Published Articles on Geoffrey Dickens, Leon Brittan, and the DossiersPosted: July 2, 2014
The following blog reproduces articles, a number of which were previously collected on the Spotlight blog, concerning Geoffrey Dickens and the dossier given to Leon Brittan at the Home Office. I will attempt to keep it updated with new articles I encounter. I have covered most of Dickens’ parliamentary career, but sticking for the most part to his work relating to children. This collection also reveals much about his later obsession with witchcraft and ritual abuse.
Dickens’ Naming of Peter Hayman
In March 1981, Geoffrey Dickens named Sir Peter Hayman, diplomat and former Deputy as a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). A highly extensive range of news reports relating to this are found on this post at Spotlight; I will not reproduce them all here for reasons of space, but recommend everyone reading this blog also look at these to contextualise the below, looking at Dickens’ threats to name more people, his preparedness to risk jail to protect his source, the responses to his action, and the reasons for non-prosecution – also the article in which Dickens claimed his flat had been bugged).
The Guardian, March 25th, 1981
Paedophile Information Exchange Case (Pornographic Material)
HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 c111W 111W
Mr. Beith asked the Attorney-General whether any of the pornographic material found and confiscated in the course of the recent Paedophile Information Exchange case has been supplied to mental hospitals under the scheme described in his reply to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed on 26 June 1980, Official Report, columns 263–64; or whether he has any plans to make this material available.
The Attorney-General No, and no.
United Press International, July 18th, 1982
‘Probe possible British security breach’
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came under pressure Sunday to assure Parliament there has not been a disastrous breach of security at the government’s Cheltenham top secret communications center.
Members of Parliament demanded an emergency debate on what newspaper reports suggested was the biggest NATO security breakdown since the exposure of a Soviet spy ring in 1963.
That case involved Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, senior members of British intelligence who operated undetected as Soviet agents in the 1940s and 1950s.
Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens said he would call for an emergency debate Monday on computer security. Liberal MP Alan Beith demanded to know whether Mrs. Thatcher is satisfied with security arrangements at Cheltenham.
The MPs said they were concerned by reports that a security breakdown may have allowed a foreign power to gain access to top secret communications information for more than a decade.
The Sunday Observer alleged that for 13 years ”Soviet intelligence has been able to monitor the latest Anglo-American advances in communications interception.”
Security chiefs have told Mrs. Thatcher there was no ”mole” operating at the Cheltenham, Gloucestershire communications headquarters, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
But former Cheltenham employee Alec Lawrie called security at the base ”lax and fossilized” and said ”to my knowledge, staff were never searched when they came to leave.”
”It would have been possible for somebody to smuggle out documents and I think a determined mole would have found it relatively easy to transmit information.”
The Cheltenham base specializes in cracking Soviet military and diplomatic codes and shares the information under a reciprocal agreement with the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.
Labor MP Ted Leadbitter, who last year exposed the queen’s art adviser, Sir Anthony Blunt, as a former Soviet spy, said: ”I have not been convinced the whole truth has been made available to the House of Commons about lapses in security.”
On Thursday a former Cheltenham employee, Geoffrey Prime, 44, appeared in court and was charged under the Official Secrets Act.
Security chiefs have been told that although Prime left Cheltenham in 1978, he could have taken classified information with him.
Only last month, Parliament received the report of a national security inquiry that called for tighter safeguards to protect secrets held on computer tapes at Cheltenham and stricter supervision of new staff.
The Globe and Mail (Canada), July 19th, 1982
‘Thatcher pressed for spy statement’
LONDON (Reuter) – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was under intense
pressure during the weekend to make an urgent statement on state security
amid speculation that a major new spy scandal was about to erupt.
Members of Parliament demanded information on press reports of a
serious breach of security at the nerve centre of Britain’s intelligence
network, the Government communications headquarters at Cheltenham in the
west of England.
Radio communications between foreign governments and armed forces are
relayed there by listening stations around the world for analysis by
specialist teams of linguists and codebreakers.
On Thursday, Cheltenham taxi driver Geoffrey Prime was charged with
unspecified acts of espionage over 13 years. Press reports said he had
worked at the Cheltenham centre from 1968 to 1978.
Labor member of Parliament Leo Abse wrote to the Government leader of
the House of Commons on Saturday alleging an official coverup of a recent
report by a judge on security.
‘Spy scandal succeeds spy scandal and still the Government fails to
honor its undertaking that there should be no coverup of the glaring
deficiencies existing within our security services,’ Mr. Abse wrote.
Conservative member Geoffrey Dickens called for an emergency debate on
the security of sensitive computers. ‘Our computers are leaking like
sieves,’ he told reporters.
Several Sunday newspapers said ministers were denying that there was
still a spy ring or a mole at the headquarters.
A former employee at the centre – a language expert – said on
television that on several occasions he had complained about the state of
security. ‘It is certainly more than possible to get material out of the
place . . . You could take it out in the boot (trunk) of a car,’ he said.
A spokesman at the Prime Minister’s office refused to comment because
Mr. Prime’s case is before the courts.
The Associated Press
July 20th, 1982
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher today faced tough questioning from lawmakers angered by Britain’s latest spy scandal and by the revelation that Queen Elizabeth II’s chief bodyguard was homosexual.
The prime minister planned to give the House of Commons a statement about security arrangements at the Government Communications Headquarters following the arrest on spy charges of a man who reportedly worked at the secret electronic intelligence-gathering installation.
Press Association, the domestic news agency, said she was likely to limit her comments to a “broad assessment,” and this was expected to provoke heated demands for details.
Mrs. Thatcher also was to be questioned by lawmakers about why Police Cmdr. Michael Trestrail’s longstanding relationship with a male prostitute went unnoticed until his lover tried to sell the story to a British newspaper and the paper tipped off Scotland Yard. Homosexuality is not illegal in Britain, but it is government policy to bar homosexuals from high-security jobs to avoid possible blackmail.
Conservative Geoffrey Dickens said he wanted to ask Mrs. Thatcher if Britain’s security codes are now in the hands of “potentially hostile nations” and if British agents overseas are in danger because of the reported security breach at the intelligence center 109 miles northwest of London in Cheltenham.
The installation monitors radio and telephone communications around the world for information useful to British intelligence and its counterparts in the United States and other allied nations.
The new spy scare broke last Thursday when Geoffrey Arthur Prime, 44, of Cheltenham, was charged at nearby Hereford under the Official Secrets Act with passing secret information to “other persons” over a 14-year period ending last Dec. 31.
The Daily Telegraph said Prime was a Russian-speaking former employee of the intelligence center.
Mrs. Thatcher reported to Commons last May 19 on Britain’s intelligence operations after another spy flap and said a year-long probe into the possibility of infiltration was “generally reassuring.” But she said there was an urgent need to evaluate risks in electronic information processing.
Britain has suffered a series of espionage scandals since World War II, the most notable being the defections to the Soviet Union of Foreign Office employees Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean in 1951 and former intelligence official Harold “Kim” Philby in 1963. Then in 1979, Sir Anthony Blunt, the queen’s art advisor and one of Britain’s leading art scholars, was exposed in 1979 as another member of their spy ring, and former intelligence officer Leo Long later confessed to also being part of the ring.
Home Secretary William Whitelaw, whose ministry is in charge of the police, will face the Commons on Wednesday for a full statement on Trestrail and more questions from members of his own Conservative Party as well as the oppositiion Laborites, Liberals and Social Democrats.
The Trestrail scandal, coming on top of the breakdown in Buckingham Palace security that allowed a prowler to sneak into the queen’s bedroom July 9, brought rising calls for Whitelaw’s resignation, but he told reporters Monday he would not quit.
He informed a stunned House of Commons Monday that Trestrail, the queen’s chief bodyguard for nine years, “has confessed to having a homosexual relationship over a number of years with a male prostitute. He has resigned from the Metropolitan Police.”
Angry lawmakers later demanded an inquiry into how Trestrail, 50, got past official screening for his post.
“It is astonishing that the positive vetting of this officer should either have failed to reveal his homosexual proclivities, or if they were revealed, that it was not regarded as making him a security risk and unfit to be in charge of the queen’s security,” declared Conservative Eldon Griffiths.
The tabloid Sun said the other man in the affair offered it the story of trestrail’s homosexuality but it rejected the offer.
“Scotland Yard were told and carried out their own inquiry,” the paper said.
The Yard announced the transfer of two other senior members of the palace police staff because of the invasion of the queen’s bedroom by Michael Fagan, 31. They were Cmdr. Victor Lashbrook, in charge of guard assignments at the palace, and Chief Inspector Michael Greene, who was in charge of day-to-day security.
The police sergeant who was on duty when Fagan got in has been suspended and two other constables have been transferred.
Fagan was brought to court in London Monday and charged with stealing half a bottle of wine from the palace during a previous break-in June 7. But prosecutor Stephen Wooler said there would be no charges as a result of his second invasion because he had done nothing criminal.
Although he woke the queen up and sat on the foot of her bed for 10 minutes, Fagan did not threaten her, and trespassing is a civil offense, not a criminal act.
However, Fagan will also be tried on two other charges in addition to stealing the palace wine: stealing a car June 16 and assaulting his 15-year-old stepson on June 26.
Fagan, standing shoeless in the dock, yelled at his lawyer “not to mention anything about the queen’s bedroom.” He claimed to be the son of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess, who flew to Britain during World War II, spent the rest of the war in captivity and has been in West Berlin’s Spandau prison since 1947, four years before Fagan was born.
Daily Mail, July 21st, 1982
The Sun, August 15th, 1982
Daily Star, August 23rd, 1982
Daily Mail, November 12th, 1982
Mr. Geoffrey Prime
HC Deb 15 November 1982 vol 32 cc18-9W 19W
Mr. Dickens asked the Prime Minister whether Geoffrey Arthur Prime’s membership of the Paedophile Information Exchange organisation was brought to the attention of the police or security agencies.
The Prime Minister: I understand that stories that the police found documents in Prime’s house or garage indicating that he was a member of the paedophile information exchange are without foundation, and that nothing has been discovered to suggest that he was.
The Guardian, November 16th, 1982
Daily Mail, December 16th, 1982
News of the World, January 9th, 1983
News of the World, January 16th, 1983
Sunday People, February 27th, 1983
Capital Gay, June 24th, 1983
Daily Mail, August 20th, 1983
Daily Express, August 22nd, 1983
The Times, August 23rd, 1983
Daily Telegraph, August 23rd, 1983
The Sun, August 23rd, 1983
Daily Express, August 23rd, 1983
Huddersfield Daily Examiner, August 23rd, 1983
The Times, August 24th, 1983
The Times, August 24th, 1983
Daily Express, August 24th, 1983
Evening Standard, August 24th, 1983
Daily Mail, August 24th, 1983
Daily Star, August 24th, 1983
Daily Telegraph, August 25th, 1983
The Guardian, August 25th, 1983
Daily Mail, August 25th, 1983
Daily Express, August 25th, 1983
The Globe and Mail (Canada), August 25th, 1983
LONDON (Reuter) – Several public figures have been named in a Scotland Yard dossier on child sex offences, a member of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party said yesterday.
Geoffrey Dickens, a campaigner against child pornography, said in a radio interview that he had compiled a list of names and planned to disclose them in Parliament.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed it was studying a report on a police inquiry into a group called Pedophile Information Exchange.
The group’s organizer, Tom O’Carroll, was jailed for two years in 1981 on charges of conspiring to corrupt public morals.
Home Secretary Leon Brittan has ordered a copy of the report by tomorrow, his officials said.
Mr. Dickens said the Scotland Yard report, like his own dossier, contain the names of a number of top people in public life and show business.
The allegations come amid continuing national outrage over an organized abduction and sexual assault on a 6-year-old boy by three men in southern England 10 days ago.
Daily Mirror, August 26th, 1983
Daily Mail, August 26th, 1983
Sunday Mirror, August 28th, 1983
Daily Mail, August 30th, 1983
The Times, August 31st, 1983
Daily Telegraph, August 31, 1983
Daily Express, August 1983
Daily Star, September 1st, 1983
The Times, September 2nd, 1983
Daily Express, September 2nd, 1983
The Guardian, September 2nd, 1983
Daily Mail, September 2nd, 1983
Daily Express, September 3rd, 1983
Daily Express, September 5th, 1983
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
September 5th, 1983
Vera Frank, ‘Child attacks spark call to ban pedophile group’
LONDON – A series of brutal, and unsolved, sex attacks on young children in Britain this summer has brought renewed pressure on the Government to outlaw the Pedophile Information Exchange, a shadowy organization which advocates sex between adults and children and lobbies for the abolition of the age of consent in the name of “children’s lib.” Home Secretary Leon Brittan has been studying a Scotland Yard dossier on the group’s activities, while the director of public prosecutions is considering criminal charges against members of the group’s executive, who include a doctor of philosophy, several teachers, a youth worker and a scoutmaster.
The single child-assault case that has aroused the greatest public outrage is that of a retarded 6-year-old Brighton boy who was found abandoned at a roadside two weeks ago, badly injured and in a state of shock after being being abducted and sexually assaulted by three men. The unprecedented publicity surrounding the incident has raised public anxiety over child molesters to fever pitch: more than A 70,000 has poured into a reward fund for information on the boy’s attackers, and within days of the assault, all British television channels began to broadcast a new Government information film for children, with the message: Beware of strangers.
Although there is no evidence to link the Brighton case with the Pedophile Information Exchange, it has focused attention on this little-known group and has strengthened the hand of Conservative members of Parliament who have been campaigning for years to have it outlawed.
They have received help from an unexpected quarter: In recent days, an executive member of the exchange, David Joy, went on record as saying he could not exclude the possibility that exchange members were involved in the rape of the Brighton boy.
The Conservative MP leading the campaign, Geoffrey Dickens, who claims to have considerable support within the Commons, has threatened to state a backbench revolt unless the Home Secretary bans the group.
He has also said that he will use parliamentary privilege to name public figures who, he alleges, are members of the group. There is every reason to believe that this is not an idle threat: It was Mr. Dickens who, 2 1/2 years ago revealed that Sir Peter Hayman, the former High Commissioner to Canada was an exchange member.
Mr. Dickens says his concern about the group is twofold: to protect underage youngsters, but also to safeguard national security. He says: “Pedophiles in sensitive posts are dead ringers for blackmail.”
Geoffrey Prime (the man employed at Government communications headquarters who was convicted last year of spying for the Soviets) was found to be a spy only after he was arrested for indecent assaults against children.
And there are reports from the United States that Mr. Prime’s name has been found on the mailing list of a pedophile organization there.” One member of the pedophile exchange, Steven Adrian, worked for four years as a security officer in the Home Office until his connection with the group came to light. Mr. Adrian was among several exchange leaders who surfaced amidst the present furor to defend their organization and try to present it as a respectable pressure group. In an interview, he said: “Sexual relationships with a responsible pedophile gives a child a far greater sense of self-respect and self-awareness.”
According to Mr. Adrian, the exchange has several hundred members, not only in Britain, but in 20 other countries (including Canada) and maintains close links with other pedophile groups, such as the North American Man-Boy Love Association and its Australian counterpart. Its purpose, he says, is “to promote a broader awareness and acceptance of the rights of pedophiles and children.” He denies that the exchange ever acts as a procurer, but acknowledged that the group could not keep a check on the activities of all its members.
Mr. Adrian argues on “libertarian” grounds that adults have no right to limit a child’s sexual activities and said the age of consent had to be removed: “It’s a spurious protection against sexual assault, which, in fact, works as a weapon against children’s sexual freedom,” he said. Child psychiatrists disagree. Dr. Tom Baker, of St. Georges Hospital in London, who has worked with hundreds of child victims of sexual assault, says: “Those promoting pedophilia base their arguments on false logic. A person must know what he or she is consenting to and I don’t believe a child in that position does understand. They don’t have a free opportunity to say no, because of the persuasive power of the adult. Children are not in a position to give their informed consent.”
Some of the most damning revelations about the exchange have come from Charles Oxley, a public school headmaster who succeeded in infiltrating the group. He attended several meetings of its executive and regularly passed on information and copies of the group’s pamphlets and magazines to Scotland Yard’s obscene publications squad.
Mr. Oxley said: “Young children all over the country are being assaulted by people who are campaigning to make it legal. The organization must be proscribed. PIE’s whole object is to incite sex with children, and it practices what it preaches. I have heard members of the PIE executive boast of their exploits with children.
“Mostly, they would speak about going to children’s playgrounds or finding groups of children in a park. They were not in any rush. They would join in the game and make friends with them. It was very subtle, very cunning. People like this are obviously a danger, because if their schemes are frustrated, they may carry out violent attacks on youngsters.”
Mr. Oxley said he knew of at least one exchange activist who had been convicted of three assaults on young girls and revealed that another had special responsibility for running the group’s prison support unit, whose aim was to keep in touch with members in jail and to recruit new members inside prisons.
Mr. Oxley has accused the Government of “dragging its feet” in introducing legislation to ban the exchange, but the only banned organizations in the United Kingdom are the Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army, both of which advocate the use of violence. Until now, the Home Office has always taken the view that existing laws covering obscenity, sexual offences and conspiracy to corrupt public morals are sufficient to control the activities of the exchange. As a Home Office spokesman said this week: “However repugnant a pressure group may be, you cannot ban people campaigning for a change in the law. Even though it may disgust 99 per cent of the community, it is a pretty big step in a democracy to ban the organization.” In view of the current mood of the country – and of the Tory backbench – it remains to be seen whether the Home Secretary will be able to sustain
this stand in the coming parliamentary session.
In the meantime, as the anti-exchange campaign gains momentum, a growing number of people have begun to voice the fear that outlawing the group and driving it underground, might be counterproductive.
Dr. Baker expressed his reservations: “Banning PIE would be like putting a bandage on a gangrenous leg.” He said there was a danger that by concentrating on the group, people might overlook the fact that the majority of child-abusers are not group members – they operate alone and in secret and in most cases, are either friends or members of the victim’s family. He said: “we must not forget that children are in far greater danger behind their own doors than from strangers in the street.”
The Times, September 9th, 1983
The Guardian Weekly, September 11th, 1983
‘What the law can do already’
In his statement last week on serious assaults on children Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, touched upon “the activities of the Paedophile Information Exchange” which claims that its purpose is to campaign for the lowering of the age of consent — apparently to four, or thereabouts. Mr Brittain, not surprisingly, finds such views “utterly repugnant, as do the vest majority of people in this country.” Quite so. No sane parent could accept the perverse nonsense that children who are little more than toddlers could — far less should — make coherent and valid judgments about whether or not to have intercourse with strangers bearing packages of sweets. Mr Brittan goes on to express his beliefs that “society rightly expects the criminal law in this field to be strong and effective.” The crucial phrase here is “in this field.” In context, Mr Brittan is referring back a sentence to the “activities” of PIE.
The Home Secretary denies himself the opportunity to comment further upon PIE or the adequacy of the law because the Director of Public Prosecutions is urgently studying a report on individual members of PIE who may face legal proceedings. Mr Brittan’s reticence is correct. But it leaves a glaring ambiguity. If PIE’s activities are no more than campaigning for a (deeply distasteful) change in the law, then it is, itself, acting lawfully if wickedly. There should be no question of the “strong and effective” use of new legislation designed to stifle free, though foul, speech. The IRA and INLA are not banned because they advocate a change in the laws concerning the constitutional status of Ulster. They are banned because they advocate and organise terrorism. The “political wings” of the two organisations campaign freely.
If, on the other hand, members of PIE have gone further, the there is a raft of legislation which could, and should, be in voked as it has been, successfully, in the past. The Post Office Acts forbid the mailing of obscene material. There are laws against incitement and conspiracy to undermine public morals as well as legislation on the age of consent on the protection of minors and on assault and gross indecency. Conservative MP, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, who delights in making an unattractive ass of himself, has done it again recently by threatening to name prominent paedophiles in the safety of the Commons unless PIE is outlawed. If he is talking of men whom he can prove to have committed criminal sexual acts with children, then his duty is to name them now, to the police. Otherwise, he should keep quiet. But Mr Brittan would be advised to recognise that the force behind Mr Dicken’s populist campaign comes from the sneaking suspicion that the Home Office itself does not take PIE as seriously as it should. That suspicion can only be reinforced by the knowledge that there are as yet no annual statistics on the number of sexual assaults on children, because it is only within the past few months that these officials have felt it might be worth collating them.
The Associated Press, September 20th, 1983
Michael West, ‘Assaults on Children Cause Outrage In Britain’
Alongside Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and other TV cartoon favorites, British children now watch a 20-second public information film called “Say No to Strangers.”
Made by the government’s Central Office of Information with police help, the film features a 10-year-old girl and a shifty-eyed stranger trying to entice her into his car with candy.
It’s being aired by both the British Broadcasting Corp. and Independent Television. A longer version is being shown at schools around the country.
“Say No to Strangers” is an attempt by authorities to curb a threat that has caused public outcry in Britain _ attacks on children by sexual molesters, killers, thugs out for money or shiftless youths.
Responding to the anger, Home Secretary Leon Brittan ordered a major review of how police investigate such assaults.
The subject has rarely been out of the headlines this summer.
It started with the abduction and murder of a 5-year-old girl from Edinburgh in Scotland in July. Police hunting the killer believe he also kidnapped and killed an 11-year-old girl last year.
A 5-year-old girl at Nottingham in the Midlands was lured from outside a tavern where her father was drinking and sexually assaulted. A 2-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at Willesden in north London.
A 15-year-old youth armed with a knife sexually assaulted four boys, aged 5 to 7, at Tamworth in the Midlands. Three girls, 9 and 11 years old, were attacked and sexually assaulted in Plymouth in southwest England. Police warned parents in Fulham in west London not to let children out alone after a 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted.
Muggers at Walworth in south London slashed an 8-month-old baby’s face and leg with a broken bottle to terrorize her mother into handing over jewelry worth $75.
Muggers in Brixton in south London grabbed an 8-week-old baby by the neck and threatened to strangle him. They only let him go when the 12-year-old girl pushing his carriage handed over a ring and 12 cents, all the money she had with her.
Police say such attacks are part of a growing trend by thugs to make women and girls the victims of violent robbery.
In Dublin, Ireland, four youths squirted inflammable liquid from an aerosol can into the face of a 9-year-old girl and lit it. Her face is hideously blistered. There appeared to be no motive for the attack.
But the attack that caused the biggest headlines involved a 6-year-old boy from Brighton on the south coast. Police say three men subjected him to a savage sexual assault before dumping him, sobbing and terrified, six miles from home.
Anger over the case has brought public donations totaling $106,500 for reward money for information leading to the arrest of his attackers.
Announcing on Sept. 1 the review of police investigation procedures, Brittan said: “The whole country is outraged and appalled by the brutal attack on a young boy at Brighton.”
Brighton’s large homosexual community says it has been wrongfully blamed.
“As long as children are at risk, we remain vulnerable,” said 34-year-old designer Allan Reynolds. “It’s easy for the odd thug to say: ‘Let’s go and beat up a queer.”‘
The Home Office, with responsibility for the police, says 83 children under the age of 16 were homicide victims in 1981, the latest year for which it has complete statistics. It said this is about average for the years since 1976.
But it adds that it has no national statistics for sexual assaults on children.
“The criminal statistics don’t count attacks on children as one separate item,” said press officer Colin Seabrook.
But Dr. David Nias, a psychologist at London’s Maudesley Hospital who has studied the effect of TV on violence, said: “All the signs are that violence against children, and by children, is on a steady increase.”
Meanwhile, newspapers have launched a campaign against a group called the Pedophile Information Exchange, which wants legalization of sex between adults and consenting children. The legal age of consent in Britain is 16.
Tony Zalewski, 29, a leading member, told a recent news conference: “We are not child molesters… Children know what they want… It really is a simple matter, like asking them if they want to go to the cinema.”
Brittan called the groups’s views “utterly repugnant” but refused to say more on grounds prosecutions may be brought.
The group’s chairman, Tom O’Carroll, was jailed for two years in 1981 on charges of corrupting public morals.
The Guardian, November 3rd, 1983
Daily Mail, November 3rd, 1983
Islington Gazette, November 4th, 1983
News of the World, November 6th, 1983
The Times, November 24th, 1983
Daily Express, November 25th, 1983
Daily Express, November 25th, 1983
The Globe and Mail (Canada), November 26th, 1983 Saturday
‘British MP reports vice ring in palace’
LONDON – British Home Secretary Leon Brittan is studying allegations of a
homosexual vice ring in Buckingham Palace, a Government spokesman said
yesterday. The allegations came from MP Geoffrey Dickens, who compiled a
massive dossier alleging that young males who joined the palace staff as
footmen, cooks or servants were being dragged into a web of vice. Mr.
Dickens said a sex scandal at Buckingham Palace involving a 16-year-old boy was one of the cases in the file. He said the boy had been sexually abused by members of the royal household.
Daily Mail, November 31st, 1983
Daily Mail, December 2nd, 1983
Daily Mirror, January 19th, 1984
News of the World, January 15th, 1984
Daily Mirror, January 19th, 1984
Huddersfield Daily Examiner, January 19th, 1984
Daily Express, January 20th, 1984
Mail on Sunday, March 25th, 1984
The Globe and Mail (Canada), June 23rd, 1984 Saturday
Vera Frankl, ‘Rumors in Westminister of child-sex scandal prompt PM to step in’
LONDON – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has stepped in to quell
widespread rumors that her Government is in the grip of another major sex
scandal only months after her most trusted lieutenant, Trade and Industry
Secretary Cecil Parkinson, was obliged to resign when his mistress
announced that she was going to have his child.
Rumors circulating in Westminster involve much more serious
allegations. They suggest that a senior Cabinet minister is a child-sex
offender. If they are substantiated, the minister will have to do more
than step down. He – and the Government – will be faced with the prospect
of a full-scale trial.
Members of Parliament and Whitehall officials have known of the gossip
for several months. National newspapers have been feverishly investigating
it. But the first the public heard of it was a report carried this week in
that pillar of the Establishment, The Times. The story was brief,
contained a Government denial and was careful to name no names.
Mrs. Thatcher, who has been aware of the alleged scandal for some time,
is said to be satisfied that it is quite untrue. Her Downing Street office
has so far restricted itself to a single terse statement on the subject:
“We are not in the business of commenting on rumor.”
Top Whitehall sources have been more forthcoming. They have condemned
the rumors as “assassination by gossip” and said the Prime Minister would
not tolerate a highly respected member of her Government being subjected
to trial by the press. MPs have been warned against trying to name the
minister under cover of parliamentary privilege.
Newspaper editors have been told that publishing the minister’s name
without cast-iron proof would land them with a multi-million-dollar
Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, a leading anti-child-sex campaigner, who
three years ago named the former high commissioner to Canada, Sir Peter
Hayman, as having links with pedophile groups, has admitted he is under
pressure to name the minister in the House of Commons. But he does not
intend to do so: “This man’s political future may be at stake. I also have
to guard against the possibility that a dirty tricks department may be at
But Fleet Street journalists investigating the story believe there is
more to it than that. As one of them remarked yesterday: “If we were just
talking about a one-off incident – if all the newspapers had the same
story – it would look like a setup. But there appear to be so many
different instances that the rumors can no longer be dismissed out of
The British public may not have to wait much longer to discover whether
the scandal is fact or fiction. One national newspaper is said to have got
its hands on an incriminating dossier and there is speculation it is
preparing to name the minister in the next few days.
The Times, June 26th, 1984
Paedophilia (Protection of Children)
HC Deb 27 June 1984 vol 62 cc1014-6 1014 4.45 pm
Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth) I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make it an offence to be a member of any organisation, association, society, religious sect, club or the like that holds meetings at which support is given to encourage, condone, corrupt or entice adults to have sexual relationships with children; to make it an offence for the members of any such body, previously described, to possess, receive, distribute, exchange, produce, sell, solicit or advertise any material describing or suggesting sexual relationships between adults and children, where such material is an indecent or obscene print, a drawing, a painting, a photograph, a lithograph, an engraving, a cinematograph film, a video film, a book, a card or written communication or an indecent or obscene article. Notice of presentation of the Bill was given on 6 June 1984. During my short speech, I shall not give way to any hon. Member.
It is difficult to understand that in our midst we have evil adults who are obsessed by the desire to have sexual relationships between themselves and innocent children. It is a sickening fact that many of these like-minded adults form themselves into groups for ease of communication and to advertise, recruit and contact. These groups produce disgusting publications in the form of newsletters and contact magazines, and circulate child pornography. This distressing material is clearly designed to satisfy and stimulate their lust for the bodies of little children and to corrupt others to join their circle.
I have actually seen publications advertising holidays abroad in Commonwealth countries with children provided and an application form too distressing to describe in this House. I understand that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is investigating this at the moment.
These are sad and distressing matters. I speak with public opinion behind me and I know that the Prime Minister is fully aware of the extreme distaste felt by the general public for the the organisations which I wish to proscribe. She has written to tell me so.
With thousands of letters of support, and well over 1 million signatures on petitions from all over the United Kingdom, why do we have to rely on the ten-minute Bill procedure?
Three years ago I used parliamentary privilege to name a titled former British diplomat involved with child pornography and a member of an organisation such as I have described. There were a few in the House who accused me, wrongly, of misuse of our privilege. When the man I named was recently charged and convicted of gross indecency in a public toilet, there was a conspicuous silence in the House.
When I asked the Prime Minister at Question Time whether the spy Geoffrey Prime was involved in child abuse a few months before his trial, the very question drew laughter in this Chamber. When it was revealed at the spy trial that Geoffrey Prime had been detected as a spy through child offences, there was no laughter. I know exactly what I am up against, for I know that within the Establishment there are those who would not wish to see a change in the law.
I hope that Members of this House will now accept that we need legislation to protect our children. I shall explain how my Bill will operate. The purpose of the Bill is to make it an offence to be a member of organisations such 1015 as the Paedophile Information Exchange. To proscribe such an organisation, the Bill takes account of the obvious possibility that organisations like PIE and others which exist—believe me—would, if named, simply reassemble under a different title. The Bill reflects and recognises the fact that if such evil organisations are to be permanently abolished, it has to be an offence simply to be a member. In this way, for such organisations to exist, the management is forced to ask people to risk committing a criminal offence.
The Bill is constructed to protect children from adults who are obsessed with, or condone, corrupt, entice or encourage the interest in sexual relationships between adults and children. In order further to protect children, the Bill has wider powers than the Protection of Children Act 1978. For example, it shall be an offence to possess, receive, distribute, exchange, produce, sell, solicit or advertise any material describing or suggesting sexual relationships between adults and children. The Bill makes illegal any indecent or obscene act or suggestion of one between adults and children that is written or illustrated by a print, drawing, painting, photograph, lithograph, engraving, cinematograph film, video film, book, card or written communication or indecent or obscene article.
Sadly, many parents have had their little child abducted, some never to be seen again. Other parents have been faced with the discovery of the body of their murdered child. It is a painful and terrible cross that such parents must bravely bear for the rest of their lives. Against that background, it would be inexcusable if Parliament failed to act.
It is difficult for many of us to contemplate the fact that, in our midst, we have evil people who sharpen their desire for the bodies of innocent children by access to the kind of material which the Bill seeks to eliminate. It is a fact that adults in every walk of life are to be found involving themselves in paedophilia. They range from some of the highest in the land to misfits in society. If we really wish to protect innocent children, my Bill is essential.
If the demand for paedophile material dries up, the benefits will be considerable. Children who otherwise would need to be procured to produce filthy, offensive child pornography would be spared. The continued corruption of adults who have ready access to material involving gross indecency, or worse, with a child will be halted. The Bill will also destroy ease of communication and the ability to advertise, recruit and contact.
I give notice that if it is the will of Parliament today to give the Bill its First Reading and then, next month, the Bill is frustrated through lack of parliamentary time, it will be my intention to reintroduce another Bill in the next Session of Parliament, if I have failed yet again to encourage the Government to act.
I used to be a regular listener to “Children’s Hour” as, no doubt, were most hon. Members. I remember with 1016 great affection Uncle Mac’s closing words every night. He said, “Goodnight children everywhere.” For the sake of children everywhere, I hope that the House will accept my Bill.
Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood) rose—
Mr. Speaker Order. Does the hon. Lady wish to oppose the Bill?
Ms. Short Yes, Mr. Speaker.
The House and the country are united in wishing to introduce any measure that will protect children from sexual abuse. That is not in contest in the House or in the country, but we must ask whether the Bill would afford children increased protection. We must answer honestly that there is nothing in the powers for which the Bill calls that would increase protection for children. We must also ask why the Bill is being presented. It is difficult not to conclude that the reason is publicity for the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens). This is too serious a matter to be the subject of cheap publicity stunts.
Right hon. and hon. Members are united in their support for every possible action that prevents sexual assaults on children. The Bill will do nothing to protect children, so we oppose it, although we shall not detain the House by voting against it now.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Geoffrey Dickens, Sir Bernard Braine, Mrs. Jill Knight, Mr. Peter Bruinvels, Mr. Joseph Ashton, Sir John Biggs-Davison, Miss Janet Fookes, Dr. Brian Mawhinney, Mrs. Ann Winterton, Rev. Martin Smyth, Mr. Jonathan Aitken and Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith.
