John Mayhew is the Defence Solicitor in The Witness for the Prosecution for Leonard Vole.

Mayhew (or Mayherne) is a character that’d importance has been reduced from Major to Minor depending on the adoption.

1923 Story

In the original short story John Mayherne as he is named is the main character and he explains to Leonard Vole what he is being changed for and the evidence against him. He gets the history that Leonard had with Emily French and lets him know the difference between his statement and Janet McKenzie. Mayherne than meets with Romaine Heilger Vole’s common law wife and he sees her as a cold distant woman, when she declares him guilty he feels that something is hiding, Sir Charles the Lawyer claims all he can think is that a nephew of Miss French could have done it but little evidence exists. As Mayherne fears for Leonard’s life, a letter comes in and he meets a woman with a massive scar that her boyfriend did after Romaine stolen him, with the letters she wrote to the boyfriend, Mayherne gives the letters to Sir Charles who uses them against the Prosecution and freed Vole. However Mayherne realises that Romaine was the Scarred Woman all along and that gave him the letters and she admits she did out of love and that Leonard was guilty.

While most productions focus less on his personal life, it's said in the story he has a unnamed wife, who notices his habit of over polishing his pince-nez.

1953 Play

Renamed Mayhew for this play, he is a minor part watching everything that happens in front of him and Sir Wilfred Robarts, he listens to Leonard Vole, Romaine Heiger and The Cockney Woman, when the woman disappears Mayhew says that she is protecting herself from protecting her other cheek. After Vole is cleared he witnesses with Sir Wilfred the truth that Romaine faked the evidences and Vole’s Guilt before he murdered after brushing passed Romaine’s love.

1958 Film

While Mayhew has scenes in the office, some of his scenes are shared with Nurse Plimsoll, the nurse that Robarts is given after his heart attack. However he gets extra moments like giving Robarts his cigars and swap the Cocoa Flask with one with Brandy. Also he is in Euston’s Station when Sir Robarts meets the Cockney Woman and positively identified the handwriting of Mrs Vole in the letters. He doesn't witness the reveal but after Christine stabs Leonard Vole he comes in and asks Robarts and Plimsoll tells him.

He is played by Henry Daniell.

1982 TV Film

Mayhew is played as a copy of the previous film the only difference is that the Cockney Woman meeting is done by Sir Robarts alone.

He is played by David Langton.

2016 TV Series

Despite going back to being a major character in the story’s 1920’s setting the series still name him as Mayhew.

Mayhew is given a wife Alice and a son that died in World War One. He lives in a small house and is clearly ill coughing badly, not helped by the smog and so hopes to do something for his wife with his job. Upon meeting Leonard Vole Mayhew decides to help him as he is like their son, he does go to see Romaine at the theatre and is engrossed by her singing, he tries to get an alibi from her but there isn't a chance a loving wife’s statement could let Leonard off. At the trial Romaine statement followed by the others is making Vole’s chances of acquitted weak, Sir Charles Carter unable to find anything to damage the statements apart from Janet having a lesbian crush on Emily French. 

However Mayhew gets the letters proving Romaine’s perjury from Christine Moffat who was the lead singer who was disfigured by Romaine he vows to get Romaine swearing on his late son. The letters work in showing Romaine deception and the Prosecution falls apart, after Leonard is acquitted he says he's disappointed to Romaine who hisses at him from beyond the bars, then Janet clearly upset says he is as guilty as Leonard with blood on his hands and before he could return Leonard’s thanks, he blacks out. He wakes up in hospital paid by Vole his illness was Bronchitis he is given a promotion, during the selling of Emily French’s house, he finds the frozen remains of Mimi French’s cat which tells him that Janet McIntyre was the killer since, she had blood on her sleeves and the resulting trial has her hanged after she fell apart in the trial. 

Mayhew and Alice go on holiday in the South of France, as he enjoys the view he sees Leonard who has married, he goes to congrats Vole with a bottle of Champagne but he discovers that the bride is Romaine with a Dyed Bob. Mayhew then realizes that Romaine fakes the letters and that Leonard did kill French. He leaves calling them monsters but they mock him as his generation let the young died or damaged and he declared that McIntyre was guilty. When Mayhew goes to Alice he asks her does she love him, as he has a breakdown saying that it’s all for her but she finally let out the truth she can never forgive him as he let their son die and that he should never have gone due to the fact he was under-aged but since they wanted to go together Mayhew let him fake his age. Alice lets him know that while she will support him, but for affection he can pay a mistress.

Completely crushed Mayhew that night walks into the sea to die.

He was played by Toby Jones.


Christie rewriting the character is from major to minor is a typical Christie trope. 

David Langton was also in the Agatha Christie play Rule of Three.

Toby Jones also was the victim in Agatha Christie's Poirot version of Murder on the Orient Express.

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