To HASC – questions to ask to stop child abuse being exploited for party-political gain

This afternoon (Wednesday October 21st, 2015), the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) will be taking evidence relating to allegations and investigations into the abuse of children committed by VIPs (and in at least one case, alleged rape of an adult woman) from five important people: Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle, formerly of Operation Fernbridge, Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse of the Metropolitan Police, Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and a prominent campaigner on child abuse, and Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions. A report this morning makes clear that the committee have decided not to interview Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and Conservative candidate for London Mayor.

Over the last two weeks, ever since the broadcast on October 5th of the BBC Panorama programme on the alleged VIP Paedophile Ring, there has been a concerted media campaign targeting Tom Watson above all, who has been labelled a ‘witchfinder general’, as responsible for supposedly unfounded claims of high level abuse. I do know Tom personally, vouched for the importance of his work on abuse as part of his deputy leadership campaign materials, and so obviously am far from impartial, but can see in absolute honesty that I do not recognise the figure portrayed by much of the press, and also have very strong reason to believe Tom has acted with integrity and in good faith. I suspect that his conciliatory position as deputy to new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, despised by the right-wing media and many Blairite elements in the party, is fuelling this campaign. Furthermore, there are complicated reasons which may become apparent this afternoon why some conflicts have arisen between various parties all devoted to uncovering and preventing child abuse by prominent persons. Last week I posted a detailed timeline of events relating to Leon Brittan, which I believe show clearly that the decision to pursue further the rape investigation into him, after it had been dropped, came from the Met, not from Tom.

The following are issues I implore all members of HASC to consider before questioning this afternoon.


Allegations of a statement taken by an ex-customs officer about the late Lord Brittan

The distinguished journalist Tim Tate has written what to my mind is the most important piece on the allegations surrounding Leon Brittan (later Lord Brittan). Tate does not accept the claims, printed in Exaro and elsewhere, that a video seized in 1982 from Russell Tricker featured the Home Secretary themselves, but crucially claims that a statement was taken from the customs official in question, Maganlal Solanki, attesting to having seized video tapes from Brittan upon entering the country at some point in the 1980s. If a written statement exists attesting to this, it is of crucial importance in establishing whether there might be any truth in the allegations against Brittan. HASC should ask Settle to explain whether this exists or not. Furthermore, at the time of the 1982 siege of Elm Guest House, a then-eight-year-old boy was found and questioned, later (now an adult living in the US) questioned by detectives from Operation Fernbridge. On at least one occasion, this boy identified an ‘Uncle Leon’ from the ‘big house’ as being involved. It is equally vital that Settle is questioned about this. Furthermore, Solanki should also be summoned to speak to HASC.

Tate sent the following questions to the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (to the best of my knowledge he has not yet received an answer) – I suggest these are equally relevant for HASC:

1. Has the Inquiry yet established direct contact with Operation Fernbridge ?
2. Will the Inquiry be examining documentary evidence held by Operation Fernbridge concerning its investigations into the late Baron Brittan ?
3. Specifically, will the Inquiry secure from Operation Fernbridge copies of all such documents including, but not limited to, formal statements made under caution, officers’ notebooks, internal memoranda and historical documents acquired during its investigation into the late Baron Brittan ?
4. Does the Inquiry plan to require public testimony from the current head of Operation Fernbridge, AND its former senior investigating officer, [NAME REDACTED HERE] concerning the late Baron Brittan?
5. Does the Inquiry plan to require public testimony from the former Customs and Excise officer Maganlal Solanki who gave evidence to Operation Fernbridge concerning the alleged seizure of child pornography from the late Baron Brittan ?
6. Does the Inquiry plan to take evidence from the US Marshall formerly attached to Operation Fernbridge in connection with a visit he made at the request of Operation Fernbridge to a suspected victim of Baron Brittan ?
7. Does the Inquiry plan to publish the documents acquired and/or generated by Operation Fernbridge during the course of its investigation into Baron Brittan ?


Involvement of other MPs

By far the majority of the focus has been on Tom Watson, but other MPs have been equally involved with campaigning on abuse, and some have made more extravagant claims or threats. Specifically:

1. The Labour MP John Mann has handed police a list of 22 politicians alleged to have been involved with the abuse of children. Furthermore, in July last year, Mann indicated the possibility of using Parliamentary privilege to name abusers.

2. The Labour MP Simon Danczuk also threatened to use Parliamentary privilege to name a politician alleged to have visited Elm Guest House; whilst Danczuk did not ultimately do so, it is widely believed to have been Brittan.

3. On October 28th, 2014, the Labour MP Jim Hood did indeed name Brittan in Parliament. The following day, Danczuk backed Hood for having done so.

4. On November 27th, 2014, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said the following:

We need only consider the Elm guest house in Barnes, which was run by Haroon and Carole Kasir. It was raided more than 30 years ago, back in 1982. The couple were fined and given suspended sentences for running a disorderly house, but at the time there were already questions and allegations around the abuse of young children at the house. Allegedly—we are reliably told this—12 boys gave evidence in 1982 that they had been abused, yet all these allegations simply evaporated at the time, some 30 years ago. They are only resurfacing now.

When Mrs Kasir died a few years after the house was raided, in very odd circumstances, a child protection campaigner from the National Association Of Young People In Care called for a criminal investigation into events at Elm guest house. He said he had been told by Mrs Kasir that boys had been brought in from a local children’s home—Grafton Close, also in Richmond—for sex, and that she had photographs of establishment figures at her hotel. One of them apparently showed a former Cabinet Minister in a sauna with a naked boy. She had logbooks, names, times, dates, pictures of her customers and so on. All that evidence simply disappeared after the raids and no longer exists. That is astonishing.

The Met has since confirmed that Cyril Smith visited the place—the hon. Member for Rochdale has made this point—and at least three other men named in documents as visitors to the Elm guest house were later convicted of multiple sexual offences against children. It is impossible to believe there was not a cover up. This is not sloppiness; there has to be more to it than that.

I was quite surprised when I watched the broadcast of this debate in November to hear these claims, which are thought to be tenuous by many campaigners, presented in Parliament. Questions have been rightly asked about Goldsmith’s source for the claims – the Mail journalist Guy Adams suggests it was like to be either Chris Fay or Mike Broad (Fay has e-mailed me to indicate that he has never met nor had any contact with Goldsmith). Furthermore, Goldsmith participated in an Australian documentary Spies, Lords and Predators, broadcast in July this year and heavily influenced by the reporting of Exaro, which has come under severe criticism.

5. The Conservative MP and HASC member Tim Loughton, who has in the last few days started charging Watson with setting himself up as ‘judge, jury, and executioner’ over individual cases, himself threatened in July 2014 to use what he called the ‘nuclear option’ to name suspected paedophiles in Parliament. He also called for action from the inquiry in November 2014 following allegations from Exaro about MPs throwing sex parties involving the abuse of children, murder, and more.

Many of these are stronger claims or threats than anything by Tom Watson, who in a November 2014 interview with Guardian journalist Decca Aitkenhead said just that at least one politician had abused children.

HASC needs to speak to Mann, Danczuk, Hood, Goldsmith, and Loughton.


Allegations of a Westminster paedophile ring

It is often claimed that Tom Watson has alleged the existence of a Westminster paedophile ring. This would be truer of Danczuk (I am not absolutely sure if he has specifically used the term, but will check); Watson’s question to the Prime Minister on October 24th, 2012 contained the following words:

The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring. One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad. The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No. 10.

A network which is linked to Parliament and No. 10 is not the same thing as a Westminster paedophile ring. There is no doubt that a network existed around Righton, at the very least featuring other committee members of the Paedophile Information Exchange, such as Charles Napier, convicted and sentenced last December to 13 years for hundreds of sexual assaults upon young boys, or Righton’s partner Richard Alston, jailed in September for 21 months for child abuse charges, in a trial at which claims emerged of sessions involving Alston, Righton and Napier together.

The link to Parliament and No. 10 rests upon claims made in a document about which I am not at liberty to write now. Tom Watson’s source for his original PMQ was retired child protection worker Peter McKelvie, who last week resigned from the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel to the inquiry.

Scapegoats are being made of McKelvie and Watson in a bid to stop further investigation of a wide range of claims about politicians of which both are aware. It is vital that HASC also summon McKelvie and ask him about this specific claim mentioned by Watson in 2012.

If HASC will deal seriously with these claims, they will be carrying out their proper role, and not serving simply as a front for political point-scoring. The issue of high-level child abuse is far too serious for this, and it would be a tragedy if the cross-party consensus which was previously built on this were now to be abandoned.


Peter Righton – Counselling Homosexuals (1973)

The following is the publication Counselling Homosexuals: A study of personal needs and public attitudes (London: Bedford Square Press, 1973) by Peter Righton. It includes his public thoughts on the relationship between homosexuality, pederasty and paedophilia.

