Peter Jonathan Denby 1988 Jul 29 Court of Appeal

Jonathan Denby has long been a controversial figure for researchers in child abuse, due perhaps to his long friendship with Harvey Proctor.

Jonathan Denby is nephew and was raised by Sir Richard Denby, once a President of the Law Society.

Jonathan Denby is cousin to barrister Barbara Hewson. Hewson has been abusive to many child abuse victims (and amazingly it seems she is allowed to get away with it by the apparently supine and/ or spineless Bar Council and Twitter).

This appeal transcript throws a bit more light on the bizarre life he led alongside crime and criminals. He was perhaps lucky to get off lightly in this whole gun toting affair at policemen in court and at appeal, but it always helps to know legal establishment figures.

For much more on this incident, Denby’s life and relatives see Sceptic Pegs post HARVEY PROCTOR: Denby, Proctor & Powell  [3]


Some court reports have had victims names redacted and some assault details redacted.

This is a difficult balance –  normally I would think that  I should not “censor” details but on consultation with various people I have taken the decision to redact. This is mainly to protect victims, their friends and relatives from unnecessary detail and to stop the gratification of those who seek salacious details.

In addition to the obvious “victims redaction” to protect victims details, there may also be “assault redaction” across most of the spectrum of abuse. The assaults are left in the charges, but mainly redacted when repeated with reference to the individual. I have also redacted unnecessary detail of assaults.

Redaction may obscure sometimes the legal reason for the appeal, but should make no large difference to the vital information for researchers that these documents contain. That vital information is mainly names of the perpetrators, past addresses, institutions where assaults occurred, the actual charges the perpetrators faced, and dates – on which newspapers are pathetically inaccurate and this information enables the links between people and places and abuse at various times to be ascertained.

Some transcripts may have been subject to automatic reading software and whilst effort has been made to correct these, the text should not be regarded as definitive.  Common mistakes in reprinting here are that quotation marks are sometimes not correct, replaced by odd symbols.

If you think that the balance is not correct or that a particular redaction needs reconsideration, please say.

This appeal is unredacted by cathy fox blog

Index of Newspaper and Journal articles on this blog [1]

Index of Court Appeals on this blog [2]

[1988] EWCA Crim J0729-23

No. 2266/F3/88


Friday, 29th July 1988

Lord Justice Watkins



Peter Jonathan Denby

(Transcript of the Shorthand Notes of Marten Walsh Cherer Ltd. Pemberton House, East Harding Street, London, EC4A 3AS. Telephone Number: 01-583 7635. Shorthand Writers to the Court.)

MR. R. DU CANN, Q.C. appeared on behalf of the Applicant.


(As approved by Judge)

MR. JUSTICE AULD: In the early hours of the morning on 3rd June 1986 the applicant, Peter Jonathan Denby, and two brothers, Phillip and James Callaghan, were sitting in a stationary Ford Sierra car in Down Street in Mayfair. Denby was sitting in the driver’s seat. Someone who had observed them thought they looked suspicious and telephoned the police. Two officers, Police Constables Johnson and Munro, went to investigate.

They began to question the men in the car. As they did so, each of the Callaghan brothers produced a pistol and threatened to shoot the officers. They made them lie down on the ground and took the keys to their police car and their personal radios. All the while the applicant Denby remained in the driver’s seat of the Ford car and, from what the officers were able to observe, he appeared to be afraid of the Callaghan brothers.

The incident ended with the Callaghan brothers getting back into the Ford car and Denby driving them away.

Before relating what happened next, I should explain how Denby, who is a solicitor, came to be sitting in the car with those two men that night. He was then aged 39, a partner in a firm of solicitors that he had established, called Denby & Co., with offices in the City. A young woman employee in his office was the girl friend of James Callaghan. Through her Denby met James Callaghan and later his brother Phillip. They had on occasions gone out together to drink in wine bars and public houses in the City, and had also been to clubs together. According to Denby the evening of 2nd June 1986 was just such an occasion. The three of them had been out for a drink and dinner. They then went to the Mayfair area to wait for Denby’s girl friend who worked as a hostess in a club. Their intention apparently was that she should join them when she finished work and that they should go on to another club. In fact the car in which they were sitting was one that she had hired shortly before that night.