The Guardian, June 28th, 1984
The Guardian, November 5th, 1984
‘Two men gaoled over obscene magazine of paedophile group / David Joy and Peter Bremner’
Two leading members of the Paedophile Information Exchange, which advocates legalising child sex, were gaoled at the Old Bailey yesterday for indecency offences concerning their magazine, Contact.
David Joy, aged 43, a former maths teacher, of Russell Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, was found guilty of publishing an obscene article and sending it through the post. He was gaoled for 18 months.
Peter Bremner, aged 44, a doctor of philosophy, of Upper Clapton Road, Clapton, London, was convicted of the postal offence and sent to prison for six months.
Judge John Owen QC said: ‘I bear in mind that emotion is a poor judge in matters of fact. I shall do my best to curb my emotions. In sentencing you I must not let my revulsion at the contents of this magazine affect me more than is proper.’
The judge said he accepted that the two men did not compile the magazine nor were responsible for its production. He said that Joy had translated a letter from France for the article which dealt with intercourse and sodomy an spoke of ‘physical distortion’ but sought to ‘minimise the dangers.’
The article tended to tempt some members to have a sexual relationship with a child and others to succumb to the temptation. He said: ‘The law is designed to protect children from such people and one of the most dangerous aspects of your organisation was that it sought to give an intellectual respectability to acts which society as a whole regards as loathsome.’
Joy and Bremner, who were PIE executive members, were acquitted of inciting sex acts with children under 16 and in citing indecency. They had pleaded not guilty.
Both men had previous convictions for sexually molesting children. While in custody overnight awaiting sentence other prisoners threw hot tea over the two men, the court heard.
The judge praised Mr Charles Oxley, aged 61, a school principal who infiltrated the organisation, enabling the charges to be brought.
Steven Smith, aged 28, of Christchurch Avenue Wealdstone, North London, the leader of PIE, who was due to stand trial with Joy and Bremner, fled to Holland.
After appearing at a Dutch court he said he would not be returning to Britain.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said the sentences on the men yesterday were ‘appropriate.’
He said the judge had showed himself to be a man determined to save our children and he had struck a blow for parents and grandparents.
Mr Dickens said he intended to press ahead with his private member’s bill to make it unlawful for groups such as PIE to operate, prohibit obscene material and outlaw people being members.
Evening Standard, November 7th, 1984
Daily Telegraph, November 14th, 1984
Daily Express, November 14th, 1984
Evening Standard, November 14th, 1984
The Sun, November 14th, 1984
The Times, November 15th, 1984
Daily Telegraph, November 15th, 1984
The Guardian, November 16th, 1984
Leading Article: ‘The advocacy and the act / Paedophiles and the law’
Paedophilia brings feelings of revulsion and pity throughout society. Emotions that are meat and drink to politicians in search of a popular issue (see Mr Geoffrey Dickens’ impending Bill). Cooler attitudes, however, are expected in a court of law. They were hardly evident in the trial which ended this week of Mr Peter Bremner and Mr David joy. It should be emphasised, since the publicity has given a different impression, that these two members of the Paedophile Information Exchange were not convicted of any criminal sexual act. Both men were convicted of sending obscene material through the post. Mr Joy was also convicted of publishing an obscene article. The article in question (in PIE’s magazine Contact) examined the dangers, physical and mental, to children of sexual activity with adults.
This is unpleasant stuff. Contact is a sad little magazine run for rather pathetic individuals who suffer greatly for their rare form of sexual deviancy. Other laws are there and are used to protect children. This case did not involve any interference with children.
Freedom of expression is easy to defend when it is popular. The privilege of free speech and the right to express in writing views which are held by a minority are accepted as a fundamental foundation of a free society, and are frequently and often blandly defended by people of all political persuasions. The going gets much harder when the views are held by a much smaller minority and are repulsive to the rest. The principle though is the same, and its defence equally important.
The desire to put these PIE members into court is underlined by the range of charges laid against them. Incitement, like conspiracy, is often a worrying charge, and the serious charges against Mr Bremner and Mr joy were in this category, a third accused escaped to Holland, where the judge hearing the extradition case, and recommending against extradition, made the point that incitement to commit a crime was not the same as committing a crime. Mr Bremner and Mr Joy were anyway acquitted of these charges. The judge, though, in sentencing, still said he would have to do his best to control his emotions, to try not to let his revulsion at the contents of the magazine affect him.
He went on to give prison sentences for sending a magazine through the post. Had it been sent by rail or delivered by hand no charge would have been possible. So Mr Bremner and Mr Joy must go to gaol, where even before sentence they were assaulted by fellow prisoners.
In the past the Appeal Court has taken a more rigorous view of a judge’s responsibilities in the area of public morals. In one celebrated case in 1976 (R v. Marion Smith) the trial judge, gaoling her for sending indecent brochures through the post, saw very little difference between smuggling drugs, which injured the health of the nation physically and morally, and sending literature, which injured the health of the nation morally. In the Appeal Court Lord justice Bridge said that by no stretch of the imagination were the two crimes comparable, and found the custodial sentence ‘erroneous in principle and manifestly excessive.’ He substituted a pounds 100 fine. The same must be surely true of the prison sentences handed down to Mr Bremner and Mr Joy. A fine would have been sufficient. Their perpetual sentence is their sexual disposition.
The Times, November 17th, 1984
The Guardian, November 19th, 1984
HC Deb 22 November 1984 vol 68 cc262-3W 262W
Mrs Jill Knight asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now introduce legislation to enable him to proscribe all organisations whose declared aim is to campaign for the freedom of adults to have sexual relationships with children.
Mr. Mellor We will be considering carefully what lessons may be learned from the recent trial of leading members of the Paedophile Information Exchange. My right hon. and learned Friend would prefer to complete that consideration before reaching any conclusion about the adequacy of the existing law protecting children from the sexual attentions of adults.
The Star, November 1984
The Guardian, March 30th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘The shadow of Maria Colwell / The social services’ role in the prevention of baby battering and child abuse’
Social workers from the London borough of Brent have had a public mauling as a result of the Jasmine Beckford case. And they probably deserve it. It may be that decisive fresh facts will emerge from the inquiry under Mr Louis Blom-Cooper QC which Brent council was quick to set up this week. Nevertheless, the charge sheet against the social services department looks very serious. There was considerable prima facie evidence to show that Jasmine might be at physical risk when Brent decided to return her to the care of her natural mother and her stepfather, Mr Maurice Beckford. Mr Beckford, now serving ten years for Jasmine’s manslaughter, had already received a suspended sentence in 1981 for actual bodily harm to Jasmine’s sister, as a result of which both girls were originally taken into care. When the sisters were later returned to the natural parents, a normal procedure and not in principle a wrong decision, fears were publicly expressed. The foster mother was moved to write in detail to Brent warving of the danger and expressing her fear that the case might become ‘another Maria Colwell.’ The social services department clearly saw that there was risk. But over the period between the spring of 1983 and Jasmine’s death in July 1984, Brent became persuaded that the risk had diminished. Thirteen months before Jasmine died, Brent even applied for the care order to be lifted, though the application was unsuccessful, while for the last ten months of her life, the department allowed itself to be misled about and marginalised from the care of Jasmine Beckford. The result was the killing of a four-year-old child.
For 12 years all social workers have lived under the shadow of Maria Colwell, whose death in Brighton in 1973 exposed very similar inadequacies in statutory child care practice. As a result, procedures have been tightened up in many areas. But not, it seems, in Brent. Indeed the borough’s assistant director of social services more or less admitted as much when he told the trial judge this week that changes have been made since the Jasmine Beckford death. The field social worker will now have to ensure that the child is actually seen on each occasion that a visit is made. Paediatric advice will also be on hand. Welcome changes. But why were they not made beforehand? And in how many other social services departments are there still similar loopholes?
For all that, it is easy to be wise after the event. Those of us whose mistakes do not put others at mortal risk should be suitably cautious in censuring the failings of those, like train drivers and social workers, whose errors can have such tragic consequences. So it ill becomes rent-a-quote MPs like Mr Geoffrey Dickens to exploit the Jasmine Beckford case for a generalised attack on social workers. Decision making in child care cases is about risk assessment. There are no easy answers. Social workers are almost invariably looking for the least damaging choice in a situation governed by inadequate welfare resources, overstretched caseloads and intense competing psychological and emotional pressures. Mrs Thatcher’s Britain is a society in which enormous moral stress is placed upon the virtue of the natural family unit and in which the state, not to mention the inner-London boroughs, are discouraged from excessive nannying or policing of parental responsibilities. It may further be that the Beckford case has important general lessons for social work practice. For example, training may not be doing enough to equip social workers and health visitors to overcome natural psychological reluctance to broach suspicions of violence. Jasmine Beckford may also have been the victim of the horrendously difficult issues involved in trans-racial fostering policies. Mr Blom-Cooper’s inquiry will need to address these tangled issues. But nobody should kid themselves that the best answers are anything but the least bad compromises.
The Guardian, April 30th , 1985
Alan Rusbridger, ‘Guardian Diary / Rentaquote’
Mr Anthoney Beaumont-Dark, Tory MP for Selly Oak, lashed out at BBC extravagance at the weekend. The charm of Mr BeaumontDark is the cosy knowledge that, for the cost of a local phone call, he will obligingly lash out at an inexhaustive range of targets more or less to order. He is king of those back-benchers rather unkindly referred to as ‘the rentaquotes.’
But is he? During the month of May the Diary plans to monitor the cream of the rentaquotes to see who really is the most verbose and yet versatile. It is certain that Mr Geoffrey Dickens (lashing out only last week at the MI5 sex offender) will put up a good show. As will Mr George Foulkes. Not to mention Mr Nicholas Winterton, Miss Jill Knight, Mr Teddy Taylor, Mr David Winnick or Mr Martia Flannery. Readers are invited to join in the monitoring process and to nominate these or other candidates. Each entry must be suppotted by a newspaper clipping or press release.
The Times, September 19th, 1985
Martin Fletcher, ‘Broken marriages and unemployment blamed for increase in child abuse / NSPCC releases figures’
One day after the body of Leoni Cornell, aged 3, was found in a Suffolk ditch, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children yesterday released figures showing another distinct increase in the number of physically and sexually abused children in England and Wales.
The National Children’s Home also launched a campaign called Children in Danger to counter the effects of ‘rising poverty, increased drug misuse, deteriorating housing, escalating family break-down, a continuing high level of physical and sexual abuse, and cuts in services for children’.
And Mr Geoffrey Dickens, a Conservative MP, promised to reintroduce his Bill during the next session of Parliament to protect children from adults seeking sexual relationships, which failed for lack of parliamentary time last year. He said it had been ‘a dreadful summer of child abuse and murders’.
The NSPCC says that the number of abused children registered with the charity rose to 904 last year from 831 in 1983. It estimates that 7,038 children aged under 15 were physically abused in 1984, and claims that in the six years from 1979 instances of physical abuse increased by 70 per cent from 0.43 to 0.73, per 1,000 children.
The sharpest increase last year was in the number of sexually-abused children; up from 51 registered cases in 1983 to 98. Of the aggregate for the two years, 4 per cent of victims were aged under four, 26 per cent were between five and nine, and 49 per cent were between 10 and 15. Eightyseven per cent were girls.
The figures indicate that marital discord and unemployment are prime ‘trigger-factors’ for child abuse.
Of the physically-injured children, fewer than half lived with both natural parents while 28 per cent lived with their mother and a father substitute. Of sexually and emotionally abused children, 31 per cent lived with both natural parents and 40 per cent lived with substitute fathers.
Of the parents and rent-substitutes of abused children last year, fewer than 15 per cent of the mothers had jobs compared with a national average of 50 per cent, and 30 per cent of fathers were employed.
Launching the National Children’s Home campaign, Lord Tonypandy, the charity’s chairman, said: ‘Our children are our future and yet they are being assailed by so many problems and pressures. We fear that unless urgent action is taken at every level, more and more children will be exposed to danger’.
The NHC says that 2,000 children a week see their parents separate 1.7 million live in families that are on or below the poverty line, 400-a-week are taken into care because of neglect or ill-treatment, and three times as many are drug addicts compared with three years ago. A total of 83,000 families was homeless last year, of which 73 per cent had children.
The Children in Danger campaign aims to collect one million signatures by December for a petition calling on the Government to provide more resources for social services, health care, youth and education.
It makes specific proposals including education for parenthood in school curricula, government assessment of the impact of all new legislation on children, the exemption from VAT of voluntary organizations working with the young, and more substitutes for youth custody.
The NCH urged parents to keep children out of danger by following a simple six-point code. Parents should be generous in the time they give their children, make them feel valued, explain things happening within the family that affect them provide detailed rather than vague warnings about possible dangers, make them feel secure and make sure they have fun.
The Times, November 12th, 1985
‘Parliament: Concern at prosecution tactics – DPP’s office’
The Director of Public Prosecutions should be asked to put his house in order or resign, Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C) maintained during questions in the Commons to the Solicitor General.
Many MPs and members of the public were very disturbed at the workings of the DPP’s office, said Mr Dickens.
Time and time again (he said) good and proper evidence is put forward and many times charges are abandoned. Many times lesser charges are brought which disturbs many people like myself and certainly disturbs observers at the trial.
Will the Solicitor General ask the DPP to get his house in order or resign?
Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Solicitor General: I shall talk to the DPP at 3.45pm today but I shall not put to him that question or suggestion Mr Dickens has just put. His question was rather long on generalities but singularly short on particulars.
Hansard, November 29th, 1985
Debate on Child Abuse
Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow): I beg to move, That this House notes with grave concern recent cases of child abuse, some of which have ended in the death of children; acknowledges the urgent need to bring about a significant reduction in the incidence of this social evil; recognises that social workers, doctors, health visitors, school-teachers, police officers and all the others concerned with child welfare must be given the means by which they can become more highly skilled in the prevention, detection and treatment of child abuse and neglect; and calls upon the Government to encourage and facilitate such developments as are needed. I am moving the motion on the Order Paper rather than that in the Order Book, as it seems that the Clerks in the Table Office have introduced a new hon. Member—a Norman Gordon—but that motion is also mine.
Recent cases of child abuse have shocked and angered the nation. It can be seen in the response of the press and on television. That fine and eloquent journalist, Mr. Keith Waterhouse, voiced his anger in his column last Thursday. He wrote a catechism for a dead child. We can see the anger in his writing. He said: Question: What reasons did there seem to be for not returning 22-month-old Gemma Hartwell to her violent father? Answer: There seemed to be no reasons on the information available at the time, which was simply that he had two previous convictions for child abuse. Question: Not until which point was Gemma handed over? Answer: Not until there had been a careful appreciation of the situation by social workers. Question: What did the social workers not know? Answer: They did not know what was going on. The catechism continues: Question: What kind of guidelines will be issued? Answer: New ones. Question: To what end? Answer: To prevent a recurrence of this tragedy. Question: And to stop further children falling through what? Answer: The net. Question: What, following this unforeseeable death for which nobody is to blame, will be made? Answer: Recommendations. Question: And finally, who will be fired, demoted, disciplined or a least reprimanded? Answer: Nobody. That is powerful and angry journalism and performs a vital role in a democracy, but bashing social workers is also a form of abuse—journalistic abuse.
Parliament has a duty to examine this dreadful issue with an equal concern. We can best do that by following the example of the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley), who, in her Adjournment debate on 26 July, said: None of us can fail to experience a strong emotional reaction to the recent cases of child abuse and death which have been so widely reported. There have been errors of judgment and it is 1118 essential that lessons be learnt from those. Rather than simply adding to the sensationalistic and censorious responses to these recent appalling tragedies, for which simplistic solutions are too often proposed and social workers are more often than not used as whipping boys, I should like to try to redress the balance and see the problem of child abuse in clearer context”—[Official Report, 26 July 1985; Vol. 83, c. 1421.] I want to follow that lead. I do so with some diffidence because I am much more at home with such esoteric subjects as shipbuilding, the offshore oil industry, industrial relations and, as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr. MacKay) knows, the fishing industry.
Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth): I congratulate the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) on tabling this motion and on the delightful, kind and serious way in which he put his case. I am certain that he has added to the national debate on the subject. Back-Bench time is so precious that we are delighted that this subject has been chosen at a time when the nation is so angry.
Children face two great dangers. The first is the danger from adults who have a sexual attraction to children and who want a sexual relationship with them. Sadly, children are often killed as a result of that. The second danger is one that we have explored even more fully today. Youngsters may be injured or killed within their family unit by a parent, step-parent, common-law partner or simply a parent’s casual lover.
I should like to think that I am speaking on behalf of 2 million parents who have signed petitions in support of my child protection campaign which has run for many years and for the thousands of parents who have written to me, pledging their support, putting forward ideas and providing a steady trickle of information leading to arrests and convictions.
I speak also for the little children and babies whose cries for mummy have to remain unanswered and for the 1134 little ones who are meant to be unheard by barbaric adults who mask their cries with cotton wool in the mouth, by closing a dark drawer or by wedging a door closed with wood. I speak for them all, so that their cries of anguish will be heard and they will not have died in vain. Out of their lives will come many important lessons.
Let me deal first with the adults who are obsessed with the thought of sexual relationships with children. They are evil and dangerous and, sadly, vast sums are exchanged for child-adult pornography. The noose around my neck grew tighter after I named a former high-flying British diplomat on the Floor of the House. Hon. Members will understand that where big money is involved and as important names came into my possession so the threats began. First, I received threatening telephone calls followed by two burglaries at my London home. Then, more seriously, my name appeared on a multi-killer’s hit list. So the threats went on.
Child pornography is evil for two reasons. First, children have to be procured to produce this disgusting material, be it a photograph or a video film, and, secondly, adults can be corrupted with this material into wanting and desiring the real thing. It cannot be right to allow to exist any organisations that interest themselves in adult sex with a child. It is alien to our way of life, our thinking and our family units. I still call for them to be proscribed in my Paedophilia (Protection of Children) Bill. We have smashed the organisation known as PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange. In its bulletin sent out to members it named my Bill, which has had its First Reading, as the reason for winding up the organisation. Some of its members are now in prison. Others have escaped to Holland, but we shall have them. However, other organisations are springing up and it is important that we should crush those in the same way.
It is common knowledge in this honourable House that I have put our judges on trial. I know that it is a sensitive area and I know that we in Parliament have to be careful because we make the laws that the judges administer. If it were in my gift I would hang anybody who killed a child, but Parliament has decided otherwise and we must acquiesce. Recently letters have demanded fire for fire. Referring to the case of Heidi Koseda, they say that the man convicted should be made to eat wallpaper only and starve to death. Other letters said that the man who killed baby Charlene Salt should have nine ribs and one arm broken and be shut in a dark drawer and that Gemma Hartwell had a ball of cotton wool put in her mouth and a scarf put over her head so that she could not cry.
Those letters illustrate how passionate and angry the nation is. I shall develop that theme after the statement.
It being Eleven o’clock, MR. SPEAKER interrupted proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order No. 5 (Friday sittings).
The Times, November 30th 1985
‘Parliament: Tories attack judges – calls for heavier sentences / Debate on child abuse’
Two Conservative back-benchers bitterly criticized judges for some of the sentences passed in child abuse and other cases. Mr Raymond Whitney, Under Secretary of State of Health and Social Security, who replied to a Commons debate on child abuse, said sentencing was beyond the responsibility of the DHSS.
However he said there was undoubted public concern about sentencing which must be recognized. Mr Michael Meacher, chief Opposition spokesman on social services, called on the Government to heed the campaign for family courts, but Mr Whitney pointed to the lack of agreement about them.
Points made in their review of child court law could fit either the existing court system or a new family court.
Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point C) said it was high time the Lord Chief Justice laid down strict and tough guidelines for the judges, who must heed the voice of the Parliament. He called on the Home Secretary to draw the atention of the Lord Chief Justice to public anxiety about disparity in sentences for atrocious crimes against children, women and the elderly. It is as if (he said) they do not live in the same world as the rest of us. Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C) said that in the Charlene Salt case, the DPP and the judge between them let a barbaric murderer off with six years when life imprisonment would have satisfied, in the absence of capital punishment.
However, Mr John Ryman (Blyth Valley, Lab) considered it was wrong for MPs to attack judges over sentencing. Judges were best able to decide sentences because they knew the full facts. Reporters heard only what was said in court.
Recent cases of serious injury and death in child abuse cases had shocked and angered the nation, Dr Norman Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow, Lab), said in opening the debate on a motion calling on the Government to encourage and facilitate the development of means of prevention, detection and treatment of child abuse.
All were anxious, he went on, to see a dramatic decline in abuse cases and the easiest way to catch the headlines was to malign the social worker, he was aware of the problems they faced and the difficult and demanding task they undertook. The Government had a responsibility to see that social workers caring for children were given necessary support, guidance, supervision and management. Administrative procedures should also be examined to ensure that effective merchanism existed for the removal of the child if necessary.
It was time for Parliament to look at the casual relationship between the rise in pornography, the increasing lack of responsibility of film makers and those responsible for television programmes who put out a continous steam of screen violence and brutishness.
The high priests of permissiveness (he continued) have thrown their hands in horror at the slightest suggestion that there is a causual relationship. They have had their day. Like the rest of us, they should be able now to see the carnage and social wreckage they have helped to cause.
The most revolting aspect of this increasingly dirty and pitiless scene is child abuse.
Mr Michael Hancock (Portsmouth South, SDP) said insufficient resources were being made available to allow social services departments to react properly. It was a form of child abuse for local authorities to put families with three children on the fourteenth floor of a tower block.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens said big sums of money were involved where evil people wanted sexual relations with children. As names had come into his possession, so the threats had come: threatening telephone calls followed by two bulgaries of his London home and his name on a hit list.
Organizations which interested themselves in adult-child sexual relationships should not be allowed to exist, they should be proscribed.
When he had been trained as a magistrate in the 1960s he was instructed that sentences should be designed to punish, reform if possible, deter, and to protect society.
The Charlene Salt case was one example of how the Director of Public Prosecutions department had made grave errors, as had the judge.
The father had said he banged her head on the arm of the settee and possibly on the wall because she would not stop crying. Brain haemorrage resulted.
That was murder in anybody’s book (he said) not manslaughter; not wilful ill-treatment but grievous bodily harm. The Solicitor General replied to me in a five page letter but I remain unconvinced because Charlene was a little baby only a few weeks old.
It was open to the judge to direct that there should be a further indictment for murder.
Most of the social services were hard-working and caring but social services attracted some doubtful recruits.
Mr Alexander Carlile (Montgwmery, L) said they should not indulge in social worker bashing. It did not help. It was a complex and difficult job in child abuse and not one which could be satisfactorily done on the basis of general social work training alone.
Mrs Virginia Bottomley (Surrey South West, C) said teachers had an important role to play in the system as they saw a child from day to day especially in PE class when any injuries would be more apparent.
Mr Roger Sims (Chislehurst, C) said he feared there would always be inadequate and incompetent parents so there would always be some cases of child abuse. social workers were human and bound sometimes to make mistakes. But with cooperation and extensive training of social workers drawn from a growing body of experience in this field, such cases could and must be reduced.
Mr Michael Meacher said that in the light of intense public disquiet on the issue, the Government should set up a royal commission to examine all aspects of child abuse and the provisions for children in care because they were at risk.
Only this would draw together on a sufficiently comprehensive and authoritative basis, a new and systematic reconsideration of the issue that was clearly needed in the light of the recent series of horrifying tragedies.
Mr Raymond Whitney said the Government believed the present system provided adequate powers but there were certainly important changes needed in the law in addition to simplification and clarification.
A working party report published in October recommended a substantial set of proposals to be taken through a consultation process. They must proceed with due measured tread.
There was broad agreement on the need to establish a mininum standard of practice and a guidance circular would be issued.
The Guardian, November 30th, 1985
Alan Travis, ‘Minister rejects demands for family courts haste / Plan to speed up inquiries into child abuse cases’
The Government yesterday rejected demands for family courts to be set up soon to speed up inquiries into child abuse cases as Conservative MPs demanded tougher sentences for parents who commit child abuse.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Tory MP for Littleborough, said in a Commons debate that his personal preference was to hang anyone who killed a child. He quoted a recent letter to him from the Prime Minister, in which Mrs Thatcher said that ‘even one case of child abuse is one too many.’
The inquiry report into the case of Jasmine Beckford, the four-year-old who was beaten to death by her stepfather, is to be published next Tuesday.
Mr Ray Whitney, the junior health and social services minister indicated yesterday that new Department of Health and Social Security guidelines on management and planning for children in care are to be issued shortly. The Government is also conducting reviews of child care law, child abuse guidance, inquiries into child abuse, and training of social workers.
Rejecting demands for family courts, Mr Whitney said the Commons social services select committee had taken the view that a review of childcare law should not await whatever decisions were taken in the future on family courts.
Labour MPs said the minister was exaggerating the difficulties of establishing family courts. Ms Harriet Harman, Labour Social Services spokesman, said it was a nonsense to change the substance of family law without altering the procedures which caused so much delay.
Mr Michael Meacher, the shadow social services secretary, said: ‘Children can be exposed to risk pending the conclusion of court proceedings and the delay may act as a disincentive to the institution of care proceedings.’
Daily Express, December 23rd, 1985
The Guardian, December 23rd, 1985
Dennis Barker, ‘Thames defend child abuse film / MPs criticise television documentary’
Thames TV said yesterday that it would consider any request by police to help identify a man it filmed confessing to 2,000 acts of child abuse. However, police had made no such request so far and Thames believed that its decision to protect the man’s anonymity was best for society.
The man, a teacher and child counsellor in his 40s, was interviewed on TV Eye last week with his back to camera and his face blacked out and unrecognisable. Thames denied that the interviews had beer done in the studio. The filming had been done in a series of private rooms specified by the man, using television crews who did not know his identity.
Two Conservative MPs, Mr Teddy Taylor and Mr Geoffrey Dickens, have urged the Home Office to ask Thames to give information to the police.
A Thames spokesman said yesterday: ‘To sit and confess to child abuse is not crime. There is no proof. He could still be making it all up. No one has ever complained about his behaviour. One of the criticisms is that we have condoned crime, but we haven’t. There is no evidence of crime, except from the man himself.’
Thames felt very strongly that it had done more for society by filming the man on condition that he consulted a psychiatrist than it would have done by trying to deceive him by alerting the police or putting him off.
‘We have had no complaints from the IBA and they obviously know what they are doing,’ said the spokesman. ‘We hope that after sessions with the psychiatrist the man might well feel he should confess to the police.’
Thames said that the man rang up after a previous programme on child abuse. He said he was desperately worried that he might become like the 75-year-old man recently sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a seven-year-old child. He said that if he went to the police and then to prison, he feared he would be come worse rather than better.
‘This created a major problem for us,’ said the spokesman. ‘We thought very care fully about it.’
Two other psychiatrists had examined the man and concluded that he was telling the truth. Thames took the view that it was best to let the mar confess anonymously rather than risk driving him away.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘We will be studying the programme. Whether any approaches to Thames will be made we will not know until tomorrow. The programme needs to be studied. It is in the process of being studied but it has not been seen by everyone who would need to see it. That will not be done until tomorrow.’
The Guardian, January 28th, 1986
The Times, February 14th, 1986
‘MP calls for report on child brothels’
A Conservative MP yesterday called on the Home Secretary to prepare a full report on allegations of the existence of child brothels in Islington, north London.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said he had given Scotland Yard information.
It was now investigating claims that such brothels were being run on an estate in the Archway district, he said.
Mr Dickens said: ‘My informant, whose name I shall, of course, keep secret, has told me that some 40 children are involved.
‘He has passed on to Scotland Yard tapes purporting to depict the voices of children clearly taking part in unsavoury activities.
‘Scotland Yard has told me it is treating these allegations seriously. I hope that urgent action will be taken to stamp out this evil trade.’
For the past five years, Mr Dickens has been leading a campaign to stamp out sexual abuse of children.
Daily Mirror, February 14th, 1986
The Times, February 19th, 1986
‘Parliament: Apology sought for child brothel claim’
A Labour MP demanded in the Commons that Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C) should go to the Holbrooke Estate in North Islington, unreserverdly withdraw his allegations of the existence of child brothels in the area and make a public apology.
Mr Dickens said he had been criticized on Monday by Mr Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Lab) for a breach of the Commons convention that members should not visit another constituency without notifying the MP.
He had been a great upholder of the conventions and traditions ever since entering Parliament.
Where the safety of children is involved (he added) there may be times when one cannot always preserve the niceties of the workings of the House of Commons.
Mr Corbyn said Mr Dickens misled them. He has been criticized for irresponsibly passing unfounded allegations to the media which had caused a great deal of hardship and hurt to the people of the area. It was the irresponsible behaviour of Mr Dickens which had upset local residents and he should visit the estate and apologise.
The Speaker (Mr Bernard Weatherill) said their was a motion on the Commons order paper about this and that was the right way to deal with it.
Mr Kenneth Eastham (Manchester, Blackley, Lab) said it was not the first time this had happened. There was a similar instance in his constituency when a clergyman complained on behalf of all his parishioners about the conduct of Mr Dickens.
Mr Dickens said he would like to place on record that arrests and prosecutions had resulted from information he had provided in the past.
Islington Gazette, February 21st, 1986
Social Work Today, February 24th, 1986
The Guardian, February 27th, 1986
David McKie, ‘Parliamentary Commentary: Cash loses credit rating / Obscene Publications Bill’
Sir Winston Churchill’s famous ‘laundry list’ of practices too disgusting to be shown to the public, which had once seemed to be at the heart of his Obscene Publications (Protection of Children etc) (Amendment) Bill, was abandoned by its proprietor yesterday.
But the honour of laundry lists did not go undefended. The immensely tall and equally earnest Conservative MP for Stafford, William Cash, had brought to the standing committee a fresh list of his own, designed to bring within the 1959 Obscene Publications Act the televising of human sexual activity, genital organs, urination, excretion, and other assorted staples of present day TV drama. These prohibitions would be applied to radio too.
The new Cash limits further sought to embrace anything which under the Video Recordings Act of 1984, could find itself referred for classification by the British Board of Film Censors.
Mr Cash is one of three members of the standing committee who, if there were a Moral Majority group of Conservative MPs, would probably belong to it.
Another is Geoffrey Dickens (C Littleborough and Saddleworth) who addressed the committee in his capacity as a parent. In a further autobiographical passage he disclosed that he was not a lawyer (cheers) but an engineer, and proud of it (louder cheers).
Mr Cash, as he sometimes does, went on for a long time. As he rattled away about the inadequacy of the 1959 act, with its dependence on vague formulas about tendencies to deprave and corrupt, some members of the committee seemed to be nursing increasingly strong feelings about Mr Cash’s own tendencies to depress and confuse.
He spoke of a meeting of magistrates where the vagueness of the 1959 formula had been greatly mourned, and the certainties which came from laundry lists had been consensually yearned over. Later he invoked the advice of a learned Silk who had declared, in words which one fears any enterprising pornographer will inevitably regard as a challenge, that obscenity could not exist in a vacuum.
But for all the loving care of its construction it cannot be said that Mr Cash’s laundry list earned rave reviews from the committee. Even as a laundry list, the veteran Labour MP Ian Mikardo held, it wasn’t very good. Mr Churchill’s laundry list had at least had a horrible fascination about it: ‘There was a moment when I thought it could be set to music. It would make a very good dirge in B flat minor. I could imagine Mrs Whitehouse singing it con brio,’ he alleged.
Even more to the point, the Home Office parliamentary secretary, David Mellor, who is keeping a watching and allegedly neutral eye on the Churchill bill, wasn’t at all impressed, either by Mr Cash’s list or even by his QC. ‘Anyone can come along here tooled up by some eminent QC or other,’ he declared in his wordlywise and expensive way.
Mr Mellor thought the list wouldn’t work, and the link with the Video Recordings Act was simply unreal. It would require a jury, he said, to pretend that they were a board of censors watching a video; when neither was either, if they saw what he meant.
Even the shiny new amendment Mr Churchill had brought along to replace his lost list, instructing juries in obscenity cases to assess the chances that under-18’s might be watching, couldn’t command the minister’s approval. It would add nothing to protections which were there already, he said.
Mr Churchill withdrew. Mr Cash looked ready to fight on, but since his change was consequent on Mr Churchill’s it now became plain that by persuading Mr Churchill to wind down, Mr Mellor had effectively succeeded in annihilating Mr Cash as well.
Those in the public seats who were hoping to see this bill collapse under the weight of what they take to be its own contradictions, went off to lunch in very good heart.
Islington Gazette, February 28th, 1986 (see here for more information about Moody and his own pro-paedophile writings).
The Times, March 6, 1986
Peter Evans, ‘Child-bride case forces review of immigration laws’
Changes in the law were promised yesterday to prevent recurrence of a case in which a bride, aged 12, was brought to Britain by her husband.
Mr David Waddington, Minister of State at the Home Office, said in a radio interview that Home Office officials were working ‘right now’ on the matter. The police have also begun an investigation.