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Peter Righton’s writing on child abuse in Child Care: Concerns and Conflicts – his cynical exploitation of a post-Cleveland situation

In light of the conviction yesterday of Peter Righton‘s lover Richard Alston on child abuse charges, in which information was brought to the court’s attention about Alston and Righton abusing a boy together, I intend to update my blog posts on Righton (who was on the executive committee of the Paedophile Information Exchange, and wrote openly about paedophilia) to include more information about Alston, which I previous omitted as he was still awaiting trial which I would not have wished to prejudice. I also plan to blog some more information specific to Alston. But here is another essay from Righton which I am blogging here for the first time.

Peter Righton in 1992.

In 1976 Righton co-edited with Sonia Morgan a collection of essays entitled Child Care: Concerns and Conflicts (London: Hodder Education, 1989), a revised edition of which appeared in 1989, for which Righton also wrote an introduction, which I have reproduced below.

In this introduction, Righton writes first on the family, which he portrays primarily as a site of conflict and tension in light of increasing rates of divorce, remarriage and single-parent families, and advocates a greater degree of sharing of care responsibilities between families and agencies in such situations. It is not difficult to see how this constitutes a strategy on the part of Righton and other paedophiles to increase the availability of deeply vulnerable children for exploitation.

Then Righton includes a section on Child Abuse (following a brief mention of it in the section on the family). Whilst at first he is very keen to stress how the majority of child abuse occurs in the family (which while true is something often flagged up by non-familial paedophiles to take the attention of them), and then draws attention to the 1987 Cleveland Child Sexual Abuse Case, in which 121 diagnoses were made during a five month period leading to children being taken away from their parents and placed in care or hospital on grounds of suspected abuse. The subsequent inquiry, chaired by Lord Justice Butler-Sloss, concluded that most of the diagnoses were inaccurate, and most of the children were returned to their parents. Righton cites this case in order to highlight the danger of false allegations, and goes on (in a manner which is most familiar from PIE and other paedophile publications) to argue that the damage done to children by investigations by social workers and others can be as great or greater than the damage of abuse itself. Righton evokes the idea of a boy or girl who ‘has denied that he or she has been subject to molestation by a parent, yet knows that denial is not believed’, as if this were the primary form of disbelief about which one should be worried.

I do not intend here to express a view on the validity or otherwise of the particular reflex anal dilation test which (nor am I in any sense qualified to do so) by Dr Marietta Higgs and Dr Geoffrey Wyatt. But I offer this to show just quite how cynically a paedophile like Righton could snap up any chance available to portray over-zealous social workers intervening in cases of suspected child abuse. Ultimately, what Righton wanted was least intrusion as he and his networks continued to abuse children in the most hideous manner. That he was able to obtain a position of such respect in the social work profession, and use this to propagate his insidious propaganda, is deeply disturbing.

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Reports from the Richard Alston Trial

[EDIT: Now that a verdict has been reached in this trial, I can mention that in many of my earlier blog posts on Peter Righton, I have deliberately omitted anything relating to Richard Alston, New Barns School, and so on, as he was facing trial, which I did not want to prejudice. I intend soon to update most of these accordingly – mostly importantly this post and this one. Richard Alston contributed to various books written or edited by Donald Mitchell, Benjamin Britten’s publisher and later director of the Britten Estate. There is undoubtedly much more to be revealed about the relationship between Alston, Righton and Mitchell.]


Press Association Mediapoint
, August 17th, 2015
Nina Massey, ‘Remedial School Teacher ‘Groomed 11-Year-Old Boy’
(Versions of this printed in Daily Mirror and some regional newspapers)

A former teacher at a remedial school molested an 11-year-old boy at a school camp and spent years grooming him with his boyfriend, a court has heard.

Richard Alston, 70, met the alleged victim while working as a teacher at Cavendish School in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s.

But after starting to touch the youngster inappropriately on school grounds, Alston invited him up to the flat he shared with his partner, Peter Righton.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard that Alston began molesting the youngster after he fell off a climbing frame in the play area of the school, under the pretence of comforting him.

Prosecutor Peter Clement said: “If he said anything, it could be explained away – ‘I was doing nothing but comforting the boy who had just fallen’.

“If he didn’t say anything then that boy was susceptible to more serious sexual conduct.”

Mr Clement said that Alston touched the boy over his clothing to “gauge” his reaction.

He added: “The Crown suggest that at the first indecent assault the defendant realised that there was little or no prospect of complaint and he exploited that.”

Two further indecent assaults are said to have taken place during a school camp, and allegedly involved Alston creeping into the complainant’s tent and touching him while swimming in a pond.

Mr Clement told the court that one of the allegations was that Alston had gone into the 11-year-old’s tent and slid his hand into his sleeping bag and into his pyjamas, under the pretence of wishing him goodnight after “story time”.

Alston, who as a teacher was in a position of trust, is alleged to have started grooming the boy after realising that the youngster would deliver milk to his address as part of his milk round.

“It is here that the defendant and his then partner further groomed and acted indecently towards that boy,” said Mr Clement.

Jurors heard that they would tip the youngster 75p, and regularly started inviting him up to their flat, offering him beer, cigarettes and other gifts.

On one occasion Righton – now deceased – gave the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a pair of silk swimming trunks, which he asked him to wear and “parade” in front of himself and Alston.

Mr Clement said: “He did as he was asked. It was a purposefully quasi-sexual act.”

Other allegations state that Alston and Righton – sometimes in the presence of their friend Charles Napier – would play pornographic films at their flat and watch the youngster’s reaction, occasionally asking him to perform sex acts on them as he did so.

Jurors were told that while the youngster saw the two adults as “friends”, their motivation was to indecently assault him.

“He regarded both adults as friends who paid him attention and gave him treats.

“By this point, the defendant, together with his partner, had something of a hold over this boy,” said Mr Clement.

Although the youngster said nothing of the alleged abuse at the time, when he was 16 he confronted Righton about what he had been subjected to, jurors were told.

Mr Clement said: “Peter Righton dismissed this complaint and told him he had connections to powerful people, that the boy had no evidence and that no-one would believe him.

“And that worked because it meant that he did not say anything for many many years.”

Alston, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, denies six counts of indecent assault, and four counts of indecency with a child, in the late 1970s.

Giving evidence, the complainant described Alston and Righton as “really nice guys”.

When asked why he had not said anything after the first incident in the playground, he replied: “I was embarrassed. I didn’t think I would be believed – all series of emotions, really.”

The alleged victim also told jurors that he had introduced other boys to Alston and Righton.

Mr Clement asked if he went to the flat alone.

The witness replied: “I wasn’t always alone, no, I introduced other boys to Peter and Richard, they kept asking if I knew any friends.”

Recalling how the couple had given him 75p tips for delivering milk, he added: “Back in the ’70s, at 11 years old, that was a lot of money. That was a lot of money in those days.”

Asked about his visits to the flat, the complainant said: “I was fine with going to their house. They seemed like really nice guys.

“In a word I wouldn’t want for anything, I could get whatever I liked – toys, sweets, anything, money – they were always very generous.”


Press Association Mediapoint
, August 18th, 2015
Nina Massey, ‘Accused Ex-Teacher ‘Romped with Children’ on Classroom Mattress’

A former teacher who allegedly molested an 11-year-old pupil kept a mattress in his classroom on which he “romped with children”, a court has heard.

Richard Alston, 70, is accused of repeatedly indecently assaulting the youngster at Cavendish School in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s.

The attacks are said to have taken place on school grounds, during a school camp and at the flat Alston shared with his then boyfriend, Peter Righton.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard evidence from Wendy Doyle, who worked as a teaching assistant at the school for maladjusted boys at the same time as Alston.

She said “overbearing” Righton had been a governor at the school, but Alston did not really have much personality.

When asked by prosecutor Peter Clement if there was anything unusual about Alston’s teaching, she replied: “There was a mattress that they kept in the cupboard. It was small, just a rolled-up, flat mattress.

“If you wanted to go into the classroom, you couldn’t really push the door open anyway, because the mattress was down, with the furniture pushed back.”

She added that she thought it was “odd” but did not say anything to the headteacher at the time.

Simon Spence, defending, asked Mrs Doyle what she meant when she said she “imagined” Alston and the children had been “romping” on the mattress.

She answered: “Richard and the children were in the classroom. I could see from his reaction when he came out – he was hot and bothered, if you like.”

Alston denies six counts of indecent assault and four counts of indecency with a child against one complainant in the late 1970s.

He allegedly first molested the then 11-year-old after he fell off a climbing frame in the play area of the school, under the pretence of comforting him.

Two further indecent assaults are said to have taken place during a school camp, and allegedly involved Alston creeping into the complainant’s tent and touching him while swimming in a pond.

Mr Clement told the court that one of the allegations was that Alston had gone into the 11-year-old’s tent and slid his hand into his sleeping bag and into his pyjamas, under the pretence of wishing him goodnight after “story time”.

On one occasion Righton – now deceased – gave the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a pair of silk swimming trunks, which he asked him to wear and “parade” in front of himself and Alston, jurors heard.

Other allegations state that Alston and Righton – sometimes in the presence of their friend Charles Napier – would play pornographic films at their flat and watch the youngster’s reaction, occasionally asking him to perform sex acts on them as he did so.

