Leon Brittan, Special Branch and the creation of a surveillance state

An article in today’s Mirror by Don Hale, former journalist and confidante of the late Labour politician Barbara Castle, claims that Leon Brittan, when Home Secretary, treated Special Branch as his own personal ‘Gestapo’, which would monitor fellow MPs, according to Castle’s own account (Don Hale, ‘Leon Brittan: Ex-Labour MP Barbara Castle said former Home Secretary was man ‘she could not trust”, Mirror, January 24th, 2015). Castle claimed Brittan was the ‘last person you would want to give a file of the nature [the dossier given to Brittan by Geoffrey Dickens] to’; Hale himself said that files on sexual abusers at Westminster given to him by Castle, when he was editor of the Bury Messenger, were seized by Special Branch operatives and police in September 1984; this would have been three months after the rash of newspaper stories alluding to child abuse allegations against a cabinet minister, who was revealed to be Brittan, though the stories were deemed false by all the journalists who reported them. Hale’s article also includes the remarkable new claim that Castle had told of a second internal inquiry by Brittan to find out who knew about allegations of child sexual abuse, and that she came across a range of papers which ‘had Leon Brittan’s fingerprints all over them’, relating to people involved in meetings to speak about support for PIE, funding opportunities, and so on, including details of wealthy backers and subscribers to Magpie magazine; there were also allegations against friends and political associates of Brittan, including Rhodes Boyson, who was identified as a speaker and fundraise for PIE.

These claims are quite incredible. I wanted to look back on reports specifically on Special Branch during Brittan’s tenure at the Home Office (from June 11th, 1983 to September 2nd, 1985). Brittan appears to have used the occasion of an IRA bomb which exploded in Harrods in December 1983 as a justification for scaling up police anti-terrorist operations, including Special Branch. In early 1984, Special Branch used heavy-handed methods to remove a wide range of documents from the journalist Duncan Campbell, who had written about intelligence operations, police surveillance, and more, whilst Brittan pushed a new Police Bill through Parliament at a time of allegations that the RUC Special Branch were involved in criminal conspiracies. Special Branch gained a higher profile as they became involved with deportation of Libyans and a time of maximum hostility between the UK government and the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi, following the siege of the Libyan Embassy in London in April 1984, in which a police officer, Yvonne Fletcher, was shot dead by Libyan agents, and later also with deportation of Syrian citizens said to have connections with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. At the time of the Brighton Bombing in October 1984, which event provided the primary pretext for a scaling up of intelligence and surveillance operations, it was revealed that Margaret Thatcher was personally guarded by three Special Branch officers. After this, Special Branch’s activities were backed up by a new Home Office liaison committee, anticipating their merging with the Anti-Terrorism branch of the Metropolitan Police in 2006. But soon afterwards, a Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry was set up into Special Branch’s activities following the revelation that they had visited a woman who had written to a newspaper opposing cruise missiles (which sounds very similar to the visit described by Don Hale). As Special Branch became a deeper part of a surveillance state, Brittan was forced to deny in Parliament in late 1984 that they had been involved in tapping the phones of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, after claims to that effect by chair (later Labour MP) Joan Ruddock, but the revelations on the Channel 4 programme 20/20 Vision by former MI5 officer Cathy Massiter gave a different picture of the intelligence services’ infiltration of this group. Prior to this broadcast, during the course of the inquiry, Brittan published Special Branch guidelines which made clear that monitoring trade unionists (counted amongst ‘subversives’) was within their remit (this was extremely potent as the guidelines were published while the miners’ strike was ongoing). A combination of industrial strife, IRA bombings and an increased profile for CND were all being used by Brittan as reasons for beefing up the role of Special Branch; this would have been more than a little convenient if he wanted them to act to protect high-level abusers of children as well. This hardly inspired confidence when it became clear that Special Branch were involved in the investigation of the murder of 78-year old anti-nuclear activist Hilda Murrell, allegedly at the hands of intelligence officers (see also Nick Davies, ‘The mysterious death of Hilda Murrell’, The Guardian, March 1994). When the interview with Massiter was finally broadcast in March 1985, it became clear that not only CND, but a wider range of trade unionists, journalist, lawyers and others, with Brittan himself having personally authorised the tapping of John Cox, vice-chair of CND and Communist Party member; furthermore, a Ronnie White appeared in the programme to detail how he had infiltrated the National Front at the behest of Special Branch, which involved him becoming directly involved in violent assaults upon black citizens. The report of the inquiry was widely thought to be something of a whitewash, with several Labour members of the committee wishing to distance themselves from it, claiming that it was flawed because they had not been allowed to interview various key officials.

There is no doubt that Special Branch did gain significant new powers and authority whilst Leon Brittan was Home Secretary, and as such Barbara Castle’s alleged claims about his relationship to the organisation are perfectly plausible.

I do not rule out the possibility, as argued by Paul Foot and more recently by Guy Adams, that the claims about Brittan having himself been an abuser were part of a dirty tricks campaign. But if so, would this campaign not be a prima facie case of ‘to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy’ as presented in January 1985 by Brittan himself to the Home Affairs Select Committee? After the June 1984 allegations were published, what were Special Branch doing to investigate this type of plot?

Furthermore, as there were clear revelations of the intelligence services infiltrating the National Council of Civil Liberties and in particular their General Secretary Patricia Hewitt and legal officer Harriet Harman, what did they find concerning this organisation and individual’s relationship to the Paedophile Information Exchange? All of this information should be placed in front of the national inquiry.

Cathy Massiter was never prosecuted, despite her revelations following close on the heels of the (unsuccessful) prosecution of Ministry of Defence civil servant Clive Ponting for passing information to Labour MP Tam Dalyell concerning the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands’ War. In 2001, Richard Norton-Taylor pointed out that Massiter’s claims had never been disproved (Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Truth, but not the whole truth’, The Guardian, September 11th, 2001 – the date of this article indicates why it would have been mostly overlooked at the time). Why did Brittan and the government not prosecute Massiter, considering how damaging her revelations were? Is it possible that she might have found out other, more fatally damaging, information about the government, Westminster, and/or Brittan himself, which might come out in the event of her prosecution?


United Press International, December 19th, 1983

Britain today ordered 700 extra police on the streets and a 24-hour bomb watch following the Irish terrorist bombing of Harrods department store that killed five people and wounded 91, most of them Christmas shoppers.

Earlier, a businessman offered a $375,000 reward for information leading to capture and conviction of the bombers.

Home Secretary Leon Brittan, in a grim statement to Parliament, announced the capital’s toughest anti-terrorist operation ever and denounced the outlawed Irish Republican Army’s attempt to disclaim responsibility for Saturday’s car bombing as ”utterly contemptible.”

”What has happened is that the IRA has found that the action taken by its members has caused universal revulsion and condemnation,” he said. ”It is a piece of nauseating hypocrisy for them now to try and disown it and to claim that some kinds of brutal murder are legitimate and some are illegitimate.”

Brittan, after meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told Parliament that special police crews would patrol London streets in vehicles around the clock to respond instantly to threats or warnings of a terrorist attack.

In addition, over 700 extra police — ranging from detectives to Special Branch officers and dog handlers — will be on duty on central London, he said.

On Sunday, the IRA said it bombed the department store, but apologized for the civilian casualties, saying police did not take advantage of a warning the bomb was about to exploded at the luxury store.

Scotland Yard rejected the IRA expression of regret as ”contemptible” and said the group’s warning prior to the bombing had been ”an invitation to death” because it was not specific and came too late.

”I can confirm that an unnamed businessman has offered a reward of a quarter of a million pounds for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the bomb,” a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said.

The IRA said its members had planted the bomb outside Harrods, but that Saturday’s attack had not been approved by the group’s leadership.

”The Harrods operation was not authorized by the army council of the Irish Republican Army,” the statement said, admitting that IRA ”volunteers” have been operating in Britain during the past week. It said the IRA ”regretted” the civilian casualties.

”We have taken immediate steps to ensure there will be no repetition of this type of incident,” the statement said.

A policeman and policewoman were killed in the attack and 14 officers injured. Three civilians were killed, including Kenneth Salvesan, 28, an American living in London. His hometown was not available.

The IRA said the police had been given a 40-minute prior warning, but had not cleared the area due to ”inefficiency or failure.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard rejected the IRA statement, saying, ”had they given an index (license) number of this (boobytrapped) car, or even color or make, and had they not maliciously misled by adding false locations, five families would not now be tragically bereaved and 91 people would not have suffered injuries, scarring them for the rest of their lives.”

The spokesman said the IRA call ”was not a warning, it was an invitation to death.”

As Harrods prepared to reopen today, Aleck Craddock, Harrods’ chief executive, said his company would review security in the store.

Police searched rooming houses and appealed for public help in hunting down the IRA guerrillas responsible for the bomb.

Cmdr. William Hucklesby, head of the C-13 anti-terrorist squad, said the bomb consisted of 25 to 30 pounds of explosives — much larger than originally believed — and was packed inside a 1972 blue Austin GT 1300 parked outside Harrods on the heaviest shopping day of the Christmas season.

”We certainly mustn’t assume this is the end of it,” Home Secretary Leon Brittan warned the public. ”Those who have done what they have done have absolutely unlimited capacity for evil. We must track them down and every conceivable effort will be made to do that.”


The Associated Press, February 16th, 1984
‘No Inquiry Into Police Action Against Journalist’

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government Thursday refused a demand by the opposition Labor Party for an inquiry into the search and seizure of documents from investigative journalist Duncan Campbell.

Home Secretary Leon Brittan, the cabinet minister in charge of police, said anyone who thinks police powers have been exceeded can go to court.

Gerald Kaufman, Labor’s chief spokesman on such matters, retorted: “Tell the Metropolitan Police Commissioner that this is England and not South Africa.”

Campbell, 31, who works for the leftist weekly New Statesman, has embarrassed authorities for years by revealing intelligence gathering operations, telephone tapping methods, police surveillance details and secret plans for Britain’s defense in nuclear war.

In 1977, he was convicted under the Official Secrets Act, but was conditionally discharged on payment of legal costs.

The latest trouble began when he fell off a bicycle last week and was knocked out for five minutes. He later found all the documents in one bicycle basket container had been kept by police, as well as his contacts book, diary, wallet and a list of future writing projects. Police have still not released the items.

Police of the Special Branch, which conducts political surveillance, then obtained a search warrant, searched his north London apartment for nearly seven hours and took away more documents, Campbell said Thursday,

“Nothing, not even the potted plants, was left undisturbed,” the journalist wrote in an article in the latest New Statesman.

He said he assumed police interest was roused by one document on his bicycle about civil defense planning marked “Restricted.”He said the Greater London Council gave it to him officially since he was a committee member.


Guardian Weekly, March 4th, 1984
Jimmy Brown (Remand prisoner), Crumlin Road Prison, Belfast, ‘An Ulster law unto themselves’

There are numerous problems affecting the people of these islands, not least the right-wing governments of London and Dublin. However, one issue common to all is that of the law.

In London Leon Brittan is busy negotiating the Police Bill through Parliament in the face of growing opposition; in Dublin the Justice Minister, Mr Michael Noonan, is hoping to reinforce the status quo with his Criminal Justice Bill.

With these debates in mind, I urge a closer look at the law and its abuses — perceived or otherwise — as it applies to Northern Ireland.

During the heyday of the British Empire its supporters made much of its laws, equality, and freedoms. Few of these principles appear to be evident in Northern Ireland today, when one looks at how the supergrass system operates. Its critics span both Protestant and Catholic communities, and range through the clergy and trade unions to respected legal and political figures, including many MPs.

Consider the various disparities in the law as applied in Belfast and in London. The British Attorney-General is known to have issued instructions to the DPP for England and Wales not to proceed in cases where the alleged evidence of a supergrass is not corroborated by independent evidence.Yet in Northern Ireland the same Attorney-General permits the charging and trial of people solely on the basis of uncorroborated evidence.

For those who still feel safe in the belief that no such travesty could occur in England and Wales, the recent “conspiracy” case in Cardiff may prove illuminating. During this trial, it was stated that one of the accused had been asked to implicate the Welsh nationalist MP, Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas, in a conspiracy to cause explosions. There was no evidence except that offered by the investigating police officers to one of the accused. When the jury’s verdict resulted in the acquittal and vindication of the men involved, an inquiry was set up into police handling of the case.

In Northern Ireland it is possible to see not only evidence of such police tactics on a grand scale, but also the total disregard for any need for inquiry into the RUC’s handling of supergrass investigations.

During the Cardiff trial some of the accused were held on remand for up to 10 months. On average people in Northern Ireland are held for between 15 and 18 months.

But three men currently on remand in Belfast have just completed 2 years in custody. Thomas Power, Gerrard Steenson and John O’Reilly face charges on the uncorroborated word of their fifth supergrass. So far the allegations of three supergrasses have been withdrawn, and those of a fourth dismissed when the court found the RUC’s star witness to be a “habitual and psychopathic liar”.

They now await trial again on the uncorroborated word of Jackie Grimley, who is servicing a “life” term for the murder of five policemen and security force members.

Grimley has admitted under oath that the RUC instructed him to “set up an attempt to implicate Steenson and others” in any crime possible; and claimed that the RUC Special Branch had entered into a number of criminal conspiracies, including armed robberies.

Yet calls for a public inquiry have so far been ignored. Mr Thomas should be grateful that such practices are not yet perfected by the police in England and Wales.


United Press International, July 27th, 1984

Britain has secretly arrested and deported another Libyan reputed to be an associate of Col. Moammar Khadafy, Foreign Office and police sources say.

Special Branch detectives arrested the 39-year-old man July 13 while he was living under an assumed name as an agricultural student at Reading university some 40 miles west of London.

On the orders of Home Secretary Leon Brittan, he was held until July 20 at the Reading police station and put on a flight to Tripoli, police sources said.

The Home Office confirmed Thursday that a Libyan living in the Reading area had been deported under immigration rules, but refused to give further details.

News reports said, however, the man that enrolled at Reading University’s Department of Agriculture was known to security services as Saleh Al Wali. The reports also said he had strong links with Khadady’s inner circle.

A police source said the deportation was a direct result of inquiries into the Libyan embassy siege in April in which policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was shot and killed. The two nations broke diplomatic relations in the wake of the siege.

The deported man’s pregnant wife was not included in the order to leave but she voluntarily left with her husband.

Earlier this month, two Libyan diplomats were ordered out of the country for ”activities incompatible with their status.”

Reports said they were trying to force Libyan students to return home against their will for an ”ideology purification” seminar.


The Guardian, October 13th, 1984
Paul Brown, Colin Brown, Peter Hetherington, David Hearst and Gareth Parry, ‘Cabinet survives IRA hotel blast / Brighton bombing during Conservative Party conference’

An investigation into the security breach which allowed the Provisional IRA to attempt the assassination of the Prime Minister and most of her Cabinet at their Brighton conference hotel began last night.

The bomb brought tons of rubble cascading through seven floors of the Grand Hotel, Brighton, miraculously missing Mrs Thatcher but killing the Conservative MP for Enfield South, Sir Anthony Berry.

Also believed to be dead are Mrs Roberta Wakeham, wife of the Government chief whip, Mr John Wakeham, and Mrs Jeanne Shattock, wife of the president of the South-West Conservative Association, Mr Gordon Shattock. Mr Eric Taylor, chairman of the North-West Area Association was missing.

Mrs Thatcher’s bathroom was demolished two minutes after she had left it, but two of her senior ministers, the Industry Secretary, Mr Norman Tebbit, and Mr Wakeham were trapped in the rubble. Mr Tebbit was brought out after four hours and Mr Wakeham after six. Both men underwent operations in hospital. Mr Wakeham has serious leg injuries.

The Prime Minister insisted that the conference should continue as normal and went on to deliver her keynote speech. The bombing, she said, was ‘an attempt to cripple our Government – and that is the scale of the outrage.’

She and her colleagues had been surrounded by close personal protection for more than two months because of a tip-off about an IRA assassination squad.

Three Special Branch officers guard her personally and other officers were posted on the first, Second and third floor landings.

The American FBI had warned that a Provisional ‘sleeper squad’ had been reactivated and was planning a winter terrorist offensive. This underlined British intelligence information already gained.

The tip-off was lent extra weight two weeks ago when an FBI tip-off led to the arrest of five alleged IRA gunrunners and the capture of the trawler Marita Anne off the Irish coast.

Recent succeesses against the IRA meant that they had to seek to re-establish their credibility by a spectacular action.

At the scene, police officers confessed their amazement that so many had escaped death. This may have been due to the strength of the Regency building absorbing some of the blast.

The chief constable of Sussex, Mr Roger Birch, asked for an independent inquiry into the security arrangements to be conducted by the deputy chief constable of Hampshire, Mr John Hoddinott.

Commander Bill Hucklesby, head of the anti-terrorist squad, went to Brighton to help with the investigations being carried out by the Sussex police, led by Detective-Chief Superintendent Jack Reece. Also involved are Assistant Chief Constable David Scott and Chief Superintendent Dennis Williams.

Experts estimated the bomb at 10 to 15lb. but – with the dead and critically injured still trapped in the rubble – the Provisional IRA in Dublin issued a statement claiming responsibility and saying the bomb was 100lb.

The statement, addressed to Mrs Thatcher, said in part: ‘Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always. Give Ireland peace and there will be no war.’

After her speech to the conference, in which she again emphasised her refusal to be moved by the bombers, Mrs Thatcher went straight to the Royal Sussex Hospital, where she spent two hours with the injured.

She said the 18 victims she spoke to had one defiant message for the Provisional IRA – that she should not give in.

It was a miracle that even more people were not injured in the explosion, she said. Mr Tebbit and Mr Wakeham were both asleep during her visit.

She said some of the victims were asleep when the bomb went off. ‘They found themselves way outside their rooms, there were people several storeys down, it is unbelievable. There was a great deal of rubble, then a great deal of dust and a lot of water.’

Mr Birch, the Sussex Chief Constable, refused to speculate about the size or nature of the bomb. There were rumours that it was timed to go off when ministers would be in their rooms and had been planted in a front bedroom. The impact of the bomb appeared to have been concentrated on the fifth floor, collapsing lower floors and ripping off the roof.

Debris was scattered over the promenade and the beach. Forensic scientists are expected to take some days to piece together information about the device.

At a press conference, Mr Birch took complete responsibility for the security arrangements in the town but he insisted that they were adequate.

He said: ‘I feel a great sense of sadness that it should have happened. I am still of the opinion that the arrangements we made were appropriate to the occasion.

‘To guarantee 100 per cent security, particularly from an explosive device, would call for the sort of security arrangements which so far have or would prove quite unacceptable to the community, and therefore you would have to have a total split between the people like ministers in residence and other people sharing the hotel.’

The bomb, which went off at about 2.54 a. m., could have caused greater mayhem in the hotel had the main bar on the ground floor not closed promptly at 2 a. m.

All those staying at the hotel yesterday had to register at the conference centre to help the police to establish who was missing, and to reclaim property. Many lost their clothes. Marks & Spencer opened their store to replace them.

The blast also scattered Government papers and Cabinet documents, with their red boxes which were collected quickly by the rescue teams and driven away in a police Land Rover, but some remained buried in the ruins.

Sir Geoffrey Howe, the Foreign Secretary, was occupying rooms next door to Mrs Thatcher and Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, was next to him.

As well as Mrs Thatcher’s bathroom, Sir Geoffrey’s study was also demolished. Mr John Gummer, who was helping Mrs Thatcher to put the finishing touches to her conference speech, had gone across the corridor to collect some papers when the blast occurred. He was unhurt.

Mr Paul Boswell, aged 59, the hotel manager, said that if the blast had gone according to plan ‘it would have meant that the whole lot would have come down on Mrs Thatcher.’

Mr Boswell, who handed in his notice on Thursday ready for retirement, was in his flat on the second floor when the bomb went off.

In the hotel bar, Mr Ron Farley, aged 40, the Tory group leader of Bradford City Council, was still in evening dress when the explosion occurred.

‘Everyone was showered with glass and I told them to get down,’ he said. ‘I shouted to the people to join hands. There were about 30 or 40 of us who linked up and we slowly made our way through the back. Some of the people were crying or sobbing. I went back to try to help the injured.

‘There was one policeman lying on the floor, covered in rubble. We pulled away all the dust and rubbish. He was injured, I don’t know how badly.

‘Then I found this poor old dear, a 70-year-old lady, can you believe? She had one eye missing. It was terrible.’

Two bodies were recovered, perched and dangling from joists in the gaping hole in the front of the hotel.

Firemen had to pick their way downwards, taking off the beams and joists one by one.

After two hours, Mr Tebbit’s foot was seen poking through the beams. Fireman Tony Hayward said: ‘He was in quite a bit of pain but he did not show it. He is really a strong guy.’

The Tory party organiser, Mr Harvey Thomas, who was rescued after 1hr 45min under the rubble, left hospital to listen to Mrs Thatcher’s speech.

His wife brought him some clothes from London. He said he had thought he was going to die, but after an hour he heard firemen’s voices.

‘The firemen were terrific. They worked for an hour, during which time we were freezing cold and the water was pouring over us. I had been on the seventh floor and I was pulled out of the fifth, so I must have fallen two floors. I am very thankful. My wife is expecting a baby today.’


The Associated Press, October 22nd, 1984
International News

The government announced a new intelligence effort Monday to combat Irish terrorism, and security measures were stepped up around Parliament as legislators returned to work after the summer recess.

Home Secretary Leon Brittan told the House of Commons he had ordered “new arrangements centrally for countering the Irish terrorist threat” following the bomb explosion that killed four people Oct. 12 in the Brighton hotel at which Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet were staying.

He said the aim was to concentrate “the widest range of experience in assessing Irish terrorist intentions” and “coordinate the counter-measures required to meet them.”

He denied a weekend press report that the investigation of the Brighton bombing, for which the Irish Republican Army took responsibility, was being hampered by poor relations between different police forces. But his statement was seen as an attempt to make the country’s security agencies work more closely together.

The domestic news agency Press Association said an interdepartmental government committee was being established to assess data on terrorism and decide what measures were needed.

Britain has no national police force or equivalent of the American FBI. Its Special Branch, founded in 1870 to combat Irish subversives, and the present-day C13 anti-terrorist squad, are attached to Scotland Yard, which is responsible for policing the Greater London area.

The bombing probe in coastal Brighton is the responsibility of the local county constabulary.

To cries of “Hear, hear!” Brittan assured the Commons: “We will not be bombed into boltholes (hiding places) by terrorists.” But the security measures imposed in London were evident.

Video cameras, roadblocks and extra police were posted around the Houses of Parliament, and access to Mrs. Thatcher’s official residence at 10 Downing St. was severely restricted.

Mrs. Thatcher’s Conservatives are already consulting with police to plan their next annual party conference, in the northwest resort city of Blackpool. Brittan advised all party organizers to contact police well in advance to make their meetings secure.

He said total security was impossible because it would deny the public its customary accessibility to British leaders. But, he said, “Immediate attention has been given to the assessment of other potential targets and the provision of proper protection for them.”

Conservative legislator Peter Bruinvels introduced a motion calling for an early debate in the House of Commons on restoring the death penalty for terrorist crimes. Hanging was abolished in 1969, and last year a motion to restore it was defeated handily.


The Guardian, October 23rd, 1984
Colin Brown, ‘Parliament: Intelligence unit to combat Irish terror / Home Secretary Brittan on the Brighton bombing’

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, yesterday announced the setting up of an intelligence unit at Scotland Yard to counter the Irish terrorist threat, following the Brighton bombing which resulted in four dead and 32 injured.

In a statement on the bombing to the Commons on its return after the summer recess, Mr Brittan said: ‘We will not be bombed into bolt holes by terrorists.’

His message won united support from all sides of the House, including Mr Gerald Kaufman, the Shadow Home Secretary, who said: ‘Let it go forth that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us – we shall resist that attack and we shall win.’

The Commons joined with Mr Brittan in expressing sympathy for the families of the victims.

Mr Kaufman, in expressing the sympathy of the Opposition, was cheered when he said Labour MPs hoped soon to see the Industry Secretary, Norman Tebbit, restored to health and returning to the Commons ‘in his usual rude health.’ Mr Tebbit and his wife. Margaret, are also still in hospital.

