Scandal: Who was John Bindon?
True scandal: British Royalty, murder & more
In the nineteen seventies and eighties, the world was rocked by a series of scandals which involved a violent criminal, movie stars, gangsters, the aristocracy, London gangland and even members of the British Royal family. The common thread that ran through these seemingly unrelated sections of society was the man that you see here, John Bindon.
This is a story of illicit affairs, extreme violence, sexual betrayal and cold-blooded murder so is not for the faint-hearted.
It involves the upper echelons of British society, plus the underworld life of murderous London gang warfare. The scene shifts from the capital to European film locations, from illicit London drinking clubs to a remote and exclusive Caribbean island.
Who was John Bindon?
He started his career as a petty criminal in London when he was still in his teens. Obviously he wasn't much good at it in those days because he spent some considerable time in juvenile detention centres.
When he was in his early twenties though he had a break which led to him becoming film actor. A director noticed him in a London pub and considered him ideal for the part of a petty London criminal - all John would have to do is play himself.
One thing lead to another and he was soon getting regular work in films and on television; always playing the thug. He made friends with many actors. They describe him as being intelligent and enormous fun to be with, although if anyone crossed him, he would think nothing of reacting violently. One actor friend tells of an evening in a London pub where, after an altercation, there was blood everywhere. All his friends have similar stories.
Vicki is the daughter of a noble British family. She was well-educated, well-spoken and well-connected. She was forging out a career herself in films and as a glamour model.
She and John embarked on an affair that was to last for many years.
In the later part of their relationship she helped John, badly injured in a fight, to flee the country. When he was subsequently in jail, she would visit him and transfer drugs from her mouth to his when she gave him a welcoming kiss.
She would accompany Bindon when he was 'working' - going to drinking clubs to meet gangland members to arrange protection rackets and assaults. She acted as his driver when he needed to 'sort someone out'. Despite earning good money as an actor, and mingling with entertainment people and the upper crust, he didn't give up his criminal career.
There are many stories of Bindon's escapades. He was in one film with a well-known rock & roll singer. (See right). An actor friend of Bindon's, who was also in the film, relates how the singer arrived on the set one morning, shaken, after being out the previous night with John.
The actor asked why he was so shaken and the singer told him that on their night out, John had been in a fight. The actor told him that was nothing unusual but the singer remained shocked and shaken.
Bindon arrived at the set and horrified the singer by rattling a matchbox at him. The actor relates that inside, was a human thumb. During the previous night's fight, John had bitten off his opponent's thumb and had it in the matchbox.
Princess Margaret. Did he or didn't he?
Because of his connections, Bindon was invited to the island of Mustique, the hideaway of the rich and famous - including the sister of the Queen. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she was becoming known for her 'liaisons'.
John was well-known for his acting, his fun personality and, much to his delight, his evidently magnificent 'manhood'.
The story goes that Princess Margaret was fascinated by all these advantages of Bindon's and during a lunch party on the beach at Mustique, requested to see his 'crown jewels'. He complied.
He would often relate the story and claim that the princess had been his mistress during his stay on the island. The princess would later deny that she had ever met him but photographic evidence existed. See below.
The idyllic days didn't last. In the seventies, Bindon was involved in a knife fight at a private London club. He was badly injured but his opponent, a gangster called John Darke, died from the knife wounds inflicted by Bindon.
John, seriously injured, fled to Vicki who arranged a flight for him to Ireland. To explain his appearance, she said that he'd been involved in a violent rugby match. She drove him to the airport and, huddled in clothes to hide his wounds, he was able to board the plane.
During the flight though, it became obvious that his injuries were life-threatening and when the plane landed, he was rushed to hospital. Realizing that the game was up, he gave himself up to the police and was jailed pending the court case. He was charged with murder.
It seemed to everyone that John would have a hard time persuading the courts that he wasn't a murderer. Although the underworld had closed ranks and the club in which the fight had taken place had been thoroughly cleaned, there was no suggestion that anyone other than Bindon was responsible for the gangster's death.
The prosecution insisted that John had been paid to kill Darke due to a drug deal gone wrong. Bindon claimed that he had acted purely in self defence.
The clincher was when the popular actor, Bob Hoskins, a friend of Bindon's, appeared as a character witness.
Bindon was acquitted.
The relationship between Vicki Hodge and Bindon broke up shortly afterwards but Vicki was soon in the news again.
She had become well-known for her affairs with rock stars and famous movie actors but in 1982, claimed to have had an affair with the Queen's second son, Prince Andrew. Andrew, who was unmarried at the time and a dozen years her junior, had just completed a tour of duty as a helicopter pilot during the Falklands war.
Vicki was living in Barbados and the prince was vacationing there after his wartime experiences.
She claimed that it was a short-term affair,lasting only eight days, but she later sold her story - and that of her years with Bindon - to one of the more scandal-loving British newspapers.
Naughty as this sounds, I can't help but admire her joie de vivre and obvious enjoyment of her colourful past.
The films of John Bindon
Bindon was in several films and this one, which stars Michael Caine, is probably the most famous.
An excellent film in itself, it's also a curiosity starring as it does a known gangster.
Watch more about John Bindon
Did you read my comments about Bindon and Princess Margaret with disbelief? After all, at one time Margaret, as the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth, was in line for the throne. Had anything happened to Elizabeth, Margaret would have been the Queen of the United Kingdom.
Did she really have a relationship with a gangster? And if they did have an affair, did she know he was a gangster? Or did she believe that he was simply a film actor?
It's certainly true that she had several affairs after her divorce from Lord Snowdon (and, some say, during their marriage). She was also somewhat bohemian in her lifestyle and tastes - a movie actor would certainly appeal to her. Would the rebellious streak in the princess also be attracted to a gangster?
You judge. Watch the video below for more details.
© 2014 Jackie Jackson