Alston, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, is on bail and denies all charges against him.

Jurors also heard from Alston, who took to the witness box to give evidence.

He said he had realised he was gay as a young adult, and met Righton – 19 years his senior – when he was just 16.

However, Alston told the court that he did not start a physical relationship with Righton until he was about 22, and they moved in together in 1971.

Mr Spence asked his client: “Was it a full-time, committed monogamous relationship?”

Alston replied: “Not necessarily absolutely monogamous. Like a marriage with a fairly liberal interpretation of the marriage.”

Mr Spence also asked if Alston, “as a homosexual”, had ever had any interest in younger men or boys.

Alston answered: “Younger men, possibly. But not boys.”

When asked how young, he responded: “Around 16.”

Alston told the court he remembered the complainant from Cavendish School, and that he had interviewed him, along with four other boys, as part of a study he was conducting.

However, when asked repeatedly if he had ever indecently assaulted the pupil, the defendant asserted “No”.

He also denied he had ever given the youngster beer or other gifts.

Mr Spence asked: “Were you present when he was given a pair of silk swimming trunks (by Righton)?

“Were you aware of him being provided with a remote control plane or a truck?

“Did you ever see him smoking cigarettes?”

To each of these, Alston replied “No”.

The accused was then quizzed further about his relationship with his deceased partner.

Mr Clement asked if Righton had acted indecently towards the complaintant.

Alston replied: “I don’t know.”

Mr Clement continued: “Might he have done?”

“It is possible,” said Alston.

He also admitted that he and Righton would watch pornography at home, on cinefilm. But denied that this had ever been shown to the complainant.

Alston added that he thought the movies had come from Amsterdam, and could not remember if Charles Napier had brought them back from Scandinavia.

He went on to say that he was the only person with Righton when he died in 2007 and that he had been aware of a 1994 BBC documentary on his former partner.

The court heard that in January 1979 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Alston was admonished – the equivalent of a caution in English law – after admitting one count of lewd, indecent, libidinous practices, namely placing his hand on a boy’s thigh in the cinema.

Alston told jurors that he did not disclose the conviction to the school or local education authority because he hoped to be able to carry on with his work.

But he conceded that the act was an “attempt at a sexual approach” towards a boy who was of an age that he was attracted to – 16 or 17.

The trial continues.


ITV News Report
, August 18th, 2015
‘Former teacher ‘romped with children on classroom mattress”

A former teacher accused of molesting an 11-year-old pupil kept a mattress in his classroom on which he “romped with children”, it has been claimed.

Richard Alston, 70, is accused of assaulting the youngster repeatedly at a school in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s.

The attacks are said to have happened on school grounds, during a school camp and at a flat shared with the teacher’s former boyfriend, Peter Righton.

Righton, now deceased, was a former governor at the school.

Southwark Crown Court heard evidence from Wendy Doyle, a teaching assistant at the school at the time in question, who said she thought it was a “odd” that a mattress was kept in the cupboard.

It was a small, just a rolled-up, flat mattress.

If you wanted to go into the classroom, you couldn’t really push the door open anyway, because the mattress was down with the furniture pushed back.

Richard and the children were in the classroom. I could see from his reaction when he came out – he was hot and bothered, if you like.

– WENDY DOYLE

Simon Spence, defending, asked Mrs Doyle what she meant when she said she “imagined” Alston and the children had been “romping” on the mattress.

She answered: “Richard and the children were in the classroom. I could see from his reaction when he came out – he was hot and bothered, if you like.”

Alston denies six counts of indecent assault and four counts of indecency with a child against one complainant.

He allegedly first molested the then 11-year-old complainant after he fell off a climbing frame in the play area of the school, under the pretence of comforting him.

Two more incidents are said to have taken place during a school camp, and allegedly involved Alston creeping into the complainant’s tent and touching him while swimming in a pond.

Other allegations state that Alston and Righton – sometimes in the presence of their friend Charles Napier – would play pornographic films at their flat and watch the youngster’s reaction, occasionally asking him to perform sex acts on them as he did so.

Alston, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, is on bail and denies all charges against him.

The trial continues.


East Anglian Daily Times
, August 18th, 2015
PR Import – PA, ‘Former teacher denies ‘grooming’ 11-year-old remedial school pupil’

A former teacher who worked at a remedial school allegedly molested an 11-year-old boy at a school camp and spent years grooming him with his boyfriend, a court has heard.

Richard Alston, 70, who now lives in Bury St Edmunds, met the alleged victim while working as a teacher at Cavendish School in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s.

But after starting to touch the youngster inappropriately on school grounds, Alston invited him up to the flat he shared with his partner, Peter Righton.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard that Alston allegedly began molesting the youngster after he fell off a climbing frame in the play area of the school, under the pretence of comforting him.

Prosecutor Peter Clement said that Alston touched the boy over his clothing to “gauge” his reaction. He added: “The Crown suggest that at the first indecent assault the defendant realised that there was little or no prospect of complaint and he exploited that.”

Two further indecent assaults are said to have taken place during a school camp. Mr Clement told the court that one of the allegations was that Alston had gone into the 11-year-old’s tent and slid his hand into his sleeping bag and into his pyjamas, under the pretence of wishing him good night after “story time”.

Alston, who as a teacher was in a position of trust, is alleged to have started grooming the boy after realising that the youngster would deliver milk to his address as part of his round. Jurors heard that Alston and Righton would tip the youngster 75p, and regularly started inviting him up to their flat, offering him beer, cigarettes and other gifts.

On one occasion Righton – who has since died – gave the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a pair of silk swimming trunks, which he asked him to wear and “parade” in front of himself and Alston.

Other allegations state that Alston and Righton – sometimes in the presence of their friend Charles Napier – would play pornographic films at their flat and watch the youngster’s reaction, occasionally asking him to perform sex acts on them as he did so.

Although the youngster said nothing of the alleged abuse at the time, when he was 16 he confronted Righton, jurors heard.

Mr Clement said: “Peter Righton dismissed this complaint and told him he had connections to powerful people, that the boy had no evidence and that no-one would believe him. And that worked because it meant that he did not say anything for many many years.”

Alston denies six counts of indecent assault, and four counts of indecency with a child, in the late 1970s.

The case continues.


Bury Free Press
, August 18th, 2015

‘Special needs teacher from Bury St Edmunds is accused of molesting vulnerable’ pupil’

A teacher at a special needs school groomed an 11-year-old boy for sex with gifts of beer, cigarettes and silk swimming trunks, a court has heard.

Richard Alston, 70, of Robin Hood Court, Bury St Edmunds, first molested the pupil after he fell from a climbing frame in the grounds of a Middlesex school in the late 1970s, it is alleged.

Over the next three years Alston abused the vulnerable’ and needy’ child at whim with his paedophile boyfriend Peter Righton, who has since died, Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday.

When the boy turned 16 he decided to confront the pair but was scared into silence after Righton boasted of his connections to powerful people’, jurors were told

In his opening address to jurors, prosecutor Peter Clement said: “The case is about indecent assault and indecency with and towards the same person dating back some 30 years.

“At the time the complainant was a child. By virtue of not only his age – he was aged around 11 when this sequence of events begins – but also his personal circumstance, the prosecution suggest that the complainant was vulnerable.

“This defendant was in a position which brought with it a considerable degree of trust, not only of the child who he was charged with caring and educating but also the child’s parents and also the trust of colleagues at the same school.

“This defendant exploited and breached that trust that came with his position and he breached it for his own sexual gratification.

“It is indicative, the prosecution suggests, of what is commonly referred to and understood as the grooming of that child.

“Grooming so as to enable the abuse to take place and to ensure that boys silence for many, many years continuing into adulthood.

“It was all under the guise of caring for and being kind to the complainant.”

Alston forced the boy to perform sex acts and also involved his partner in the abuse, the court heard.

“On occasions the defendant’s then partner, now deceased, a man called Peter Righton, was actively involved – two men acting indecently towards that same boy,” said Mr Clement.

The court heard that the school’s regime was relaxed’ with students relatively free to roam around the school grounds’ and pupils calling teachers by their first names.

Mr Clement said Alston by all accounts was a popular, well liked, successful teacher’.

He added: “That boy, described by one form teacher as a needy child, was at that point expected to refer to his teachers by their first names and he grew to regard them as friends.

“The boy found the defendant to be friendly and approachable but he was to describe him as touchy-feely.

“There were boundaries in the 1970s and there are today – this defendant crossed them deliberately for his own sexual gratification.”

Alston first touched the child while comforting him following a fall from a climbing frame at the school, jurors heard.

Mr Clement said: “Richard Alston went over purportedly to comfort him by hugging him, embracing him, but in doing so he ran his hands over the boy’s back and over his genitals over his clothes.

“It was a deliberate touching of that boy’s genitals.”

Alston was attempting to gauge the reaction’ of the child and to see if he would say anything, jurors heard.

He later plied the boy with gifts of beer and cigarettes and tipped him generously when he, as a paperboy, delivered to his door, the court was told.

