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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Harold Challenor (1922-2008)

Harold Gordon 'Tanky' Challenor, a one-time SAS war hero who joined the Metropolitan police in 1951, died on 28 August 2008, aged 86. Raised in brutal family conditions during the Depression, Challener had a succcession of jobs before enlisting in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He volunteered for the SAS in 1944 and was awarded the Military Medal.

Challenor became a detective constable in 1956 and joined the Flying Squad in 1958, working as a detective sergeant overseeing Soho from 1962. Short, stocky, loud and aggressive, Challenor had a good arrest and conviction rate despite complaints of beatings and planting weapons.

His downfall began on 11 July 1963, when a group of protesters gathered outside Claridge's Hotel to protest the state visit of the King and Queen of Greece, especially the Queen, formerly Princess Frederica of Hanover. One of the protestors was cartoonist, Donald Rooum, a layout artist and typographer with various advertising agencies who drew cartoons for Peace News and was a member of the National Council of Civil Liberties.

Rooum was arrested by Challenor, who claimed that he had found a brick in Rooum's pocket, charging him with carrying an offensive weapon. Refusing the sign for it as part of his property, Rooum was kept overnight in custody and, at the first court hearing the following morning, handed all his clothes to his solicitor. No brick dust was found and Rooum was acquitted by Magistrate Edward Robey. Another defendant who offered the same evidence was found guilty, although his conviction was later quashed.

Challenor's mental condition subsequently deteriorated and, he was pronounced unfit for duty in September 1963. Seven weeks later he was certified insane. In June 1964, he and three other CID officers were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The three officers each received three years' imprisonment while Challenor was found unfit to plead and sent to a mental hospital. On his release, Challenor worked for the firm of solicitors who had represented him and later retired to Cornwall.

Rooum nowadays draws 'Wildcat' for Freedom and 'Sprite' for The Skeptic.

Obituaries: The Guardian (18 September), The Times (19 September), The Independent (23 September).
Further Information: Hansard (2 July 1964); Donald Rooum (Wikipedia).
Books by Donald Rooum: Amazon.co.uk.

(* Wildcat © Donald Rooum)

1 comment:

Michael Martin said...

O_O I have had a couple of Wildcat cartoons on my website for ages without even having any idea where they came from