In a previous story, we heard about the caning of a disgraced MP. Years later, her daughter finds herself in trouble
By Katherine Jones
It was nearing 11am on 3rd July 2023 and Philippa Rogers needed to make a decision. Not at all impressed by her options, she had begun to think that it was time to talk to her mother and get her take on what it was best to do.
Philippa’s mother, Emma Rogers now 51 years old, worked for a major voluntary organisation and was a campaigner for women’s rights, particularly in relation to prison reform and the wider penal system. She was better known, however, as a former MP who had served 9 months of a 27 month prison sentence in 2010 for theft and false accounting related to her MP’s expenses.
Philippa was 8 years old when her mother went to prison. She spent the next 10 years of her life living with her father, Dave, and her brother, Jack, in London. Dave moved out of the family home just before Emma was sentenced and they divorced whilst she was behind bars. Dave remarried when Philippa was 19 and, during her University years, Philippa had grown closer to her mother again, spending weekends and some holidays with her in the isolated detached house she now occupied deep within the Cheshire countryside.
Philippa was secretly proud of her mother. Emma had rebuilt her life after her shattering disgrace. The sudden death of Emma’s father in 2014 had been fortunate financially for her. It had given her sufficient inheritance to pay back her debt to the tax payer and also to live comfortably for the rest of her life. Following her release from jail, she initially was bankrupt and alone but began working abroad for a succession of charities. Her work developed to a point where she was able to move back home and work for charities in the UK. Eventually she became a familiar face again on TV and was seen as a serious commentator on issues for woman in the penal system.
Philippa was also proud of how, three years before, her mother and two other former women MPs had exposed Joshua Maxwell, a leading Civil Servant who had blackmailed them all during the expenses scandal. Maxwell was about to gain a very high profile promotion to a very senior role when the three women told their stories to the Police. He was now serving time in prison.
It was to her mother that Philippa now turned for advice. Two nights ago, Philippa Rogers had been alone in her mother’s house when she realized that she had run out of sanitary towels. Emma was at a meeting in Manchester and wasn’t expected back until late evening. Philippa decided to drive in her mother’s second car to the shops in the town 5 miles away and purchased all she needed. However, on the way back home she was in collision with a car travelling too fast down the narrow country lanes. No-one was hurt but the Police were called by another driver at the scene. Philippa was breathalysed and found to be over the limit. She had sunk 2 large glasses of wine before embarking on her journey but was still shocked to be arrested and find herself facing a driving ban.
The choice Philippa now wanted to discuss with her mother was a stark one. She was due to appear in court on the following Monday to answer the drink driving charge. She could go ahead with the Court appearance, plead guilty and be banned from driving for year. The ban would be a real blow to her plans. Post university, she hoped to live with her mother for a while whilst she looked for work in Manchester. If she could not drive there was no way this was a possibility.
However, the publicity her court appearance would bring would be agonizing both for her and her immediate family, particularly her Dad and brother Jack now, himself at University. It would also, no doubt, bring the spotlight again onto her mother’s past and possibly raise questions about the important role she now played in the penal system.
The alternative was not appealing to Philippa. She was entitled to opt for what the government described as a community punishment which meant a mixture of voluntary service, a large fine and corporal punishment. Philippa had been offered this option when she was released from custody but had also been told that, as her crime was at the high end of the tariff eligible for community punishments, she was likely to receive 12 plus strokes of the cane and be required to serve a night’s imprisonment.
Philippa had to decide by 5pm the next day what she wanted to do. She now sat and talked with her mum about the options. Emma had been initially shocked and then angry with Philippa when she was arrested. However she now saw the huge dilemma her daughter faced and wanted to help and protect her. In their conversation she told Philippa to forget about the potential impact of the publicity and focus on what she felt she wanted to do.
Philippa at 21 years old was tall and elegant with shoulder length honey blond hair. Though not classically beautiful, she was bright, attractive and slightly mysterious to the legion of young men who pursued her at University. However her interest lay with the attractive young women on campus but she felt the need to be discreet in her relationships as she understood the ever present risk of media exposure.