The Home Secretary told MPs that the explosion had no less a purpose than ‘to strike a blow at the heart of our democracy by killing the majority of the Cabinet.’

Praising the police. and the security services, Mr Brittan said: ‘The task of obtaining evidence about the bomb itself was formidable and the police were not yet in a position to describe it more fully beyond that it was believed to have been about 20 pounds of commercial explosive.’ A total of 31 skips and 750 dustbins full of debris had been removed from the Grand Hotel and 228 police officers were engaged in this task.

More than 200 police officers were engaged in a pursuit of inquiries about the bombers. Mr Brittan said that it would be wrong to anticipate the conclusions of the police report on security at the conference. ‘I shall, however, to the extent that this does not prejudice security, report them to the House in due course.’

Mr Brittan assured the Commons that new measures to improve security in the Palace of Westminster were in hand.

‘The Brighton bombing also demonstrates the vulnerability of party political engagements, This applies locally as well as nationally. Local party organisers should be careful to contact the police about arrangements well in advance,’ said Mr Brittan.

New arrangements for countering the Irish terrorist threat had been set in hand centrally. The aim, he said, was to bring to bear the widest range of experience in assessing Irish terrorist intentions and capabilities and to advise on, and coordinate, the counter-measures required to meet them. These would supplement the continuing role of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.

Mr Brittan said: ‘Total security is impossible in a free, democratic society. Political and other leaders are vulnerable because they must be accessible. Everything which can be done, will be done to prevent such outrages and protect their targets. But we will not be bombed into bolt holes by terrorists.’

Mr Kaufman, for the Opposition, said: ‘This was no random act of violence. It cannot be compared and should not be compared with any other act of violence, great or small, which takes’ place in our society.

‘This was a deliberate attempt to destroy the Government by mass murder.

‘That Government is a Conservative Government with which we have the most serious differences. But it is the democratically elected government. It is the British Government and let it be said in the plainest terms, the only way to get rid of a Government in Britain is by the ballot box.

‘Terrorism and assassination have no place whatever in the political process in this country.

‘We utterly and unanimously reject it and will fight with every fibre of our being against it. With Voltaire, we say to the Government we disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.’

Mr Kaufman called for an examination of the whole question of security surrounding the Government and parliament.

He added: ‘But while we here are obvious targets for terrorist action and it is important to ensure the maximum possible security compatible with the right of the people to have access to their elected representatives, let us be clear that our security is no more important than that of the whole of the population who are at risk from the foul gangsters.’

Just because politicians have chosen to take part in public life, they could not expect greater safety than those caught up in the Harrods bomb, the Regents’ Park atrocity or those in Northern Ireland, civilians and troops, who face these dangers every day.

‘We are all in the front line. We must face these risks unitedly together.’

Mr David Steel, the Liberal leader, on behalf of the Alliance, said the IRA had misunderstood both public and parliamentary opinion. ‘We are one family in this House and when one member of that family is attacked, the only effect is to unite all members of the family. We will not bow to terrorism.’

Mr Julian Amery (C Brighton Pavilion) protested about the very unfair criticism of the police force before any inquiry had taken place.

Mr Andrew Bowden (C Brighton Kemptown) protested about an article in the Sunday Times claiming that there were serious differences between the Sussex police and the Metropolitan police. He said it was totally and completely untrue and one of the most scurrilious pieces of journalism he had seen.

‘They have printed the names of witnesses when they were specifically asked not to do so by the Assistant Chief Constable. Is that not impeding his inquiry and making it more difficult to bring the guilty to book?’ he said.

The Home Secretary said it was important to make it absolutely clear there was no truth at all in the suggestion of differences of opinion between the forces investigating the murder nor any truth in the suggestion of inadequate resources being available.

Mr James Molyneaux (OUP. Lagan Valley) told Mr Brittan that in seeking the cooperation of the Republic of Ireland in the battle against terrorism, the Government should avoid paying any price which concede the objectives of the terrorists either in whole or in part.

Mrs Jill Knight (C Edgbaston) said the IRA could not continue their campaign of anarchy without help from their two major sources of supply for money and arms – the Soviet Union and the United States.


The Guardian, November 22nd, 1984
Stephen Cook, ‘MPs suspect whitewash in special branch inquiry / Inquiry into police special branch’

Opposition MPs suspect that the Government has devised a strategy to play down the controversial aspects of the inquiry into the police special branch.

The inquiry, by the Commons home affairs committee, opens on Wednesday with evidence from the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

They believe that their anxieties over the balance in special branch operations between the safety of the state and civil liberties will be brushed off by government and police witnesses either as ignorance or police-bashing.

It is the notable change in he Government’s attitude towards the inquiry which leads Labour MPs to think that attempts are being made in the political lobbies and through the media to limit the potential damage from the inquiry by playing down its significance.

When it was first mooted – following the news that special branch officers had visited a woman in the West Midlands who had written to a newspaper opposing cruise missiles – the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, warned that it might end up ‘in a blind alley’.

Now that the committee has decided to go ahead, the Government is making much of the fact that all evidence will he given in public, and suggesting there is nothing to hide. Although the committee has powers to make witnesses give evidence it cannot make them answer questions.

The Labour MPs on the committee, chaired by Sir Edward Gardner, QC and Conservative MP for Fylde, are particularly keen to clarify the reasons why certain people are subject to listing by the special branch, whose primary job is to liaise with M15 to gather political intelligence.


The Guardian, December 11th, 1984
‘Phone taps on CND illegal / Home Secretary on alleged phone-tapping of anti-nuclear group’

Security services could no have legally tapped the telephones or intercepted the mail of CND members, the Home Secretary, MrLeon Brittan. told MPs yesterday.

Mr Brittan made it clear that CND was a legitimate organisation, despite its opposition to government policies on defence, and could not have its communications intercepted legally under the guidelines set out in a 1980 white paper.

Warrants for interception under the guidelines can only be granted for the police to assist them in the detection of serious crime or if there is a subversive, terrorist or espionage activity that is likely to injure the national interest.

His assurance that the CND Members and their organisation did not fall within this category is bound to lead to speculation that interceptions took place illegally when the National Council for Civil Liberties presents a series of complaints by CND to the home affairs select committee of the Commons tomorrow in its review of the Special Branch.

CND has complained that its mail has been tampered with and it has noticed irregularities with telephone calls – in one case a conversation was played back. The Post Office has paid compensation to the organisation.

Mr Brittan told the former Labour Home Secretary, Mr Merlyn Rees, that something had gone wrong.

But Mr Brittan suggested that until the Post Office’s inquiries were complete the only two things that the Commons could be sure had gone wrong were a Post Office machine and the quality of CND packaging.

He firmly ruled out a government inquiry into the complaints by CND, which were raised by the shadow home secretary, Mr Gerald Kaufman.

Mr Brittan also surprised MPs by refusing to give any categorical assurance that they were not having their telephones tapped, whether or not they were members of CND.

Mr Eldon Griffiths, parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation, said last night he had investigated tampering with his own mail and clicks on the telephone which suggested that it might have been tapped by the security forces, because he lived near USAF and RAF bases.

But he said the letters had been opened and re-sealed as a result of machinery going wrong and had been delayed by incompetence or industrial action. Interference on the telephone had been caused by trees outside his home coming into contact with telephone wires.

Mrs Joan Ruddock, chairman of CND, commented later: ‘The Home Secretary’s failure in the House of Commons to condemn any form of telephone and mail interference, authorised or unauthorised, does no credit to the government of a supposedly free and democratic society.’


The Guardian, December 15th, 1984
Stuart Wavell, ‘Weekend people: The chief prepares to quit the field of battle / Joan Ruddock considers stepping down as CND chairperson’

As the staff of CND reportedly debate an appropriate financial inducement for the successor to Monsignor Bruce Kent as general secretary, Joan Ruddock is giving serious thought to stepping down as the organisation’s chairperson.

Mrs Ruddock, who was recently re-elected to her fourth term of office, told me this week that while she has no immediate plans in mind, her job possessed an inherent limit that was ‘not too far away.’ She admitted that she is attracted to the idea of returning to politics (she stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in Newbury). ‘Whether I would find a constituency that wanted to adopt me is another matter,’ she said.

She explained that part of her dilemma stemmed from CND’s reluctant compliance with the media’s desire that its message should be projected by a couple of individuals (her and Mgr Kent).

‘The danger is that these people, their personalities and characteristics, become more important than the policies they convey,’ she said. ‘That is why there has to be some limit to the amount of time that anyone stays in that very high profile position. I won’t say at this time what I expect to do, but you will gather from what I am saying that the limit should not be too far away. Just as Bruce chose to carefully time and phase his departure, I would have the same concerns.’

She also mentioned the strain on her personal life. She works part-time for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Reading, devoting weekends and most spare time to CND activities. But it is not clear from all this how serious she is. Last year she told Weekend People that if she had known what the job had entailed she might not have taken it on, yet she has stood twice since then.

I asked whether a contributory factor was a distaste for CND’s cumbersome decision-making apparatus spelled out recently by Mgr Kent. The conference structure of CND, he wrote in the New Statesman, favoured those who lived ‘in a world of resolutions, amendments, points of order and points of information.’

She replied that this was sometimes boring and frustrating, but that she did not know of a better system nor of any other such organisation which established policies by democratic means. CND’s membership, she pointed out, was probably larger than those of the Labour Party and the SDP.

Well, did she agree with Mgr Kent’s complaint that a not insubstantial section of CND seemed content with pushing into the Labour Party’s manifesto as many of CND’s ultimate aims as possible without much interest in converting the electorate?

She did, up to a point. She said that CND had achieved as much with Labour as they had a right to expect, and that Labour’s defence document still needed some revision.

Converting the electorate, however, was not CND’s job. ‘The Labour Party can’t sit back and say ‘ We have got the policy and that will do.’ That will not do. They have got to dispel the myth that removing nuclear weapons will leave Britain defenceless. We are not doing something that will translate into votes for us. We cannot do it for them; they must do it themselves. So far we have seen little sign of their being prepared to do so.’

The reason for this interview had been to elicit more information about what is bugging CND – part of the current investigation intoSpecial Branch activities undertaken by a Home Office select committee. Appropriately my telephonic approach to CND was greeted with a fruity selection of crackles.

All par for the course, notionally normal but down-right suspicious, Mrs Ruddock believes. Engineers probing disconnections and loss of dialing tone had been mystified. And there was Mrs R’s own unique experience. ‘I was trying to regain the dial tone by pressing the receivers. I heard my voice repeating a portion of the conversation I had just had. Some people conclude it’s a form of harrassment.’

She found Leon Brittan’s statement that the security forces could not have legally tapped CND’s phones or intercepted its mail to be disturbingly ambiguous. Developments would be viewed with scepticism, she said. His remark about the quality of CND wrapping was at odds with the fact that envelopes had been cleanly slit open.

She first suspected Special Branch surveillance some years ago, when she was the relatively unknown co-ordinator of the Newbury Campaign Against Cruise Missiles. Photographers with telephoto lenses had snapped the crowd outside a Newbury meeting addressed by Francis Pym. At Greenham, where she had helped to set up a peace camp before the advent of the Cardiff women, car numbers had been taken overtly.

‘One day I went up there by myself. There wasn’t a soul around. I turned my car round and stopped. Suddenly a police car rushed up. The policeman wound down his window and said ‘Hello Mrs Ruddock, can we help you? ‘

Since when she believed the taking of car numbers and photographic surveillance has become standard. And now phone-tapping, brought to the attention of the National Council Civil Liberties because of the volume of complaints from CND members.

‘Because of these inexplicable instances I work on the assumption that a third party is listening. I object very strongly.’

She and her husband live outside Reading in the village of Burghfield, home of a Royal Ordinance Factory which is believed to manufacture and rearm nuclear weapons. Wasn’t that rather like moving to Brands Hatch and complaining about the noise? She laughed.

‘I went there in oblivion, not knowing that the ROF was a weapons plant. If I had known I wouldn’t have lived there.’

Most of the villagers work for the Ministry of Defence. ‘I understand – and they know I understand – that it’s uncomfortable for them to be associated with me. I don’t accuse anybody of anything. I know they have no choice, although I want to have a choice. I have never had a bitter argument with any of them.’

Mrs Ruddock will be getting some new neighbours soon. Building work is in hand at Burghfield to accommodate American servicemen from Greenham Common. Eye contact, one imagines, will be a ticklish daily hazard.


The Guardian, December 20th, 1984
Stephen Cook, ‘Brittan bans bugs in telephone boxes / Home Secretary orders tighter restrictions on police surveillance’

Police must stop putting devices to tap telephone conversations in public call boxes and must tighten procedures for authorising and recording the use of surveillance equipment, the Home Secretary announced yesterday.

But it is clear from Mr Leon Brittan’s statement that all police forces now use a wide range of equipment to observe and listen to people in public and private places, including people’s homes.

In a Commons written reply he said that no information is to be made public about these devices and how they are used. Nor will statistical information on their use be gathered at the Home Office. HM Inspectors of Constabulary are to check that they are only used where necessary.

Mr Brittan was referring to new guidelines to police forces drawn up after a review prompted by a case in North Wales where officers were seen placing a listening device in a telephone kiosk.

He said: ‘The guidance issued in 1977 recommended that records should be kept of the use of aural surveillance devices, and the new guidelines will require records to be kept for both aural and visual devices.’

Under the guidelines – which apply to Special Branch and the CID – only a Chief Constable may authorise the covert use of listening, recording, and transmitting equipment. If a member of the public is cooperating with an operation authority can come from an assistant chief constable.

But in the case of covert operations the Chief Constable must be satisfied that the investigation concerns serious crime that other methods have failed or are unlikely to succeed, and that there is good reason to anticipate an arrest and conviction or the prevention of terrorism.

The authorising officer must be satisfied that the degree of intrusion into people’s privacy is commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.

‘Where the targets of surveillance might reasonably assume a high degree of privacy, particularly in their own homes, listening devices should be used only for the investigation of major organised conspiracies and of other particularly serious offences, especially crimes of violence,’ the guidelines say.

Chief officers are reminded that telephone tapping can only be done with a warrant from the Home Secretary, but the use of a listening device should not be ruled out simply because it might pick up or end of a telephone conversation.

If cameras are to be used to observe a person in a private place – private homes, or hotel bedrooms – the same procedures should be observed as for listening devices.

Where there is general surveillance or surveillance of an individual in a public place, a Chief Superintendent can give permission.

Use of binoculars telescopes, and night vision equipment should be controlled by an officer with a rank of at least Inspector. In exceptional urgency, a Chief Superintendent can give permission normally reserved to a chief officer

The Home Office said last night that it would be illegal for police to place a device inside a person’s home or otherwise to tamper with his property without his permission.


The Guardian, December 21st, 1984
Stephen Cook, ‘Special Branch guidelines published / Home Office guidelines on countering terrorism and monitoring subversives’

Home Office guidelines to police forces about the role of the Special Branch in countering terrorism and monitoring people it considers to be subversive were unexpectedly published for the first time yesterday by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan.

The appearance of the guidelines, which confirm much common knowledge about Special Branch activities, was claimed as something of a coup by some members of the Commons select committee on home affairs, which is halfway through an inquiry into the branch.

Earlier this year Mr Brittan, who is due to give evidence to the committee next month, said that the inquiry would face a blind alley. But its members feel that it is making some progress, and some want it prolonged to take evidence from junior as well as chief police officers.

Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North, who pressed for the inquiry, said yesterday: ‘One can only rather cynically conclude that this is a pre-emptive strike by the Home Secretary. But the guidelines provide too wide a framework and need to be tightened up.’

The guidelines say that Special Branch duties include assessing whether marches meetings, demonstrations and pickets pose a threat to public order, and helping the security services to guard against espionage, sabotage, and the actions of persons or organisations inside or outside the country ‘which may be judged to be subversive to the state.’

Another duty is armed protection for people thought to be at risk, and the monitoring of anyone ‘who may plan to harm prominent individuals for political reasons or because of mental disturbance.’ Special Branch officers keep watch and gather information at airports and seaports, and may help with immigration or naturalisation inquiries.

The Metropolitan Police Special Branch has national responsibility for matters relating to Irish terrorism, the guidelines say, and for protection for the Royal Family, Government and former ministers and diplomats. A national joint unit at Scotland Yard coordinates inquiries and applications for exclusion orders under prevention of terrorism laws.

Intelligence should be released only to people with ‘a particular need to know,’ say the guidelines. They warn: ‘Data on individuals or organisations should not under any circumstances be collected or held solely on the basis that such a person or organisation supports unpopular causes or on the basis of race or creed.’

Mr Winnick said that the guidelines were so ambiguous as to leave it to the discretion of Special Branch officers to decide on their targets. They did not forbid the kind of operation in which Mrs Madeleine Haigh, a CND member in the West Midlands, was visited by Special Branch because she wrote to a newspaper to oppose cruise missiles.

‘The manner in which they are required to keep tabs on demonstrations and marches is also a bit disturbing,’ he said. ‘I feel that not enough is being done to give Special Branch proper training in the processes of political democracy. It is quite easy for them to think that anyone who challenges the existing order is subversive.’

Mr John Wheeler, Conservative MP for Westminster North and another member of the committee, said: ‘Our inquiry makes it necessary to produce this kind of information, and I think the more we expose what is done, the more reassuring it all is. Most Special Branch officers are engaged on boring and routine duties.’

He added: ‘Flexibility is a most important aspect of their work, but there is clearly a question about whether they are wasting resources investigating people who don’t count and don’t matter. This is something we have yet to put to the police. It was the nub of the evidence given to us by the National Council for Civil Liberties.’


The Guardian, December 22nd, 1984
David McKie, ‘MPs protest at role of Special Branch / Labour MPs protest over Special Branch guidelines on industrial disputes’

Labour MPs protested yesterday over the guidelines for Special Branch activity unexpectedly published late on Thursday by the Home Secretary, MrLeon Brittan.

The main target of their complaints and their demands for further information was the role which appeared to be given to the special branch in industrial disputes.

The Labour employment spokesman, Mr John Prescott, wrote to Mr Brittan yesterday asking for further clarification. ‘As you will appreciate,’ he said, ‘this is a most sensitive area which involves the rights of our citizens, and in particular trade unionists who, in the judgment of some government ministers, are considered to be and are treated as the enemy within.’

Mr Prescott said the guidelines had produced the first public acknowledgement that the special branch was monitoring union activities which might be judged subversive, though he accepted that the guidelines said the information must not be passed on to employers or other organisations.

Mr Prescott asked whether the definition of subversive activity related solely to possible acts of a criminal nature, or whether it also involved the branch in making political judgments.

He said he knew of Special Branch activity in photographing disputes and pickets, and introducing reports on the movements of individual trade unionists. He asked for more to be said about how such information was used and asked if people approached by the Special Branch on the basis of such information and requested to identify individuals, had the right to refuse.

Mr Prescott said yesterday that the Government’s definition of ‘subversives’ was a threat to trade unions and trade unionists.

Tony Heath writes: A call for an independent judicial inquiry into the activities of the Special Branch was made yesterday by the president of Plaid Cymru, Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas, MP, who claimed that political policing was intensifying, particularly in Wales

Speaking at Dolgellau, in his Merionnydd Nant Conwy constituency, Mr Thomas said: ‘In a democracy the police have a duty to protect the right of those who disagree.

‘Instead, the Special Branch guidelines published this week indicated that unaccountable public servants are free to act on any whim, fancy, or piece of misinformation. They equate democratic dissent with subversion.’

Plaid Cymru had been collecting evidence of political policing for almost a year. The miners’ strike had given rise to over-reaction by police on and off the picket line, Mr Thomas said. Interfering with activists’ telephones was common-place.

Plaid Cymru’s initiative was welcomed by the Welsh Language Society.


The Guardian, December 22nd, 1984
Leading Article: ‘Guidelines into a very grey area / Guidelines for police Special Branch’

For 101 years, part of the British police force has been solely engaged in political surveillance. In 1984 as in 1983, one of its principal targets is Irish republicanism. But gradually the net has widened from Fenianism. The Special Irish Branch has become the Special Branch pure and simple and it now concerns itself with a far wider range of oppositional activities. Some idea of how wide that net is now cast emerges from the guidelines on Special Branch work released this week by the Home Office. Today’s Special Branch deals with firearms and explosives crime, immigration and nationality inquiries, port and airport surveillance, armed protection for VIPs and checking on the movements of foreign diplomats. But the guidelines also highlight two further major responsibilities: the Branch are the legmen for MI5 in dealing with terrorism and subversion and, in the bland language of the new document, they gather information about threats to public order.

Nothing of what we now know about the Special Branch has emerged without outside public pressure. Until recently, there was no public information whatsoever. MPs who tried to put down questions on the subject were simply refused answers. No local police force (and each has its own Special Branch) gave any information to its police authority. This changed in the dying years of the Callaghan government, after the furore about the Agee and Hosenball deportations and the ABC official secrets case. After pressure from Mr Robin Cook MP, the then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, allowed a brief adjournment debate, in which he acknowledged that the Branch concerns itself with ‘subversive activities which threaten the safety or wellbeing of the State, and which are intended to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.’ Since then, most local police forces have given brief and anodyne annual details of their Special Branch. Even so, it has taken the brave decision of the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee to mount an investigation into the Branch to prise out the latest details. This week’s release of the guidelines is designed to cushion Mr Leon Brittan’s unwilling appearance in front of the committee in the new year.

The new guidelines beg vital questions. In finally admitting what many already assumed, that the police ‘provide assessments’ about marches, demonstrations, meetings and pickets, they fail to say how far and by what methods the police routinely keep tabs on wholly legitimate political activity. The elastic definitions of subversion allow police to gather information on legal as well as illegal activities. Recent revelations about the surveillance of the CND and of the miners’ union are only the tip of this grey area iceberg. An inquiry in South Australia in 1977 by Mr justice White into a Special Branchwhich was set up by British police on the British model revealed that almost every protest movement, trade union and socialist group (including the Labour Party which formed the elected state government) had been considered systematic fair game. It is probable, at the very least, that the BritishSpecial Branch employs similar criteria in its file-keeping, and there is nothing in the new guidelines which seriously dents that suspicion. When Mr Brittan sees the select committee, someone should ask him how many Special Branch files exist on members of the Labour Party and how many on the Conservative Party.

Every state has a right to prevent its overthrow and to stop terrorism. The British state has long had laws giving it those powers. But the civil liberties of those who oppose the government are no less vital, and they have no such legal support. At present, the publication of the guidelines serves to legitimate current dubious police practice rather than to protect the right to oppose. Even the guidelines, inadequate though they are, have no force. What is needed is legislation to put the security services, the Special Branch and their methods on a statutory basis which can at least be challenged in the courts.


The Guardian, December 24th, 1984
Paul Keel, ‘Labour wants Brittan to lead inquiry into the Murrell death / Allegations surrounding the murder of Miss Hilda Murrell in March 1984’

The Labour front bench has now entered the controversy over the murder of 78-year-old Miss Hilda Murrell with a call for Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary to head personally an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding her death.

Attention was focussed on the murder inquiry last Thursday when Mr Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP for Linlithgow, claimed in the House of Commons that the elderly anti-nuclear activist had died as a result of a violent encounter with British intelligence officers at her home in Shrewsbury last March.

He said that they were searching for supposed sensitive documents relating to the sinking of the Belgrano because her Nephew, Mr Rob Green, had been a naval intelligence officer at the time of the Falklands conflict.

West Mercia police, who are heading the murder investigation, have said that there is no evidence whatsoever to support Mr Dalyell’s allegations.

But yesterday Mr Alf Dubs, the MP for Battersea and a Labour shadow spokesman on home affairs, said that so many apparent discrepancies were emerging.

‘What is required is for the Home Secretary himself to take personal charge of the inquiry and to make the findings public, otherwise there will be the feeling that a cover-up is taking place,’ he said.

It emerged at the weekend that, contrary to initial statements by the investigating police, the Special Branch had taken part in the early stages of the murder inquiry.

