Wednesday, 12 March 2014
BACK TO THE HIGH COURT AGAIN!
Prior to taking over Oscars Marbella the nightclub scene was booming that was right up to the time that disco bars took off as told in the laast chapter. My timing couldn't have been worse, Oscars was suffering. I needed something to happen, something big I was running out money fast.
One afternoon I got a call from RTE ( Irish Television) Today Tonight’s production team asking me if I was willing to take part in a TV documentary about Marbella. They explained that the documentary would be in two parts. The first part was going to document respectable Irish businessmen who had now retired and living in Marbella, the second part would be about Irish fugitives living on the Costa’s who were wanted back in Ireland to answer criminal charges. After I was assured that it was the first part of the documentary that I would take part in I readily agreed as I felt this exposure on the national television station would be good and certainly wouldn’t do me any harm.
Unfortunately prior to the time of the Irish TV crew arriving I made the decision not to renew my lease on Oscars.
It seemed whatever I tried I just couldn’t beat off the competition of the disco bars who were now opening all over Puerto Banus. This new phenomenon had also forced Joys, one of Marbella’s most famous discotheques, to also close.
The Irish TV crew finally arrived in Marbella and set up my shooting schedule. Really all I had to do was be filmed talking to camera at some of my favourite Marbella locations. One funny incident happened when we arrived to film on Victor’s Beach, half the dinners spotting the film crew and made a hasty exit. I was told later that most of them were wanted back in UK and that the last thing they wanted was being caught on camera!
It was approximately two months after the TV crew had finished in Marbella that my mum called to say that the Today Tonight program was shown the night before and although she thought I looked wonderful (typical Jewish mother) she wasn’t 100% sure I’d be happy with program but refused to elaborate any further adding that I could make up my own mind when I saw it. She told me she had sent down a video copy with a friend who was arriving in Marbella that day. Almost as soon as I put the phone down my mother’s friend rang at our door and handed me the Video. I’d hardly thanked her before I had loaded the tape into the video player. Today Tonight is a current affairs program somewhat like the format of the BBC’s Panorama. The show is hosted by one of RTE's biggest stars Pat Kenny who opened the show by saying that this evenings program is one of the most anticipated programs in the history of Today Tonight it’s called Life on The Run in The Sun!!!! I felt the blood drain from my face, all I could do was look over at Wendy who looked as shocked as I felt. The program was about Irish fugitives who were wanted in Ireland to face criminal charges! We both sat in silence as the program unfolded I thought, I mean I hoped, my mother had sent me the wrong tape and the one I was in, the one about respectable business men, was still sitting in my mothers house in Dublin! Each one of the stories was accompanied by a ticker tape report of the crime they were wanted for and in one particular sequence one of the fugitives was seen throwing punches at the perusing camera crew!!! When it came to me there was no ticker tape report, there was no indication that I was a criminal but by association the damage was unimaginable this was a total disaster. What’s more I felt that my name would be associated with the very criminals I’ve steered clear of. When the program finally came to an end Wendy and myself just sat there in silence, what had I done? I thought, why did I agree to do this? This will destroy me back in Ireland bringing shame on my family. This was all I could think of as I rang my mother and told her I was devastated. She said she’d be receiving calls all day from newspapers asking her about me being on the run etc she also received many calls of support, one particular call was from one of her patience telling her not to worry that her son also was in prison !!! Practically before I put the receiver down I was on the phone again, this time to my lawyers Gore & Grimes and was put through immediately to John himself, it was as if he was expecting my call. John told me he had seen the program and was horrified by it. He suggest we immediately issue proceedings against RTE for slander. I agreed without hesitation. I had been humiliated and I wanted justice .
Above is the first letter from my lawyers informing RTE that I was going to issue proceedings against them.
The Today Tonight show was screened in May 22nd 1985. I will jump forward now to the case which finally got to court in April 30th 1989. I will then return back to ’85 to pick up My Story in the next chapter.
Although it was late on Friday evening and all but the court my case was being heard were finished for the weekend the Four Courts main hall was still packed with journalists, TV crews and members of the public all staying on to hear the verdict. Finally after what felt like hours we were recalled to the court as the jury were ready to deliver their verdict. There was a tremendous rush for seating almost knocking myself, Wendy and my mum over. All I could do was sit there staring at the wall clock behind the judge slowly ticking, I went into a sort of dream like trance, I could see the spokesperson for the jury get to his feet and start delivering the verdict but couldn’t hear what he was saying, my mind had wandered back to a few years ago when I sat in this very court where the outcome was a disaster. All of a sudden I was brought back to reality when a loud cheer went out. I looked at Wendy; “What happened?” I asked her “We’ve won, RTE have been found guilty!” I was speechless. We were almost carried out of court be a sea of supporters with our feet hardly touching the ground. TV and press cameras were everywhere, It seemed that everyone was trying to shake my hand or pat me on my back. I felt very confused not totally grasping what was happening It was only when we were finally helped into the waiting car by the police that I ask Wendy if we had been awarded any money? I nearly collapsed when she told me “ £50,000!” That would be worth £106,000 in today’s money plus RTE have pay ALL the considerable costs. The judge did allow a short time for RTE to appeal but ruled that £25,000 had to be immediately deposited to my bank. I couldn’t believe it, the stress of the past days in court had finally caught up with me and I just covered my head in my hands and burst into tears!
When we arrived at Dublin airport the next day for our departure back to Marbella the airport was heaving with Irish football supporters returning from an International and as soon as they spotted us they started to cheer, more and more people started to join in as we were easly recognised from the front pages of the mornings newspapers. in fact the cheering got so loud that the police escorted us into the VIP lounge to await are departure. Even on the Aer Lingus flight back passengers were coming up to chat with us offering their congratulations. If we had accepted every drink that was offered we would have been drunk for a year!!. The reaction to our win was amazing, I suppose the general public took it to heart, as Harry Whelehan pointed out in his summing up, it was David taking on Goliath and the underdog won. It was unbelievable that we beat Ireland’s National Television station with all its wealth with all its resources.
It was only when we got back to Marbella and had a celebration dinner with friends did I realise just how badly this court case had affected Wendy when she ran out of the restaurant in tears. I ran out after her to ask what was wrong. She said she didn’t want to hear another word about the court case, that it was over and that was the last she wanted to hear about it. All the stress, all the pressure had finally surfaced and Wendy finally cracked. She said that she now he wanted get back to a normal life away from court cases, television cameras and newspapers. A normal life? Being married to me I somehow don’t think so!
To be continued.....
In the next chapter I will return to 1985 when I was involved in the opening of a super club in Marbella and the Mandy Smith story.