He Really Did Meet Lbj. but Nothing Else Was True about the Crook Who Smuggled Priceless Antiquities

Daily Mail (London), June 21, 1997 | Go to article overview

He Really Did Meet Lbj. but Nothing Else Was True about the Crook Who Smuggled Priceless Antiquities


Byline: RICHARD PENDLEBURY

IT is perhaps the most unlikely boast of Jonathan Tokeley-Parry's sensationalised life: As a 16-year-old grammar schoolboy he was introduced to Prince Philip, received by the then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and spent a fortnight at a scientific academy in Australia studying space travel.

Unlikely? Yes. But, in contrast to much of what he has said and done subsequently, it is unquestionable fact.

This week 46-year-old Tokeley-Parry was jailed for six years for masterminding a racket to smuggle priceless Egyptian antiquities.

His complex racket involved disguising relics looted by crooked officials from tombs and government stores so that they looked like cheap tourist geegaws. They could then be quite openly taken through customs in Cairo and, after being restored, sold for great profit to private collectors.

But even at the end of the trial at Knightsbridge Crown Court, the man himself remained an enigma.

Now the Mail can reveal the remarkable and, in some respects, tragic life story of a fantasist whose very surname is a conceit.

Frances Jarvis, Tokeley-Parry's 81-year-old mother, will tell you candidly that her son's behaviour stems from the broken and abusive home life he endured throughout his childhood and youth. There was no silver spoon, despite the facade.

He was born Jonathan Foreman in North London. His father, Ralph Foreman, was a broker on the Lloyd's insurance market and, according to his wife, physically and sexually abused his younger son until he was ten.

Mrs Jarvis, who says she suffered similar abuse as a child, left her husband when she realised what he had been doing. Yet she found it difficult to show normal affection towards her young son.

`I can only remember a couple of times when Jonathan has put his arms around me,' she says.

`It's my fault. It's because of what happened to me as a child. I'm not a very touching person.'

Despite his traumatic home life, it was clear from an early age that Jonathan was a gifted scholar. He attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Barnet, where the family lived, and then moved to Broxbourne Grammar School in Hertfordshire, when his mother remarried.

Her second marriage, to jeweller and watchmaker Leslie Jarvis, was even more disastrous, particularly for Jonathan.

Mr Jarvis, a former RAF man who ran a shop in Ware, had an alcohol problem which later developed into paranoid schizophrenia. Former neighbours still remember the sound of the violent rows between the jeweller and his wife, who says she endured regular beatings from him. So did his stepson, who the neighbours recall as being an `intellectual loner'.

`You might say Jonathan didn't have perfect male role models,' says his mother with considerable understatement. `His father would horsewhip him.

His stepfather would be talking calmly to him one minute and have a knife at his throat the next.'

She adds: `Jonathan's main worry was that Leslie didn't hit me too hard.

He found it difficult to deal with his stepfather's alcoholism and the depression and he never really understood that Leslie was terribly jealous of his brains and intellect.'

These abilities were recognised on the world stage in 1968 when the Association for Scientific Education selected the schoolboy to join other gifted students from the U.S. and Japan for the trip to Australia, which took in the White House and Tokyo.

`I never expected this,' Jonathan is reported to have said at the time.

He told the local paper that he hoped to become a botanist.

As a teenager his IQ was measured at 185, according to his mother. To no one's great surprise he won a place to read botany at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. But within two months of arriving, he changed to philosophy, in which he later achieved a good, though not brilliant degree. …

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