It is claimed that when Righton, who was Alston’s boyfriend at the time, gave the boy a pair of silken swimming trunks’, the couple asked him to parade in front of them.

“It was a purposefully quasi-sexual act in the mind of both the defendant and his then partner,” said Mr Clement.

It is alleged the victim was also shown pornographic films and would watch the screen as the couple, and a friend, looked on.

“By this point the prosecution suggest this defendant and his partner had something of a hold over this boy,” said Mr Clement.

The boy decided to confront the pair at their home shortly after his 16th birthday but Righton scared him into keeping his silence, the court heard.

“He confronted him about what he had been subjected to but Peter Righton dismissed his complaint and told him that he, Righton, had connections to powerful people, that the boy had no evidence and that no-one would believe him and that worked because the complainant didn’t say anything for many, many years,” said Mr Clement.

It was only when researching a book that the alleged victim stumbled across an article about Righton asking for information and plucked up the courage to contact investigators.

Alston denies six charges of indecent assault and four charges of indecency with a child.

The trial continues.


Sunday World
, August 18th, 2015

‘Teacher had classroom mattress for “romping with children”’

A former teacher who allegedly molested an 11-year-old pupil kept a mattress in his classroom on which he “romped with children”, a court has heard.
Richard Alston, 70, is accused of repeatedly indecently assaulting the youngster at Cavendish School in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s.

The attacks are said to have taken place on school grounds, during a school camp and at the flat Alston shared with his then boyfriend, Peter Righton.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard evidence from Wendy Doyle, who worked as a teaching assistant at the school for maladjusted boys at the same time as Alston.

She said “overbearing” Righton had been a governor at the school, but Alston did not really have much personality.

When asked by prosecutor Peter Clement if there was anything unusual about Alston’s teaching, she replied: “There was a mattress that they kept in the cupboard. It was small, just a rolled-up, flat mattress.

“If you wanted to go into the classroom, you couldn’t really push the door open anyway, because the mattress was down, with the furniture pushed back.”

She added that she thought it was “odd” but did not say anything to the headteacher at the time.

Simon Spence, defending, asked Mrs Doyle what she meant when she said she “imagined” Alston and the children had been “romping” on the mattress.

She answered: “Richard and the children were in the classroom. I could see from his reaction when he came out – he was hot and bothered, if you like.”

Alston denies six counts of indecent assault and four counts of indecency with a child against one complainant in the late 1970s.

He allegedly first molested the then 11-year-old after he fell off a climbing frame in the play area of the school, under the pretence of comforting him.

Two further indecent assaults are said to have taken place during a school camp, and allegedly involved Alston creeping into the complainant’s tent and touching him while swimming in a pond.

Mr Clement told the court that one of the allegations was that Alston had gone into the 11-year-old’s tent and slid his hand into his sleeping bag and into his pyjamas, under the pretence of wishing him goodnight after “story time”.

On one occasion Righton – now deceased – gave the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a pair of silk swimming trunks, which he asked him to wear and “parade” in front of himself and Alston, jurors heard.

Other allegations state that Alston and Righton – sometimes in the presence of their friend Charles Napier – would play pornographic films at their flat and watch the youngster’s reaction, occasionally asking him to perform sex acts on them as he did so.

Alston, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, is on bail and denies all charges against him.


East Anglian Daily Times
, August 19th, 2015
PR Import – PA

A former teacher who allegedly molested an 11-year-old pupil kept a mattress in his classroom on which he “romped with children”, a court has heard.

Richard Alston, 70, who now lives in Bury St Edmunds, is accused of repeatedly indecently assaulting the youngster at Cavendish School in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s. The attacks are said to have taken place on school grounds, during a school camp and at the flat Alston shared with his then boyfriend, Peter Righton.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard evidence from Wendy Doyle, who worked as a teaching assistant at the school for maladjusted boys at the same time as Alston. She said “overbearing” Righton had been a governor at the school, but Alston did not really have much personality.

When asked by prosecutor Peter Clement if there was anything unusual about Alston’s teaching, she replied: “There was a mattress that they kept in the cupboard. It was small, just a rolled-up, flat mattress.

“If you wanted to go into the classroom, you couldn’t really push the door open anyway, because the mattress was down, with the furniture pushed back.”

She added that she thought it was “odd” but did not say anything to the headteacher at the time.

Simon Spence, defending, asked Mrs Doyle what she meant when she said she “imagined” Alston and the children had been “romping” on the mattress. She answered: “Richard and the children were in the classroom. I could see from his reaction when he came out – he was hot and bothered, if you like.”

Alston denies six counts of indecent assault and four counts of indecency with a child against one complainant in the late 1970s.

He allegedly first molested the then 11-year-old after he fell off a climbing frame in the play area of the school, under the pretence of comforting him.

Two further indecent assaults are said to have taken place during a school camp, and allegedly involved Alston creeping into the complainant’s tent and touching him while swimming in a pond.

Mr Clement told the court that one of the allegations was that Alston had gone into the 11-year-old’s tent and slid his hand into his sleeping bag and into his pyjamas, under the pretence of wishing him goodnight after “story time”. On one occasion Righton – now deceased – gave the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a pair of silk swimming trunks, which he asked him to wear and “parade” in front of himself and Alston, jurors heard.

Other allegations state that Alston and Righton – sometimes in the presence of their friend Charles Napier – would play pornographic films at their flat and watch the youngster’s reaction, occasionally asking him to perform sex acts on them as he did so.

Alston is on bail and denies all charges against him.

Court News, August 27th, 2015

The long term lover of a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange is facing jail for the abuse of an 11-year-old boy in the 1970s, it can be revealed.

Richard Alston, 70, taught at the Cavendish School for ‘maladjusted children’ in Greenford, Middlesex, even though he had a previous conviction for sexual assault.

He groomed the ‘needy’ and ‘vulnerable’ child with his boyfriend, the notorious paedophile Peter Righton.

Together they plied the boy with gifts including beer, cigarettes, silk swimming trunks and a remote control plane before abusing him.

Shortly after his sixteenth birthday the victim plucked up the courage to confront Righton but he was scared into silence after the abuser boasted of the couple’s ‘connections to powerful people’.

Last Thursday a jury panel of eight men and four women found Alston guilty of one counts of indecency with a child and one count of indecent assault.

He was cleared of a further four counts of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child.

The jury were unable to reach a verdict on a remaining count of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child.

The verdicts can now be published after the CPS opted not to pursue to retrial on the outstanding counts in a secret hearing.

White haired and rail-thin Alston, who was supported during the trial by his brother from the public gallery, did not react as the verdicts were read.

Oxford alumni Alston had insisted to jurors that he never touched the child but said ‘it is possible’ Righton, who he was in a relationship for 40 years, abused the boy.

Righton, who died in 2007, was convicted in September 1992 for possession of child porn and is widely believed to have been influential in a powerful network of child abusers.

Prosecutor Peter Clement said: ‘This defendant was in a position which brought with it a considerable degree of trust, not only of the child who he was charged with caring and educating but also the child’s parents and the trust of colleagues at the same school.

‘This defendant exploited and breached the trust that came with his position and he breached it for his own sexual gratification.’

Alston was convicted of performing a sex act on the victim and forcing the victim to perform a sex act on him at his flat.

The victim was forced to parade in front of the paedophile couple, who he believed to be ‘really nice guys’, in a pair of silk swimming trunks they gave him.

He told jurors he was bowled over after receiving a 75 pence tip for delivering milk to the couple’s home.

‘Back in the ’70s at 11 years old that was a lot of money, that was a lot of money in those days,’ he said.

‘I was fine with going to their house, they seemed to be really nice guys. ‘In a word I wouldn’t want for anything, I could get whatever I liked – toys, sweets, anything, money –they were always very generous,’ he said.

‘I was going through a bad patch at home and needed somebody else to talk to about the problems so I decided to ring them up as normal to go to their home,’ the complainant told jurors.

‘I was given some alcohol which I didn’t like the taste of and they put some lemonade in to make it taste better… ‘

After the drink I wasn’t feeling very well and I fell asleep and I woke up some time later on a bed,’ he said.

‘Were you clothed,’ asked Mr Clement.

‘Yes I was clothed,’ replied the alleged victim welling up with tears in the witness box.

The victim was also shown pornographic films imported from Amsterdam during sessions that were also attended by convicted paedophile and former PIE treasurer Charles Napier.

Napier, who is the half-brother of Tory MP John Whittingdale, was locked up for 13 years in December last year after admitting 28 charges concerning 21 boys aged eight to 13 between 1967 and 1972.

‘By this point the prosecution suggest this defendant and his partner had something of a hold over this boy,’ said Mr Clement.

The boy decided to confront the pair at their home shortly after his 16th birthday but Righton scared him into keeping his silence, the court heard.

‘He confronted him about what he had been subjected to but Peter Righton dismissed his complaint and told him that he, Righton, had connections to powerful people, that the boy had no evidence and that no-one would believe him and that worked because the complainant didn’t say anything for many, many years,’ said Mr Clement.

