Kentish Ken, The Dark Duke & The Wonder Boy

Ken Tappenden, ‘David Hart’ & Paul StainesI never realised that infamous rave-busting Kent copper Ken Tappenden had entered showbiz

It seems the former CID head honcho in the Garden of England – who first made a name for himself harassing pickets during the Miners’ Strike – has entered into a second career as, and I quote:

a fully trained toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies having undergone a rigorous process of training

Lawks!

He’s put his lethal toastmastering skills to the test at a wide range of events, from royal galas to private wedding functions, and has celebrated the likes of Thatcher (her 80th birthday), GMTV (its 10th anniversary), and even Nelson Mandela at a dinner hosted by the ‘Jewish Board of Deputies’*!

It all makes something of a change from his most celebrated work as a police officer, setting up the Pay Party Unit, which was tasked with monitoring and then destroying the nascent rave scene in the late 80s and early 90s:

Tappenden was eager to take on the ravers on their own terms. As he’d shown during the Miners’ Strike, he wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty, maybe stretching the spirit of the law a little.

…If this was a high-tech war, he wasn’t going to be the one fighting with obsolete hardware. If they used phone lines, he’d counter with phone taps; if they used pirate radio, he’d monitor it; if they sent out spotters to find remote warehouses, he’d have helicopters and light aircraft out after them…

“After three months we had started 20 major investigations. The HOLMES database held 5,725 names and 712 vehicles. We had monitored 4,380 telephone calls and made 258 arrests.” The work went on all week, relentlessly. “We weren’t using the lads on the ground, we were using very experienced, hardened detectives,” says Tappenden. “At any one time we were running over 200 intelligence officers through the country. Now that is a colossal amount of intelligence, and it was banging down these computers 24 hours a day. We never stopped, we went through the night, through the day. The database was unbelievable.”

(pp101-2, Altered State by Matthew Collin and John Godfrey)

PS Whilst I was flicking through Altered State, I came across a rather interesting reference – one which I don’t remember picking up the first time I read the book ten years back – to spooky right-wing nutjob and Lord Lucan lookalike, David Hart. You may remember him as the chap who styled himself as an informal adviser to Thatcher.

Anyway, one of the principal rave organisers was one Paul Staines, who had been a member of the Federation of Conservative Students (and is now a political blogger). He ended up as Hart’s political aide, and got involved in all manner of shonky business (Brian Crozier gets a mention) under Hart’s tutelage, before taking his first E and immersing himself in rave culture. I like the touch about becoming Sunrise’s publicity officer and “at first running the operation out of Hart’s premises”!

Staines’s past political involvement came back to haunt him when a ‘Home Office official’ tried to put the screws on him:

He said, ‘look, I know who you are, we know all about you’, because I had a Special Branch record from being in politics, working in extreme groups. They couldn’t work it out: ‘You’re a right wing Tory, why are you doing this?’ Because I’m doing loads of E and having a great time!

He’s also got a rather nice description of Hart:

He’s completely charming and can charm senior people like Thatcher and appear sane for a while. But any close proximity to him for a prolonged period of time, you know he’s completely off his fucking head.

A nice touch of circularity there: Staines, the protegé of Hart (architect and financier of the scab National Working Miners’ Committee), duelling with Tappenden, strikebreaker-general. Oh happy days.

PPS Staines also mentions working on World Briefing and British Briefing, the propaganda rags-cum-political newsletters published by Hart for the benefit of any powerbroker into whose ear he could whisper; according to Staines, George Bush (the elder) was on the mailing list 😮

PPPS I finally got round to putting together a proper triptych picture of the trio mentioned, but I had great difficulty finding (okay, I *couldn’t* find) a picture of David Hart. I trawled the interweb, all the usual places; couldn’t find a chipolata. I waded through all my miners’ strike and spook books; nothing. But I know I’ve seen at least one published picture of the dude…

So if any of you out there can point me in the right direction, I’d be most grateful.

In the meantime the Richard John Bingham snap shall act as a placeholder…

* I think Our Ken means the Board of Deputies of British Jews, but hey, when’s accuracy ever been all that to a senior copper, eh? 😉

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4 responses to “Kentish Ken, The Dark Duke & The Wonder Boy

  1. Pingback: In search of a Hart « Bristle’s Blog from the BunKRS

  2. Pingback: The Digest: December 2007 « Bristle’s Blog from the BunKRS

  3. Tory Monarchist

    Staines? The man’s an ultra-liberatrian nut job.

    Jolly amusing blog though.

  4. Pingback: Hart broken: Dodgy right-winger David Hart dies on Twelfth Night | Bristle's Blog from the BunKRS

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