20th May 1976
By Staff Reporters. The story of the alleged South African “smear” campaign against the Liberal Party assumed bizarre proportions yesterday after the latest “spy” to offer evidence turned out to be man with a previous jail sentence and a “Walter Mitty” reputation. Mr Frederick Cheeseman, who told Liberals that he was a lieutenant-colonel and had proof of plans by the South African security service to disrupt the party, told the Daily Express that he had made up the story to “build an image to improve the standard of living of my wife and family”. He lives on unemployment benefit in a tiny Kent village, where he is waiting for a council house. Mr Cheeseman did visit Pretoria, on September 5, 1974, when he asked Major-General Fiendrik van den Bergh, head of the Bureau of State Security (BOSS), for a job. General van den Bergh yesterday denied showing him any dossiers on Liberal Party members and said that he was not even considered for a job. Mr Cheeseman, a dapper man, aged 51, married with four children, was sentenced at Dover Magistrates’ Court in 1966 to a total of 12 months’ imprisonment on being convicted of obtaining a £740 car and £178 in cash by false pretences. He asked for 22 offences to be considered. The court was told that he had served in the RAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Air Force. In the Daily Express today Mr Cheeseman is quoted as saying that he had given himself the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the United States Air Force three years ago because he was down on his luck and wanted respect from neighbours. The highest rank he ever held was staff sergeant in the former United States Army Air Corps. ” The bubble got so big I had to go through with it’, he said. ” I was the victim of circumstance.” All the Services have denied any knowledge of Mr Cheeseman. Always a curious spectacle in the village of Bonnington, near Ashford, he became a source of amusement in public houses on Tuesday night when the local people saw him on BBC television describing himself as an intelligence agent. Yesterday the South African embassy in London demanded a retraction from the BBC and promised further action. A statement from the BBC replied: “We have good reason to believe that Mr Cheeseman’s allegations were worth drawing to the attention of the public and the competent authorities.” The BBC had significantly dropped the ” lieutenant- colonel” and by last night the Daily Express representative who had barricaded himself in described Mr Cheeseman’s cottage, where money is owed on the rent, had given the whole thing up and disappeared. Yesterday Sir Robert Mark, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, was understood to be in possession of documents handed to Mr David Steel, the Liberal MP, by Mr Cheeseman. Scotland Yard said inquiries were being made through Kent County Constabulary head- quarters at Maidstone. But detectives there said they had no plans to interview Mr Cheeseman. The Liberals, who on Tuesday believed that they had evidence to support their suspicions that the Bureau of State Security in Pretoria was plotting against them, were a little less buoyant yesterday. Mr Steel admitted that the evidence was slender and thought that it was not the role of the Liberal Party to investigate it but that they should pass it on to the security services. The party had to be on its guard against eccentrics, he said. There had been dozens of calls from people who said they had information, and each call had to be checked. “We follow them up; we do not let them drop; but none of them proved worth spending much time on.” The South African Embassy was aggrieved about the whole affair, particularly in the aftermath of its quarrel with The Guardian over other “smear” allegations which led to the recall of one of its staff at the embassy on Tuesday. An official said: “I do not want to comment on the smear campaign against us and the evidence they plant against us . . . but how would you interpret Cheeseman ? “Obviously rumours are rife at the moment and the BBC took Cheeseman rather seriously. They will have to climb down. There is no evidence of any kind against South Africa and I challenge anyone to come forward with documentary proof.” He pointed out that the embassy was relatively “open” and that accounted for.the fact that a reporter from The Guardian and a man who later said he had a pornographic film featuring a politician were allowed to make representations in the first place. ” I might receive a telephone call from an Italian “, he said. ” He might say, ‘ I have a movie you might be interested in.’ We might see it and it might turn out to be a tourist movie. Any- one can turn up at the embassy or phone and say: ‘I Want to see such and such a person.’ It is an open place.” Mrs Mary Stainsby, a widow aged 74, who lets a cottage to the Cheeseman family, spoke last night of their strange behaviour. She said she often took tele- phone calls from people asking for Colonel Cheeseman “and I noticed Mr Cheeseman changed his accent sometimes when he took the calls”. She said he was always impeccably dressed. He usually carried a briefcase and often smoked a cigar, even when he went to collect his social security money. Mrs Stainsby said she recognized her neighbour when she heard the news of Mr Cheeseman’s activities. Mrs Cheeseman, she added, was a daughter of a local man and came to the cottage first in December, 1966, with their two children. Mr Cheeseman joined them in August, 1967, and there were now four children: Jonathan, aged 12, Sarah, aged 11, Sally, aged nine, and Julia, aged seven. Mrs Stainsby said she charged £6 a week for the cottage but the Cheesemans stopped paying rent in October, 1974, and notice to quit was served on them in February last year. She said she remembered Mr Cheeseman working for about 11 months in a local factory making plastic bags. Mr Cheeseman’s wife, Jane, obviously upset and nervous, said she knew nothing. about her husband’s connexion with South Africa until she heard it on the news and later read about it in the morning newspapers. She did, however, know that her husband. was interested in a job of some sort.