Manchester City Council said yesterday that teachers at Levenshulme High School knew of her circumstances when she was enrolled, but were concerned only for her education.
The girl, Elham Bahrami, has been at the school since arriving in Manchester, where she lives with her husband, Mohsen Nikbakht, aged 27, a trainee pharmacist, in a flat in the Whalley Range area.
A spokesman for the council’s education department said yesterday: ‘As she is not an illegal immigrant we have a duty to educate her. If any criminal act is taking place it is a matter for the police to investigate. ‘ He confirmed that the school was aware of her circumstances and had sought the department’s advice before registering her.
As MPs called for action, a spokesman for Greater Manchester police said: ‘The matter has been brought to our attention and we are making immediate inquiries.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, and an anti-child sex campaigner, is to ask Mr Douglas Hurd, the Home Secretary, and Sir Michael Havers, QC, the Attorney General, why the girl was allowed into Britain as a spouse.
Mr Nikbakht, a student at North Trafford College of Education, was quoted in The Sun yesterday as saying that he had shown his marriage certificate at the British Embassy in Tehran.
‘They told me my case was unique and there was no law to cover the situation. The only problem was when we arrived at Heathrow and the immigration people interviewed us for an hour,’ he said.
The Home Office said yesterday that immigration rules allowed the wife of a man lawfully in Britain to be given leave to join him. The definition of a wife does not depend on immigration law but on Britain’s family law.
‘Marriages are only recognized as valid here if they are valid under the law of the country in which they are contracted and the parties are domiciled there’, a spokesman said. A person need not be residing in a country to be classified as domiciled there.
The case was not drawn to the attention of Home Office ministers until last Tuesday.
Dr R G Kirby, headmaster of Levenshulme high school, said Mr Nikbakht had openly introduced the girl as his wife when he brought her to the school.
‘We wondered if there was some language problem because what he said was such a shock to us. We were completely astonished when we learned the details of the admission to this country and family relationship’, he said.
Dr Kirby said educational welfare officials were considering the case when the controversy broke.
The Guardian, March 6th, 1986
David Rose, ‘Minister acts to bar child brides / Announcement by David Waddington’
The Government is to change immigration rules to prevent the entry of child brides to Britain, the immigration minister, Mr David Waddington, said yesterday.
His announcement followed the disclosure that an Iranian girl, Ms Elham Bahrami, aged 12, is living in Manchester with her husband, Mr Mohsen Nibakht, a student, aged 27.
Speaking on BBC radio, Mr Waddington said that his officials were at work ‘right now’ to amend the rules. ‘The situation is quite unacceptable and we have got to stop it. We do respect other cultures in this country, but here is such a flagrant clash between the two cultures that people in this country are bound to be outraged.’
Mr Nibakht, who has a student residence permit by virtue of attending a course in pharmacy at the North Trafford College of Education, married Ms Bahrami in Tehran in January, and obtained an entry certificate for her at the British embassy within two days.
On arrival at Heathrow the couple were questioned by officials, but there is no legal basis for refusing entry in such cases where foreign nationals were married legally in their country of origin.
Mr Nibakht was quoted yesterday as saying that he had taken contraceptive precautions because his wife was too young to bear children.
There were calls yesterday by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, and by other MPs that Mr Nibakht be prosecuted for having unlawful sexual intercourse with his wife, while the Greater Manchester Police announced an investigation, saying that they wished to interview the couple.
But existing case law, which has not been modified since 1968, directs that such prosecutions should not be brought.
Ms Bahrami has enrolled at the Levenshulme High School for Girls, where she has attended classes in preliminary English. Dr RG Kirby, the headmaster, said that Mr Nibakht has openly introduced the girl as his wife: ‘We wondered if there was some language problem because what he said was such a shock to us.’
After checking with the Home Office that the couple’s position was not illegal, ‘our obligation was to educate.’
Mr Dickens has asked the Home Secretary, Mr Douglas Hurd, how many child spouses have entered the United Kingdom in each of the last five years. Mr Waddington said that he believed the case to be unique since he took office in June 1983.
Home Office sources confirmed yesterday that the Government is also considering taking action to block the entry of polygamous second wives, who, like child brides, are currently entitled to entry certificates where their marriages are legally contracted in their country of domicile.
The principal group affected would be Bangladeshis.
Such a move would, however, generate considerable controversy, since in many cases all the children in a family have been borne by the second wife. A rule change would be seen as placing a retrospective barrier to family reunion.
Courier-Mail, March 6th, 1986
P. Klages, ‘MPs object to child bride’
MPs object to child bride LONDON._ Conservative MPs are protesting over claims that a 12-year-old Iranian girl has been allowed into Britain as the child-wife of a man, 26. They have tabled questions to Home Secretary Douglas Hurd and Attorney-General Sir Michael Havers demanding explanations. The couple are said to live in the Levershulme area of Manchester, where the girl attends school. MP Geoffrey Dickens said yesterday: “”We don’t want child-brides coming into this country. This is a monstrous violation of our sensible and sensitive laws to protect children.” (Press Association)
The Times, March 14th, 1986, Friday
Michael Horsnell, ‘No action against sex-case doctor’
The police have been told by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute a doctor for the rape of a girl aged eight, it was disclosed yesterday.
The Sun said yesterday it would pay the mother’s legal costs to privately prosecute the doctor. Sir Thomas Hetherington, the Director of Public Prosecutions, had ruled that there was insufficient evidence to secure a conviction for rape.
In another case, police are to take no action against a vicar for an alleged catalogue of sexual assaults against a boy because there is no independent evidence against the man.
A medical examination of the girl confirmed that she was raped last year and police interviewed her assailant for more than 12 hours.
But after the case papers were sent to the DPP, it was decided the case against the doctor should be dropped for lack of corroboration.
The doctor was not the child’s GP but was looking after her for several days at his home.
It is understood that he refused to answer police questions.
The girl suffered ‘horrific’ internal injuries, according to the report of the family’s GP, and continues to suffer from psychological damage.
Police said yesterday that the case will be reviewed in the light of any further evidence.
It is unusual for a child under the age of 14 to give evidence under oath. A court may be satisfied that a child’s evidence is reliable but generally it would have to be corroborated by another witness.
The matter of the admissibility of a child’s evidence is to be raised in Parliament in questions to the Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth.
That comes after an allegation that a vicar sexually assaulted a boy aged 11.
Police have also decided in that case not to prosecute because there is no corroboration.
Mr Dickens said: ‘The boy’s mother told me that her son was regularly and seriously sexually assaulted by this vicar. It came to light only because of the injuries he sustained. ‘
The boy’s mother said yesterday that when she telephoned the vicar he said: ‘You should not be accusing me. You should be forgiving me. ‘
The Guardian, March 14th, 1986
‘Prosecution ruled out over injured girl of 8 / Essex Police investigation into alleged rape’
Essex Police confirmed yesterday that it had investigated the alleged rape of an eight year-old girl in the latter half of last year. The allegation is believed to have involved a doctor.
A man was arrested and question but Sir Thomas Hetherington, the director of Public Prosecutions, decided there was insufficient evidence for charges to be preferred.
The attack is alleged to have happened when the child was staying with the doctor. A police spokesman said yesterday: ‘Should any further evidence be forthcoming, the case will be reviewed.’
It is understood that the only evidence available last year was the uncorroborated testimony of the victim. Internal injuries, described as ‘horrific’ were discovered when the girl was examined by the family’s GP, according to Mr Norman St John-Stevas, Conservative MP for Chelmsford.
In Hull the mother of a boy aged 12 has decided to take a private prosecution against a local vicar who, she claims, sexually assaulted her son over an 18-month period. This case was also investigated by the police but the DPP, for reasons similar to the Essex case, decided against prosecution.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth had tabled Commons questions for Sir Michael Havers, the Attorney-General, asking what his policy is in relation to alleged sexual offences when the victim is a child and no other witnesses are available.
Mr Dickens wants Sir Michael to take over private prosecutions for sexual offences when the DPP decides not to prosecute in such cases.
The Times, March 15th, 1986
Stewart Tendler, ‘Alleged rapist is named in House / Geoffrey Dickens child abuse campaign’
A Conservative backbencher and campaigner on child abuse used parliamentary privilege yesterday to name the Essex doctor alleged to have raped a girl aged eight and escaped prosecution because of evidential difficulties. The MP also threatens to name a vicar who allegedly assaulted a boy aged 11.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, named the doctor, a consultant, in a Commons written question tabled to Sir Michael Havers, the Attorney General, as the parents of the girl began plans to mount a private prosecution. The cost would be borne by The Sun newspaper.
Mr Dickens said that he tabled the question before he knew that the private prosecution might be under way. He believed that the boy’s parents are also considering taking legal action.
The girl was alleged to have been raped last year while staying with the doctor near Chelmsford. A medical examination was carried out later, after the girl described what had happened to her mother, and police interviewed a man for 12 hours.
But after the papers were sent by Essex police to the Director of Public Prosecutions it was decided the case should be dropped for lack of corroboration.
Mr Dickens said that he had tabled four questions in all, listed as priority questions to be answered on Monday. His intention was to get the authorities to take over any private prosecution.
The MP said: ‘The DPP has been wrong in the past and has taken over cases which they though would not succeed and they have succeeded.
‘Children might not tell the truth but adults in the witness box don’t always tell the truth. I don’t see why a child is less likely to tell the truth about a thing like this and I don’t see why the child should not be heard. Someone raped the child’.
He said the child was ashamed of what had happened and the rape allegation had only been revealed because of internal injuries, nightmares and an examination. In rape cases corroboration often included how the assault came to be revealed.
The questions tabled by the MP ask the Attorney General if he will prosecute the named doctor for sexual offences involving the child. Details are sought on the prosecuting policy in cases involving sexual offences where the victim is a child and no other witness is available although corroborative evidence is available.
Mr Dickens asks how many cases in the past five years involving sexual offences against children have been considered by the DPP and how many have been dropped for lack of witnesses.
The doctor named by Mr Dickens is married and works for a group of hospitals in the South-east.
The case was first raised by Mr Norman St John-Stevas, Conservative MP for Chelmsford, after the girl’s mother approached him. Mr Dickens has raised the case of the boy said to have been assaulted by a Humberside vicar. A report was sent to the DPP and it was decided that a prosecution could not rely on the boy’s evidence.
Yesterday Essex police said that naming any suspect would not lead to the reopening of the girl’s case unless there was fresh evidence.
The Guardian, March 15th, 1986
‘Prosecute doctor, MP demands / Alleged sexual offences against an eight-year-old girl in Essex’
The Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, has tabled a Commons question asking the Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers, to prosecute an Essex doctor for alleged sexual offences against an eight-year-old girl in Chelmsford.
The girl’s mother is contemplating bringing a private prosecution against the doctor.
In other questions inspired by the same case Mr Dickens is asking Sir Michael what his policy is on the prosecution of cases involving sexual offences when the victim is a child and there is no corroborative evidence; and how many cases there have been in the past five years in which prosecution has been considered but rejected on these grounds?
The doctor named by Mr Dickens yesterday left his home at Paglesham, Essex to stay at a secret address. He is believed to have met health chiefs earlier in the day.
Essex police said later that the naming of the doctor would lead to the case being reopened only ‘if further evidence came forward.’
A primary school Headmaster, David Holman, aged 49, of Polgooth, Cornwall, was remanded in custody by St Austell magistrates yesterday on charges of indecently assaulting three boys, two aged 11 and one aged 12, between January 1980 and July 1985.
The Times, March 17th, 1986
Richard Evans, ‘MP’s rape claim ‘a disgrace’ / Conservative MP Dickens criticised for naming doctor in alleged rape of 8 year old’
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the MP who last week used parliamentary privilege to name a doctor alleged to have raped a girl aged 8, was last night accused of ‘disgraceful and irresponsible’ behaviour by a Conservative colleague who first raised the case.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas, MP for Chelmsford and a former Leader of the Commons, plans to write to Mr Dickens today to officially complain about his conduct.
But last night an unrepentant Mr Dickens said it was his duty to name the doctor, and disclosed that he planned to name a vicar in the Commons this afternoon who is alleged to have committed sex offences involving children.
The mother of the girl went to see Mr St John-Stevas, who subsequently wrote to the police and to the Director of Public Prosecutions, in his constitutency last month.
‘Mr Dickens has behaved quite disgracefully. This was, as far as I was concerned a highly confidential surgery case,’ Mr St John-Stevas said.
It is an unwritten rule, strictly observed at Westminister, that an MP should never become involved in other MPs constituency business without first consulting them.
Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said: ‘I didn’t choose to name the doctor until Norman had been extensively quoted as saying he could take the case no further. I then decided to take it further. I only did it after a lot of heart searching. ‘
Mr Dickens said he planned to name the vicar during Commons questions to Sir Michael Havers, Attorney General, after receiving new information about the alleged offences yesterday.
The Times, March 17th, 1986
‘Child bride returns home’
An Iranian student and his bride, aged 12, have left Britain and returned home, the Home Office has confirmed.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who had demanded action because of the wife’s age, said at the weekend: ‘It has solved a problem because clearly the husband would have had to be prosecuted. ‘
The Times, March 18th, 1986
Philip Webster, ‘Speaker prevents bid to name vicar / Geoffrey Dickens MP in clash on privilege’
The Speaker last night blocked an attempt in the Commons by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the campaigner against child abuse, to name, in a parliamentary question, a Humberside vicar accused of sexually assaulting a boy.
After Conservative MPs had earlier rounded on Mr Dickens for using parliamentary privilege to name a doctor alleged to have raped a young girl and attempting to use it to name the vicar, a question from Mr Dickens was blocked on the orders of Mr Bernard Heatherill. Mr Dickens, who was told by Commons officials that it was because of the ‘unnecessary and invidious use of a name’, immediately accused the Speaker of depriving him of his parliamentary privileges.
The move by the Speaker surprised MPs as it appeared to be an admission that acceptance of the question from Mr Dickens last week in which he named the doctor, was a mistake.
Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said last night, after seeing the Speaker: ‘I am aggrieved because I have been denied the privilege which allowed Anthony Blunt to be named in the House. ‘
After the blocking of his question, he said that he had supplied the vicar’s name to the Attorney General, and would attempt to table another question without the name in it.
Sir Michael Havers, the Attorney General, told MPs last night in a parliamentary written reply that he would not prosecute the doctor named by Mr Dickens. He said that he agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions that the evidence was insufficent to institute criminal proceedings.
Mr Dickens named the Humberside vicar in a question, although the Speaker made clear, during the Commons exchanges, it had not been accepted at that stage by the Table Office, which vets questions, and that he would be looking carefully at it.
Earlier attempts by Mr Dickens to name the vicar during Question Time had been frustrated by an apparent alliance of MPs on both sides to stop his question being reached.
Mr Dickens told MPs that it was five years since he last named someone in the House; he was jealously guarding and not misusing parliamentary privilege. But children were being abused and cases were not coming before the courts because the DPP had decided otherwise.
The Speaker told MPs that the invidious use of a person’s name in a question should only be resorted to if it was strictly necessary to render the question intelligible.
He advised MPs that in appropriate cases they should supply ministers concerned with the names of the individuals concerned, and so avoid unnecessarily damaging references to individuals.
In the Commons the most outspoken attack on Mr Dickens came from Dr Michael Clark, Conservative MP for Rochford, the constituency in which the named doctor lives.
Dr Clark said that by putting the doctor’s name in the question Mr Dickens was denying justice. The full details of the case were complex; the man could not defend himself without giving more details, which would almost certainly identify the rape victim.
‘In the absence of his defence he is being found guilty by parliamentary privilege, newspaper headlines and now struggles to try to prove his innocence. This is quite contrary to the English law,’ Dr Clark said.
Mr Kevin McNamara, Labour MP for Hull North, said that because of Mr Dickens’ action a person had been tried by the media and subjected to a form of ‘parliamentary lynch law’.
The Times, March 18th, 1986
‘Parliament: Dickens attacked over rape claim / Law and order’
Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth,C), the MP who named a doctor in a parliamentary question about an alleged rape of an eight-year-old girl, came under attack from MPs on both sides of the House of Commons.
The Speaker, Mr Bernard Weatherill, said it was the responsibility of MPs to ensure that they used their freedom in a way which did not needlessly damage those who did not enjoy his privileges.
Dr Michael Clark (Rochford, C) had earlier raised a point of order about the use, and possible abuse, of parliamentary privilege.
He said he did so with considerable hesitation and regret, since it referred to the Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr Geoffrey Dickens). On Thursday, March 13, Mr Dickens had tabled a question asking the Attorney General to prosecute a doctor in his (Dr Clark’s) Essex constituency, in respect of a rape offence. The man was named.
It is not for me to comment on the man’s guilt or innocence (he said). I am content to let the law take its course.
It was a double abuse: naming a person before a charge has been made and – since this matter involved rape – to name someone at all until or unless they had been found guilty.
Like all other MPs (he said) I wish to see all criminals, particularly rapists and especially child abusers, brought to justice. If it is felt the police are not being diligent, that individuals being protected, it is right and proper to ask the Attorney General to investigate further. Mr Dickens would have been doing a public service if he had put his question and ommitted the name. Now, he is denying justice.
The full details of the case were more complex than had come out in the newspapers as the MP for Chelmsford (Mr Norman St John-Stevas) would know. The man could not now defend himself without giving details that would identify the rape victim.
In the absence of a defence, he had been found guilty by parliamentary privilege and newspaper headlines. Now he struggled to prove his innocence. That was contrary to English law.
If the police had sufficient evidence against the doctor, he should be brought to trial. But could he now have a fair trial?
Had parliamentary privilege been abused? If it had, how could that practice be stopped? (Cheers).
Mr Norman St John-Stevas (Chelmsford, C) said this tragic case of the alleged rape of a child took place in his constituency and the child was the daughter of one of his constituents. The police had indicated that in their opinion a rape had taken place. The point of doubt was who was responsible.
Is it not (he went on) one of the strongest conventions of this House that constituency cases are taken up by the MP? Nothing was said to me by Mr Dickens before he put down his question on the order paper.
Should there not be some protection for MPs in these cases? I had taken up the case with the local police and with the Director of Public Prosecutions. Both advised me that within the law their legal impartial opinion was that a prosecution could not succeed and therefore should not take place.
May we gave some protection and guidance on this crucial point? The higher the privilege the greater the sense of responsibility with which it should be used.
Mr Kevin McNamara (Hull North, Lab) said Mr Dickens had also made allegations about a north Humberside constituents.
He has done this (he continued) without any consultation with me, any reference to me, any discussion with me.
As a result of this statement being made the press had camped out at a particular church in the Hull North constituency. Everyone knew who was involved in this matter. As a result a person had been tried by media and subjected to a form of parliamentary lynch-law. This was a matter which should be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
Mr Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle, C) referred the Speaker to a paragraph of Erskine May on personal reflections. You may rule (he said) that that paragraph does not cover the conduct of Mr Dickens. It is in your power, however, to set a precedent by which if in a case like this an MP wishes to name a person who is accused but not yet charged he should do so on the floor of the House by way of reference to a letter he has sent to the Attorney General in which the MP can mention the name of the accused.
Mr John Ryman (Blyth Valley, Lab) said any MP genuinely interested in bringing somebody to justice had a perfectly easy remedy. It was to seek a private meeting with a law officer who could through the DPP ask the police to make the necessary inquiries. If there was not sufficient legally admissable evidence the Attorney General or Solicitor General would no doubt tell the MP that.
There was a perfectly discreet and realistic way of dealing with these matters. He supported the application being made to consider this a breach of privilege.
Mr Dickens said it was five years since he last named someone in the House. It was a distasteful thing to have to do. He wanted to be helpful.
During the past five years letters had flooded to him with allegations of cases he had to look into and demanding that he named names of various people, some very important. He sent the file always to the Home Office, who investigated these cases for him, and in many cases to the chief constables concerned. Therefore he was jealously guarding and not misusing parliamentary privilege.
But when I was elected to this House (he said) I felt I could come here and speak without fear or favour.
The difficulty I found myself in was this. People who offend against children do so in privacy, by and large, without an audience. When the victims are little children and where our courts are unable unless there is other corroboration to prosecute we are in some difficulty.
Children were being abused and cases were not coming to court because the DPP had decided otherwise.
May I (he said) unreservedly apologize to the MPs who have criticized me, but may I say to each and every one of them that, believe me, I am fighting and have been fighting a national crusade to protect little children.
He did not intend to name anyone, but Mr McNamara had a man in his constituency who was abusing children. He had named him in a question already.
The Speaker said Erskine May made it clear that the invidious use of a person’s name in a question should only be resorted to if to do so was strictly necessary to render the question intelligible.
I commend to MPs (he continued) the advice in appropriate cases of supplying the minister privately with the name of the individual who is the subject of a question. I hope that wherever possible MPs will use that method of avoiding unnecessarily damaging references to individuals.
Freedom of speech is essential to the work of Parliament. It is the responsibility of every individual MP to ensure that he uses his freedom in a way that does not needlessly damage those who do not enjoy that privilege and in a way that does not damage the good name of this House.
Mr McNamara thanked the Speaker for his ruling and said if Mr Dickens had put down a written question including the name then if should be altered.
The Speaker said he had no knowledge of such a question but he would look carefully at any question submitted.
Mr George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley,Lab) said Mr Dickens had said he had tabled a question.
The Speaker: Mr Dickens has submitted a question which has not yet been accepted by the Table Office. I will look most carefully at it.
The Guardian, March 18th, 1986
Paul Keel, ‘Havers rebuffs Tory MP in child sex row / Geoffrey Dickens admonished for abuse of parliamentary privilege’
An attempt by the Conservative MP, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, to launch prosecution proceedings against two men for alleged sexual offences against children received a double rebuff in the House of Commons yesterday, and protests from both sides of the House over his conduct.
The Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, rejected a call from the Littleborough and Saddleworth MP to prosecute an Essex doctor alleged to have raped an eight-year-old girl.
In a Commons written reply, Sir Michael said the Director of Public Prosecutions believed that the evidence against the man was insufficient. ‘I agree with him,’ said Sir Michael.
Later the Speaker, Mr Bernard Weatherill, disallowed a question by Mr Dickens asking the Attorney General to initiate proceedings against a Humberside vicar for allegedly sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy.
It was by a similar Commons method that the MP last week named the doctor.
Yesterday the Speaker warned MPs against abusing their parliamentary privileges.
Mr Weatherill said: ‘Freedom of speech is essential to the work of Parliament. It is the responsibility of every individual MP to ensure that he uses his freedom in a way that does not needlessly damage those who do not enjoy that privilege, and in a way that does not damage the good name of this House.’
The Conservative MP for Chelmsford, Mr Norman St John-Stevas – a former Leader of the House – said yesterday that he had written to Mr Dickens, complaining of his ‘disgraceful behaviour.’
The mother of the eight-year-old girl first raised the allegation with Mr St John-Stevas, who consulted the police and the DPP. ‘Both gave reasons of a legal nature saying why there could be no prosecution,’ he said.
Mr St John-Stevas said that Mr Dickens had broken a strict parliamentary convention, ‘that you don’t interfere with cases which are in another MP’s constituency.’
‘This is a highly confidential surgery case and I was involved from the beginning. His correct course of action would have been to consult me.’
Mr Dickens was similarly condemned by Mr Kevin McNamara, the Labour MP for Hull North, in whose constituency the allegations against the vicar have been made.
‘Such conduct is completely contrary to parliamentary practice and good manners,’ Mr McNamara said.
To raise this matter under the guise of parliamentary privilege is utterly contemptible, particularly when Mr Dickens states that he has additional information, which should be handed over to the police immediately and then a course of action decided Upon.’
Last night Mr Dickens said he felt ‘aggrieved at being denied my parliamentary privilege.’ He said he would re-table the Commons question in another form, without using the vicar’s name.
Mr McNamara said that the identity of the vicar – who has been asked to resign by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood – has already been discovered by the press.
‘Everyone knows who is involved in this matter. A person has been tried by the media and subjected to a form of parliamentary lynch law by Mr Dickens,’ he said.
The Guardian, March 18th, 1986
Alan Travis, ‘The Day in Politics: MP who named doctor rebuked by Speaker / Geoffrey Dickens condemned for abuse of parliamentary privilege’
The Speaker of the House of Commons and senior Conservative MPs yesterday condemned Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, for perpetrating a’ parliamentary lynch law’ against a vicar and a doctor suspected of but not charged with child sex offences.
MPs from all sides condemned Mr Dickens for naming a doctor alleged to have raped a girl aged eight, in a Commons written question last Thursday under the protection of parliamentary privilege.
Mr Dickens apologised yesterday but defended his position, saying: ‘I have been fighting a national crusade to protect little children.’ But he then went on to say that he would name a Humberside vicar involved allegedly in another child sex case in a written Commons question he was tabling last night.
Mr Bernard Weatherill, the Speaker, delivered a strong rebuke to Mr Dickens saying that while freedom of speech was essential to the work of Parliament, ‘it is the responsibility of every MP to ensure that he used his freedom in a way that does not needlessly damage those who do not enjoy that privilege, and in a way that does not damage the good name of this House.’
He suggested in a ruling that MPs taking up cases where they were concerned that prosecutions had not gone ahead should supply the names in confidence to the Attorney General. ” I hope wherever possible MPs will use that method of avoiding damaging references to individuals.’
Dr Michael Clark (C Rochford) urged the Speaker to arraign Mr Dickens before the Commons Privileges Committee, saying it was not the duty of any MP to judge those who were accused but not charged with offences.
‘The doctor has been found guilty by parliamentary privilege and newspaper headlines and now struggles to prove his innocence. If the police have sufficient evidence against this man he should be brought to trial, but now he will not have a fair trial.’
Mr Norman St John-Stevas (C Chelmsford) accused Mr Dickins of breaching the parliamentary convention under which an MP does not take up the case of a constituent of another MP without first consulting him.
Mr St John-Stevas said he had taken up the case of the doctor privately with the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions, who had both advised him that a prosecution could not succeed on the available evidence and therefore should not take place.
Yet Mr Dickens without any consultation had put down a question naming the man. ‘The higher the privilege the greater the sense of responsibility with which it should be used.’
Mr Kevin McNamara (Lab. Hull) also complained about Mr Dickens, saying that the doctor and the vicar had been ‘subject to a parliamentary lynch law perpetrated by Mr Dickens.’
In his defence, Mr Dickens told MPs: ‘Children are being abused and these cases are not coming to court because the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided otherwise. May I unreservedly apologise to those MPs who have criticised me. But may I say to each and every one of them, I have been fighting, and you know I have been fighting, a national crusade to protect little children.’
He said he would like to advise Mr McNamara that he has a man in his constituency who is abusing children and Mr Dickens said he had named him in a question tabled last night.
MPs shouted ‘come off it’ when he talked of his crusade and another shouted ‘You nasty man’ when he said he would name the vicar.
He said he had named no one in the Commons for five years and since then he had been urged to name names of various people, some very important. Mr Dickens insisted that he always asked the Home Office to investigate those cases and therefore he was jealously guarding and not misusing parliamentary privilege.
Labour MPs started to shout: ‘What about the woman from Sevenoaks?’ – a reference to a time when Mr Dickens called a press conference to announce that he had a mistress who he had met at a tea dance.
The Guardian, March 18th, 1986
The Guardian, March 18, 1986
‘Leading Article: Shutting up Mr Dickens / Debate over parliamentary privilege’
If Mr Geoffrey Dickens MP parked his ample frame on the grass in Parliament Square and began naming random doctors and vicars as men who ought to be arrested for sexual perversion, the press wouldn’t publish a word he said. Mr Dickens is long on volubillty and short on gravitas. But when, under the shroud of parliamentary privilege, he names one name and threatens to name another, the choice is superficially more difficult. Legal constraints of libel and contempt on the press (which are anyway onerous) fall away. It isn’t a question of what can be done, but what ought to be done.
What ought to be done in a country where the rule of law matters is that people who have committed a crime are charged and convicted where there is evidence to sustain that path. If the laws involved are found defective, those laws ought to be changed. But if there are no charges nor evidence yet leading to them, then the only law that Mr Dickens furthers by his antics is the law of the lynch mob. Parliamentary privilege is worth sustaining as just that – a privilege – for those few, vital moments when an MP who has thought deeply and researched widely feels it his duty to speak up. But if it becomes a mere gambit for blighting lives without proper evidence, then the uses of privilege will shrivel away, along with the reputation of the Commons. The Speaker knew as much yesterday when he told Mr Dickens to shut up. That, on the honourable gentleman’s record, will be no small order. But the whole Commons, if it values its freedoms, should – as necessary – sit on him, too.
The Times, March 19th, 1986
Stephen Goodwin, ‘MP says vicar to face prosecution – Geoffrey Dickens campaigns against child abuse’
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the MP campaigning against child abuse, disclosed yesterday that a private prosecution is to be brought against the vicar alleged to have sexually assaulted a boy aged 11.
The prosecution is to be financed by the Campaign for Law and Order, which says the parents of 11 other children are prepared to give evidence about the vicar’s behaviour at a Humberside Sunday school.
Mr Charles Oxley, chairman of the Campaign and a headmaster, told The Times that a firm of Hull solicitors had already been instructed to gather evidence for the prosecution, which will be brought in his name.
A copy of a statement the boy made to the police has been obtained by the campaign, Mr Oxley said. He believes it will take three to four weeks to prepare the case. Police were yesterday investigating an attack on the vicar’s north Humberside home in which a brick was thrown through a window and paint splashed on his door.
Mr Dickens, a patron of the campaign which has more than 1,000 members, said yesterday that he would not persist in his attempt to use parliamentary privilege to name the vicar.
‘I’m a House of Commons man. There is no way I am going to fly in the face of the Speaker’s ruling even if perhaps I think he was not given the best advice. That is why I have taken the fight outside the Commons,’ Mr Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said.
On Monday night the Speaker, Mr Bernard Weatherill, banned Mr Dickens from tabling a question to the Attorney General in which the vicar was named, saying the use of the name was ‘unnecessary and invidious’.
The Guardian, March 19th, 1986
Colin Brown, ‘Vicar to face private prosecution / Case of alleged sexual assault on 11-year-old boy in North Humberside’
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Tory MP accused of abusing parliamentary privilege, announced yesterday that a private prosecution would be brought against the North Humberside vicar alleged to have sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy.
Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said the Campaign for Law and Order, of which he is a patron, would be bringing the prosecution against the vicar.
Mr Dickens was angrily condemned by Tory and Labour MPs on Monday when he attempted to use parliamentary privilege to name the vicar.
This followed his naming of an Essex doctor alleged to have committed sexual offences against an eight-year-old girl in Chelmsford. The Attorney-General said on Monday in a Commons written answer to Mr Dickens that he did not intend to pursue a prosecution against the doctor because of the lack of evidence against him.
The Childwatch Organisation, which is based in Humberside, had been collecting evidence from the area against the vicar, said Mr Dickens, and he had supplied this to the Attorney-General with the vicar’s name.
‘I hope the Attorney-General may be encouraged by our action to assist in, or even take over, such a prosecution. We are still putting together the evidence.’
Mr Dickens upset the Commons when he tabled a question for the Attorney-General on Monday asking him to prosecute the vicar, whose name he supplied.
The Speaker, Mr Bernard Weatherill, ruled the written question out of order on the grounds that the use of the name was ‘unnecessary and invidious’ – a ruling which other MPs have taken as an important check against the excessive use of parliamentary privilege in future.
Mr Dickens was accused of using ‘parliamentary lynch law’ and ‘trial by media’ by Tory and Labour MPs who believed that if he had evidence it should have been presented in confidence to the police or the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Daily Telegraph, March 20th, 1986
B. Wilson, ‘What the Dickens!’
A “bucketing’ MP rises like the sap WHAT THE DICKENS!
Spring is here, or so it seems. We have a Royal romance on our hands and the sap is rising, the sap in this case being the Honorable Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth, Geoffrey Dickens, (Conservative).
He rose in the House of Commons last week to name a doctor who, he said, was a child-rapist.
On Monday, Mr Dickens rose again, in an attempt to name a vicar from up on Humberside who, he said, was a molester of children male and female.
The doctor has vehemently denied Mr Dickens’ allegations, which involve an horrific rape of an 8-year-old girl. The vicar, too, though unnamed so far, has denied the allegations.
Why the vicar is unnamed is because Mr Dickens’ fellow MPs, led by no less than Mr Speaker, stood heavily upon him, saying that he was abusing parliamentary privilege by using the Commons as a platform to launch hate campaigns against the doctor and the vicar.
When Mr Dickens attempted to name the vicar in a question to the Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, he was filibustered out of Question Time. When he tried to put the name in a question on notice he was, after deliberation, ruled out of order by the Speaker, Bernard Weatherill.
On Tuesday, Mr Dickens pledged to continue to fight to have the vicar named in the House. He calls his campaign against child abusers “”a national crusade”. His opponents say it is self-serving, publicity-seeking which could ruin, quite unfairly, the lives of those Mr Dickens names.
The thing is that Mr Dickens is such a grotesque figure that the idea of his leading a national crusade of any type defies the imagination. One description of him today was “”portly of build and glistening of countenance” and that is being kind.
