Sunday, 21 December 2008

Cameron's Guest of Honour

On 7 July 2005, Garri Holness was one of more than 900 hundred people who survived the London bombings.

Over the next three months he became the Mr. Big of the 'we shall not be moved' brigade in London and he was seen and heard countless times on television and radio showing us all how to behave with grace and equanimity when catastrophe comes-a-calling.

As there were many more white victims of the bombings than black ones, one might have thought that, once in a while, the top blokes might have trotted out the odd heroic, Holness-like stiff-upper-lipped white victim but this rarely, if ever, occurred. During the first few days, it must be admitted, one or two white survivors were interviewed but, after such a cracking black chap surfaced, a home-grown hero would have paled into paleface insignificance beside such a magnificently tinted hero.

Thus was the unacceptable face of quiet, British survival rendered invisible by the media. Garri was the iconic image of courage beyond the call of duty that symbolised a defiant London as far as the press and the TV types were concerned.

It didn't take long for the icon to hop onto a soap box and moan. Oozing wisdom on the reasons behind the 1981 Brixton riots, Garri sagely informed us that it wasn't the fault of the black rioters that so much damage was done, it was all the fault of Maggie Thatcher and the cops. He said:

"I grew up on a rough estate where there was nothing for us to do except fester. Tension started building when Mrs Thatcher introduced stop-and-search. You'd be walking along and the snatch squad van would pull up, they'd grab one of us and drive off. Word went round that there would be a riot and when I went out, I suddenly saw all these shop windows being smashed.

It was crazy. There were men throwing bottles and stones at the police, who would rugby-tackle people and then throw them in vans. Police and rioters would be hurling bricks back and forth at each other. On the second day, I went out with my mum, Zera, and we saw fire engines and burning cars everywhere.

Things didn't change afterwards. They just put a little bit of money into the area and forgot about us again. By the time I was 22, I knew I had to get out because the police were still harassing people...

I still feel bitter."
As soon as Garri got out of hospital we were told that he was making a record.

Shortly afterwards, we were treated to an extended TV piece where we saw the would-be pop idol recording his debut single, Something I Wanna Tell You, which was to be released on 5 December, just in time for Christmas. It wasn't very good and, if you were asked to describe Garri's talent as a singer and you weren't politically correct or some kind of death-to-all-white-folk activist, you'd be forced to admit that he sounded more like a sealion than Seal.

Nevertheless, the media were at pains to promote the brand new superstar and The Evening Standard told us that the song and the video would feature Mr. Holness 'falling in love with a girl who doesn't know he's got a prosthetic leg.'

Here are some of the other memorably wonderful things that our peg-leg hero has said:

"I'm not allowing myself to have a bad day. If I allow myself to have a bad day then they have won that one day from me… I won't let them beat me."
"I haven't got no malice against anybody."
"I'm too positive and too strong to be held back."
One or two of the less florid testimonials in praise of Master Holness are worth a look.

The following were prompted after Radio Five Live's 'The London Bombings – the Way Forward' was broadcast:

Becky said:

"Garri... your personality and character so pure and good... If I was single, you'd be top of my list!"
Kathy Jean said:

"So many people need to hear your conversations keep it up, we need to hear from people like you."
Abby said:

"I am moved and inspired… Such courage and strength is admirable. On a shamefully shallow note, Garri you are gorgeous!"
Ntombi said:

"As one of the nurses who looked after Garri,I have to say i never knew what courage meant until i met him. ..I hope he grows up to tell the full story, but like Mahatma Ghandi, I hope his willingness to forgive is never forgotten. He is absolutely amazing!"
Charlotte Agyekum said:

"Keep your hopes high for God knows best. Stay blessed."
Thierry said:

"You are a credit to the people who found themselves in your position. I can only wish all the very best in the future xxx."
Elsewhere, an assortment of fluffy eulogies were added to the pile.

