Book reveals link to infamous fraud case

Steyning osteopath Geoff Green, first-time author, at Steyning Bookshop with owner Sara Bowers
Steyning osteopath Geoff Green, first-time author, at Steyning Bookshop with owner Sara Bowers

BOOK lovers have learned of a Steyning osteopath’s secret past, linking him to an infamous 1970s fraud.

Little did many residents know that Geoff Green, of Station Road, had helped two church conmen to stay hidden from the police for around a year.

Now all has been revealed in the 73-year-old’s first book, Paying for the Past, an intriguing memoir about his time with two wealthy businessmen, Jim Miller and John Bellord of Southern Organs.

An appreciative group of friends and relations attended the launch at The Steyning Bookshop on October 9, when Geoff signed copies of his book and spoke a little about the extraordinary case.

“The launch was a great success,” he said, adding that the audience was packed and people had been supportive.

The evening was so successful, Geoff was asked to return to the High Street shop for the Books Are My Bag party two days later.

Owner Sara Bowers said he had a great time last Saturday, signing more copies of his book for people who came in to see him and scoop up items from the Bag a Bargain table, to get a special limited edition bag designed by Tracey Emin.

“This promotion run by the Booksellers Association gives bookshops and authors a wonderful opportunity to attract the attention of book lovers and encourage them to visit and explore their local bookshop and encounter new writing, too,” she added.

“The Tracey Emin bags sparked a lot of interest and we really appreciate her support of the campaign.”

The annual campaign sees bookshops throughout the country hold special events to promote books and reading.

Mrs Bowers said Geoff’s book launch had kicked off the festivities in Steyning.

“Few people know that Geoff, a popular Steyning osteopath, played a key role when an innocent youth, assisting two charismatic Sussex conmen initially to evade justice in a Lord Lucan-like disappearance to a remote Scottish island.

“Decades later Geoff, who had kept journals at the time, decided to publish a book about his exploits.”

Miller and Bellord were involved in a multi-million pound scandal involving church organs. They built up a fortune by acquiring finance for church organs using false hire-purchase agreements. They escaped the scandal by faking suicide.

Only Geoff knew where they really were – the remote Priest Island in Scotland, where they survived a sub-zero winter. He planned and executed their escape but finally gave them up following their hideaway year.

The book is an account of what they did, how they did it and why Geoff confessed all in the end.

His wife, Carol, said he had been writing the book for many years.

“Some people had got the wrong impression and he wanted to set the record straight,” she pointed out.

“He was the only person who really knew the truth and even then he didn’t know the whole truth because he never spoke to them again.”

She said there had been a lot of interest and the book was a ‘thrilling’ read.

During his time with Southern Organs, Geoff was made motor racing promotions manager, which he has described as one of the most exciting jobs out of more than a dozen he had as a young man.