It is difficult to doubt that Mr Dickens has made a pretty good meal of the question of paedophiles (which for some time he used to pronounce fidopiles). Soon after entering Parliament in 1979, he named a prominent diplomat as being a “”fidopile” for subscribing to a publication titled, Paedophile Information Exchange.
Then there was a similar outcry against him as there was last week when he named the doctor as a child-rapist. The name of the vicar has since leaked out, and yesterday his home was pelted with stones.
The vicar, it was learned, had twice been ask to resign by his bishop, the Bishop of York, for undisclosed reasons. The allegations against him by Mr Dickens include holding blue movie parties for boys and girls in his parish. He may be prosecuted privately.
The point is that the Crown has refused to prosecute either the doctor or the vicar, since, according to the prosecutor’s office, the cases would not stand up in court.
Mr Dickens, who is grossly overweight, and who perspires readily under the TV floodlights he so loves, has an interesting enough background of his own.
In 1981, he astounded a news conference he had called defending his action against the diplomat by saying that there was “”a skeleton in my cupboard” which turned out to be not so much bones, but a well-rounded brunette for whom he was leaving home.
Then another lady appeared, saying she had been having an affair with the porcine polly (his nickname is Bunter), all these assignations having been made at, of all places, a regular the dansant Mr Dickens and the ladies attended.
Mr Dickens said there had been a misunderstanding. “”I like to help people and I don’t like disappointing them,” he said. The help, it seemed, was of a very practical nature, indeed. He had helped the lady buy a bed.
In the Commons on Monday, the pent-up feeling in both his own party and from the Opposition that there is a streak of the hypocrite in Mr Dickens, boiled over. He was given as rough a time in the House as any backbencher in recent times.
What MPs found most infuriating was that Mr Dickens doesn’t mind infiltrating other constituencies. The doctor and the vicar live nowhere near his own Lancashire patch.
But, he said, he would plug on with the crusade. He had been deluged with support, he said.
To do it, he needs to convince his fellow MPs, and, more particularly, Mr Speaker, that he is not throwing the roughest kind of injustice at people who have been charged with no crime and who can only say: “”It’s just not true.”
The Times, March 21st, 1986, Friday
‘DPP receives report on vicar’
A Humberside police report on the vicar who allegedly sexually assaulted a boy aged 11 has been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Michael Havers, Attorney General, said in a Commons written reply yesterday.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who supplied the name of the vicar to Sir Michael this week, hopes the Crown will take on the case. A private prosecution is being mounted.
The Times, March 21st, 1986
‘Doctor states his innocence’
The Essex doctor named as the rapist of a girl, aged eight, said in a statement issued yesterday through a Southend firm of solicitors that he was innocent.
The doctor was named in the Commons by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who said that the Director of Public Prosecutions decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. He faces a private prosecution.
The Guardian, March 21st, 1986
‘Doctor denounces MP over rape allegations / Case of alleged rape of eight-year-old girl’
The doctor named by a Tory MP in a parliamentary question about the alleged rape of an eight-year-old girl said yesterday that he is innocent.
His solicitor, Mr H Maxwell Lewis, of Essex, said on the doctor’s behalf: ‘I am completely innocent of the allegation that I committed an act of rape. I have been interviewed by the police on two separate occasions and questioned for many hours. No charges have been brought against me. Since then the prosecution file has been considered by the county prosecutor, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney-General and they all decided that no prosecution should be brought.
‘No newspaper can publish the name of a person suspected or charged with rape until that person has been convicted without incurring substantial penalties under the criminal law.’
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth had flouted these principles from his safe position in the House of Commons. ‘His action, which he knew would be reported in certain newspapers may have persuaded some of their readers that I am guilty of a charge which has never been brought against me.’ If a private prosecution were launched it might be impossible for the doctor to receive a fair trial.
‘Mr Geoffrey Dickens’s action in naming me has meant that my family, including my 78-year-old father, has been caused much suffering. My private life has been exposed. My home has been surrounded by journalists to the extent that I had to leave and stay with friends. My patients have been exposed to unnecessary anxiety.’
Health chiefs are expected to recommend that no action be taken against the doctor, who is a consultant.
Sir Michael Havers, the Attorney-General, said in answer to Mr Dickens’s question that the Crown would not prosecute the doctor. Mr Dickens has said that it was his duty to name him.
The Times, March 22nd, 1986
Peter Davenport, ‘Vicar quits after child sex claims’
The vicar at the centre of allegations of sexual abuse of young children has resigned his parish, it was disclosed last night.
He wrote to the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, to offer his resignation and has since left his church on Humberside.
The decision of the vicar, a widower with three children, came after increasing pressure and the threat of a private prosecution.
Last night Mr Raymond Barker, the lay chaplain to the Archbishop, said that the letter of resignation had been delivered to the Archbishop’s Palace in York on Thursday.
The vicar had refused a request by the Archbishop that he should resign six months ago.
Earlier this week, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, was prevented by the Speaker from naming the vicar in the Commons.
A police file on the allegations against the vicar, which initially concerned complaints by the mother of a boy aged 11, and then widened to include claims by the parents of other children, is now with the Director of Public Prosecution.
The vicar still faces the possibility of a private prosecution over the allegation initiated by a Merseyside headmaster, Mr Charles Oxley, chairman of the Law and Order campaign.
The vicar’s solicitor said his client denied all the allegations.
The Guardian, March 22nd, 1986
Andrew Rawnsley, ‘Accused vicar quits / Hull clergyman resigns over sex offence allegations’
The Humberside vicar accused of child sex offences has resigned, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, disclosed yesterday.
The vicar is understood to have left his parish in Hull two days ago after a sustained campaign, led by the Tory MP Mr Geoffrey Dickens for his resignation and prosecution for a number of alleged offences, among them a sexual assault on an 11-year-old boy.
Dr Habgood, who had twice asked the vicar to step down after hearing the allegations, disclosed yesterday that he had received a letter of resignation.
The Director of Public Prosecutions is considering a file on the case passed to him this week after an 18-month investigation by Hull police. Mr Dickens, whose threat to name the vicar in the Commons was prevented by the Speaker, has sent further evidence collected from the man’s former parishioners to the Attorney-General.
The vicar’s solicitor, Mr Robin Armit said last night that the clergyman denied all allegations against him.
Daily Mirror, March 22nd, 1986
Guardian Weekly, March 23rd, 1986
James Lewis, ‘Back-benchers baying for action on record figures for rape’
THE number of rapes reported last year in England and Wales rose by 29 per cent, and by 50 per cent in London. The Home Secretary, Mr Douglas Hurd, described the figures as “horrific” and back-bench Tories dutifully bayed for tougher action to restore law and order.
Law and order is one of the Tories’ most reliable diversionary topics. On this, at least, the party can close ranks, regardless of anxieties about the economy, unemployment, the bungled Westland affair and other banana skins. This, at least, calls for strong government. And who better to provide it than Mrs Thatcher?
Statistics, however, call for closer examination than backwoods Conservatives — and the popular press — usually give them. The increase in rape is almost certainly due to the fact that more women have been prepared to report it since the police have been forced to treat complainants more sympathetically. The total number of cases was 1,842 — hardly evidence of a rape-torn society — compared with 871,000 burglaries, for instance, and 122,000 cases of violence.
Unfortunately, the publication of the figures coincided with a particularly nasty rape case in a London vicarage, with the alleged rape of an eight-year-old girl by a doctor in Essex, and with claims that a Humberside vicar had sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy over a period of 18 months. In the cases of the two children, the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided that charges could not be brought because the only available evidence was the uncorroborated testimony of the two victims.
A Lancashire Tory MP, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, who is not one to miss an opportunity, used the cover of parliamentary privilege to name the doctor when he demanded that the Attorney-General should himself prosecute in cases where the only witness is a child victim. This broke the legal rule that defendants in rape cases should not be named unless found guilty and just about ruled out the possibility of a fair trial in the event of charges being laid.
Undeterred by this, or by the distaste of most other MPs for headline-grabbing abuse of privilege, Mr Dickens tabled another question in which he proposed to name a vicar. Filibustering by his opponents ensured that the question was never reached and Mr Dickens was warned off by the Speaker, who refused to accept a written question along the same lines.
Mr Hurd is too thoughtful a Home Secretary to resort to panic measures, and too canny a politician not to be aware that Mrs Thatcher’s heavy spending on police manpower and equipment have not produced the promised results. The tide of crime could not be reversed by sensational measures, he told a party conference, when he promised “steadiness and understanding” rather than radical action.
Criticism by the Commons Environment Committee of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria (see page 4) was dismissed by the Energy Secretary, Mr Peter Walker, as “nonsense”. He accused the anti-nuclear lobby of whipping up public fear, and said that the sort of radiation that came from people’s houses, and the food they ate, was “way above anything that comes from the nuclear industry”.
The Transport Secretary, Mr Nicholas Ridley, announced that the privatisation of British Airways, due to have been sold off in July, had again been postponed. It was postponed last year because of an anti-trust suit in the United States arising from the collapse of Laker Airways. This latest delay is blamed on potential difficulties with the complex air services agreement between Britain and the US, and the risk of further law suits under US anti-trust legislation.
The sale, if and when it takes place, is expected to raise £1 billion, and Lord King, who was appointed chairman of BA specifically to prepare it for privatisation, was angered by this further delay. It was even rumoured that he and his senior executives were prepared to launch an audacious bid for the airline themselves. This week, however, he went to see Mrs Thatcher and was assured by her that the sale would go ahead before the end of the year. He denied knowing anything about a management buyout.
The byelection in the marginal Tory seat of Fulham — the first of a crop of three now pending — will take place on April 10. The majority of 4,789 held by the late Mr Martin Stevens, whose death caused the vacancy, makes the seat highly vulnerable and the contest will demonstrate whether Labour, which came second at the general election, really is making headway as recent opinion polls suggest.
Ulster Unionists contemplated fielding a candidate at Fulham in order to demonstrate their opposition to the Anglo-Irish agreement but gave up the idea because most parties at Westminster assume that the Tories will lose it anyway, with or without Unionist intervention. The Loyalists are, however, threatening to fight ten Conservative-held seats on the mainland at the next general election. Their targets include Bridgewater, in Somerset, which is held by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mr Tom King, with a majority of 10,657.
There was acrimony at the satirical magazine Private Eye when Mr Richard Ingrams announced his intention to step down as editor after 23 years. The irreverant Eye, created by Ingrams and a group of like-minded Oxbridge graduates, has gradually become a profitable — though much tamer — institution and Ingrams has become, curiously, something of an Estabishment figure. But his decision to hand over his job to his 25-year-old deputy, Mr Ian Hislop, was not to the liking of some other staff members and contributors, who view the Eye more as a crusade than a mere magazine.
Police charged 26 people with public order offences at the weekend after the biggest demonstration yet at Mr Rupert Murdoch’s Wapping printing plant in east London.
More than 7,000 protesters converged on the high-security plant on Saturday night in support of 5,500 sacked print workers and a group of demonstrators tore down a 40-yard section of fencing around the site.
The Guardian, March 27th, 1986
Stephen Cook and Andrew Moncur, ‘People at large’
Geoffrey Dickens, the dumpling-faced team dancer, is coping manfully with the fame arising from his creative use of parliamentary privilege; his name-dropping in the case of a doctor suspected of a child sex offence may have angered Mr Speaker but it brought the carpeted crusader a postbag approaching his own ample proportions (18 stone). But can he come to terms with the reaction back home in Littleborough and Saddleworth? ‘As the letters poured into Westminster by the hour, I found it necessary to take on extra help,’ enthuses Bunter in his weekly column in the Rochdale observer. The nearby news story may bring him down to earth:
Of the six people we asked, five backed Mr Dickens,’ it says. ‘Five others have never heard of him. ‘
Can it be possibly true that Robert Maxwell is in the act of commissioning, for the wall of his plush offices, an artistically contrived rendering – with flapping fabric and green lighting effects – of the garden hedge at his Oxfordshire manor house? The word at Holborn Heights, home of Mirror Group Newspapers, is that Cap’n Bob wants a thundering great mural, designed to flutter in the breeze of his passage, which will remind him of the view at Headington Hill Hall. Difficult to credit.
John Stokes, one of the last vestiges of Empire, has predictably firm views about the appropriate style of celebration to mark the tercentenary of the glorious revolution of 1688. Banquets in both Houses of Parliament and as little talk as possible about the birth of democracy, he told the Commons. There was plenty of that before the event, guaranteed by the landed gentry. Come to think of it, what today’s Commons needs is ‘more squires and fewer lawyers, accountants, bankers and book-keepers. ‘ Stokes, (Tory, Halesowen and Stourbridge) spent many years as a personnel manager. He’s known as the member for the Monarchy, or Stonehenge East.
The dial-a-knee-trembler industry (licensed by British Telecom) will stop at nothing. The latest lukewarm number, billed under the heading Phone Fergie Now |, features a poor imitation of a Sloane who may be heard rummaging through Andy’s belongings. His little black book is shredded; Stallion and Rooster aftershave are flushed away; and his knicker drawer is rifled. ‘Why’s this pair got a carrot on the front? ‘ asks Fergie archly. ‘Must be a present from that Katie Rabett. ‘ At the end, a male voice finds it necessary to point out – and this bit is really hard to believe – that the script is fictitious.
The Guardian, April 10th, 1986
Martin Wainwright, ‘Clergyman charged / Rev Jan Knos accused of indecency offences’
A Church of England clergyman will appear at Hull magistrates’ court today charged with offences of indecency.
Rev Jan Knos, aged 54, had been arrested yesterday and taken to the city’s central police station from north Hull, where he resigned as vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Orchard Park, two weeks ago on grounds of ill-health.
Mr Knos, a widower with three teenage children, was at the centre of allegations made by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth. He resigned his living after two requests from the Arch bishop of York, Dr John Habgood.
Police arrested Mr Knos, who is South African-born after consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Humberside-based organisation Childwatch had been pressing for action after gathering information including allegations of an assault on an 11-year-old boy.
Mr Knos, who was given a month’s sick leave when he resigned, has denied all the allegations.
The Guardian, April 10th, 1986
Stephen Cook and Stuart Wavell, ‘Thursday People: People at large’
What was Edwina Currie MP doing standing beside her car on the Derby to Uttoxeter road a couple of weeks ago, talking rapidly to a large man in a blue uniform and smiling that blistering smile? ‘I was having a conversation with a policeman,’ she said yesterday, somewhat obtusely. Pressed further, she admitted she had, as always, been in a hurry, and the constabulary hadn’t yet told her if she is to be prosecuted. Her licence is to date virgin, she said, and her car is a BL Maestro. Now we’re motoring.
There’s a curious outbreak of militant Unionist feeling in the comfortable Southampton suburb of Chandlers Ford, where a Loyalist Orange Lodge has popped up and asked permission for a march, rally and wreath-laying in the city. Funnily enough, they want the march to go through the area where most (southern) Irish people live, and the Labour council is most concerned. ‘We’re either going to have to ban it or ask the police to try to change the route,’ says leisure committee chairman Steve Sutherland. ‘Their notepaper is covered with slogans like ‘no surrender’ and ‘no popery here,’ and I can’t help feeling the timing is not a coincidence. ‘
Somewhere in Saudi Arabia sits a man with a very tired wrist whose job is tearing offending articles out of foreign journals. The victim (again) is the Geographical Magazine, whose London office has just received a plaintive letter from an exiled subscriber saying his copy reached him in mutilated form. Missing is a four-page article about the wild oryx of the Arabian peninsula – a most innocent subject until you realise that one of the pages also carries an ad for a certain Scottish beverage, Glenfiddich, actually.
The Tories in Cumbria, who dreamed up the idea of a Friends of Sellafield Society to combat the anti-nuclear lobby, have scored a resounding success in their ploy of making it an all-party group. Dr Jack Cunningham, the Labour environment spokesman whose Copeland constituency covers the offending plant, has agreed to be the society’s president. Guaranteed to raise the hackles of the Socialist Environment Resources Association, who are already accusing ‘nuclear jack’ of backpedalling on party nuclear policy.
A rag-bag of male backbenchers have hitched their wagon to the Sun’s campaign against ‘Crazy Clare’ (more usually known as Clare Short, MP for Birmingham Ladywood, and author of a bill to ban page three). On Tuesday tea-dancing Geoffrey Dickens, concerned as he is about sex offences, was featured on the page itself alongside Terrific Tracy Neve; yesterday it was Peter Bruinvels, the bouncing chipmunk from Leicester East, alongside Super Sam Fox. The girls were bare-breasted, but the boys were head and shoulders only, thank God. Bruinvels explained yesterday how this was compatible with his opposition to girlie magazines: ‘The Sun is tasteful and brightens up people’s day, while girlie magazines intrude below the waist like a gynaecologist and shouldn’t be encouraged. I think Sam Fox is a very nice girl. ‘ Is this what we call a tit man?
A last minute attempt to scupper Labour’s chances in today’s Fulham byelection comes from – of all people – the Labour Party in London’s Islington South constituency. They’ve circulated a leaflet saying people willing to help in Fulham should first catch a tube to Bounds Green, which is about 15 miles away from Fulham near the end of the Piccadilly line. Baron’s Court, on the other hand, is closer to the action. But no matter – Labour have already booked the boat to carry a victorious Nick Raynsford up the Thames to Westminster tomorrow.
A new word is about to enter your life – pico-wave. It’s the food and nuclear industries’ way of avoiding the word ‘radiation’ once the Government has given permission, as expected, for the sale of food treated with small doses of gamma rays to increase shelf-life. The plan is for labels saying: ‘This food has been pico-waved,’ and picking up the now-acceptable echo of ‘micro-waved. ‘ It’s from the Greek pico meaning one-twelfth, since the waves concerned have a length of 10 to the power of minus 12.
Hull Daily Mail, April 10th, 1986
Hull Daily Mail, October 27th, 1986
The Sunday Times, July 27th 1986
Henry Porter, ‘Notebook: Cause for concern in the party ranks’
JOHN CARLISLE is the sort of man you might just notice in an empty room. He is the sitting member of parliament for Luton North and, without wishing to be rude to Luton North, is the perfect chap for the job. For if his constituency were to be somehow made flesh it would walk around looking very much like John Russell Carlisle.
This is an obvious disadvantage for a member of a ruling party which has a surfeit of smart grey suits and blue ties in its ranks. An MP must make his mark: he must catch the eye of the speaker, of the government, of the party managers and of the press. If you are simply the charismatic leader of Luton’s Conservatives, it is not easy.
The common solution to the problem, which Carlisle has grabbed with a rare enthusiasm, is monomania, the obsession with a single idea or interest. The member must then talk about it until his gizzard goes grey. In the case of Geoffrey Dickens MP it is paedophilia, with Tam Dalyell it is battleships of a foreign flag and in Clare Short’s case it is pornography. For John Carlisle the idee fixe is sport and politics.
Carlisle had a false start in choosing his obsession. In 1981 he launched a political campaign of the most devastating order against east European vacuum cleaners which he felt were competing unfairly in British markets.
He may have had a point, but he also had the nous to sense that vacuum cleaners were not an issue of moment. So he moved on to his latest fixation, a subject which could not be more topical or, if you prefer, a topic which could not be more subjective.
Carlisle, 44, believes that all sporting links with South Africa should be reinstated and that in general sport and politics are contaminated by association with each other. This view does not go down well in Britain’s universities and Carlisle has been pelted, kicked and jostled on campuses as far apart as Oxford and Bradford.
His argument is this: what on earth does a Test match with South Africa have to do with apartheid? And why does the Commonwealth have to suffer because of Britain’s failure to implement sanctions?
During our conversation last week a familiar inconsistency emerged. He produced the rusty idea that sportsmen convert each other and are really propagandists for tolerance. ‘It’s much better to keep channels open,’ he said. ‘The athletes meet and talk and exchange ideas. ‘ Surely this is politics entering sport and should thus be condemned.
Anyway, I have never believed this business of sportsmen converting each other. Here are two rugby players conversing as they scrum down in the manner that Carlisle must imagine:
‘Hi Pieter. I’m Roger. I wonder if you’ve ever thought about our democracy. It’s really very good coz everyone has a vote and you get to say what you want without being bullwhipped by the special police. ‘
‘Well, Roger. You’ve really got a point there, I’ll have a word with P W when I’m next in Pretoria. ‘
Oddly Carlisle did support the boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games, so his passion for sport is not always the priority.
Although he insists apartheid is bad, he appears to take a lenient attitude towards South Africa. He maintains his own dialogue with the South African in London. He is secretary of the British South African Society and he often visits the country in pursuit of his ideas. One trip has been paid for by the South Africans. Even for Mrs Thatcher, Carlisle must still be an embarrassment.
Telegraph, August 5th, 1986
L. Swayn, ‘Wyman ‘had girl, 13, as a lover’
Wyman “had girl, 13, as a lover’ LONDON (AAP): Scotland Yard today launched an investigation into claims that 49-year-old Rolling Stone Bill Wyman took a girl, 13, as his mistress.
The inquiry by the C1 serious crimes squad followed a demand for immediate action by Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.
Officers who specialise in investigating alleged sexual offences were expected to interview the rock star and the girl, Amanda Smith.
Amanda, now 16, claimed in a Sunday newspaper she had a passionate 30-month affair with Wyman after they met in a nightclub.
Scotland Yard said: “”As a result of newspaper reports, the serious crimes squad will be investigating.”
A London spokesman for Wyman, thought to be in the south of France, declined to comment.
Dickens had written to Home Secretary Douglas Hurd seeking an assurance the allegations would be followed through by police.
The MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth said: “”I understand that the girl involved is now living in Spain.
“”In my view, she ought to be brought back and subpoenaed as a witness so that we can get the truth of this matter.Mother’s “blessing’ “”I am also in touch with the Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers, to ensure that the new extradition rules we have with Spain are brought into play in respect of this case.”
Amanda is said to have moved into Wyman’s London flat with her mother’s blessing, according to the newspaper report.
But the relationship ended last week when she telephoned Wyman from Spain to say she had met someone her own age.
It was claimed Wyman, the Stones’ bass guitarist, arranged for Amanda to be sent to a new school so she could be nearer his London home.
Other members of the rock group were worried about the affair and tried to cover it up, said the story.
Wyman _ real name Bill Perks _ who will be 50 in October, has boasted of having made love to 1000 women during his lengthy career in rock music.
His only marriage ended in divorce in 1969.
Since then he has appeared in public with a string of attractive young women.
Courier-Mail, August 5th, 1986
D. Costello, ‘Probe urged over claims Stone took mistress, 13’
An MP has demanded a full police investigation into a report that Rolling Stone Bill Wyman took a 13-year-old girl as his mistress. Scotland Yard is studying the claims, made in a Sunday newspaper, but Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens yesterday insisted: “”We must have a full investigation into these allegations and, if necessary, a prosecution.” The girl, Amanda Smith, now 16, claimed in the newspaper that she had a passionate 30-month relationship with 49-year-old Wyman after they met in a nightclub. Last night, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman would say only: “”We are aware of the report and we are studying it. I can say no more than that at present.” But Dickens said he was “”appalled” by the allegations and added: “”If they do prove to be true then Wyman should be charged with a criminal offence.” In the newspaper report, Amanda is said to have moved into the rock star’s London flat with her mother’s blessing. But the relationship ended last week when she telephoned Wyman from Spain to say she had met someone of her own age. Wyman, who will be 50 in October, was reported at the weekend to be at his villa near Vence in the South of France.
The Advertiser, August 5th, 1986
‘MP demands enquiry into report of Rolling Stone and girl, 13′
LONDON, Monday – An MP has demanded a full police investigation into a report that Rolling Stone Bill Wyman took a 13-year-old girl as his mistress.
Scotland Yard is studying the claims, made in a Sunday newspaper, and a Tory MP, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, last night insisted; “We must have a full investigation into these allegations and, if necessary, a prosecution.”
The girl, Amanda Smith, now 16, claimed in the newspaper that she had a passionate 30-month relationship with 49-year-old Wyman after they met in a nightclub.
Last night, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman would only say; “We are aware of the report and we are studying it. I can say no more than that at present.”
But Mr Dickens said he was “appalled” by the allegations. “If they do prove to be true then Wyman should be charged with a criminal offence”, he said.
He had written to the Home Secretary, Mr Hurd, seeking an assurance that the case would not be overlooked by the police.
“I am also in touch with the Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers, to ensure that the new extradition rules we have with Spain are brought into play in respect of this case.
“I understand the girl involved is now living in Spain. In my view, she ought to be brought back and subpoenaed as a witness so that we can get to the truth of this matter.”
In the newspaper report, Amanda is said to have moved into the rock star’s London flat with her mother’s blessing.
But the relationship ended last week when she telephoned Wyman from Spain to say she had met someone of her own age.
Among other allegations in the story is a claim that Wyman, the Stones’ bass guitarist, arranged for Amanda to be sent to a new school so she could be nearer his London home.
She says other members of the group were worried about the affair and tried to make sure the story did not leak out.
Wyman, who will be 50 in October, was reported at the weekend to be at his villa near Vence in the South of France.
He has boasted of having made love to 1000 women during a lengthy career in rock music.
His only marriage ended in divorce in 1969 and since then he has appeared in public with a string of attractive young women.
Telegraph, August 28th, 1986
P. Klages, ‘Prosecute pop star, says MP’
Prosecute pop star, says MP LONDON (AAP): Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens today renewed his demand for Rolling Stone Bill Wyman to be prosecuted for his alleged affair with a 13-year-old girl.
His call comes as Scotland Yard detectives are examining a tape on which model Mandy Smith, now 16, is said to have admitted becoming the pop star’s lover as a 13-year-old.
Mr Dickens said: “”The whole sordid affair is being glamorised by the media.”
He said he was horrified to see advertisements in two London newspapers advertising a telephone tape of Mandy Smith’s story.
The Toronto Star, September 6th, 1986, Saturday, SATURDAY FIRST EDITION
Marion Finlay, ‘Britain in an uproar over Stone’s ‘Lusty Lolita’ Scotland Yard and an MP have joined child abuse experts in calling for a probe of Bill Wyman’s affair’
LONDON – Is it yet one more sensational story involving sex, ambition and rock and roll? Or is it a classic case of child abuse?
Those who believe it’s the latter include a maverick MP, an anti-child abuse organization and most recently and most surprisingly, the majority of Fleet Street’s famously infamous tabloids.
The story involves Rolling Stones’ guitarist Bill Wyman who, among his other achievements, boasts that he’s slept with 1,000 women. Three years ago he had a relationship with blonde and beautiful Mandy Smith. Mandy’s mum is said to have approved of the union because “Mandy’s happiness is what matters to me.”
The talk would have gone no further except when the relationship began, Wyman was 47. And Mandy was 13.
It was the sort of scandal the tabloids relish.
They duly reported how Wyman picked Mandy out from among the groupies at the l984 Rock and Roll Awards. And how Mandy’s mother, Patricia Smith, encouraged her to move into his London flat and Sussex mansion.
During their 2 1/2 years together, “I was like a wife and daughter to him,” Mandy told the newspaper The Mail on Sunday. “He knew what we were doing was wrong. Everyone knew,” she claimed. “The other Stones and Bill’s showbiz friends knew and joked about it. They helped to protect us and it never got out.”
Mandy says that when she wasn’t at home playing a domestic role or going to the private school Wyman arranged for her, she would jet to Paris to watch the Stones’ recording. Or go on luxurious holidays with the guitarist.
But this ended four months ago when Mandy, now 16, flew off to Marbella, Spain to move in with her new boyfriend, Keith Daly. The papers describe him as a 22-year-old beach bum.
With the need for cover gone, the story slipped out.
“Aging Rock Star in Sex Scandal with Lusty Lolita” the headlines bellowed. Mandy was a “blonde bombshell”, a “13-year old gymslip Lolita” and Wyman’s “stunning blonde mistress.”
Wyman was “Rock ‘n’ roll’s No. l stud”, an “aging romeo” and a “middle-aged Lothario.”
Mandy began appearing regularly in newspapers modelling outfits with captions such as “dressed to thrill in puff of net” or “sizzling to purr-fection as a sleek bronzed bombshell zipped into a black second-skin suit”.
In case anyone had missed the news two tabloids carried advertisements for a telephone service which invited readers to call to get additional details of “The Stone and the School Girl – the story. . . .”
As the excited pens of Fleet Street scribbled, police decided to look into the affair. They planned to interview Wyman, reported to be laying low in his villa in the South of France. But they shelved their investigation for lack of evidence. Mandy wouldn’t speak to them. Nor would her mother.
New articles appeared complaining that there was one law for the famous and another for everyone else. Connections were made between the Wyman saga and Boy George’s recent fine of $500 for possessing heroin, which people complained was too little. Then The Mail on Sunday acceeded to police requests to hand over a copy of its reporters’ tape recording of Mandy discussing her affair with Wyman. Now Scotland Yard has announced its resumed its investigation.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens renewed his demands for Wyman’s arrest. Dickens, with his corpulent appearance and air of wrathful indignation, is a somewhat controversial figure in British politics.
In March he made the front page by using his parliamentary privilege to name a doctor alleged to have raped an 8-year-old girl. In the past he has taken up such causes as closing gay clubs. Four years ago, he created headlines by denouncing an ex-diplomat linked to a child pornography ring and then immediately calling a Commons Press conference to announce that he had a “skeleton” in his own closet and was leaving his wife for another woman.
“Unless Bill Wyman is prosecuted, other young girls will be put at risk,” Dickens now declares. “It’s a license for dirty old men to have sex with schoolgirls.”
The next to enter the scene was Childwatch founder Dianne Core. Her voluntary group’s aim is to raise public awareness about the extent of child abuse in Britain. Last year she convinced the Milk Marketing Board to put a message to children on milk cartons advising them, “If in doubt, shout”.
“Underneath Mandy’s makeup you can see we’re dealing with a very frightened child,” she says. “If no action is taken, this case will set a dangerous precedent by opening the door for similiar affairs. What we’re talking about is the unlawful intercourse between a child and a man of 50. If it was the ordinary ‘Joe Blow’ on the street he would be behind bars,” she continued.
Core says that if the police don’t take action, Childwatch plans to launch a private prosecution.
Lastly, the tabloids. They have begun to sing a new tune.
The new headlines proclaim : “Sad, sordid lesson of pop-mad Mandy” and “Mandy: I was never a child.”
Discussion about the moral fitness of Mandy’s mother has also taken up a number of column inches. She has been compared with Brooke Shield’s mother, Terri Shields – another case of “parents living secondhand through their children’s precocious experiences or talents.” Articles focus on the “rather obvious slinky clothes” she wears and her “fabulous figure.”
In one of Britain’s more respected magazines, New Society, there has been concern that cases such as Mandy’s obscure the main problem. Judith Ennew, a researcher at the University of Cambridge and author of The Sexual Exploitation Of Children writes, “It is easier to sell papers with stories of sex abuse monsters and vice rings than with examinations of the dynamics of relationships in the families of incest victims: To accuse the monster without rather than face the monster within,” she says. Ennew adds, “The problem seems to be that, in our post-Freudian, scientific world, there is very little space for moral debate.”
The Times, October 23rd, 1986
PHS, ‘Times Diary: Currie and nice’
Herewith another attempt at an innocuous story about the Health Minister, Edwina Currie, who has just sent me a note using a most unparliamentary four-letter word to describe a recent item about her. As members queued before the bar in the chamber of the House of Commons on Tuesday, she approached Geoffrey Dickens to thank him for his support during her recent public difficulties. A kiss was proffered. Rejecting her advances, Dickens warned her: ‘For goodness’ sake, we’ve got the whole of the world’s press looking on. ‘ Edwina replied: ‘Well let me give you a cuddle then. ‘ Although enveloping the Dickens girth is possible – his having lost a stone-and-a-half in the past fortnight – Dickens accepted instead her invitation to a drink in the Members’ Smoking Room.
Hull Daily Mail, October 27th, 1986
The Guardian, October 28th, 1986
Telegraph, October 31st, 1986
D. Anderson, ‘No charges over affair with Mandy’
No charges over affair with Mandy LONDON (AAP): Rolling Stone, Bill Wyman, will not be prosecuted over his affair with a 13-year-old girl.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Thomas Hetherington, has decided to take no further action over the 50-year-old pop star’s romance with Mandy Smith, now 16.
Scotland Yard’s Serious Crimes Squad was called in after Wyman’s affair with the school girl was revealed in the News of the World.
Police studied a tape of an interview Mandy gave to a journalist and a report was sent to the DPP.
Now after several weeks of study, the DPP has ruled that the Rolling Stone should not be charged with any offence.
A DPP spokesman said: “”It never looked very likely that Mr Wyman would be prosecuted.”
When the affair first became public, Childwatch, the organisation which campaigns against child abuse, called for the bass player’s prosecution and threatened to prosecute privately if the case was dropped.
Tory MP, Geoffrey Dickens, also urged action by the police to prevent what he claimed was a precedent which could put other young girls at risk.