It was only when researching a book the alleged victim stumbled across an article about Righton that he plucked up the courage to contact investigators.

While giving evidence Alston admitted he hid a conviction for groping a teenager in an Aberdeen cinema from the authorities in 1978.

He stroked the thigh of a boy, who he guessed to be 16 or 17, in an ‘attempt at a sexual approach’ but the youth reacted ‘aggressively’ and pushed the teacher into a nearby alley where his friends threatened him with a broken bottle unless he handed himself into the police.

He received the equivalent of a caution after admitting touching the boy.

Alston, of (4) Robin Hood Court, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was convicted of one charge of indecent assault and one charge of indecency with a child.

He was cleared of four charges of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child.

Jurors were unable to reach verdicts on further charges of indecency with a child and indecent assault.

He will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court tomorrow.
ends


Press Association
, August 27th, 2015
Nina Massey, ‘Remedial School Teacher Richard Alston Guilty of Molesting Pupil, 11’

A former remedial school teacher and long term partner of one of the founders of the Paedophile Information Exchange has been found guilty of molesting an 11-year-old boy, it can be revealed.

Richard Alston, 70, met the victim while working at Cavendish School for “maladjusted boys” in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s.

Together with his partner, Peter Righton, the pensioner forced the youngster to watch pornography and then perform sex acts on him.

It was the investigation into Righton, who was convicted of importing child pornography in 1992, that led to MP Tom Watson using parliamentary privilege in 2012 to allege that there was “clear intelligence” of a VIP child sex abuse ring.

Righton was also a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange – a notorious group set up in the 1970s that campaigned to lower the age of consent.

He and Alston were together for 40 years, and although the teacher denied indecently assaulting the schoolboy, while giving evidence he conceded it was “possible” his lover may have done.

Giving evidence, Alston explained that he realised he was gay as a young adult, and met Righton – 19 years his senior – when he was just 16 years old.

Despite being cleared of a number of offences, he was convicted of incidents that took place when Righton was present and a participant.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court in London cleared Alston of molesting the youngster on school grounds and during a camping trip when he was alleged to have crept into his tent after “story time”.

The verdicts were reached last week, but can only be reported now for legal reasons.
Alston, who was in a position of trust as a teacher, was found guilty of one count of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child, showed no emotion as he was convicted.

Jurors found that he and Righton groomed the schoolboy after he began visiting them at their flat, plying him with alcohol and buying him gifts such as cigarettes and toys.
Prosecutor Peter Clement said: “It is here that the defendant and his then partner further groomed and acted indecently towards that boy.”

Jurors were told that while the youngster saw the two adults as “friends”, their motivation was to indecently assault him.

“He regarded both adults as friends who paid him attention and gave him treats.

“By this point, the defendant, together with his partner, had something of a hold over this boy,” said Mr Clement.

On one occasion Righton – who died in 2007 – gave the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a pair of silk swimming trunks, which he asked him to “parade” in front of himself and Alston.

Giving evidence, the complainant said: “I was fine with going to their house. They seemed like really nice guys.

“In a word I wouldn’t want for anything, I could get whatever I liked – toys, sweets, anything, money – they were always very generous.”

Although the youngster said nothing of the alleged abuse at the time because he was “embarrassed”, when he was 16 he confronted Righton about what he had been subjected to.

Mr Clement said: “Peter Righton dismissed this complaint and told him he had connections to powerful people, that the boy had no evidence, and that no-one would believe him.

“And that worked because it meant that he did not say anything for many many years.”

Alston was found to have made the schoolboy watch pornographic films and then ask him to perform sex acts on him and Righton.

The court heard that their friend Charles Napier – now a convicted paedophile – would also be present for some of these viewings.

Last December, Napier, the half-brother of senior Conservative MP John Whittingdale, was jailed for 13 years for carrying out hundreds of sexual assaults on young boys.

He was convicted of conducting a “campaign of abuse” at the school where he worked in the late 1960s and early 1970s, grooming and assaulting 21 victims aged as young as eight on scores of occasions.

He pleaded guilty to 28 counts of indecent assault – including many covering “multiple incidents” – and one indecency charge in relation to those crimes, as well as two further separate historical allegations of indecent assault against two 13-year-old boys after he left the school, the first in 1979 and the second in 1983.

Alston, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was cleared of four counts of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child. The jury was unable to reach verdicts on one count each of the same offences.

The verdicts can now be reported after the CPS took the decision in private not to pursue a retrial on the outstanding charges.

In January 1979 in Aberdeen, Scotland, he was admonished – the equivalent of a caution in English law – after admitting one count of lewd, indecent, libidinous practices, namely placing his hand on a boy’s thigh in the cinema.

Alston is due to be sentenced on September 28.


East Anglian Daily Times
, August 27th, 2015

Colin Adwent, ‘Former teacher Richard Alston from Bury St Edmunds guilty of molesting 11-year-old boy’

A former remedial school teacher from Suffolk and long-term partner of one of the founders of the Paedophile Information Exchange has been found guilty of molesting an 11-year-old boy, it can be revealed.

shares
Richard AlstonRichard Alston

Richard Alston, 70, of Vinery Road, Bury St Edmunds, met the victim while working at Cavendish School for “maladjusted boys” in Greenford, Middlesex, in the late 1970s.

Together with his partner, Peter Righton, Alston forced the youngster to watch pornography and then perform sex acts on him.

It was the investigation into Righton, who was convicted of importing child pornography in 1992, that led to MP Tom Watson using parliamentary privilege in 2012 to allege that there was “clear intelligence” of a VIP child sex abuse ring.

Righton was also a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange – a notorious group set up in the 1970s that campaigned to lower the age of consent.

He and Alston were together for 40 years and lived in Thornham Magna after Righton’s conviction.

Although Alston denied indecently assaulting the schoolboy, while giving evidence he conceded it was “possible” his lover may have done.

Giving evidence, Alston explained that he realised he was gay as a young adult, and met Righton – 19 years his senior – when he was just 16 years old.

Despite being cleared of a number of offences, he was convicted of incidents that took place when Righton was present and a participant.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court in London cleared Alston of molesting the youngster on school grounds and during a camping trip when he was alleged to have crept into his tent after “story time”.

The verdicts were reached last week, but can only be reported now for legal reasons.

Alston, who was in a position of trust as a teacher, was found guilty of one count of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child, showed no emotion as he was convicted.

Jurors found that he and Righton groomed the schoolboy after he began visiting them at their flat, plying him with alcohol and buying him gifts such as cigarettes and toys.

On one occasion Righton – who died in 2007 – gave the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, a pair of silk swimming trunks, which he asked him to “parade” in front of himself and Alston.

Alston was found to have made the schoolboy watch pornographic films and then ask him to perform sex acts on him and Righton.

The court heard that their friend Charles Napier – now a convicted paedophile – would also be present for some of these viewings.

Alston was cleared of four counts of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child. The jury was unable to reach verdicts on one count each of the same offences.

The verdicts can now be reported after the CPS took the decision in private not to pursue a retrial on the outstanding charges.

In January 1979 in Aberdeen, Scotland, he was admonished – the equivalent of a caution in English law – after admitting one count of lewd, indecent, libidinous practices, namely placing his hand on a boy’s thigh in the cinema.

Alston is due to be sentenced on September 28.

Last December, Napier, was jailed for 13 years for carrying out hundreds of sexual assaults on young boys.

He was convicted of conducting a “campaign of abuse” at the school where he worked in the late 1960s and early 1970s, grooming and assaulting 21 victims aged as young as eight on scores of occasions.


From the memoirs of John Henniker-Major, 8th Baron Henniker (1916-2004)

Below I reproduce some sections from the volume Painful Extractions: Looking back at a personal journey (Eye: Thornham Books, 2002) by John Henniker-Major, the 8th Baron Henniker. Henniker is of interest to those investigating organised child sexual abuse because of the fact that the notorious Peter Righton, former Executive Committee member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, author of various freely available writings advocating sex with children, and senior figure in the social work profession, took up residence on Henniker’s estate, Thornham Magna, following Righton’s conviction for importing and possessing pornographic material featuring children in 1992. Numerous groups of children were brought from Islington and elsewhere to Thornham Magna on day trips and it is feared that they were the victims of abuse at the hands of Righton; the Exaro website has cited one person alleging brutal sexual assault and violence from Righton, also involving the former PIE treasurer Charles Napier, recently jailed for 13 years for sexual offences against 23 boys, and now even a sadistic murder by Righton on the estate.

I hope to be able to post a more comprehensive guest blog post on Henniker and his relationship to disgraced former diplomat Peter Hayman soon.

When time permits, I intend to thoroughly update my blog post on Righton to take account of the amazing research collected on the blog of Charlotte Russell, drawing upon a wide range of previously unseen archival documents. I cannot recommend strongly enough that anyone interested in particular in the Paedophile Information Exchange, and its links to the National Council of Civil Liberties and to politicians therein, read the various meticulously researched posts on this blog.

