Former professional bodyguard to the stars Simon Newton has seen it all, from serving in the British Army to working for the British government on security in Afghanistan, to protecting Michael Jackson and Kendall Jenner.
For 15 years he was one member of a highly exclusive community – those trusted by international superstars to keep them safe around the clock. In all that time, he did not ever walk out on a job, no matter how difficult circumstances became.
Mr Newton’s career is remarkable in its variety as much as its content, but four years ago he came to the realisation he had done everything in the world of private security that he wanted. Now, he’s an actor with his own clothing line on the way.
MailOnline spoke to the 44-year-old about his years spent with some of the most famous faces in the world, who his best client was, and how he managed to break into such an elusive market.
‘I was in Iraq in 2006 which was probably one of the most dangerous years in Iraq,’ Mr Newton said.
Simon Newton, from London, spent years in the British Army before becoming a private bodyguard (Pictured in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004)
Mr Newton (left) had his first celebrity job in 2006 when he was hired to join Michael Jackson’s team on his trip to the UK
For 15 years he was one member of a highly exclusive community – those trusted by international superstars to keep them safe around the clock
‘It was rough at times, but that’s all part of the job unfortunately.’
The bodyguard’s casual references to the dangers of life in Iraq in the middle of a global conflict may seem surprising – but despite travelling to the country to start working in private security, it was by no means the first time he had faced a war-zone.
Originally from London, Mr Newton joined the Royal Corps of Signals, one of the combat support arms of the British Army, in 2000.
He served in Canada and on operations in Iraq for four years, including in the Middle East in 2003, before leaving the military in 2004.
He soon moved on from his security role in Iraq to become a Close Protection Officer with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Afghanistan – an equally, if not more dangerous position to be in.
But Mr Newton, who has also spent considerable time protecting oil ships from pirates in the Indian Ocean, described the move as a ‘natural progression’ after his time in the army.
It was 2006 when he was catapulted into the world of celebrity security for the first time, when he was asked to help protect Michael Jackson on a visit to the UK.
He described the time as ‘hectic’, adding: ‘Any time you moved him around it was so busy all the time, so that became difficult. But because of that you wouldn’t move him around as much as someone else.’
His respect for the star was plain: ‘I don’t think you’ll ever get somebody like him again. The world of celebrities, of music or film and TV, it’s so different now.
Mr Newton served in Canada and on operations in Iraq for four years (pictured), including in the Middle East in 2003, before leaving the military in 2004
In 2007 Mr Newton worked as a Close Protection Officer in Afghanistan before he returned to the UK and set up his own company in 2010
After guarding Michael Jackson, he flew straight back to Afghanistan and returned to his role as a Close Protection Officer (Pictured: Simon Newton at a gun range in Afghanistan, 2007)
After setting up his own UK private security company in 2010, Mr Newton worked with celebrities such as Bella Hadid (pictured) and Rita Ora
Mr Newton described Bella Hadid as a great client to work for – ‘She was always nice, we always got on, and she always made sure I had everything I needed. She always listened to what I had to say’
Mr Newton also protected Kendall Jenner, including in 2015 when she attended fashion shows at London Fashion Week
As well as Kendall (centre), he also protected models Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss
‘Michael Jackson, even the little African kid in the small village without any water knew who Michael Jackson was. You don’t get many people like that.’
Mr Newton was one of a five-strong team of bodyguards for the pop star, and would often face long days which began before the singer woke up and ended after he had gone to sleep.
When he completed the job, he flew straight back to Afghanistan and returned to his role as a Close Protection Officer.
It wasn’t until 2010, by which time Mr Newton had returned to the UK for good and had set up his own security company, that he began receiving requests from A-List clients.
He said: ‘I did used to pick and choose slightly on who I was looking after… but generally there wasn’t really any job too big.
‘One of the first big ones I had after Michael was Kendall Jenner. I did quite a lot with the models because the modelling agencies used to always like to call the same guys.’
As well as Kendall, he also protected models Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss – although his most regular client was Bella Hadid.
‘I followed her for two to three years and I had a really good time, it was a really good job,’ Mr Newton said.
He described how he was recruited by so many A-Listers: ‘It’s trust if anything. ‘They like the same people, so once you’re kind of in that circle of doing celebrities you stay in it as long as you have a good reputation. But it’s very difficult to get into in the first place.’
Although he does not have a favourite client, he said he particularly enjoyed working with Bella – although he did sometimes protect her sister Gigi too.
‘I spent a lot more time with her [Bella]. She was always nice, we always got on, and she always made sure I had everything I needed.
‘She always listened to what I had to say. Although I always try not to dictate too much, on the odd occasion I did need to say something she would listen.
‘It was always an easy-running job with her. She’s good fun and a nice girl.’
Outside of the modelling world, Mr Newton spent periods of time protecting singers Rita Ora (pictured) and Halsey
Often photographed alongside supermodels such as Bella Hadid (centre) and Stella Maxwell (left), Mr Newton’s own fashion tastes did not go unnoticed by the media
Outside of the modelling world, Mr Newton spent periods of time protecting singers Rita Ora and Halsey, who he also accompanied across Europe. He was also hired by Dizzee Rascal.
He told MailOnline that being ‘papped’ is part of the job for any security guard. But what the ex-army protection officer did not expect was for the media to take a personal interest in him as the main story.
Mr Newton said: ‘When you look after any celebrity you expect to be papped in some description, so if you find yourself in a photo in the background or anything like that that’s not really a big thing.
‘But then Vogue did an article on me rather than on Bella. That was a bit strange because I was like, I’m just the security guy.
‘Once they did that one then they sort of kept doing it, other publications were picking it up and doing stuff. But that’s not normal.’
Vogue picked up on Mr Newton’s fashion sense, which always matched his clients’ outfits in some way but were all his own clothes. But unlike some other security officers, rather than stick to black suits or uniforms, he opted for a more varied range.
The bodyguard said he first became interested in men’s fashion as a young adult.
‘That’s how I got noticed [by the media] I guess. It started when I was in the army, that’s when I started looking at men’s fashion a bit more.’
It was around 2019 that Mr Newton realised he was ready to turn to his passion: acting.
He described how he came to the decision to drop his highly successful career and take a risk: ‘I thought I still own a security company, I’ve looked after some of the most famous people you can look after, I’ve been in some of the worst countries you can be in, I’ve been on boats, I’ve done politicians, CEOs of banks, billionaires, I’ve pretty much done everything I wanted to do.
‘There wasn’t really anything left.’
Mr Newton gave up security work, although still owns his own security company, and went to study acting. Now he’s busy planning a trip to Cannes Film Festival next week and has his own clothing line set to come out this summer.
The ex-bodyguard has already been involved in American movie Crossfire, and is due to start filming another project in January.
‘It was a bit bumpy due to Covid,’ Mr Newton joked. ‘It’s taken me a little while but I haven’t done too bad.’