The Guardian, November 14th, 1986
Ian Aitken, ‘Agenda: Points of order’
All those familiar phrases in the Queen’s Speech about ‘my government will do this’ and ‘my government will do that’ must have left a more than usually strong taste of ashes in the Royal mouth this year. 1986, after all, is the year in which alleged differences between the rival Monarchs of Buck House and Downing Street went embarrassingly public.
But while Mrs Thatcher surveyed the serried ranks of the aristocracy from the bar of the Upper House on Wednesday morning she may well have wished that she had popped a few additional words into the Gracious Speech. They might have said something like this: ‘Members of the House of Lords: unless you start to behave yourselves, my government intends to enforce new rules to curb your deliberations. ‘
That, at any rate, is the clear signal now emerging from the upper reaches of the Cabinet in the wake of a Parliamentary session in which their lordships’ taste for cocking a snook at Mrs Thatcher and her ministers reached an unprecedented crescendo. Just before the session formally ended, the House of Lords notched up its 101st defeat of the Thatcher government.
All the signs are that Bertie Denham and the harassed Willie Whitelaw – respectively Chief Whip and Leader of the House – are now thoroughly fed up with having to explain this legislative shambles to Herself. Colleagues suspect that, if the guerrilla war is resumed in the new session, Something Will Be Done.
The problem has always been that, unlike the strictly disciplined Commons, there are literally no rules of order whatever in the Lords. Peers are on their honour not to engage in deliberate obstruction, but this aristocratic convention is increasingly being ignored.
The introduction of rules of debate might not do much to stop power-crazed peers from defeating the government. But at least they would succeed in shutting up endless talkers like the Lords Molloy, Jenkins of Putney and Bruce of Donnington something for which any peers would be profoundly grateful.
The multi-million pound private development project in London’s dockland financed by the Canary Wharf consortium, though widely expected to get official planning approval, remains deeply suspect among Labour MPs. Their chief environment spokesman, Dr Jack Cunningham, and members of the Opposition backbench environment group are still seeking assurances about it.
Meetings with Canary Wharf have been sought and arranged, largely through the tireless efforts of the full time secretary of the party’s environment group, Anne Page. But Ms Page has clearly impressed the people she was dealing with. The other day, Dr Cunningham and members of the group received a note from her saying that she was leaving the PLP to join .. yes, Canary Wharf.
Black Tam o’ the Binns, alias Linlithgow’s Labour MP Tam Dalyell, has developed a new way of irritating the Prime Minister and the Speaker. When he rises unsuccessfully to intervene – as he did during Mrs Thatcher’s speech on Wednesday – he resumes his seat with all the alacrity of a South American sloth.
He was not always so well co-ordinated. Tory MPs who were at Eton with him tell of an occasion when the young Tam went to the Dame (Etonspeak for matron) to complain of a searing Dain in his foot. When the solicitous lady enquired which foot it was, Tam replied puzzlingly that some days it was the right foot and some days it was the left. When he removed his shoes it turned out that he had a stone inside one of his socks.
During his all-too-brief glory as Tory deputy chairman, Jeffrey Archer used to give ‘ spectacular champagne parties in a breathtaking penthouse flat across the river from Westminster. Sadly, he has no further use for such an establishment. It is now up for sale – offers over pounds 2 million, please.
Geoffrey Dickens, Westminster’s most noted ballroom dancer and a doughty defender of ill-used children, also has a way of his own with the English language. In a recent debate on child abuse he gave Hansard a glittering new word: fidopaed.
Daily Mail, December 3rd, 1986
The Guardian, December 13rd, 1986
Shayam Perera, ‘Consultant cleared of child rape / Chelmsford’
A jury took just over three hours yesterday to reach unanimous verdicts clearing a doctor of raping and indecently assaulting an eight-year-old girl.
During the week-long trial at Chelmsford crown court it had heard allegations that the doctor, a consultant, aged 50, had raped the girl while She was sleeping at his pounds 150,000 Essex home.
After the verdicts the doctor, father of a five-year-old son, said: ‘I have maintained my innocence ever since my original arrest. Now I just wish to get back to my work. ‘ He is in private practice in Essex and consultant to three NHS hospitals.
The charges were brought by the girl’s mother as a private prosecution after the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided not to proceed. The Sun agreed to finance her prosecution but yesterday Judge Peter Greenwood ordered that the prosecution costs come from central funds.
Later the Sun offered its ‘deepest sympathy to the child and her mother who have shown great courage in the face of an agonising ordeal’ and said the judge’s decision on costs was a clear indication that it had acted properly.
The doctor’s solicitor, Mr Maxwell Lewis, said advice was being taken on how to pursue an action against the newspaper. Mr Lewis also criticised Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, for using parliamentary privilege to name his client in a Commons question after the DPP’s decision.
As a result of the Sun intervention, Mr Lewis said, ‘the doctor has been in what can only be described as a living hell. His life from now on must be difficult because of the enormous publicity in the daily newspapers. ‘
When the jury foreman announced the verdicts yesterday the girl’s father – who is divorced from her mother – shouted: ‘God, I don’t believe it. We’re never going to win, ever. ‘ He started to sob, beat the wall before he was helped from the court.
The jury had heard evidence from the girl that the doctor had assaulted her in bed while she was spending a few days with his family. She said she did not tell her mother for six weeks because she was afraid of the doctor.
The girl’s mother, who was not in court yesterday, had said she found a blood stain and what she believed to be semen on the child’s nightdress when she returned from visiting the doctor.
A psychologist testified that the child’s personality had changed markedly after the alleged assault. But the judge warned the jury not to convict unless they had corroborative evidence.
Mr Anthony Arlidge QC, defending, said that the doctor did not dispute independent medical evidence that the girl had been tampered with, but he had not been responsible for the incident and it had not happened in his home.
In a statement yesterday Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Dickinson, head of Essex CID, said: ‘Officers were advised there was insufficient evidence to proceed. The mother of the girl was advised of the decision .’
By Alan Travis
Mr Dickens said yesterday: ‘There are special elements here. A doctor is a person of supreme trust. I thought it was right that this case should come to trial, to be tested. It as very important for a child to be heard.
He said that two medical experts confirmed that the child had been raped. ‘ It was important that the child was given the opportunity to say what had happened to her. One acquiesces with the findings of the jury. ‘
The Sunday Times, December 14th, 1986
Maurice Chittenden and Richard Palmer, ‘Picture book plan in child abuse cases / Help for children giving evidence in court’
CHILD psychologists are writing a picture book with simple text to help prepare children who have to give evidence in court about sexual abuse. The same team is compiling a training manual to teach police and social workers how to interview alleged victims.
But many experts believe that the children should not have to appear in court at all, either in the witness box or by live television link.
Their calls for the use of pre-recorded videotapes – to protect child witnesses from the emotional upset of undergoing cross-examination – are bringing them into increasing conflict with the legal profession.
The concern comes in the wake of the case which ended at Chelmsford on Friday, when a 50-year-old doctor was acquitted of rape and indecent assaullt on an eight-year-old girl. The girl, now nine, gave evidence for 2hr 20min, of which 1hr 40 min was cross-examination.
New research presented to a conference of more than 100 child abuse experts at Wolfson College, Oxford, earlier this month, suggests that children who are abused and give evidence in court take much longer to recover from stress symptoms.
The NSPCC last week reported a 125% increase in cases of sexual abuse of children by relatives during the past year, while Childline, the BBC’s telephone counseling services for victims, revealed it has 1,400 cases on its books after six weeks.
The public response to the explosion of publicity means, inevitably, that more children will have to undergo the harrowing experience of cross-examination.
Now psychologists at Aberdeen University are interviewing children from different social backgrounds on their understanding of legal terms and anticipation of what happens in court. The exercise is part of a two-year research project, funded with a pounds 38,000 government grant, into the reliability of child witnesses. The team involved will produce a protype book with drawings to explain to children what to do except when they go into court.
However, Dr Graham Davies, one of the psychologists involved, sympathises with the calls made at the Oxford conference for the admission of pre-recorded video interviews as evidence.
Provisions for a live video link between courts and a child witnesses in a separate room are due to be introduced in the Criminal Justice Bill currently in the Commons committee stage.
Lawyers believe that the introduction of pre-recorded videos without the chance to cross examine will damage the rights of defendants.
Glanville Williams, former professor of English law at Cambridge University, advocates a ‘halfway house’ in which children are filmed being questioned at an early stage by a trained interviewer while the accused watches from behind a one-way mirror with his lawyer who feeds supplementary questions via an earphone link.
Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth yesterday defended his controversial use of parliamentry privilege to indentify the accused doctor in the House of Commons in March this year. ‘I had to make sure the child was listened to,’ he said. ‘It was very important that her allegations should be tested in court. ‘
The Guardian, December 15th, 1986
Alan Travis, ‘Commons ‘lynch law’ under attack / Analysis of the growth in use of parliamentary privilege’
The right name the guilty party under the cloak of parliamentary privilege – described as a parliamentary lynch law – is in danger of being devalued.
In recent months there has been an explosion of allegations made on the floor of the Commons, in written questions, or by the increasingly favoured method of an early-day motion on the order paper.
As Mr Anthony Beaumont-Dark, the Conservative MP for Birmingham Selly Oak has put it: ‘The vote order paper of the house, which we all have every day, is now being used almost like a mail order catalogue of innuendoes and accusations about people outside the House Day after day 20 people who may well be innocent and who do not have the benefit of defence, are abused and have their names dragged continually into the vote’.
The Speaker, Mr Bernard Weatherill, has, on a number of recent occasions, warned MPs that they were getting into the habit of naming people outside the Commons who had no right of redress. ‘Although we have an undoubted right of free speech in this place, we have an equal obligation to use it with discretion,’ he said.
The Commons select committee on procedure is looking at whether there have been abuses and whether the rules should be tightened up.
Every day the order paper is thick with allegations over the MI5 spy book case challenging the role of Lord Rothschild and questioning whether he was the ‘fifth man’. There have been attacks on Mr Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader, and on Mrs Edwina Currie, the junior health minister.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Conservative MP for Loughborough and Saddleworth, has given a bad name to the whole process. In carrying out his ‘national crusade to protect little children’ he has twice named individuals who were suspected, but had not been charged, with child sex crimes.
When he named a man in a child abuse case, MPs from all parties were furious, and the speaker strongly rebuked him.
Mr Dennis Skinner, Labour MP for Bolsover, and Mr Brian Sedgemore (Labour Hackney), pioneered the use of parliamentary privilege for allegations over fraud at Lloyd’s insurance market, and then with the Johnson Matthey Bank scandal.
‘Five years ago we would not have used the order paper,’ said Mr Sedgemore, ‘We have almost stumbled upon it by accident The one thing the Government cannot control is the order paper, and they have gone into a series of panics There are those who want to preserve the atmosphere of the club and do not like campaigning journalism I knew when I did it that eventually they would try to close it down’.
The use of Parliamentary privilege did not really take off until the MI5 spy bok case, when Mr Dale Campbell-savours, the Labour MP for Workington, used it to rehearse the allegations in Mr Peter Wright’s book before the trial after an injunction had been placed on their publication in British newspapers.
At first Mrs Thatcher attempted to stop the flow by blocking such questions, arguing that she could not answer them as national security was involved.
Then Conservative MPs tried to retaliate by getting the speaker to take action ‘Is there no vicious or slanderous calumny that cannot be put on the order paper without your having any control over it? ”asked Mr Patrick Nicholls, the Conservative MP for Teignbridge.
This tactic has been somewhat undermined by the third phase of the Conservative counter-attack. They have started to put down early day motions attacking Mr Kinnock over consultations with Mr Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Wright’s defence counsel in the Australian spy book trial At last count there were about 40 of these, most by Mr Richard Hickmet, (Glanford and Scunthorpe).
In the recent past parliamentary privilege has been used sparingly and with devastating effect Mr George Wigg and Mrs Barbara Castle used it to state publicly the link between Miss Christine Keeler and Miss Mandy Rice-Davies and a cabinet minister, which led to Mr John Profumo’s statement the next day denying any impropriety in his acquaintanceship with Miss Keeler.
Similarly, Mr Peter Rachman’s activities in the property world were brought to an end after he was named in the Commons.
The Times, January 14th, 1987
‘Parliament: Hanging Bill is rejected’
The death penalty would have been a most appropriate sentence for Myra Hindley, Ian Brady and others like them, Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C) said when he unsuccessfully sought leave to bring in a Bill making it a capital offence to murder a child. The Bill was rejected by 175 votes to 110.
It was his contention that capital punishment would, by its deterrent effect, reduce the number of child murders if it became part of the law once again.
Nothing was more likely to make the potential child murderer pause than the knowledge that if he killed he might suffer his own death.
Despite all the strong measures taken by the Government, the state was simply not protecting its children to the satisfaction of public opinion.
The recent return of Hindley to Saddleworth Moor had reopened painful wounds for many families. The lives of her victims may have been saved if the Labour Government of the day had not given notice that it had plans to abolish the death penalty.
Mr Joe Ashton (Bassetlaw, Lab), opposing, said hanging had never been a deterrent and the statistics proved it.
The Guardian, January 14th, 1987
‘The Day in Politics: MP’s death penalty for child killers bid is defeated’
An attempt to reintroduce the death penalty for child murderers was defeated in the Commons yesterday.
MPs voted by 175 to 110 (majority of 65) to stop MP Mr Geoffrey Dickens (C, Littleborough and Saddleworth) bringing in a private members’s bill to restore capital punishment for child killers.
Mr Norman Tebbit, the Tory chairman, was the only Cabinet Minister to support the bill. The Prime Minister did not vote.
Other ministers to back the measure were Mr Ian Lang (Under-Secretary, Scotland); Mr John Lee (Under-Secretary, Employment); Mr David Mitchell (Minister of State, Transport); Mr Michael Ancram (Under-Secretary, Scotland); Mr Alan Clark (Minister of State, Trade and Industry); Mr Dick Tracey (Minister of Sport); Mr Donald Thompson (Parliamentary Secretary, Agriculture); and Mr Archie Hamilton (Defence UnderSecretary).
Tory whips who supported the bill were Mr Gerald Malone, Mr Michael Portillo, Mr Francis Maude, and Mr Tony Durant.
Mr John Biffen, the Leader of the House, was the only Cabinet Minister to vote against the bill. Mr David Mellor (Minister of State, Home Office) also opposed it, as did Mr Edward Heath, the former Tory Prime Minister. Whips who voted against it were Mr Tim Sainsbury, Mr Tristan Garel-Jones, Mr Peter Lloyd, and Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd.
Mr Dickens told the Commons: ‘The death penalty would have been a most appropriate sentence for Myra Hindley and Ian Brady and others like them if it had been part of our law at the time of their sentence.
‘We might have saved the lives of Lesley-Anne Downey and John Kilbride if the Labour Government of the day had not diluted the deterrent by giving notice that they had plans to abolish the death penalty.
‘I suspect Hindley and Brady took the gamble and they were right. They did not have to face the death penalty at the time of their sentence because the Labour Government had removed it. ‘
Mr Joe Ashton (Lab, Bassetlaw) said that capital punishment meant that the murderer won more public sympathy than the victim. He said: ‘If Myra Hindley had been hanged and gone down in history as the last woman to be hanged, she would have got nowhere near the revulsion she now has and the determination of the people in this country to keep her in gaol for many longer years because the punishment she now has is worse than if she had been hung. ‘
Mr Dickens said: ‘Capital punishment by its deterrent effect, reduces the number of child murders. Nothing is more likely to make the child abuser and potential child murderer pause before interfering with a child than the knowledge that if he kills he may suffer his own death. ‘
There had been a ‘staggering’ rise in child murders since the death penalty was abolished, with 125 people charged with killing children in 1985. He denied that there was a risk of innocent people being hanged by mistake.
Mr Ashton accused Mr Dickens of electioneering. ‘We are in election year and you have a marginal seat that backs onto Saddleworth Moor. There is no doubt that is the reason you have brought in this bill. ‘
He said capital punishment was not a deterrent, but only satisfied a desire for revenge.
The Guardian, January 21st, 1987
Malcolm Dean, ‘Immunity saved man from court / Husband of US diplomat evades trial on sex charge against a child in Britain’
New calls to review diplomatic immunity were made yesterday after the disclosure that the husband of a United States diplomat had been allowed to return home to escape prosecution on a sex charge against a child.
The Foreign Office confirmed that it had asked Mr Charles Price, the US ambassador to waive diplomatic immunity, which protects his staff and their dependants, so that a prosecution could go ahead.
The US embassy said that it regretted the incident, which happened a year ago, but that it had declined to waive immunity in accordance with its government’s long-standing policy on such issues.
The man had returned to Washington for treatment. The embassy suggested that the allegations involved indecent exposure but the Foreign Office said the police papers suggested that a charge of gross indecency would have been made. This could have involved a sentence of up to two years.
Diplomatic immunity had now been removed from the man and if he returned to Britain he would face being arrested and prosecuted, said the Foreign Office.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, urged Mrs Thatcher in the Commons to review the rules governing diplomatic immunity.
She said she had instigated inquiries. ‘Contrary to press reports, it was not a case of rape or assault but indecent exposure. Fortunately, there was no physical injury but this is a serious matter,’ she said.
The case coincided with a tougher policy on immunity in the wake of the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher during the Libyan embassy siege. Ambassadors are asked to co-operate in allowing members of their diplomatic community to be prosecuted.
If they disagree and the person remains in the country, the Foreign Office has the discretion to declare the offender persona non grata and prosecute him.
A campaign was launched last August to persuade the Government to eliminate abuse of diplomatic immunity. It is being promoted by Mrs Queenie Fletcher, the mother of Yvonne, and Mrs Diane Lamplugh, the mother of Suzy Lamplugh, the estate agent who disappeared while showing a bogus homebuyer round a Fulham house.
An estimated 546 crimes punishable by at least six months’ imprisonment have been committed in London by foreign diplomats in the past 10 years. The police notified the Foreign Office of 54 serious offences committed by people with diplomatic immunity last year, and the Government required 25 diplomats to be withdrawn.
Diplomatic immunity was reviewed recently by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and Sir Anthony Kershaw, its chairman, said it would be difficult to change the law. It was enshrined in the Vienna Convention and would require the consent of the other 140 signatories.
The Times, February 14th, 1987
‘MPs hail rape jailings’
MPs last night welcomed the 16-year sentence on a preacher for raping virgins and called for women judges to hear rape cases.
The demand came after Judge Nina Lowry at the Central Criminal Court described Cecil Gilbert, a twice-married father of seven children, as evil.
Another judge at the court sentenced a man aged 20 to fourteen and a half years for rape and assault on a girl.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Little-borough and Saddleworth, said: ‘It has taken a woman judge to do at last what the nation has been crying out for years. ‘
Yesterday’s two stiff sentences for rape came a week after another judge was criticized by MPs over ‘lenient’ sentences in the Ealing vicarage rape case.
Telegraph, March 19th, 1987
P. Klages, ‘Child sex abuse ‘by clergy”
Children are being sexually abused by some clergymen and church leaders know but are ignoring the scandal, it was claimed today.
The accusation came from the children’s protection group, Childwatch, which said it was investigating five alleged cases involving clergy.
Tory MP Mr Geoffrey Dickens, a Childwatch trustee, said police were also involved in the inquiries.
Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said: “”Childwatch is in an advanced state of investigation. The police are assisting those inquiries and it looks very serious indeed.”
Mr Dickens said statements had been taken by police from a number of children and also vicars.
“”The clergy involved are in a position of trust in the community and a lot of young innocent children are falling into the hands of these unscrupulous people,” said Childwatch founder, Mrs Diane Core.
Telegraph, June 30th, 1987
‘Porn Prof’s release sparks protests’
The Lord Chief Justice yesterday likened a child-care professor’s obsession with juvenile porn to that of a schoolboy collecting cigarette cards.
But Lord Lane freed pervert paediatrician Oliver Brooke, 46, saying that he was “”an unusually fine man” apart from his offences.
Brooke had been jailed for keeping thousands of pornographic pictures of children in his hospital office.
His release sparked angry protests by MPs, who said they were amazed at the judge’s decision.
Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens accused Lord Lane of “”gross stupidity of the highest order”.
He added: “”Collecting cigarette cards _ what on earth is the judge on about? It is inexcusable. He should have shown compassion to the victims of the doctor’s sickness _ not the doctor.”
Prof. Brooke, a father of 4, and formerly head of paediatric medicine at St Georges Hospital, Tooting, London, was jailed for a year last December.
He admitted offences involving the procurement, collection and distribution of indecent photographs of children mostly aged 12-14, some posing with adults and some as young as 8.
He told police he had been interested in child porn photos for 15 years.
The Times, July 6th 1987
Ann Kent, Monday Page: ‘There is too much emphasis on keeping families together, rather then ensuring the child is safe’
Kimberley Carlile’s foster father tells Ann Kent why he thinks that the Cleveland cases will increase the difficulties of protecting vulnerable children.
Kimberley Carlile, bruised and painfully thin, spent the last months of her life hidden behind a locked bedroom door. A week ago today an official inquiry into her death opened – also behind closed doors – in a community centre three miles from her former home in south-east London. But despite the secret nature of the proceedings, one of the witnesses is determined to see that justice is done. Gordon Whiteley, who gave evidence last Tuesday, replaced the father Kimberley never had. For 14 months he and his wife Marion, 46, fostered the child, encouraging her to climb trees in their huge garden, and taking her on family holidays.
Most of us can empathize with parents who lose a child in a sudden accident. But the grief which Marion and Gordon Whiteley have faced defies the imagination. The generous, lively child they remembered with such affection was subjected to physical and mental torture from the moment she left them until she was kicked to death eight months later.
Speaking before the inquiry opened, Whiteley, 49, a self-employed motor mechanic, said: ‘After the trial of Kimberley’s mother and stepfather, our first impulse was to creep away and hide. But then we realized that we would never forgive ourselves if we allowed Kimberley to be forgotten. We started looking for ways of making sure this kind of thing never happened again.
‘We want the law to be changed s so that social workers who are refused access are obliged to seek the immediate assistance of the police. And we are deeply worried that the repercussions of the Cleveland case will make it far more difficult to protect vulnerable children. ‘
The Whiteleys have the backing of Geoffrey Dickens MP, the Conservative member for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who has promised to take up the case with the Home Secretary.
Dickens says: ‘Unfortunately the safety of a child sometimes has to infringe on civil liberties. And I agree that we do need to change the law so that social workers no longer have any excuse for failing to see a child. ‘
Unlike social workers and NSPCC officers, the police are entitled to enter a home without a warrant in a case of suspected child abuse. Section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act empowers them to enter where they believe there is a threat to life or limb.
Whiteley believes that this power is not used because of mutual suspicion between the police and social services departments, which can lead, as in Cleveland, to complaints that the police are sometimes hindered in carrying out their investigations. ‘If the law obliged social workers to involve the police, then these political difficulties would be avoided. ‘
The Whiteleys are experienced foster parents. In 14 years about 50 youngsters have stayed in their four-bedroomed bungalow in Moreton, Wirral. Whiteley believes only about half of them have been permanently resettled with their natural parents.
‘There is much too much emphasis on keeping families together, rather than ensuring the child is safe and happy. Social workers are operating by the book, but the book plays on the fact that battered children love their parents, overlooking the fact that unlike adults in the same situation, they have no other options. We need the law to state that a child is a person in his or her right and not the property of the parents. ‘
He is aware that parents whose children (such as those in Middlesborough general hospital) are the subject of care orders, can be deprived of their children by over-zealous officials. But the difference is that those children are still with us. Kimberley, Jasmine Beckford, Heidi Koseda, and scores of others are not.
The Whiteleys decided to become foster parents after seeing a television programme about child abuse. Sandra – Mrs Whiteley’s handicapped daughter from her first marriage – was living with them, but the couple were unable to have more children.
They now have a 14-year-old adopted son, Darren; a foster son, Scott, also 14; and an adopted daughter, Sally, 11. ‘What happened to Kimberley hasn’t changed our minds about fostering,’ Whiteley says. ‘If anything, it has strengthened our resolve. ‘
The couple were not told the full details of Kimberley’s last eight months until last month’s trial, where the child’s stepfather, Nigel Hall, was imprisoned for life, and her mother, Pauline Carlile, for 12 years.
‘I don’t think I would have been able to get through giving my evidence if I had known what Kimberley went through’, says Whiteley. ‘It is bad enough accepting that she is dead: the way it happened is unbelievable. This has changed our lives. ‘
Kimberley was two years and nine months old when she and her elder sister came to stay. They were under a voluntary care order, which meant their mother could get them back when it suited her, and they were originally expected to stay with foster parents for three months. But in the event, Kimberley and her sister, who was two years older, stayed for well over a year.
‘Kimberley had her own will and her own ways of doing things, but she was not naughty and she was open to persuasion. But I can imagine she would have stood up to Hall if she didn’t like the way he was treating her.
‘When Pauline Carlie came up here to collect her daughters and her son, who was also in voluntary care with a foster family who lived nearby, there was some concern because the mother had only been looking after one child, a baby, for the last 14 months, and suddenly she was going to have to cope with four kids. And there was a stepfather – an unknown quantity – on the scene. ‘
The Whiteleys thought it was likely the girls would end up in care again, but it didn’t cross their minds that any of the children would be battered.
Whiteley is extremely unhappy that the inquiry into Kimberley’s death is being held in private.
‘At the moment Kimberley’s story has a beginning and an end. I was to be sure that the inquiry knows everything about what happened in the middle – and that its members are told the whole truth and not just selected facts. ‘
The Guardian, July 17th, 1987
‘The Day in politics: Remove fathers call – Child Abuse’
Fathers who sexually abuse their children may be taken away from their families, under proposals at present being considered, the Home Secretary, Mr Douglas Hurd, told the Commons yesterday. The present practice is to remove the child from the family.
At question time the Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, Miss Clare Short, said it would be better if the ‘abusing male’ was removed from the family rather than the child.
‘Where a child has been sexually abused within a family, to remove that child causes further distress to the child,’ she said. ‘A better alternative would require the abusihg male to be removed from the family. In your review of child law will you look into this possibility, which does exist in many states of America?’ Miss Short asked Mr Hurd.
Mr Hurd said that the review of laws relating to child abuse currently taking place in conjunction with the Department of Health and Social Security would consider this possibility. ‘I will make sure that those looking into this aspect of the law will take this suggestion into account. ‘
There were noisy exchanges when the Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, a campaigner for stiffer sentences for child sex offenders, criticised the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lane. ‘That man has not distinguished himself recently in some of his judgments,’ he said.
Mr Dickens said Mr Hurd should be very cautious on the advice he received from the Lord Chief Justice regarding the shaping of the new Criminal Justice Bill.
The MP added that there was public anger over the reported rise in child abuse and that there were adequate laws to deal with child abusers. ‘But our judges are doing a sloppy job in some cases. ‘
The Speaker Mr Bernard Weathreill, amid cries of ‘Withdraw’ from the Labour benches, told Mr Dickens: ‘You must not criticise a judge. ‘
Mr Dickens replied ‘My criticism was his judgment, not the man himself. ‘ But after more exchanges Mr Dickens eventually withdrew his criticism of the Lord Chief Justice.
The Guardian, October 29, 1987
‘Raped girl ‘a menace”
As 14-year-old rape victim was yesterday described as a menace to young men by a senior judge.
Sir Frederick Lawton, a deputy High Court judge, told Leeds crown court that the schoolgirl was very promiscuous. He said: ‘The girl seems to me to be a menace to the young men in the area.’
The rapist, James Wheeler, aged 19 and unemployed, of Doncaster, was given a two-year custody sentence for the attack which happened in a field called Creepy Hollow.
Sir Frederick, aged 75, a former Lord Justice of Appeal, was criticised by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, the Tory MP for Saddleworth, who said: ‘This was a humiliating and degrading nightmare for the girl, and the judge’s remarks were disgraceful.’
Mr Dickens feared the judge’s comments may stop other young girls reporting attacks.
During the case Mr Robert Moore, prosecuting, said Wheeler raped the girl after he had been drinking. The victim seemed no stranger to sexual intercourse, despite her age, and had made love to Wheeler’s friends on the same day.
Daily Express, January 2nd, 1988
The Times, April 15th, 1988
‘Parliament: Witches in the chamber’
A wave of witchcraft was sweeping the country, Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C) said during business questions. He called for a debate on witchcraft and how it could be controlled.
Mr Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow, Lab) said that on the subject of witchcraft, he had an adjournment debate on the conduct of the Prime Minister’s private office. Would Mrs Thatcher answer herself?
Mr John Wakeham, Leader of the Commons, said that a competent minister would answer. He doubted whether it would be the Prime Minister.
The Times, April 15th, 1988
Craig Brown, ‘Commons sketch: Cheer from the other Mother T’
Mrs Margaret Ewing asked the Prime Minister how she could sleep in her bed at night. It allows for a more comfortable snooze than sleeping on the table, the Prime Minister might have replied. Instead she spoke of the tremendous help the Government was giving to low-income families.
It was a day on which Mrs Thatcher seemed to be either helping or congratulating everyone in the land, and many from other lands as well. Sir Bernard Braine, who is of the old school of Conservatives, the type who might once have been portrayed to great effect by Mr James Robertson Justice in one of the early Carry On films, spoke of the ‘widespread interest’ in the Prime Minister’s meeting with Mother Teresa. Overlooking Mother Teresa’s distress at the sight of London’s homeless, Sir Bernard chose to emphasize her views on abortion.
‘We have the greatest respect and affection for Mother Teresa,’ said Mrs Thatcher, ‘and though we might disagree with one or two things she says, we still admire and respect her views.’ This is the sort of compliment the Prime Minister tends to reserve for faltering Cabinet ministers a few days before she presents them with their cards and they shuffle off into oblivion. Nevertheless, it seemed to receive the unanimous approval of the House.
Few were omitted from the Prime Minister’s roll-call of congratulations. Seeming to agree with Mr David Heathcoat-Amory’s definition of the original aims of the welfare state as ‘self-help where possible’, she said that she wished to ‘congratulate all working people’ on the great efforts they had made. Later, she congratulated an SNP member for his great courtesy in giving her notice of his question, adding, in reference to the surrounding noise. ‘I couldn’t have heard it if he hadn’t’.
‘Get a hearing aid!’ yelled one of the less caring members of the Opposition, and from then on it became increasingly clear that the Labour benches were not going to emulate the Prime Minister’s most gracious munificence. Poor Mother Thatcher, choc-a-bloc with bonhomie after her meeting with her Calcutta counterpart, was to be repaid with nothing more than common abuse for the rest of the day.
The grouchbags were out in force. Mr Barry Sheerman (Lab, Huddersfield) didn’t approve of the amount of food Mother Thatcher was handing out to the needy, finding Pounds 400 a head a little too much for the distribution of breakfasts to the nation’s tens of hundreds of hungry businessmen. But Mother Thatcher knew that no sane man could possibly wish to complain about Chef Clarke’s super sizzling fry-ups. ‘What he’s really complaining about is the fact that we’re succeeding,’ she happily confided.
This is becoming one of her latest techniques in answering criticism. An Opposition member might list any number of of ills besetting the nation, only to be met with a fresh translation of his list by the Prime Minister, along the lines of ‘What he’s really complaining about is the fact that everyone in this great country of ours is so thoroughly cheerful’. Were she to be given the job of translating one of Mr August Strindberg’s more gloomy dramas, Mrs Thatcher would undoubtedly manage to slip in a scene involving Winnie the Pooh, a fresh pot of honey and the merry moptops of field and glade. And that, she would say, is what the gentleman was really saying.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens is generally of the same views as the Prime Minister, though if he met a loveable moptop of field and glade he might well sit on it. The man who gave us child-abuse was now giving us witchcraft. ‘I’m now warning the House that witchcraft is sweeping the country,’ he boomed. Had Mrs Thatcher still been present, she might have wished to congratulate all witches up and down the country on their tremendous efforts, but her absence left the field open for Mr Tam Dalyell. ‘Pursuant to the issue of witchcraft,’ he began, and then he raised the issue of the conduct of the Prime Minister’s Private Office. Of course, what he really meant to say was what a marvellous job he thought they were all doing, and under very trying circumstances.
The Guardian, April 15th, 1988
‘The Day in Politics: Witchcraft ‘danger to children”
Young people are in danger from witchcraft, which is ‘sweeping the country,’ Mr Geoffrey Dickens (C. Littleborough and Saddleworth), warned MPs yesterday.
In calling for a debate on the issue he said it was common knowledge in the Commons that many people convicted of offences against children had been involved in witchcraft initiation ceremonies.
But his comments brought laughter. Mr Dennis Skinner (Lab. Bolsover) said the witchcraft was in Downing Street.
The Leader of the House, Mr John Wakeham, suggested that Mr Dickens should try to raise the issue on an adjournment debate.
The Associated Press, April 15th, 1988
‘Lawmaker Urges The Outlawing of Witchcraft’
Witchcraft is sweeping Britain and must be outlawed so British children don’t fall into the “sordid, sexual and diabolical grasp” of those who practice it, a lawmaker told the House of Commons.
Geoffrey Dickens, of the governing Conservative Party, asserted Thursday that many people convicted of child abuse had been involved in witchcraft initiation ceremonies.