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Benjamin Britten and Peter Righton – A Response from the Britten-Pears Foundation

Following my article from May 11th, 2014 relating to the mention of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears in the diaries of Peter Righton, I received the following communication by e-mail on September 2nd, 2014 from Kevin Gosling, Director of Communications for the Britten-Pears Foundation, which I am reproducing here with permission.


Dear Mr Pace

Responding to your call for anyone with information about potential links between Peter Righton, Britten and Pears to contact you, we have been looking into the correspondence files and diaries we hold here at The Red House. As you may know, our archive is open to anyone wanting to carry out research. Our search found no letters to or from Peter Righton among Britten’s or Pears’ correspondence, nor does a scan through appointment diaries from the early/mid seventies indicate either had any scheduled meetings with him.

The phrase ‘get-togethers at Snape Maltings’ suggests to us that Righton was not part of Britten’s circle; had he been an acquaintance of any significance, he would have been invited to The Red House, where Britten entertained widely. Perhaps Righton just attended receptions at Snape Maltings in the context of going to concerts there? If there are specific dates mentioned in Righton’s diaries, we would be happy to investigate the archive further, as we are as concerned as you to understand the context of these remarks. Alternatively, you would be very welcome to come up here to go through any relevant material yourself.

Sincerely

Kevin Gosling

Kevin Gosling
Director of Communications

Britten–Pears Foundation
01728 451700


Peter Righton, Antony Grey and Kevin O’Dowd in conversation on therapy

The following was forwarded to me by Tom Bateman of the BBC Today Programme, for which I am immensely grateful. It consists of a discussion on therapy between Kevin O’Dowd, Peter Righton, and Antony Grey from 1972; the document comes from the archives at the London School of Economics. Grey (1927-2010) was a major LGBT activist, also deeply involved with the Homosexual Law Reform Society, later retitled the Sexual Law Reform Society (SLRS), and the associated charity The Albany Trust. However, he seems to have had plenty of connections with the Paedophile Information Exchange, and steered the SLRS in favour of some similar policies. Some more on Grey will follow in the next blog post.

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Peter Righton was questioned about child sex offences in May 1993 and November 1994

This new post on Spotlight identifies Peter Righton’s arrest in 1994. Another report given here also identifies an arrest in 1993. Both of these are subsequent to Righton’s conviction for importing child abuse images in 1992.

Evening Standard, May 19th, 1993
‘Two quizzed over child abuse case’

CHILDREN’S homes expert Peter Righton has been arrested and questioned over alleged child abuse.

It follows the Evening Standard revelation two weeks ago that Mr Righton, 67, was at the centre of a police and social work investigation.

We traced Mr Righton to the country estate of Lord Henniker’s family in Suffolk which is also an education and recreational centre for children.

Mr Righton and another man have been placed on bail while papers are submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The police investigation followed the seizure of indecent material from homes in Evesham, Hereford and Worcester, last year.

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A recently discovered press cutting shows that Peter Righton was questioned about indecent assaults on children by the Obscene Publications Squad in November 1994 – several months after the Hereford & Worcester investigation had been shut down, and after the BBC documentary Secret Life of a Paedophile had been broadcast. It can be assumed by the absence of any further news reports that he was never charged with an offence, despite clear evidence from his diaries including names and ages of victims, along with the name of the institution where he abused them. The November 1994 arrest took place in Eye, Suffolk – presumably at Lord Henniker’s estate, where he had been living since his 1992 arrest.

The Independent, 10th November 1994

A former lecturer on child social work is being questioned about indecent assaults on children. Scotland Yard’s Obsene Publications Squad arrested Peter Righton, 68, in Eye, Suffolk.

Peter…

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Peter Righton – His Activities up until the early 1980s

[Updated: I am immensely grateful to Peter McKelvie, Liz Davies, Martin Walkerdine and @Snowfaked (on Twitter) for providing extra information which has helped to fill in gaps in my earlier account]

I do intend at some point to publish a comprehensive account of all that can be ascertained about the life and activities of the sinister figure of Peter Righton, perhaps the most important of all figures in terms of the abuse scandals soon to be investigated by the national inquiry, and believed to have been a serial abuser himself with a great many victims. Both demands of time and also legal constraints do not permit this at present, but for now I wanted to publish some information and sources on Righton’s activities up until the early 1980s. 

Righton was born in June 1926 as Paul Pelham Righton, in Kensington . He grew up in Kent , and attended Ardingly College, West Sussex from 1940 to 1944, where he was a ‘favourite’ for history master and A dormitory housemaster, Denis Henry d’Abedhil Williams. From 1944 to 1948, Righton served in the Royal Artillery, based initially for his six week’s primary training at barracks in Lincoln from April 1944 (Righton, ‘Working with the ‘misfits”, Social Work Today, May 6th, 1985); no further details are known at present other than that his rank upon demobilisation was Lieutenant. By 1948, aged 22, Righton was living in 19 Garway Road, in the Paddington area of London (my thanks to Martin Walkerdine for this information). That year, Righton went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1951 (with a second class degree), and receiving his MA in 1955 .

Following graduation, Righton undertook training in the probation service from 1951 to 1952, and served as a Probation Officer in Gray’s, Essex from 1952 to 1955, where he also ran a project to develop reading skills for children with learning difficulties. In January 1956 he began teaching at Gaveston Hall, near Horsham in West Sussex, but was only in this position until July of that year. In Righton’s diaries, he lists boys he abused whilst at Gaveston Hall. The circumstances of his departure are unclear; after leaving he retreated for six months to the Society of Saint Francis, a closed order (all information courtesy of Peter McKelvie).

Righton re-emerged in January 1957 to teach at Cuddesdon College near Oxford. Soon afterwards (in the same year), however he moved to teach English at Redhill, a school for disturbed boys in Maidstone, Kent. Righton had taken a range of vulnerable pupils under his wing, and Mark Thewliss claims he was abused by Righton there from the age of 12. Righton’s diaries list boys he abused at both Cuddesdon and Redhill (source Peter McKelvie; see the Inside Story documentary below for more accounts of Righton’s activities at Redhill). He left Redhill discreetly on April 8th, 1963, resigning his position (source Peter McKelvie) (not 1964 as mistakenly mentioned before). In July 1963, a police investigation began into complaints against Righton of abuse; around time he wrote several potential suicide notes admitting having done harm to boys. However, Righton was able to get the investigation dropped after having lunch with a police inspector (Source McKelvie).

After leaving Redhill Righton worked for two years (1963-65) as a tutor and organiser for the Workers’ Educational Association in Wiltshire; his address was given as North Flat, Marden Grange, Marden, Devizes, Wiltshire.

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From 1965 onwards, Righton established his influence within the world of social work and child care. He became a tutor in charge of a two-year course for child care officers at Keele University from 1965-68 (see Inside Story below); how and when exactly he had become qualified in this field, are who were his referees, are questions the answer to which remains unclear.
then as. From 1968 to 1971 he was a Senior Lecturer at the National Institute of Social Work, a government-funded educational and research centre. On October 11th 1968, as Paul Pelham Righton, he gave a talk at Shotton Hall, Peterlee, entitled ‘A New Deal for Children: Thoughts on the White Paper ‘Children in Trouble” (Paul Pelham Righton, A new deal for children Reflections on the White Paper ‘Children in trouble’ a paper given at Shotton Hall on 11th October 1968 (Shrewsbury: Shotton Hall Publications, 1968); he also published an article entitled ‘The Need for Training’, F.G. Lennhoff and J.C. Lampen (eds), Learning to Live: A Sketchbook of Residential Work with Children (Shrewsbury: Shotton Hall, 1968), pp. 13-16, which is reproduced on the Online Journal of the International Child and Youth Care Network, Issue 95 (December 2006). In 1969, Righton published an article entitled ‘Social work and scientific concepts’ in Social Work, Vol. 26, p. 3. . He also at some point in the late 1960s started working at North London Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University), based at Ladbroke House, Highbury Grove, leaving the institution in 1970 (source Liz Davies).

The report by Tom Bateman for the BBC Radio 4 Today earlier this week made clear that as early as 1970, Righton was already credited as giving ‘considerable assistance’ to a Home Office report (Advisory Council on Child Care: Research and Development Committee; Community Homes Project, Second Report (London: Home Office Children’s Department, April 1970). The relevant chapter is printed below.

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Between 1971 and 1974, Righton was a development officer at National Children’s Bureau and head of two-person Children’s Centre (‘The National Children’s Bureau’, Evening Standard, May 12th, 1993)

In October 1971, here listed as a ‘lecturer in residential care’ for the National Institute for Social Work, and ‘director-designate of the centre to be established by the National Children’s Bureau later this year’, Righton addressed a social services conference organized by the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations, arguing for integration of social workers with residential home staff, and against too-frequent placing of those with social, physical and mental handicaps in residential homes. He also thought children ‘could be greatly helped in a residential unit’.