Mr Dalyell asked yesterday why this branch of the police force would have taken part in in investigation into the murder of an elderly spinster unless there was more to the crime than has since been suggested.


The Guardian, January 23rd, 1985
James Naughtie, ‘Brittan sets up team to foil bombers / Home Secretary announces plans for new security at party conferences’

A committee of senior police officers, security officials and representatives of the political parties is to draw up plans to counter terrorist attacks at party conferences.

Announcing the measure yesterday, Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, said the police were not responsible for security lapses leading to the Brighton bombing on October 5 last year – but he disclosed that his own suite in the Grand Hotel had not been searched before the explosion.

He told the Commons that the team under the chairmanship of Sir Lawrence Byford, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, would help significantly to provide ‘a firm framework.’ But he was accused by Mr Gerald Kaufman, the Shadow Home Secretary, of having made an ‘inadequate and complacent’ statement.

He complained that the Government had refused to allow senior opposition figures in all parties to see the report on the Brighton bombing prepared by Mr John Hoddinott, the deputy chief constable of Hampshire.

Mr Merlyn Rees, the former home secretary, said that confidential access to such reports had been provided in the past and it is clear that there is strong feeling in the Opposition that Mr Brittan should have provided full details on Privy Counsellor terms, assuring confidentiality.

Mr Brittan told MPs that the bomb which killed five people in the Grand Hotel had contained between 20 and 30lbs of explosives and it had been placed behind a bath panel in Room 629. It was almost certainly detonated by a long-delay timer, he said. A person who stayed in the room about three weeks before the explosion had given a false address.

The most startling information revealed by the Home Secretary was in answer to Mr Alex Carlile, the Liberal home affairs spokesman, when he agreed that of the rooms on the first floor which had been searched before the conference, his own had been omitted. Mr Brittan is one of the most closely guarded ministers in the Government.

Although he said the police were not to be criticised for not discovering the bomb, many MPs last night were expressing surprise at the failure to search the hotel adequately. Mr Brittan said the failure was because of the absence of a ‘clear allocation of responsibility within the Sussex police.’

He then announced the establishment of a permanent working group to co-ordinate police activities with the Home Office and including representatives from M15 and the army. Mr Brittan said that central arrangements for assessing terrorist intentions set up after the bombing had already proved of value.

The essence of Mr Hoddinott’s report as revealed by the Home Secretary, was the need for better co-ordination between the Metropolitan Police special branch, other security authorities and local police forces, which would continue to carry much of the responsibility for specific counter measures against terrorist attacks.

However, he made no secret of the Government’s view that there was a limit to the security arrangements which were acceptable in a democratic society.

He said of Mr Hoddinott’s report: ‘He did not criticise the police for failing to control and search each person enter ing the hotel during the period of the conference. He concluded that the hotel and those wishing to use it would not have accepted such an arrangement and that, given the assumption of free access to the hotel, the numbers involved would, anyway, have made it impracticable.’


The Guardian, January 24th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Thinking hard among the Grand debris / Security and terrorism’

When a shattering outrage like the Brighton hotel bombing takes place, the instinctive reflex is to demand a sweeping and ferocious response. Last October, this instinct produced two reactions. The first was to find a scapegoat. The second was a demand for wholesale tightening of preventive security in order to stop the unthinkable from happening again. Initial responses of this kind are understandable and natural. But they are psychologically complex. Retribution and guilt sit cheek by jowl with rational effectiveness. And such instincts have almost always proved an unreliable basis for long term policy and law-making.

A decade ago, within days of the Birmingham pub bombings, the Wilson government pushed a temporary Prevention of Terrorism Act through Parliament. That law remains not without its occasional legitimate uses, but also providing a large and convenient fig-leaf for some highly dubious police trawling within the Irish community. It was not a healthy precedent and, as the Grand Hotel bomb showed, it has not prevented the determined terrorist. No subsequent government has publicly accepted this argument. But, to judge by the tone of his remarks in the House of Commons this week, this lesson has been well learned by the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan. On Tuesday, in his statement to the house on the Brighton bomb and on the findings of the inquiry by Mr John Hoddinott, deputy chief constable of Hampshire, Mr Brittan offered no legislative panaceas. Indeed, in unlikely agreement with the urgings of Mr Tony Benn, Mr Brittan went out of his way to state that the balance between security and the exercise of civil liberties should not be lightly altered. ‘Nothing that I have said,’ the Home Secretary emphasised, ‘indicates the slightest readiness to slide over civil liberties.’ Words to remember.

Having said which, there are some very unsatisfactory and unresolved aspects of the Home Secretary’s report. One has to be a mite cautious about making these criticisms, since the text of the Hoddinott report has been kept secret. Mr Brittan only gave MPs the gist of the findings. He has even refused to reveal the full report in private, on ‘privy councillor’ terms, to Opposition front benchers. This suggests an element of bluff in Mr Brittan’s relatively low profile public response. Nevertheless, the Grand Hotel bomb came close to obliterating the Cabinet. Judged against the magnitude of that act, the Hoddinott report exposes two exceptionally serious areas of failure. The first is in the police’s physical preparations. Mr Hoddinott has given his Sussex colleagues a pretty easy ride. Their plans were ‘proper and reasonable.’ They carried them out ‘competently and professionally.’ This is a lot to swallow. The fact is that the Brighton conference area (which included the Grand Hotel) was cordoned off for the week of the Conservative conference. Nevertheless it was pretty easy to get through the barrier and, once through it, access to the Grand was straightforward, at all hours. Searches of the hotel were clearly inadequate, judged not merely by the fact that the bomb went off, but by the admission that not all rooms were searched and by the ease with which it was possible to move around the hotel.

The second big question is whether the police really understood enough about the threat which they faced. Mr Hoddinott says that they had access to the relevant intelligence. Perhaps so. But did they know how to draw lessons from it? Clearly not. Information is one thing, and the Special Branch has plenty of that. Knowledge based on that information is quite another matter. And there is plenty of accumulated evidence that the Special Branch and MI5 do not know how to make sound deductions from the mass of information at their disposal. The Special Branch gets off particularly lightly from what Mr Brittan told the Commons on Tuesday and that may well be because he wishes to protect them from criticism while they are under investigation by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Nevertheless, Mr Brittan is setting up a new improved counter-terrorist liaison group to advise on future threats. Liaison is naturally, blandly welcome. But no amount of liaison is a substitute for improved and better focused methods of intelligence interpretation.


The Guardian, January 29th, 1985
James Naughtie, ‘Brittan guidelines ‘give special branch carte blanche’ – Labour / Home Office guidelines for the special branch’

Mr Leon Brittan the Home Secretary, was accused yesterday of writing ‘a spies’ charter’ for special branches throughout Britain in the Home Office guidelines on their activities.

Mr John Prescott, Labour’s employment spokesman, said Mr Brittan’s interpretation of the guidelines in a letter to him yesterday revealed the freedom given to special branch officers as ‘carte blanche.’

Mr Brittan is due tomorrow to appear before the Commons select committee on home affairs, which is considering the role ofspecial branch officers.

In his letter to Mr Prescott, Mr Brittan said that the special branch must not be prevented from ‘looking into the activities of those whose real aim is to harm our democracy, but who for tactical or other reasons, choose to keep (either in the long or the short term) within the letter of the law in what they do.’

He denied that this definition allowed special branch officers to make political judgments about alleged subversive elements in industry or other aspects of national life. He emphasised that the functions of the special branch in relation to public order were quite different from its functions in relation to subversion.

Special branch officers should only concern themselves in industrial matters to the extent necessary to maintain law and order and protect the state against subversion. Special branches were not interested in trade unionists as such.

Mr Prescott reacted angrily to the letter, claiming that it showed the wide discretion given to the special branches attached to each police force in deciding what constituted subversion or a threat to law and order. ‘They can do more or less whatever they like under the guidelines.’

He argued that, for example, special branch officers could photograph miners under suspicion that they might travel to a picket line, although chief constables now admitted that the tactic in the pits dispute of stopping cars of pickets on motorways well away from picket lines had sometimes been unwise.

Mr Brittan said in his letter: ‘Picketing would be of no interest to special branches if it were always conducted peacefully and within the law. But where picketing may pose a threat to public order it is entirely right that a chief officer should have access to any relevant information that his special branch can provide to help him determine an appropriate level of policing.’

The right of an individual to cooperate with a special branch officer in providing information or to refrain from answering questions were the same as in any other case where the police sought the assistance of a member of the public.

Mr Prescott said that many individuals approached by the special branch as potential informants felt it more difficult to refuse than they would in more normal circumstances, and that greater safeguards were therefore needed.


The Guardian, January 30th, 1985
David Pallister, ‘Hit-squad suspects deported to Syria / Four men deported from Britain’

Four men with Syrian passports who were arrested in a London hotel on Sunday by Special Branch officers on suspicion of being an anti-PLO hit squad were deported to Damascus yesterday.

Their removal from Britain was personally authorised by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, under the Immigration Act, as people ‘not conducive to the public good.’

It is believed that they were travelling on diplomatic passports without being accredited to the Syrian embassy in London.

The police feared that one of their targets may have been the PLO representative in London, Mr Faisal Aweida. He left last week for a trip to Tunis, the headquarters of the mainstream Fatah PLO organisation.

The police moved in on the men at the Cumberland Hotel. Five were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but one was later released.

It is not known whether the police had any evidence with which to charge the men with offences in Britain. Even if they had, the Home Office considers that deportation, before a substantive offence is committed, is preferable to a politically explosive trial.

With Syria backing the dissident faction of the PLO, all Syrian nationals arriving in Britain are liable to Special Branch surveillance.


The Guardian, January 31st, 1985
Stephen Cook, ‘Brittan defines Special Branch targets / Home Secretary speaks at Commons investigation committee into the Special Branch’

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, last night offered political activists and other campaigners a do-it-yourself method of working out whether thespecial branch might have marked them down as subversives and put them under surveillance.

Such people should ask themselves two questions, he told the Commons home affairs committee inquiry into the special branch. Did they intend to harm the safety or well-being of the state, and did they intend to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy?

The answer to both questions had to be yes if they were to fall within the official definition of subversion and become legitimate targets of the special branch, Mr Brittan said. If the answer to only one question was yes, the person should not be a target.

It was not necessary for someone to have committed or be contemplating a criminal offence to be classed as a subversive, Mr Brittan said. It would be wrong to prevent the special branch investigating people whose real motives, under a cloak of respectability, were to harm our democracy.

He denied that this meant that anyone could be classed as a subversive at will by the special branch, and refused to elucidate how judgments about people’s motives might be made. But he agreed with committee members that special branch officers had a different difficult and sensitive task, and might sometimes make mistakes.

Mr Brittan said that he was broadly happy with the current double-headed definition of subversion, first drawn up by the Labour government in 1975. However, he would be glad to consider any new definition which the committee might come up with in their inquiry, which has now finished taking oral evidence.

The Home Secretary said that the present Government had been more liberal on special branch matters than any predecessor, and had tightened and published the guidelines under which it worked. Rules on record keeping, in particular, had been made more rigorous.

He argued that there was less public disquiet about the special branch than was sometimes claimed.

‘Hundreds of innocent people have been saved from the bomb because of special branch information.’

He encouraged chief constables to week unnecessary information from their special branch files, and urged them to publish as much as possible aboutspecial branch work.

Mr Brittan rejected the suggestion of Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall, that there must be hundreds of thousands of people like Mrs Madeleine Haigh of Sutton Coldfield, who was apparently considered by some special branch officers to be a security risk.

Mrs Haigh, who was visited by special branch after writing to a paper opposing cruise missiles, was being repeatedly cited to fill a gap in evidence, Mr Briitan said. A mistake had been made and admitted in her case.


The Guardian, February 1st, 1985
Paul Brown, ‘MPs bar seamen / Parliamentary select commitee not to hear evidence’

Mr Jim Slater, general secretary of the National Union of Seamen, who wanted to give evidence to a Commons select committee of alleged Special Branch infiltration of his union issued an angry statement yesterday when he was told that it would not be allowed.

The home affairs select committee decided that it would take no more witnesses after hearing Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary on Wednesday. Mr Slater said that the committee had heard evidence from the minister and chief constables.

A spokesman for the committee said that if Mr Slater would submit written evidence it would be circulated.


The Guardian, February 21st, 1985
David Hearst, ‘Kent, Scargill and Gostin ‘targets of MI5′ / Telephone tapping of dissident group alleged’

Allegations that leaders of the CND and the National Council for Civil Liberties had been subjected to surveillance were made by Cathy Massiter, a former MI5 intelligence officer, in a Channel 4 documentary banned from the screen last night.

Another former officer claimed that senior trade unionists had their phones tapped regularly.

Ms Massiter gave the names of leaders who, she said, were scrutinised by M15 in the 20/20 Vision programme, MI5’s Official Secrets. which the IBA ordered should not be shown.

The list included Mgr Bruce Kent, general secretary of CND, Barbara Egglestone, national organiser of Christian CND, Larry Gostin, general secretary of the NCCL, as well as former general secretary Patricia Hewitt, who is now an adviser to Mr Neil Kinnock and the NCCL’s former legal officer Harriet Harman, now a Labour MP.

In 1981, Ms Massiter, who had been recruited from a university library 11 years earlier, said she was put in charge of the surveillance of CND, even though the organisation was taken off the MI5’s list of subversive organisations

Ms Massiter said in the Channel 4 programme: ‘It was perceived as more than ever necessary that we had to be able to answer very precisely whatever questions we were asked about CND and its subversive penetration, which meant that our study had to be perhaps rather closer than it certainly would have been otherwise.’

To do this MI5 got one of its agents, Mr Harry Newton, a respected lecturer in trade union law and life-long activist in left wing political groups, to join CND in 1982. Newton, who died last year, had been the treasurer of the Institute for Workers’ Control, a left wing think tank supported by prominent trade union officials like Jack Jones and Alex Kitson and had been recruited by MI5 in the 1950s.

Newton filed regular reports about the workings and activities of CND headquarters. Ms Massiter said: ‘He (Newton), had a strong opinion that Kent might be a crypto-communist. I personally saw no justification for this whatsoever, but that certainly was the view that he expressed.’

She said that Newton’s reports were entered on MI5 files and the view that CND was controlled by extreme left-wing activists was passed on to Mr Michael Heseltine, the Defence Secretary, even though she found no evidence to support this view.

Confronted by the revelation that Mr Newton was an MI5 agent, and that he told M15 that Kent was a ‘crypto-communist,’ Mgr Kent said: ‘Well they have overpaid him in that case. I am not a crypto-communist. I don’t know what crypto means, I’m not a communist.’

Cathy Massiter also alleged that material gathered by MI5 was passed on to a counter propaganda unit set up by Mr Heseltine in March 1983 to combat the CND’s unilateralist line. The unit is known as DS19.

Instructed by her superior Ms Massiter passed on nonclassified information on any extreme left-wing affiliations of CND leaders. The passing of information from MI5, a security organtsation, to DSI9, a political body may be seen as a direct breach of MI5’s own code of conduct, known as the Maxwell Fyfe directive.

It states that it is essential that ‘the Security Service should be kept absolutely free from any political bias ‘or influence.’ Cathy Massiter said: ‘It did begin to seem to me that what the Security Service was being asked to do was to provide information on a party political issue.’

Shortly after DS19 received MI5’s report, Cathy Massiter was told that the MI5 would ‘consider favourably’ an application to tap the phone of a communist target in CND.

Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary had said that the ‘lawful campaigning’ to change the mind of government about nuclear disarmament was an entirely legitimate activity, which did not fall within the criteria of the 1980 white paper on the role of the security forces. But in spite of these assurances, the programme said, Mr Brittan, authorised MI5 to tap the home telephone of a leading CND official in August 1983, two months after the general election.

The target chosen was John Cox, vice-president of CND and a number of the Communist Party. From him, MI5 obtained information about Bruce Kent, Joan Ruddock on ‘a wide range of topics that were concerning CND at the time.’ Cathy Massiter questioned whether John Cox posed a subversive threat to the state.

In 1963 Lord Denning wrote: ‘The Security Services are to be used for one purpose only, the defence of the realm.’ The Channel 4 programme also interviewed another former agent of MI5. whose identity in a closed guarded secret, who confirmed that senior trade unionists had their phone tapped regularly.

The agent said: ‘Mick McGahey, a prominent communist and mineworker’s leader and a member of the Scottish TUC was subjected to extensive surveillance, including the tapping of his home telephone. This gave rise to an office joke about the girls who had to listen to Mrs McGahey’s interminable telephone conversations with friends and relations, but we were able to get information from her chatting about his movements which he himself was careful to conceal.’

The MI5 bugged Arthur Scargill’s phone during the seventies. The agent said: ‘Scargill himself would occasionally shout abuse into the phone at the people who were tapping him.’ Asked whether Scargill’s phone was being tapped now, during the miners’ strike, Cathy Massiter said: ‘I would think it very likely, highly likely, in view of his particular history and his known political views.’

The programme also alleged that MI5 tapped prominent members of the Fire Brigades Union during the firemen’s strike, and a Ford union telephone during key pay negotiations. The purpose of these telephone taps was to find out what the union leader’s ‘bottom line’ was in the pay talks.

Another man, Mr Ronnie White, interviewed on the programme, claimed that he had been used by the Special Branch to infiltrate the National Front. As an SB agent he said he broke into the homes of selected targets and beat up blacks to establish his bone fides with the National Front.



The Guardian, February 22nd, 1985
James Naughtie and David Hearst, ‘DPP studies film report on MI5 / Director of Public Proscecutions Hetherington to view TV documentary on surveillance targets’

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Thomas Hetherington, yesterday launched an investigation into the Channel 4 documentary on the surveillance targets of M15, which the IBA banned because it feared prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

The DDP has asked to see the film, but said that any further action would depend on its contents. A spokesman for the DPP said the inquiry was prorapted by an IBA statement, expressing fear that screening the film would be a criminal offence.

The Government stonewalled attempts by Opposition MPs to hold an emergency debate on the programme’s allegations, and refused to answer allegations that senior ministers had misused the security services for their own party political purposes.

Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, refused to discuss individual telephone taps, which it was alleged had been placed on Mr Arthur Scargill and Mr Mick McGahey, president and vice-president of the NUM, or claims that leading peace campaigners like Mgr Bruce Kent, general secretary of CND, had been been targets of M15 surveillance.

In a letter to Mr Steve Norris, Conservative MP for Oxford, Mr Brittan said it was still policy – as it had been under previous Governments – neither to confirm nor deny whether interception had taken place in any particular case.

He stressed that any telephone tap approved by ministers had to satisfy two demands – that the subject was engaging in activity threatening the safety or well being of the state and at the same time was seeking to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.

However, he stopped short of repeating the statement he made to the parliamentary select committee on home affairs which was investigating thespecial branch. At a hearing on January 30, asked whether the CND fell within the category of a subversive organisation, he said: ‘No, CND does not attempt to undermine parliamentary democracy.’

In his letter, Mr Brittan said he was ‘fully satisfied’ that the security service was ‘absolutely free from any political bias or influence,’ but gave no reasons to support his view.

His remarks came as Opposition MPs reacted furiously to claims made in the Channel 4 documentary. Ms Harriet Harman, Labour MP for Peckham, who was named as the subject of an M15 surveillance, wrote to the Prime Minister demanding to see her MI5 file, asking what form the surveillance had taken, and who had access to her file.

She said: ‘It is very sinister if I have been subject to surveillance because I have argued for civil liberties. As a Member of Parliament I demand to see my file.’

Mr Larry Gostin, general secretary of the NCCL, whose offices had also been the subject of surveillance, it is alleged, wrote to Mr Brittan demanding to see his file, and asking for a full judicial inquiry into the security services.

Labour MPs challenged the Government to respond to the allegations made in the film but the indications last night were that there will be no change in Ministers’ traditional refusal to discuss the operation of MI5.

Instead, Mr Brittan pointed to the forthcoming bill on the interception of telecommunications and mail, and said proposed independent tribunal to study complaints would guarantee full investigation to anyone who believed there had been improper interception.

Relatives and friends of the late Mr Harry Newton, said by the programme to have infiltrated CND, were shocked and saddened by the allegations. In a statement they said: ‘Those who have indulged in this should now produce proper evidence, or withdraw their allegations and apologise for the distress they have caused.’


The Guardian, February 22nd, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Who polices the secret policemen? / MI5 and Special Branch political surveillance’

As the official denials grow ever more emphatic, so the evidence about MI5 and Special Branch political surveillance gets furiouser and curiouser. Time after time during the last ten years, Home Secretaries, junior ministers and sometimes even Prime Ministers have delivered weighty but essentially obscure statements to Parliament. ‘Difficult area. As frank as I can. Cannot go into detail. Dedicated public servants doing a vital job. No evidence of abuse. Minsters in complete control.’ And then, deep in the forest, a whistle blows. Sometimes a strangled cheep-cheep. Occasionally a stentorian reveille. And, once again, the dog-eared old brief is dusted off and is thrust into the hands of yet another minister of unimpeachable integrity. ‘Difficult area. As frank as I can ..’

There comes a time when the old platitudes won’t work any more. It is early days yet, but it looks as though that point has been reached with the as yet unbroadcast revelations of two former MI5 operatives about political targetting under this Government. The evidence of Ms Cathy Massiter and her unnamed former colleague is potentially the most important blow ever delivered to the credibility of the internal activities of the British national security state. As always with such revelations, there is a cynical, worldly-wise voice which says that there’s nothing here that we didn’t know and there’s not a lot that can be done about it anyway. But that won’t quite do, this time. Just look at the allegations of substance in the Channel 4 documentary. First, that trade unions, the peace movement and the National Council for Civil Liberties, all of which are legal, freely supported bodies, are designated subversive and are subjected to routine infiltration and surveillance. Second, that particular individuals in these movements are specifically targeted because they either are Communists, or were once, or might be, or have friends who are, were or might be Communists. Third, that such ground rules as do exist, whether public or secret, about who or what to watch and bug are flouted at the whim of the watchers and buggers. Fourth, that Mr Michael Heseltine knowingly used the security services and the Special Branch to spy on his political adversaries, in this case members of the CND, some of whose members are Tories. Fifth, that the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, somehow misled MPs in an answer about phone tapping of CND members.

Any one of these charges would be serious enough on its own. Added together, though, they are an exceptional indictment of this country’s internal surveillance practices. But they are not exceptional when compared with revelations in two jurisdictions where the policing and parliamentary systems are closely modelled on British methods. In South Australia, in 1977, a judicial investigation of the state Special Branch concluded that it had consistently concealed its activities from the state government. The inquiry found that the Branch’s files were based on ‘the unreasoned assumption that any persons who thought or acted less conservatively than suited the security force were likely to be potential dangers to the security of the state.’ The files were ‘irrelevant to security purposes and outrageously unfair to hundreds, perhaps thousands of loyal and worthy citizens.’ Is that not exactly what Ms Massiter is saying, too? Then also, in Canada in 1981, the McDonald Royal Commission on the internal security activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found a similar situation. ‘The perception of threats to security and the concept of subversion were gradually extended to encompass a wide spectrum of groups associated with radical dissent, political, social service surveillance was not directed by any explicit government policy or guidelines. Nor was there explicit authorisation for a number of the investigative and countering activities developed over the years by the RCMP.’

In South Australia and Canada, the revelations destroyed the security services. New machinery was created, strictly limited to combatting genuine threats to the state, accountable to parliament. But it took major judicial inquiries to achieve it. What has Britain got to offer? A heavily circumscribed select committee inquiry into the Special Branch is now nearing completion. It hasn’t been allowed to look at the files and its recommendations will have no effective force. MI5, by contrast, does not even exist officially. Nothing is revealed about its structure, aims and methods save by a few dogged journalists and, as now, by the all too rare whistle blower. Additionally, there is now a Government bill to legalise telephone tapping. The bill, which creates and confines as many problems as it solves, comes up for second reading shortly. The Channel 4 programme’s allegations raise fresh doubts about the bill, because they imply that either the Home Secretary is misleading parliament about the true uses of communication interception, or else that he is himself being misled by the agencies which the bill purports to regulate. Either way, the bill will need drastic revision. And beyond that, there is now a compelling need for a full public inquiry, along royal commission lines, into internal national security surveillance by both the Special Branch and MI5.