“People laughed when I spoke nine years ago about child abuse. Most people are listening now,” said Dickens, asking for a debate on the subject. “I now warn the House _ witchcraft is sweeping the country.”
His comments were met with laughter from other lawmakers. House leader John Wakeham rejected the call for a debate but urged Dickens to pursue the subjects he thought important.
Later, Dickens said he would urge the introduction of legislation banning witchcraft, with prison sentences for offenders.
“These are extremely devious, evil people,” he said. “If we are to protect children from their sordid, sexual and diabolical grasp we must bring in new laws to wipe witches off the face of the earth.”
He said he had evidence that a vicar in northern England had surveyed 300 14-year-old pupils, and 87 percent had said they had dabbled in the occult.
“I have not gone mad,” he said. “This is a serious and growing problem which must be exorcised.”
The crime of witchcraft was abolished in 1951 with the repeal of the 1735 Witchcraft Act.
Hobart Mercury, April 27th, 1988
Hay John, ”Ware witches and tipsy MPs’
When life is getting humdrum, when the mundane becomes the norm, there is always a British MP or two who will add a little seasoning to the spice of life.
Thus we are all grateful to a Tory MP, Mr Geoffrey Dickens, who is warning us all that there are wicked witches at large in the country.
The nation, it seems, is rife with them, with covens here and sordid rituals there and we disregard the fact at our peril, or perils, if the plural be necessary.
Mr Dickens is not suggesting that the country is infested with old crones throwing frogs and newts and bats and other ingredients into smoke-blackened cauldrons and shrieking some litany about bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.
But he is unequivocal about the fact that the other side of our face is where we will be laughing should we ignore his timely warnings.
Crusading Mr Dickens got a poor initial reception when he told parliament, with due solemnity, that witchraft was sweeping the country.
The opposition, to a man (I believe the women were attending the weekly Westminster coven) responded: “With broomsticks?” However, the Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth is not a man whose Churchillian-like 19 stone (120 kilograms) are to be trifled with. He is adamant that the House should debate the danger of witches interfering with the running of the country, in particular the national health service.
Mr Dickens is not the only legislator trying to keep ennui at bay.
There is also Mr Tony Marlow, the Tory member for Northampton North, who has called on the Home Secretary to reintroduce the stocks as a form of punishment.
What is more, Mr Marlow has discovered that punishment in the stocks has never actually been removed from the statute book, so it would require but a stroke of the pen to return miscreants to public humiliation.
He is not, however, one for the old wooden head and hands device.
Mr Marlow prefers a modern substitute and would like to see the old system replaced with glass boxes where offenders would stand up and face public ridicule. Offenders would have to wear different kinds of vest to denote the kind of offence committed.
One wonders whether Mr Marlow has considered the congestion in the City of London where numerous stocks would be required to house the number of City gentlemen – generally considered to be friends of the Tory Party – increasingly involved in insider trading, defrauding the public at large or manipulating the stock market, all part of the growth industry of the Eighties.
Another MP contributing to the national joie de vivre is Mr Ron Brown, a Labor member of leftish tendency who has treated the House with disdain, the Speaker with contempt and done grievous bodily harm to the Mace, the parliament’s symbol of authority, by dropping it and denting it.
Mr Brown, who hails from Edinburgh, long known as the Athens of the North, refused to make an agreed apology to the Speaker and has been involved in several incidents which have earned him the accolade of political yob, an asset, of course, in the eyes of his constituents.
Later came the news that a number of unnamed MPs are over-liberal in their use of the drinking facilities, getting tipsy in the bar when they could be taking part in debates and on occasions grappling with each other as drunken sots are apt to do.
One informant alleged that sometimes the situation in the House was so bad that when the Speaker calls “Order, order,” he half-expects some MPs to shout “four pints and a whisky-and-soda, please.” Aren’t you glad to be living in Australia where MPs take their duties seriously?
For those here with no political interests, there is little chance of escape from terminal ennui this week because the finals of the Eurovision song contest will be televised from Dublin, which happens to be celebrating its millenium this year.
They are celebrating it, but to tell the truth even in Dublin they are not too sure that it was 1,000 years ago that the Fair City was established, but they are adopting the attitude that near enough is good enough, to be sure.
Well, not quite sure, but you know what they mean.
The BBC has been previewing the Eurovision contest in recent weeks, with videos of the entries, trying to show it is better for nations to sing than to make war. The BBC did not prove its argument.
Claims are made that 200 million Europeans will be glued to their TV sets and critics say that is the only way to make them listen.
Beethoven can rest safely. The Fifth is under no threat.
For those who wish to get away from all this, the news of the week is the giant cruise ship that millionaire Riva Tikkoo wishes to build in Belfast.
It is code-named the Ultimate Dream and will carry 3,026 passengers, have 16 decks, 12 swimming pools, the largest casino afloat, a three-tier theatre, eight restaurants, 1,513 cabins and all mod cons.
Some, however, have not received the news with unrestrained enthusiasm, seeing the proposed cruise ship as a floating holiday camp, with serried ranks of yellow-coated marshals telling us they have ways of making us enjoy ourselves.
And no way to escape.
The Toronto Star, May 13th, 1988, Friday, ME2
‘World’s witches choose a new king’
LONDON (Reuter) – The world’s witches will have a new king today, Friday the 13th.
The mysterious Council of Witches met yesterday at a secret location somewhere in Britain to choose a successor to High Priest Verbias, also known as Alex Sanders, who died last week after a 25-year reign.
The “King of Witches” is spiritual leader to about 100,000 witches in Britain and up to a million members worldwide of the Wicca, one of the three main strains of witchcraft, High Priest Nigel Bourne said.
“The next king must possess wisdom, experience, love and magical powers,” said Bourne, who was initiated into Wicca 20 years ago and is spokesman for the council. “He must be a magical person, but wisdom is the principal thing.”
There is some controversy over who will succeed Sanders, a flamboyant leader who campaigned to make witchcraft acceptable after it was legalized in 1951.
Some point to his 16-year-old son Victor, though Bourne said initiates must be at least 18.
Modern-day witches share little with the cackling hag of folklore who wore a pointed hat, rode a broomstick and turned people into toads.
Predominantly white and middle-class, they are lawyers, accountants, writers, artists, civil servants, even politicians.
“It’s like any other religion, really,” said a photographer named Keith who joined about 100 other witches for Sanders’ cremation Wednesday in the seaside town of Hastings. “It’s about love and trust.”
Cambridge-educated anthropologist Tanya Luhrman, author of a book on modern witchcraft, said Britain is seeing the biggest resurgence of witchcraft in a century.
She attributes it to a spin-off of 1960s interest in astrology, the occult and feminism and to anxiety over the threat of nuclear war and international conflicts.
Followers can take correspondence courses in magic, buy occult magazines and visit “psychic centres” to consult tarot card readers, crystal ball gazers and astrologists.
Bourne, a computer specialist, rejects media reports of witches carrying out human sacrifices, sexual rites with children and black magic.
“Very, very little of that will be true,” he said. “A lot of it will be fantasy, a lot of it will be based around the fact that a lot of craft symbolism is sexual in nature. One is dealing with generative forces, but it is symbolism.”
But Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens is campaigning for government action against what he calls a nationwide occult threat.
The Associated Press, May 14th, 1988
‘No King for Witches’
The King of the Witches for 25 years is dead and his designated heir has fled.
So the Witchcraft Council of Elders, which claims 100,000 members in Britain and thousands of adherents worldwide, voted unanimously not to pick a successor.
Alex Sanders was the first formal King of the Witches in about 500 years, said council spokesman, High Priest Nigel Bourne.
The witch king, who died earlier this month at age 61, decreed in a tape recording played at his funeral that his 16-year-old son, Victor, should succeed him as king, said his widow, Maxine.
But his son apparently has no interest in the job and has gone to live with friends in the United States, she said.
In any case, she suggested, perhaps a king is no longer needed. The Council of Elders voted to that effect Thursday night.
“In the old days you had a king of witches because the crops wouldn’t grow, because the country was in danger or at war, or something like that,” she said.
“After a period of seven years he would be sacrificed. In modern times we don’t sacrifice them, but nobody in their right mind wants the job. … It is not necessary at this time. The crops are doing very nicely, the babies are doing nicely.”
The Sanders family clearly regard their brand of witchcraft as the white, or benevolent, sort.
Geoffrey Dickens, a Conservative member of Parliament, told the House of Commons last month that he believed witchcraft was sweeping the country and endangering children. He said many people convicted of offenses against children had been involved in witchcraft initiation ceremonies.
The Times, June 23rd 1988
Craig Brown, ‘Is this a scourge I see before me?; Commons sketch’
Question: What does a scourge do? Answer: It sweeps the country. In the catechism of the backbench Tory, a fresh scourge of one thing or another sweeps the country every couple of days.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens is the most noted scourgepiracy theorist. Every morning, as he tumbles out of bed and draws back the curtains, something new and awful catches his eye. Down in the Dickens garden, the beasties are ever at play. Recently, he has sighted witches, and before them child molesters, and, only a day or two ago, plagues of locusts. They are all, of course, dead on course to ‘sweep the country’.
Though Mr Dickens, vast, common and creepy, is the most obviously grotesque of the scourgepiracy theorists, he is not alone. Rather, he is the carved ghoul on a packed trunk of populist Conservative fearaticians. Somewhere in this grisly caseload lies Mr Tony Favell (Cons, Stockport) who, perhaps unduly affected by standing in the 1979 General Election against The Beast of Bolsover, tends to see a scourge behind every hedge.
During Environment Questions, Mr Favell announced that graffiti was a ‘scourge sweeping the country’. Since Tories never feel that anything really exists until it can be proved to cost millions of pounds, he began to count the cost. The graffiti scourge had cost ‘Birmingham Buses alone’ two million pounds, and was costing the rest of the country a clear one and a half thousand million pounds. Quite how he had totted it all up he did not let on, but his figures went down a bomb with fellow backbenchers. It was time for the law to ‘take its gloves off’, boomed Mr Favell. This type of speech always ends with a call to ban something or other. Sure enough, Mr Favell called for a ban on the sale of all aerosols to the under-16s.
In this comprehensive and diligently researched round-up of the Parliamentary fearaticians, it would be unfair not to mention Mr Joe Ashton. Mr Ashton is a Labour member of the straight-talking, never-did-me-any-harm, voice-of-common-sense school of politicians, a sort of Geoffrey Dickens who found himself placed on the left rather than the right when the gnarled and jittery hand of politics was dealing its tuppenny-ha’penny deck. He likes to think that he talks nitty-gritty, though skilled observers detect in his speeches rather more of the nitty than of the gritty.
As might have been expected, Mr Ashton had a thing or two to say on the subject of graffiti. He claimed that just as laws to make citizens sign for garden poisons had ‘cut down on murderers’, so a law to make them sign for spray paint would cut down on graffiti. Under an Ashton regime it is quite possible that everything would be signed for: rope, to cut down on strangling, telephones, to cut down on obscene calls, water, to cut down on murder-by-drowning, and so on. But Mr Nicholas Winterton did not think that Mr Ashton went nearly far enough.
Whenever Mr Winterton sees a bend, he goes round it. He is certainly not quite mad, but he is already barking. ‘Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!’ goes his voice, while his face grows steadily redder and redder. Nothing for Mr Winterton is ever quite acceptable. Indeed, everything is ‘quite unacceptable’. It was, he thought, ‘quite unacceptable that retail outlets accept no responsibility for what they sell’. Warming to his subject, he demanded ‘a bit of hard labour’ for offenders, and, his bark growing louder and louder, he wanted to see these youths forced to ‘remove what they have done to DESECRATE THE COMMUNITY!!!’
Mr Merlyn Rees seemed an unlikely fellow to be caught mixing with this rabble of spray-speakers. It was rather as if King Lear had been snapped whooping it up with a bevy of drunken can-can girls. Mr Rees said that he wished to point out that the underpasses of Elephant and Castle were ‘indescribable’ as they were ‘smothered in graffiti’. With such distress being caused even to the sane by this terrible muck, it is most surely time for all Mr Geoffrey Dickens’s witches to pick up their brooms and join forces to sweep the country.
The Times, June 28th, 1988
‘Minister’s warning to women; Peter Bottomley; Parliament’
‘Keep a sharp lookout and do not accept lifts from strangers’ is part of the advice from Mr Peter Bottomley, Under Secretary of State for Transport, to women drivers whose cars break down on motorways.
In a written reply to Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C), who asked for a national campaign to encourage women motorists and passengers to render assistance to stranded women motorists, Mr Bottomley said that before any long journey women should make sure that the vehicle was in good condition and had enough fuel.
If they did break down, they should get as near to an emergency telephone as possible.
‘If you cannot see a phone, look for the marker arrows and follow them they show the direction of the nearest phone. While on the hard shoulder, or telephoning, keep a sharp lookout and do not accept lifts from strangers; wait for the police or breakdown service. We encourage drivers to be courteous and helpful to others.’
The Guardian, August 5th, 1988
Victoria Macdonald, Rape ‘gamble’ by judge
A High Court judge yesterday provoked a storm of protest after taking what he admitted was ‘a gamble’ in sending a convicted rapist to gaol for the ‘virtual minimum’ sentence of a year.
Mr Justice Rougier sentenced Patrick Hall, who terrorised his former girlfriend, broke an injunction preventing him from molesting her and raped her on the stairs of a block of flats, to two years’ imprisonment with one year suspended.
Passing sentence at the Old Bailey, he said: ‘I am taking a gamble. I hope it is the right gamble.’ The case was ‘odd and unusual’ and the victim had been ‘over-emotional.’
Because Hall and the victim had been lovers the attack would not have been such a shock as to many women.
Hall, 27, unemployed, of Fulham, West London, had initially denied the charge but on the second day of the trial changed his plea to guilty.
The court heard that he and the victim, a 23-year-old student, had once been lovers and that they had had a child. Last September he raped her at the flats where she lived. Mr Samual Wiggs, prosecuting, said she had submitted through fear.
Last night, MPs and pressure groups reacted angrily.
Labour’s shadow minister for women, Jo Richardson, said the sentence was part of the continuing scandal of derisory sentences handed down by judges in rape cases.
A spokeswoman for the London Rape Crisis Centre said women wanted to have faith in the legal system protecting them but, as this case illustrated, many were let down.
The Conservative MP Mr Geoffrey Dickens said: ‘The state has a duty to protect its citizens and especially women, and there can be no excuse for a lenient sentence like this, which is an outrage.
‘I am now suggesting to the Lord Chancellor that only women judges should hear rape cases.’
Herald, September 19th, 1988 Monday
‘Babies sacrificed MP’
LONDON, SUNDAY Babies and young children were being sacrificed to the Devil in witchcraft rituals all over Britain, according to Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.
The children were lured into covens, drugged or brainwashed and then forced to take part in degrading sexual acts, he alleged.
In extreme cases, babies or very young children were killed as offerings to the Devil, Mr Dickens said.
He claimed to have evidence from around the country that children were being “sacrificed” in bestial ceremonies.
“Six hundred children go missing every year. At least 50 of these children are simply never found again, he said.
“Murder is horrible enough to contemplate but in most cases of this nature the child’s pitiful body is eventually discovered. With witchcraft sacrifice, nothing is ever found,” he said.
The MP told She magazine that the secrecy surrounding such covens made hard evidence difficult to come by.
A child-care expert, a former black witch and a vicar supported the MP’s claims about the Satanic rituals.
They said that sometimes young women were “mated” with the High Priest of a coven so they could give birth to his child. The baby was never registered and was later offered as a sacrifice to the Devil.
One woman told how she was drawn into a coven which fed her heroin habit. She was “initiated” into the coven by being raped across an altar by the High Priest and witnessed a 13-year-old girl being raped in a similar way.
She also admitted that during her five years as a black witch she once took part in a human sacrifice.
“It was a baby girl, nine days old. She belonged to a woman in the coven. Her throat was cut. We drank the blood,” she said.
Hobart Mercury, September 20th, 1988
‘British MP claims Devil-worsh ippers are sacrificing children’
BABIES and young children were being sacrificed to the Devil in witchcraft rituals all over Britain, according to an MP from Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher’s Tory Party.
The children are lured into covens, drugged or brainwashed and then forced into degrading sexual acts, says Mr Geoffrey Dickens.
In extreme cases, babies or very young children are killed as offerings to the Devil.
“Six hundred children go missing every year. At least 50 of these children are simply never found again,” he says. “With witchcraft sacrifice nothing is ever found.” The MP told a magazine that the secrecy surrounding such covens makes hard evidence difficult to come by.
“It is a tricky and difficult area to prove but from conversations with contacts and ex-Satanists, I can honestly tell you I do believe these things have and are happening,” he says.
A child-care expert, a former black witch and a vicar all back up the MP’s claims.
They say sometimes young women are “mated” with the High Priest of a coven so they can give birth to his child. The baby is never registered and is later offered as a sacrifice.
Mrs Dianne Core, national organiser of the Childwatch charity, has also been gathering evidence on the use and abuse of children in covens.
“Often you will find they go missing near one of the major Satanic festivals like the one this week, the Autumn Equinox on September 20,” she says.
The Sunday Times, September 25th, 1988
Richard Ellis, ‘Child ‘spy’ plan to beat illegal fireworks sales’
PLANS to use children as undercover agents to trap shopkeepers who sell fireworks to minors have been condemned by child-welfare campaigners.
They fear the ploy, which is already being used to catch tobacconists who sell cigarettes to under-16s, will put children at risk of physical or verbal attacks and give them an immoral lesson that deception is acceptable.
The plan has been drawn up by local trading standards officers across the country, some of whom plan to pay the children for their work.
The boys and girls, some as young as seven, will go into a shop and ask to buy fireworks. Watching nearby will be a trading standards officer. If the shopkeeper sells the goods he will later be approached and prosecuted, facing a maximum fine of Pounds 2,000.
Dianne Core, of Childwatch, said last week: ‘It is disgusting. Children should not be used to spy on other people.
‘What happens if a shopkeeper or his relatives react violently? The child could be in great danger either then or at a later stage. Someone in the shop could recognise them as a spy from a previous shop. There are all kinds of complications.’
Geoffrey Dickens, the Tory MP who has campaigned against the abuse of children, said: ‘This is a misuse of children. Trading standards officers should do their own dirty work and not use children as the cheese in a mousetrap. Using them in a devious way is not setting a good example to them.’
Trading standards officers rejected the criticism. They stressed that only willing, responsible children, normally their own sons or daughters, would be chosen. They would be supervised and would be called to give evidence in court only as an ‘unavoidable’ last resort.
The officers believe that the use of children, pioneered this year by Liverpool trading standards officers, is the only effective way of enforcing the laws governing the sale of cigarettes and fireworks. Bob Wright, chairman of the trading standards officers’ professional body, said last week: ‘The supervision and control over the child is total. They are never, ever, put in a position where they are alone.
‘Invariably their work is in a different area to their home territory, so there is no question of repercussions. I have a nine-year-old daughter and I would be content to let her assist in this type of operation.’
Inquiries by The Sunday Times have established that at least 15 other authorities plan to use child agents.
Robin Croft, Liverpool’s assistant chief trading standards officer, said: ‘By using children and getting maximum publicity for the survey, we end up protecting thousands of children from unscrupulous retailers. If we can keep up that sort of success rate then we think here is ample justification for using children in our work.’
Alan White, chief trading standards officer at Enfield, north London, said he planned to use children in a campaign beginning in mid-October against firework sales to youngsters. White said he would pay the youngsters for their work. ‘It is not a salary, but a small, ex-gratia sum as a reward for their help, ‘ he said.
The National Federation of Retail Newsagents, which has 30,000 members, said the plan was ‘disgraceful and provocative’.
The Guardian, October 18th, 1988
‘Anger over rape sentence’
A judge came under fire from Mr Geoffrey Dickens, MP, last night after he sentenced a father who raped his two-year-old daughter to three years’ probation. Mr Justice Schiemann said he was taking an ‘extremely merciful course’ and added: ‘It is a question of judgment. One can get it wrong but one must do the best one can.’
Ordering the man to have psychiatric treatment as part of the order, the judge told Sheffield Crown Court: ‘It I send him to prison, he will come out with still the same personality defects that he has at the moment.’ He added: ‘I take the view that the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen again is to cause him to be treated under supervision.’
The Times, November 3rd, 1988
‘Sentence on sex attacker criticized; Afzal Khan’
A father who carried out a series of sexual assaults on teenage girls outside a school was freed by a judge yesterday.
Afzal Khan, aged 32, who has two children, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years because Judge Medawar, QC, considered the offences ‘comparatively trivial’.
The judge’s decision and comments were condemned by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, and a child abuse campaigner. He said: ‘I don’t think judges realize how terrifying these attacks are. No sexual attack is trivial, let alone ones on 13-year-old schoolgirls. It can affect their lives for many years.
‘The parents of these victims will be justifiably outraged. The judge is completely out of touch with what is needed to protect the public. He deserved a custodial sentence.’
Snaresbrook Crown Court was told that Khan loitered around a school in Ilford, Essex, during a three-month campaign.
He hung around bus stops, rubbing against girls and breathing heavily, Mr Stephen Kramer, for the prosecution, said.
Khan put his hand on one girl’s knee and caressed her thigh making her ‘jump in the air with fright’, the court was told.
Khan, a machinist, of Queen’s Road, Walthamstow, east London, admitted five sample charges of indecent assault between April and June last year. His victims were aged 13 to 16.
Judge Medawar said: ‘You made a thorough nuisance of yourself, molesting young girls on public transport. You put them in fear and distress making them shocked, angry and scared.
‘Parents have a right to expect their children will be protected even against such comparatively trivial acts.’
The Times, December 19th, 1988
Robin Oakley, ‘TV evidence speed-up in cases of child abuse’
The Government is to speed up the legal reform allowing children under 14 to give evidence by closed circuit television in crown court cases involving physical or sexual abuse.
Law officers have been disturbed at the number of child abuse trials which are breaking down because children cannot face the ordeal of coming face to face with their alleged abusers.
The Home Office is expected to announce today that children will be able to give evidence over closed circuit television from January 5, several months sooner than expected when provision was made for the reform in the 1988 Criminal Justice Act.
The Commons will today debate child cruelty on a private member’s motion to be introduced by Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, which is designed to draw attention to the package of deterrent measures now arrayed against the potential child-abuser. He will ask the Home office to sponsor late night television advertising to bring home to potential abusers the punishments now available.
Mr Dickens said yesterday that because of the Criminal Justice Bill and other changes the abuser was much more likely to be caught and to receive a custodial sentence. In prison he could expect his life to be hell ‘as most will have to be protected from their fellow prisoners .. involving much solitary confinement’.
Mr Dickens will argue, however, that all the legal changes are not much use if people did not know about them. The deterrent had to be spelt out.
In response, Mr John Patten, Home Office Minister of State , is expected to announce a Home Office review of the recent changes in legal procedure and the range of penalties to see if additional deterrents are needed.
Ministers believe that over four years they have built up an almost complete package of penalties and procedures to deter the child abuser. The new Criminal Justice Act has increased the possible punishment for child neglect from two to 10 years.
Other serious attacks on children murder, rape, grievous bodily harm, buggery now carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. From February 1 the Attorney General will be able to refer allegedly lenient sentences for child abusers to the Court of Appeal.
Recent legislation makes it possible for spouses of alleged abusers to be compelled to give evidence against them. Courts can now draw inferences from someone involved in a child abuse case refusing to give a blood or urine sample.
Children giving evidence no longer have to have it corroborated by an adult. The range of offences on which a child can give a written statement in committal proceedings has been extended.
Since September possession of an indecent photo of a child has been an offence, facilitating action against paedophile rings. Ministers are taking some satisfaction from improved clear-up rates for crimes against children.
No separate figures for adults and children are kept on homicides, but 98 per cent of those are solved. The figure is 78 per cent for serious crimes of violence and 75 per cent for all sexual offences.
Ninety per cent of offences involving unlawful sex with under-age girls are cleared up and 93 per cent of cases involving gross indecency with a child are solved.
The Times, December 20 1988
‘MP’s warning to would-be child abusers; Parliament’
A warning to would-be child abusers that they were now more likely to get caught and severely punished came from Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C) when he opened a Commons debate on the subject.
He moved a motion that expressed disgust at the spread of child abuse, welcomed provisions in the Criminal Justice Act, 1988, that were designed to deter abusers and called on the Government regularly to review sentences available to the courts in dealing with offenders.
‘I thought just before Christmas, a time for children, that it was important to lay down some markers to those who look towards a child in an unnatural way of what might be in store for them’, he said.
Many more people were now likely to be caught, convicted, and to face custodial sentences. Convictions were up because children found it easier to tell and neighbours and teachers knew the tell-tale signs.
‘Child care law is important and the new Children Bill will help those at the sharp end: the field workers.’
The Criminal Justice Act had freed children from the trauma of giving evidence in the witness box. They could now do it on a live television link. It had been wrong to expect young children to come face to face with their alleged attacker across the courtroom.
‘The net is closing in on the abusers in a very sensible way. All would-be child abusers should understand that with the advent of genetic fingerprinting the level of convictions is being drawn ever tighter.’
In America, the use of video recordings had resulted in 80 per cent of defendants pleading guilty. If that were repeated in the United Kingdom, many children would be spared the ordeal of a court appearance.
Public outrage over recent cases meant that judges were tending to take a strong line in sentencing those convicted of child abuse. The Court of Appeal now had power to increase sentences when it considered that an inappropriately low sentence had been passed. That was a big step forward.
It was important that the child abuser should get the message that life in prison would be hell. For their own safety many would have to be in solitary confinment, and exercise, work and privileges would be greatly resticted as a result.
The Government could spend a little extra on television advertising late in the evening and the message should be that the paedophile was more likely to be caught and charged, more likely to be convicted and to receive a custodial sentence.
Miss Joan Lestor (Eccles, Lab) said that action should be taken to stop undesirable child lines being established to make improper contact with children. There had been instances of that happening and there ought to be some form of registration and monitoring to stop this abuse.
What was the Government doing to ensure that the voluntary organizations concerned with children had access to the police records of those they employed? There were instances of people with criminal records for abusing children being unwittingly employed to care for youngsters.
Mr Stuart Randall, an Opposition spokesman on home affairs, said that there was all-party support for the motion, but he thought that Mr Dickens was perhaps overly optimistic about what had been done in the Criminal Justice Act. It contained valuable measures to stamp out abuse, but it would be wrong to believe that ‘we can just slap people in prison and that that will be the end of that’.
People simply came out of prison and abused again. There had to be the right kind of therapy and treatment to break the cycle of abuse in families.
Mr Ronald Fearn, for the Democrats, said that he was broadly in favour of what Mr Dickens was trying to achieve. Although paedophile organizations were banned in Britain, diaries were still on sale giving details of international paedophile organizations and they should be banned.
Mr David Wilshire (Spelthorne, C) called for action against cults that abused children in the name of religion, such as the Children of God, which gave everything in the Bible a sexual meaning, and satanism.
Mr John Patten, Minister of State, Home Office, referred to Miss Lestor’s call for voluntary agencies dealing with children to have access to police records of child abusers. At present, local authorities, the NHS and independent schools had such access.
‘After considerable negotiations we have now reached agreement on three pilot schemes to give access to the voluntary sector.’ There would be a national scheme and two local schemes, at least one of which would be in the West Midlands.
The Sunday Times, January 15th 1989
‘Trial delay ‘outrage’; Margaret Sykes’
MPs YESTERDAY demanded an inquiry into the case of a woman who spent more than a year in custody awaiting trial for the murder of a man who tried to rape her. She was acquitted at the Old Bailey on Friday in a trial lasting just over an hour.
Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said ministers should ensure ‘substantial compensation’ was paid to Margaret Sykes, 30, who was charged with murdering William McLaughlin, 69, in his north London flat.
McLaughlin died after a struggle during the rape attempt in which Sykes wrapped the cord of an iron round his neck. She gave herself up nine days later.
Yesterday Dickens described her detention as ‘outrageous and indefensible’.
John Wheeler, Conservative MP for Westminster North and chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said last night that he sympathised with her plight, although magistrates might have had reasons for not remanding Sykes on bail.
Compensation is rarely paid unless there has been a serious error. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘There can be problems with court delays.’
The Independent, January 28th, 1989
‘Mother who threw boiling water on rapist is freed’
THE MOTHER who took revenge on the rapist of her five-year-old daughter by pouring boiling water over his groin was freed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
The three appeal judges reduced her 30-month jail term to a two-year suspended sentence.
The court also freed the woman’s husband and 17-year-old son, who were also jailed 11 days ago for attacking the rapist, Lee Roberts, 19.
The husband’s 21-month prison sentence was reduced to nine months and suspended. The son’s 21-month youth custody sentence was set aside, and he was conditionally discharged.
Lord Lane, the Lord Chief Justice, sitting with Mr Justice Rose and Mr Justice Pill, said that the 37-year-old woman had been ‘grossly provoked’, and a court ‘should pause very long before putting a mother of six behind bars and leaving her children to the tender mercies of others’.
The Lord Chief Justice, who was told that the jailing of the three had ‘inflicted virtual devastation’ on the family, said the sentences meant that, through no fault of her own, the raped child had been ‘doubly wounded’ and, if they were allowed to stand, would continue to be wounded for some time.
In his judgement, Lord Lane said: ‘Generally speaking, revenge attacks must be met by suitable deterrent punishment and in that respect immediate custodial sentences cannot be properly criticised.’ But in this case all three defendants were ‘highly and justifiably incensed’ and the provocation was great. He said he had taken into account the ‘mitigating and highly unusual features’ of the case.
Lord Lane added that when interviewed by police all three told the ‘plain and unvarnished truth’. Lee Roberts himself told the police that he had ‘brought the attack on himself’.
To protect the identity of the little girl who was raped, the family cannot be named.
The court heard that Roberts, now serving nine years youth custody for the rape, had been taken in by the family after his own parents disowned him. He was treated like a son by the mother.
He needed plastic surgery on his genitals after the mother, outraged when she learned of the rape from other children at a riverside picnic, picked up a boiling kettle and emptied it over the front of his trousers.
Roberts was also beaten by the 24-year-old father and the woman’s son by a previous marriage.
The three had pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to grievous bodily harm.
Lord Lane said that the woman’s three youngest children, including the rape victim, were taken into care following the attack, after it became clear that they were all the victims of sexual abuse.
There was no suggestion that the mother had been involved, in any way, in the abuse of the young children. There had been suspicion surrounding the 17-year-old son, but no charges were ever brought, the judge said.
After the verdict, the mother, who sat impassively throughout the hour-long appeal hearing, wept and threw her arms around her husband and son. The family’s solicitor later thanked the Press for coverage which resulted in an anonymous benefactor providing funds for the appeal.
The news that the family had been freed was warmly welcomed by Geoffrey Dickens, the Conservative MP for Saddleworth and Littleborough, who has been leading a five-year crusade against child abuse.
He said at Westminster: ‘This is absolutely marvellous news. This lady had public opinion behind her all the way.
‘It is a great blow for the women of this country and it will put down a marker to people that, neither society nor the judiciary, will tolerate rape attacks on tiny children.’
Jo Richardson, Labour’s front bench spokesman on women’s rights, said: ‘This is a very sensible decision. She should never have been jailed in the first place.’
The Times, April 28th, 1989
‘Children Bill ‘a landmark in social history; Parliament’
The Children Bill, a far-reaching measure to reform the law on the welfare of children, particularly in the light of the Cleveland cases and the Butler-Sloss report, was given an unopposed second reading.
It would be a landmark in social history, Mr David Mellor, Minister of State for Health, told MPs.
He said that it was the first attempt to establish a unified code of law covering the care and upbringing of children in the public and private domains. It established the principle that the welfare of the child was paramount.
Opposition MPs welcomed the Bill, although Mr Tom Clarke, an Opposition spokesman on health and social security, said: We remain deeply disturbed by the Government’s reluctance to introduce what would have been the most imaginative, far-reaching and positive reform in postwar child care legislation on the family court.
Some MPs repeated the demand for the establishment of family courts.
Mr Mellor said that the Bill was the most comprehensive and far-reaching reform of child law to have come before Parliament in living memory. It had been motivated by an overriding concern to put in place an effective legislative framework to ensure the welfare of children.
The Bill came after a White Paper produced in 1987, but it had been reviewed and revised in the light of Lord Justice Butler-Sloss’s report on events in Cleveland. It now incorporated reforms of guardianship and custody recommended by the Law Commission.
It also integrated private and public law relating to children into a single, rationalized system, as recommended by the commission.
‘The Government has high ambitions for this Bill. It hopes and believes the Bill will bring order, integration, relevance and a better balance to the law a better balance not just between the rights and responsibilities of individuals and those of agencies, but also, most vitally, between the need to protect children and the need to enable parents to challenge intervention in the upbringing of their children.’
The Bill would provide a comprehensive framework of powers and responsibilities to secure the central goal: that children should receive the care, upbringing and protection they deserved.
