Christopher David Denning
10 May 1941
Hayes, Middlesex, England
|Criminal charge||Sex offences|
Christopher David Denning (born 10 May 1941) is an English former radio presenter and convicted sex offender. His career effectively ended when he was convicted for sexual offences in 1974, and he has spent four decades in and out of prison in Great Britain and overseas.
Early life and radio career
Born in Hayes, Middlesex, Denning grew up in Cowley, Oxford, the only child of middle-class parents. He has said that he was a rent boy from the age of 13 and remained so until the age of 18.
His first radio experience was on a short-wave station in the USA as a teenager, and then on to Radio Moscow before travelling to Kenya to work on British Forces Network with Keith Skues. He then returned to the UK in time to become the first announcer heard on BBC Two when it launched in 1964. He worked for Radio Luxembourg and Radio London before presenting the Saturday afternoon programme Where It's At with Kenny Everett (produced by Johnny Beerling) on the BBC's Light Programme. He then became one of the original DJs on BBC Radio 1, where he continued presenting Where It's At, had his own weekly show and deputised as necessary for Tony Blackburn on the latter's breakfast show. Denning is gay, and has said he was 'out' when he was working at Radio 1.
Denning left Radio 1 in 1969 after facing accusations that his job there came into conflict with his new promotional job at Decca Records, which the BBC had initially agreed to with provisos. He worked for Decca for two years, at the same time that Jonathan King was employed by the record company. He then became the number-two producer at Bell Records and was involved in developing the careers of the Bay City Rollers and Gary Glitter.
Denning's first conviction for gross indecency and indecent assault was in 1974, when he was convicted at the Old Bailey, although he was not imprisoned. Before his conviction Denning had been working for Jonathan King's newly founded UK Records, but King sacked him after the guilty verdict.
During the 1970s, Denning was part of a group of child sex offenders based around a disco for young people called the Walton Hop. Other participants included Tam Paton, manager of the Bay City Rollers (convicted of child sex offences in 1982), and Jonathan King. All became suspects in Surrey Police's Operation Arundel, an investigation focusing on sex offenders, which ultimately led to convictions against King and Denning.
In 1985, he was imprisoned for 18 months for gross indecency with a child, and in 1988 for three years for indecent assault on a 13-year-old boy and possession of indecent photographs. In March 1996, he was imprisoned for 10 weeks for publishing indecent photographs. The following year he was held in Pankrác Prison in Prague awaiting trial. This did not take place until 2000 when he was convicted of abusing seven boys aged under 15. He was released in 2001.
After his release, he was wanted for questioning by Surrey Police, but an extradition attempt to Britain in the Prague City Court failed because the alleged offences fell outside of the Czech Republic's statute of limitation to five years, but Denning was ordered to leave the country "indefinitely". He was finally arrested in August 2005 at Heathrow Airport after returning to Britain from Austria. He admitted to five charges of the indecent assault of boys aged under 16 years of age, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s: he was convicted the following February and imprisoned for four years. Meanwhile, a European arrest warrant was issued in December 2007.
In 2008, he was extradited from Britain to Slovakia, where he was jailed in October for five years following conviction for producing child pornography. The offences in Slovakia dated back to 2002 and 2003. He had been briefly held in custody in Bratislava during 2004 following a search of his house, but then quickly left the country.
In June 2013, he was arrested in east London as part of Operation Yewtree, an investigation into sexual abuse. He was re-arrested and bailed in September of that year, although the allegations made against Denning were not part of those relating to Jimmy Savile. In May 2014, as a result of the investigation, he was charged with 41 sex offences. In August 2014, Denning admitted to 29 charges on offences committed against boys. In November at Southwark Crown Court, Denning pleaded guilty to a further 11 charges. In all he pleaded guilty to 40 sexual offences committed in the period 1967 to 1987 relating to 26 male victims, the youngest of whom was nine at the time of the offence. In December 2014, Judge Alistair McCreath sentenced Denning to 13 years in prison.
Denning was charged with six offences stemming from the Operation Ravine investigation on 7 June 2016. On 22 August 2016, Denning pleaded guilty to 21 sex offences between 1969 and 1986, against 11 boys, the youngest of whom was eight. At Southwark Crown Court on 7 October 2016, Judge Alistair McCreath sentenced Denning to another 13 years in prison for these additional offences, running from the day of the court hearing.
On 7 December 2017, Denning pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent assault and one of taking indecent photos of a child between March 1979 and March 1981. His trial was due to start on 11 June 2018, but the charges were dropped on 13 June.
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