As they began to talk, it became clear that Philippa wanted to know what the cane would feel like and how painful it would be. Emma had some knowledge of this from her work in the penal system but to her daughter’s astonishment was also able to give a graphic and personal account of a bare bottom caning she had received. Emma did not reveal that Maxwell was involved but was able to explain how humiliating and painful it had been.
Emma also suggested that it might be helpful if Philippa spoke to a friend of hers who had some first-hand experience of a judicial caning. Emma had met Angela at a recent conference in Manchester about penal policy and thought she had something to say which might help Philippa. Emma arranged for Angela to come to the house that evening at the end of her working shift and as the three women sat in the garden she began to tell her story.
Angela McLean was a pretty, black, 24 year old Police Officer with long naturally curly ringlets of brown hair. Philippa was instantly captivated by her athletic figure shown off in her tight black Police uniform trousers.
Three years ago, during her summer holiday from University, Angela and her then boyfriend, Tom, had driven 30 miles out of town to see a band. Tom had agreed to drive home but it soon became clear to Angela, who had already had three glasses of wine, that Tom was not going to be able to fulfil his promise and was in fact quite drunk.
Angela decided to sober up and took the risk to drive home. Just after midnight, as she drove into the City Centre, she mis-judged a corner and ran into a parked car. Angela then took up her story.
“Almost as soon as I got out of the car after the crash the Police seemed to be there. I was breathalysed, of course, and inevitably it was positive. I went in handcuffs in a Police car to the station thinking that the career I was planning in the Police was finished. I had to endure all the grim and humiliating formalities of booking in, finger prints, interview, mug shot etc. I was dressed for a party in my short red skirt and cropped white top and I can tell you all the male officers on duty, let alone the other men being held in custody, seemed to be enjoying watching me arriving cuffed and then being put through the system.
The woman Custody Sergeant, though, was good and helped to keep me as much as she could away from the worst of the comments and whistles. I had told her I was hoping to join the force and she was sympathetic and encouraging, despite my difficult position. After all the booking in was done, she took me into a room away from the custody desk and suggested that if I accepted my guilt I could request a community sentence. Although I would get a caning, there would be no criminal record and I would still be able to join the force.
It was the best thing I ever did. I was bailed immediately without being locked up and told to wait for a letter. When this came it had no surprises. I had to stay overnight at a Correctional Facility and have my bare bottom caned 16 times. I also had a fine to pay and some community service to undertake. The best news was, though, that if I completed all of these requirements I would have no criminal record and any future employer need not know about my arrest. It has all worked out for me as I am now on a fast track promotion scheme in the Police and no one has ever known about my past.”
“How bad was the caning?” Philippa asked anxiously.
Angela paused briefly then said: “I have to say it was pretty bad. When you are at the Centre it is like being in Prison. You have to strip off and shower, then put on a really ugly blue tracksuit. They put you in a cell and when it’s your turn for the caning they come and get you. I had it twice; 8 strokes in the evening and then another 8 next morning. The second one was the worst as I already had the bruises from the first lot.
“It takes place in a small room. You have to strip off all your clothes and they tie your hands and then make you bend over a metal frame with your arms stretched forward. There is padding in the front of the frame so that your butt is pushed up and really tight. They then secure your hands and strap your legs down. The final restraint is a big strap across your back. You really can’t move much at all.
“A big bloke did my first 8 strokes. I was really scared, I can tell you. It is something from your worst nightmares to be tied up like that and just at the mercy of this man who is going to thrash you. It is also really humiliating being naked, tied down and with your bare bum pushed up towards him, but you soon forget all about that when the cane starts to hit you.
“The first stroke was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. It felt like the cane had burned a line across the middle of my butt. The second stroke caught me low down and the third was even lower and seemed to cut me just above the top of my thigh.”
Philippa’s mind was racing. She felt her hands involuntarily grip her bottom and also realised she was damp and aroused by the image of that beautiful light brown body stretched out, exposed and reeling from the pain of the lash.
