Coronation street star was a paedophile, but was protected by Savile barrister

Peter Adamson (16 February 1930 – 17 January 2002) was a British stage and television actor. He is best known for playing the character of Len Fairclough in the long-running television series Coronation Street from 1961 to 1983

In 1983, Adamson was tried for indecently assaulting two eight-year-old girls in a public swimming pool, in Haslingden.


Following complaints of previous incidents, the assaults had been witnessed by two police officers watching through a porthole, which gave an underwater view of the pool.

In cross-examining the officers and the girls, the defence barrister George Carman QC who had a prominent career defending celebrities that included Lord Greville Janner MP and Jimmy Savile destroyed the case. Adamson walked free.

The following year, Adamson told a Sun reporter: “I am totally guilty of everything the police said,” he said. “But what I hope you will print – there was no sexual intent.” When the Sun reported the story, no further action was taken. Adamson died in 2002.

In February 1983, Adamson was suspended from Coronation Street after selling stories about the show and cast to a tabloid newspaper. Following his arrest for alleged indecent assault in April 1983, Granada Television decided not to support him financially through his legal problems. Although he was “cleared” of the charge, he was sacked from Coronation Street by producer Bill Podmore in September 1983 for breach of contract when it was discovered Adamson had sold his memoirs for £70,000 after the previous warning, in order to pay the £120,000 legal debts from his trial

Other successful court defences made by barrister George Carman QC – Savile

Paul Connew, when editor of the Sunday Mirror in 1994, did have “credible and convincing” evidence from two women who claimed that Jimmy Savile had been guilty of abusing them at a children’s home. Though “totally and utterly convinced” they were telling the truth, the paper’s lawyers, after a careful assessment, decided it wasn’t strong enough to risk publication. The risk was libel and the substantial costs and damages that the newspaper could face should they lose a subsequent high court case from the litigious Savile. To the in-house lawyers at Mirror Group, the risk seemed too great. Connew went further in talking about his guilt relating to this on Newsnight. But there is perhaps another angle to the story.

In 1992, George Carman QC, had been retained by Savile’s lawyers over a different matter, which never reached court. By 1994, the name Carman, and what he could do in cross-examination, put such fear into the minds of litigants, lawyers and editors that libel cases were settled and, in some circumstances, perhaps stories were not published. Savile may have been one of those. As an indication of Carman’s universal demand, and the respect he instilled, one has to look no further than the Guardian itself. In 1995, the editor, Alan Rusbridger, when faced with a libel action from Jonathan Aitken said: “We’d better get Carman – before Aitken gets him.” They did and Aitken lost.

Carman went on to act successfully for Mirror Group in several libel cases, saving them a substantial sum in costs and damages. But in October 1993, he changed sides, as lawyers sometimes do, under what is called the cab rank principle: first come, first served. He was retained by Elton John in a libel case against the Sunday Mirror over false allegations that he suffered from a bizarre eating disorder that caused him to spit out the food he was eating. In court, Carman went for the jugular, demanding punitive damages from the jury for publishing an untrue story, inviting them “to wipe the smile off the faces of the board of directors of Mirror Group Newspapers”.

The jury did exactly that, awarding £75,000 for the libel and £275,000 in punitive damages. It added to the £1m in damages which Elton had got from the Sun five years earlier over allegations concerning his private life. Colin Myler, then editor of the Sunday Mirror, and later the last ever editor of the News of the World, labelled the damages “excessive”, adding: “When you consider that a person who loses an eye receives in the region of £20,000 compensation, it helps to put this case into perspective.”

Connew was appointed as Myler’s successor in 1994. The Savile story landed in his lap shortly afterwards. For the in-house lawyers at Mirror Group, the prospect of a Carman cross-examination of the two women, who would be their key witnesses, may have influenced their thinking. If he had achieved £350,000 for Elton, how astronomic might the damages have been had Savile won, when the libel was potentially much greater? Perhaps the risk of publishing the story was considered too great because of George Carman.

Liberal party grandees including the former leader Jeremy Thorpe were aware of allegations that Cyril Smith was a serial abuser of boys throughout the 1970s but failed to launch a formal inquiry, according to a Liberal Democrat candidate who has passed his concerns on to the police.

Dominic Carman, who has represented Nick Clegg’s party in two parliamentary elections, claimed that his father, the barrister George Carman, learned that concerns about the late MP for Rochdale’s behaviour were rife within the party while successfully defending Thorpe in a trial for conspiracy to murder in 1979.