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OBITUARY a personal view

Anthony Sandford Hancock

printer and publisher 

(May 5th, 1947 - June 11th, 2012)

Published in European Socialist Action No 41



I first met Tony Hancock some time in the mid-1970s in a pub, before attending a political meeting in Central London, when he showed an interest in my cartoons, currently appearing in League Review. Tony’s father was Alan Hancock, a pre-war member of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and a post-war member of Union Movement. Alan was famous for being one of a group of defendants at the first race hate trial at Lewes Assizes in 1968. They were all cleared of the charges, the details later recorded in a booklet, Not Guilty, published by the Britons Publishing Company. The defendants had all been members of the Racial Preservation Society. The RPS was one of three groups that joined to form the National Front in 1967.

Tony joined the National Front, working alongside his father, as printers to the new far-right party, producing the NF’s booklets, leaflets and, of course, John Tyndall’s own private magazine, Spearhead. As his father aged, Tony took on the running of the family print works, the Wilson Press, more and more, branching out doing publications on the theme of questioning the Holocaust. He was the first to print and publish the notorious booklet, Did Six Million Really Die? by ‘Richard Harwood’ (Richard Verrall), making a small fortune out of it. He ended up in court later for reneging on royalties to the author. Tony also spent a few months in prison for forging car tax discs.

Nevertheless, his reputation among the international far-right remained intact as he became the main supplier of Holocaust themed books and pamphlets across the world. He assisted the disgraced historian David Irving in organising venues for conferences under the auspices of the Clarendon Club.

In 1989, his father committed suicide with the use of an electrical device on the premises of the Print Factory in Uckfield. It was Tony who walked into the Print Factory one morning and found him dead. Tony then inherited, not only the print works and a house in Hove, but several other properties in Brighton and one in London, worth £1 million in all.

He set up home in Hove with a former bank employee, Corinne, and had a son, Robert, and daughter, Lucy. Then Tony decided to sell some of the properties to finance a gambling impulse. He played the stock markets, investing large amounts of money in gold mines around the world ... but these mines had only small seams and would later prove unworkable or unprofitable. He lost the lot, ending up with only the family home and the print works to his name.

In the late 1970s, Tony approached me again for the purpose of collaboration on cartoons. I began a series of cartoon strips that were not only in extreme bad taste but ultimately proven to be illegal. They were private exercises in bad taste with no plans to go any further with them. I handed them over to people who knew Tony which started a chain of events that led to my imprisonment for drawing the cartoons and ‘aiding and abetting, counselling and procuring ...etc’ - for which I was, “not guilty, m’lud!”. Tony had printed 150,000 copies with Ray Hill (working for the anti-fascist Searchlight group) driving up and down Britain dumping box-loads outside schools with the message, ‘free comics, please take one’.

Leaving prison, I decided to distance myself from fringe politics and moved to South London throughout the 1980s. Returning to my home town of Ramsgate in 1990, I was to become re-acquainted with Tony who was convinced of the power of political cartoons. At a private meeting in West London, Tony was followed in by Martin Webster, an obnoxious bully, who imposed himself as ‘ideas man’. His purpose was to induce me to draw illegal cartoons and thus have me jailed. My association with Webster was brief. Tony would later tell me that it was, indeed, Webster’s plan. Several raids by the police with search warrants also confirmed this at the time.

Tony commissioned me to draw a cartoon aimed at a Brighton solicitor, Martin Cray. He had posted a note to Cray calling him an “incompetent tosspot” after Corinne had complained of Cray’s ‘exorbitant’ fees. The campaign of harassment conducted against Cray ended up with Tony in the High Court on charges of harassment and defamation. Tony represented himself and lost, having to fork out £100,000 in costs and damages. See The Great Tosspot Trial.

Tony’s fortunes diminished further, with the family home being remortgaged; former employee Tom Acton taking Tony to court for monies owed to him; a court in Lewes awarding Acton a large sum with Tony declaring himself bankrupt. The business was now in the name of Darren Andrews while Tony continued as owner.

Martin Webster continued to leech off Tony with demands for unlawful payment after proffering unlawful and questionable ‘legal advice’. Copy of a Webster invoice below. This went on until there was no money left in the pot, as Tony would put it.

The strain of successive court cases and the subsequent financial problems proved too much. In May, Tony suffered a stroke at work. He spent a few weeks in the Princess Royal Hospital in East Sussex but, on June 11th, a blood clot on the lung presented complications and he died as a result.

Tony leaves a common law wife, Corinne, a son and a daughter.                                                Robert Edwards

 

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(above) Webster's invoice for legal services during the Cray versus Hancock High Court hearing

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The Tosspot Trial

compiled and written by Robert Edwards

A libel trial involving the misuse of the phrase "incompetent tosspot" and a cartoon. Alan Hancock's son, Tony, defended himself against a Brighton solicitor in the Royal Courts of Justice in 2005. The result being £100,000 in costs and damages awarded to the solicitor, Martin Cray, with the ruling that Tony Hancock, a printer, cease the harassment of the aforementioned solicitor. Martin Webster sent Hancock an invoice for £470 for "para-legal services" during the case, even though unqualified to give such advice. This booklet of 20 pages includes the judgement by Justice John Previte QC. With new added material, revealed since Tony Hancock's death in June 2012.