She watched intently as Angela continued to describe her experience.
“I think I was crying by this stage, uncontrollably, and I started to pull against the straps because I couldn’t imagine coping with another 5 strokes. Then 4, 5, and 6 came in very rapid succession, working their way down my bottom. Seven was more considered and seemed to come upwards into the crease at the lowest point of my bum. The eighth and final stroke was delivered hard, oh so very hard, across the middle of my bottom.”
Emma sat quietly watching as Angela McLean told her story. She was trying to gauge Philippa’s response but also trying to control her own feelings as she thought back to her own humiliating, naked and agonizing experience with Maxwell.
“A woman did my second set of 8 the following morning,” continued Angela. “She didn’t hit me as hard as the man had but I was already stiff and bruised and the last four strokes were bad. They had a nurse in the room this time and I can remember hearing her counting the strokes 5, 6, 7, and finally 8. She called each time the cane cut into my butt. I was crying and screaming by that stage but they take no notice, just go on thrashing you, but it was over when she called 8. I was in pain and uncomfortable for a few days but it all healed and I was able to get on with my life. I didn’t even lose my driving license.”
The three women talked on for another hour and then, as the conversation began to draw to a close, the suddenly tearful Philippa said: “I will take the cane. At least it will be over quickly and we can all get on with our lives.”
In truth, she had chosen to protect her mother from adverse publicity as the Community Punishment did not require a Court appearance or create a criminal conviction and therefore the offence was not made public.
Philippa asked Angela for her best piece of advice on how to prepare for the caning. Angela replied that having her hair cut short was the best thing she had done as the weekend of the caning was not a time to be worrying about looking your best and in many ways, she explained, you want to be as unattractive as possible in that violent and ugly environment. Philippa thought this was sensible advice.
On Monday 7th July, instead of appearing in Court, Philippa received through the post a large brown envelope. She immediately understood the main point of the letter which was that she was to receive 14 strokes of the cane on her bare bottom. The sentence would be carried out during the weekend of 2nd and 3rd of September and Philippa was required to attend the Correctional Facility in South Manchester overnight on that weekend.
Philippa had a long time to ponder her fate.
* * *
“Lisa, can we just test the sound?” I said, trying to keep my inward sense of anticipation from slipping over into my voice. “Could you let me have your full name and your age at your last birthday?”
This was an important moment for me. Three months into my first contract with Kingsgate Media, I had got something exclusive and that I knew would be saleable across a number of platforms.
I pushed the start button as she began to speak.
“My name is Lisa Kelly and I am 29 years of age. I just want to let you know that I am not happy about telling you all this but I need the money you are offering to allow me to put it all behind me and move on with my life.”
“That’s Ok, Lisa,” I said encouragingly. “All you have to do now is tell me your story.”
“It all began about four months ago when I was arrested for drink driving. It was stupid really. Justin, my husband, was going to pick up our daughter, Cara, from her friend’s house at 9 pm on his way home from a late work appointment. However, Cara was unwell and her friend’s parents rang me to ask if I could pick Cara up early. I couldn’t contact Justin; he was probably still in his meeting, so I set out to collect Cara myself with two glasses of wine already in me and part way through my third. I was stopped by the Police after I went through a red traffic light and was well over the limit. What made it worst was that my boy, Jake, was in the car with me as I had no one else to look after him.
“I was arrested on the spot and Justin’s mum had to be called to take Jake home whilst I waited with him in the back of the Police car. She was very snooty about it all; I never liked her! After they had gone, I was then taken to the Police Station where I was processed like a criminal, finger prints, mug shot, DNA etc. After the Duty Solicitor finally arrived I was told I could accept a community punishment and receive a fine.”
“So this meant,” I said. “That you would be asked to make a charity contribution, pay a fine and accept a caning – probably sixteen strokes?”
“Well, I was still in shock,” Lisa said. “I had never been in trouble before and I was very worried about the caning, but also how we could pay the fine of £490 and make a contribution of £200 to charity. Justin and I didn’t have that sort of money but I also knew that I needed my driving licence to get to work and to get the kids to schools and to their various clubs and activities, so I felt it was the best thing to do.”
