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I smuggled Jackson into Britain. Minder tells of his secret dash to clinic
Author: Rob McGibbon(1995)
W 1995 roku, w The Chicago Tribune ukazał się artykuł niezależnego dziennikarza, Roba McGibbona. Artykuł McGibbona miał być wywiadem z brytyjskim ochroniarzem, Steve'em Tarlingiem, który rzekomo był z Michaelem podczas jego leczenia odwykowego w Wielkiej Brytanii. Artykuł od lat pojawiał się na fanowskich stronach i od lat toczyły się dyskusje, czy zawiera prawdę, czy nie. Zdania były podzielone. Niech każdy po przeczytaniu wyrobi sobie swoje.
It was nearly 1am on a cold November night and the runway at Luton airport was deserted.

A private jet just landed and taxied to a secluded spot near the perimeter fence. Two rented minibuses, their windows blocked out with white sheets, drove to the tail section where a narrow stairway was being lowered. Driving the first van was bodyguard Steve Tarling with one thing on his mind- to get Michael Jackson off the jet as quickly and as secretly as possible. Customs and immigration officials boarded the plane to check documents and Steve moved in. Nothing could have prepared him for the shock of seeing Michael Jackson.

He says: “He was sitting alone and seemed to be asleep. A red tartan blanket was wrapped over his legs and a black trilby was tilted over his eyes.

He was wearing a black shirt with a red collar and a big black cardigan with a belt around the waist. He had black loafers on which were really scruffy.

Elizabeth Taylor, her husband Larry Fortensky and Jackson’s personal doctor David Forecast were trying to tell him to get up. Taylor shook him awake and said: ‘Michael, you have to get off now’. He was completely out of it. He was so drugged up he was like a zombie. He just looked like a lost soul.

When his hat came off and I saw his whole face for the first time I was physically shocked. I had this image of Michael Jackson the performer in my mind but the sight I saw was nothing like that — he looked terrible. He wore full make-up with smudged red lipstick and eyeliner. His face was covered in white paste like a clown. He looked like a transvestite who had some make-up on for a couple of weeks. What shocked me most was the tip of his nose — it was jet black. His whole face was white except for his nose which was like a scab. It looked awfully painful.

I wanted to get him off immediately because the longer we stayed there, the more vulnerable we were. It was pandemonium on the plane, security men and airport ground staff were unloading baggage but Jackson was oblivious to it all.

Taylor had two dogs she wanted to take with her. It was impossible because of quarantine laws but she still asked me to smuggle them off. I said no way so she told Larry to stay on the plane with them. He looked fed up that he was being told what to do while Jackson was getting all the attention.


The original plan was for Liz and Larry to stay on the plane and fly off to Switzerland to throw the media off the scent. But Liz insisted on staying with Jackson until he got to the clinic. But when he tried to get up his legs collapsed and I had to hold him up. It was like he had drunk two bottles of Scotch and was so paralytic he couldn’t co-ordinate. It was a sad sight.

I held on to him and someone pulled the blanket up over his shoulders and covered his face with his hat.

I carried him like you would carry a tree trunk. He is very tall so he was leaning over my shoulder. It was awkward going down the narrow stairway to the tarmac and I remember thinking: ‘My God, if I fall, he’ll end up in hospital for other reasons, not his drug problem!’”

As Steve laid Jackson in the first bus, another security guard pulled off an amazing decoy stunt. Hidden in the second bus was a look alike wearing identical clothes.

As the singer was carried off, the look alike was smuggled on to the plane and curled up on his seat pretending to sleep. The decoy worked and as far as the passport control officers were concerned, Jackson had never left the plane.

The look alike and Fortensky were to wait for Taylor to return then fly to Switzerland as if the stop at Luton had only been to refuel.

Therapist Beauchamp Colclough — known to everyone as Beechy — was waiting in the first van. He began asking Jackson if he understood why he was there and if he knew he had a problem.

Beechy started explaining how the cure treatment would work.

Steve says: “Beechy was laying down the rules that Jackson would have to follow. He told him he would have to make his own bed, wash his own dishes and generally do everything for himself. Jackson was mumbling his answers and kept saying he wanted to use the phone but Beechy said that was not allowed. He told Jackson he would have to earn his phone calls.

Suddenly Jackson said very calmly and coherently, ‘Excuse me, can you turn this bus round and take me back? If I can’t use a telephone, I’m calling the whole thing off.’

It made everyone realize that he wasn’t such a spaced-out idiot after all. Beechy had to compromise and said he would allow him to make calls.”

Taylor was in the bus, and she got angry when Steve revealed he had changed the plan.