The Guardian, February 23rd, 1985
James Naughtie and David Hearst, ‘Brittan challenged on phone-taps / Government urged to allow investigation into improper tapping by MI5’

The Government was challenged last night to allow a committee of senior Privy Councillors to investigate allegations of improper telephone tapping by the security service. MI5.

Mr John Cartwright, SDP MP for Woolwich, wrote to the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, expressing dissatisfaction with ministerial assurances about the extent of phone tapping.

He said Mr Brittan should make an early statement to the Commons on the allegations made by former M15 officers in the documentary made for Channel 4’s 20-20 Vision programme, but not shown because of an Independent Broadcasting Authority ban.

Mr Cartwright said there should also be an investigation by Privy Councillors into the allegations that organisations and individuals were put under surveillance though they were no threat to national security.

The Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers, was also pressed last night to give an assurance that Miss Cathy Massiter, the former M15 intelligence officer whose allegations formed the heart of the television documentary, would not be prosecuted under Section 2 of the Officials Secrets Act.

Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North and a member of the select committee on home affairs which has investigated the Special Branch, said he would ask the Attorney-General about the likelihood of a prosecution, which could be used to muzzle debate in the Commons.

A senior legal official of the Director of Public Prosecutions viewed the film yesterday. A spokesman said that investigations were continuing.

The film’s producers said they were considering hiring a public theatre in London, so that the film could be shown to the public. Claudia Milne, co-producer of the documentary, said they intended to go on tour around Britain showing the film in big towns.

In his letter, Mr Cartwright was responding to a letter from Mr Brittan in which the Home Secretary reiterated the ground rules for telephone tapping by MI5 and repeated that he was fully satisfied that the security service was ‘absolutely free from political bias and influence.’

Mr Brittan stuck firmly to the Government’s refusal to confirm or deny whether any interception had taken place in a particular case. But he made a clear distinction between the surveillance of individuals and organisations in response to the allegations that trade unions and CND had been subject to surveillance.

‘I have made clear on a number of occasions that peaceful political campaigning to change the mind of the Government or people generally about political issues cannot constitute subversion.

‘This is particularly relevant because a number of the allegations have been in connection with CND. Similar considerations apply in relation to trade unions and their members,’ he said.

No individual need fear surveillance unless his or her options or intentions brought him within the strict criteria set out in the guidelines – a threat to the safety of the state, and an intention to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy.

Mr Cartwright said such a reassurances were not adequate in the light of the detailed allegations made in the programme, which has been seen by MPs. ‘Had I never seen the programme I might have been prepared to accept the Home Secretary’s assurances,’ Mr Cartwright said.

‘The evidence of the programme is that reassurances about the past activities of the security service had not been adequate. I cannot see why such reassurances should be blindly accepted for the future.’

Either guidelines had been broken without ministerial knowledge, or MI5 had been used for political purposes.

Mr Brittan said in his letter that he was anxious to assure MPs that telephone tapping was designed to deal with genuine threats to the state or from the actions of those people or organisations ‘which may be judged subversive to the state.’

Ministers will be questioned further about the programme next week. Many Opposition MPs are determined to try to force the Government to be more specific in its assurances, though there is determination in Whitehall to resist such invitations.

The traditional refusal to discuss in detail the operations of any of the security or intelligence agencies appears as strong as ever.

However, an opportunity for detailed discussion of the issues raised by the programme will come in the debate on the bill to regulate the interception of communications which is likely to have its second reading the week after next.

The committee stage of the bill, in particular, will give MPs a chance to discuss in detail the guidelines under which interception is authorised by ministers. The Government is proposing a tribunal to handle complaints about unauthorised interception.

According to the white paper on the interception of communications in the UK published earlier this month, 235 warrants for telephone interceptions authorised by the Home Secretary or the Scottish Secretary were in force at the end of last year.

A further 98 warrants signed by the Foreign Secretary were still in operation. During the year, 538 warrants had been signed, the white paper said.


The Guardian, February 26th, 1985
Ian Aitken, ‘Ministers avoid MI5 trial / Case of Cathy Massiter who gave information to Channel 4 TV on phone tapping’

The Government is unlikely to invoke the notorious section two of the Official Secrets Act against Miss Cathy Massiter, the former M15 intelligence officer who has alleged breaches of surveillance guidelines by the security services.

The signs last night were that law officers are not inclined to prosecute Miss Massiter for her disclosures in a banned Channel 4 programme about telephone tapping by M15 and the Special Branch. They are regarded as a breach of her undertakings as a government employee but her superior officers treated her reservations about her surveillance duties as a matter for a psychiatrist rather than a disciplinary officer.

Yet another prosecution under section two of the act, following so closely on the collapse of the prosecution of Mr Clive Ponting in the Belgrano case, would open the Government to further charges of heavy handedness in protecting state security.

Efforts to have the matter debated in the Commons; or to persuade ministers to answer Commons questions on the subject, were stonewalled at Westminster yesterday.

The Speaker rejected an Opposition application for an emergency debate on allegations in the programme, which was banned on security grounds by the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, declined to respond to demands for a ministerial statement on the allegations or to agree to answer a private notice question on the subject.

It was clear in Whitehall yesterday that the Government intends to dismiss the row as a matter of interest only to limited groups like readers of the Guardian and Observer newspapers. It was insisted last night that the Prime Minister knew nothing about the controversy. since she had been visiting Washington at the time of the ban.

However, further efforts were being made at Westminster last night to ensure that as many MPs as possible are made aware of the allegations by two former M15 officers about the extent of surveillance of radical and leftwing organisations.

The film, which was to have been screened on the 20-20 Vision programme, will be shown for a third time in a Commons committee room today.

The Opposition demand for an emergency debate on the allegations was put to the Speaker yesterday by Mr Gerald Kaufman, the shadow home secretary. He described the claims as ‘of the utmost importance for freedom in a democratic society’ and condemned the IBA’s ban as ‘craven and sycophantic.’

Mr Kaufman said that everyone who was alarmed at the prospects of a big brother state wanted the allegations cleared up.

The Speaker rejected the application for a debate, arguing that it did not fall within the terms for emergency discussion laid down in Commons standing orders. He said that there would be a further opportunity to debate the matter when the Government’s bill to control telephone tapping was considered again.

David Hearst adds: The producers of the Channel 4 programme yesterday asked the IBA to reconsider the ban and give the reasons for it.

The IBA said last week that it had been advised by counsel that it would be committing a criminal offence under the Official Secrets Act if the programme were broadcast.

The producers of the programme, Ms Claudia Milne and Mr Geoffrey Seed, said last week that according to the legal advice Channel 4 had received the programme could be broadcast.


The Guardian, March 1st, 1985
‘Agenda: The spymasters who broke their own rules / Excerpts from banned TV documentary on the MI5 and Special Branch’

Although the two former MI5 employees, both women, are covered by the Official Secrets Act, they have decided, in the public interest, to talk about their work.

They don’t know each other. But during their service, they each became alarmed at the extent of MI5’s clandestine operations in Britain, spying on political parties, trade unionists and pressure groups like CND whose views are dissenting but not illegal.

One of the women was an MI5 clerk. She wants to remain anonymous but has sworn a long, detailed statement, revealing how MI5 targets certain trade union leaders and taps their telephones. She said:

‘I think it is totally unjust and immoral to direct these surveillance techniques and operations against decent and law abiding trade unionists and members of legitimate political parties and organisations like CND.’

The second woman, Cathy Massiter, was an intelligence officer who actually ran MI5’s investigation into CND. She’s left MI5 a year ago. She’s taken the unprecedented step of speaking publicly because of her worries about MI5’s secret operations against CND. She said:

‘We are violating our own rules. It seemed to be getting out of control. This was happening not because CND as such justified this kind of treatment but simply because of Political pressure; the heat was there for information about CND and we had to have it.’

In 1970, Cathy Massiter was a dissatisfied librarian. She went back to her university appointments board, seeking a new career. She explained:

‘They were aware of a job going with M o. D which they understood was to do with processing information. They knew very Little about it they couldn’t give me any details.

‘I got a letter from B branch, the personnel branch of MI5. not of course identifying themselves as such but saying could I come for an interview. Suddenly, I found myself a member of the staff of MI5.’

Most of MI5’s work isn’t glamorous – it’s painstaking and tedious. Cathy Massiter spent many years in F branch, which, among other things, studies left wing subversives in industry.

Much information about trade unionists is supplied by Special Branch officers, the policemen who work most closely with M15. Britain’s 1500 Special Branch officers investigate terrorism, espionage, sabotage and subversion. New Home Office guidelines published last December state: Subversive activities are those which threaten the safety or well being of the State and which are intended to undermine or overthrow Parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.

The programme dealt with two cases of Special Branch infiltration of legal organisations. One was by a man named White, recruited by the Special Branch after he became a member of the National Front. On the programme White admitted taking part ‘in beatings and burglary to protect his cover within the NF.

The other was described by a man named Mackie, a Manchester councillor, who explained that someone he knew infiltrated Friends of the Earth for theSpecial Branch. Councillor Mackie’s contact confirmed that he did work for Manchester Special Branch but refused to be interviewed about why he was monitoring FoE and also the National Council for Civil Liberties.

The Home Office guidelines go on: Data on individuals or organisations should not under any circumstances be collected or held solely on the basis that (such) a person or organisation supports unpopular causes.

They don’t say ‘unpopular’ with whom. However, NCCL was certainly unpopular with M15. During the mid 1970s, under a Labour government, an assistant director at M15 personally had NCCL targeted as a subversive organisation.

Cathy Massiter explained: ‘Anyone who was on the National Executive of NCCL, who worked for NCCL, or who was an active member to the degree of being, say, a branch secretary of NCCL, would be placed on permanent record and the routine enquiries would be instituted to identify such people and police inquiries were sought.’

Q What would you ask the police to do?

A’The police were actually sort of asked to identify branch secretaries in their area and report on the activities of the NCCL.’

Q Did the police or Special Branch have agents, as such, inside NCCL?

Cathy Massiter remembers some of the many NCCL officials that MI5 recorded:

‘People Like Patricia Hewitt (presently an adviser to Neil Kinnock) who used to be its general secretary. Harriet Harmom (Labour MP) who used to be its legal officer. They would be put on record as communist sympathisers. Hewitt because of her close association, with somebody who was at the time a member of the Communist Party, a close personal association.’

Q But she’s now in close political association with the leader of the Labour Party.

A’That’s right.’

Q But she’s done nothing wrong, nothing illegal with her political activity.

A’No, no.’

Q Yet MI5 has a file on her.


Q Do you think that’s right?

A’No, I don’t.’

Q But MI5 clearly do.


Q But how did it happen that an assistant director at MI5 was personally able to have NCCL targetted in this way?

A’What seems to have been the deciding factor was his own view that NCCL’s attacks on certain institutions such as the police um were deliberate attempts to undermine these institutions.’

Tapping telephones and infiltrating trade unions is carried out by MI5’s ‘F’ branch, now considerably expanded since the early 1970s. In her statement, the other former M15 employee, a clerk, says they tapped the phone of Duncan Campbell, a prominent writer on the defence and intelligence matters. They wanted to trace his sources. Left wing trade unionists were tapped too.

During the 1977 firemen’s strike, officials of the Fire Brigades’ Union were convinced that telephones at their strike headquarters in Leeds were tapped.

Soon after the firemen’s strike ended in 1978, the MI5 witness joined the Security Service as a clerk and began attending training sessions. She said:

‘A woman Lecturer told us, rather boastfully, that MI5 had long-term moles inside certain trade unions so deep that even their own families didn’t know their true purpose.

Cathy Massiter did not know the clerk but she began her Security Service career on the industrial desk in 1970. She confirms that MI5 does have moles inside trade unions:

In her sworn statement, the former M15 clerk reveals the names of some left-wing trade unionists targetted by the security service for telephone taps and even a break-in.

Margaret Witham of the Civil and Public Services Association:

Mick Duggan of the same union:

Derek Robinson, then a British Leyland shop steward:

Mick Costello, a Morning Star journalist and a Communist Party official:

Bill Dunn ‘and Gerry Cohen, two other Communist Party officials: and John Deason of the Socialist Workers Party.

Cathy Massiter was also aware of phone taps on trade unionists deemed subversive by MI5.

‘Whenever a major dispute come up, er, something at Fords or the mines, or Post Office, there was a big Post Office strike while I was there, immediately it would become a major area for investigation: what were the communists doing in respect of this particular industrial action and usually, an application for a telephone check would be taken out on the leading comrade in the particular union concerned.’

But according to the former MI5 clerk, certain telephones were tapped in the late 1970s, irrespective of any industrial dispute. She said:

‘Mick McGahey, a prominent communist and mineworkers’ leader and a member of the Scottish TUC, was subjected to extensive surveillance, ‘including the tapping of his home telephone.’

She learned that MI5 bugged McGahey’s London hotel and a cafe where he met other trade unionists. Arthur Scargill’s phone was tapped too during the late seventies: ‘Scargill himself would occasionally shout abuse into the phone at the people who were tapping him.’

Was it likely that Arthur Scargill’s phone would have been tapped during the latest miners’ strike? Cathy Massiter:

‘I would think it very likely, highly likely, in view of his particular history and his known political views.’

In late 1978, the Labour government was fighting for its life. Its ability to contain the unions and enforce its pay policy turned crucially on what happened to pay negotiations at the Ford Motor Company.

Syd Harraway, a communist, was then key shop stewards convener at Ford’s car plant in Dagenham. His phone was permanently tapped and the MI5 clerk transcribed his calls:

‘This seemed to be economic information from within a legally constituted trade union organisation which the Security Service and the government had no right to know.’

We asked Cathy Massiter to speculate on why such economic information might have been sought.

‘Well, I can only assume that it was requested because the Department of Employment was seeking in some form, this information. It surprises me in a way it was dome so blatantly.’

The only published document governing MI5’s conduct is called the Maxwell Fyfe Directive, named after the Home Secretary who issued it in 1952. It says:

‘No inquiry is to be carried out on behalf of any government department unless you are satisfied that an important public interest, bearing on the defence of the Realm .. is at stake.’

We asked Cathy Massiter if it would be legitimate for MI5 to pass on information about union pay negotiations, obtained via a phone tap, to a government department:

‘I would say not and it highlights very clearly, this extreme ambivalence between what the security service is there to do, what it perceives itself as being there to do, to study subversion, and what actually happens in practice which is in effect to broaden the study quite a long way beyond those basic guidelines.’

In her sworn statement, the former MI5 clerk says she was told that MI5 broke into the home of Ken Gill, a communist, general secretary of TASS, the white collar section of the engineering union, and a member of the TUC,s general council. His home telephone was tapped but he got even closer scrutiny during the 1970s when TASS, the draughtsmens’ union, planned to merge with the engineers, she said:

‘His home had been broken into and a bug placed inside a room to monitor talks between Mr Gill and other trade unionists prior to or during the merger. ‘I found This a sinister intrusion into a person’s civil rights and privacy.’

Ken Gill has confirmed to us that important meetings regarding the unions merger were held in his home during this period.

In 1981, Cathy Massiter was chosen to take over MI5’s investigation of leftwing subversive influence within CND. She felt such limited study of CND was legitimate. But she says increasing political pressure meant she ended up studying the organisation as a whole, and led to the Security Service breaking its own rules:

‘You couldn’t just concentrate on the subversive elements of CND, you had to be able to answer questions on the non subversive elements and the whole thing sort of began to sort of flow out into a very grey area.’

Q This is the dilemma presumably of not knowing someone as a subversive until you monitor him?

A’Yes there is some truth in that, but in that case you know they’re going to be monitoring all of us, aren’t they?’

Her first job was to read MI5’s files on CND. In the mid sixties, CND had been classified as a subversive organisation active members were recorded as communist sympathers and went into MI5’s records. MI5 has two thick files on Bruce Kent, CND’s general secretary. And Barbara Egglestone, national organiser of Christian CND, is on file, too.

Q She’s neither a communist nor a communist sympathiser. And yet MI5 has a file on her? Does that disturb you or anything?

A Very much, yes.’

People like Barbara Egglestone were filed as Communist sympathisers when CND was treated as a subversive organisation. But by the time Cathy Massiter began her study in 1981, CND itself was no longer on the subversive list.

According to the rules, that should have meant that active investigation stopped, and that membership of the organisation was no longer enough to make someone a subversive. MI5’s interest in CND should have been limited to studying the influence of Communists and Trotskysts within it. But the practice was different from the theory.

Cathy Massiter believed this was because of increasing political pressure.

By 1981, the peace movement had become a mass movement, mounting the biggest demonstration ever seen in Britain. A year later, MI5’s need for more inside information on CND became urgent.

Cathy Massiter said:

‘I think it was perceived as more than ever necessary that we had to be able to answer very precisely whatever questions we were asked about CND and its subversive penetration which meant that our study had to be perhaps rather closer than it certainly would have been otherwise.

‘One of the means that was used was the introduction of an agent, a chap who had worked for MI5 for many years, 20 or 30 years all together, into CND headquarters.’

The agent was Harry Newton, a 60-year-old lecturer in trade union studies and a life-long activist in left wing political groups. He’d been recruited by MI5 in the 1950s when he was a member of the Communist Party.

He became treasurer of the Institute for Workers’ Control, a left wing think tank supported by prominent trade union officials like Jack Jones and Alex Kitson and MPs such as Tony Benn.

Harry Newton joined CND in 1982 and his first job for MI5 was to attend CND’s annual conference.

Cathy Massiter said:

‘We sort of regarded it as very important to know as soon as possible after the conference who the new people on the national council were so that we could make our usual breakdown of how many subversives were on it and could sort of pass the information along to the interested parties at Whitehall. After that he became involved in CND headquarters.

‘What tended to come across was very general information about what was going on in CND headquarters. It was fairly low level stuff. I mean, he was able to chat to people like Bruce Kent, this sort of thing.

‘Harry was still very caught up in the idea of the international Communist conspiracy and therefore had a bit of a tendency to see the hand of the communists everywhere.

‘I mean, he, he had quite a strong opinion that Kent might be a krypto Communist, um, I personally saw no justification for this whatsoever but that certainly was the view that he expressed.’

Q That’s something that might find its way on to Bruce Kent’s MI5 file?

A’Yes indeed.’

Harry Newton died in 1983. Cathy Massiter says there were other agents inside CND, put there by Special Branch around the country. Such infiltration reflected the State’s concern about the peace movement both ‘in terms of its susceptibility to political manipulation and as a public order issue. That concern was most acute in 1983, election year. In January, Michael Heseltine had taken over as Defence Secretary.

In March, Mr Heseltine set up a special unit called Defence Secretariat or DS19, to combat CND’s unilateralist propaganda.

Cathy Massiter became concerned after a senior official from the counter propaganda unit DSI9 approached her boss at MI5.

Cathy Massiter said:

‘What they appear to have requested was information about the subversive political affiliations of leading members of CND including members of the national council and people working for CND.

‘It seems to have been part of erm what DS19 felt, that they required in order to fulfil the brief that they had been given by the Defence Minister Mr Heseltine and they appeared to feel that MI5 were the best people to supply this information.’

After the approach from DS19, Cathy Massiter was instructed by her superiors to go through MI5’s files, extracting non-classified information on any extreme left wing affiliations of CND’s leaders. She did so, and wrote a report Which was passed on to DS19. But why was she concerned by this episode?

‘It was a very important party political issue.

‘Unilateral nuclear disarmament had been adopted as a policy by the Labour Party, a general election was in the offing and it had been clearly stated that the question of nuclear disarmament was going to be an important issue there. It did begin to seem to me that what the Security Service was being asked to do was to provide information on a party political issue.

Q Do you think that’s a legitimate function of MI5 and someone like you, an intelligence officer?

A’It’s clearly not a legitimate function because it directly contravenes the charter.’

The Maxwell Fyfe directive says that it is essential that ‘ .. the Security Service should be kept absolutely free from any political bias or influence.’

Cathy Massiter said:

‘I did express my concern on this issue and I know other people did so too, who were aware of the work that I was doing. The difficulty is that having expressed one’s view, there is no way of taking it any further. If your view is not accepted you’re simply left with the option of accepting the situation or of course ultimately resigning, if you feel that strongly about it.’

Before a Home Secretary signs a phone tap warrant for MI5 he has to be sure the case involves:

Major subversive, terrorist or espionage activity:

The information gathered must relate directly to the defence of the Realm:

Normal methods of investigation must have been tried and Failed or be unlikely to succeed.

CND’s allegations of phone interference caused a row. In the Commons last December, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Gerald Kaufman, pursued Leon Brittan for answers.

Mr Brittan, like all previous Home Secretaries, wouldn’t confirm or deny that a specific target had been tapped. But he did say this:

‘There is no doubt that lawful campaigning to change the mind of the Government about nuclear disarmament whether unilateral or otherwise is an entirely legitimate activity which does not fall within the strict criteria of the 1980 white paper.’

In fact, Leon Brittan did authorise MI5 to tap the home telephone of a leading CND official in August 1983, two months after the general election.

Cathy Massiter says the possibility of tapping a Communist CND official’s phone was first discussed at MI5 the previous April:

‘We were prepared to go along with the tap before the general election. But it was deferred because of the election as it was felt that it it was too sensitive a matter to go ahead with at the time. In fact, it actually went on, I think, in August 1983.’

Q Why should they feel it was sensitive; if it was important for MI5 to tap someone’s phone, surely it should not be a consideration that the general election’s coming up.

A’Well, it was, as I have said, a very sensitive party political issue in a general election and if it ever did come out that a tap had been on at that time, the motivation for the tap might have been strongly questioned.’

Cathy Massiter did question the need for a tap but she lost the internal argument. So who did she choose?

‘John Cox, the vice-president of CND. He was the obvious candidate. He lived in Wales and therefore there would need to be a fair amount of telephone communication between him and CND headquarters. Cox was already well known as a member of the Communist Party. He’d been involved in CND practically since its inception.

Q So what additional information on John Cox and his activities did MI5 get from their tap?

A’Not a lot really that we didn’t already know, a hit more detail perhaps.’

Q He would be routinely in contact with Bruce Kent, Joan Ruddock and CND?

A’There was quite frequent contact yes.’

Q So to some extent, you had no need to tap their telephones?

A’Not really, no one was getting information about their attitudes on quite a wide range of topics that were concerning CND at the time.

‘I’ve never been a member of CND, I’m not currently a member. I have a lot of sympathy with CND. I don’t know that I fully accept their arguments for total unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom but I do think the issues that they raise are very important.’

Cathy Massiter left MI5 about a year ago. She’s talked publically about those aspects of MI5’s activities against alleged subversives which she feels breached the Maxwell Fyfe directive – not its work against terrorism and espionage which she fully supports. However, she’s still covered by the Official Secrets Act so Why has she spoken out?

‘Because I became very concerned during my years studying CND with this question of the definition of what is the legitimate area of study of the Security Services, particularly in respect of subversion because I think it ought to be more clearly defined.

‘There ought to be clearer guidelines and I think the only way of achieving this is to get a degree of opening up of the Security Service and some kind of Parliamentary accountability in the end, for it.’


Guardian Weekly, March 3rd, 1985
Who polices Britain’s secret policemen?

AS the official denials grow ever more emphatic, so the evidence about M15 and Special Branch political surveillance gets furiouser and curiouser. Time after time during the last ten years, Home Secretaries, junior ministers, and sometimes even Prime Ministers have delivered weighty but essentially obscure statements to Parliament. “Difficult area. As frank as I can. Cannot go into detail. Dedicated public servants doing a vital job. No evidence of abuse. Ministers in complete control.” And then, deep in the forest, a whistle blows. Sometimes a strangled cheep-cheep, occasionally a stentorian reveille. And, once again, the dog-eared old brief is dusted on and is thrust into the hands of yet another minister of unimpeachable integrity. “Difficult area. As frank as I can.”