Times 291071 - Homes for handicapped become scapegoat for guilt of society (Righton)

In 1972, Righton published ‘Parental and other roles in residential care’, in The Parental Role: Conference Papers (London: National Children’s Bureau, 1972), pp. 13-17 (Peter Righton – Parental and Other Roles in Residential Care). Here he wrote about the  shift during last 25 years away from ‘total substitute care’ towards ‘planned alternative provision’, with child placed in open community with frequent access to their own parents. Righton argued that many still believed that substitute parenting is central role of residential worker, and that the family is good model for a residential unit. He questioned this – saying that it is impossible to provide ‘a relationship of the desirable uniqueness, continuity and intensity in a residential setting’, mentioning that the majority of children in care still have their own parents and maintain some sort of relationship with them. Righton argued that it would cause conflict by having ‘two competing sets of adults’ trying to outdo each other. He preferred to see residential care as ‘alternative caring ‘sui generis’ rather than as substitute family care’. It has been suggested to me by some experts in child care that the substitute parent model helped children feel safe from abuse and mistreatment in care; Righton’s concern to move away from this model may well have been another strategy to facilitate the ability of himself and others to sexually exploit children in residential care.

This same year, Righton also had a letter published in The Listener (June 29th, 1972), in which he expressed his fierce objection to Lord Hailsham’s views on homosexuality (my profound thanks to Daniel de Simone for locating this); Righton would use claims of homophobia more widely to silence critics of his relatively overt exploitation of young boys.

Righton on Lord Hailsham, The Listener 1972

Also in 1972, Righton took part in a published debate with Antony Grey (of the Sexual Law Reform Society and Albany Trust, who would later fund PIE – see articles here and here), and Kevin O’Dowd over the role of therapy. At another time during this year, Righton shared a platform (New Society, Vol. 21 (1972), p. 60) with Keith Joseph, then Secretary of State for Social Services, and who has himself been named as an abuser according to at least one source (Matthew Drake, ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet bigwigs named in Leon Brittan paedo files’, Sunday Mirror, July 24th, 2014)

In January 1973, together with Ronald Bennett, QC, Righton was called to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of violence by staff against boys in Larchgrove Assessment Centre on the outskirts of Glasgow; the report found that 13 out of 30 allegations were proved and was highly critical of the corporation for allowing conditions inducive to violence to occur; later reports found that John Porteus, a houseparent, had sexually abused boys at Larchgrove in the late 1960s, and others testified to sexual abuse during this time. Righton and Bennett’s report did not deal with sexual abuse, and it was possible for a convicted abuser, Robert William Henderson, to gain a position towards the end of 1973, where he formed ‘an indecent association with a 13-year-old boy’. Glasgow City Council are currently looking for any documentation connected with the case, whilst the council and Scottish government have called upon anyone who suffered abuse there to contact the police; it has been revealed that there are claims that staff of both genders were involved in the abuse of boys at the home (see ‘Notorious paedophile headed Scottish care home inquiry’, Sunday Herald, August 24th, 2014).

Also in 1973, Righton gave the Barnardo’s Annual Lecture (Edward Pilkington, ‘Shadow of the Attic’, The Guardian, June 1st, 1994); the title was ‘A Continuum of Care’, which was published the following year (Peter Righton, A Continuum of Care: The Link between Field and Residential Work (London: Barnardo’s, 1974)). This year, he also published Counselling Homosexuals: A Study (London: Bedford Square Press, 1973).

On March 8th, 1973, Righton gave a talk on ‘Co-operation in child care’, for the British Association of Social Workers Conference at St. Williams’ College, York (Residential Social Work, Vol. 13 (1973), p. 63). In September 1973, he argued that children’s homes were like ‘ghettos’ which ‘stigmatize’, because they are deprived of being part of a normal family. As a remedy of this, Righton believed such homes ‘should be made as open as possible to people in the immediate neighbourhood, and to the families and friends of the children living there’; and ‘Staff and children should be encouraged to go out to meet people and residential schools should take both children needing special substitute care and those needing boarding education’, all of which (not, of course, said by Righton) would ease the access of paedophile predators to them.

 

Times 180973 - Children's homes 'ghettos that stigmatize'

From 1974 to 1982, Righton was Director of Education for the National Council of Social Work (‘In Residence’, Social Work Today, February 4th, 1985)

In 1974, Righton visited Algeria in April, and published ‘Child Care in Algeria’, International Social Work, Vol. 17, No. 4 (October 1974), pp. 51-53. (Peter Righton – Child Care in Algeria). He also gave the David Willis Lecture for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, at New Barns School, Toddington, Gloucestershire (where he would later become a governor, and which was closed down following a police raid in 1992), published as ‘Planned environment therapy: a reappraisal’, in Association of Workers with Maladjusted Children Journal (1975) (see James S. Atherton, Review of Perspectives on Training for Residential WorkBritish Journal of Social Work, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1988), pp. 227-229). From 1974 to 1982, his address was listed as 48 Barbican Road, Greenford (near Ealing, West London) (source Ealing Local History through Martin Walkerdine). This also became in 1975 the address of the organisation London Friend, which had been founded in 1971 (one of the co-founders was Mike Launder, a social worker activist; another was the well-known writer Jack Babuscio (1937-90), though it is not clear whether Babuscio did not resign before Righton’s involvement) as the counselling wing of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Rosemary Auchmuty, ‘London’, in George E. Haggerty, John Beynon and Douglas Eisner (eds), Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000) , p. 477), but split from CHE that year 1975 (London Friend, ‘LGB&T milestones – a timeline’)

In October of that year, the Paedophile Information Exchange was founded in Edinburgh by Ian Campbell Dunn and Michael Hanson (Marcello Mega, ‘Paedophile list set up by gay rights leader’, Sunday Times, July 6th, 1997); the group would soon afterwards relocate from Edinburgh to London, and Keith Hose would take over as chair. Righton was part of the group (member number 51, and a member of the Executive Committee, by mid-1976 at the latest (‘It’s the Magnificent Six’, Understanding Paedophilia, Vol. 1, No. 2 (June-July 1976), p. 7), serving as ‘Organiser of prison-hospital visits/general correspondence/PIE befriending’; in May 1977, he stepped down from the committee (at the same time as Hose stepped down), by which time his position was listed as ‘Community Liaison Officer’ (‘Stop Press – Stop Press’, Understanding Paedophilia, Vol. 1, No. 4 (1977), p. 12).

In October 1975, Righton became chair of a working group for the mental health association MIND, with the assistance of the King’s Fund Centre; this led to the publication of Assessment of Children and Their Families: A Report Produced by a MIND Working Party Under the Chairmanship of P. Righton (London; MIND, 1975). MIND also organised for Keith Hose to speak at an event called Mind Out in 1975 (Annette Rawstrone, ‘Paul Farmer of Mind apologises after report that pro-paedophile leader spoke at 1975 event’, Third Sector, July 23rd, 2014). In 1977, London Friend’s sister organisation Cardiff Friend, and the MIND Office in Wales, organised a day seminar entitled ‘New approaches to homosexuality’; speakers were Righton, Michael Launder, and Rachel Beck, co-founder of the then recently established service Lesbian Line (‘Seminar on homosexuality’, Social Work Today, Vol. 9, No. 11 (November 1st, 1977)).

From 1976 to 1985, and especially from 1976 to 1979, Righton published regular articles in Social Work Today, which are all collected here. Of particular note is his article ‘Sex and the residential social worker’, Social Work Today, February 15th, 1977, thus written during Righton’s period on the PIE Executive Committee. Citing a 1975 article by then Lecturer in Social Work at Brunel University Leonard F. Davis seeking to legitimise sexualised touching of children in care (Leonard F. Davis – Touch, Sexuality and Power in Residential SettingsBritish Journal of Social Work, Vol. 5, No. 4 (1975), pp. 397-411 – Davis himself acknowledged Righton’s advice in the preparation of the paper; he is listed as having ‘recently completed the Course in Educational Studies at the National Institute for Social Work’, so may have been one of Righton’s students), Righton argued ‘‘Provided there is no question of exploitation, sexual relationships freely entered into by residents – including adolescents – should not be a matter for automatic inquiry’. Amazingly, several responses to this were essentially sympathetic to Righton’s position (see letters from March 15th and 22nd, 1977; another by an A. Whitaker, published on April 12th, 1977, was sharply critical, but the editor added a note at the end disputing whether this letter accurately represented Righton’s views). 

In the mid-1970s, fellow social worker Ann Goldie was present at a dinner party with Righton, who confided to her that he had engaged in sexual relations with eight or nine boys in residential care homes. Knowing that Goldie was a lesbian, Righton (rightly) trusted a group loyalty when giving this information. Daphne Statham had first encountered Righton in 1966 and frequently thereafter, and admitted that she had had suspicions (especially when Righton mentioned about a ‘motorbike club’), but didn’t enquire further, something she later came to bitterly regret (Pilkington, ‘Shadow of the Attic‘). A similar story was related by Stewart Payne and Eileen Fairweather, of Righton’s being able to be quite blatant about his activities in the knowledge that some other fellow lesbians or gays, or feminists, would not break ranks (Payne and Fairweather, ‘Silence that cloaked child sex conspiracy’, Evening Standard, May 27th, 1994).