Earlier in the day he had checked out the Charter Nightingale Clinic in Marylebone, Central London, only to find photographers staking it out. He felt it was too risky to go there and had fixed up a stay at the £ 2million home of John Reid, Elton John’s manager, at Rickmansworth, Herts.

Steve says: “Taylor wasn’t happy. She said, ‘This is bull****,’ and started asking about my credentials. As I drove around a roundabout she screamed out hysterically. Apparently, the movement had hurt her back.

”As I pulled up outside the house a guard slid open the door and Jackson fell out. He slumped out like a corpse. Thankfully we caught him before he hit the ground and carried him inside. He was all floppy and dead to the world.

We lay him lay him on a settee in the living room and surrounded him with cushions, then put his hat on him. I crossed his hands over his chest. If someone had come in then and seen him they would have been convinced he was dead. His face was white, he was lying completely still and looked like he was hardly breathing. It was a bizarre sight.”


“Before Jackson had landed, Beechy had been worried sick. He said he would be finished if he didn’t succeed but would be set up for life if he did. At one point waiting for the plane he was shaking with fear. As Beechy came in the house I shouted out, ‘ Beechy, you can stop worrying now. He’s dead.’ It was a silly joke but the whole situation was so unreal.”

Within an hour Taylor insisted Jackson was taken to the clinic. She felt he would react better to treatment in a hospital environment and the doctors agreed.

Taylor returned to the plane which flew to Switzerland as other decoy stories to confuse the Press were released in Europe and the America. Some papers said he was at a clinic in the French Alps.

Steve found it easy to smuggle Jackson into the clinic. He arrived at around 5am and the few photographers still there were asleep in their cars. He drove in through the rear entrance and took Jackson to the top floor which was sealed off. But the singer locked himself in his room and refused to come out.

Steve says: “Jackson wouldn’t come out of his room. He looked himself in and turned up his radio. His room was very bare and the whole building seemed outdated and uncomfortable.

I knew he wouldn’t put up with it for long and I was right. I left one of Elizabeth Taylor’s bodyguards in charge while me and one of my men checked the ground floor. We were downstairs when the receptionist ran up in a panic shouting, “Quick, Michael Jackson’s trying to escape!’”

The bodyguard had been lying on his bed while Jackson had left his room and jumped in the lift. He had pressed No1 thinking it was the ground floor — the numbers are different to American lifts. Jackson had been wandering around politely asking patients, ‘How do you get out of here?’ I felt really sorry for him. You could tell he was determined to get out and was ready to walk on to the streets of London in the freezing cold. Half the world’s media were searching for this man and he nearly walked right out into the open-on his own! Can you imagine if that had happened?

I told my man to guard the back while I rushed to the first floor. Jackson was getting more and more frustrated and slapping his hand against the wall. He was saying in his high voice, ‘I wanna get out of here right now. I don’t like it here.’ The nurse and I got him into the lift. I held on to him and he started to calm down.”

Later that first morning Jackson agreed to meet some ex-addicts. Nurses were ordered to search the star for drugs. The first session of therapy lasted about three hours but mainly concentrated on laying down the rules.

“I felt really bad when they searched Jackson’s personal things,” says Steve. “He had an old yellow bag with a tape machine and diaries inside. The nurses emptied it and found 13 bottles of pills which they confiscated. The therapy session was weird, particularly when you haven’t got an addiction problem yourself.

Beechy made everyone introduce themselves and say what their problem was. Jackson was very friendly to me because he knew I didn’t have to be in there. He smiled at me when I said my bit which I thought was nice of him. Jackson didn’t want to speak but Beechy told him he had to. Eventually he said very quietly, ‘Hi, I’m Michael and I’m addicted to drugs.’”

Meanwhile reporters had surrounded the clinic and it was decided to smuggle Jackson out to be treated at John Reid’s house. Steve had to get all the nurses, ex-addicts and doctors out, as well as Beechy and Jackson so he could continue group therapy.

He disguised the staff as patients and throughout the day they left through the front door on foot or in black cabs. They were collected by cars waiting less than a mile away at Lord’s cricket ground.

Jackson left around midnight. Steve dressed him up in baggy tracksuit trousers, a long coat, scarf and an old baseball cap. Jackson went through an underground walkway to the building next door and waited in the basement until a message by walkie-talkie told him to walk.

Steve says: “Jackson was as cool as you like. He waited for my signal then walked to the car just outside and I drove off. He liked the disguise but refused to change his shoes. It was daft because they gave him away. He walked on his toes, just like Michael Jackson. If anyone had of looked they would have guessed. But no one did and we were gone within seconds.”