There comes a time when the old platitudes won’t work any more. It is early days yet, but it looks as though that point has been reached with the as yet unbroadcast revelations of two former M15 operatives about political targetting under this Government. The evidence of Ms Cathy Massiter and her unnamed former colleague is potentially the most important blow ever delivered to the credibility of the internal activities of the British national security state. As always with such revelations, there is a cynical, worldly-wise voice which says that there’s nothing here that we didn’t know and there’s not a lot that can be done about it anyway. But that won’t quite do, this time. Just look at the allegations of substance in the Channel 4 documentary. First, that trade unions, the peace movement and the National Council for Civil Liberties, all of which are legal, freely supported bodies, are designated subversive and are subjected to routine infiltration and surveillance. Second, that particular individuals in these movements are specifically targeted because they either are Communists, or were once, or might be, or have friends who are, were or might be Communists. Third, that such ground rules as do exist, whether public or secret, about who or what to watch and bug are flouted at the whim of the watchers and buggers. Fourth, that Mr Michael Heseltine has knowingly used the security services and the Special Branch to spy on his political adversaries, in this case members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, some of whose members are Tories. Fifth, that the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, somehow misled MPs in an answer about phone tapping of CND members.

Any one of these charges would be serious enough on its own. Added together, though, they are an exceptional indictment of this country’s internal surveillance practices. But they are not exceptional when compared with revelations in two jurisdictions where the policing and parliametary systems are closely modelled on British methods in South Australia, in 1977, a judicial investigation of the state Special Branch concluded that it had consistently concealed its activities from the state government. The inquiry found that the Branch’s files were based on “the unreasoned assumption that any persons who thought or acted less conservatively than suited the security force were likely to be potential dangers to the security of the state”. The files were “irrelevant to security purposes and outrageously unfair to hundreds, perhaps thousands of loyal and worthy citizens”. Is that not exactly what Ms Massiter is saying, too? Then also, in Canada in 1981, the McDonald Royal Commission on the internal security activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found a similar situation. “The perception of threats to security and the concept of subversion were gradually extended to encommpass a wide spectrum of groups associated with radical dissent, political, social and constitutional change and the use of demonstrations and confrontations for political purposes,” it concluded. “Security service surveillance was not directed by any explicit government policy or guidelines. Nor was there explicit authorisation for a number of the investigative and countering activities developed over the years by the RCMP.”

In South Australia and Canada, the revelations destroyed the security services. New machinery was created, strictly limited to combatting genuine threats to the state, accountable to parliament. But it took major judicial inquiries to achieve it. What has Britain got to offer? A heavily circumscribed select committee inquiry into the Special Branch is now nearing completion. It hasn’t been allowed to look at the files and its recommendations will have no effective force. M15, by contrast, does not even exist officially. Nothing is revealed about its structure, aims, and methods save by a few dogged journalists and, as now, by the all too rare whistle-blower. Additionally, there is now a Government bill to legalise telephone tapping. The bill, which creates and confirms as many problems as it solves, comes up for second reading shortly. The Channel 4 programme’s allegations raise fresh doubts about the bill, because they imply that either the Home Secretary is misleading Parliament about the true uses of communication interception, or else that he is himself being misled by the agencies which the bill purports to regulate. Either way, the bill will need drastic revision. And beyond that, there is now a compelling need for a full public inquiry, along royal commission lines, into internal national security surveillance by both the Special Branch and M15.


The Guardian, March 5th, 1985
James Naughtie, ‘Senior Tories press PM on phone-tapping / Pressure to set up Parliamentary committee to investigate security and intelligence services’

Former ministers and senior Conservative backbenchers are putting strong private pressure on the Government to set up a Parliamentary committee to scrutinise the security and intelligence services.

The controversy about telephone tapping and the barrage of allegations of improper conduct by the authorities has convinced influential MPs with experience of security matters that the Prime Minister will have to abandon her opposition to an independent committee with access to information about the operations of MI5. MI6 and the special branch.

It is now clear that even some of Mrs Thatcher’s closest colleagues are joining former senior ministers in arguing that such a step is not only necessary to allay public anxiety, but would work in the interests of those responsible for security.

The allegations of breaches of MI5 guidelines made in the banned documentary produced for Channel 4’s 20/20 Vision programme, are the subject of a report due to be presented to Downing Street today.

Tomorrow, the Commons will debate the second reading of the Interception of Communications Bill.

The bill, which advocates a tribunal to hear complaints of improper telephone tapping of the interception of mail, will provide an opportunity for MPs critical of the existing guidelines to challenge ministers.

The Government has decided to take the committee stage of the bill to the floor of the House instead of to a small commit tee. Such a general discussion will inevitably raise more awk ward questions for ministers, but there is strong pressure for open discussion.

Mrs Thatcher and the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan have refused – like their predecessors – to divulge details of the surveillance of individuals. However, the prospect of a series of debates giving MPs an opportunity to question ministers on the operation of MI5 in particular is causing concern among senior Conservatives.

Some of them believe that the result will be the formation of a committee of senior Privy Councillors to exert some form of scrutiny on security matters. They argue that such a step is essential to curb public discussion about the operation of the security authorities.

As a result, they are presenting the same argument as many of those who have been most critical of MI5 and other organisations.

Lord Bridge’s report will deal with the specific allegations made in the Channel 4 documentary – which has been seen by many MPs in private showings – and it was said last night that it would address the question of the classifcation of individuals or organisations as subversive.

Mr Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader, wrote to Mrs Thatcher yesterday to say that he believed she was in conflict with her Home Secretary in appearing to limit the scope of the inquiry to interceptions made under the authorisation of the Home Secretary.

Mr Brittan told the Commons last week that the question of anyone being falsely classified would come directly under the inquiry conducted by Lord rige ‘as he will cover interceptions contrary to the criteria.’

In a letter to Mr Kinnock, Mrs Thatcher sai the inquiry would not cover allegations that interceptions had taken place without proper authorisation.

Mr Kinnock’s complaint that this presented an unacceptable contradiction was rejected in Whitehall last night on the grounds that Lord Bridge would investigate the allegations made in the documentary.

The difficulty for the Government is that the report is expected to deal with the allegations in general rather than specific terms, and that it will therefore raise new protests.

The Environment Secretary, Mr Patrick Jenkin, was accused last night of keeping files listing the personal, financial and matrimonial details of Labour councillors for use in the Government’s political campaign against them.

Ms Harriet Harman, Labour MP for Peckham, tabled Commons questions asking whether Mr Jenkin’s department had collected information on councillors, using civil servants, special branch officers or the security service, MI5.

She denounced such’ snooping’ and said that if the allegations passed to her were true, it was a grotesque way for the government to proceed.

One former minister familiar with the operation of the Special Branch and MI5 said last night he believed it was highly unlikely that the organisations would participate in a collection of such information for an overtly political purpose.

He added that it was probable that such files were drawn up from information gathered from purely political sources


The Guardian, March 5th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘The parts politicians can’t reach / Bridge report on phone-tapping’

Inevitably, and rightly, a Conservative government and a Conservative Home Secretary are in the dock over phone-tapping and control of the security services. It is Mr Leon Brittan who has taken temporary refuge behind Lord Bridge’s onanistic quickie inquiry into the abuse of surveillance guidelines. It is Mr Brittan who is tomorrow bringing forward an obviously ineffective bill on phonetapping. And it will be Mr Brittan, Sir Michael Havers and the Prime Minister who must now be made to face the fill seriousness of the Massiter allegations about MI5.

Nevertheless, the opposition parties start from a disadvantage as they begin this chase. All the former Home Secretaries who still sit in the Commons (Messrs Jenkins, Callaghan and Rees) repose on the opposition benches. And each of them has presided over the sale system which now threatens to come apart in Mr Brittan’s hands. In particular, the Callaghan government’s much blotted copybook was soiled by the abuses of the secret state. It was Mr Rees who, as Home Secretary, got rid of Messrs Agee and Hosenball on the basis of undisclosed and highly suspect security information. It was Mr Rees who presided over the surveillance operation against the offices of the National Council for Civil Liberties (whether or not he authorised it) that led to the arrest and prosecution of Aubrey, Berry and Campbell. And it was Mr Rees, along with Dr Owen at the Foreign Office, who deported Ms Astrid Proll.

Mr Rees has responded to the Massiter revelations in an illuminating way. He has denied, quite categorically, that the alleged surveillance of the fire brigade and Ford union leaders took place. That is to say, he has denied that it took place on his authority. Unfortunately, and this is the whole point, that is not the same thing. It does not mean that Mr Rees is a wicked man, or even a naive one. Quite the contrary. To his credit, as Home Secretary, he was the first holder of the office to allow parliamentary debate on the Special Branch (albeit only under pressure from Mr Robin Cook). Yet what Mr Rees said in those debates raised more questions than he answered. ‘The Special Branch collects information on those who I think cause problems for the state,’ he declared in March 1978. This may have been true or it could have been a top of the head folie de grandeur. Mr Brittan, being a lawyer, puts it more circumspectly when he talks about the Special Branch and MI5. The trouble, though, remains the same. Nobody, and on a generous interpretation this includes the Home Secretary, really knows the truth. A structure in which the whole of MI5 (however many people and Wing systems that includes) and the Branch are mysteriously ‘accountable’ to one individual is no structure of accountability at all. And no judge can bridge the gap either.

Both Mr Neil Kinnock and his shadow Home Secretary, Mr Gerald Kaufman have now made clear that it will all be different once they have got their hands on the levers. Well, we have, alas, heard that before. And not just from Labour leaders. The point here is not whether Mr Brittan or Mr Rees is the tougher chap, nor whether Mr Kaufman would be any better. They are all talented politicians with the credentials of adequate control. The point is that the system itself is an impossible one, imposing unworkable demands upon any individual Home Secretary. That is why, at the end of the Massiter affair, it will be necessary for any future government (or even for this one, which allowed greater frankness about security matters than its predecessors) to legislate. Legislate, what is more, on the basis of far better facts that Lord Bridge will ever provide. So far, the whole security area has been looked at piecemeal. A reform of Section 2 here (or not, as the case may be). A statute on phone-tapping there. No party has approached the subject in the round. The nearest attempt has been the Labour Party’s policy document of 1983 on the security services, which sensibly proposed a new Espionage Act to replace Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act and a Security Act to put the secret agencies and their surveillance techniques on a statutory footing. That could be a start. But all the parties still have detailed thinking to do, and all must recognise the errors of their previous ways. We have moved – and Miss Massiter has helped that movement – to some final realization that things have to be fundamentally changed. And the fundamentals of a fresh start apply right across the spectrum of politics.


The following edition of 20/20 Vision was finally broadcast on Channel 4 on March 8th 1985, and contained the revelations by former MI5 officer Cathy Massiter about spying upon members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.


The Guardian, March 9th, 1985
David McKie, ‘Ministers to reinforce security service morale’

The Government is expected to use Tuesday’s debate on the Interception of Communications Bill to re-emphasise its confidence in the security services and to remind the nation how much it has owed to their unseen protection.

Senior ministers are riled by the continuing assumption that the services are now out of control, though they continue to assume that the apprehensions which have surfaced since the disclosures of Ms Cathy Massiter are confined to a relatively small and unrepresentative section of opinion.

The television programme which featured Ms Massiter, MI5’s Official Secrets, which was originally banned from transmission by the IBA, was screened last night.

Ministers claim there is little evidence of any national surge of concern in their postbags or constituency encounters. They are disturbed, however, by the effect of recent events on the morale of the security services and the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, is likely to use his speech in Tuesday’s debate to try to restore that morale.

Mr Brittan gave evidence to the home affairs select committee on January 30 about the work of the Special Branch, which has a crucial role in the work of the security services. He said then: ‘It is the individual case where something goes wrong that is drawn to people’s notice and dwelt upon by some people, but what are less known are the successes of the Special Branch.

‘It cannot be known because it cannot be proclaimed. When hundreds of innocent people are saved from a bomb because of the information the Special Branch has obtained, which enables them to step in before the bomb actually explodes. that is something I cannot talk about.’

The Liberal peer, Lord Wigoder, will be asking the House of Lords on March 20 to demand the scrapping of Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act.


The Globe and Mail (Canada), March 9th, 1985
Leslie Plommer, ‘Britain’s spymasters under surveillance’

THESE ARE unhappy times for the people in charge of the security of the British realm, as suspicion, normally their own stock-in-trade, is being turned on them in an unwelcome spate of publicity.

No sooner had the prolonged debate over Government secrecy subsided after last month’s acquittal of senior civil servant Clive Ponting who leaked information to an MP in the Belgrano affair, than a sensational television documentary seized the spotlight with allegations of illegal surveillance of trade union and anti-nuclear leaders by the domestic intelligence agency MI5.

With press photographers poking their lenses through the herbacious borders at the suburban home of MI5 Director-General Sir John Jones, and senior parliamentary figures from all parties demanding closer scrutiny of the security services, the current controversy over what Liberal Party leader David Steel dubbed ‘the secret state’ comes at a bad moment for the Conservative Government.

It has led directly to postponement in Parliament this week of the second reading of a proposed law, the Interception of Communications Bill, whose critics were suddenly supplied by the television documentary with dramatic evidence supporting their fears about several of the bill’s provisions and omissions.

The proposed law codifies for the first time criteria under which four senior Cabinet ministers may authorize telephone and mail tapping, and establishes a tribunal to hear complaints by people who believe they are being improperly tapped.

In contrast to U.S. practice, it prohibits use of any information gathered in this way in court. Such interceptions are solely to assist investigations.

However, the bill has no regulation of covert surveillance using long-distance microphones or room bugs – methods that can render traditional tapping obsolete. And it omits restrictions on the scope of a ministerial warrant to tap.

Since 1980, roughly 500 such authorization warrants have been issued annually on the British mainland. What this figure conceals, however, is that one such warrant can be extended to take in various contacts or relatives of the person tapped. The bill ignores this.

The proposed law also puts economic espionage on paper for the first time.

To date, national security and serious crime have been the only publicly admitted criteria for ministers to authorize communications taps. Now the ‘well-being of the economy’ is to join the official list, meaning that the lawful conversations of oil and currency dealers can be tapped.

When the bill’s contents first became known last month, parliamentary critics were assured by Home Secretary Leon Brittan that this criterion would not be used to tap, for example, union leaders conducting strikes damaging to the British economy.

The television documentary, entitled MI5’s Official Secrets, provided evidence that this was untrue, and that the intelligence agency was also being used by Defence Minister Michael Heseltine for political purposes.

The documentary was banned just before its planned showing on the Independent Television network (ITV) on Feb. 20 when the supervisory Independent Broadcasting Authority ruled that the film could be a breach of Britain’s Official Secrets Act, the same statute under which Mr. Ponting was unsuccessfully prosecuted for leaking documents on the 1982 Falklands War.

Furious producers quickly arranged screenings for MPs and the press, and the uproar began.

In the film, two former MI5 employees made a damning series of allegations against the intelligence agency. One was unnamed. The other was Cathy Massiter, aged 37, an MI5 officer for 14 years who from 1981 until her resignation in 1983 headed the agency’s surveillance unit monitoring the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) – an old and broadly based British protest group that opposes nuclear weapons.

Miss Massiter – who says she was sent to a psychiatrist after expressing concerns to her superiors about MI5 actions in several areas – accused the agency of breaking its own charter by tapping telephones of peace-movement leaders to provide ministers with political ammunition.

Falsely labelling some of these people as ‘subversive’ to get permission to tap them.

Creating hundreds of ‘illegal’ files on CND activists, in co- operation with the police Special Branch.

Expanding surveillance greatly in the ’70s to include new ‘soft’ targets such as lawyers, journalists and pressure groups.

Miss Massiter and her anonymous colleague said in interviews that surveillance included not only CND leaders and officers of the National Council for Civil Liberties, against whom there was no evidence supporting a ‘subversive’ label, but also trade union figures. During trade union disputes in the ’70s, the unnamed agent said, MI5 tapped the phones of Scottish miners’ leader Mick McGahey, a Communist, and militant Arthur Scargill, now president of the National Union of Mineworkers, to learn their strike strategies and bargaining positions.

Mrs. McGahey’s ‘interminable telephone conversations with friends and relations’ became something of an MI5 office joke, while ‘Mr. Scargill would occasionally shout abuse into the phone at the people who were tapping him.’

During the same period, it was alleged, MI5 tapped the striking Fire Brigades Union in 1977; a union convenor’s telephone during Ford Motor Co. pay negotiations in 1978; officials of a civil service union; a British Leyland union shop steward; and Shelter, a housing pressure group.

Asked whether Mr. Scargill’s phone was tapped during the recent year-long British coal strike, Miss Massiter said: ‘I would think it very likely, highly likely, in view of his particular history and his known political views.’

With the television documentary – whose accusations cover former Labor governments as well as the present Conservative one – following hot on the heels of the Ponting secrets acquittal, state machinery was forced into action.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ordered an inquiry into the television allegations by Lord Bridge of Harwich, head of the Security Commission.

His brief report, submitted this week, provoked a Commons outcry that forced the Government to delay debate for a week on the phone-tapping bill for fear of chaotic parliamentary scenes.

‘I am satisfied, after full examination of all the relevant documents, that no warrant for interception has been issued in contravention of the appropriate criteria,’ the former Lord Justice of Appeal reported.

Echoing the views of many MPs, Labor’s home affairs spokesman, Gerald Kaufman, responded: ‘The Bridge report, if it can be dignified by such a description, is an insult and an outrage.’ Lord Bridge had been given narrow guidelines and therefore supplied an inevitable non-answer to the issues raised about MI5, Mr. Kaufman pointed out.

He had not been asked about people tapped after being falsely classified as subversives; he had not been asked about whether the political and personal lives of people in non-subversive organizations were under investigation; he had not been asked about party-political use of the intelligence service; he had not been asked about infiltration of lawful organizations.

Mr. Steel, the Liberal leader, added that the report failed to deal with unauthorized ‘freelance’ activity by MI5 or the problem of blanket warrants allowing multiple taps of a legitimate organization.

The controversy over the Bridge report has forged a powerful parliamentary alliance including many senior MPs and former ministers supported from the wings by some in the present Cabinet, which now is pressing for an independent parliamentary committee – possibly composed of Privy Councillors – to be set up to oversee Britain’s security and intelligence apparatus.

In the meantime, the legal threat against the television film has been lifted. It was screened yesterday after the Director of Public Prosecutions recommended against prosecution under the Official Secrets

The reluctance to prosecute appears to stem not only from Government concerns of more dirty laundry being aired in court, but also – according to The Times of London – because some of the program’s allegations are true.


Guardian Weekly, March 10th, 1985
Madeline Haigh, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield: Letter ‘When the IBA uses its umbrella in a climate of secrecy’

The revelations by Cathy Massiter about MI5 and the Special Branch confirm the gravest targets of surveillance. Her information makes nonsense of most of the answers given by Sir Philip Knights and his senior officers in response to questions on my own case, asked by me, my solicitor, and members of the West Midlands police committee.

Ms Massiter’s assertions contradict the reassurances given by serving chief constables and by the Home Secretary in evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee investigation into the Special Branch. Either the police chiefs and Leon Brittan are ignorant of the widespread breaches of the official guidelines, or they have deliberately misled a parliamentary committee.

Cathy Massiter states that Leon Brittan signed a warrant to authorise the tapping of John Cox’s telephone, even though he knew that Mr Cox did not satisfy the stated classification of “subversive.” How could this happen? — Was the Home Secretary not aware of what he was signing?

Or was he on holiday at the time?


The Guardian, March 12th, 1985
Colin Brown, ‘Special Branch
‘acquittal’ angers Labour / Inquiry into intelligence services’

Changes in an all-party select committee draft report, which gives the all-clear to the Special Branch, will be demanded by Labour MPs tomorrow.

The private meeting of the home affairs select committee promises to be a stormy affair. Labour members of the committee are angry that the draft report is so ‘anodyne’ that it will undermine their reputations.

The Labour MPs were demanding that the committee should reopen its inquiry into the Special Branch – regarded as the operational arm in Britain of MI5 – after the revelations in the 20/20 Vision film MI5’s Official Secrets.

The draft report will be considered at tomorrow’s meeting in the light of the debate on the bill on telephone tapping in the Commons today, and Labour MPs are hoping that the controversy may have changed the minds of some Tory MPs on the committee.

One of the committee members, Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North, rejected assurances he was given by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, last night in written Commons answers about some of the allegations made in the film.

Mr Brittan refused to comment on the film’s allegation that Mr Harry Newton, a life-long leftwing activist, had been supplying information to the security service and Special Branch.

Asked about reports that Mr Stanley Bonnett, former editor of the CND magazine Sanity, had supplied information to Special Branch officers, Mr Brittan said the functions covering the branches were set out in guidelines published on December 19, 1984.

‘I am assured by the Commissioner that no enquiries have been initiated by the Metropolitan Police Special Branch outside the terms of those guidelines,’ he said.

‘I have made it clear on a number of occasions that peaceful political campaigning to change the mind of the government or of people generally about the validity of nuclear disarmament does not come within the definition of subversion which is given in the guidelines.’

Mr Winnick said: ‘In my view, until these guidelines are changed, it will mean such activities will continue even though we find them distasteful.’

Mr Winnick said the Home Secretary’s response was like the Lord Bridge inquiry into telephone tapping – it did not answer the core questions which had been raised.

David Hearst adds: Mr Roy Jenkins, MP, a home secretary in two Labour governments last night said he was ‘sceptical’ of the value of MI5’s role in monitoring political organisations.

Mr Jenkins said he was quite happy to allow Lord Bridge to see the papers relating to his two periods as home secretary, from 1965 to 67 and 1974 to 76. Lord Bridge’s report, which Mrs Thatcher ordered in response to allegations by Miss Massiter, cleared successive government of breaking the rules on telephone tapping.

Mr Jenkins refused to discuss specific allegations, in keeping with the practice of home secretaries never to talk about details of MI5’s role. However, he did say that he now questioned MI5’s role in monitoring political organisations.

Its controversial F branch, for which Miss Massiter worked, checks the activities of political parties and trade unionists.



The Guardian, March 13th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Tapdancing your way out of a jam / Allegations of criminal activities by the security services’

Yesterday afternoon’s speech by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, on telephone tapping and the security services positively groaned with reassurances. There was Lord Bridge’s report to rely on. That had shown that all the authorised warrants since 1970 were authorised warrants. Thank you, Lord Bridge, for that. But there was more. Mr Brittan himself had found time in a busy schedule to carry out his own inquiries. He had looked to see if the security service had been tapping anyone without authorisation. And he has found that they had not. The net effect of these assurances is, therefore, that MI5 and the Special Branch are in the clear as far as the Home Office is concerned. And yet what appear at first sight to be a watertight set of assurances is, on closer examination, distinctly unseaworthy. The inference from Mr Brittan’s speech is that all the phone tapping carried out in this country by the security services is done under warrants and, in turn, that all the warrants are issued in accordance with the definitions which ministers have repeatedly endorsed over the past decade. That brings the argument back to the definition of subversion first published by the Callaghan government, namely of activities which ‘threaten the safety or well being of the state and which are intended to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political industrial or violent means.’

Put that definition together with the allegations in the 20/20 Vision Programme, MI5’s Official Secrets. There we were told that Mr Brittan himself had authorised the tapping of the phone of Mr John Cox, a Communist Party member who is also the vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Yesterday, Mr Brittan again went out of his way to say that peaceful opposition to the Government’s defence policies, i. e. being active in CND, is not a tappable offence. But he also said that membership of a campaign, or a trade union, could not confer an immunity from tapping. Result,you can tap Mr Cox’s phone because he is a member of the CP and, hey presto, you are plugged into the phone conversations of Monsignor Kent, Mrs Ruddock and the rest of them. And, as a result, you also swell what 20/20 Vision described as the ‘two thick files’ on Mgr Kent. Thus the assumptions about Communists are the key which unlocks the door to the files of CND. And not just of CND. Take also the example of the National Council of Civil Liberties. Its fonner general Secretary, Ms Patricia Hewitt, lives with Mr Bill Birtles, who was a Communist for some years. Result, the Communist connection is used to justify the keeping of files on Ms Hewitt and, in all probability, to sanction the occasional phonetapping of the NCCL’s headquarters.

