by Jan Cosgrove, Editor
This is an update of an article I wrote in April last year. Since then I have awaited a response from Sussex Police to a Freedom of Information query, which should have been answered in 20 days. OK give Covid I allowed more time but in the end I had to go to the Information Commissioner, only when the IC intervened did I get a response.
Here is the result:
Dear Mr Cosgrove,
I write with reference to your request in regard to the following and apologise for the protracted delay, the inconvenience and the need to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner.
Mr Lewis was found dead in the River Arun in August 1980. Mr Colin Wallace was arrested on suspicion of murder, charged with manslaughter, found guilty but declared innocent on appeal.
This FoI deals with the case of Mr Lewis death:
1. After Mr Wallace’s successful appeal was the investigation into Mr Lewis’ death re-opened?
2. Mr Wallace has alleged that Mr Lewis was killed by criminal elements connected with antiques and claims Sussex Police has evidence to this effect which has been suppressed — is there any evidence that such elements were involved and what conclusion was reached if so? Were any suspected persons interviewed?
3. What is the current status of this matter? Is it open or closed?
Section 1 of the Freedom of information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at s1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified within a request is held. The second duty at s1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of the FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact, b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) state (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
Response provided by Sussex Police Major Crime Unit
- No the closing report states that at the appeal in October 1996 the Judges delivered a verdict and their decision was to allow the appeal and quashed the conviction. A number of reasons were given but the main one being that the Court of Appeal had acted incorrectly by not allowing the appeal in 1981. The appeal judges did say there should be a re-trial. However after a lengthy consultation between CPS, Council, the SIO and Mrs Lewis, it was decided that it was not in the public interest to instigate another prosecution for this matter against Mr Wallace.
- We can see no reference to this in the closing report, the author of which has completed the report with access to the case papers. I have therefore determined the information is not held.
- As far as Sussex Police is concerned the case is closed. I have checked the review sheet and this case features in the awaiting review assessment column. It states as above that a re-trial was suggested but all parties decided against it. There is no review date, it shows as deferred.
Roger Brace FOI Officer & IA Supervisor
So, what is Sussex Police saying, and should that be acceptable as a response?
They have closed the case, no further action taken “ it was not in the public interest to instigate another prosecution for this matter against Mr Wallace”. Consulted Ms Lewis? This response can be taken to read that though Colin Wallace was acquitted on appeal, they aren’t looking for anyone else. Given the background and the very significant associations with Mr Wallace and this case, such as Kincora Boys Home etc, rogue MI5 elements, plots against the state, this cannot be good for freedom and democracy in the UK. It might be said Mr Wallace “knows where the bodies are buried” ….
The role of Sussex Police, especially a former, late Chief Constable might well also be raised. His report into police activity re Kincora Boys Home has been widely criticised for its inaccuracies and blithe ‘wiping away’ of the issues:
So after seeking information from Sussex Police, we are no nearer the truth in this extremely murky business that happened on our doorstep here in Arun,
The original possible answers are no nearer, but one thing does strike me, bsed on the subsequent flow of information pointing to the increasing acceptance of the veracity of Mr Wallace’s claims.
That is, that it was very convenient that a body was found floating in the River Arun just at the time Mr Wallace was promoting his claims of something rotten in the State of Britannia, that there is no record of a gangland connection at Sussex Police. Did the British State, or a rogue element, have Mr Lewis killed?
The Original Article ‘Who Killed Jonathan Lewis?’
Who Killed Jonathan Lewis?
A Bognor Regis Herald special
by Jan Cosgrove, Editor
One of the most notorious and controversial crimes occurred in Arun in August 1980. The body of antiques dealer, Jonathan Lewis, was found floating in the River Arun — he had been unlawfully killed. Sussex Police then arrested an employee of Arun District Council, Colin Wallace, he was tried, murder charge dropped, found guilty on manslaughter, sentenced to 10years, released, found not guilty on appeal and released.
Mr Wallace had a very interesting previous career, in the UK Military, in its intel operations in Northern Ireland, a past the prosecution, Sussex Police and the UK Government seemed keen to ‘disappear’. This story created and continues to create, a huge amount of speculation as to what was behind the whole episode.
