How I was abused by my ex, Bluetones frontman Mark Morriss

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Bluetones frontman strangled me and told me to have an abortion’: Ex-wife of Mark Morriss claims he’s a ‘narcissistic pathological liar’ who led a double life and cheated on her and other women at the same time

  • Anna Wharton has written an explosive essay alleging she was physically, emotionally and mentally abused by ex-husband Mark Morriss, of The Bluetones
  • Claims he encouraged her to have an abortion while pregnant with his child  
  • Says he was living a ‘double life’ and seeing multiple women at the same time
  • Mark Morriss said the accusations of gaslighting and abuse are ‘wholly untrue’ and he ‘refutes them completely’

Whenever I caught my husband flirting, messaging other women, or cheating, he would say to me: ‘You knew what my job was when you met me.’

By way of explanation, his job then, and now, is the lead singer of a Britpop band called The Bluetones. His name is Mark Morriss.

I have often talked online of my abusive ex-husband, though I have never named him. I am aware, it is not difficult to put us together though. But I have a particularly important reason for naming him now: to protect other women.

For too long, he has relied on telling people that I am crazy, and lying about me. He has been gaslighting women to believe what he wanted them to, convincing them not to put the dots together and realise what a narcissistic, pathological liar and serial predator he is.

I do not use these words lightly and I will evidence why, but what I will say from the beginning is: If I’m wrong, Mark, come sue me. Because it is only defamation if it’s not true. 

The sad fact is, in this world, the word of one man is believed over a woman. As we have seen in the cases of other serial predators like Noel Clarke and Weinstein, it was only when many different females came together that a newspaper would run the story.

I have been a journalist my entire career and so I understand that need to secure evidence, but all that happens when you refuse to listen to one woman – when her voice is drowned out by her perpetrator – is that other women become their victims. You actually collude with that man, you become part of the problem. You become complicit in the abuse of women by not holding the men abusing them to account.

It is easy to disregard someone as a bitter ex, it is a trope men have relied on for centuries to get away with their crimes – because it works. But if you get to the end of this piece and still believe this man should not be outed, feel free to let me know.

And so, we begin.

Anna Wharton (right) has written an explosive essay detailing how she was physically, emotionally and mentally abused by ex-husband Mark Morriss, of The Bluetones. She is pictured with two other women who claim to be victims of Mr Morriss’ deceit

Mark Morriss, frontman of the Bluetones, said the accusations of gaslighting and abuse are ‘wholly untrue’ and he ‘refutes them completely’. Pictured, on stage at Kew in 2017

I met Mark in August 2011. We fell in love and decided to try for a baby fairly quickly. We bought folic acid, I plotted my ovulation. It was actually his idea because he already had a three-year-old son who he adored and he wanted nothing more than to have a baby with me.

Mark Morriss says claims of ‘abuse and gaslighting are wholly untrue’ 

In a statement to the Guardian, Morriss said: ‘I may have been thoughtless and selfish in some of the dealings in my personal life of late, but these allegations of abuse and gaslighting are wholly untrue, and I refute them completely.

He added his personal life had ‘certainly gotten into a hell of a tangle, people have undoubtedly been hurt because of me” and that “in many ways, all this coming to light is a great relief’.

He said: ‘I am sincerely sorry for everything to anyone caught up here.’

Except, when I got pregnant, he told me to have an abortion. And when I refused he left me. I do not need to tell you the ins and outs of the next nine years together, but I will share one anecdote that occured when I was heavily pregnant. 

I was down in Cornwall staying with his sister, shopping for baby clothes with his mum, when I got a phonecall from a friend of mine who was a reporter on the Daily Mail, a newspaper where, at the time, I was an executive editor. 

My friend lived in Godalming, and his wife had gone on holiday with her university friend from Winchester. The neighbour of this university friend decided to go along, too. Portugal, I believe. And once there she told a shocking story of how she needed that holiday because she’d been seeing a guy for the last three months who had been ‘f*****g with her mind.’ 

The thing was, she felt sorry for him, because he had told her this woman had just turned up on his doorstep, six months pregnant, claiming that he was the father of her child.

‘You might have heard of him,’ she told her fellow travellers. ‘His name is Mark Morriss.’

