Bill Wyman documentary dropped by festival after ‘sex predator’ protests

Protestors claim former Rolling Stone groomed second wife, Mandy Smith, as a child

Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and Mandy Smith on their wedding day, June 5th, 1989. Photograph: Terry O’Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and Mandy Smith on their wedding day, June 5th, 1989. Photograph: Terry O’Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

A new documentary about former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman has been dropped from the programme of the forthcoming Sheffield Doc/Fest following protests about the circumstances of Wyman’s second marriage.

The Quiet One, which is billed as “a first-hand journey through Wyman’s extraordinary experiences”, is director Oliver Murray’s first feature and utilises the bassist’s collection of extensive diaries, as well as photos and videos.

Although covering the span of Wyman’s life and career, from being raised by his grandmother to departing the Stones in 1993, no mention is made in the official synopsis of the film covering Wyman’s second marriage.

He and Mandy Smith married in 1989, when she was 18 and he 52. He had allegedly been grooming her since she was 13; she later reported that they had first had sex when she was 14.

Sheffield received dozens of complaints over the planned screening – and subsequent Q&A with Wyman and Murray – saying they were giving a platform to an alleged sexual predator.

Below the posting for the premiere, users voiced concerns about whether “this event being sponsored by the local authority?? If so, have the people of Sheffield whose taxes have contributed to the festival been consulted about headlining [an alleged] sexual predator?”

Added another: “Did the events of 2018 go entirely unnoticed to your team. Do you endorse this behaviour because it certainly looks like you condone it, feeling that he’s a suitable speaker for your festival. Appalling.”

The festival has not issued a formal statement, but on Facebook it said it had “decided to cancel the screenings” and that full refunds would be given. The film’s world premiere is still set for May 2nd at the Tribeca film festival in New York.

Smith and Wyman separated in 1991 and divorced soon afterwards. In 2010, Smith – who has campaigned for the age of consent to be raised from 16 to 18 – said: “I was underage, but I was complicit. Now I see it in black and white.”

In 2013, Wyman reported that he had approached police and prosecutors to ask if they wanted to interview him, only to be told they were not interested. He said: ‘We all have a skeleton in the cupboard. In my case, it was publicised to the world and that wasn’t really fair, I don’t think.” – Guardian

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