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The Book

Hunting a sex killer he put Scotland Yard on trial...


Twenty-one-year-old Jean Townsend, a fashion designer, was strangled on the night of September 14, 1954. Her body was found on wasteland near her suburban London home, partially stripped, but not  sexually molested.  The case remains unsolved. 

New Scotland Yard has been unusually protective about keeping the file on the Townsend  case sealed. This has aroused suspicions that something is being concealed – that someone is being protected.

Best-selling author, Fred Vermorel, has long been the scourge of the entertainment industries.  He has seen off EMI, Virgin, and the British Phonographic Industry.  Here, he takes on the British Metropolitan Police as a citizen sleuth, managing to clarify the Townsend murder mystery through concealed pathways and back doors.

Vermorel located documents that had leaked from the closed Townsend file into another archive. But in particular, he was helped by surviving witnesses, perturbed by lack of progress in the case.  These included several ex-police officers.  

Vermorel discovered that the murderer was most likely an Irishman who died in police custody in 1954.  Moreover, there was indeed a cover-up about this, as well as about other witness testimonies. 

It further appears that the Townsend file is sealed (and has in any case been covertly “weeded” by the security services) to protect VIPs – including royalty - who were associated with the Londoner, an exclusive and secretive night club to which Jean Townsend belonged.   Other members included Antony Armstrong-Jones (after he married Princess Margaret, she too, frequented the club), Jack Profumo and Stephen Ward, Sarah Churchill, daughter of the then prime minister, Winston, and fifties’ stars like Rock Hudson, Johnnie Ray, and Marlène Dietrich.  

The story is told as an oral and documentary history, exposing unknown – and sometimes disturbing – aspects of the post-war 1950s. 

The author also includes an appendix identifying a suspect for yet another murder investigation bungled by the Metropolitan Police, the unsolved “Jack the Stripper” serial killings of 1964-5.