Here are a couple of these:

"Garri Holness had part of his left leg blown off in the July 7th attacks in London... This guy was just a normal, good-living person. Why has fate cast such a gross shadow upon his life? How can a man like this be cursed by such bad luck ... Any answers?"
"Garri Holness makes you proud to be British."
Which is an interesting thing to say about a bloke from Jamaica.

Anyway, for three, long months Garri was trotted out on an almost daily basis and, the last time I saw him on the box, he was complaining about the miserly payout for the 7/7 victims thus:

"I don't know how they work it out, but frankly it's insulting… People will need help for years, if not physically then psychologically."
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority had offered the victims and their families £11,000 and the public face of stiff-upper-lippedness took his demand for £50,000 to the door of 10 Downing Street. His photo outside the PM's gaff appeared in most of the newspapers the following day.

By the time the memorial service for the dead was held in St Paul's Cathedral, Garri's heroic status as must-be-seen-with-fifteen-minutes-of-fatuous-fame-celebrity-number-1 was so firmly entrenched that he was introduced to both Tony Blair and Michael Howard, the leader of the opposition.

The trouble with celebrity is, if there is anyone out there who doesn't like you very much, if they keep on seeing your face on the box and they keep on hearing what a great bloke you are, they might decide to dish the dirt, if there is any. Unfortunately for our hero, one of the two white girls he and six other members of the Young Raiders gang-raped in 1985 decided to dish the dirt on the footless wonder in no uncertain fashion.

On 26 November 2005, a young girl's harrowing story was reported thus in The Daily Telegraph:

"As soon as Sophie walked past the huddle of youths loitering on the pavement, she sensed that getting off a night bus at Brixton, south London, had been a desperately bad move. She and her friend, on their way home from an evening out with school mates, could have left the bus earlier, but Sophie felt they would be safer in Brixton where the streets were busier and the roads better lit.

As pretty, confident 16-year-olds, the girls were used to attracting attention from male admirers. A couple of wolf whistles, even some suggestive banter would not have alarmed them. But there was something about the sudden silence and the penetrating gazes from the gang of youths gathered outside a fried chicken shop that told Sophie she had made the wrong choice. Keeping their eyes down, the girls quickened their pace and ran across the street. They had barely reached the other side when Sophie's worst fears were realised.

Surrounded by the gang, they were robbed of their jewellery and money, dragged into an alleyway and bundled into separate underground garages on the Stockwell Park Estate. That was the beginning of a two-hour ordeal during which the girls were stripped almost naked, forced to engage in oral sex and raped, between them, 45 times at knifepoint.

The gang members argued about who was going to go first and gave running commentaries on what they were doing. Occasionally they lit matches so that they could see the girls' petrified faces.

At times, Sophie believed she was going to die. But as she lay on the freezing concrete floor, her thoughts turned to her mother who had already lost a daughter in a car crash four years earlier, and she told herself she had to survive.

'It was utterly awful,' she said, wiping tears from her eyes. 'I remember being dragged into the garage thinking I would never see my friend Katie again. They threw me to the floor and put a wire around my neck and took my clothes off.' She was left with handprints visible on her inner thighs.

'As it was happening I dissociated myself so that I was watching rather than being involved. I didn't struggle or put up a fight. I just kept begging them to let me go home so that I could see my mum. I must have said it a million times. As it went on and on, and I was getting colder and colder, I got into a state of shock and really thought I was going to die. I just thought that they couldn't let me go after what they had done to me.

To this day, I still berate myself for getting off the night bus at that particular stop. I made a decision that had disastrous consequences and that is something I have to live with for the rest of my life.'

Sophie, 36, who is a counsellor, answers questions about her past in a calm, measured and thoughtful way. Unfailingly polite, she is conscious of the impact her story may have on strangers and apologises when her descriptions become graphic. Until now, she has never wanted or felt the need to speak publicly about the rape, preferring to focus on her new life abroad with her husband and three young children.