All this is quite acceptable to most Conservative backbenchers. These MPs, who so often proclaim their devotion to individual freedom, have sat on their hands ever since the 20/20 Vision allegations were made. There are some exceptions, such as Mr Steven Norris, who deserve credit for their independence. Yet of those who dutifully went through the lobbies in support of Mr Brittan last night, all but a few treat the issue with indifference. The comments of Sir Anthony Kershaw, one of those anonymous influential senior Tory backbenchers who bob up in Westminster reports, are not unrepresentative. ‘If he is not watching these people, I want my money back.’ That also seems to be the approach of the Tories in the Home Affairs Select Committee. Their love of liberty is currently on display in the way they are stifling the committee’s investigation of the Special Branch and seeking the production of a bromide report. There’s nothing wrong, they all cry. Even if there were a few rule benders, they whisper in clubland, MI5 is so bureaucratic that nobody would be greatly harmed by the over-enthusiasm. If there was a problem we would get to hear of it. But that is just what has happened, isn’t it? That is precisely why the 20/20 Vision programme is so important. The former MI5 officers have made allegations which are not being denied and which remain the central issue in spite of all Mr Brittan’s clever legal footwork. Nothing that Mr Brittan said yesterday, or that Lord Bridge said last week, has laid a glove on Ms Massiter’s allegations. That’s why Mr Roy Jenkins is right to thunder from the Chilterns. And that is also why, away from the limelight, Mr Brittan is currently planning a private shake-up of the security services that, intrinsically, gives the lie to yesterday’s bland reassurances.


The Guardian, March 26th, 1985
The Day in Politics: ‘MI5 chief will not be quizzed by MP’s’

The Prime Minister last night ruled out any possibility of the Director General of MI5, Sir Antony Duff, or other members of the security service, appearing before a Commons select committee,

Mrs Thatcher was asked to explain the Government’s policy on allowing the Director General to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee by Mr David Winnick one of its Labour members,

The committee has been considering a draft report on the Special Branch, but Labour members were demanding the reopening of its inquiry following the allegations in the Channel Four 20-20 vision film that the Special Branch was being used by MI5 in breach of the guidelines laid down on telephone interceptions. Labour members of the committee feel that Sir Antony should be brought before them, in camera if necessary, to enable their report to be completed properly.

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, yesterday declined to expand to Labour MP on how he had gone about his recent review of security operations following the Channel Four allegations.

The Opposition will be stepping up their demands for a Select Committee to be appointed to oversee the operation of telephone tapping and to make the security service answerable to Parliament for the first time, by amendments to the committee stage of the bill on telephone tapping.


Courier Mail, May 11th, 1985
Patricia Morgan, ‘The MI5 Spy who had a conscience’

The gardens around the moated ruins of 14th century Scotney Castle, in Kent, are among the most romantic in England. Ex-spy Cathy Massiter, now a trainee gardener, is happily at work there. At 37, she is through with espionage. For the rest of her life she intends to cultivate only things that flourish in the open. “”I am extremely relieved that I am not sitting in prison,” says the young woman whose obedience to her conscience, and not the Official Secrets Act, has made her notorious. An intelligence officer for 13 years, she spoke out recently because she could no longer be part of the phone-tapping abuses of MI5 which were in contravention of its own charter. She became deeply disturbed over the thousands of people being put on file without being remotely subversive, including Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) leaders, trade unionists, civil liberties people and even a pressure group for the homeless. “”What has happened has made all the risks worthwhile,” she now says. The political storm that blew up over what was the third successive security leak to embarrass Whitehall has been reverberating ever since. Cathy Massiter was convinced she would follow Sarah Tisdall, the civil servant jailed for six months last year for publicly divulging Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine’s secret date for arrival of cruise missiles. Then top civil servant, Clive Ponting, was charged under the Official Secrets Act for leaking facts over the Falklands Belgrano affair, but acquitted. Following that Cathy announced her bombshell. “”It had begun to seem to me that what the security service was being asked to do was to provide information on a party political basis. It was tapping phones and using undercover agents to satisfy politicians demands for intelligence on the peace movements.” The service’s code of conduct requires it to be kept absolutely free of political bias or influence. Lord Denning laid down that the “”security service should be used for one purpose only, the defence of the realm”. She went to her superiors, first to head of section, then assistant director, and finally the personnel branch, complaining that she could see MI5 giving in to persistent political pressure. “”I was told to consult a psychiatrist,” she explained on a TV program which aired her exposure to a disturbed nationwide audience and an embarrassed Government. The “”shrink” she saw had a security clearance to deal with the personal problems of MI5 officers. “”They were not really concerned about my mental health or they would not have let me carry on working, but the upshot of it all was that they made it very clear that I had to go,” she said. “”I had already decided to resign anyway and had told them so.” The Government allowed her retraining facilities, and within a few months she will finish her gardening course at Scotney Castle. “”I have not got the faintest idea what the future holds in store for me,” she told me, answering my questions through Geoffrey Seed, co-producer of 20/20, the TV program which unleashed the MI5 bombshell. She has refused a deluge of requests for interviews. Apart from the fact that she is still bound by the Official Secrets Act, she has said and done what she set out to say and do. She did not even seek the TV exposure. Geoffrey Seed and the other co-producer, Claudia Milne, found her. Like many a secret, it emerged innocently. There had been a letter published in the magazine New Scientist about the pressures on spies _ in this case relating to Michael Bettaney, who is now serving a long term for trying to give secrets to the Russians. Already deeply troubled, Cathy Massiter wrote a letter to the magazine saying, “”in the course of my own career I became increasingly at odds with myself about the nature of the work and its justifications”. The alert 20/20 team scented a story. “”We met her in July, 1984, and it was October before we did our first bit of film. We had many meetings but we could not put pressure on her. The risks of prison were very real,” explained Seed. Both he and his partner, Claudia Milne, are married, each with three children, and neither relished a spell in prison either. They are in their mid-30s. Cathy Massiter is a deeply serious woman, with an expression of serenity that seems to suggest a contemplative religious order, rather than the world of espionage. She is in fact very devout and is a deaconess of the Church of England. She took an English degree at London University and after graduating in 1968 did some social work in Liverpool and was finally a university librarian when MI5 recruited her, in 1970. In 1981 she was put in charge of surveillance of CND, even though the organisation had been taken off MI5’s list of subversive organisations. “”It was presented as more than ever necessary that we had to be able to answer very precisely whatever questions we were asked about CND and its subversive penetration, which meant the study had to be closer than it certainly would otherwise have been,” she said. The upshot was that MI5 got one of its agents, Harry Newton, a lecturer in trade union law and a life-long activist with Left-wing political groups, to join CND in 1982. Newton, who died least year, filed regular reports on the activities of CND headquarters, among them the opinion that Monsignor Bruce Kent, the general secretary, was a “”Crypto communist”. “”I saw no evidence to support this view,” said Cathy Massiter. She sympathises with some CND ideas but is against its arguments for unilateral nuclear disarmament and has never been a member. Monsignor Kent has subsequently denied being any kind of communist, Crypto or otherwise, and said MI5 overpaid Newton for his snooping. It bothered Massiter when the material MI5 was gathering was passed to a counter-propaganda unit, known as DS19, set up by Defence Secretary, Michael Heseltine, in March 1983, to combat CND’s unilateralist line. She felt the instructions to her by her superiors to pass non-classified information to a political body breached MI5’s code. Shortly after DS19 received the MI5 report, she was told MI5 would strongly favor the application of a tap to the phone of a communist target in CND. It bothered her that Home Secretary Leon Brittan, then authorised the tap, although he had said the campaign to change the Government’s thinking on nuclear disarmament was an entirely legitimate activity, which did not fall within the concerns of the security services. The phone tapped was that of John Cox, vice-president of CND and a member of the Communist Party, she said in the TV program. She questioned whether Cox met the proper criteria for phone tapping. “”We knew from our coverage of the Communist Party that he was not getting up to anything in CND,” she said. Under its charter, MI5’s domestic surveillance should be limited to subversives _ defined as those who threaten the State or seek to undermine Parliamentary democracy. Information was also obtained through tapping CND chairman Joan Ruddock. “”It was fully recognised that she had no subversive affiliation but now she was chairman they wanted a file opened,” she said. “”The problem of a category to fit Mrs Ruddock was solved when she gave an interview to a Soviet journalist based in London. The journalist was actually a KGB officer. Joan Ruddock did not know that, but it provided the ground for recording her as a contact of a hostile intelligence which was ridiculous.” Many other names of phone-tap victims spilled forth from Massiter’s exposure, which was backed up by another MI5 officer, whose identity has remained a secret. Barbara Egglestone, national organiser of Christian CND was bugged, so was Larry Goslin, general secretary of the National Council of Civil Liberties, Patricia Hewitt, former NCCL general secretary and now press and broadcasting officer to Opposition leader, Neil Kinnock. The other former MI5 agent said trade unionist’s phones were regularly tapped. Miners’ leader Arthur Scargill used to shout abuse at his “”listeners” during the 70s. His deputy Mick McGahey’s phone was bugged, too, but Mrs McGahey’s interminable chatter to friends and relatives had to be endured to discover information about him. Cathy Massiter was ordered to spread her investigation from CND’s national organisation to its regional structure and attended a series of Special Branch conferences. “”I think the Special Branch were confused about what we wanted. I’d get up and say we were only interested in real subversives. Then I’d speak to them later and say “well in fact we’d like quite a bit more than that’. “”It is impossible to say how many files there are on CND members who are not subversive but there are certainly thousands of them around the country. MI5 itself has 200 or 300 files on CND members who are not subversive under official definition.” The Housing Pressure Group shelter was monitored. And a new task was looking at graduate trainees starting work at the BBC, as well as any journalists in politically sensitive posts. Harriet Harman, a Labor MP who was also bugged, demanded information in a stormy debate in the Commons. But the Home Secretary has stuck to the line that authorisation of security surveillance is never denied or affirmed. Massiter is the only one to have gone public from inside MI5 while remaining in Britain. Peter Wright did it last year, but from the safe distance of Australia. The abuses she exposed were well aired during Commons debates on a Bill which creates a new offence of unauthorised tapping, establishes a tribunal to which aggrieved persons can take complaints and provides for unlimited damages if their complaints hold up. It now has to go to the Lords and could be law within months. As for Cathy Massiter she is taking stock of her own life. “”All I regret are the wasted years,” she says. “”From a personal point of view I am gratified the program has been taken very seriously in high places. “”It is wonderful to be free of the double life. When you are a spy you can never tell people what you do. You can’t say “I’m spying on the peace movement’. I am completely relieved I am no longer in MI5. “”But the way public attention has been focused on the problems that existed and still exist in MI5, and especially the scrutiny of phone tapping, makes the risks I ran under the Official Secrets Act worthwhile.” CATHY Massiter . . . out in the cold. It is wonderful to be free of the double life. I’m completely relieved. SCOTNEY Castle, where ex-spy Cathy Massiter works as a gardener.


The Guardian, May 22nd, 1985
Paul Keel, ”Whitewash’ claims on special branch / Criticism of report by Commons home affairs committee’

A House of Commons committee which gave a clean bill of health yesterday to the activities of the police special branch was last night being accused of a whitewash by civil liberties spokesmen. Labour members of the inquiry team dissociated themselves from its findings.

The home affairs committee, which began its investigations into the special branch last November, concluded in its report yesterday that there were no grounds for public anxiety. It suggested that recent fears about the activities of such police officers in the areas of political and industrial disputes were due to a basic misunderstanding of the role of the special branch.

Presenting the report at tbe House of Commons yesterday, the committee’s chairman, Sir Edward Gardner, Conservative MP for Fylde, was clearly aware of the criticism which would greet the report. ‘This inquiry has not been abortive. It is not a whitewash, it was never intended to be a whitewash. It was intended to be and was an earnest and active inquiry into the special branch.

But the four Labour members of the committee, who produced a minority report calling for an independent investigation into the role of the special branch, said that their seven Conservative colleagues on the committee had never seriously sought to examine the issue.

One of the Labour members, Mr David Winnick, MP for Walsall North, said that the committee’s decision not to take evidence from individual special branch officers had seriously inhibited its inquiry. Two others, Miss Clare Short (Birmingham Ladywood) and Mr Robin Corbett (Erdington) complained that the committee had refused to take evidence in several cases where allegations had been made of the special branch exceeding its guidelines.

Miss Short said that these included people involved in trade union, political and peace activities, such as Mrs Madeline Haig, from Sutton Coldfield, who was the subject of inquiries by West Midlands special branch after she wrote to a local newspaper protesting at the siting of cruise missiles in Britain.

Sir Edward acknowledged yesterday that his committee had been restricted in its inquiries by the need not to disclose anything which might damage national security.

But, he said, it was worth repeating the words of Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, who had told the committee that it was the individual cases where something went wrong that tended to come to the public’s attention: ‘But what is less well known is the success of the special branches. It cannot be known, because it cannot be proclaimed.

‘When hundreds of innocent people are saved from a bomb because of the information that the special branch have obtained, which enables them to step in. before the bomb actually explodes, that is something that I cannot talk about and the special branch officers cannot talk about. ‘However it happens, and it happens frequently. There are many people in this country who are alive but who would be dead if the special branch did not exist.’

But Sir Edward’s observations failed to convince the opposition parties in the Commons yesterday or critics outside the House, Mr Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader, accused the Consevative majority on the committee of a copout and said their inquiries had failed to answer any of the questions, including the essential one of how the special banch defined subversion. ‘We still stick with the idea that if you organise a strike you can be held to be subversive and investigated by the special branch.

Mr Alan Beith, the Liberal Chief whip and MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, said the committee’s findings were complacent and unconvincing. ‘the committee’s report has failed to tackle the key problem of controlling the special branch – that is, how to ensure that they are properly accountable whilst still being able to carry out their essential work.’

The National Council for Civil Liberties said that the committee’s report was meaningless because it had specifically excluded from its enquiries special branch work dealing with the security service and it had excluded individual complaints.

Ms Marie Staunton, the NCCL’s legal officer, said last night: ‘The committee received disturbing evidence that the special branch kept unnecessary records on local MPs, councillors, members of CND and Friends of the Earth.

‘In order to reassure the public about personal privacy and ensure an efficient special branch, the Government should set up a commission of persons with security clearance to carry out an inquiry into these matters similar to that completed in South Australia.’


The Guardian, May 22nd, 1985
Paul Keel, ‘MP’s split on restricted special branch review / Results of investigation by Commons’ home affairs committee’

The bounds of national security restricted from the start MPs’ inquiries into the activities of the police special branch, the Commons committee on home affairs says in the introduction to its report.

Within such strict limits – as the Conservative majority on the committee described their terms of reference, and which their Labour colleagues complained had defeated the object of the exercise – the inquiry set out to examine the grounds for suspicions that the special branch persecuted harmless citizens for political reasons, acted in nefarious ways to assist the security services, and was a threat to civil liberties.

In their majority report yesterday the Conservative members concluded that many of the suspicions derived from a serious misunderstanding about the nature and purpose of the work carried out by the 43 divisions of the Special branch in England and Wales.

As defined by Home Office guidelines, the report noted that the special branch operated in two areas; the fight against subversion and terrorism and the job of helping to preserve public order. Both functions involved the gathering of information likely to assist these objectives.

On public order, the committee said that the special branch did not concern itself with opinions of individuals or with the merits of any particular industrial or political dispute. It accepted evidence from the Home Secretary and the Association of Chief Police Officers that the sole object of such inquiries was to gather intelligence about the necessary levels of policing and whether there were any persons who would seek to exploit disputes for subversive purposes.

‘We are satisfied that such public concern as may exist about special branch investigations in relation to public order is unfounded, and we hope that the clear statement of the functions of special branches in this matter contained in the (Home Office) guidelines will dispel it,’ the report said.

As for subversion, the definition provided by Lord Harris of Greenwich in 1975 – then a Labour government minister at the Home Office – remained adequate to outline those who would be the proper subjects of investigation.

Such persons were those ‘threatening the safety or well-being of the state,’ and ‘intending to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.’ The report concluded that it agreed with the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, that the definition stood the test of time.

The guidelines were sufficiently narrow- not to encourage unnecessary inquiries and broad enough to enable the security of the realm to be adequately protected.

On the keeping of special branch records, the report expressed confidence that individual police forces would – if only for reasons of convenience and efficiency – delete old and irrelevant material about individuals. Referring to evidence from the Home Secretary, it stated: ‘We accept his view that there is no point in a special branch dealing with a lot of inaccurate and wasteful material.’

With the caveat that evidence had been restricted and that the committee reserved its right to return to matters relating to the special branch, the report said: ‘We are satisfied, on the basis of the evidence which we have received, that the special branches of the police forces in England Wales do not justify public anxiety.’

ln a minority report, the Labour members oalled for a change in the present definition of ‘subversive,’ saying it gave too wide a discretion to the special branch. They also called for a ‘thorough inquiry into the practices and records of the special branch’ to be conducted by an independent commission of inquiry.

Complaining about the overall lack of parliamentary scrutiny of the security services in Britain, the minority report said: ‘We do strongly recommend that the work of the special branches should be debated from time to time in the House, and although some doubt was at the time expressed on grounds of security about the present inquiry, no one has now argued that the country has been endangered as a result of our investigations.’


The Guardian, June 15th, 1985
Harold Jackson, ‘Big Brother’s invisible men / Focus on the work of the Special Branch of the police’

The Home Office revelation of the size of police records should hardly have come as a surprise to any MP in the habit of reading the fine print. The inexorable expansion of police files has been implicit in a number of official reports over the past decade.

Eight years ago, the Callaghan government disclosed that some 24 million people were already listed in the computer system, with many more waiting to be entered from the old files. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, however, was unwilling to explore what goes on record during the first Parliamentary investigation ever mounted into the operations of the Special Branch – Britain’s most controversial compilers of personal data.

In the words of the committee’s chairman, Sir Edward Gardner, ‘It is the policy of this committee not to investigate specific cases’ – a decision which seems to have stopped the inquiry studying a substantial body of evidence from witnesses who believe the Special Branch may not be as well-ordered as the Conservative majority on the committee judged it.

There has been a steady flow of incidents down the years suggesting that the secret records kept by the branch can contain highly inaccurate or questionable details of people’s political, trade union, and other legitimate activites. A few were aired by MPs on the committee, but the bulk remain in the files of local authorities and private groups.

It has been estimated that, in addition to the main police records, there are some 2.5 million individual files in the Branch’s own system. These records not only include such factual information as name, address, age and physical description, but data officially defined as ‘intelligence’ – suspect activities, known associates, and other less checkable nuggets.

For most of the century it has been in existence, of course, the Special Branch kept its records on bits of paper, with a card index cross-reference. Many of its files are still in that form but, like the rest of the world, computerised records (now called databanks) are taking over.

Nearly all information about the computer system is as highly classified as are the details of its contents. In the words of the head of Scotland Yard’sSpecial Branch, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hewett, ‘We put a lot of people on record. They are not all computerised although we use the computer a great deal.’

The Police Review commented of one system: ‘Much of the information is valid intelligence. A substantial proportion is unchecked bunkum.’ The former Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, Mr JC Alderson, said that he had discovered Special Branch files on local MPs, councillors, anti-nuclear power campaigners, members of CND, and of Friends of the Earth.

‘I found that officers, often with the best of intentions, had made records of things about people which I thought were totally unnecessary. They had nothing to do with criminal affairs at all but in their view were sufficiently of interest to the Special Branch and probably the security services to warrant being recorded. A very high proportion of the records were either out-of-date, useless or of the kind one would not want to keep.’

The Police National Computer can be accessed from about 500 terminals installed in police stations throughout the country. It allows all police forces to call up the index to the five million personal files of the Criminal Records Office, the index to 3.5 million sets of fingerprints, the details of every vehicle in the country with 35 million owner’s names and addresses, the list of 350,000 stolen and suspect vehicles, of 300,000 disqualified drivers, and of some 110,000 wanted and missing persons.

The Lindop Committee on Data Protection reported that the Home Office had acknowledged that the CRO records ‘were not entirely accurate or complete.’ The committee commented that ‘the linking of factual personal information about an identifiable individual with speculative data about criminal activity could pose a grave threat to that individual’s interests.’

And there is unquestionable evidence that this has happened. The police computer system allows what is known as ‘flagging,’ through which comments can be entered into the national vehicle register or other records. The Lindop Committee found, for example, that one car record included a note that the vehicle was believed to have been used in a bank robbery. It is not clear how authentic such information must be to get on to the file.

Much will depend on the judgment of the police collator, the officer responsible for processing and recording data for the files. In addition to normal criminal information – arrests, convictions, and the like – there is also the collation of ‘occurrences.’ This covers almost anything a constable may enter into his notebook, regardless of its immediate relevance.

The decision to include the encoded date of birth on British driving licences was in the interest of police computerisation since it is the key to the data bank files. There may be 10,000 John Smiths, but not many of them were born on the same day. The moment one of them produces his driving licence there is enough information on it to allow a patrolling policeman to call up his file.

The centralisation of the files and the capacity of the police computer to carry out multi-factor searches has significantly changed the nature of the records. It is now possible to ask for the record of any fair-haired male of 26 who owns a green Chrysler registered in Liverpool. Within moments the inquirer will have been offered a selection of records with whatever flagged notes may have been added to them.

And the quality of these comments is impossible to guess. The observation that bill Brown was probably the wheels man in a recent smash-and-grab could be the shrewd observation of a seasoned detective. But what is one to make of the notation in one of the Devon files that the subject ‘had lunch with Wedgwood Benn’?

There have been enough authenticated cases of misinformation to raise legitimate worries about what may be on file about individuals. The most startling in recent years was probably that of Ms Jan Martin, listed in the files as an associate of the Baader-Meinhoff terrorist group. She was only able to discover this because her father was a former chief superintendent at Scotland Yard.

It eventually transpired that the note was based on the supposed resemblance of her husband to one of the German terrorists, reported to the Dutch police by a witness in an Amsterdam restaurant. Without her father’s influence, presumably, she would never have been able to discover what had been recorded against her.

According to the Home Office, there are now 1,249 Special Branch officers in England and Wales, roughly six times as many as there were 20 years ago. But they are not members of one force – each of the 52 separate police forces in Britain has its own branch. By far the largest is that of the Metropolitan Police which has been given specific responsibility for dealing with Irish terrorism.

Some country forces have no more than a handful of officers seconded to the Special Branch on a rotating basis.

The Met’s Special Branch was the first to be formed in 1883, as a response to the Fenian campaign for Irish independence. Two years later it became part of the Criminal Investigation Department and was limited to between 15 and 20 men. That had swelled to well over 100 by the end of the second world war and to 225 by the time Harold Wilson became Prime Minister.

Now it has 379 officers, and there is a Special Branch unit in each of the capital’s 24 police districts. The greatest proportion of the officers, according to their commander, regard their membership of the branch as their career and will stay in it for their whole service. At any given time, 73 of them are assigned to Heathrow or the Port of London and another 67 are acting as armed bodyguards. The Irish Squad numbers about 70 members and there are some 100 officers in the Anti-Terrorist Squad. The current cost of the Met’s Special Branch operations is about pounds 15 million.

Government guidelines require each Special Branch to gather information about threats to public order; assist the security services to combat espionage and sabotage; provide information about extremists and terrorists; keep restricted diplomats (mainly Soviet) and foreign officials within bounds; protect the royal family and other public figures; maintain surveillance at airports and seaports; deal with immigration and naturalisation inquiries; and examine all incidents involving firearms and explosives.

The relationship with the security services – principally MI5 – is both obscure and complex. One of the constitutional oddities of British military intelligence is that its officers have no official status: they can no more execute warrants or arrest suspects than can any other citizen. Officers of the Special Branch, as sworn constables, have to do that for them.

It is acknowledged that MI5 helps in the training of Special Branch men. Mr Alderson told MPs: ‘The security services from time to time would run courses for the provincial forces.’ But there have been repeated allegations of a far closer relationship. In part this stems from the official requirement that the Special Branch deal with ‘subversion’ – an ill-defined concept which requires highly-political decisions and touches heavily on civil liberties.

