Peter Farquhar, right, and the man who would go on to murder him, Ben Field
Peter Farquhar, right, and the man who would go on to murder him, Ben Field

During a forty year career on television, Michael Crick has become famous for teasing out the truth.

But the veteran political journalist has spoken of his guilt after revealing he too fell for the lies of Ben Field, who murdered his mentor and lifelong friend.

“I was softened up, like many people,” Crick told the Telegraph.

“I just wish I’d spotted what he was up to, and that I’d done something.”

During the mid-1970s Crick was Peter Farquhar’s pupil at Manchester Grammar School, where the eccentric English teacher spotted the young boy’s talent, and encouraged him to become a journalist.

“He would have tea parties and invite ten of the boys. We were his favourites, I suppose,” Crick said.

Peter Farquhar mentored Michael Crick throughout his life

Over the decades, as Crick rose to fame on the BBC and Channel 4, the pair kept in touch and met regularly. In 2015, the journalist received a phone call from his old teacher, who was bursting with good news.

“I remember that Peter told me about Ben Field, and how he had bought a dog called Kipling. 

He said it was the best thing that ever happened to him,” Crick told the Telegraph.

Soon afterwards, however, Crick received another call. This time it was not Mr Farquhar but a man who introduced himself as a friend of Field, and that they planned to set up an “Institute of Peter Farquhar Studies” and film a documentary about Mr Farquhar’s work.

But Crick was unsettled by the call. “It was almost as if they were mocking him. I felt very uncomfortable about it,” he said.

“Peter was a good writer, but he was hardly Charles Dickens. I thought they might be taking him for a ride.”

The documentary came to nothing, but soon he received another call. This time the news was more concerning.

“He said that Peter was in a really bad way and that he had a drink problem. He told me that Peter was becoming forgetful, and leaving his phone in the freezer,” Crick said.

“I spoke to Peter, and he said he would go to get tested for dementia. I said I’d come round to see him, but I never got round to it. Obviously I regret that now.

“You have to wonder if it was part of a softening up process. We were being prepared for the possibility that Peter might die of alcohol poisoning. And it worked on me, I’m afraid.”

Not long afterwards, Crick was informed that Mr Farquhar had indeed died. 

Crick said he was told that Field had bought a bottle of whisky and Mr Farquar had drunk too much of it and had died.

“I thought ‘What a dreadful thing to happen to these young men.’ I actually wrote them notes telling them that they mustn’t blame themselves. I thought they must be going through agony.

“Obviously I found the whole story hard to believe and in particular the idea that Peter had an alcohol problem. 

“But I didn’t suspect for a moment that he could have been murdered. On the contrary, in fact. I was glad that he had found these two young friends to look after him.”

“Of course I wish that I’d done something,” said Crick.

“It’s my job to spot when people aren’t telling the truth, although I’m sure I’ve been successfully lied to many times over the years.

“But the whole story is so extraordinary, that in truth, I never suspected a thing.”

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