Jackson’s agony as we weaned him off drugs on to Hobnobs

Michael Jackson’s desperate trip to Britain last year [1993] to fight his addiction to painkillers was shrouded in secrecy. The world’s media were frantic to find out where he was being treated. Steve Tarling smuggled him into Britain and was his bodyguard for ten days. He was never paid a penny — but only now has Londoner Steve, 33, revealed the truth about being his minder.

Michael Jackson went crazy with sleepless nights as he was weaned off his addiction to painkillers and sleeping pills.

Night after night he was unable to sleep without being drugged up, so he spent hours trying to amuse himself in John Reid’s mansion where he secretly had therapy under Beechy Colclough.

Steve Tarling, the minder who protected Michael during his stay in Britain was forced to listen to the superstar’s melancholy singing. Often Jackson would wander downstairs for a chat or a drink.

Steve says: “He had a terrible time trying to get to sleep in those early days. He wasn’t used to crashing out without being full of pills. You could hear him playing music or singing at 4am. He had a portable tape machine which he sang into whenever he wanted to record a song. He seemed to be writing material all the time. The songs seemed sad and slow rather than fast dance numbers. Maybe that was down to his state of mind.

He would spend hours on the telephone, too – the one luxury he insisted on. He would be on the phone in his room long into the early hours making calls all over the world.

“Some conversations would go on for two hours.”


“He would also come down to chat to me and my colleague Andy. He was very concerned that we weren’t getting any sleep either. We used to take him for walks in the grounds to get some fresh air.

Once he came down and asked if he could have a cup of tea. We got the impression that he expected us to make it for him but we said, ‘Sorry, Michael, you’ll have to do it yourself — it’s all part of the therapy.’

That was true. Beechy had instructed everyone to look after themselves — there was to be no star treatment. It was odd watching someone like Jackson make himself a cup of tea. It was like a major exercise for him. John Reid’s kitchen is massive and he was rummaging through loads of cup-boards to find everything. You could tell he wasn’t used to it.

The tea he made looked disgusting. It was really weak — the colour of chicken soup — and he piled in five or six sugars. God knows what it tasted like.

Jackson really had a hankering for Hob-nob biscuits. He ate six or seven with that cup of tea and dunked them all in it.

He didn’t appear to mind making the tea himself. He seemed almost normal at times. He had a sense of humour, too. He used to call Beechy ‘The Mad Professor’.

One night when he came down late for a soft drink we started talking about his dancing routines.

Andy mentioned the famous Moonwalk and jumped up to have a go. He tried to slide across the tiles but was no good and made a real hash of it. Then I tried. We were just mucking about and Jackson was really giggling and said we had done all right. Then he said, ‘Okay, guys – I’m sorry, I’ve got to go to bed.’ With that he spun around and glided out of the kitchen backwards in a perfect Moonwalk. He was still giggling and had the drink in his hand while he did it. He was in his socks and he really floated across the tiles. It looked brilliant. You could tell he got a kick out of doing it for us.”

Jackson’s eating habits surprised Steve. The singer would eat in the large kitchen with Beechy and the other ex-addicts sharing therapy with him. Everyone believes that Jackson is a strict vegan who doesn’t eat meat or dairy products — but he likes chicken.”


“I always thought he didn’t touch meat,” says Steve. “But he tucked into roast chicken quite hapilly. He only ate the white meat, not the dark. Generally, though, he ate very little and just picked at his food.”

As part of the therapy Beechy asked Jackson not to wear make-up. At first he refused to wipe it off, telling everyone that it made him feel comfortable, but gradually he stopped tarting himself up. Steve says: “Jackson actually looked a lot better without his make-up — more human and natural.

He used to wear long false eyelashes as well as white face paint which made him look ridiculous. He always used to wear a plaster over his nose. But as he became more comfortable he relaxed. I think he felt he didn’t have to hide behind make-up in front of us. He also stopped wearing his hat all the time. At first he never took it off except when he went to bed. Then he’d leave it on the banisters and put it on when he came down. After a while it stayed on the banisters all the time.”

Jackson gradually began to muck in with the others. He vacuumed his bedroom and make his own bed. When he was not in therapy he liked to watch films in the small cinema in a barn at the side of the house which Reid had converted into a games room and gym. He also watched TV but the programmes were regulated so that he never got to see the news.

Steve laughed when he saw bulletins claiming that Jackson was staying in London at the Charter Nightingale Clinic.

Steve says: “He liked watching films in the cinema. He loved ‘Whatever Happened To Baby Jane’ — he watched that three times — and ‘Uncle Buck’ with John Candy.

But most of all he wanted everyone to watch his all-time favourite — ‘Gone With The Wind’. I was sent out to get a video of it. I drove for miles and went to a dozen video shops but not one had it. The closest I could get was ‘The Making of Gone With The Wind’. I thought he would get all uptight that I had failed, but instead he said, ‘That’s fine, Steve. Thanks for trying.” He was really well-mannered like that.