The official notion of subversion is contained in the Home Office guidelines. They say that it comprises activities which ‘threaten the safety or well-being of the state, and which are intended to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial, or violent means.’ The imprecision of this formula is evident in trying to decide whether the ‘well-being’ of the state is threatened, or whether a given action is ‘intended’ to achieve an undesirable aim.

It is not at all clear how this definition evolved and it has been the subject of constant criticism by lawyers and others. It sprang, apparently unbidden, from Lord Harris of Greenwich (then a junior Home Office minister) during a House of Lords debate in February 1975. The significant departure from what had previously been taken as the norm was that Lord Harris omitted any reference to breaking the law.

In 1963 Lord Denning had described subversion as ‘contemplating the overthrow of the government by unlawful means’ but this rather precise formulation has been steadily eroded over the past 20 years. Not only has its confinement to illegal activities been dropped, but there has been a growing tendency to elide the distinction between subversion and terrorism. A clue to the reason for the official blurring may have been offered by Mr Leo Abse during a Commons debate on nuclear power. ‘As a lawyer,’ he said, ‘I know of no crime of ‘ subversion ‘ in English law.’

It has been impossible, other than in the occasional incidents which have unwittingly emerged in public, to gauge how the Special Branches choose to interpret their official instructions.

For most of the century, in fact, the Clerks’ table at the House of Commons automatically rejected members’ questions about the branch and all parliamentry discussion was virtually taboo until Mr Robin Cook, the Labour MP for Edinburgh Central, finally managed to secure an adjournment debate in 1977. It was the first time in the history of the branch that Parliament had ever been allowed to consider its activities. Mr Cook secured another debate the following year, but both tended to raise more questions than they answered.

This secrecy survives in spite of the select committee’s unprecedented hearings. In an extraordinary exchange during the evidence, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hewett flatly refused to give MPs the slightest information about the Scotland Yard files.

Ms Clare Short MP, who had raised the point, commented ‘I am not asking for the exact magnitude or an exact number. I am asking is it 100,000 or 10,000?’ Mr Hewett responded: ‘I do not think it is in the public interest to give the number of records that we keep.’

Some – but far from all – of the mystery has been lifted by academic and libertarian researchers and some of the information was put on record in the select committee proceedings. But there is still a deep reluctance to offer any but the most grudging information.

The concerns raised by this lack of information tend to be heightened when the Government occasionally lifts a tiny corner of the curtain. In December. the Home Secretary released details of new rules governing the police use of surveillance equipment. His announcement included the comment that ‘the criteria for the authorisation and use of listening devices and of certain types of visual surveillance are considerably tightened’. Yet his predecessors had repeatedly assured Parliament that all was well and that Special Branch officers were, in the words of Mr Merlyn Rees, ‘accountable in the same way as any other police officer’.

Many critics find it hard to understand how accountability can be ensured when there is so little information on what an officer is accountable for. As Home Secretary seven years ago, Mr Rees told the Commons, ‘The Special Branch collects information on those I think cause problems for the state,’ but, like previous and subsequent holders of the office, resolutely declined to elaborate.

Last year Mr Leon Brittan gave an equally gnomic answer, declaring that ‘There is a variety of ways in which the safety of the state may be threatened and attempts made to overthrow parliamentary democracy, Tactics which are not in themselves unlawful can be used with the aim of subverting our democratic system of government.’

Across the political divide, therefore, ministers have maintained an almost impenetrable Through-the-Looking-Glass stance on the rules governing the activities of the Special Branch,

This official resistance to releasing information has obliged researchers to tum to overseas institutions known to be based on the British model – notably the police forces of Canada and Australia. They have not offered a reassuring picture. In both oases Royal Commissions appointed to examine the operation of the security services uncovered startling malpractices.

The McDonald Commission was set up by the Trudeau government to investigate allegations against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal force which operates in eight of the country’s 10 provinces, the steady expansion in the range of the security branch’s surveillance led the federal cabinet to draw up tighter operational guidelines. The security service director responded with a confidential memorandum to his senior staff commenting ‘while at first glance the ingredients of our guidelines appear to be strict legal precepts, they are not.’

What followed was described by the Royal Commission as ‘a breakdown in the rule of law.’ Security branch officers carried out 47 illegal break-ins, either to examine files or install unauthorised listening devices. There were 94 established cases of mail interception and other instances of unauthorised use of the personal records stored in government information banks. In the words of the report, ‘the practice of law-breaking became institutionalised within the RCMP.’

The government took draconian action, immediately abolishing the security branch and replacing it with a new civilian agency.

Certainly the Australian Royal Commission’s results were well in the same tradition. The South Australian Special Branch was administered by a former chief constable from Yorkshire, Mr Harold Salisbury, and used methods formally acknowledged to be ‘influenced by the security services of the United Kingdom.’

The branch turned out to have been secretly compiling voluminous files on senior members of the Australian Labour Party at local and national level, a number of the state’s current and former governors, members of the Supreme Court and other judges, trade union officials, advocates of divorce law reform. civil libertarians, and a huge range of others.

There were 41,000 names in the card index and dossiers containing information which Mr Justice White described as ‘scandalously inaccurate, irrelevant to security purposes, and outrageously unfair to hundreds, perhaps thousands of loyal and worthy citizens.’ The surveillance had been undertaken because Mr Salisbury defined subversive activities as ‘a deliberate attempt to weaken public confidence in the government and/or the constitution’ – a formula briskly dismissed as ‘nonsensical’ in one of the subsequent judicial reports.

But, just before he was dismissed, the South Australilan police commissioner offered an even more alarming interpretation of his official role in an interview with the state’s premier, Don Dunstan. Mr Salisbury told the premier that the Special Branch ‘had duties which I consider to the Crown and to the law, not to any political party or elected government.’ Justice Roma Mitchell described it as a statement which ‘suggests an absence of understanding of the constitutional system of South Australia or, for that matter, of the United Kingdom.’


The Guardian, July 13th, 1985
Tom Sharratt and David Pallister, ‘Council suspects MI5 of raids / Manchester council’s police monitoring committee claims illegal state activities may have occured’

MI5 or the Special Branch may have been responsible for break-ins at the offices of police research units set up by Manchester City Council and the Greater London Council, it was claimed yesterday.

A meeting of Manchester council’s police monitoring committee was told by the chairman, Mr Anthony McCardell: ‘I personally believe it is possible – it might even be probable – that there is some state agency involved.’

Personnel from both units are connected with the inquiry set up by Manchester council into allegations of police violence against demonstrators during a visit to Manchester University students’ union by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, on March 1. Documents related to the inquiry were apparently the burglars’ main target.

The units were set up to research police activities for the councils’ police committees. They were a response to growing demands for more police accountability to local authorities.

The first break-in happened on June 25, between 9 pm and 10 pm at the London unit’s sixth floor offices in county hall.

Mr Tony Bunyan, the deputy director of the unit and a member of the Manchester inquiry, returned to the office at 10 pm to find the lights on and an internal fire door off the latch.

Mr Bunyan found that the key to a filing cabinet had been stolen as well as his notebook of the inquiry’s public hearings. The cabinet held material concerning matters outside London. The notebook reappeared in another office of the unit three days later.

The Manchester unit, on the fourth floor of St James’ Building in the city centre, was ransacked the following night. It has given administrative support to the inquiry.

Mr Steven Wright, the director told the committee that the door had been forced and drawers smashed open. An inquiry file containing the transcripts of court statements relating to the events of March I had been moved, and pounds 1 of tea money was taken.

Mr Bunyan said last night: ‘I believe that whoever it was was probably looking for the private statements which have been made to our inquiry and the photographs that were taken by the students.’

None of these have been shown to the police inquiry into the incident headed by a 12-man team from Avon and Somerset police.


The Guardian, July 15th, 1985
Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Unions challenge security ruling / Civil Service unions question definition of ‘subversion”

The new definition of subversion accepted by Mrs Thatcher gives too much scope to the security services, particularly by encouraging them to keep surveillance on trade unionists, Civil Service union leaders have told the Government.

In a letter to Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, Mr Peter Jones, secretary of the Council of Civil Service Unions, says that the definition ‘provides too ready an excuse for the security services to intrude into the daily lives of trade unionists in a way more attuned to a police state than to a western democracy.’

Under guidelines revealed in a written parliamentary answer just before the Easter recess, Mrs Thatcher said that a subversive group would be defined as one ‘whose aims are to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy .. by political, industrial, or violent means.’

Though this form of words is used by the Special Branch and in the Government’s Interception of Communications Bill, it is significantly broader than the one proposed in the 1982 Security Commission report on which Mrs Thatcher says she based the guidelines covering employees in the public sector.

The commission referred to only ‘the proliferation of new subversive groups of the extreme left and the extreme right (mainly the former) whose aim is to overthrow democratic parliamentary government by violent or other unconstitutional means.’

Civil Service unions are concerned over the guidelines’ reference to industrial action. Trade union activities are normally a peaceful and perfectly legal method of representation, Mr Jones says in his letter to

The Government has defended its definition by referring to a similar form of words used in a speech by Lord Harris, then a Labour Home Office minister, in February, 1965. Lord Harris, was making an ex parte statement unconnected with any proposed legislative or administrative change, says Mr Jones.

‘We are mystified, therefore, as to how this apparently off-the-cuff, isolated, statement has come to be elevated into an important working definition, which guides the security services in their day-to-day work in this delicate and controversial area.’


The Guardian, July 22nd, 1985
David Pallister, ‘Policemen ‘persecute students who protested against Brittan’ / Inquiry into police action during Manchester University demonstration against visiting Home Secretary’

Students who demonstrated against a visit by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, have been harassed and threatened by a group of policemen, it is claimed.

Allegations of violent police behaviour during the demonstration at Manchester University students’ union, in which 33 people were arrested and 40 injured, have led to an internal police investigation and an independent panel of inquiry set up by Manchester council’s police monitoring committee.

A number of students have made private statements to the panel headed by Mr John Platts-Mills, QC, claiming that they have been stopped repeatedly on the streets by policemen who make veiled threats based on information about their private lives and political opinions.

Different statements, from students unknown to each other, have mentioned in particular two plain clothes officers who drive a W registration red Ford Cortina.

One student says he was detained, stripped, assaulted and left naked in a cell for an hour, ostensibly for a drugs search, and interrogated about his politics.

Mr Steven Shaw, a 22-year-old politics and philosophy student, has also had his house broken into; the only thing missing was material for his thesis on police technology. At one stage, on the advice of his tutor, Professor Roger Williams, he was provided with safe accommodation on the university’s Whitworth park campus, paid for from the university registrar’s special fund.

These events coincided with two suspicious burglaries at Manchester and London council offices where documents relating to the students’ inquiry have been tampered with. Last week, the chairman of Manchester’s police monitoring committee, Mr Anthony McCardell, said he could not rule out the involvement of M15 or the special branch.

Mr Shaw went to the demonstration on Friday, March 1, to protest about Mr Brittan’s immigration policy and the policing of the miners’ strike. The next Monday, at a large students’ union meeting, Mr Shaw volunteered to liaise with the council police committee’s support unit to set up a defence group for those arrested and to discuss ways of holding an inquiry.

The next afternoon he returned to his home in Oldham to find the door smashed and a file of research material missing. His stereo and television were untouched. The file was marked ‘police’ on the front and ‘police technology and criticisms of’ on the back.

That evening he gave details of the burglary to Professor Williams, Mr Steven Wright, head of the police committee support unit, and to the students’ union executive.

Two days later, Mr Shaw was stopped in his car by uniformed police officers who claimed he was speeding. It was the first of five similar incidents to happen over the next nine weeks.

At first he refused to accept the form requiring him to produce his car documents and was taken to a police station. He says the desk sergeant told him: ‘You’re the one making allegations about your thesis.’

Mr Shaw says: ‘I had definitely not reported it to the police. Someone must have told them about the meeting at the union executive.’

On May 14, Mr Shaw says he was stopped by the red Cortina and invited to a police station by the two plain clothes officers ‘to help with inquiries into Leon Brittan’s visit.’

Mr Shaw says he was asked about his role in the defence group, why he had gone on the demonstration and about his political affiliations. He was refused a solicitor and a doctor and was then instructed to take his clothes off by the younger of the two officers who said they suspected him of carrying drugs. The search included an anal inspection he says.

He complained but was now allowed to dress. ‘It was at this stage that I got punched in the stomach by the younger one and slapped in the face. They both went outside and took the clothes with them. I was left naked and alone for about an hour.’

This was followed by another 90 minutes of questions. Just before he was released one of the officers said he knew the timetable of Mr Shaw’s final examinations and suggested that he may not make it to them. ‘They said: ‘When you are walking along the street, you could be stopped at any time’.’

Mr Shaw feared for his safety and, on the advice of his solicitor. left Manchester for his parents’ home in London. He returned to the city last month for exams and Professor Williams arranged the secure accommodation. Walking near the students’ union on June 7, he says a uniformed officer got out of a police van, walked over to him and said: ‘Oh, so you’re living at Whitworth Park now, are you?’

Mr Shaw’s experiences, and those of other students who have remained anonymous, prompted Mr Platts-Mills to refer to their cases at the opening of the independent inquiry on June 15.

He said that a number of students had been ‘so pursued, harried, harassed and beset’ that they had been unable to get on with their studies and had left Manchester.

Mr Platts-Mills said last night: ‘We have had firm and most unhappy evidence about interference with students by police. At least three were advised by their student body and their professors to leave the university for a time in order to finish studying for their finals.

‘We have had confirming evidence about many of the allegations made to the Guardian and are well forward with preparing our report, which is to be published in October.’

Mr Shaw and the other students have decided not to make formal complaints to Manchester police or to the 12 officers from Avon and Somerset under their deputy chief constable, Mr John Reddington, who are carrying out the internal police inquiry into the demonstration. However it is expected that their stories will be included in the report of the council’s panel.

Mr Reddington said after consulting with Manchester:

‘We have not received any complaints of this nature. they should be made to the deputy chief constable of Manchester, who I am sure will take them seriously. But I can’t imagine why any policemen would want to do these things. It will certainly have no effect on my inquiry.’


United Press International, July 29th, 1985
Ed Lion, ‘British government wants IRA documentary pulled’

The government Monday urged the British Broadcasting Corp. to cancel a television documentary featuring an interview with a suspected leader of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, saying the show would aid terrorism.

In what media analysts called an unprecedented warning in peacetime, Home Secretary Leon Brittan told BBC officials the film, scheduled to air Aug. 7 as part of a series called ”Real Lives,” was ”contrary to the national interest.”

A government spokesman said Brittan told the television executives he did not ”wish to exercise the powers of censorship.”

Brittan also stressed ”in the strongest terms that … the program appeared to be giving succor to terrorist organizations by the opportunity for public advocacy of terrorist methods of a prominent member of the IRA,” the spokesman said.

Brittan said the film ”gave spurious legitimacy to the use of violence for political ends,” the spokesman said.

But Paul Hamann, the program’s producer, said the film was balanced and gave viewers insight into political strife in Northern Ireland, where the IRA is waging a guerrilla war to wrest the province from British control.

”It is a legitimate piece of reporting,” said Hamann. ”I don’t think anyone seeing the film would feel it is helpful to the IRA.”

The BBC said its 12-member board of governors would meet Tuesday to consider the request.

The government move came two weeks after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher urged the media to voluntarily bar terrorists from obtaining publicity, and also followed her vow to ”condemn” the BBC if it screened interviews with the reputed IRA leader, Martin McGuinness.

The BBC is funded by a government tax on television users, but operates under a Royal Charter that assures its independence from the government and sets standards of fairness and balance in news reporting.

But the government has emergency powers to censor news reports in the interests of national security, as it did during the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982.

The program features an interview with McGuinness, who was convicted of IRA activities in Londonderry but is now a member of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA. He is an elected — but absentee – member of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast which acts as a consulting body to help advise on policies in Northern Ireland.

Security sources believe he is the IRA’s chief of staff, but in the documentary McGuinness refuses to confirm or deny the allegation.

”I believe for me to talk about that issue, to elaborate on it, would be to give information to the Special Branch (a British police unit) and the British military intelligence who may be watching this program,” McGuinness says in the documentary.


The Guardian, August 6th, 1985
UK News in Brief: ‘Met special branch’s new head / Appointment of Simon Crawshaw as head of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch’

Home Office approval is expected this week for the appointment of Commander Simon Crawshaw as head of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, the largest in the country. He will be promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner, writes Stephen Cook.

Mr Crawshaw is to take over from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Colin Hewett, head of the special branch since 1980, who was recently appointed to head the new National Drugs Intelligence Unit, set up by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan.

Mr Crawshaw, aged 42, took over the Anti-Terrorist Branch (C13) nine months ago. His latest move coincides with a plan for C13 andspecial branch to work more closely. In the past they have sometimes duplicated work and failed to share information.



The Guardian, August 19th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Brigadier behind closed doors at the BBC / Row over vetting of broadcasting corporation staff’

The BBC seems determined to prove that, as far as its own affairs are concerned, any publicity is bad publicity. Just at the time when the Peacock committee (as its chairman hinted publicly in Edinburgh yesterday) seems poised to insert the commercial knife between the corporation’s public service shoulder-blades, the BBC has become accident-prone. First, of course, there was the disreputable saga of the on-off Real Lives documentary, whose worldwide fall-out has not yet been fully quantified. And now, displaying the unerring clumsiness of the walking wounded, the BBC is faced with the revelations about the brigadier in Room 105.

It is easy to respond with worldly wisdom when you read that behind the door of Room 105 in Broadcasting House there lurks Brigadier Ronnie Stonham, formerly of the Signals Regiment, single-handedly weeding out all pinko job applicants and making sure that the lefties don’t get promotion. Most state-financed broadcasting stations like to vet the political credentials of their journalists. Our own security services take a more than casual interest in appointments to senior journalistic posts (and not just in the BBC) especially among foreign correspondents. And, looking at it even more cynically, what kind of a thought police is it anyway that can turn up a mere eight cases – if that’s all there be – of political blocking in a period of 20 years among a staff of 30,000 people – and only two during the Thatcher years?

Easy to be worldly wise, but mistaken. You do not have to buy the full conspiracy version to sense that there is something pretty corrosive and hypocritical going on here. The tales of the brigadier don’t, in themselves, prove that the BBC’s independence, of which so much has been heard this month, is an entire sham. They do not justify the crude conclusion that Mr Leon Brittan, in his capacity as the boss of MI5 and the Special Branch, controls the whole staffing and policy of the corporation through a vetting system which extends from the governors down to anyone who has ever done a day’s work for the BBC. But they do expose the country’s principal broadcasting organisation to the charge that it has long connived in a degree of routine interference by an unaccountable and reactionary secret service that is fundamentally at odds with the principles of editorial independence and political pluralism.

One casualty of the latest revelations ought logically to be the gut belief, apparently held by all Conservative MPs, that the BBC is a nest of left-wing vipers. It is that belief which is impelling the Cabinet, through the mechanism of the Peacock inquiry, towards the fullscale destruction of the foundations on which the BBC stiil rests. The vetting revelation, however, shows that those foundations are very fragile. It further erodes the principle of editorial independence. A confident and united BBC stands some chance of resisting the government’s increasingly determined assault. But a divided and suspicious BBC is a target with very few defences.


The Guardian, August 22nd, 1985
Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Secret vetting spreads its net far and wide / Screening of public sector staff by the security services’

Sixty-six thousand people working in the public sector or in state-owned companies, such as British Nuclear Fuels, know they have been vetted. But there are many more, including those in private firms, who are vetted by the security services without being told, inquiries have revealed.

The open admission that a person will be investigated is the crucial difference between the system known as positive vetting – to which senior officials in the Ministry of Defence or Foreign Office are subjected – and the more widespread ‘negative vetting’ which the BBC operates.

Positive vetting is a formal procedure, albeit open to abuse, with the subject asked to fill in a questionnaire about whether he or she has contacts with Communist, Fascist or Trotskyist organisations, and to give the names of referees.

Negative vetting is more discreet, and is used to investigate officials at a relatively low level in the Civil Service. It also covers trade unionists in the public sector and employees in British Telecom, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Post Office and companies, notably those involved in defence and energy supply.

M15, which has 500,000 names on its files, and the Special Branch report to the Government or the relevant employer in what is described as the ‘nothing known against routine’ if the subject of the investigation is cleared.

One error on the file can ruin a person’s career. Not only is he or she unaware of the investigation, there is no right of access to personal files to check their accuracy.

Lord Bethell, the writer on Eastern Europe and Conservative Euro-MP for Northwest London, spoke yesterday of how he had been the victim of a smear campaign by M15 in 1970. He said that his requests to see the security services to point out that allegations against him were untrue were met by a wall of silence.

He resigned as a junior minister and, with Mr Leon Brittan, now Home Secretary, acting in his defence, won a libel action against Private Eye where the allegations appeared.

Lord Bethell said that M15, had not properly checked out the information it was given about him. He called yesterday for legislation, similar to that in the United States to give individuals access to files held on them and to enable errors to be corrected.

Four years ago, Ms Jan Martin, a freelance film producer was told by the construction company, Taylor Woodrow, that she would not be welcome on their premises. According to Special Branch files, she had connections with the Baader-Meinhof gang.

This false allegation was based on information passed by a cafe-owner in Holland, where Ms Martin was on holiday. The cafe-owner mistook her husband for a member of the gang. The mistake on the Special Branch file was established by Ms Martin’s father, a former detective chief superintendent at Scotland Yard.

A Home Office circular instructs police forces to give information to the relevant ‘professional or public bodies’ about a range of individuals, including magistrates, dentists, nurses, those responsible for the care of children, and youth leaders. The information is supposed to be restricted to evidence of any criminal conviction.

Since April, vetting procedures have been backed up by sweeping new powers enabling ministers to weed out employees in ‘the public service,’ the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority, British Telecom, the Post Office, the police, and firms engaged on government contracts.

Mrs Thatcher said that the purge procedure would be extended to anyone who is a member of a Communist or Fascist organisation, or ‘of a subversive group, acknowledged as such by the minister, whose aims are to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy .. by political, industrial or violent means.’

This is a wider definition of subversive even than that proposed by the Security Commission. Civil servants, including senior officials, believe it could lead to vetting and purges based on narrow political criteria rather than on a genuine need to protect the security of the state.



Guardian Weekly, August 25th, 1985
‘The brigadier in Room 105’

THE BBC seems determined to prove that, as far as its own affairs are concerned, any publicity is bad publicity. Just at the time when the Peacock committee seems poised to insert the commercial knife between the corporation’s public service shoulder-blades, the BBC has become accident-prone. First, of course, there was the disreputable saga of the on-off Real Lives documentary, whose worldwide fall-out has not yet been fully quantified. And now, displaying the unerring clumsiness of the walking wounded, the BBC is faced with the revelations about the brigadier in Room 105.

It is easy to respond with wordly wisdom when you read that behind the door of Room 105 in Broadcasting House there lurks Brigadier Ronnie Stonham, formerly of the Signals Regiment, single-handedly weeding out all pinko job applicants and making sure that the lefties don’t get promotion. Most state-financed broadcasting stations like to vet the political credentials of their journalists. Our own security services take a more than casual interest in appointments to senior journalistic posts (and not just in the BBC), especially among foreign correspondents. And, looking at it even more cynically, what kind of a thought police is it anyway that can turn up a mere eight cases — if that’s all there be — of political blocking in a period of 20 years among a staff of 30,000 people — and only two during the Thatcher years?

Easy to be worldly wise, but mistaken. You do not have to buy the full conspiracy version to sense that there is something pretty corrosive and hypocritical going on here. The tales of the brigadier don’t, in themselves, prove that the BBC’s independence, of which so much has been heard this month, is an entire sham. They do not justify the crude conclusion that Mr Leon Brittan, in his capacity as the boss of MI5 and the Special Branch, controls the whole staffing and policy of the corporation through a vetting system which extends from the governors down to anyone who has ever done a day’s work for the BBC. But they do expose the country’s principal broadcasting organisation to the charge that it has long connived in a degree of routine interference by an unaccountable and reactionary secret service that is fundamentally at odds with the principles of editorial independence and political pluralism.