“So when I had that phone call from you offering me £5k in cash and my fine and charity contribution paid, I couldn’t believe my luck! You see, I am not a dishonest person but I have to keep my family’s heads above water.”
“Ok thanks,” I said, thinking that so far was so good. Lisa was obviously very emotional about what had happened to her and very open to talk but she wasn’t really my story. I needed to get her on to the events of 2nd and 3rd September and her relationship with Philippa Rogers, the daughter of the disgraced MP Emma Rogers. Philippa had been arrested for drink driving in July and my source within the Correctional Services, an old school friend of my wife Hannah, had told me that Lisa had shared a cell with Philippa on their overnight stay at the Correctional Services Centre where they were to receive their canings. It was detail about these events and the conversations between these two women which I now wanted from Lisa.
“Lisa, before you arrived at the Correctional Services Centre were you aware of Emma Rogers and her history?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Lisa. “I knew that she had been sent to prison a while ago for fiddling her MP’s expenses, but in recent years I had seen her on TV talking about the women, crime and the justice system, and had quite liked her and the things she said in support of women. When you rang I really wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to cause Emma Rogers’ family any more trouble but I needed the money. I still feel very torn even now.”
“Ok, Lisa,” I said. “Let’s move on and if you could please tell me about your time at the Correctional Services Centre? It must be very fresh in your mind.”
“Well it is,” said Lisa, suddenly focusing on her story. “At 4pm on the 2nd September, Justin dropped me off outside the Centre and I made my way with my overnight bag into the reception area. I was signed up in a rather off-hand way and then sent into a communal waiting area.”
I immediately spotted Philippa. She is tall and elegant with shoulder-length honey blond hair. I reckoned that she was probably about 20 or 21 years old; she was certainly the youngest person in the waiting room. She is not what you might call a classical beautiful but she was the ‘go to’ woman in that room, I can tell you, amongst all that mix of ages, shapes and sizes.
“To my surprise, Philippa and I were announced as roommates for the weekend, but before we were able to go into our cells we were sent to shower and change into our uniform of white bra and pants, grey top and trousers. I watched her shower, seeing her initial embarrassment as she took her clothes off and tried to hide herself, but I did like the look of the tattoo on the small of her back and her lovely long legs.
“As we dressed and were directed to our cells, I began to talk to Philippa for the first time. I thought she was really nice. Very open and honest about all that had happened to her and her mother. She loved and respected her mum, and was very proud of how she had rebuilt her life after prison and her disgrace and the complete cut-off she had experienced from many of her friends and old colleagues. Philippa was conscious of wanting to make a very separate life from her mum but that as, shall we say, a woman only interested in women, she posed a possible threat to her mum in terms of possible media interest in any love life she might have.
“She talked about her fear of the pain from this caning and how she had accepted the physical punishment only to attempt to prevent any more publicity hampering her mother’s life and career. As time passed we talked more about our families and also how on earth we had ended up in this situation. We both agreed it was completely and utterly humiliating. She seemed glad of me being there and for my support.
“After about three hours of talking, two male warders opened the cell door, handcuffed Philippa and me and led us down a dimly lit corridor into a room marked Punishment 8.”
“So what happened next?” I asked Lisa as she seemed to lose her impetus.
“I feel sick to think about it,” she said, lowering her eyes away from my gaze.
“Go on, Lisa, please tell me. You have got this far, just stick with it,” I encouraged.
Lisa eventually picked up the story. “We both went into the room and were told to undress. A thing like a vaulting horse we had at our school was in the middle of the room and once we were completely naked Philippa was led towards it. A guard put cuffs on each of her arms and she mounted the horse and laid herself down. She was so brave and uncomplaining at that stage. Oh my god! All those men were in the room, looking at her bare bottom and worse!”
So what happened next?” I asked.