The Tosspot Trial £6.99, including postage, in UK only

The Tosspot Trial £9.99, including postage, outside the UK

POSTSCRIPT

 

The Tragedy of Tony Hancock



It is only now after his recent death in June that all the facts regarding Tony’s life may now be revealed. He set up home in a loveless relationship with a woman only interested in his money. Before that, he had a genuinely loving girlfriend by the name of Marion who Corinne wanted out of the way. Corrine worked in a bank and saw his various accounts. He had inherited properties from his father and he was “well off”. She had then offered to give birth to his son in exchange for the good life. Marion had not wanted children. In the last weeks of his life, Tony called for Marion to visit him.

Tony and Corrine lived in a large bow-fronted detached house in Hove with a gravel drive and swimming pool out the back. You would think this would be a recipe for blissful happiness but his partner, Corinne, had several defects. She was aggressive and foul-mouthed. She also smoked heavily and drank like a fish.

Nor did she approve of Tony’s politics, which were those of his father before him, and was violently rude to any who called on the phone at the house.

It happened to me on one occasion in the mid-1990s and I never called that number again.

The son, Robert, remarked to me shortly after his father’s death that his parents had nothing in common and rows were frequent with Corrine initiating the aggression in drunken rages.

She had the same alcohol problem as that of Valerie Tyndall, the wife of John Tyndall. In his last years, John Tyndall often sported black eyes, the consequence of the domestic violence from his wife. In such cases, men are inclined to cover up such incidents through male pride.

I recall Tony telling me how he would wander aimlessly around Hove at night simply to get away from a woman who had nothing but contempt for him. He would arrive at the Print Factory very early, about 6.00 am, in order to, again, get away from her.

Germar Rudolf, the German chemist and revisionist, reveals in his online blog that Corinne relished every opportunity to humiliate Tony in the company of others. In this case, it was in the presence of Rudolf who witnessed her shouting at Tony using foul language. By this time, Tony would simply clam up and take it with a smile. She had broken his spirit so that he could not fight back. Rudolf also commented that they had the dirtiest kitchen he had ever seen. She was also extremely lazy.

Corinne Hancock was responsible for the Tosspot libel trial. She wanted a luxury bathroom with extension which led to solicitors being brought in to deal with a builder whose work had been deemed unsatisfactory. Then the solicitor, Martin Cray, incurred her displeasure. Tony was badgered and hectored into sending a strongly worded letter to Cray. The words in that letter then began a two year path towards a libel trial. In the meantime, Corinne had called the solicitor’s office in Edward Street, Brighton, threatening to “shunt” one of the assistants there, a slang term with which I am unfamiliar.

At the trial, Tony stood alone, his common law wife claiming to be ill. Martin Webster acted as a paid legal adviser even though completely untrained. He advised Tony to lay all the blame at my feet for an offending cartoon. This was a familiar echo of Webster’s attempts to have me jailed in the 1990s by persuading me to draw racist or anti-Semitic cartoons.

Corinne Hancock had a soft spot for Martin Webster, each identifying with a kindred spirit, both of them bullying leeches regarding Tony. Webster later “filtered” the list of mourners for Tony’s funeral.

A long-term employee of Tony was Tom Acton, an incompetent and inefficient worker responsible for a long list of complaints from customers of the Print Factory. He was to turn on Tony, steal his database of customers and set up a rival print works up the road. He also took Tony to court for monies owed to him, a court judgement following on. Tony was bankrupt and forced to put the business in another name, first Paul Ballard and then Darren Andrews. Tony was so desperate, he borrowed money from loan sharks. When they came, he borrowed thousands from Andrews. According to Robert Hancock, Andrews is now demanding £50,000, way above the original amount loaned. In July, a court in Sussex was convened to hear the case.

Corinne has paid Tom Acton £3,000 out of the £6,000 towards the amount set by the court judgement but the debts are such that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)* are about to repossess the family home. The Print Factory is also under threat from creditors. The locks on the Print Factory have sinced been changed by Corinne. In fact, changed several times after a colleague of Tony who worked on the premises gained access but was finally denied such access.

Corinne Hancock is now due to face PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the High Court. The HRP website and associated books are now in the possession of Paul Ballard, using the same PO box number in Carshalton as that used to raise funds for the legal costs of Simon Shepperd, another lost cause. The books stocked by HRP, to a great extent of a Holocaust "denial" nature, were originally offered up for auction but, it is claimed, Corinne had asked too much as a reserve price. Needless to say, Corinne Hancock's disposal of the late Tony Hancock's assets, the entire stock of books as well as the website, should be of  particular interest to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in light of the upcoming hearing in the High Court. 

*PricewaterhouseCoopers (trading as PwC) is a global professional services firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest professional services firm and the largest of the "Big Four" accountancy firms measured by 2011 revenues.

(Robert Edwards, June 30th 2012, revised July 23rd 2012)

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