When we first began listening to Jonathan Wedger’s stories of life as a cop in the rough underbelly of London, we noticed a few clangers, but given his apparent earnest sincerity we were inclined to think that perhaps he was just confusing a few small details, which would iron themselves out.
However, as his relentless campaign of self-promotion has worn on, with porky piled on porky, it’s become increasingly clear that something is very, very wrong.
For example, yesterday we watched Part 3 of his July interview with Redpill Phil. (Hey, better late than never.)
Starting at about 11 minutes, Wedger describes his work (should we say “alleged work”?) on the canalways of London:
Phil: You basically mentioned how a lot of paedophilia stemmed from canalways, because it was easy, because they’re old, they’re not really manned, I think that was the word that kind of stuck out to me. Do you still feel that now?
Jon: Yeah yeah yeah, I mean there’s loopholes….
Because the canals, I mean, they’re ancient transit routes, I mean [gestures at canal behind them] that thing there, it was 1798 that was set up. And because it’s so old, they go on to become parish boundaries, which then become local authority boundaries. In London, we’ve got boroughs, and each borough is its independent policing district.
Now we only have that in London. If you go to, say, Nottingham, Nottingham itself is one policing district. And to Leicestershire, that would be a policing district, right? So when the Sex Offenders Registry Act come out, someone who had either been convicted or cautioned for a Schedule 1 sexual offence, or had served time for one, had to sign on as a sex offender.
And they didn’t want to do that, for so many reasons. They also knew that at some point it’s going to come clamping down, and maybe they’ll get disclosed. So they were going missing. So they had a vast amount of sexual offenders going off the radar.
Some of them were transient, they would live in cars, and they were driving about, but it’s difficult in a car, you know, the police are going to stop you, it’s not taxed, you’ve got no land address, and it’s an uncomfortable life. But one of them [points to canal boat], they’re a self-contained unit. You can get water from a garage, there’s a garage over there, you get your electricity from a generator, you can buy your petrol over there, and you can move about.
Sounds pretty reasonable so far.
Oh, except that two years ago, Wedger told the Daily Star: “I found a lot of paedophiles were going off the radar. There was a loophole in the law that allowed them to live on canal boats without being on the electoral register.”
Not the Sex Offenders Registry, the electoral register. A small but important distinction. And funny that in two years it should morph from one to the other.
Canal rules and regs
Wedger goes on to describe how sexual offenders evade the law:
And in London, because of the borough system, that [over there] could be one borough, say that’s the borough of Hackney, and over here could be the borough of Newham. In the middle of that canal would be a borough boundary. And it will be in the middle. So that boat….
A sex offender has 28 days to register, from the policing district where they reside. So on Day 27, that man, all he’s got to do is put his boat over there, and he’s not broken the law. And that is what was happening.
Again, reasonable on the surface of it. It sounds like a clever way to avoid being tracked. Except that it’s not true.
We owe this insight to Twitter user @SouthLondonJohn, who pointed out that Wedger claims that the maximum time for a stay is 28 days. But within London, “short-term berths are in such demand that the maximum time for a stay is seven days’ time, but is usually only one day”.
Even outside London, the maximum time for a stay is 14 days.
Berths are much in demand, and if someone were to turn up at their pre-booked berth and find another boat there, “the Canal and River Trust (CRT) Enforcement Team would be on them”.
SouthLondonJohn also informed us that Wedger’s claim that the boats only had to move from one side of a canal to the other to evade the law is a practice known as “shuffling”, which is much frowned upon by the CRT.
We’re not saying that the CRT would catch every boater who violated this rule, but certainly along the busy canalways of London, they would be disinclined to overlook those who flouted the rules, if only to keep some semblance of order.
By the numbers
Jon: And the other thing about these boats—kids love ‘em.
Phil: I remember you talked about “Rosie and Jim”.
Jon: “Rosie and Jim”, yeah, so what you’d have on the windows of some of these boats, you’d have dolls. One of them is a fleur de lys badge, a Scout badge, so a Scout is taught that if you see that, it’s a safe haven. And again, look how much the scouting system has come to notice. They’re set up with benevolence, to help kids in deprived areas, but of course it gets hijacked, like everything gets hijacked. And of course kids would be drawn to it.