Lisa paused and then simply said: “Philippa was strapped down and could not make any movement. The cuffs were attached to the bench and these held her arms down. A strap was placed across the small of her back and her ankles were held in shackles at the back of the bench. As she lay there, all naked and vulnerable, with her bottom pointing in the air, a man came over, picked up a cane from the selection available on the wall and began to administer the strokes. She had 14 strokes to take over the weekend and we knew that half would be inflicted in this first session.
“The first stroke was high up her bottom and then the second low down, more like at the top her thighs. She cried out and then panted and wept as the third stroke hit the middle of her bottom. The forth stroke took her high on her butt, then the fifth and sixth were very quickly delivered. It seemed the man was determined to enjoy the final and seventh stroke as it landed at the base of her bottom and made her writhe in agony. I couldn’t bear it.
“Eventually Philippa was released from the restraints and was taken very gingerly off the bench. I knew it was now my turn. I was led towards the bench as Philippa stood hunched and crying, wrapped in a large white sheet.
“I knew that I had eight strokes to take in this session, one more than Philippa. The same process was applied to me. The cuffs held me outstretched, arms at the side of the bench, the strap across my back held me down and I was cuffed around the ankles and these restraints were then attached to the bench. I was unable to move and well aware of the wonderful views of my most private areas the men in the room would be having.
“The man who had caned Philippa now moved towards me with the cane still in his hand. I found myself thinking that this was just another work job for him and what a contrast that was to my feelings as someone who had never been in trouble before and now found myself in this totally humiliating situation.
“The first stroke landed and I initially felt Ok. Then very suddenly it began to hurt like hell. The second stroke, which was lower down on my butt, made me cry out and then the third and fourth strokes seemed to both be on the top of my thighs and were really agonizing. I was just crying and shouting by now; nowhere near as composed as Philippa had been. Four to go, I thought, as the fifth stroke was aimed at the top of my bum and the sixth and seventh each landed below the others. The final and eighth shot landed in the crease between my butt and my thighs and I screamed out in agony.
“Very much like Philippa, I was scraped off the bench and wrapped in a white sheet. We were both led back to the cell and Philippa immediately collapsed, flung off the sheet and lay face down on her bed, her bottom uncovered and showing seven red and angry tramlines stamped across it.
“We both slept fitfully that night. For me, the excruciating pain and my exhaustion felt like they were competing against each other to keep me awake. As I woke at one point in the middle of the night, as you know I took a photo of Philippa with my phone as she lay face down with her bottom exposed. I don’t know properly why I did that. I think I planned to send it to her as some kind of weird memento. It was certainly meant to be for her at that time.
“We were woken again at about 6 am in the morning and told that we were to have our punishment completed. Again, we were handcuffed and taken to a room, this time Punishment 6. The same procedure unfolded except that I was strapped down first and had the final eight strokes across my already aching butt. I was in absolute agony and almost fainted as I was taken off the bench. Sixteen strokes in less than 12 hours is hard to take, I can tell you. I was wrapped in a sheet as before and watched as Philippa had her turn on the bench.”
“How did Philippa take the final seven strokes of her punishment?” I asked.
“She was beside herself all the way from our cell to the punishment room, crying and shouting out. They had to hold her down whilst I was thrashed and then drag her on to the bench and battle to strap her in for her caning. I was a bit surprised at her, to be honest, as I was just getting on with it, but she seemed to have lost all control having been the brave one at the start on the day before.
“Eventually we were returned to our cells and I held her as she sobbed and cried out. I think she had just got exhausted by it all, what with the worry about her mother and everything. I was able to calm her and I put some cream on the red lines across her bottom which seemed to help her to feel better.
“Philippa was released first at about 11.30am and she hugged me and thanked me when she left. I feel so bad now about betraying her.”
“I know you do,” I said. “But I do need you to send me the photos you took on your phone of her bottom after the punishment.”
Reluctantly Lisa scrolled through her phone and I heard a satisfying ‘ping’ as the photos landed into my in box. What a story and what images! Worth every penny of the fee we would give to Lisa.
“It’s just business,” I told her as I escorted her out of the building and into the cold early autumn evening air.
© Katherine Jones 2014