The reason I share this anecdote in particular is because Mark has relied upon this as part of his seduction technique ever since. You will find this story a recurring theme. Narcissists love nothing more than making themselves the victim.

Suffice to say, due to his constant cheating, our relationship was on and off. He made up terrible things about me, telling his mum that I tricked him into pregnancy, telling others I was bipolar, that I was a liar so I would never be believed. This is another thing these types of men do, discredit the victim so people will never listen to her.

I forgave him so many indiscretions, I loved him, with all my heart. I knew he’d spent his life cheating but I hoped, like many women, I’d be the one he’d stay faithful to.

It was always fans. Women he met at gigs. He told them we had broken up. He told them this whole ‘she tricked me’ line to get sympathy. Or himpathy, a new word I learnt the other day. Six weeks after we got married he was in bed with another fan.

He was abusive to me too, on more than one occasion. He was finally cautioned by police for throttling me, only because I took a photo of the eight fingerprints around my neck – what a thing you should have to think of straight after an act of violence like that, but otherwise I would never have been believed. He’d been spoken to by the police before but he always told them I was lying. It was his word against mine, and… well, you know who people tend to believe, the perpetrator who said he didn’t do it. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? To quote Mandy Rice-Davies.

Mark was a tyrant in our home, he would return after a weekend of gigs and check the house: under the sofa; bottom of the fridge; the cat litter. Anything to catch me out. When he couldn’t find a speck of dust, he would accuse me of lying about cleaning. It got to the point where I would polish the back of the front door so he’d smell the scent before he crossed the threshold. But cleaning wasn’t the point, control was. The same with all these men.

Mark Morriss, Adam Devlin, Scott Morriss and Eds Chesters of the Bluetones in 1996. Ms Wharton describes Mark Morriss as a ‘narcissistic, pathalogical liar’ in her essay

It wasn’t always like this, otherwise I wouldn’t have been with him. We could be blissfully happy, but I wasn’t living a real life, because behind my back there were so many other lives he was leading.

And so now we come to the others which I’m guessing will make you more inclined to believe my story.

Women often contact me. They see my comments on Twitter and they know who I’m referring to, they come to my page for a reason. So let me share some of the things they’ve written to me. I’m going to change anything that identifies them because this man is aggressive, and they don’t need him being abusive to them. (But I repeat, for legals, I have all the names and evidence here.)

Take this fan: ‘I was involved with your ex, only for a few weeks, a number of years ago. I remember him telling me that he had a baby daughter with his ex so that might help work out chronology. Embarrassingly, I was one of these women who got chatting to him at one of his gigs and was a bit flattered by the attention since I was a ‘fan’. I feel quite ashamed about that now. Whilst thankfully I never saw any physically threatening behaviour from him, I definitely did feel like his behaviour was odd and a bit manipulative at times and it did leave me feeling pretty s**t about myself and left me with just a little bit more evidence that I end up being attracted to men who aren’t very respectful to me.’

This made me so sad, how women blame themselves.

Let’s look at another message: ‘I was totally taken in by his charm and wit. I was very young, naïve and impressionable, and I bloody loved him. It’s awful to think I was just one of a long line. What a vile man he is. A snake. And yes, it’s a form of abuse.’

Here’s another: ‘I wanted to reach out because unfortunately I know Mark, and was, at one time, in a very f****d up ‘relationship’ with him. It was before he met you (I think) but recently enough for me to still be dealing with the impact. I just wanted you to know that there is (at least) one person who understands what kind of person he is. Narcissistic doesn’t even come close. In fact, I’m sure his picture features in the DSM category on narcissistic personality disorder. He is a vile human being.’

Here’s another: ‘Just wanted to wave and say hi as another victim of his bulls**t…After months of texting all night, every night, we met last summer and he immediately started to slag you off, I’d no idea of the situation but any man slagging off his ex is always profoundly off putting…’

And yes, he’d told her I’d tricked him into a pregnancy. It seems to be his MO to paint himself as victim, to tell these women how I tricked him into our gorgeous, clever, funny, now nine-year-old daughter, as part of his seduction technique – it doesn’t seem to matter to him that this changes how people see her. The unwanted child. And it’s not even true, except in his twisted mind.

