A FORMER Swindonian whose diary could have brought down countless politicians, judges and aristocrats spoke to the Adver in the last week of January 2002.

Marion Akin, then 49, was born in London but her family moved to Swindon when she was still a small child and lived in Kingswood Avenue.

By the age of 14 the adventurous girl was regularly hitchhiking to London, where the Sixties were swinging. By the end of the decade she worked as a prostitute, shuttling between exclusive neighbourhoods in London and Paris.

By the age of 22, she had saved enough money to buy a large house in Earl’s Court in which to ply her trade in comfort.

“It cost me £17,500,” she said, “which was a lot of money in 1974, and I spent another £5,000 doing the place up.

“I also decided I wanted to have the best clients, so I went for politicians.

“Some of the Eton types likes canings and whippings because they were hard and fast kinky people, but some of the younger people just did it because they wanted to try it.

“And some of the more powerful people said they just wanted to be on the other side of the fence for a while and not making the decisions."

Marion Akin from Swindon became Lindi St Clair, aka Miss Whiplash, arguably the most famous British prostitute and madam of modern times.

By 2002, having weathered newspaper exposes, tax problems and an unsuccessful bid for Parliament as a member of the Corrective Party, Marion Akin was living a quiet life in rural Herefordshire.

Seven years later she converted to Christianity following a near-fatal road accident, and reported having found peace.

Another Swindon woman who’d had trouble with officialdom, albeit for completely different reasons, was a 58-year-old Park North grandmother called Alicja Bolton.

Born to Polish parents in a refugee camp in Iran, she was living in England by the age of four. She married an British man, gave birth five British children who in turn produced 13 British grandchildren, worked for many years for a British company, WH Smith, paid British taxes and had a British National Insurance number.

None of that had been enough to prevent pen-pushing Government jobsworths from declaring her a non-British immigrant when she applied for a passport in 1999.

It took more than two years for common sense to prevail, and when it did Alicja told us: “I thought I’d ring the Adver first as they’ve been behind me every step of the way.

“I just kept thinking it was so unfair that I have lived here for so long, have worked and paid taxes and brought my children up, but I still couldn’t get a passport.”

Another happy story involving a passport concerned not a human but a small dog who befriended a Swindon cattery owner.

We said: “Nine months ago when Janet Reddy was befriended by a stray dog while on holiday in Spain, red tape prevented her from bringing the homeless pooch back to Britain.

“But Janet never gave up on the chestnut and white mongrel she called Millie. And today they are together again.

“It has cost Janet more than £1,000 in kennel fees, vets’ bills and air fares, but she says it’s a small price to pay for love at first sight.”

Janet said: “It was probably the most expensive holiday I have ever been on but she is worth every penny.

“Her personality is so happy and friendly. It just goes to show that if you want to help somebody or something bad enough then you can.”

A self-employed Upper Stratton motor mechanic called Paul Gannaway also had an interesting story involving foreign travel.

A friend in Florida, knowing of Paul’s interest in military vehicles, mentioned him to some film producers who needed Humvees.

Paul was soon asked to inspect some at Shepperton studios – and then came a call to report to a set in Morocco. There he not only ensured the vehicles looked authentic but also appeared as an extra.

The film?

It was Black Hawk Down, the blockbuster war movie based on the true story of a disaster-prone American mission to capture warlords in Somalia. Its stars included Saving Private Ryan veteran Tom Sizemore and a roster of British actors including Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Hugh Dancy, Ioan Gruffudd and Tom Hardy.

Paul reported a spirit of camaraderie among cast and crew, including director Ridley Scott.

It was Scott who stepped in when local officials arrested Paul and some of his colleagues following a ‘road accident’ which never happened. The officers wanted a bribe.

Paul said: “The same kind of thing was happened to lots of us so Ridley had a talk with the police and sorted it so that as long as we carried our film passes we’d be okay.”