I return now to what happened when Denby drove the two Callaghan brothers away after they had threatened the police officers.

He later explained that he had been taken by surprise by what had happened and had been in fear of them. He took them where they wanted to go. When he left them they threatened, he said, to kill him if he revealed their identities to the police. They obviously thought that they had not been identified by the two police officers themselves.

That morning (still the 3rd June) Denby went to work as usual, but met the two Callaghan brothers at lunch time. They asked him for money and threatened him with violence if he did not give it to them or if he revealed their involvement to the police. As a result he agreed to give them £500 that evening, and he did that. They then went into hiding.

The next or the following day Denby’s girl friend was traced by the police as the person who had hired the Ford Sierra car, and she was taken in for questioning. Denby thought that he would be the next one. So on 5th June he decided that he also should go into hiding, and did so. He later explained his decision by saying that he feared that, if arrested, he would have to reveal the identities of the two Callaghans, and that they would then have their revenge. He explained his dilemma to various friends. All of them advised him to go to the police. However, he could not bring himself to do so. There is no doubt, having regard to the evidence of prosecution witnesses called at the trial, that in the days after this incident, Denby did confide in a number of people telling them what had happened and expressing his concern as to what he should do.

On 6th June, by which time as I have said Denby had gone into hiding, James Callaghan made a further demand upon him for money. He did so through his girl friend, Denby’s employee. She told Denby’s personal secretary, Elaine Willis, that Callaghan wanted more money. This time figures of £2,000 or £2,500 were being demanded. She also told Elaine Willis that James Callaghan had threatened that if he did not get the money he would kill Denby and/or injure Elaine Willis.

Elaine Willis telephoned Denby and told him of this demand and of these threats. As a result he authorised her to make a payment to the Callaghans of what money there was in the office, some £500. That evening she took the £500 and gave it to James Callaghan’s girl friend, and she in turn handed it to Phillip Callaghan at London Bridge station that evening.

Denby then remained in hiding, and was not seen until 25th April 1987, nearly a year later, when he was found living in Yorkshire. There he was arrested.

In the meantime Phillip Callaghan had been arrested on 20th June 1986 and charged with a number of offences arising out of the events in Mayfair on 3rd June. His brother James was also arrested much later, but on another charge and under a different name. He committed suicide whilst remanded in custody.

Phillip Callaghan was indicted and tried on his own with making threats to kill the officers, robbery of their car keys, and having a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence. On his conviction for those offences at the Central Criminal Court on 9th April 1987, he was sentenced to a total period of eight years’ imprisonment. He has now been given leave to appeal against that conviction.

Denby was arrested in Yorkshire, as I have said, shortly after that, on 25th April 1987. He faced initially three charges arising out of his alleged part in the incident in Mayfair on 3rd June 1986: first, having a firearm, that is to say jointly with the Callaghan brothers, with intent to commit an indictable offence; second, the dishonest handling of the police officer’s car keys, and third, assisting Phillip Callaghan to evade arrest by driving him and his brother away from the scene after threats to kill the police officers.

However, on the first day of the trial before His Honour Judge Coombe at the Central Criminal Court in March 1988, a fourth charge was added, that is to say assisting Phillip Callaghan to evade arrest by causing the second amount of £500 to which I have referred to be given to him, that is to say, assisting an offender contrary to section 4(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1967.

He pleaded not guilty to all four charges. On 22nd March 1988 he was acquitted of the original three counts in the indictment. As to the first charge, the firearms charge, his successful defence was that he had not been acting in concert with the Callaghans. As to the second, the alleged dishonesty in handling the police officers’ car keys, the jury was discharged from giving a verdict on that charge, because clearly that charge clearly fell with count 1. As to the third count, assisting the Callaghans by driving away after the incident, his defence had been one of duress and the jury acquitted him. Only on the fourth count of assisting Phillip Callaghan to evade arrest by causing him to be paid £500, was he convicted. For that offence he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, fined £15,000, that fine to be paid within six months with twelve months’ imprisonment in default. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 towards the prosecution costs.

He now applies for leave to appeal against that sentence, the application having been referred directly to the full Court by the Registrar of the Court.