But that last quote is important, for this reason, because it happened last year, when I was reunited with him. I still haven’t confessed to some of my friends that I gave him another chance. I was ashamed of myself. But the thing about abusive men is that they make your life so intolerable if you leave them, that you take them back, which I did, in May 2019. Our daugher, as you can imagine, was delighted to have her family back together, and we had the best year. I thought.

Mark Morriss, right, on stage with The Bluetones in 2018. Ms Wharton shared messages from other women who have had similar experiences with Morriss

While the rest of the country locked down in 2020, confined to their homes, stuck in with their families, Mark was living several lives. I often questioned why he took off his wedding ring to play zoom gigs, but he told me you can’t play guitar with a ring on. When I pointed out that other guitarists did, he told me to put my dinner in some Tupperware and f**k off out of his house.

When we had reunited, I hadn’t wanted us to live together again, knowing how awful it had been when we did. Instead I thought the answer to our relationship was separate homes, and so it came as a shock in June 2020 when I turned up at his for breakfast one Sunday morning that he opened the door, let me and my daughter in and was forced to confess he had another woman in his bed. It was a devastating moment for our daughter because he denied our existence – our family – for the benefit of this woman cowering under his bedclothes.

That was that. The duplicity was not only obvious, but clearly enjoyable for him. Why did he answer the door that morning? Why did he have to let us in? Because he was excited at the thought of being caught.

This is the text message he sent me the night before at 8pm: ‘It would be good for me if you could truly understand that I don’t want any other woman, and stop doubting me or accusing me of sneaking around. Because it absolutely destroys me when you do. We’re always going to disagree on things, and fall out about things…. that’s human, it’s the way you make up again that is important and we’ve always been good at that. But to be constantly defending myself for crimes I haven’t committed is something else altogether. I wish you could understand how much I love you….I don’t want anybody else.’

It is sick that he composed that while waiting for a woman to arrive at his home. There is no other word for it.

That was the end of us, finally. I concentrated on mending my daughter’s broken heart. She drew pictures in black paint and labelled them: ‘Daddy’s soul.’ We had been through so much at his hands.

That Christmas 2020, I found out that Mark was involved with another woman. A single mum of two children, though I should be specific here and you’ll see why later, a boy and a girl. I felt for her, I knew what she had coming in the post. I confess, I saw her photos on Instagram, of him carving the turkey at Christmas, these two children (just one and three) on his lap. Apparently they adored him. All my friends and family felt sorry for this woman, whose name I shall protect. I would never have reached out to her, she had to find out who he was in her own time, but it killed me that by not telling her I was somehow complicit in the abuse I knew she had to come. All I could do was what I always had done, keep advocating for women’s rights, tell my story as a way of doing that, and hope she would find me if and when she needed too.

A few weeks ago, in October half term, Mark asked to take our daughter to laser tag. I asked who with, as it’s unusual for him to do anything like that with her. He replied on email, saying it was with his friend Ian and his wife, and their two children – two girls, in this instance. As a woman trained by his bad behaviour to be hypervigilant, my antenna was up. Yet when my daughter returned it turned out ‘Ian’ couldn’t make it, he had a cold, and actually the girls’ dad was called something entirely different. My daughter had questioned her father who had told her he’d never said Ian, that she must have been mistaken – he was now gaslighting her. I called him up, reminded him of the email he sent me telling me about Ian, he said it was a ‘mistype’. That didn’t explain the backstory he’d made up for Ian, that he was a schoolfriend who had his 50th birthday on the same day. Me and his mum, who was staying with me at the time, looked at each other.

‘I don’t remember a schoolfriend called Ian,’ she said.

‘Me neither,’ I replied.

The Bluetones: The indie rock band fronted by Mark Morriss with three top 10 albums

Formed in Hounslow, London, in 1993, The Bluetones were an English indie rock band who found fame in the late 1990s with albums Expecting to Fly and Return to the Last Chance Saloon. 

Bandmembers Mark Morriss, Adam Devlin, Scott Morriss and Ed Chesters scored 13 Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums in the UK charts. 

Their popularity started to wane with the end of the Britpop wave but they continued to tour and release new music. 

They performed at festivals as recently as 2018.

Mark Morris continues to tour as a solo act and has dates scheduled this year. 

I knew he was up to something, but worse, he was making my daughter complicit in it because she was thrilled at meeting these two little girls, there was talk of ‘step-sisters’.