As well as the Social Work Today pieces, Righton would in 1976 co-edit a volume with Sonia Morgan, Child Care; Concerns and Conflicts (London: Hodder Education, 1976), and publish an article ‘Sexual minorities and social work’, Health and Social Services Journal, February 28th, 1976, pp. 392-393. At some point prior to 1977, Righton also sat on the Central Council for Education in Training and Social Work (Peter Righton, ‘Positive and Negative Aspects in Residential Care’, Social Work Today Vol. 8, No. 37 (June 28th, 1977), cited in Lucy Robinson, Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain: How the Personal got Political (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011)); he also spoke at a conference in Doncaster in June 1977 jointly organised by Doncaster metropolitan borough and Yorkshire region of the Residential Care Association, called ‘Residential care – resource or last resort?’, where anotehr speaker was Janie Thomas (‘Residental care – resource or last resort?’, Social Work Today, Vol. 8, No. 37 (June 28th, 1977), p. 8). On October 16th, 1978, Righton gave a talk to the Camden and Islington branch of the British Association of Social Workers on ‘Links, conflict and relationships between residential and fieldwork’, in the Royal Free Hospital in London (Social Work Today, October 10th, 1978); on 20th March, 1979, he spoke to the Croydon and East Surrey branch of BASW on whether ‘The farmer and the cowboy can be friends?’ at Rees House, Croydon (Social Work Today, March 20th, 1979)

In 1979, he would further co-edit a volume with Margaret Richards entitled Social Work Education in Conflict (London: National Institute for Social Work, 1979), in which he published articles ‘Knowledge About Teaching and Learning in Social Work Education’, pp. 1-18 (Peter Righton – Knowledge about Teaching and Learning in Social Work Education), and ‘Four Approaches to Curriculum Design’, pp. 62-80 (Peter Righton – Four Approaches to Curriculum Design), and edited a further book on Studies in Environment Therapy (London: Planned Environment Therapy Trust, 1979). 

In 1977, Righton also participated in the London Medical Group’s annual conference, on this occasion the subject being ‘Human Sexuality’, speaking alongside agony aunt Claire Rayner amongst others (M. Papouchado, ‘Annual Conference of the LMG: Human Sexuality’, Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 3 (1977), pp. 153-154).

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In 1979, Righton sat on a steering committee to establish a course for training staff to work with disturbed young people, together with John Rea Price, director of Islington Social Services, 1972-92, subsequently the Director of the National Children’s Bureau. Other’s on the committee included G Godfrey Isaacs, chairman of Peper Harow, Mary Joynsons, director of child care for Barnardos, Janet Mattinson, Tavistock Centre, and Nick Stacey (see Social Work Today, April 3rd, 1979 (see links above), and the advert below, from The Guardian, March 28th, 1979).

Guardian 280379

 

The ‘Barclay Report’ of 1980, Social Workers : Their Role & Tasks : the report of a working party set up in October 1980 at the request of the Secretary of State for Social Services by the National Institute for Social Work ; under the chairmanship of Peter M. Barclay (London : National Institute by Bedford Square Press, 1981/1982 [printing]), included the following text: ‘We pay tribute to the work of our Secretary, Mr Bob King, of Mr Peter Righton, formerly Director of Education at the National Institute, who has shouldered a considerable drafting burden and of Miss Carol Whitwill, their personal secretary and helper’.

 

Peter Righton Social Work 2 Peter Righton Social Work

 

And then in 1981, Righton published his most blatant article to date, ‘The adult’, in Brian Taylor (ed), Perspectives on Paedophilia (London: Batsford, 1981), pp. 24-40. Drawing upon an unholy canon of paedophile writers, Righton made the case for sex with children being unharmful, in his characteristically elegant manner. No-one who read this could have been in any doubt about Righton’s inclinations (or the nature of the volume in general). 

One might have thought that one so flagrantly brandishing their sexual interest in children, speaking about it shamelessly to various others, publishing two articles making this clear, and also having been publicly identified as on the Executive Committee of the Paedophile Information Exchange, would have had difficulty being accepted as an expert on child care and child sexuality. But not at all; in 1984, he was one of the major speakers at a conference on Child Sexual Abuse (alongside fellow PIE member and academic Ken Plummer). Righton’s career continued to flourish through the 1980s, and in 1991 he was invited to give evidence to the Pindown inquiry into sexual and physical abuse in Staffordshire (‘Britain’s top kiddies home expert is evil child-sex perv’, The Sun, September 17th, 1992). He helped with translation and editing of some writings on music produced by Donald Mitchell, a major figure involved with the estate of Benjamin Britten and the Britten-Pears Foundation (having been Britten’s publisher); later he would be a co-translator of the volume Truus de Leur and Henriette Straub (ed) Keep these Letters, Please! A Written portrait of the Concertgebouw Orchestra 1904-1921, translated Ian Borthwick, Nicholas Pretzel and Peter Righton (Amsterdam: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, c. 1998).

At the time of his arrest  for importation of child abuse images in 1992, Righton was also a senior tutor with the Open University (previously the employer of PIE chair Tom O’Carroll, and who had published Righton’s volume Working with Children and Young People in 1990), working on a project to do with residential children (Peter Burden and Peter Rose, .’Porn Squad quiz Child Care Expert’, Daily Mail, May 28th, 1992); James Golden, ‘Hoard of filth in childcare expert’s home’, Daily Mail, September 17th, 1992). Chris Andrews, of BASW, described Righton at the time of his arrest as follows: He [Righton] is a highly respected figure within the residential field, particularly working with highly disturbed children. He is very much concerned with therapeutic work in child care’ (cited in Burden and Rose, ‘Porn Squad quiz Child Care Expert’).

The Department of Health and then-Health-Secretary Virginia Bottomley were told in 1993 about an influential network involving Righton. but appear to have done nothing. Nor does there appear to have been much action following the disturbing Inside Story documentary on Righton broadcast the following year, with various testimonies of Righton’s victims . After Righton was convicted, receiving a £900 fine, in September 1992, he was able to relocate on the estate of Lord Henniker in 1993, and continue to have contact with children in care, many of who (not least from Islington) were regularly brought to the estate (Stewart Payne and Eileen Fairweather, ‘Country house hideaway of disgraced care chief’, Evening Standard, May 6th, 1993).

From 1996 to 2002, he had an address of 1 Wheatfields, Rickinghall, Diss IP22 1EN, but also in 1998, he appears to have lived at an 8 Badsey Road, together with another person called Wendy C. Hall-Barnes (source Martin Walkerdine). He would move to Hamworthy, Poole, Dorset, in 2003, where he would die on October 12th, 2007.

Politicians, social workers, civil servants and many others have huge questions to answer about how a figure like Righton could manage to operate with apparent impunity for such a long period of time when his real nature was far from hidden, preying upon the most disturbed and vulnerable boys, and manipulating child care policy towards his own exploitative ends. Righton has been linked to major scandals in Islington, Calderdale, Suffolk, Rochdale (also said by one survivor to have been friendly with Cyril Smith – Keir Mudie, ‘New victim links notorious paedophile Peter Righton to VIP child abuse network’, Sunday People, April 6th, 2013), North Wales (where MP Peter Morrison, Margaret Thatcher’s PPS, has alleged to have abused boys), Haute de la Garenne (Jersey), a series of public schools, networks in Sweden, Malta, Denmark and Holland, and more, and may be one of the worst offenders ever known in the UK, certainly one of the most influential in facilitating others. The existence of diaries kept by Righton on his ‘conquests’, as seen by Peter McKelvie at the time of his earlier investigation, was the impetus for Tom Watson’s October 2012 intervention in Parliament, which more than anything else set in motion the process which has led to the inquiry which has now been announced.

Police collected a whole seven boxes of evidence during the raid on Righton’s home. It is imperative that the full extent of his activities (and also those of the equally sinister and highly-connected Morris Fraser), and the many lessons to be learned, are central to the inquiry.

 


Letter to Guardian from 1963 from a Peter Righton on Books dealing with Sex for 14-year olds

Below is a letter published in the Guardian from March 23rd, 1963, from a Peter Righton, here described as ‘Tutor, Organiser for Wiltshire The Workers’ Educational Association’, address in Devizes, Wiltshire. It is not entirely clear if this is the same Righton, but it seems likely [Edit: since publishing this article, it has been confirmed to me from sources close to the early 1990s investigation that this is definitely the same Righton, and the correct address for him from that time]. Righton had taught at Redhill School, Maidstone, from 1957 to 1962 (see the name gallery at a site for the school), apparently not leaving in 1964 as earlier reported (Stewart Payne and Eileen Fairweather, ‘Country house hideaway of disgraced care chief’, Evening Standard, May 6th, 1993), so it is perfectly possible that he had relocated in Wiltshire and taken up a position with the WEA at this time. Not a great deal is known about Righton’s activities around this time, before he became established in the world of social work and child care by the late 1960s at the latest, so this may help fill in some gaps.

The tone of the letter and the subject matter is entirely characteristic of Righton’s writings elsewhere.

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