THE DEATH OF BULIC FORSYTHE
Although I am predominantly going to focus on Bulic’s death in this blog post, I will also be briefly covering connected crimes against people who also worked for Lambeth council. There are so many intertwining elements to this case – and Lambeth Council as a whole (that’s even disregarding the care home abuse!) – that I will prepare another post in connection to this one outlining the issues at Lambeth and piecing together some of the information to create a timeline.
This post has been put together using newspaper reports, the original BBC Crimewatch appeal and the recently released Harris Report from 1993.
BULIC FOSYTH – 5/4/1950-26/2/1993
Bulic lived in Foster Court, Clapham Park Road, SW4. He married an American woman in 1990 but loved his job so much he wanted to remain in the UK. His wife, Dawn, was planning to join him in England following the imminent birth of their daughter whom Bulic sadly never got to see.
Although he kept his private life to himself at work, he was sociable. Some of his friends knew him as ‘John’ and he had several friends from Clapham “from the gay scene” who visited his flat.
In the months before his death, he would often visit an off licence opposite his flat with two men – one of whom always stood in the doorway. (See Appeals below)
Bulic worked for Lambeth Council for over four years and was initially an Assistant Office Manager in the Housing Directorate (DHS). In a climate of reported racism within the council at that time, Bulic was an exception to the rule and managed to achieve promotion to Office Manager in the Social Services department and had responsibility for ten social services buildings around the borough. He was described as extremely conscientious. However, all wasn’t as it seemed and the subsequent Harris Report (Dec 1993) uncovered some worrying facts about the time leading up to Bulic’s murder.
Bulic had been given a hard time whilst in the Housing Directorate. That particular department had a number of very dubious and sinister issues going on which the Harris report goes some way to outlining. Colleagues described A as ‘a “Godfather” type figure, who ran Housing like a business for his own purposes’ and upon his promotion, Bulic received an odd memo from A that stated how ‘the “culture” in DHS had not been conductive to Bulic’s way of working.’
(A was eventually suspended on full pay in September 1993 and, despite disciplinary recommendations, he was medically retired in August 1994 with a golden handshake of £50,000.)
Another colleague described how Bulic once burst through the reception at Mary Seacole House and was extremely angry. Bulic had then spoken with him and explained how he thought he could get away from A but claimed that one of the Social Service’s senior managers had put pressure on him on A‘s behalf to write a statement. His colleague said that Bulic appeared extremely frightened and told him that: “A could still get to him even in Social Services.” When the colleague told the Panel this information, he himself seemed extremely fearful of reprisals and asked the Panel not to take notes.
Although criticial of the excessive use of a removal firm that had been undertaking work for the Council (and criticised within the Harris Report), Bulic had also used them for his private house move and had given one of their employees a set of keys to his home for ease of access. (This firm seemed to be implicated in some way with what had been happening within the Council.) The employee is alleged to have claimed that when he let himself into Bulic’s home, he found him in bed with another man.
Another colleague who knew Bulic well said that he had visited her after leaving DHS. He said that he was “not going to keep quiet.” He repeated that “if they think I’m going to keep quiet, I’m not.”
In Clive Driscoll’s book, In Pursuit of the Truth, he states that Bulic had discovered pornographic pictures on council property featuring Lambeth care children and council members, and was going to expose the whole operation. Three days before he was killed, and whilst in a lift at Hambrook House, Bulic allegedly told a secretary that he was “going to spill the beans.”
According to a former colleague, Bulic had become aware that abuse had been occurring at Southvale Assessment Centre.
CRIMEWATCH: 10 June 1993
LAST KNOWN INFORMATION
Bulic was last seen alive leaving the council offices around 5pm on Wednesday 24th February 1993. The following morning his neighbour noticed his curtains were already open which she said was unusual. Even more unusual was the fact Bulic failed to turn up for work.
That morning a local resident witnessed three men (two black, one white) leaving Foster Court, carrying a briefcase and some folders. They looked official and had never been seen there before.
Later that day, the same resident was passing the back of Foster Court and noticed a white car parked outside with two men sat inside, who he claims, were staring at him. They were described as ‘well dressed’. One had black hair and the other had ‘brownish’ hair. Despite living there for 18 years, he had never seen the car parked there before.
After work, one of Bulic’s colleagues decided to pop round to his flat to make sure he was ok. She noticed his curtains were closed and got no answer at his door.
At approximately 1am a resident was disturbed from his sleep by a commotion. He heard heavy footsteps running at the back of the building.
At approximately 2am Bulic’s neighbour woke due to the smell of smoke. She attempted to alert Bulic, but on realising there was a fire in his flat, she alerted the fire brigade.
The report given within the Crimewatch reconstruction states that Bulic was found dead inside his flat, which was alight. The perpetrator(s) had also turned on the gas, which had thankfully not caught and caused an explosion.
Bulic had not died as a result of the fire or smoke – he had been savagely beaten around the head.
Some documentation was missing from Bulic’s flat, as was his watch.
The Harris Report Panel (see below) were told by a number of witnesses that they felt Bulic’s death was in some way connected to the Directorate of Housing and there was a possibility Bulic had been carrying out some sort of investigation.