I messaged his girlfriend on Instagram and asked her if she knew he’d gone to laser tag with this other woman and her two daughters. She did not. I messaged this other woman and asked her if she knew about his girlfriend and her son and her daughter. It transpired, she did not. The two women found each other and then they both got in touch with me. It turned out that he had started seeing one of them in January 2020, it had taken her 18 months to introduce her two girls to him. The other mum-of-two had started seeing him in March 2020. And that last quote I promised I’d come back to, that was a woman he was seducing in April/May/June 2020. And remember this whole time he was also married to me, his wife.

He had, predictably, seduced them all with this story that I had tricked him into our daughter – on each first date, in fact. He also gained their sympathy with a new line, that HE is the one who is a victim of my abuse. He even wrote a song about it, he’s given interviews promoting that song. This is all despite the fact that he is the one with the criminal record, that it was me who sought refuge with a domestic abuse charity. It is sickening that he has turned everything that he did to me into what I did to him, and that is the bait he has used to gain the trust of vulnerable women. He has stolen my story.

These two single mums have discovered that Mark has been living a double life with them for the last 18 months to two years. I have also heard of other women he had been seeing in that time. Remember as well, he is sleeping with women who have no idea he is sleeping with others. He is putting their health at risk.

Here’s what one of them wrote to me: ‘Hi Anna, looks like I owe you a big thank you. You put me and ******* in contact and it turns out, probably as no surprise to you, that Mark’s been living a double life…. No words to describe finding out the whole thing has been a lie.’

And here is the story from the other woman’s point of view: ‘I first met Mark in March 2020. We met on a zoom call with mutual friends during lockdown and afterwards, found me on Facebook and sent me a message. We swapped numbers, and started texting. Slowly at first, just little daily updates, but gradually more and more. It was a slow burn, and I was very cautious, because I was a single mother with two young children and I’d had a bad experience with my ex. I made it clear I was vulnerable and needed to take things slow. He was consideration itself. In June, he came to my birthday party. He met my friends, and was charming. He kissed me at midnight, and told me he’d come only to do that one thing. He stayed the night. He promised to come back the very next night.

‘He didn’t because he had a zoom gig and he was “too tired” but he came back the night after, and then again, and then again, and again. This was in the middle of the pandemic, the first lockdown had only recently been relaxed, restrictions were still in place. He was at my house three, four nights a week. I cooked him dinner, he took my bins out. He played with my children. He tucked them into bed at night, and bought them presents. He’d sit at my kitchen table, we’d listen to music long into the night, and he’d tell me stories. Stories of his crazy ex, this evil woman who was intent on destroying his life. Stories of how much he adored his children, they were his whole world.

‘We were so happy, or so I thought. Well into autumn and winter of 2020, we were learning about each other, learning to love each other. He was charming and funny and considerate. I was cautious but besotted.

‘But the crazy ex-wife kept resurfacing as a theme. She was so cruel, so unreasonable, so difficult about access. He was taking her to court as a last resort because he was desperate just to see his daughter. I used to secretly look at her Twitter, and she’d seem so calm and reasonable, and I’d shake my head to my friends and say poor Mark, poor Mark. But even then, I struggled to reconcile his story. I went to see a therapist about my trust issues, because I was having such difficulty believing that any woman, any mother, could behave so appallingly.

‘He spent Christmas at my house. It was lockdown again but it was fine, we were in a bubble. We opened stockings together, I cooked a roast, he carved the turkey. He bought my daughter barbie dolls, my son toy trains. He gave me gift after gift after beautiful, thoughtful, funny, perfect gift. We were supposed to have his daughter with us too, but his evil ex-wife changed plans at the last minute and withheld her. We spent New Year’s together, zooming with his friends and mine. He wrote a message to the mutual friend who introduced us: thank you so much for bringing her into my life, she’s the best present I could ever have asked for.

‘We were together for 18 months. Once he started gigging again, we could see each other less, but he always came over at least once a week, and sometimes I’d go on the road to gigs with him. I met his friends, his venue managers, his promoters. We went to dinner parties together. We went on trips to the Lakes, country house weekends. He took me to Brighton for my birthday. He turned 50 in October and he and I hosted a party for all his closest friends, bandmates, everyone. I was his girlfriend, and I was happy.

