This saga began when a private party was raided by the police on 12 February at Keith’s house Redlands his mansion outside a little seaside town called West Wittering Sussex in the UK. There are many suspicions and theories about what really happened. Was David Schneiderman (aka the Acid King) who was invited as he could supply good quality drugs really a paid police informant, or working for the News of the World? Or both?
For those of you who may not know The news of the Word, was and is a Sunday newspaper that specializes in tittle tattle and gossip. Many of us think that if a story is not salacious enough they will spice it up….
It does seem strange that Schneiderman was not arrested or his big bag full of illegal chemicals searched. It would seem that the police were going for just two people, Jagger and Richards.
Jagger was charged with possessing half a dozen pills. Richards for allowing his premises to be used for drug use. Jagger’s pills could be bought legally over the counter inmost of Europe, but not in the UK. It may well have been that they were purchased, legally, in Italy and brought back into the UK. They were also prescribed to him by his doctor in the UK.
Neither had any previous convictions for drug offenses but were given savage sentences. Jagger got 3 months in jail and Richards 12. These sentences were well beyond those that would normally be expected. The righteous, smutty end of the press (including The News of the Screws) gloated. However, help was at hand for the pair from a very unexpected quarter.
The most influential newspaper at that time was The Times. Regarded as the newspaper of record it was the organ that spoke for and to the elite. Its editor at the time was William Rees-Mogg. Rees-Mogg was educated at Charterhouse and Balliol College, Oxford. He was President of the Oxford Union in 1951. He was a lifelong Tory standing for the right wing party unsuccessfully. He was very influential in the corridors of power. His leader comment in The Times is credited in persuading Alec Douglas-Hume to stand down as Prime Minister to make way for Edward heath.
It was this very well connected establishment figure who saved Jagger and Richards. He wrote a leader for The Times with the title “Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?” (strangely, perhaps, miss quoting Alexander Pope). In the leader he did not call for drugs to be legalised, did not praise Jagger of Richards. What he did do was to remind the establishment that justice must be the same for all, and that the sentences were well outside the norm and morally wrong.
Richard’s sentence was quashed and Jagger’s reduced to a suspended sentence and both were released from goal. They then released “We Love You” about the episode.
It is the only time I have admired Rees-Mogg and his ilk. Good on him.