Off Licence: This was one of the two men who would enter the off licence with Bulic in the two months leading up to his death. He was described as ‘scruffy’ with blue tight fitting jeans and a casual jacket, approx 25 years old, 6ft tall with blue eyes and unkempt fair hair.
‘Steve’: The following picture is a man who the police think was called ‘Steve’. Notice he has a very unusual shaped face – drawn in with prominent cheekbones.
Watch: Bulic’s silver Rolex Oyster watch was also missing.
Documents: Further evidence provided to the Harris Report included claims a report that had been on Bulic’s desk had gone missing. The Crimewatch appeal stated that documentation had also gone missing from his home.
HARRIS REPORT – 1993
It was said that Bulic was murdered after telling one of his colleagues that he was going to expose a paedophile ring in Lambeth that involved council officials, a future Blair minister, and police. Needless to say, when police originally looked into the allegations, they found no evidence.
Following an FOI request by Cathy Fox, a report of an internal investigation carried out by Lambeth Council in the 1990s named the Harris Report was released. This corroborated many of the claims that had been made regarding the systematic abuse and depraved culture within the council. It was never made public and never investigated by the police. The named perpetrators were simply dismissed from their jobs.
It detailed how council officers were involved in the rape of a female employee on site that was so violent, she was still suffering from serious injuries one month on. The victim described being raped alongside children and animals. The report states that perpetrators used the basement of Hambrook House to rape victims without fear of being interrupted and how a senior staff member was accused of watching material with “sadistic, bestial and paedophile themes” which “may have been home-produced by staff of people with whom they associated“. It also included witness evidence that indicated Bulic may have been killed to silence him.
He had attempted to move from the housing department after telling colleagues he had information which put him at risk. The report states that Bulic ‘was willing to spill the beans and he was scared that even if he moved to another department, people in power could still get to him.’
Throughout the inquiries conducted by the Panel of the Harris Report in 1993, details were continually leaked to the press – including the News of the World.
CARETAKER – MURDER – 1989
In January 1989 a former caretaker died in an apparent arson attack after he claimed to have tapes of extremely violent and depraved sex parties. Petrol was sprayed through the letter box of his Stockwell flat before being set alight. He died alongside his wife. Both worked at Lambeth Council.
MAY 1995 – SARI CONWAY THREATS
In 1995 the press reported that the temporary Chief Executive of Lambeth Council, Sari Conway, had been forced to move out of her home and into a hotel following threats of violence against her. Her home had also been ransacked a month beforehand and she had received calls warning her to “back off.” She refused to do so, continuing her investigation into three managers: Paul Lally, Peter Camp and Gary Moss.
JUNE 1995 – S – ATTEMPTED MURDER
In August 1994 a woman had gone to the police with allegations of being raped on council property by local politicians and other known people. S worked for Lambeth Council and had been taken to a council property in Vauxhall, drugged by a male member of staff and raped by multiple strangers. So violent was the attack that S was still suffering from serious injuries one month on. She was treated at King’s College Hospital and encouraged to report the matter to the police.
One of the managers at Lambeth Council had been found by the Harris Inquiry to have purposely delayed and obstructed any investigation or disciplinary procedure and evidence disappeared, although a number of items were retained and handed to police yet police never prosecuted the offender and so S decided to pursue a private prosecution.
At the beginning of June 1995, S was attacked by a man at her front door one evening. Petrol was poured down her back and her attacker attempted to set light to her but the match dropped to the ground. She was not seriously hurt and stated that she had three anonymous knocks on her front door the night before. Despite the attack she refused to drop the case.
In mid-June 1995, an intruder then broke in to her house at night, doused her bed with petrol and set it alight. Luckily she escaped and was treated for shock and smoke inhalation. The Met Police treated the incident as attempted murder and investigated S’s complaint under Operation Progarda.
Many witnesses also received threats and phone calls, including the South London Press, who had been reporting about the Lambeth ‘porn ring’.
1998 – MEMO TO BLAIR ADMINISTRATION
According to reports, a memo was sent to the Blair administration stating that Bulic’s death may have been linked to a Lambeth paedophile ring and John Carroll. Nothing apparently happened and it is understood that Bulic’s murder file had not been touched since.
1998 – OPERATION TRAWLER
Clive Driscoll identified around 12 names of people he wished to question. After naming Paul Boateng (who was then Minister in charge of the police) as one of those on the list (there is nothing to suggest he has done anything wrong), Clive was immediately removed from the case and suspended. He handed the information over to Operation Middleton, as well as a seized computer that contained pictures, but to Clive’s knowledge, this line of investigation was never explored. See my blog post regarding Operations Trawler and Middleton. Boateng’s wife was Janet Boateng had been the chair of Lambeth’s Social Services Committee.
2015 – JOHN MANN MP
In 2015 John handed a dossier over to the Met Police detailing allegations relating to 22 MPs and former MPs, including some who were still active at that point. He said 13 former ministers were on the list given to Operation Trinity – the team investigating alleged abused in Lambeth. He also called for an investigation into two suspicious deaths involving council employees – namely the caretaker and Bulic Forsyth – who he believed had been planning to hand over “significant information” about the abuse to authorities.
The council has recently said it is committed to doing all it can to assist the police. It is also being looked at as part of the iiCSA inquiry.