‘But I’d never met his children. And his ex-wife was still a constant cause for concern. And every so often, there would be a little niggle – who was this fan? What was that message? And then one day, everything exploded. His ex-wife sent me a message, she tried to tell me he was seeing another woman. Had introduced his children to her. I was fiercely, immediately loyal. I rejected it out of hand. I looked at the other woman’s Instagram – there was nothing about Mark – it was fine, he was telling the truth.

‘He wasn’t. The other woman found me. Mark was all over my Instagram, so she had no such protection. She called me, and the whole horrible, crumbling edifice finally collapsed. He’d been living a double life for years. The whole time he’d been with me, he’d been with her. Loving her kids. Taking her presents. Sending her flowers. He’d copy and paste messages to both of us so he didn’t slip up and make a mistake. His ex-wife had been telling the truth from the start.

‘He ruined two lives, two families, four children. He left my daughter bereft, and my son confused. He left me struggling to function, struggling to breathe, struggling to understand how the world even worked anymore. And he just walked away, without a backward glance.’

These two women, and their children, are broken as I write this. They are piecing together the reality of these fake lives they’ve both been living. The holiday he’d booked with one in January, the promises to both of them had he was going to spend Christmas with them, the dates he said he was having an evening to himself when actually he was with the other, the lunches with one, the dinners with the other on the same day, the fact he had them both at the same London gig. The friends and band members each (or both) of them met. The lies and lies and lies and lies and lies he told them about me. They see now that I am none of the things that he described me to be. They see that I am not crazy, that I am not a liar, that he is not a victim, that he is a serial perpetrator.

And that is why, at the beginning, I said it was so important for me to write this: to protect other women.

Behind these women, there will be others. In front of them, there will be more. This man is a serial predator who uses his job as a way to prey on women. They are flattered to have the attention of a man who was once on Top of the Pops, who is the frontman of a band. None of them would sleep with him if they knew the truth about who he is and who else he has been sleeping with. He lies to women to get them to have sex with him.

Mark uses women, and he gains their sympathy by convincing them that I am crazy and he is a victim – this is very typical perpetrator behaviour. It disgusts me that I am used as bait, not just to these women, but to men too. Mark has isolated me from friends, from his family, by telling them stories about me that are simply not true.

These women will be fine eventually. They are strong, intelligent, beautiful, and they will move on once their hearts have healed and hopefully they will trust again. Because this guy is a one off, a malignant narcissist, I know most other men are not predators like him. He works in an industry that is complicit in the abuse of women, his band members, the fans – especially the female fans – they know what Mark is like. Those who haven’t questioned his narrative have enabled him in his abuse of women. Where is the sisterhood? All of those women, and men, should hang their heads in shame. Look at what they turn their faces from just to be friends with someone in a band? They don’t care about our pain, or the pain of our children, as long as they get free gig tickets. It is pathetic. They are pathetic. Though not as pathetic as him. As these women have comforted themselves, they will move on, but Mark will always be Mark.

Here we all are, there is strength in numbers

So many people dismiss the frontman of a band who cheats, they say the women who love them should expect it. As Mark said to me: ‘You knew what my job was when you met me.’

And I’ve been a journalist my whole life, I call out injustices, I write about them, I hold people accountable for their actions. So I’ve got one thing to say in reply: ‘And you knew mine.’ 

In a statement to the Guardian, Morriss said: ‘I may have been thoughtless and selfish in some of the dealings in my personal life of late, but these allegations of abuse and gaslighting are wholly untrue, and I refute them completely.

He added his personal life had ‘certainly gotten into a hell of a tangle, people have undoubtedly been hurt because of me” and that “in many ways, all this coming to light is a great relief’.

He said: ‘I am sincerely sorry for everything to anyone caught up here.’

Morriss also said the last 18 months ‘undoubtedly had an adverse effect” on his mental health and decision-making. But the last thing I wanted to do was hurt people who have been kind to me during this difficulty.’

He said he had a ‘very strong and healthy co-parenting relationship’ with the mother of his son – whom he did not identify – and wished for the same in his relationship with Wharton and their daughter. He expressed regret that the matter becoming public could negatively affect the lives of the children involved.

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