front as a high priest. Mr Cook revealed that Mr Aquino was a lieutenant-colonel in the US Army and a specialist in psychological warfare. He put various charges to him, including one that he was facing investigation following allegations by children that they had been sodomised at a day care centre Mr Aquino and his wife were connected with on an army base, and another that an American woman lawyer investigating the charges had been kidnapped and threatened at gunpoint.

Mr Aquino is now back in America "to face the music", as Mr Cook put it. Facing Mr Cook, however, he dismissed the charges and said he and his wife were thousands of miles away at the time the incidents were alleged to have occurred.

Mr Cook links much of the satanic activity in this country with pop groups such as Heavy Metal, one of whose followers, Andrew Newell, is now serving seven years for stabbing to death his best friend. Arresting him, police found a number of books and articles on the occult in his possession.

Bizarrely watchable though Mr Cook's programme was, it was, perhaps inevitably, sketchy. He had not enough to make his "explosion" theory stick but enough to make the possibility worthy of further investigation. No doubt the appropriate authorities have taken note.