In fact he has already been discharged from prison, because he had spent nearly three months in custody awaiting trial.

He is, as I have said, a solicitor, a man clearly of no previous convictions. His position following the commission of the offence had dramatically changed by the time he appeared before the Central Criminal Court. When he went into hiding in Yorkshire, he lost his substantial practice as a solicitor in London. He will almost certainly lose his profession as a solicitor.

Whilst in Yorkshire, where he lived in a rented house with a girl friend, he was living entirely on his savings. Shortly before his arrest in April 1987, he had started a business of letting holiday cottages, but was not earning any money out of it. Following his arrest and three months in custody, he was released on bail. He had a half share in a property worth about £400,000 and half the income from letting it, which was about £6,000 per annum. By the time of his trial he had no other assets or income.

The learned Judge in sentencing him said this: “…I proceed on the basis that you were not concerned with whatever wicked criminal plan the two Irishmen were involved in in the early hours of the 3rd June 1986.” He went on to say, “Whatever pressure may have been put on you, you had no excuse whatever for behaving in the way you did… the fact is that you gave money, whatever pressure may have been applied, and the jury …. rejected any question of duress. When you caused that money to be paid, you gave money to facilitate the escape of two very wicked gunmen who in the middle of Mayfair had produced guns and threatened and indeed terrified innocent policemen….”. The Judge went on to say that he would give the applicant whatever credit he could for the fact that the gunmen may have put pressure on him, but it went no further than that.

By his grounds of appeal, supplemented by submissions from his counsel today, the applicant contends that the fine of £15,000 should not have been imposed with a sentence of imprisonment in default. He was, it is alleged, an innocent witness to the original offence and, although the jury had rejected the defence of duress in relation to the fourth charge, there was an element of pressure there, which the Judge had recognised in his sentencing remarks.

It is also urged, and set out in his grounds of appeal, that he had suffered considerably as a result of these matters and independently of what the Court would do to him. He had gone into hiding, taken himself out of his profession, his career as a solicitor was at an end.

The applicant has undoubtedly suffered grievously as a result of his involvement with the two Callaghan brothers. He has lost his practice. He has lost, or will lose, his profession as a solicitor. The financial penalty he has suffered, and will suffer, will clearly be enormous. In those circumstances it is clear to this Court that it was wrong to impose upon this applicant, in addition to a period of imprisonment, a financial penalty. It may be that the period of imprisonment, which surely had to follow, could have been a longer one than the period of six months actually imposed. Counsel on his behalf suggests today that a period of twelve months’ imprisonment, half of which could be suspended, would have been appropriate. So far as it is of any relevance now, we would have thought a period of twelve months would probably have been right but we doubt whether it would have been right in the circumstances to have suspended any part of it.

Be that as it may, we grant the applicant leave to appeal against his sentence and, with consent of counsel, treat this as the hearing of the appeal. We shall quash the fine of £15,000 and the period of imprisonment in default. We also quash the order for costs. To that extent this appeal is allowed.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • One in Four [C]
  • Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • Fresh Start Foundation Scottish not for profit group, helping child sexual abuse victims & survivors  [N]


[1] Index of Newspaper and Journal articles on this blog

[2] Index of Court Appeals EWCA on this blog

[3] 2017 Sept 9 Sceptic Peg HARVEY PROCTOR: Denby, Proctor & Powell

Let justice be done though the heavens fall – Fiat justitia ruat cælum

About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
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8 Responses to Peter Jonathan Denby 1988 Jul 29 Court of Appeal

  1. Father a role model for Lakes hotelier Jonathan Denby


  2. Pingback: Peter Jonathan Denby 1988 Jul 29 Court of Appeal | L8in

  3. Pingback: L8in North Wales And More  Peter Jonathan Denby 1988 Jul 29 Court of Appeal | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE : SUPPORTING FRESH START @FSFtruthjustice

  4. Peg says:

    Reblogged this on scepticpeg.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Peter Jonathan Denby 1988 Jul 29 Court of Appeal | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE : SUPPORTING FRESH START @FSFtruthjustice

  6. Pingback: Links of cathyfoxblog posts 2013 – 2021 | cathy fox blog on child abuse

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