Two basic principles ran through the Bill. First, an improved statement of the welfare principle governing court decisions in respect of children; second, an important reform of the law governing parental responsibility, guardianship and courts’ powers to make orders in respect of children in family proceedings.
Its key provisons rationalized the responsibilities of local authorities towards children in need, proposed fairer court procedures for parents and children, introduced a new emergency protection order to replace the place of safety order, restricted use of wardship as a means of giving local authorities compulsory powers over a child, and outlined arrangements for child care cases to be heard at the level of court appropriate.
An amendment would be tabled to provide that organizations temporarily looking after children who had run away would be exempted from liability for the offence of harbouring.
Local authorities would have a new duty to promote the upbringing of children in need by their families if it was consistent with the welfare of the child.
The most vital part of the Bill made wide reforms to the processes for compulsory intervention in the care and upbringing of children.
The key reform would be a new emergency protection order, limited to a maximum of eight days but extendable by the court to fifteen days. This would replace the present place of safety order, which could run for up to 28 days without the parents of the child having any opportunity to challenge it. ‘This is part of learning the lessons of Cleveland.’
Mr Clarke said that quite often circumstances suggested that a child was in danger, but there might be insufficient evidence to seek an emergency protection order.
The idea of child assessment orders had support from some child care organizations which wanted orders that would allow the medical examination of a child without the child’s being removed from the family.
That would be better for family life and might help to prevent the sort of cases that had become all too familiar in recent years. ‘We are deeply worried that the frequent uncertainties and suspicions which surround potential child abuse might not be safely resolved with the proposed range of care procedures.’
The future of children could be protected only by the development of a number of inter-related strategies on health, education, housing and welfare. The Government had not acknowledged that the success of the Bill depended on changes in its other policies.
It was a good Bill. The balance was about right between parental responsibility and children’s rights. However, this important landmark in child-care legislation must not become just a collection of good intentions.
Dame Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston, C) said that the lessons of Cleveland had been learnt. No longer should it be possible for children to be torn from home and kept away for weeks, as happened under the truly disgraceful regime of Dr Marietta Higgs.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth, C) said that Parliament was listening to the cries of children and at last there would be legislation to provide greater protection.
Mr Ronald Fearn, Democrat spokesman on health, said: I urge the Government to reconsider its position and use this opportunity, maybe the last, to introduce family courts into our legal system.
Mr Michael Shersby, parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation, said that he welcomed the Bill on behalf of the police and of his constituents. The police, however, would like to be assured that the concept of a family court had not been abandoned.
Mr Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Lab) said that parents should not be expected to wait for 72 hours before applying for a discharge in the case of an emergency protection order. They should be allowed to do so within 24 hours if they had evidence with which to challenge the local authority’s decision.
Miss Joan Lestor (Eccles, Lab) said the Children’s Society estimated that there were 75,000 children missing from home. If that was an accurate figure, it was a disgrace and the reason for it should be investigated.
Mr David Hinchcliffe (Wakefield, Lab), a social worker for 20 years, welcomed the general principles of the Bill but was worried by the lack of a provision for the removal from the home of the alleged perpetrator of child abuse rather than the child.
Sir Nicholas Lyell, Solicitor General, said that the Government’s target time for implementing the Bill was 18 months. It was the beginning of a programme of a comprehensive and far-reaching reform. It was a move in the direction of family courts.
The Independent, April 28th, 1989
Judy Jones, ‘Parliament and Politics: Child care changes ‘need reinforcing with family courts’: Children Bill second reading’
The Children Bill proposes a major overhaul of child care law and establishes a new framework of rights and responsibilities for parents, children and local authorities.
Much of it is based on the recommendations of the Butler- Sloss inquiry into the Cleveland child sex abuse crisis, and the subsequent White Paper on child care and family services.
MINISTERS faced cross-party demands in the Commons yesterday for the establishment of family courts to underpin the updated framework of child care law proposed in the Children Bill.
David Mellor, the Minister of State for Health, said the measure was the ‘most comprehensive and far-reaching reform of child care law in living memory’. But while it was welcomed warmly by MPs of all parties during second reading debate, many believed the absence of proposals to set up a network of family courts amounted to a major omission.
Ronnie Fearn, for the Social and Liberal Democrats, told MPs such a system, recommended by Lord Justice Butler-Sloss’s report on the Cleveland child sex abuse crisis, operated to the advantage of both parents and children in countries such as New Zealand and Canada.
‘Family courts would provide an informal and sensitive setting for child care cases. So often at present, children see themselves as the cause of the problem, and suffer guilt. Or they are treated merely as the goods and chattels of others. Family courts would ease these burdens, and I urge the Government to reconsider the position.’
Tom Clarke, for Labour, said: ‘The Bill deals admirably with many matters. But we remain deeply disturbed by the Government’s reluctance to introduce what would have been the most imaginative, far-reaching and positive reform in post-war child care legislation – family courts.’
Mr Mellor, under challenge from Keith Vaz (Lab, Leicester E), insisted: ‘This Bill was not intended to be a reform of the legal structure. There are provisions which allow for the reallocation of cases from one court to another. The Government’s view is that the jurisdiction and constitution of the courts, and procedural and other arrangements relating to litigation about the family, must depend on the task which the courts are to do.’
However, he emphasised the Government’s readiness to consider suggestions for improving the Bill during its committee stage. ‘We have high ambitions for this Bill.
‘We believe it will bring order, integration, relevance and a better balance to the law – not just between the rights and responsibilities of individuals and agencies, but also between the need to protect children and the need to enable parents to challenge intervention in the upbringing of their children.’
Children had a fundamental right to be brought up without being abused: ‘It must be a responsibility on all of us to step in and prevent that abuse when it happens. We know it is happening too much today.’
Mr Clarke later highlighted the Government’s failure to indicate whether it is prepared to back the Bill with resources, particularly for the training of child care professionals, to ensure its provisions could be effectively implemented.
‘This Bill sets the seal on child care and protection for generations to come. It must not be launched only to founder on under-prepared and poorly instructed staff in our local authorities,’ he said.
A key change set out in the Bill is the replacement of 28-day Place of Safety Orders with Emergency Protection Orders lasting up to 15 days. These will be open to challenge by parents after 72 hours.
Geoffrey Dickens, (C, Littleborough and Saddleworth), believed the Bill should lay the foundations for the introduction of family courts: ‘There is tremendous support for the family court system in both Houses of Parliament,’ he said.
Stuart Bell (Lab, Middlesbrough), one of the foremost critics of paediatricians and other child care professionals involved in the child sex abuse crisis in Cleveland, said people in the county had witnessed a new spirit of co-operation between those professionally involved in child care proceedings: ‘The stigma is being erased. Those people are no longer in their jobs. There is a new broom sweeping clean.’
Winding up the debate, Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Solicitor General, commended the Bill as a major move in the direction of family courts. ‘To have a sensible family court you must first of all get the substantive family law right. That is the primary objective of this Bill,’ he said. It was given an unopposed second reading.
The Times, May 30th, 1989
Douglas Broom, ‘MPs press for inquiry on sex abuse claim at school; Crookham Court School; Philip Cadman’
Pressure was put on the Government last night for swift action to investigate allegations of persistent sexual abuse of pupils at a private boys’ school.
Papers detailing the allegations, made on the BBC1 That’s Life programme on Sunday, were passed to the police by the corporation yesterday as MPs called for immediate government action.
The Department of Education and Science said it was powerless to act unless the police brought charges, but Sir Michael McNair-Wilson, Conservative MP for Newbury, demanded an investigation by the department.
During an item which occupied most of the 45-minute programme, viewers heard allegations against Mr Philip Cadman, aged 73, the owner of Crookham Court School, near Newbury, Berkshire.
Interviewed during the programme, Mr Cadman strongly denied the claims. ‘I have got 62 pupils on the roll at the moment. We lost a lot due to adverse publicity.’
He admitted that the school was in a ‘dirty and depressing state’ but said improvements were planned. Miss Esther Rantzen, the programme’s presenter, said the alleged abuse had come to light after calls to the national Childline abuse centre.
Sir Michael said yesterday: ‘School inspectors have been there in the past two years and the department therefore has an overall involvement. I shall be taking the matter up with the Secretary of State for Education this week.’ Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who campaigns for improved protection for children, said an urgent inquiry must now take place.
‘Whether the allegations are true or not, this programme has highlighted the inadequacies of protecting children in private boarding schools, ‘ he said.
There should be legislation to give inspectors and counsellors access to private schools to examine not only the buildings, but to inquire about the people within them. ‘They must be able to talk to the children, ‘ he added.
Mr Harry Greenway, Tory MP for Ealing North and a former headmaster, said: ‘We must have urgent action by the Department of Education and Science.’
Mr Jack Straw, Labour’s education spokesman, called on the Government to improve its inspection of independent schools.
Last night Mr Michael Gold, former headmaster of the school, appealed to pupils past and present to offer any information that could help an inquiry.
The Department of Education and Science said last night that inspectors had visited Crookham Court School in 1987 and had ‘highlighted safety hazards and unsatisfactory teaching standards’.
Miss Rantzen yesterday released 20,000 balloons to launch a Pounds 250,000 campaign to help Childline. She said more lines were needed to cope with an estimated 10,000 attempted calls by children each day.
Press Association, December 3rd, 1989
‘MP wants soccer thugs put in stocks
An MP today called for the restoration of the stocks, the pillory, and the ducking stool as “punishments of ridicule” for muggers and soccer thugs. Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, has tabled a Commons question to Mr David Waddington, Home Secretary, urging him to act. Mr Dickens said: “This is a serious suggestion. Public humiliation can be a far greater deterrent to crime than prison sentences or community service. “A few hours in the stocks or pillory, held up to public ridicule, or an uncomfortable immersion in the ducking stool would strip the bravado out of these vicious macho men. “To have to appear like a fairy in front of their mates would I am sure do them a power of good – and the community at large as well.”
The Times, January 13th, 1990
Frances Gibb, ‘Rapist has ‘too lenient’ jail term increased; Paul Thornton’
A man who raped his former girl friend had his two-year sentence lengthened to 4 1/2 years by the Court of Appeal in London yesterday under new powers to review over-lenient sentences.
The judges, headed by Lord Lane, the Lord Chief Justice, agreed with Sir Patrick Mayhew, QC, the Attorney General, that the sentence on Paul Thornton, aged 31, was ‘unduly lenient’.
Thornton, of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, looked shocked as the decision was announced. Earlier, Mr Anthony Dalgleish, his counsel, accepted that the sentence imposed at St Albans Crown Court last September was lenient.
However, he urged the judges not to intervene under powers granted to them by the 1988 Criminal Justice Act which came into force last summer.
Lord Lane said Thornton had a 20-month relationship with the 18-year-old victim. She had asked that they remained friends after she ended it, but after she called to visit him earlier last year, he stripped and raped her.
Lord Lane, who sat with Mr Justice Leggatt and Mr Justice Hutchison, said: ‘The fact that the parties lived together for 20 months does not obviously license the man to have sexual intercourse with the girl. It is, however, a factor to which some weight must be given.
‘But we have come to the conclusion that this sentence was outside the proper limits of the judge’s discretion in this case.’
Mr Edward Bevan, counsel for the Attorney General, said earlier that Thornton had used force when it must have been absolutely obvious to him that the girl was unwilling.
At St Albans, Judge Goldstone had told Thornton that men should not use their superior physical strength on women, but that his case was at the lower end of the bracket.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said the decision was a ‘victory for those of us who have been protesting against powder-puff sentences for criminals’.
He said: ‘This means that criminals can no longer walk out of a court laughing at authority believing they have been lightly treated.
‘They now know that the spectre lurks of an increased punishment if the law officers think fit. These judges have doubled what was plainly a derisory sentence.’ In a second case before the court, a young raider who terrified an assistant at a sub post office with a baseball bat had a 30-month sentence doubled to five years.
The Court of Appeal judges acted on a recommendation by the Attorney General to increase the sentence on Steven Lloyd Lacey, aged 23, under their powers to review too-lenient penalties.
Lord Lane, sitting in London with the same two judges, agreed the sentence was ‘plainly below the acceptable limit’.
Lacey, of Moseley, Birmingham, with only one previous court appearance for a minor offence and said to come from a good home, showed no emotion as the decision was announced.
He carried out the raid with an accomplice who was never caught. He used a baseball bat to smash the glass protection screen at the office in Bartley Green, Birmingham, after Pounds 4,000 in cash had been delivered.
Mr Bevan, for the Attorney General, said a deterrent sentence was called for because small businesses such as sub post offices were particularly vulnerable to attack.
Lord Lane said: ‘So far as it is possible, the courts must provide such protection as they can to those who carry out the services which fulfill a very important function in the suburbs of our large cities.
‘It must be made clear to those minded to commit these offences that severe sentences will be imposed in order to persuade robbers or other greedy people that it is simply not worth the candle.’
Mr Henry Spooner, Lacey’s counsel, said it would be foolish to pretend the sentence was not lenient.
However, he said it was not so far out of line that the court should interfere.
Press Association, February 6th, 1990, Tuesday
Mervyn Tunbridge, ‘Dead boy’s mother put on probation for cruelty’
A teenage mother, convicted of cruelty towards her seven-month-old son, was put on probation for three years today. Mr Justice Kennedy told 18-year-old Celia Palmer, who is expecting another child, that what she did to Christopher who was battered to death by his stepfather, was “very wicked indeed”. He added: “I don’t want anyone to suppose, and I don’t want you to suppose, there can be any doubt about it. “Yet at your age one has got to look forward as well as backwards, and what is important is that over the next few months and years you establish yourself – as you will then be as a mother – in a way which is going to be beneficial to the baby which you are going to give birth to, as well as yourself.” After a 13-day trial at the Old Bailey in December during which Palmer and Christopher’s stepfather denied murdering the little boy in December 1988, she was cleared of murder but found guilty of cruelty. Danny Palmer was convicted of murder and was ordered to be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure. Evidence at the hearing suggested Christopher had been slammed against a wall and bludgeoned with a piece of wood, possibly a rounders bat. His skull had been fractured in three places, both his wrists were broken and his gums were torn, possibly by a bottle being forced into his mouth. There was extensive bleeding in both his eyes as if someone had poked their fingers into them, and he was covered in bruises.
The judge told Celia Palmer today at Birmingham Crown Court she must live at the home of her mother, Mrs Carole Cook, in Douglas Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham. He also ordered her not to leave the county of West Midlands without advising her probation officer where she was going. “You will never settle down if you don’t put your roots down in some place. Since your mother lives here this is possibly the best place for you to put your roots down.” The couple claimed in their defence that Christopher, who was on an “at risk” register, had suffered from fits and they tried to revive him and they bent his limbs as they stiffened. But prosecuting counsel John Bevan said it seemed as if the couple did not care whether he lived or died. During legal argument at the trial, Mr Justice Kennedy described Christopher as “a football for other people’s unhappiness”.
Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said the judge was wrong in imposing only a probation order on the mother. “I do not think we are going to protect babies from this kind of treatment unless we are very severe – with the parents especially. “The judge was at fault. She should have been given a custodial sentence.”
Press Association, April 28, 1990
‘MP to ask Waddington why 12-year old went to prison’
A boy said to be only 12-years-old and four feet tall was sent to one of Britain’s oldest and toughest jails in what a Conservative MP called “a breathtaking bungle”. Child protection campaigner Geoffrey Dickens said he would be asking Home Secretary David Waddington for an explanation of the circumstances. The boy – said by his solicitor to look only eight-years-old, according to the News of the World – was sent to Pentonville Prison in north London by a local magistrates’ court. Officers at the jail were so concerned that they kept him overnight in the prison hospital and arranged for him to be sent to the Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution in south-west London the next day. A Home Office spokesman said tonight he could not confirm that the boy was only 12-years-old. Prison staff had presumed he must be 14 – the earliest age at which anyone can legally be sent to prison or young offenders institutions. “It is up to the court who they send to custody and his age is a matter for them,” he said. “We are duty bound to take into custody anyone that the court sends to us.” The spokesman said he had no details of what had happened since, but he believed the boy was no longer at Feltham. According to the News of the World, the boy was sent to Pentonville when he was remanded in custody by Brent Magistrates’ Court in north-west London, charged with stealing a purse. The paper quoted the boy’s solicitor, Mr John Gillman, as saying it was “absolutely disgraceful” that the boy was sent to the jail, which like the riot-torn Strangeways in Manchester was built in the 1840s. Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who has campaigned for 10 years on child protection, said: “I find it breathtaking that such a bungle could have occurred and I shall be demanding to know all the circumstances of this incident.”
Press Association, May 10th, 1990
Alison Little, ‘Satanic curses rock Commons …’
Claims of the spread of black witchcraft and devil worship involving children produced hilarity in the Commons today, with accusations of Satanism levelled against both sides. Tory Geoffrey Dickens demanded a debate on the subject and Labour Members called out that he was talking about the Tory party. “This is an attack on the Prime Minister!” cried David Winnick (Lab Walsall N), in exchanges during questions on the business of the House next week. But Mr Dickens (C Littleborough and Saddleworth) was undeterred. He continued: “I remember the reaction in the House ten years ago when I warned of the spread of child abuse. It was greeted with disblief and we now know differently. “Two years ago I warned of the spread of devil worship, Satanism and black witchcraft, and the involvement of children, and we now know differently – from a National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children report.” He called for a debate, because he felt the Commons was “weak” on the issue. To laughter Leader of the House Sir Geoffrey Howe replied that he could not promise an immediate debate. But he said he would be unwise to dismiss the warnings on the matter, in view of Mr Dickens’ “self-proclaimed powers of prophecy”. The witchcraft theme continued when Ron Brown, recently de-selected as Labour’s election candidate in his Leith constituency, assured Sir Geoffrey: “The only people these days who crucify you are the Labour party’s National Executive Committee, and I speak from personal experience.” Sir Geoffrey told him: “I get the impression you are talking about the continued application in your party of red witchcraft, and that’s a matter for you and your own party to sort out.”
Press Association, May 13, 1990, Sunday
Chris Moncrief, ‘MP calls for ‘genetic passport’ to curb trade in babies’
Home Secretary David Waddington is to be pressed in Parliament to consider adopting a new “genetic passport” designed to curb the growing illegal international trade in babies. Mr Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said today he had tabled Commons questions to Mr Waddington about Biotab, a form of identity card which bears palm prints of baby and mother taken at time of birth. Mr Dickens said: “This method, which would cost the mother only 10p, is foolproof in identifying a mother-baby relationship. It enables couples considering adoption to be totally sure that the mother has consented to the adoption. “And the very knowledge that such a system is in widespread use would act as a deterrent to those engaged in baby-farming. “I understand that at least 2,000 foreign babies are thought to be brought into Britain each year, including orphans bought and sold in Brazil and other Latin American countries.” Meanwhile, the London hospital where baby Alexandra Griffiths was kidnapped is to fit electronic tags to newborn infants to foil further snatches, it was announced last week. St Thomas’s will be the first to use the £26,000 radio frequency system similar in principle to security equipment in high street shops. Mr Dickens commented: “This is a valuable safeguard but it can apply only to the hospital and not after the baby has left. That is why I hope the Home Secretary will take this new method on board.” Alexandra, who was taken in January, was recovered unharmed after a two-week police hunt. Her abductor, Janet Griffiths, 33, was committed to a mental hospital.
Press Association, June 21st, 1990
Melvyn Howe, ‘Parents cleared as cruelty case collapses’
A mother and father who allegedly subjected their two daughters to nearly a year of sexual abuse and cruelty were freed today after the eldest child was unable to continue her evidence against them. Judge Gerald Butler QC ordered the jury to return verdicts of not guilty to cruelty, indecent assault and gross indecency charges brought against the 43-year-old father. He also ordered the 40-year-old mother, who was charged with cruelty against her daughters then aged nine and 12, be similarly cleared. Immediately after the case a senior police officer, who spent nearly a year investigating the allegations, called for legislation to be introduced without delay to allow video recordings of the children telling their story at the first visit to the police station. Mr Peter Clark, prosecuting, told Southwark Crown Court the police began their investigation after teachers at the eldest girl’s school notice she was pulling her hair out. “She pulled almost all of her hair out of her body, even her head hair and pubic hair. She was almost completely bald at the age of 12.” He said the girl would also screech for no apparent reason and would shout words like “bosoms”, as well as touch female members of the staff on their breasts and buttocks, Mr Clarke added.
Mr Clarke said the eldest girl, now 13, was subjected to “unspeakable” abuse. She had made a full statement to police alleging in detail how her father repeatedly abused her and forced her to watch him taking part in “bizarre” sex acts with his wife. During the 38 minutes she gave evidence yesterday the girl was speaking from a separate room linked to the court by closed-circuit television. She told the jury she had not wanted her father to live at the family home in Mitcham, south London, with her sister and mother. When Mr Clarke asked why she replied: “Because of those naughty things … I didn’t like him doing those sort of things. I didn’t like him pulling his trousers down.” But when Mr Clarke asked her to describe the “things” her father had allegedly done to her the girl said in a very low voice: “I am too shy.” Mr Clarke said the mother was charged with cruelty because she allegedly failed in her duty to protect the children. Mr Clarke explained today that following the girl’s inability to continue her evidence careful consideration had been given to the situation overnight. “In all circumstances, although the Crown has seriously considered calling the younger girl, I take the view that it would not be in her or the public’s interest to pursue this trial.” He then offered no further evidence on the charges. After the case Detective Constable Charles Timms, of the child protection team, said the provision of closed-circuit TV screens in court for children to give evidence was clearly not sufficient. “Too many cases of this kind are halted because children cannot bring themselves to tell the full story to the court. “There has got to be some way found to make it easier for young children to give evidence and to make it fair on the children so that they get a proper hearing.” He was “very upset” about the way the case had ended. He added the eldest girl was still very disturbed and receiving counselling from a child psychiatrist. Both children were in care but their parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were entitled to apply to have the two girls returned to them, he said.
Later Tory MP Mr Geoffrey Dickens, who has crusaded for 10 years to protect children against sexual abuse, called on Home Secretary David Waddington to introduce emergency legislation to allow children’s first statements to police to be videoed and shown in court. Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said: “I agree totally with the views expressed by the frustrated police officer in this very serious case. “I have to express my fury that once more there has been an example of the inability of a child to be listened to because of the child’s acute embarrassment. “Unless we do find a way of allowing a child’s first statement to the police to be admissible as evidence, I am afraid a lot of people are going to escape natural justice.” He tabled a Commons question to Mr Waddington pressing him to act “as a matter of the utmost urgency”.
Press Association, June 25th, 1990
Chris Moncrieff, ‘Labour call for missing children’s register’
A national register of missing children should be set up as a first step in combating the problem of missing and runaway children, Labour said today. Miss Joan Lestor, the shadow children’s minister, said their plight had been “sadly and tragically neglected” by the Government. She told a news conference at the House of Commons: “Missing and runaway youngsters are a major national problem. Last year 98,000 were reported missing in Britain.” She posed the question: “Are they all runaways, or are some throwaways, discarded by inadequate or unfeeling parents? What proportion are abused, bullied, or subjected to social and economic pressures inappropriate to their age group?” Miss Lestor added: “Over the last decade the Government has continued to resist pressure for the establishment of a national register of missing children. “Labour believes that a national register of missing youngsters is an essential first step to understanding why they leave home prematurely and how they can be helped to re-integrate into a more supportive society. “We believe that more resources need to be channelled into preventive counselling services and that a coherent and co-ordinated policy at local and national level is required. “The present Government has turned its back on the problems of missing youngsters. The next Labour government will not.” She said the key to resolving the problem was a computerised national recording system for missing children linked to the missing persons register. Obligations should be placed on police, social workers and parents to notify and respond to the problem. She presented a consultative document entitled Missing From Home which said: “Here can be found magnified in their short lives all the social ills of our time.” She said the 98,000 did not represent 98,000 children but that number of instances of reported missing children. “The actual number of children involved, given the known incidence of repetitions, is probably significantly lower.”
Miss Lestor proposed possible cash support for some young runaways to help them lead independent lives in permanent, affordable accommodation, and encourage them back into education. This would not be an incentive to run away as they were already leaving home now without the promise of money, she said. “Yes, 15 is very young to get benefit, but it’s also very young to be sleeping out,” she said. “It’s not enough simply to say, as the Government does, that we can offer these children sparse hostel accommodation in the hope they will go home. “Many will not, or cannot go home. We have to accept this and ask at what age is society prepared to say youngsters should be able to be independent and be given the means to be independent. “People talk about the family as though it was some sort of sanctuary, when for so many of our young people it never was, and never will be.” Miss Lestor said all runaways should be seen by someone in authority, someone from social services for example, if they returned home. This would help identify the reasons for their actions and indicate solutions to the wider problem. The London-based help organisation for young runaways, Centrepoint, had found some Scottish youngsters left home at 18 partly because the poll tax was putting financial pressure on their parents.
Later, Miss Lestor’s office stressed the proposals relating to cash for runaways should not be interpreted as “benefit” in the usual social security sense of the word. “Fifteen is the most common age at which young people run away from home or some form of care, and we want to give them a framework of support to help them reintegrate back into the education system and society generally,” said Kathy Ham, Miss Lestor’s research assistant. “We are talking about the kind of support they would have if they had a caring family behind them, like pocket money, and help with school uniform.” Miss Lestor is urging the Government to examine the regulations relating to 15-year-olds, and believes the scope of the new Children Act is wide enough to help the age group.
Later, Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens accused Labour of “encouraging teenagers to run away”. Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, said: “Labour’s plans to give cash support for some young runaways is tantamount to inviting them to abscond. “And it could even cause gullible parents to egg their children on to run away if they thought there was cash at the end of it all.”
The Times, July 28th, 1990
Mark Souster, ‘Waddington pledge to resolve fears over child killing films’
DAVID Waddington, the home secretary, said yesterday that he was shocked at reports that so-called snuff films may exist in Britain and promised prompt police action to counter the threat. Mr Waddington said that he was very concerned about police fears that young boys may have been killed by paedophiles who had filmed their deaths.
Mr Waddington said that he could not imagine ”any criminal behaviour that causes more concern to the public. The stories about these videos are horrific, absolutely horrific, and the police are wasting no time in carrying out extensive enquiries. They are sufficiently worried about this for me to be watching the situation very closely.”
Mr Waddington made his remarks after Scotland Yard had disclosed that detectives were investigating the disappearance of 20 young boys since 1984, some of whom may have been the victims of snuff films.
Last night, MPs and child protection agencies called for government intervention to combat what one MP described as ”the horror, squalor, sordidness and downright evil” of paedophile sex films, which make multi-million pound profits for organised crime. Scotland Yard confirmed that the disappearance of boys over a six-year period was being investigated as well as deaths ”during the making of films in London dating back to 1984”.
The announcement comes after a year-long operation, code-named Orchid, by a squad of officers in east London. Police want to hear from anyone who may have been involved in the making of such films and suffered sexual abuse, or anyone who has any information. A telephone line has been set up on 071-488 6570 and calls will be treated in confidence.
Suspicions that between six and 12 youngsters were filmed as they died after being enticed to parties are being investigated. Victims as young as six years have been abused and tortured before being killed, police believe.
Fresh information has been given to police by at least two men jailed for the murder of Jason Swift, a schoolboy, whose death in 1985 was rumoured to have been filmed. He was raped by a gang of men and suffocated in a London flat. Four men, serving sentences totalling 62 years, were convicted at the Central Criminal Court last year of his manslaughter. In May, because of the new information, police dug up a car park by a synagogue in Clapton, east London, in search of a boy’s body. Fragments of animal bone were found.
The possibility that snuff films have surfaced in Britain has angered MPs, among them Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who has campaigned for ten years against child pornography. He called on the prime minister to issue a ”grave and personal warning” to parents.
David Young, Labour MP for Bolton South East, said that efforts to break such evil practices had been ”too little and far too late”. Child pornography should be at the top of the political agenda.
Valerie Howarth, director of Childline, which receives more than 10,000 calls a day from distressed children, said some had spoken of being shown pornographic films and asked to perform similar scenes. She had no evidence of children featuring in snuff films in Britain, but said it was vital that the issue of child pornography was confronted before European border controls were eased in 1992.
The Associated Press, July 28th, 1990
‘Police Investigating Deaths of Young Boys During Filmmaking’
Police are investigating the deaths of young boys who reportedly were killed during the filming of pornographic movies in London, Scotland Yard said.
Scotland Yard said Friday that it is looking into news reports that up to a dozen young boys were sexually abused and slain in videos being sold by child pornography rings in Britain, Europe and the United States.
Detective Superintendent Michael Hames, head of Scotland Yard’s child pornography squad, said his investigators have not found any such films.
“To date we have not discovered any snuff movies,” he said. “We don’t say they don’t exist but we have not seized any. We don’t know if they are being done here.”
Conservative lawmaker Geoffrey Dickens, who has been leading a 10-year crusade against child pornography, called on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to “publicly warn all parents to become busybodies about the whereabouts of their children.”
A Scotland Yard statement said a special squad of East London detectives was “investigating the disappearance of a number of young boys dating back over a period of six years. The squad are also investigating the deaths of young boys during the making of films made in London and dating back to 1984.”
Detectives are believed to be studying the files of 20 missing boys, media reports said.
Scotland Yard appealed for witnesses “who may have been involved in the making of these films, who may have suffered sexual abuse or have any information.”
Police sources said the investigation has been under way for more than a year.
Scotland Yard said an unidentified prisoner will appear in court Monday on charges of killing 6-year-old Barry Lewis, who vanished from near his south London home in September 1985. His body was found two years later in a shallow grave.
Police still are investigating the boy’s death and are looking into the activities of a number of other people in connection with the murder, Scotland Yard said. Police sources said some of these people may also be serving prison sentences.
The Independent , October 28th, 1990
Sarah Strickland and Rosie Waterhouse, ‘Witch-hunt is launched over books and TV’
CHILDREN’S authors, publishers, broadcasters and teachers are being pressured by religious extremists to ban witches, goblins and magic spells from books, programmes and lessons.
In a nationwide campaign, fundamentalist and evangelical Christians are claiming that such subjects are likely to encourage children to dabble in devil-worship and the occult.
The campaign, which began about two years ago, is growing in momentum. It is linked to stories about Satanic child-abuse, which have led to police investigations and children being taken into care, although no evidence of Satanism has been found.
The campaign has persuaded some publishers to remove references to witches from books and some schools have warned visiting writers not to mention the word.
Summer Witches, by Teresa Tomlinson, became The Secret Place when it came out in paperback. Publishers Walker Books changed the title when a book club made it a condition of buying a large order.
”There is a feeling among book clubs that within schools the whole subject of witches is rather taboo,” said Sally Ford-Kelsey, for the publishers.
”They thought the book had more chance of being read without being dismissed out of hand if the title was changed. I think it is terribly sad and rather absurd. It makes one rather nervous of publishing anything that mentions these things, but where do you draw the line? What about wizards?”
Helen Cresswell, author of more than 40 children’s books, many of them about the supernatural, said heads of schools she has visited have asked her to be ”very careful” and ”try not to mention the word witch”.
”This leaves C S Lewis with The Lion and the Wardrobe and Roald Dahl with The,” she said. ”I believe that as writers we have got to resist this. It has almost reached the point where an unofficial censorship is in operation.”
The BBC serialisation of her Moondial prompted letters that the head of children’s programmes would not show her because they were too upsetting. One, printed in the Radio Times, asked: ”Do you need to teach young children about devil-worship?” So far the BBC has resisted pressure to censor programmes. Anna Home, head of children’s programmes, said: ”Stories about magic and witches are part of an age-old European tradition and are part of children’s culture. We do not see anything wrong with that tradition as long as it is responsibly handled.”
Puffin said some of its authors had come across the problem and it had received complaints about its Hallowe’en promotion of old and new books about monsters, goblins and witches.
Chris Powling, author, former headteacher, and editor of the children’s book magazine Books for Keeps, knows of writers who are ”very worried indeed” about complaints.
The campaigners have been particularly vocal in the run-up to Hallowe’en on Wednesday. Mr Powling says some schools have dropped all recognition of the once-pagan festival. His wife, who teaches literature, has faced objections to the ”extremely mainstream kinds of books” she brings in. She was even confronted by one headteacher with a list of subjects some parents did not want mentioned in class, believing they could ”in one way or another open the way to Satan”.
These ranged from pornography, horror movies and Hallowe’en to Stonehenge, aromatherapy, The Beatles, oriental rugs, cancer help centres and Care Bears.
One group of campaigners, Christian Education in Nottingham Schools, has issued a leaflet targeting schools, local newsagents and bookshops among ”danger areas for action”. It asks followers to use ”prayer, protest and discussion to launch an attack on the occult influences” of Hallowe’en.
A 20-page pamphlet published by the Association of Christian Teachers, Educational reasons for not using the theme of Hallowe’en in schools, says that attention to the event ”gives it an acceptability and authority which it does not warrant”. Another argues that Hallowe’en ”can be an apparently harmless introduction to something very nasty below the surface of our society”.
The evangelical movement is gaining increasing political influence in Britain. Geoffrey Dickens, Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, has joined its campaign against paganism and the occult.