At the time, the media reported that Wallace was a military fantasist, I recall a local press photo (also in the national press) “dressed up” as a British military officer. Indeed, local ‘stringer’ and press agent Jimmy Clevitts (one sometimes saw his footage on regional ITV news stories in this area) told me that he had received the photo from an agency in London which he had not heard of before, and also, that when he tried to trace that agency, it could not be found.
What later emerges is that Wallace was what he claimed, he was active in British military intel in Northern Ireland. A neighbour of mine who worked also at Arun told me at the time that, from what Wallace had told him prior to arrest made him either a fantasist, as claimed, or someone with a lot of knowledge about very dark goings on in the UK establishment.
Paul Foot wrote his famous ‘Who framed Colin Wallace’ and there is so much material out there but this article is not about that — at this link ‘Background articles re ‘“Who killed Jonathan Lewis?”’ readers can find an assortment of bewildering material (there is so much more out there) which I leave readers to peruse and to make their own conclusions. Much of it is around shocking abuse at The Kincora Boys Home in Northern Ireland, linked to abuse in homes in mainland Britain, as well as alleged plots against UK figures and even talk of deposing a British Government in the 1970s, installing a regime headed by Mountbatten.
All very Bondish, but I was told by a friend whose father had been a senior figure in the Foreign Service in his career that he’d told her he’d been approached to be part of such an ‘administration’ after the proposed detention of Harold Wilson and other members of that Government. This person’s family has a rather remarkable couple of members also in its ancestry.
However, cut to the chase, the purpose of this article is to take stock of what happened to the victim, if that he was, Jonathan Lewis. Not much exists to tell me about him, an antiques dealer in Brighton, it seems that Wallace may have been having an affair with his wife, and that provided the prosecution by Sussex Police with the convenient motive that Wallace killed him and dumped his body in the River Arun.
Wallace is now cleared of that, he has appeared before the inquiry into institutional abuse in Northern Ireland but, as I understand it, not at the separate English one which will not deal with cases that may have started in Ulster but are linked, by the trafficking of boys, to homes in England. That we have not heard anything remotely like a full story is certain.
BUT, who killed Jonathan Lewis? That question remains, so far as I can ascertain, unanswered, and my Freedom of Information request to Sussex Police, now grievously overdue, remains UNANSWERED. Here is the FoI at this link
FoI to Sussex Police 27 May 2020 [link]
The Reader will note that “Mr Wallace has alleged that Mr Lewis was killed by criminal elements connected with antiques and claims Sussex Police has evidence to this effect which has been suppressed — is there any evidence that such elements were involved and what conclusion was reached if so? Were any suspected persons interviewed?” The question also is what happened after Wallace was cleared, what is the state of any investigation?
On this, I have no answer from Sussex Police.
Covid is no excuse, this is a serious matter. The role of Sussex Police additionally is under severe question, especially that of its then Chief Constable, Sir George Terry. See the link to articles above for more.
One of the most controversial and shocking episodes in 20th Century UK history remains shrouded in inconclusive mist — alleged plot against a UK Government from within its security forces, multiple and major abuse of boys in a number of children’s homes in the UK, an attempt to besmirch a former UK military officer who wanted to expose such matters, and to frame him for murder/manslaughter, and more — plus the death, unexplained not as to its cause but its reason and perpetrator(s).
What are the options:
Wallace did kill Lewis but has evaded justice?
A gangland killing for some unknown motive?
Lewis died of other causes (not borne out by autopsy) and body used?
He was a victim of a plot to incriminate Colin Wallace in an attempt to discredit and silence him?
When evaluating these options, one surely has to ponder on the convenience of the body being found just where it was and when it was ….
We are owed more information on this, was the British State ‘rogue’ at this time, at least where a number of its agents/servants etc were concerned? Mr Wallace continues to live in this area
Two footnotes: Airey Neave MP, for whom Wallace worked after leaving the Army and key in the rise of Margaret Thatcher, was blown up by INLA, that’s the story, in the House of Commons precincts — I have seen it claimed however that the very sophisticated trigger device was not available to INLA, and that maybe only 3 Intelligence Services has access to it at that time… more speculation.
Lord Mountbatten was blown up on his yacht in Northern Ireland by the IRA.
Maybe the most significant unsolved crime certainly in West Sussex, one of the most in the whole UK. Is it satisfactory that Sussex Police remains silent on a question I have a statutory right to pose and to have answered?