[ISN] The party's over...
isn at c4i.org
Thu Jan 20 04:46:22 EST 2005
By Tim Walker
Even when the game was up for the soi-disant Michael Edwards-Hammond,
he still couldn't help himself. "I am confident that I did nothing
wrong at Windsor Castle," he told me outside Wandsworth police station
after his arrest for allegedly impersonating a police officer within
the grounds of the Queen's Berkshire home.
"I've attended many functions with the princes - Charles, Andrew,
Harry and William - at private households. I believe that the Royal
Family will welcome this occurrence because it shows how lax royal
security is. And perhaps, as Charles has commented to me, it should be
the job of the Army's most elite unit to take charge of it.
"If this episode results in our monarchy being protected as it should
be protected, then I feel I've performed a service, not a crime. In
terms of my forthcoming appearance in court, I will call figures from
the world of television and royal circles who will speak in my
At an earlier appearance at Heathrow police station, he had gone
further and told me: "I am considering calling Charles, William and
Harry as witnesses. My case is being dealt with directly by [the then
Home Secretary] David Blunkett and [the Metropolitan Police
Commissioner] Sir John Stevens."
Blame it on an early interest in drama at school or his time working
as an estate agent in London, but Edwards-Hammond has long had at best
a nodding acquaintance with the truth. As it became clear at Isleworth
Crown Court last week - when, curiously enough, not one of his
distinguished friends turned up to speak in his defence - the
double-barrelled name is probably the most modest of the fabrications
of this extraordinarily persuasive 36-year-old decorator's son from
Over the years, plain Michael Hammond, Edward is his middle name, has
duped a succession of supposedly intelligent people and organisations
with his tall tales. When he telephoned the Metropolitan Police to
tell them that he was a surgeon fighting his way through heavy London
traffic to save the life of a child, they gave him a motorcycle
Other roles he has taken include a film producer - a ruse that has got
him into numerous parties, gossip columns and the beds of aspiring
actresses - and a "renowned" polo expert. Senior police officers are a
speciality and those performances have resulted in innumerable
innocent members of the public being searched on his orders, an Asian
family being taken into custody and several harmless pedestrians being
held at gunpoint near Downing Street.
And he also found the time to strike up friendships with not only the
Royal Family, but also Dannii Minogue, the singer; Jordan, the glamour
model; Caroline Stanbury, Prince Andrew's former companion; and Renée
Zellweger, the Oscar-winning actress. He was also best mates with Sir
Elton John. They have all, of course, denied his fanciful tales. "I
checked with Elton and he has never heard of Michael Hammond," says
David Furnish, Sir Elton's lover.
A spokesman for Clarence House repeated the line: "None of the princes
can recall meeting this man. They meet hundreds of people at the polo
matches, usually for just a second or two, so it is not surprising
they don't remember him."
While it is true that Hammond did accept newspaper "tip-off" fees for
his tall tales about his own private life, fame or "validation"
appeared to be the spur and there appears to be some sympathy for him.
"People ask how could we have been taken in by him," one female
socialite told me last week. "The fact is we didn't care. He was
young, good-looking, amusing and heterosexual, and in London the women
outnumber the men at even the most glamourous of parties."
Jessica Callan, the wily editor of the Mirror's 3am diary, recalls
seeing Hammond at Sir Elton John's post-Oscars party in Los Angeles
last year. "I was used to seeing him at Bafta parties and lots of
run-of-the-mill events, but this one was exclusive and I was staggered
he had got in, but of course that wasn't enough for him.
He called me over and said, 'Jessica, let me introduce you to my mate
Robin Williams.' He shouted to Robin and he came over. That's the
thing about people like Robin - they assume that they must have met
this guy, but simply forgotten him, so they play along. They don't
want to create a scene. That's what enables people like Hammond to go
undetected for so long."
There have been society conmen before - one thinks of Guiy de
Montfort, who preyed on a succession of wealthy, vulnerable women -
but selfdestruction seems always to be part of their make up. For
Hammond, it was his doomed attempt to bluff his way into Windsor
Castle and for de Montfort it was inviting Nigel Dempster to one of
his parties. In no time at all, the great Daily Mail gossip columnist
saw him for the phoney he was.
If, instead of putting all their energy into deceiving people, men
like Hammond had channelled it into nine-to-five jobs, you can't help
but imagine that they would now be on the boards of FTSE 100
companies. Why did they feel such a compulsion to set themselves up
for dramatic falls?
"I think Michael felt shame about who he was and where he had come
from," said a woman who had been "close" to him. "The trouble with
shame is that it always seems to come with a subconscious desire for
Hammond, who has 102 previous offences, most for fraud and deception
and two for impersonating a police officer, will find out what his
punishment will be on February 4, when he returns to Isleworth for
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