In a private meeting with John Patten, the Home Office Minister, and Home Office officials, Mr Dickens has proposed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to make it illegal for people under the age of 18 to ”join, participate in or be present at any secret occult ceremonies or groups”.
Mr Dickens, who caused hilarity in the Commons when he said ”witchcraft is sweeping the country”, is ”at war” with Satanism, black magic and witchcraft because, he said, ”we all know that people use these ceremonies to abuse children”.
According to occultists, his amendment would be in breach of Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the right to ”freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.
In the face of increasing activity by the evangelical movement, a nationwide resistance group has been formed, called the Sorcerer’s Apprentice Fighting Fund after a Leeds bookshop of that name that was burned down by extremists.
Chris Bray, who owns the shop and leads the group, said: ”This overt attack on the pre-Christian, bona fide world religion of paganism is the first clear example of the increasing campaign by the political arm of fundamentalism to suppress all alternative religious belief.
”If the Government, through political expediency or ignorance, allows this amendment, they should be in no doubt that we will take a trial case to the European Court of Human Rights.”
The Times, October 12th, 1991
Peter Mulligan, ‘Applause greets castration call’
A CALL for the castration of child abusers and rapists was applauded by the Tories yesterday during a debate marked by anxiety over standards of care and control of children.
Geoffrey Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, roused the conference when he announced his prescription for molesters and rapists who offended more than once.
”Castrate the buggers,” he said.
His was the bluntest in a series of speeches from the floor which underlined unease at family breakdown, lack of supervision and the involvement in riots of children as young as six.
Mr Dickens lifted a debate on the family when he described his dream of a country where women could walk without fear and children could grow up without risk of abuse. He claimed ministerial backing when he urged the recruitment into social services departments of ”streetwise grannies” who would not be fobbed off by parents abusing children.
Virginia Bottomley, health minister, responded by highlighting the Children Act, which comes into force on Monday and which, she said, would tackle abuse head-on.
She acknowledged that social workers had made mistakes in the past but said that the act put the emphasis in the right place: on children themselves and on their families. She said it was intolerable that children should become the victims of abuse while in care or be snatched away from home unless they were in serious danger. She added: ”Time and time again, from so-called joyriders to horrific instances of child abuse, when the basic cohesiveness of the family unit breaks down, crime, degeneracy, violence and horror break to the surface of our society. When parents give up caring, children, sometimes literally, run riot.”
Mrs Bottomley concluded: ”The challenge now is to work within the act to eliminate the tragedies of failure.”
The Independent, October 12th, 1991
Stephen Castle, ‘The Conservative Party at Blackpool: Demand for castration of child abusers wins cheers; The Family’
THE PARTY faithful gave a rapturous reception yesterday to Geoffrey Dickens, who called for child molesters to be castrated.
He urged the Government: ”If you want to stop child abuse and rape of women, pass legislation and, on the second offence – not the first, in case there is a mistake – put it before Parliament that you can castrate the buggers.”
Contributing to a debate on the family, Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, strayed beyond his familiar attack on ”perverts”. Invoking the language, if not the spirit, of Martin Luther King, he told his audience: ”When I first arrived in Parliament I had this dream, this British dream. I honestly believed that I could, in my way, help make a country where women could travel freely without any fear at all of being molested or raped.”
In Mr Dickens’s dream Britain of the 1990s, ”children could play happily, grow up in their own time without fear of being abused or murdered”.
Moving to the social services, he called for experienced grandmothers to be made social workers. He said: ”Virginia Bottomley knows, and I do believe she supports me, that I want to see more streetwise grannies being selected into the social services.”
Grandmothers would not be hoodwinked into missing abuse because they ”know the signs, the alarm bells will be ringing . . . It is all right for a social worker to arrive from university with their degree, or rush away from polytechnic with their diploma in humanities, but there is nothing like the university of life.”
Mrs Bottomley, minister for health, declined to reveal her support for the streetwise grandmother initiative. Instead she concentrated on the merits of the Children Act and criticised the manner in which some children have been taken from their families by social workers.
She said: ”It is intolerable that they should become the victims of the dawn raid, snatched away from home and family unless they are in immediate and serious danger. Never should the manner of intervention to safeguard children’s welfare cause more trauma than whatever had originally occurred to cause concern.”
Mrs Bottomley added: ”Where abuse has been perpetrated by someone in a position of trust or authority, then that revulsion is all the more acute. There have been infamous cases. Through the Children Act such dreadful abuses will be tackled head on.”
The Guardian, October 12th, 1991
Nikki Knewstub, ‘Conservatives at Blackpool: Breakdown of family can lead to life of crime, says Bottomley’
THE community and the family must first look to themselves when society breaks down, Virginia Bottomley, the only woman member of the Government to address the Tory conference, said yesterday.
Mrs Bottomley, the Health Minister, was winding up a debate on the family, during which Geoffrey Dickens MP received loud applause when he called for the castration of rapists and child abusers.
Mrs Bottomley said: ‘Time and again, from so-called joyriders to horrific instances of child abuse, when the basic cohesiveness of the family unit breaks down, crime, degeneracy, violence, and horror break to the surface of our society. When parents give up caring, children, sometimes literally, run riot. Too many young people drift easily into a life of crime.’
She said the family was the basic building block of society, and the Government would go on producing policies to support it.
She scorned Labour’s plans for a Ministry for Women and a Minister for Children. ‘They have a comparable philosophy to set alongside ours and our belief in families. They think the basic building block of society is a new department in Whitehall.
‘Only Labour treat women like a beleaguered minority, when we know that women account for more than half the population.’
She said that the Government was putting pounds 5.7 million this year towards the court complaints procedure under the Children Act which comes into force on Monday. The procedure gives parents and children redress when things go wrong.
Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, called for the recruitment of more experienced people into social work – ‘grannies who would stand no nonsense’. He also called for legislation to castrate child abusers and rapists on second conviction.
‘When I first arrived in Parliament I had this dream,’ he said.
‘I honestly believed I, in my way, could influence a country where women could travel freely without any fear at all of being molested or raped; where the elderly and children could be safe. We haven’t got there yet.’
Press Association, November 7th, 1991
Alison Little, ‘Tory calls for castration, flogging and stocks’
Ministers today faced Tory demands in the Commons for castration of rapists and a return to flogging and the stocks for young criminals. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth) said at question time: “If the Home Office really want to stop the abuse of children and the rape of women, they must pass a law to castrate the perpetrators.” He suggested to the Government that this penalty should be imposed after a second offence, unless the person was unfit to plead. “You would hardly ever have to use the sanction. It would be the ultimate deterrent for men.” Home Office Minister of State John Patten said the idea “wasn’t the present intention of the Government” and stressed the importance of the introduction of longer sentences and post-release supervision. Tony Marlow (Northampton N) demanded: “What are we going to do about the young thugs and hooligans who terrorise communities? “It’s time we had thrashing or stocks to stick them in.” Home Office Minister of State Angela Rumbold pointed out that joyriding was to be made an offence.
The Times, November 8th, 1991
Matthew Parris, ‘The unkindest cut of all … ‘
ESSEX Man entered the Chamber yesterday, but not before Northampton Man had put in a bid for stardom. Tony Marlow (C, Northampton N) had listened with irritation as MPs discussed ”open air camps” for young offenders. Up he jumped.
”Young thugs … no respect for authority … no respect for law and order, no respect for property.” Northampton was in a rage: ”Is it not time,” he shouted, ”instead of open air imprisonment, we had open air thrashings or open air stocks to stick them in?”
Mr Marlow sat down, feeling much better. Growls of support from colleagues filled the air. Ten questions still to go, and Marlow now held the Silver Leg-Irons award for Tory caveman of the month.
Junior minister Angela Rumbold (Mitcham & Morden) replied. As South London Woman on the New Right, Mrs Rumbold once showed brutish promise. Since becoming minister she has suffered bouts of thoughtfulness. She mumbled about new penalties for ”so-called joyriders”.
Socalledjoyriders are on all MPs’ lips these days. ”Joyriders” is completely unacceptable and offenders have not been so called for weeks. So they are not so-called joyriders, but so-called socalledjoyriders, sentenced to so-called community service administered by Mrs Rumbold, the so-called, self-styled, soi-disant minister for women.
Anyway, Northampton Man did not keep the Silver Leg-Irons for long. Challenged, the enormous bulk of Geoffrey Dickens (C, Littleborough & Saddleworth) began to shake. Show Mr Dickens a crude opinion and Mr Dickens will show you a cruder one. The great beast came rumbling to his feet …
”Many of my views, which I’ve expressed in this House, were received at first with ridicule and dismay …”
”… then passed into law”.
”If we really want to stop the rape of women, we must castrate the perpetrators”. Here the philosopher paused, to show the merciful side of his nature …
”Not on the first offence, Mr Speaker, in case there’s a mistake”. Was there no limit to Mr Dickens’s clemency? ”And you’d hardly have to use the sanction, because it would be the ultimate deterrent, for men”.
The minister of state, John Patten, doubted whether this was part of the government’s present thinking. Patten, I fear, who was once a university don, is Oxford Man.
The Silver Leg-Irons went to Dickens. But even as we watched, we could see Marlow sink into deep thought. ”Why,” he was thinking, ”suspend the punishment on the first offence? Is this not a first-time rapist’s charter? With new offenders, why not remove one testicle? One only, in case (as Mr Dickens had put it) there’s a mistake. The ultimate deterrent could then await any re-offence.
Mr Marlow’s thoughts were interrupted by an Essex MP, the Tories’ Tim Janman, who was worried about illegal immigration and (ironically) saw ”a tributary of the Tiber, foaming with blood”. Ministers responded sympathetically. ”Pandering to Essex Man,” snorted Labour’s Max Madden.
But, then, Labour holds no seats in Essex. Little comfort, perhaps, to the Opposition, that they can be as rude as they like about Angus Man, Berkshire Man, Dorset Man, Essex Man, Fermanagh Man …
The Guardian, November 8th, 1991
Andrew Rawnsley, ‘The Day in Politics: Ageing delinquents terrorise ministers with castration talk – Sketch’
Yesterday the House of Commons was preoccupied with menaces to the public. Talking of which, the Speaker called Tony Marlow, the MP for Northampton North, and Geoffrey Dickens, the MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth.
Both of these MPs have spent most of their adult lives incarcerated on the Conservative backbenches for perpetrating a series of ridiculous opinions. But, just occasionally, the Speaker allows Mr Marlow and Mr Dickens out on parole, giving them a chance to speak in the hope that they may at last be ready to retake their places in civilised society. Whereupon, of course, they only reoffend.
Mr Speaker risked letting Mr Marlow out first. Sure enough, the moment he had got his freedom, he started harassing a passing woman, minister Angela Rumbold.
‘What are we going to do about those young thugs who have no respect for authority, no respect for law and order, no respect for elderly people, who terrorise communities,’ he shouted at her, thoroughly terrorising Mrs Rumbold.
‘Instead of open-air imprisonment,’ he raved on, ‘isn’t it time that we had open-air thrashings!’ Mrs Rumbold ran away until Mr Marlow had been detained for another stretch on the backbenches.
That other ageing delinquent, Mr Dickens, intervened during discussion of sex offenders. It is so long since he was sent down that he still models an extravagantly Brylcreemed teddy boy haircut, and has lost virtually all contact with normal life.
‘Many of the views I have expressed in this House have been received at times with ridicule and dismay . . .’, he began. Other MPs laughed with disbelief. All of his views have been received like that at all times.
‘. . . and yet,’ pressed on Mr Dickens, ‘they have passed into law subsequently.’
While we racked our brains to think of the landmarks he had left on the statute book, he offered minister John Patten his latest legislative milestone. ‘If the Home Office really want to stop the abuse of children and the rape of women, they must pass a law to castrate the perpetrators!’
‘Not on the first offence, in case there is a mistake. But on the second offence, unless they are unfit to plead.’ Ah, so he’s a bit of softie, really.
Mr Patten also took avoiding action until Mr Dickens had been safely locked up again to make the Chamber safe for Prime Minister’s Question Time.
John Major was not there. Where the Prime Minister should have been sitting there was an empty space. It took everybody several minutes to notice the difference, of course. But eventually a great din began to swell from the Opposition benches.
‘Where is he?’ demanded Labour MPs. When Neil Kinnock rose, the Tories retaliated: ‘Who is he?’
John MacGregor, the Leader of the House, got up to explain Mr Major’s latest absence. After his brief stop-over in the Commons earlier in the week, the Prime Minister had returned to his foreign travels. So far this year he has had once-in-a-lifetime trips to most of the wonders of the modern world: China to see the Great Wall, Zimbabwe to take in the Victoria Falls, Egypt to gaze at the Pyramids, and Paris for the Eiffel Tower. Now, it was explained, Mr Major was at the Nato summit in Rome, a chance to do the Coliseum.
So that was why he delayed the election. There’s still the Taj Mahal and the Parthenon to go before he will risk giving up his boarding pass to the Prime Minister’s jet.
Evening Standard, February 4, 1992, Tuesday
David Shaw, ‘Singing MP and boxer try for a hit’
TORY MP Geoffrey Dickens and boxer Nigel Benn were the unlikely stars of the latest bid to top the charts today.
They star in a new record launched at the Commons and aimed at protecting children from kidnappers and perverts.
Called ‘It’s OK to say No,’ they are backed by three London schoolchildren and hope to sell thousands of copies, particularly through parents and grandparents.
Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, who once starred with Bananarama in a video, said: ‘This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to No 10, let alone No 1. And I won’t be giving up my day job.
‘But the idea is to get an important and serious message across to vulnerable children.’
The venture has also encouraged Benn – ‘The Dark Destroyer’ as he’s known – to take on the mantle of ‘The Dark Protector’.
Some of the scenes for the promotional video -feature the House of Commons with one child occupying the Speaker’s chair.
But it wasn’t filmed in the real Mother of Parliaments: ‘We borrowed Granada TV’s First Among Equals set in Manchester,’ said Mr Dickens.
All proceeds from the record, due in the shops on 10 February, will go to childrens’ charities.
Press Association, February 4th, 1992
Sian Clare, ‘MP sings for the children’
Pop came to Westminster today when Tory Geoffrey Dickens launched a “say no to strangers” record for children featuring himself and boxer Nigel Benn. Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, hopes It’s Okay To Say No!, the fun track with the serious safety message, will eventually top the charts after it goes on sale on February 10. The backbencher, who appears singing and dancing on the record video dressed as an American policeman and a school bus driver, said: “If the record saves a few children’s lives it will be a very good campaign.” The record also features former world middleweight champion Benn, 11-year-olds Cassandra and Nina and seven-year-old Jodie. All proceeds will go to children’s charities.
The Times, April 9th, 1992
Obituary: Sir Peter Hayman
Sir Peter (Telford) Hayman, KCMG, CVO, MBE, High Commissioner in Canada, 1970-74, died on April 6 aged 77. He was born on June 14, 1914.
DURING a distinguished diplomatic career Peter Hayman held a series of sensitive senior posts culminating in his appointment as High Commissioner to Ottawa. The lustre of his achievements was sadly tarnished in 1981, however, seven years after his retirement, when he was named in the House of Commons, under the cloak of parliamentary privilege, as a member of a child pornography ring. Geoffrey Dickens, the Conservative MP alleged that Haymen’s involvement in the case had been the subject of a serious cover-up and argued that because of his work at the Foreign Office and defence ministry, his involvement had laid him open to blackmail and thus made him a security risk.
Mr Dickens’s question brought accusations from Sir Michael Havers, the Attorney-General, among others, that Mr Dickens had misused the protection of parliamentary privilege. Although there was criticism of the authorities for allowing Hayman the protection of a pseudonym during the prosecution of other members of the ring, there was also sympathy for the disgrace he suffered.
High points in his diplomatic service had included acting as political adviser in 1958 to the Governor of Malta, Sir Robert Laycock, during the state of emergency following anti-British strikes and rioting on the island; serving as deputy commandant and minister in the British sector of West Berlin from 1964 to 1966; and appointment, for three years from 1961, to the post of director-general of the British Information Services in New York with the task of explaining British policies to the American media.
For two years from 1968 he was deputy under-secretary at the Foreign Office with responsibility for the departments dealing with the United Nations and Eastern Europe. He was appointed High Commissioner to Ottawa during the high state of tension following the kidnapping, by Quebec separatists, of James Cross, the British Trade Commissioner. His appointment at such a time was seen to reflect the high regard with which he was held. He was knighted in 1971.
Hayman was educated at Stowe and Worcester College, Oxford. In November 1937 he joined the Home Office as an assistant principal. From 1942 until 1945 he served with the Rifle Brigade, ending with the rank of major. After the war he had a further spell at the Home Office, but became an assistant secretary in the Ministry of Defence in November 1950. He was then seconded, in May 1952, for service with the British delegation to Nato in Paris, after which in April 1954 he was appointed a member of the Foreign Service.
After a year at the Foreign Office, he was transferred to Belgrade for three years, becoming counsellor and acting as charge d’affaires during this posting, after which he was given the special task of acting as information advisor to the Governor of Malta, Sir Robert Laycock. This appointment was made immediately after anti-British riots and strikes in Malta in April 1958, during a state of emergency.
He carried out his exacting task with characteristic good humour and efficiency, and was then transferred as counsellor and head of chancery to Baghdad in June 1959, where he again acted at times as charge d’affaires.
By this time his genial and sanguine approach to the problems with which he was confronted, had earned him the reputation of being particularly effective in the public relations field, and in September 1961 he was appointed director-general of the British Information Services in New York. He was made a CMG in 1963 and in 1966 was given increased responsibility as deputy commandant of the British sector of West Berlin. Hayman was serving in West Berlin during the Queen’s visit to Germany in 1965 and was awarded the CVO after it.
Hayman then returned in 1968 to the Foreign Office as deputy under-secretary with responsibility for the Departments dealing with the United Nations and Eastern Europe until he was appointed in 1970 to be High Commissioner in Canada. In Ottawa Hayman was fully extended in the face of the idiosyncrasies and difficulties of the government of Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, and his period as High Commissioner included the Commonwealth summit conference in Ottawa in 1973.
His retirement, taken in 1974, was damagingly disrupted when it became known that a quantity of pornographic literature had been discovered in the flat which he had rented in Linden Gardens, Notting Hill. The discovery took place during a police raid in connexion with enquiries into the Paedophile Information Exchange of which he had been a corresponding member. At subsequent hearings Hayman’s name was not disclosed, but amid accusations of a cover-up he was later named in Parliament. He had meanwhile resigned from his various appointments.
The group published a contact magazine carrying advertisements from men seeking sex with children. Hayman’s secret life was discovered when a packet addressed to ”Mr Henderson” at his Notting Hill flat was found on a London bus and given to the police. The flat was raided in November 1978 and police found a mass of pornographic material including photographs of prostitutes and letters from other members of the paedophile group. There were also 45 volumes of diaries kept by Hayman including entries relating sexual experiences or fantasies. Police interviewd him and others identified with the material but it was decided not to prosecute because there was no evidence of any offence other than possibly one of sending indecent material through the post. Hayman escaped with a caution until three years later when the magazine Private Eye drew attention to the involvement in the ring of ”a senior civil servant”.
Three years after his exposure in the Commons, Hayman suffered further disgrace when he was fined Pounds 100 for an act of gross indecency with a lorry-driver in a public lavatory in Reading.
Hayman is survived by Lady Hayman, formerly Miss Rosemary Eardley Blomefield, whom he had married in 1942, and their son and daughter.
Evening Standard, May 15th, 1992
‘MP finds black magic in drawer’
FOR ALL the sage advice about the machinations of the Palace of Westminster which his father, Lord Jenkin of Roding, doubtless offered him, Bernard Jenkin, fledgling Tory MP for Colchester North, can hardly have been prepared for his first day in his new office.
Opening a drawer, Jenkin, a former president of the Cambridge Union who had the good fortune to marry Lord Rayleigh’s sister, came across rather more than he had bargained for.
Instead of mouldering back copies of Hansard, he found a cache of magazines which extolled the joys of satanism, devil-worship and black magic. They were, I understand, appropriately illustrated.
The office’s previous occupant was Geoffrey Dickens, 60, the substantial Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth. He is eager to explain his choice of literature, saying that his draws were stocked not for pleasure but for scholarship. ‘I have been campaigning against the sort of people who produce this sort of material for years,’ he tells me. ‘I had a researcher in for a year to look into this sort of thing. I had forgotten that all my stuff was in there.’
He adds: ‘If Bernard hadn’t known who I was, he’d probably have thought I was a bloody warlock. I’m not a warlock, I’m someone who hates the buggers.’
I am sure that Jenkin understands the distinction. Nevertheless, he appears eager to introduce a less daring atmosphere. ‘The whole office has been exorcised with a Hoover and a dustpan and brush,’ he assures me.
Press Association, May 21st, 1992
Tim Moynihan, ‘Charity watchdog advising controversial gay trust’
The Charity Commission is giving advice to an organisation which recruits and trains older homosexual men and women to provide homes for young homosexuals, it was learned today. The Commissioners’ support for the Albert Kennedy Trust – criticised in the past by Conservative MPs – is disclosed in their annual report, published today. The Commission says the older men and women recruited by the trust act as role models while providing stable and supportive homes for young homosexuals in need of care and counselling. It says: “We sought advice from the Official Solicitor as to whether its activities and procedures met the requirements of other areas of the law, particularly in relation to the care of children under 16 years of age. “The advice received from him and others enabled us to accept the Trust for registration, and to give advice to the charity itself.” Three years ago, Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens branded the Manchester-based Trust’s scheme “total lunacy”. He said at the time: “It could turn into a dating agency for rent boys and would put intolerable temptation in front of any gay adult. It’s hard to believe any sane person could contemplate such a thing.” Today’s report said the Commission, a watchdog body, stepped in to protect £16.8 million of charity property during 1991 – more than double the previous year. During the year it opened 556 inquiries, of which more than 40% arose from internal monitoring procedures. More than a third were started following information or allegations from the general public and media. Some 397 cases were concluded and irregularities found in 129, two thirds of which involved maladministration or malpractice.
Press Association, June 21st, 1992
‘Church-backed project could increase teenage sex, admits Vicar’
A vicar today admitted a church-backed scheme to hand out condoms and safe sex guides to teenagers could make them more sexually active. Dozens of young people on the Broadlea housing estate in Bramley, Leeds, were targeted by the community project named the “Safer Sex Roadshow”. Charity workers handed out packets of condoms, lubricating jelly, leaflets and a sexually graphic newsletter with explicit language to people as young as 16. Its aim is to raise awareness of Aids and other sexually-transmitted diseases, but project chairman the Rev Malcolm Stonestreet admitted today: “There is a danger it could encourage young people to have sex. “But I consider the more important thing is that people have understanding. Different people will have a different moral stance, but you can’t be killing each other and getting yourself seriously ill. “We have got a growing HIV problem in Leeds. We are conscious of the lack of education,” said Mr Stonestreet, vicar of Bramley parish church. “People who say this is wrong, may be right. I am not confident in this matter. There will be people who feel shocked.” Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens criticised the scheme, saying: “They could be going down a dangerous path. Are they qualified to give that sort of stuff? You’ve got to be sure you know what you’re doing. “I can see enormous dangers in something they feel is doing good and justifying their existence,” said Mr Dickens, MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth.
Daily Mail, July 4th, 1992
‘Sex thug to serve more for robbery’
A JUDGE criticised last night after he gave a teenager a longer jail sentence for stealing women’s handbags than for sexually assaulting his victims.
Noel Reid, 19, carried out violent sex crimes and 24 knifepoint robberies on young women in East London and Essex.
He was arrested after being identified by the horseshoe-shaped gold filling over a front tooth, the Old Bailey heard.
Reid was jailed for six years for six robberies and four years concurrently for attempted rape and indecent assault on the victims.
He could be out in less than three years because he spent 13 months in custody before the trial.
Judge Lawrence Verney said: ‘The experience for these victims must have been appalling. You went on to indulge in indecent assaults or attempted rapes, but it seems that was the secondary motive.’
Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens accused the judge last night of being too lenient and not taking strong enough steps to protect women.
‘What he has done is down-grade the crime of attempted rape and make it seem less important than robbery. He has his priorities mixed up.’
Diane Nestor of Women’s Aid said: ‘This illustrates that in the eyes of our judiciary property crime is much more important than crimes against women. He should have imposed a deterrent sentence.’
Reid could have been jailed for life for attempted rape and robbery. Indecent assault carries a maximum of ten years.
The officer in charge of the inquiry, Detective Superintendent Douglas Harvey, said the victims’ lives had been drastically affected and some still received counselling.
Daily Mail, December 12th, 1992, Saturday
Lester Middlehurst, ‘BBC accused of ‘child abuse’ as AIDS spreads to Jackanory’
THE BBC faced fierce criticism last night over plans for a new series of Jackanory dealing with issues such as homosexuality and AIDS.
Programmers claim that the stories are aimed at ten-to-12-year-olds and deal sensitively with serious issues.
But critics say they will inevitably be watched by much younger children and are totally unsuitable. An MP said it was tantamount to child abuse.
One story, entitled Two Weeks With The Queen, is about a young Australian boy whose brother is dying of leukaemia. He comes to England to ask the Queen for help and is befriended by a young homosexual whose partner is dying of AIDS in hospital.
Starting next month, the stories will be screened at about 4.30pm, half an hour after the traditional Jackanory slot.
Anna Home, head of children’s programmes, said Two Weeks With The Queen ‘deals extremely sensitively and seriously with the question of AIDS and cancer. Children have heard of AIDS and we have dealt with it before in children’s programmes.
‘We did a Lowdown documentary looking at children who had the HIV virus which then turned into full-blown AIDS.
‘This strand of story-telling is a new initiative for us. There are a number of books written for older children that deserve to be told but do not fit into the Jackanory slot. This new slot will be able to tackle these more challenging stories.’
However, Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens said: ‘To me it sounds like child abuse. I can’t understand what the BBC is up to.
‘Why should children as young as five be bombarded with subjects and social issues which are totally alien to them?
‘It doesn’t matter how sensitively the matters are dealt with, I consider them unsuitable for children of the age group which would watch Jackanory.’
A spokesman for the National Viewers and Listeners Association said: ‘Why can’t the BBC let children be children? Introducing such adult subjects is ill-conceived and inappropriate for a programme like Jackanory.
‘It’s not right that programmes of this sort should deal with these issues. They are screened when many parents are at work and at a time when there should be no question of supervision.’
The new series is part of a £38million package of children’s programmes which the BBC hopes will counter fears of a drop in quality of children’s television voiced in a report from the Broadcasting Standards Council earlier this week.
Press Association, February 7th, 1993
Chris Moncrieff and John von Radowitz, ‘Storm over children’s ‘kiss line”
A Commons row is threatened next week over a telephone “kiss-line” which invites children to test their “snogging skills”. The “ultimate kissing guide” has been advertised in Buster, a weekly comic for youngsters aged seven to 14, according to Icstis, the phone information service watchdog. Labour MP Terry Lewis, who has campaigned against “sexy” phone lines for years, is to raise the issue in the Commons. He said last night: “We must get legislation to crack down on this abuse.” And Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens called the phone line “an abuse of children’s innocence”. Callers to the premium-rate service are told by a girl: “This is the line that tells you everything you ever wanted to know. It even lets you test out your snogging skills in our super-sensitive kissometer test.” A wolf-whistle follows before the voice carries on: “There’s surely nothing better than a long, passionate, sexy kiss. Phew, it makes you go tingly all over.” Voice-activated recordings of detailed information about kissing can then be triggered by speaking after a bleep. A spokesman for Icstis, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services, said the phone line was being investigated and an adjudication would be reached. The committee had decided not to invoke emergency procedures under which phone lines can be cut off pending a verdict. But Mr Lewis, MP for Worsley, said: “This just shows that the committee has no control over anybody and that there is nothing to stop anybody making sleazy publicity and exploiting young children in this way.” He added: “I shall be raising this with the Leader of the Commons, Tony Newton, in the House next week as a matter of the utmost urgency.” The phone line was not advertised in this week’s Buster, but the Icstis spokesman said he had seen a photocopy of an earlier issue carrying the advertisement. No comment could be obtained from publishers Fleetway Editions, of London.
The Guardian, March 12th, 1993
Clare Dyer, ‘Teenage rapist jailed on appeal’
A TEENAGE rapist who was freed after being sentenced by a judge to pay his victim 500 pounds so she could have “a good holiday” had his punishment increased by the Court of Appeal yesterday to two years’ imprisonment.
Three judges allowed an appeal by the Attorney-General, Sir Nicholas Lyell QC, who argued that the original sentence was “unduly lenient”.
There was an outcry over the sentence, passed at Newport crown court on February 5 by Judge John Prosser. The judge later agreed not to hear any more sex cases pending the appeal’s outcome.
Yesterday, Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice, said the rape of the 15-year-old girl was a serious offence with aggravating features. A non-custodial sentence was “simply not tenable”, although Judge Prosser did not deserve the vilification he had been subjected to.
Two years’ detention was a much shorter sentence than an adult would have received, and the court bore in mind the boy’s age and the stress on him and his family.
The boy looked shocked at the sentence, which he is likely to serve at a young offender institution.
He raped the girl on his 15th birthday as she was returning home from the comprehensive school in Gwent where both were pupils. When she refused to give him a birthday kiss he dragged her into nearby woods.
Lord Taylor said a psychiatric report showed the girl suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, with mental flashbacks, nightmares, acute depression, anxiety and irritability. By pleading not guilty, the boy had put her through the further ordeal of being cross-examined to suggest she had consented.
Earlier, John Nutting, counsel for the Attorney-General, pointed to four aggravating features: the traumatic effect on the victim and the facts that she was 15, a virgin, and had been subjected to oral sex. Factors in mitigation were the boy’s age and previous good character.
The boy’s counsel, Patrick Harrington, said the fortnight he had spent in Cardiff prison awaiting sentencing by Judge Prosser had had a profound effect. Since then, he had almost lived the life of a hermit.
David Morgan, solicitor for the boy’s parents, said: “I think it is fair to say they are very disappointed with the outcome today.”
Around 80 per cent of the Attorney-General’s appeals against sentences he considers too lenient have resulted in an increased sentence.
Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens, a campaigner for the protection of juveniles, said the case showed the merits of a system of appeal against a sentence that was too lenient. “Those of us who have campaigned over the years will feel very satisfied the system has worked so well in this case,” he added.
Press Association, March 24th, 1993
Sarah Womack, ‘Minister attacked over ‘condoms in schools’ support’
A health minister came under fire tonight after he supported an idea to distribute free condoms to over-16s in schools. Tom Sackville made his controversial remarks after branding Britain’s teenage pregnancy rate “an appalling national failing”, and launching a campaign to reduce under-16 pregnancies by half. Later, under-secretary Mr Sackville said handing free condoms to pupils over 16 would be a “positive” step, “as long as it does not contravene the law, and as long as it is done sensitively and with the full consent of parent-teacher associations, governors etc”. But senior Tory Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, MP for Burton, said Mr Sackville was “a long way ahead of his time”. And Dame Jill Knight, Conservative MP for Edgbaston, said: “It is not more and more advice and help towards sexual activity of teenagers which will reduce pregnancies.” However, former London teacher Teresa Gorman, Tory MP for Billericay, said: “Having had some of these rather nubile and well-developed young girls under my care, I know quite well that with the best will in the world it is not always possible to restrain their behaviour. “Rather than end up aged 14 with babies to look after, there is something to be said for some form of counselling or, if we cannot counsel them, something to protect them.” Shadow education secretary Ann Taylor backed Mr Sackville. “I don’t want teenage girls to be promiscuous but if they are going to have sexual relationships, then they should have access to health information about all the associated dangers from Aids to pregnancy. “If they are to be sexually active, then it has to be right to safeguard their health and provide 16-year-old girls with condoms.” And Jerry Hayes, vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary Aids group, said a large proportion of 16-year-olds claimed to have sex. If those teenagers were going to have sex, it should be safe sex, the Tory MP for Harlow said. Earlier, Mr Sackville’s views were attacked on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One programme by Stephen Green, of the Conservative Family Campaign. “The more you give teenagers contraception, the more abortions and conceptions you have because teenagers are extremely bad at using contraceptives,” he said.
The row continued to rage tonight, with Tory Harry Greenway raising the spectre of older pupils selling condoms to their younger colleagues. Mr Greenway, MP for north Ealing and a former deputy headmaster, said the idea of providing over-16s in schools with condoms was “rubbish” and should be “scrapped”. “What is needed for the 16-pluses is an availability of proper advice and that is already there. “To start pushing out condoms to them will lead to all sorts of difficulties, including the possible sale of them by the older children to the younger ones.” Conservative MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth Geoffrey Dickens, who is also a JP, joined the chorus of disapproval. “This is a very sad development. If it ever comes to pass, it will make acceptable all sorts of sexual behaviour by young children.”
In a Commons written answer tonight, Mr Sackville said that according to the latest statistics available, the number of conceptions to women under 20 in England and Wales resulting in live births, stillbirths or legal abortions, was 115,055. (1990 figure). This represented a rate of 69 per 1,000 women aged 15-19, he said.