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While mainstream media concentrated on the furore and fall out over the police investigation into Sir Edward Heath, a new film revealing the troubled life of Britain’s first millionaire black footballer with links to Westminster was released on Friday.
Forbidden Games charts the rivalry between the two footballing brothers Justin and John, Justin’s meteoric career, his fall from grace, his penchant for the high life and his coming out as gay.
It reveals his links to the seedier side of Westminster, the exposure of his gay relationship with a Tory MP who lived a double life in Westminster hiding his gay sexuality from his wife and family until he was exposed but not named in The Sun.
Justin Fashanu also had a penchant for under age boys ( much younger than 17) and tragically killed himself at the age of 37 when he was about to be prosecuted in the States for molesting a minor aged 17.
For today’s much more tolerant society people would not understand that in the 1980s and 1990s exposure in the tabloid press or on TV for being gay was often the kiss of death to a political career. For a footballer to come out in a Sun exclusive – and that is true even today – was either extraordinarily brave or foolhardy.
Forbidden Games includes a cameo commentary from me on the context of Fashanu’s connections to Westminster where celebrities would party with MPs and which is in danger of being airbrushed in the current climate.
It coincided with former PM Sir John Major’s infamous ” back to basics” speech to the 1993 Tory conference which was then used by the media to expose a string of sexual scandals from minister Tim Yeo fathering a child out of wedlock , David Mellor’s extra marital romp allegedly in a Chelsea football stripe to the tragic auto erotic death of Stephen Milligan , Tory MP for Eastleigh.
Justin Fashanu became involved in Westminster on two levels. His relationship with the Tory MP for Bournemouth east was revealed when the Sun exposed Justin’s connection to a ” South coast” Mp. His wife and children immediately realised that it was David Atkinson, as Justin had stayed regularly at their home. He was confronted by her and he admitted he was gay and had been for years.. He stood down in 2005 and died in 2012.
An article by Robert Mendick in the Daily Telegraph based on an interview with his son Anthony who describes him as “predatory” with many young lovers, and reveals much of the background from his own researches on his father.
From examination of the story myself, there is evidence that Atkinson was being blackmailed by a member of the Commons catering staff, had relationships with young Parliamentary researchers ( one of whom he had a nude photo) and had an erotic photo sheet of another person he was closely connected.
There was also as yet unverified allegations of a much wider hidden gay scene at Westminster involving other closeted MPs which Justin at one stage – following the death of Stephen Milligan – threatened to expose for a large sum of money to the tabloids,.
He backed off when the police visited his home in Edinburgh and wanted to interview him about it.
What this sad story does is to contradict the trend, following the collapse of Scotland Yard’s Operation Midland into the allegations brought by ” Nick”, of a Westminster paedophile ring, to try and forget this piece of Westminster’s sordid history as though it never happened.
While there is no conclusive evidence that David Atkinson was himself a paedophile ( in the modern sense of boys under the age of 16) it seems certain that some of the people he knew were.
This moving film about the troubled life of Justin is well worth watching even if it does make uncomfortable viewing at times.
See a trailer and interview with one of the directors, Jon Carey – the other is Adam Darke – here on Sky Sports.