And I was told, ‘Look, there might be one or two on there, go and look for them, we’ll give you a few months, if you can get another two we’re happy’.
Well, within the first month I found 90.  And it was getting bigger and bigger. But then it started expanding onto the River Thames, and the boats on there, and then it started having links to, erm, all sorts of people.
And one of them became quite high profile. I think it was Charles Napier, that was linked into Peter (Hayman) and very high up people,  and you could see where it was going.
And I went into work one day, and the chief inspector said, “Jon, it’s closed”.
And I went, “Why?”
It was just unbelievably successful. And I was getting backing from the Paedophile Unit.  So much so, was my success on this unit, they actually took the legislation for judicial review, and got the initial registration for the first 28 days reduced to 14 days.  And then every month after that was 28 days, because of this problem that I’d highlighted. So that shows the impact it had.
Having established his basic lack of understanding about how the canalways of London operate, Wedger dives headlong into a series of bloopers. We’ve numbered them for easy reference.
 “Within the first month I’d found 90”.
90 what? 90 paedophiles? 90 unregistered sex offenders living on the canals? He doesn’t say. From the preceding paragraph, it seems he’s referring to paedophiles, but we can find nothing about gigantic canal-based paedophile rings on Google…except Wedger’s own claims.
However, assuming that he meant “90 unregistered sex offenders”, surely that would only have involved going to the CRT and asking for access to the names of licensed boaters. Possibly a day’s task, and hardly a brilliant bit of detective work.
 And one of them became quite high profile. I think it was Charles Napier, that was linked into Peter Hayman and very high up people.
The Charles Napier/Sir Peter Hayman link first became public in 2014. If Wedger is trying to claim that he had something to do with discovering this, we’d question how truthful he’s being.
By his own account in the Daily Star article, it was following his amazing success at catching (paedophiles and/or unregistered sex offenders) on the canals that he was transferred to the Vice Unit, which took place prior to 2010:
DC Wedger then said he was transferred to the Metropolitan Police’s clubs and vice unit but was told not to arrest underage girls.
He said he then found a magistrate who used to let off a specific pimp if she was pulled in by police, and he wrote a report on it in 2010 but was summoned to a senior officer’s office.
So perhaps we’ve misjudged Wedger. Maybe he’s really Dr Who, and we just didn’t recognise him without the TARDIS.
Incidentally, and we’ve pointed this out before, when a person is sent to magistrates court, they don’t have a choice of judges. And the judges there don’t choose their cases; they take what’s assigned to them. So how that “specific pimp” was consistently let off by one magistrate we really could not say.
 “I was getting backing from the Paedophile Unit”.
According to Wikipedia, “The Paedophile Unit is a branch of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Child Abuse Investigation Command, based at Scotland Yard in London, England. It operates against the manufacture and distribution of child pornography, online child grooming, and ‘predatory paedophiles online’, and organised crime associated with these”.
The focus of the Paedophile Unit seems to be online child sexual abuse, and nothing to do with the registration of sex offenders.
 “…they actually took the legislation for judicial review, and got the initial registration for the first 28 days reduced to 14 days”.
Wedger is referring here to the Sex Offenders Act 1997. In fact, the time allowance for initial registration under that Act was originally 14 days.
In 2003 that was revised to three days:
So it went from 14 days to three, not from 28 days to 14. Given that Wedger seems to think this was quite the achievement on his part, you’d think he’d remember that little detail.
It’s difficult to say whether Wedger’s factual errors are deliberate on his part, or whether they stem from mental illness, or a combination of the two. He has stated that he was put on sick leave with PTSD, and since we don’t know the details of that, we can’t comment on whether it could have left him with an inability to recall basic details in a coherent manner.
Unfortunately, though, he’s put himself in the public spotlight, and is fundraising on the basis of the stories he tells. Given that people have and will continue to donate to his various crowdfunding efforts, we believe that it’s important to fact-check his statements. His donors deserve at least that much.