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Menings
I totally deny I was the PE John Scott
John Wiley Photo:City Press

First I have a confession to make. That “John Scott” on the front page of Sunday’s Rapport was not me.

I never ordered an immediate halt to a police investigation into allegations of ministerial paedophilia, nor was I ever chief state prosecutor in Port Elizabeth.

And if anybody says I was, I shall deny it, just as family and friends of Magnus Malan and John Wiley are denying they could ever have fiddled with little boys.

But I did indeed have a connection with Wiley in the weeks leading up to his death, which we accepted was suicide but which the authors of Die seuns van Bird Island suggest was assassination. I was his Progressive Federal Party opponent in the 1987 parliamentary election.

Two days before nomination day I arranged a function at my home for all my party workers, but hardly had they arrived than news came through that Wiley had shot himself in the early hours of that Sunday morning.

My phone never stopped ringing, and the first on the line was Helen Suzman who, like all the other callers, asked me why he had done it. Not a clue, I replied. Certainly not because he might lose to a journalist, even to one who was his pet hate.

John and I knew each other personally. He loathed the press, but was the first to seek publicity. Soon afterwards stories began to circulate about his cash flow problems (he had recently bought the De Goede Hoop Estate) and, yes, even about his alleged involvement in paedophilia.

That I found hard to believe. I always regarded him as a bit of a ladies man, and remembered the time he had brought the actress Linda Christian to parliament.

He sat in the public gallery with her, and didn’t leave her side when the division bells rang, while his then party leader, Sir De Villiers Graaff, glowered up at him as the votes were being counted.

When it was put to her in court that Lord Astor had denied having an affair with her, she retorted: “He would, wouldn’t he?”

But we did know he was a close friend of Port Elizabeth businessman David Allen, who had recently shot himself (so we also believed) on the morning of his court appearance charged with paedophilia. (His brother Geoffrey Allen worked with me in London, admired for his ability to down vast quantities of beer for lunch).

Years later I met up with one of Wiley’s closest friends and advisers at Saldanha Bay Yacht Club, where we both had boats.

At a braai one evening he told me how troubled Wiley had been during his final election campaign, and had woken him up in the early hours one morning by knocking on the bedroom window of his Melkbosstrand house.

All he wanted to do was walk on the beach and talk. The friend diplomatically declined to divulge what they spoke about.

Meanwhile the denials come thick and fast. They remind me of the response for which Mandy Rice-Davies, with Christine Keeler one of the two women in the 1963 Profumo scandal, was best known.

When it was put to her in court that Lord Astor had denied having an affair with her, she retorted: “He would, wouldn’t he?”

PS: With a day to spare the Nats replaced Wiley with the then English-speaking mayor of Simon’s Town, and I still managed to lose by 268 votes.

I got on well with his (and previously Wiley’s) election agent Chris van der Westhuizen, though we were on opposite sides. I met up with him again after I had abandoned politics and returned to journalism.

He was PR for a trust company, spoke with a posh accent and had changed his name to Christopher Westinghouse.

  • johnvscott@mweb.co.za
Meer oor:  Magnus Malan  |  John Wiley
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