Former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman's biographer Lesley-Ann Jones regrets staying silent on his affair with 14-yr-old Mandy Smith
Bill Wyman was the bassist of The Rolling Stones from 1962 up until 1993. Amanda "Mandy" Smith is a former British pop star and model. The story of these two is quite a tale and is currently the subject of a raging controversy, after a documentary on Wyman was pulled out of a festival over their inappropriate relationship.
The story began in 1984 when a 47-year-old Wyman met 13-year-old Smith at an after party. The couple began dating soon after and five years later, when Smith was 18, they tied the knot.
Things didn't go as well as they'd hoped, however, and they separated just two years into their marriage. The divorce was finalized two years after that and the pair moved on to other relationships. A recent documentary about Wyman titled 'The Quiet One' was recently pulled from the Sheffield Doc Fest after several complaints about the couple's inappropriate relationship surfaced.
Wyman spoke about his relationship with Smith in a 2013 interview saying that he had gone to the authorities and had been "open about it". He said: "We all have a skeleton in the cupboard, it's just if you're a taxi driver in Halifax no one ever hears about it. But if you are a celebrity every one does. In my case, it was publicized to the world and that wasn't really fair, I don't think."
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) spoke to acclaimed biographer Lesley-Ann Jones about her friendship with the former Stone and the relationship he had with Smith.
She had previously said in a Times UK article: "Because I knew a grown man who was having sex with a child. He was, in those days, my friend. His girlfriend was under the age of consent. The law on this in the UK is clear: 'If an individual over 18 engages in sexual activity with a person under 16, he or she can be charged with a criminal offense, which may result in a 14-year prison sentence.' I was aware of this at the time, but I did nothing."
LAJ met Wyman in 1984 after he saw her on television and asked his PA to contact her. A friendship began between the two and their group soon grew large. This is when Mandy Smith and her sister Nicola were introduced to the group.
At Smith's birthday party a couple of years after she began dating Wyman, one member of the group casually asked her how old she was and she shocked all of them when she said she had just turned 15.
LAJ told MEAWW: "We were very shocked because at that time, for about two years, we kind of thought she was old and really like, I think if anyone a how else she wants me would've said 18, 19, 20, something like that. We had no idea that she was still at school because she was coming out with us in the evening so often. And then we were afraid that something might happen to us. I maybe even thought I might go to prison for it at some point, you know, because it just felt like we were in the room that we'd done something wrong as well. Although we hadn't, we didn't know. We just didn't know how young she was."
It wasn't until years later that LAJ admitted that Wyman had been gathering people around to conceal the affair with Smith. LAJ told us: "I feel that our social services let Mandy down. Somebody must've been aware that this 12-year-old wasn't being looked after properly and she was being allowed to run around with much older people when she said have been going to bed early because she still had to get to school. Nobody was protecting her from that. Somebody knew that Bill Wyman was paying her school fees so the headmistress and the bursar of the school would have been aware who was paying the school fees and I feel that it was their responsibility to alert social services and the authorities to the fact that this was a child."
Smith publicly declared in 2010 that she and Wyman had started having sex when she was 14-years-old.
Smith's sister Nicola had then called for the former Stone to be prosecuted but nothing happened. The major point of contention at this moment is what the organizers of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York will do about the documentary's premiere on May 2. The one thing that remains clear, at this point, is that Wyman will now be known as the former member of The Rolling Stones who abused a child and has gotten away with it...so far.
Tumbling Dice by Lesley-Ann Jones, available to order at amazon.co.uk.