Social Services Chief’s Husband Was Drug-Addicted Violent Terrorist
A Social Services chief who played a key role in the forcible adoption of three children is married to a convicted terrorist with a history of drink and drug abuse.
Lisa Christensen, director of children’s services in Norfolk, is the wife of Jack Prescott, who was given a 15-year prison sentence for involvement in a bomb attack on the home of a Tory Cabinet Minister.
Prescott, 64 – a self-confessed former heroin addict and thief – was a founder member of the Angry Brigade, Britain’s only home-grown urban terrorist group, which carried out 25 attacks on Government buildings, embassies and corporations.
His past has come to light because he was recently convicted of assaulting Ms Christensen.
She failed to tell Norfolk County Council about her husband’s violent past when she was appointed head of Social Services in 2002.
Two years later, she became the authority’s £120,000-a-year director of children’s services with responsibility for schools, child protection and young people in care.
In that role, she approved the forced removal of Mark and Nicky Webster’s three children, all then under five – a decision condemned by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb as ‘an appalling miscarriage of justice’ and which has been highlighted by The Mail on Sunday.
The Websters fought a long battle to prove they had not harmed their children. Last year, experts agreed that leg injuries suffered by one youngster were due not to physical abuse but to a disorder that stopped him eating anything other than soya milk.
The couple, who have since had another child, are now making legal history by trying to reverse the adoption of their three older children.
Mr Prescott’s past was revealed last week when he made a series of drunken phone calls to his wife’s office, following a court case in which he admitted assaulting her during a row at the family home.
In one call, he told Ms Christensen’s secretary that he had computer memory sticks and confidential files relating to scandals about children in care in the county.
Although a police investigation concluded that he held no such information, Ms Christensen, 52, was embarrassed and upset by the calls. She is understood to have felt obliged at this point to tell town hall chiefs about her husband’s criminal record.
The couple, who married in 1992, are now separated, although they are still listed at the same address on the electoral roll. Neighbours in the Norfolk village of Mattishall, where the couple have a £350,000 detached Victorian cottage, said they were living together until just a few weeks ago.
One woman, who declined to be named, said: ‘Those of us who knew him fairly well were aware he has a problem with alcohol. It was something he’s quite open about. But it’s a real shock to hear he’s been violent as well.’
Another friend said: ‘He was certainly living with Lisa until the incident when the police were called. I think she threw him out after that, but whether permanently or not I don’t know.’
Prescott was considered highly dangerous as a result of his terrorist exploits and when he was sentenced at the Old Bailey in 1971 the judge, Mr Justice Melford Stevenson, told the painter and decorator he had been convicted of complicity ‘in the most evil conspiracy I have ever had to deal with’.
When he was arrested over the bomb plot, Prescott was on parole from prison, where he had been serving five years for firearms offences.
Then 27, he already had convictions for theft, housebreaking and assault but his sentence on the terrorism charges was later cut from 15 years to ten by the Court of Appeal.
Unlike other members of the Angry Brigade, most of whom were middle-class and university-educated, Prescott came from a staunchly working-class Scottish background.
Born in Dunfermline, he was brought up in an orphanage after the death of his mother. He committed his first offence, the theft of a bicycle, at 14 and became a heroin addict.
He told the jury at his terrorism trial: ‘I was taking eight grains of heroin and other drugs every day and I sold all my personal possessions to buy drugs.’
In November 1970, the Angry Brigade, which embraced an anarchistic, anti-capitalist ideology, exploded a device under a BBC van at the Miss World contest. Shortly afterwards, a document was delivered to a London newspaper. Headed ‘Communique No1’, it claimed responsibility for the outrage.
Two more bombs were detonated outside the North London home of Employment Secretary Robert Carr and this was followed by further attacks on political targets. No one was killed in the campaign but one person was injured.
The cell was broken up when detectives raided a rented flat in Stoke Newington, North London.
Five of the group were convicted of conspiracy but no one was ever found guilty of planting the bombs.
After serving his sentence, however, Prescott wrote to Carr and his family to apologise for his role in leaving the bombs at his home.
Mr Prescott is now in custody after Thetford magistrates heard he slapped his wife several times on the nose and cheeks, leaving her uninjured but with a tingling feeling in her face. The court was told he had alcohol and mental health problems and should be given credit for pleading guilty. He will be sentenced on December 22.
Last night, Norfolk County Council chief executive David White said: ‘Lisa Christensen was still a schoolgirl when the man who later became her husband was arrested in 1971 and the couple didn’t meet until long after he had served his sentence.
‘We rightly require job candidates to supply information about any criminal convictions they may hold but that does not apply to their partners and Lisa did not share that information with us when she was appointed, probably because it is something that happened more than 35 years ago.
‘I am sad for her and her family that Jack’s personal demons should now be a source of such trauma.’
A council spokesman added: ‘We only became aware of Jack Prescott’s past last week following the domestic assault which led to him being arrested and appearing in court.’
Ms Christensen said: ‘This is a very sad matter for me and my family and we sincerely hope that expert treatment will be offered to Jack and taken up by him.’
Other members of the Angry Brigade have disappeared from view over the years.
But Angela Mason, who was tried and acquitted of planting bombs, is a former leader of gay rights group Stonewall and now works for the Government as national adviser at the Improvement and Development Agency for local government.
Chris Bott, who was also acquitted, was marketing manager of the ill-fated Left-wing newspaper News on Sunday, which closed after a few months in 1987. He lives in France.