Once he went on his knees and started playing piano in the barn. He played a few notes then began singing. It was a love song and sounded really good — and he had actually written it right there in front of me. It was amazing to watch. It took him about six minutes. When he got up I said, ‘ Did you just write that?’ He said, ‘Yeah, but I’ve forgotten it already.” Then he started to look for something else to do.

“No matter what his problems are, the guy is a complete genius”

Michael arrived an addicted zombie and left us as a real fun guy

Minder Steve Tarling saw an astonishing change in troubled superstar Michael Jackson after he arrived in Britain to fight his addiction to painkillers.

Steve who guarded Jackson throughout his secret stay last year, says: ”In just a few days he turned from a sad lost soul into a happy person who could communicate again.

In the beginning he was withdrawn and nervous and hardly said a word. He was in his own world. But gradually, as he was weaned off the drugs, he came out of himself. He started to relax and was more comfortable with everyone. He laughed a lot more and chatted with everyone. Before his treatment he was too messed up to be bothered. But afterwards you could have conversations with him.”

Steve, 33, watched while the treatment went on last December at the mansion at Rickmansworth, Herts, owned by Elton John’s manager John Reid. He says: ”Jackson‘s actually a bright and intelligent person. He is very interested in our Royal Family and he asked me lots of questions about them and said how much he likes Princess Diana. A lot has been said about him not being able to look people in the eye but that never happened as the treatment started to work.

He has incredibly striking eyes. I likened them to Bambi — wide and innocent — and he never avoided eye contact when he was chatting to me. The change in him was quite amazing — a really massive improvement. He started to sleep better and would often be the last one down to breakfast. Everyone had breakfast together between 8.30 and 9am. Towards the end of his stay Jackson used to come down about 9.45am after having a good lie-in.”


“He also started to eat more. He used to pick at food but he started to finish his meals and noticeably put on weight. You could see him fill out a bit in the face.

He looked brighter and just seemed much more in touch and generally together. His confidence seemed to grow and he became more at ease in every way.

Beechy Colclough and David Forecast did an amazing job with the therapy and all credit must go to them.

The circumstances could not have been more stressful for them. Jackson had serious problems which are hard to deal with at any time but, to make it worse, the whole world was chasing him.

Beechy and Forecast had to work under those conditions but they still pulled it off. They managed to turn Jackson from a zombie who couldn’t walk or talk properly to an amiable and fun guy who seemed happy. He was genuinely on the up.”

As Jackson’s condition improved Steve was able to take him out for the day to give him a change of scenery. They secretly went for a drive to a friend’s house in the country where Jackson played computer games with the young son of Steve’s friend. Steve said: “It was an amazing house, with all the trappings of wealth but Jackson has all that. He was more into playing a racing car computer game on the television. I sat with him and the boy for hours as they played the game.

I was aware of the allegations about Jackson but he behaved with that lad like two little kids together. Totally innocent. Jackson kept getting beaten because he hadn’t played the game before but he got better. Whenever he made a mistake he said, ‘Jesus Christmas!’ Apart from that he never swore the whole time I was with him. He was polite and well-mannered.“

Near the end of the first week Michael Jackson’s business advisers in America made a panic-stricken phone call to the star. They were scared stiff that public opinion was turning against the star and that everyone suspected he was hiding out to avoid facing child sex abuse charges brought by Jordy Chandler.


They insisted that Jackson should be filmed at the house undergoing therapy to prove that he was sick and need treatment.

Steve says: “They were really uptight and paranoid. They were going mad. They called the house and started trying to bully everyone around. They were terrified that no one believed he was being treated.

But the deal was for me and Elizabeth Taylor’s security man to look after Jackson. Liz wanted Jackson kept totally away from his people to give him a chance to recovering. Things started getting very confused when Jackson’s men flew over after ten days to take him to another house. Liz’s bodyguard didn’t want to let them take him — and started talking about hiding Jackson in a cupboard when they arrived. It was farcical trying to try to hide him from his own people and in the end I was told that they were taking over.

I was assured that I would be paid in full for my time. They said that money was not a problem. They trusted me with the job and I dropped everything to do it. In return I trusted them to honour the financial side of things.”


“I have tried many times to get paid but have either been ignored or fobbed off with excuses. I worked round the clock protecting Jackson, paid people out of my own pocket for their time and what did I get? Nothing.

Jackson has millions yet this is how I get treated. I doubt this is down to him because I don’t think he has a clue about business. But the people around him should know better. It’s now nine month since I worked for him. I kept silent when the whole world wanted to know where he was – and all I have got in return is an insult.”


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