Apart from the very occasional nightmare, she had buried the past and hardly ever thought about the ordeal that blighted her teenage years and devastated her family and friends. But that sense of detachment changed last week when she received a telephone call from her mother telling her that the July 7 survivor campaigning for better compensation for victims was one of the men who savagely raped her and her friend 20 years ago.

Within moments of seeing a photograph of Garri Holness, who had lost a leg in the King's Cross blast, she was transported back to that January night in a dank, freezing Brixton garage and immediately felt impelled to speak out.

'It was like an avalanche. Everything was churned up again and I could see those people again,' said Sophie. 'I started asking myself all those questions I had buried all those years ago. Why had I got off at Brixton? Why had I crossed the street instead of running to the police station? What could I have done to stop it? I was in a real state after having dealt with it long ago.'

At first Holness, known as Gary Linton at the time of the rape, said he had been sentenced to seven years, but claimed he was freed on appeal two years later. The part-time musician, who is in line to collect £50,000 for his injury, admitted later that his rape conviction had never been quashed. But he repeated a claim he had made in court that he had tried to stop the rapes.

'Of course I feel for the girls who were attacked all those years ago,' he said. 'I would love to sit them down and see how they are going. I feel so badly for what they went through and what I have gone through. How much more can a person take?'

Sophie's parents encouraged her to let the matter rest, fearing that to relive the rape would be detrimental to herself and her family.

'My dad told me to dig a hole, put it in and cover it with concrete. But when I saw the photo of his outside Downing Street with the 'What About the Victims?' banner, the anger kicked in,' said Sophie. 'All the police reports and transcripts show that he was the ringleader. I am almost certain it was him who said during the rape, 'We'll get years for this if we get caught'. He knew exactly what he was doing and the implications. It is totally untrue that he tried to stop the rapes. I specifically remember Linton as a cruel and vicious person. To come back 20 years later and lie about his past shows he has no remorse, no shame and no awareness of the utter devastation he caused to me and my family.

Seeing him campaigning as a victim makes me feel physically sick. I am furious that he is trying to cash in on what has happened to him when my friend and I never dreamt of making a penny from our ordeal. But I felt pleased that this man had outed himself after changing his name to cover up his crimes. For me, justice is about him being branded forever as a brutal and violent rapist who robbed me of my childhood.'

In the immediate aftermath of the rape, Sophie changed from a wilful, streetwise and sociable teenager to a withdrawn, broken girl who was too frightened to leave her house and would have dozens of baths a day. Convinced that the gang was going to find her and attack her again, she suffered 'horrifying' nightmares, flashbacks and acute anxiety. She eventually moved out of the family home where she no longer felt safe to live with friends.

'I was incredibly scared and anxious the whole time,' she said. 'I saw a psychiatrist, but it didn't work. I just felt like a specimen in a petri dish being prodded. I totally went inwards.'

The only ray of light came from one of the gang members' defence lawyers who, after listening to Sophie's testimony, quit the Old Bailey trial because he felt unable to defend his client. A few days later, he sent her a note in which he praised her 'self-control and admirable dignity' in the witness box.

'I treasure that letter,' she said. 'At a time when I was feeling incredibly low, it showed me there was humanity out there'...

During her twenties, she drank heavily and experimented with drugs in an attempt to escape her past.

'My twenties were definitely not good years,' she said. 'I bought a car with the £7,000 compensation I received because I absolutely refused to take public transport. But I became paranoid about having to turn to a stranger if it broke down. I feared that I would be raped again'…

It was only when she visited her doctor 10 years after the rape, complaining of anxiety, chronic nightmares and constant stomach cramps, that the clouds began to lift. After looking back on her medical notes and discovering she had been raped, he diagnosed her as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He referred her to a psychiatrist who specialised in its treatment.