21st May 1976
24th May 1976
The Prime Minister is to be asked to make an official apology to the South African government in the aftermath of controversy involving members of the Liberal Party. Mr Patrick Wall, Conservative MP for Haltemprice, said yesterday that he would table a question asking for the apology now that the allegations had turned out to be false. He will also ask Mr Jenkins, the Home Secretary, to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances of what he describes as atteripts to discredit South Africa. The allegations reached bizarre proportions when Mr Andre Thorne, aged 20, who said that South African Embassy officials approached him about an alleged pornographic film featuring a British politician, said in The Sunday People yesterday that he had lied about the whole story. The disclosure came after an admission earlier that ” Lieutenant-Colonel ” Fredrick Cheeseman had hoaxed the BBC when he maintained on television that he had seen South African intelligence dossiers on leading Liberal politicians Mr Wall is making his demand amid growing challenges from MPs to Mr Callaghani and Sir Harold Wilson, who have consistently maintained that they have evidence of the existence of a smear campaign by the South Africans, to produce it. Mr Wall said: “‘Cheeseman and Thorne proved false and I would blame Sir Harold Wilson for starting all this. He has produced no evidence at all. Mr Peter Preston. editor of The Guardian, which first published Mr Thorne’s allegations, denied yesterday that his newspaper had been hoaxed. He said: ” We have made it clear repeatedly and from the very first that we attached no credence whatsoever to anything that Andre Thorne told us.” The newspaper’s original report and reports since then ”
British expat Andre Stephen Thorne, 39, was arrested and charged with child molesting for his alleged sexual relations with minors.
The Police Squad to Monitor International Criminal Activity, during their uncover operations designed to stamp out foreign pedophiles, tracked down Thorne to his residence at Pattaya Land and House in Banglamung.
Upon searching Thorne’s house, officers found 4 Thai males, ages 23, 11, and two 8-year-old boys.
Photo: British expat Andre Stephen Thorne, 39, was arrested and charged with child molesting for his alleged sexual relations with minors.
The younger boys slept while police searched the house. Officers later awakened them and took them to the Banglamung Police Station.
The 23 year old told police that he had been living with Thorne for four years. He said the other boys moved in to the house a month ago. Thorne told the boys they would receive proper food and a good education.
The 23-year-old continued, giving police details of Thorne’s alleged sexual relationship with the boys.
After hearing the boys’ and Thorne’s testimony, police charged the English national with ‘molesting children under the age of 13’. This charge is valid even if the child was a willing participant.
Thorne flatly denied all charges. He has been remanded to custody and awaits due process of the law.
The 23-year-old man was held as a witness.
In the past 6 months the police have stepped-up their efforts to stamp out foreign pedophiles, with many arrests during this period.
Police hope this will serve as a warning to others abusing children in Pattaya.