'That was 100 per cent the turning point,' she said. 'For the first time since the ordeal I felt liberated and stopped having nightmares. Until I dealt with it, I always felt the victim… My only motivation for dredging up the past and speaking out is to ensure that he does not in any way cash in on his dubious notoriety and on his role as a 'victim' - something neither my friend nor I have ever done'."
In November, 1985, Garri Linton/Holness was sentenced to seven years for his part in the knifepoint gang-rape of 16-year-old Sophie and her friend.

By the way, you PC Crowd, if you think that bygones should be bygones, seeing as how Linton/Holness served three years of his seven-year sentence, and he's, obviously not the nasty character he once was, explain this to me. Why, when he was confronted with his crime, did he lie about it? Why did he claim that he had been cleared after a lengthy appeal, when he hadn't? I suppose you'll say he was scared and confused. Which is exactly what he said.

"I was scared and confused… I made a mistake."
That's how he explained his dishonesty. That's his weak, trembling dishonesty NOW, after 7/7, when he's supposed to be a big hero. If you really do think that a black man should be forgiven for leading a monstrous and prolonged sexual attack upon two innocent teenagers, why don't you publicise his erstwhile behaviour in the press? Why don't you tell the British people what he did on TV? And then, let them decide.

Is this black, gang-rapist everything that he and the British media built him up to be? Or is he something else entirely. Was three years long enough for the ringleader of a 7-strong gang who gang-raped two 16-year-old, English girls 45 times? Or should we stick the would-be superstar back in the slammer for another ten years?

And whilst you're canvassing the opinion of the public as to whether it's celebrity or a cell for the peg-legged Jamaican superstar, you might ask them this:

'What do think of the Blairs and the Browns and the Howards and all the media darlings who stuck him on a pedestal for the rest of us to gawp at and adulate? What do you think of the Camerons who, even now, want to keep him there?'
In 2005, Garri Holness, hero of the hour, was asked to switch on the Christmas Lights in Brixton.

A little while later, Garri Linton, gang-rapist, was told that his services were no longer required.

This is Garri Holness displaying his concern for the victims of the London bombings.

This man never showed any concern at all for two other victims:

This is Sophie, one of the two white, teenage girls that the PC media's black 'hero' victimised in 1985:

This is a picture of a politically correct Tory creep slithering up against a 'guest-of-honour,' gang-rapist:

Holness's petitioning worked.

In January 2007 it emerged that he had been awarded more than £100,000 in compensation for his injuries. His two teenage victims had earlier received just £7,000 each for theirs.

Once upon a time, Garri Holness and five of his pals were convicted of gang-raping two white girls 45 times.

The Croydon Guardian quoted the much-put upon gang-rapist thus:
"People have to move on... What’s done is done, it was 25 years ago for Christ’s sake. I feel like I have been slapped in the face, the way I was handled back then". (When news of the rape broke)

Sounds a bit sorry for himself, doesn't he? Actually, he wants us to think he's not upset that the media exposed him as a rapist, it's his gang-rapist mates and the girls they raped he's worried about!

"I don’t want it raked up for the victims or my co-defendants".
Big of him, don't you think? The poor, misunderstood rapist is now looking forward to meeting Prince Charles:

"I am looking forward to meeting Prince Charles, it will be the highlight of my life. I was meant to meet Prince Charles in 2006 but it never happened."
He believes he's here to help young people:

"I believe I am here now for a reason, to help young people. I was young, I was in a gang and I was brought up in a single parent family. I can help them."
Like you helped two young, white girls twenty-five years ago, Garri? Or would you, perhaps, like to be helping young, black gang-rapists just like you? So that when they hit their forties, they, too, can be guests-of-honour at parties attended by the next generation of Camerons and Charlies?

In his time, David Cameron has said British Nationalists 'thrive on hatred,' he's called them 'fascists,' 'Nazis' and 'racist thugs.'

However, he's never said anything nasty about Garri Holness. He is, after all, only a black gang-rapist. And, in a time of spin, propaganda, downright lies and Brit-loathing Blairs, Browns, Cleggs and Camerons, the gang-rape of two young English girls really isn't much to get worked up about, is it?

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