One casualty of the latest revelations ought logically to be the gut belief, apparently held by all Conservative MPs, that the BBC is a nest of left-wing vipers. It is that belief which is impelling the Cabinet, through the mechanism of the Peacock inquiry, towards the fullscale destruction of the foundations on which the BBC still rests. The vetting revelation, however, shows that those foundations are very fragile. It further erodes the principle of editorial independence. A confident and united BBC stands some chance of resisting the government’s increasingly determined assault. But a divided and suspicious BBC is a target with very few defences.


Labour’s nominees for inquiry chair, and a left ‘establishment’

I have been informed through a reliable source (not an MP or anyone working for one) that the Labour Party, upon consultation through the Home Office, who are desperate to avoid a third unsuitable chair for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, have nominated three possible candidates. These are:

Shami Chakrabarti, barrister and Director of Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) since 2003.

Baroness (Helena) Kennedy QC, barrister specialising in human rights and civil liberties and Labour peer.

Michael Mansfield QC, well-known radical barrister, whose candidacy would certainly be supported by some survivors and their representatives.

These candidates, none of who appear suitable, do however demonstrate the problems with figures close to the Labour Party and associated left wing’s own ‘establishment’, and especially the field of civil liberties and NCCL, about whom there is considerable evidence of strong links to the Paedophile Information Exchange, who they arguably helped to legitimise. I have no doubt that Chakrabarti would do the job extremely well, but because of her position, it would be impossible to guarantee confidence that her work on NCCL would be seen to be fair and objective. I have yet to research properly the extent of Kennedy’s NCCL connections, but certainly there is every likelihood that she is close to many of the individuals who will come under scrutiny, such as Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman. Kennedy also chaired an episode of the late night discussion programme After Dark in 2003 in which former PIE chair Tom O’Carroll appeared. It was also recently reported in the Sunday Times that Kennedy had been offered the chair, but had turned it down. Mansfield was very close to NCCL and Harman, working together with her during the key period when the civil liberties organisation was connected to PIE.

All the political parties need to look for candidates for chair not in order to protect their own interests, seen thus as a ‘safe pair of hands’, but who has the requisite degree of independence to consider the major allegations of child abuse occurring at the hands of senior figures in each party, possibly protected by those parties. A political damage limitation exercise on the part of any party would make a mockery of the inquiry.

For my part, I would suggest consideration of lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who has done much work defending those on Death Row in the US, and inmates at Guantanamo Bay. Though his specialist area is not child sexual exploitation, Stafford-Smith is a principled individual whose work is mostly abroad, and so would seem to have had less regular contact with the multiple British establishments whose own sorry involvement needs proper scrutiny.

Peter Morrison and the cover-up in the Tory Party – fully updated

[This post has now been superseded by an updated version – please click onto that to see the most recent information on Morrison as well]

In Edwina Currie’s diary entry for July 24th, 1990, she wrote the following:

One appointment in the recent reshuffle has attracted a lot of gossip and could be very dangerous: Peter Morrison has become the PM’s PPS. Now he’s what they call ‘a noted pederast’, with a liking for young boys; he admitted as much to Norman Tebbit when he became deputy chairman of the party, but added, ‘However, I’m very discreet’ – and he must be! She either knows and is taking a chance, or doesn’t; either way it is a really dumb move. Teresa Gorman told me this evening (in a taxi coming back from a drinks party at the BBC) that she inherited Morrison’s (woman) agent, who claimed to have been offered money to keep quiet about his activities. It scares me, as all the press know, and as we get closer to the election someone is going to make trouble, very close to her indeed. (Edwina Currie, Diaries 1987-1992 (London: Little, Brown, 2002), p. 195)

Currie Diaries

The agent in question was Frances Mowatt. A 192 search reveals that there is now a Frances Mowatt, aged 65+, living in Billericay in Essex, Teresa Gorman’s old constituency.

The following are the recollections of Grahame Nicholls, who ran the Chester Trades Council (Morrison was the MP for Chester from 1974 to 1992), who wrote:

After the 1987 general election, around 1990, I attended a meeting of Chester Labour party where we were informed by the agent, Christine Russell, that Peter Morrison would not be standing in 1992. He had been caught in the toilets at Crewe station with a 15-year-old boy. A deal was struck between Labour, the local Tories, the local press and the police that if he stood down at the next election the matter would go no further. Chester finished up with Gyles Brandreth and Morrison walked away scot-free. I thought you might be interested. (cited in ‘Simon Hoggart’s week’, The Guardian, November 16th, 2012)

Sir Peter Morrison (1944-1995) was known, according to an obituary by Patrick Cosgrove, as a right winger who disliked immigration, supported the return of capital punishment, and wished to introduce vouchers for education. He was from a privileged political family; his father, born John Morrison, became Lord Margadale, the squire of Fonthill, led the campaign to ensure Alec Douglas-Home became Prime Minister in 1963, and predicted Thatcher’s ultimate accession to the leadership (Sue Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’, Daily Mail, July 12th, 2014, updated July 16th). The young Peter attended Eton College, then Keble College, Oxford. Entering the House of Commons in 1974 at the age of 29, during the first Thatcher government he occupied a series of non-cabinet ministerial positions, then became Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1986, replacing Jeffrey Archer after his resignation, and working under Chairman Norman Tebbitt. His sister, Dame Mary Morrison, became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen (Gyles Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’: In a brave and haunting account, TV star and ex MP Gyles Brandreth reveals the years of abuse he endured at prep school’, Daily Mail, September 12th, 2014).

Morrison was close to Thatcher from when he entered Parliament (see Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (London: Harper Collins, 1993), p. 837), working for her 1975 leadership campaign and, after she became Prime Minister, putting her and Denis up for holiday in the 73 000 acre estate owned by his father in Islay, where games of charades were played (Jonathan Aitken, Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), pp. 158-160, 279-281). After being appointed as Thatcher’s Parliamentary Private Secretary in 1990, he ran what is generally believed to have been a complacent and lacklustre leadership campaign for her when she was challenged by Michael Heseltine; as is well-known, she did not gain enough votes to prevent a second ballot, and then resigned soon afterwards. Morrison was known to some others as ‘a toff’s toff’, who ‘made it very clear from the outset that he did not intend spending time talking to the plebs’ on the backbenches (Stephen Norris, Changing Trains: An Autobiography (London: Hutchinson, 1996), p. 149).

Jonathan Aitken, a close friend of Morrison’s, would later write the following about him:

I knew Peter Morrison as well as anyone in the House. We had been school friends. He was the best man at my wedding in St Margaret’s, Westminster. We shared many private and political confidences. So I knew the immense pressures he was facing at the time when he was suddenly overwhelmed with the greatest new burden imaginable – running the Prime Minister’s election campaign.

Sixteen years in the House of Commons had treated Peter badly. His health had deteriorated. He had an alcohol problem that made him ill, overweight and prone to take long afternoon naps. In the autumn of 1990 he became embroiled in a police investigation into aspects of his personal life. The allegations against him were never substantiated, and the inquiry was subsequently dropped. But at the time of the leadership election, Peter was worried, distracted and unable to concentrate. (Aitken, Margaret Thatcher, pp. 625-626).

An important article by Nick Davies published in The Guardian in April 1998, also made the following claim:

Fleet Street routinely nurtures a crop of untold stories about powerful abusers who have evaded justice. One such is Peter Morrison, formerly the MP for Chester and the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. Ten years ago, Chris House, the veteran crime reporter for the Sunday Mirror, twice received tip-offs from police officers who said that Morrison had been caught cottaging in public toilets with underaged boys and had been released with a caution. A less powerful man, the officers complained, would have been charged with gross indecency or an offence against children.

At the time, Chris House confronted Morrison, who used libel laws to block publication of the story. Now, Morrison is dead and cannot sue. Police last week confirmed that he had been picked up twice and never brought to trial. They added that there appeared to be no trace of either incident in any of the official records. (Nick Davies, ‘The sheer scale of child sexual abuse in Britain’, The Guardian, April 1998).

Recently, the former editor of the Sunday Mirror, Paul Connew, has revealed how he was told in 1994 by House of the stories concerning Morrison. Connew has revealed that it was a police officer who was the source, dismayed by the lack of action after Morrison had been arrested for sexually molesting under-age boys; the officer revealed how Morrison had attempted to ‘pull rank’ by demanding to see the most senior officer, and announcing proudly who he was. All the paperwork relating to the arrest simply ‘disappeared’. Connew sent a reporter to confront Morrison at his Chester home, but Morrison dismissed the story and made legal threats, which the paper was not able to counter without naming their police source, which was impossible. The story ultimately died, though Connew was able to establish that in the senior echelons of Scotland Yard, Morrison’s arrest and proclivities were no secret; he had been arrested on multiple occasions in both Chester and London, always hushed up (Paul Connew, ‘Commentary: how paedophile Peter Morrison escaped exposure’, Exaro News, September 26th, 2014).

In an article in the Daily Mail published in October 2012, former Conservative MP and leader of the Welsh Tories Rod Richards claimed that Morrison (and another Tory grandee who has not been named) was connected to the terrible abuse scandals in Bryn Estyn and Bryn Alyn children’s homes, in North Wales, having seen documents which identified both politicians as frequent, unexplained visitors. Richards also claimed that William Hague, who was Secretary of State for Wales from 1995 to 1997, and who set up the North Wales Child Abuse inquiry, would have seen the files on Morrison, but sources close to Hague denied that he had seen any such material. A former resident of the Bryn Estyn care home testified to Channel 4 News, testified to seeing Morrison arrive there on five occasions, and may have driven off with a boy in his car (‘Exclusive: Eyewitness ‘saw Thatcher aide take boys to abuse”, Channel 4 News, November 6th, 2012; see also Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’).

Morrison’s successor as MP for Chester, Gyles Brandreth, wrote that he and his wife Michelle had been told on the doorstep repeatedly and emphatically that the MP was ‘a disgusting pervert’ (David Holmes, ‘Former Chester MP Peter Morrison implicated in child abuse inquiry’, Chester Chronicle, November 8th, 2012). More recently, in a build-up to the launch of a new version of Brandreth’s diaries, which suggested major new revelations but delivered little, Brandreth merely added that when canvassing in 1991 ‘we were told that Morrison was a monster who interfered with children’, and added:

At the time, I don’t think I believed it. People do say terrible things without justification. Beyond the fact that his drinking made Morrison appear unprepossessing — central casting’s idea of what a toff paedophile might look like — no one was offering anything to substantiate their slurs.

At the time, I never heard anything untoward about Morrison from the police or from the local journalists — and I gossiped a good deal with them. Four years after stepping down, Peter Morrison was dead of a heart attack.

What did Mrs Thatcher know of his alleged dark side? When I talked to her about him, I felt she had the measure of the man. She knew he was homosexual, and she knew he was a drinker. She was fond of him, clearly, but told me that he had ruined himself through ‘self-indulgence’ — much as Reginald Maudling had done a generation earlier. (Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’)

Brandreth did however crucially mention that William Hague had told him in 1996 that Morrison’s name might feature in connection with the inquiry into child abuse in North Wales, specifically in connection to Bryn Estyn, thus corroborating Rod Richard’s account, though Brandreth also pointed out that the Waterhouse report made no mention of Morrison (Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’).

The journalist Simon Heffer has also said that rumours about Morrison were circulating in Tory top ranks as early as 1988, whilst Tebbit has admitted hearing rumours ‘through unusual channels’, then confronting Morrison about them, which he denied (Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’); Tebbit, who has suggested that a cover-up of high-level abuse by politicians is likely, now concedes that he had been ‘naive’ in believing Morrison, and rejected Currie’s account of Morrison having admitted his offences to him (James Lyons, ‘Norman Tebbit admits he heard rumours top Tory was paedophile a decade before truth revealed’, Daily Mirror, July 8th, 2014). The novelist Frederick Forsyth, on the other hand, described Morrison as someone ‘who should have been exposed many years ago’, as well as being a politically incompetent alcoholic; however, as far as his sexual offences were concerned, Forsyth claimed Thatcher ‘suspected nothing’ (Frederick Forsyth, ‘Debauched and dissolute fool’, The Express, July 18th, 2014)

Recently, Thatcher’s bodyguard Barry Strevens has come forward to claim that he told Thatcher directly about allegations of Morrison holding sex parties at his house with underage boys (one aged 15), when told about this by a senior Cheshire Police Officer. (see Lynn Davidson, ‘Exclusive: Thatcher’s Bodyguard on Abuse Claims’, The Sun on Sunday, July 27th, 2014 (article reproduced in comments below); and Matt Chorley, ‘Barry Strevens says he told Iron Lady about rumours about Peter Morrison’, Mail on Sunday, July 27th, 2014; see also Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, ‘Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’’, The Independent, July 27th, 2014). Strevens claimed to have had a meeting with the PM and her PPS Archie Hamilton (now Baron Hamilton of Epsom), which he had requested immediately. Strevens had claimed this was right after the Jeffrey Archer scandal; Archer resigned in October 1986, whilst Hamilton was Thatcher’s PPS from 1987 to 1988. Strevens recalls Thatcher simply thanking him and that was the last he heard of it. He said:

I wouldn’t say she (Lady Thatcher) was naive but I would say she would not have thought people around her would be like that.

I am sure he would have given her assurances about the rumours as otherwise she wouldn’t have given him the job.

The accounts by Nicholls and Strevens make clear that the allegations – concerning in one case a 15-year old boy – are more serious than said in a later rendition by Currie, which said merely that Morrison ‘had sex with 16-year-old boys when the age of consent was 21’ (cited in Andrew Sparrow, ‘Politics Live’, The Guardian, October 24th, 2012). A further allegation was made by Peter McKelvie, who led the investigation in 1992 into Peter Righton in an open letter to Peter Mandelson. A British Aerospace Trade Union Convenor had said one member had alleged that Morrison raped him, and he took this to the union’s National HQ, who put it to the Labour front bench. A Labour minister reported back to say that the Tory Front Bench had been approached. This was confirmed, according to McKelvie, by second and third sources, and also alleged that the conversations first took place at a 1993-94 Xmas Party hosted by the Welsh Parliamentary Labour Party. Mandelson has not yet replied.

In the 1997 election, Christine Russell herself displaced Brandreth and she served as Labour MP until 2010, when she was unseated by Conservative MP Stephen Mosely (see entry for ‘Christine Russell’ at politics.co.uk).

In 2013, following the publication of Hoggart’s article citing Nicholls, an online petition was put together calling for an inquiry, and submittted to then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State Christopher Grayling. Russell denounced the ‘shoddy journalism’ of the Guardian piece, recalled rumours of Morrison’s preferences, but said there was no hint of illegal acts; she did not however rule out an agreement that Morrison should stand down (‘Campaigners ask for inquiry over ex-Chester MP’, Chester Chronicle, January 3rd, 2013).

Further questions now need to be asked of Lord Tebbit, Teresa Gorman, Edwina Currie, William Hague and other senior Tories, not to mention Christine Russell and others in Chester Labour Party, of what was known and apparently covered-up about Morrison. The identity of Morrison and Gorman’s agent (I could find no mention of a name in Gorman’s autobiography No, Prime Minister! (London: John Blake, 2001)) must be established [Edit: this has now been established as Frances Mowatt – see above] and she should be questioned if still around [Which she is, and living in Billericay, according to 192 directory – see above]. If money was involved, as Currie alleges was told to her by Gorman, then the seriousness of the allegations is grave. Just yesterday (October 5th), Currie arrogantly and haughtily declared on Twitter:

@MaraudingWinger @DrTeckKhong @MailOnline I’ve been nicer than many deserve! But I take the consequences, & I do not hide behind anonymity.

@jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel @woodmouse1 I heard only tiny bits of gossip. The guy is dead, go pursue living perps. You’ll do more good

@woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel The present has its own demands. We learn from the past, we don’t get obsessive about it. Get real.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel And there are abusers in action right now, while you chase famous dead men.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel I’d rather police time be spent now on today’s criminals – detect, stop and jail them

@jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel @woodmouse1 Flattered that you think I know so much. Sorry but that’s not so. If you do, go to police

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel They want current crimes to be dealt with by police, too. And they may need other help.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel Of course. But right now, youngsters are being hurt and abused. That matters.

Considering Currie also rubber-stamped the appointment of Jimmy Savile at Broadmoor (Rowena Mason, ‘Edwina Currie voices regrets over Jimmy Savile after inquiry criticism’, The Guardian, Thursday June 26th, 2014) and clearly knew information about Morrison, including claims of bribery of a political agent, known to at least one other MP (Gorman) as well as herself, it should not be surprising that she would want claims of abuse involving dead figures to be sidelined.

This story relates to political corruption at the highest level, with a senior politician near the top of his party involved in the abuse of children, and clear evidence that various others knew about this, but did nothing, and strong suggestions that politicians and police officers conspired to keep this covered up, even using hush money, in such a way which ensured that Morrison was free to keep abusing others until his death. This story must not be allowed to die this time round.

The documents in the Andrew Faulds archives on Greville Janner

WARNING: Contains reproductions of anti-semitic material.

A major new report in today’s Mail  (Guy Adams, ‘Child sex claims, a police ‘cover-up’ and troubling questions for a Labour peer: This special report reveals the full extent of the deeply disturbing allegations against ex-MP Greville Janner’, Daily Mail, October 4th, 2014) contains details of two very sensitive documents filed within the archives of late Labour MP Andrew Faulds. These concerned allegations against the then-MP for Leicester West, Greville Janner, who retired from the House of Commons in 1997 and now sits in the House of Lords as Baron Janner of Braunstone. Janner was named in the 1991 trial of Frank Beck by one witness as having abused him; Janner was not himself on trial and did not testify, and he was widely believed (including by many MPs) to have been unfairly smeared here.

I have previously posted a large collection of press reports from during the Beck trial and its aftermath, including many of the reactions of other politicians upon Janner’s return to Parliament. Various other reports relating to Janner have emerged during the course of the last year. Janner’s house was searched in December 2013, which was widely reported (See Sonia Elks, ‘Lord Janner’s home searched over historic child sex allegations’, The Times, December 20th, 2013, reproduced below; Lizzie Parry, ‘Police raid home of Labour Lord as part of historic sex abuse probe and spend two days searching his £600,000 apartment’, Daily Mail, December 20th, 2013; Paul Peachey, ‘Police investigating child abuse search peer Greville Janner’s home’, The Independent, December 20th, 2013; ‘Lord Greville Janner’s home searched as part of child sex investigations, say police’, Telegraph, December 20th, 2013). The Leicester Mercury reported in early May that the Crown Prosecution Service were considering evidence against Janner (‘Leicester peer Greville Janner in child abuse inquiry’, Leicester Mercury, May 3rd, 2014), then in June it was reported that Janner’s offices in the House of Lords had been searched as part of police investigations (‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’, The Times, June 23rd, 2014, reproduced below; Rebecca Camber, ‘Police raid offices in Parliament of Labour peer Lord Janner as part of inquiry in historic sex abuse claims’, Daily Mail, June 23rd, 2014).

Then in July, a report in the Mirror spoke of over 20 allegations of historic child sex abuse being made against an unnamed peer (including one by a man who was aged seven at the time), many relating to offences which took place in children’s homes, but reporting that the peer in question would not be interviewed or arrested as he had been declared unfit by two doctors (Tom Pettifor and Nick Sommerlad, ‘Labour peer escapes probe over 20 child sex claims because he is ‘suffering dementia”, Daily Mirror, July 9th, 2014). The peer in question was reported to have entertained the young people with magic tricks. These doctors should be identified and their reports made public. In August, Sean O’Neill in The Times revealed that there had been orders in 1991 not to arrest Janner, only interview him by appointment in his home (Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’, The Times, August 8th, 2014, reproduced below) – on this, see my earlier post on the subject, with details of David Gandy, who was the temporary Director of Public Prosecutions at the time, after Sir Allan Green had been arrested after being discovered kerb-crawling. Then in September, Chief Constable of Derbyshire Mike Creedon spoke of having been forbidden to arrest Janner after allegations first surfaced in 1989 (before the Beck trial, when Creedon was a Detective Sergeant) (Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest’, The Times, September 25th, 2014, reproduced below; Chris Greenwood, ‘Police ‘told to limit abuse probe into MP”, Daily Mail, September 26th, 2014)

Here I am reproducing the two documents in the Faulds archives. I would urge much caution with these, as they clearly emerge from some far right sources and include various vicious anti-semitic claims. I stress here that I am in no sense endorsing their contents, and find the anti-semitic remarks (and such things as the red eyes on the cover of the booklet) obscene, and again urge scepticism because of their contents (it has been plausibly suggested to me that the picture of Janner with the ‘Scouting for Boys’ book has been doctored); however, as Faulds thought they were important enough to keep and file, then I think they should be made available. I have erased the name of the individual who made the allegations against Janner.

I am about to leave to join a vigil at 114 Grosvenor Avenue, Islington (beginning 1:45 pm) to commemorate the many who were abused within the Islington care system as a result of careless, foolish and incompetent policies during the time when Margaret Hodge, now Labour MP for Barking, was leader of Islington council. Amongst the speakers there will be Liz Davies, former social worker in Islington who blew the whistle on the abuse. We have heard much, rightly, about abuse and its cover-up from members of the Conservative Party, including major allegations against late former MPs Peter Morrison, Nicholas Fairbairn, Rhodes Boyson, and others, and wider allegations relating to the sinister events at Elm Guest House; also against former Liberal MP Cyril Smith, about whom pioneering Labour MP and campaigner Simon Danczuk wrote a book together with Matt Baker. But Labour have their own questions to answer as well: about Islington Council under Hodge’s tenure; about the relationship of current Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Minister for Policing Jack Dromey MP, and former MP Patricia Hewitt during their time at the National Council for Civil Liberties when one section of this group’s activities were strongly influenced by the Paedophile Information Exchange, which seems to have been easily tolerated by these people (see also here and here) – there is definitely much more information to be revealed about this; about former MP and leadership contender Bryan Gould’s expression of support for PIE’s aims; about allegations of a Blair minister being involved in serious abuse in Lambeth and also (perhaps another minister) who was investigated as part of Operation Ore; about the activities of former Labour MP and Speaker of the House George Thomas aka Lord Tonypandy; about the role of local Labour politicians in allowing grooming gangs to abuse over 1400 girls in Rotherham (and perhaps in various other localities as well); and more generally about the extent to which many members of the liberal left tolerated, even encouraged, leading paedophile figures such as Peter Righton so long as they clothed their activities in the language of gay rights. Only when Ed Miliband and the Labour front bench declare their readiness to co-operate absolutely and look honestly and unflinchingly about what was known and what was covered up, will the Labour Party have any real credibility on this issue; otherwise they appear like a party prepared to look the other way in the face of some forms of abuse, only paying attention to those for which they can gain party political advantage.

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The Times
, December 20th, 2013
Sonia Elks, ‘Lord Janner’s home searched over historic child sex allegations’

The home of Labour peer Lord Greville Janner has been searched by police investigating allegations of historic child sex offences.

Officers from Leicester police spent two days searching the 85-year-old former barrister’s £600,000 North London flat on Monday and Tuesday as part of a continuing investigation.

Lord Janner has not been arrested by police, who declined to confirm what was seized or the reason for the search.

However, it is understood that the swoop was part of a historic child sex investigation dating back many years.

A spokesman said: “Leicestershire Police can confirm its officers executed a search warrant of a property in Barnet, London as part of an ongoing criminal inquiry.

“No arrests have been made at this stage.”

Lord Janner, who was made a life peer as Baron Janner of Braunstone in Leicester in 1997, is well known as the former chairman of British Jews and a prominent speaker on Jewish rights, who has been hailed for his efforts to see Holocaust victims receive compensation.

Builders working on a renovation next door to his home saw a number of police cars and officers at the address on Monday and Tuesday.

One said: “There were loads of police cars here on Monday and Tuesday.

“They were coming and going all day.

“I don’t know what happened, but they’ve been back quite often ever since.”

Lord Janner declined to speak to reporters about the search when approached at the Hampstead flat.

A young man, who identified himself as “Jameson” and claimed he was the peer’s personal spiritual healer said: “The Lord won’t come to the door.

“He is exhausted with all the stress of dealing with the police.

“He’s old and needs his rest. I don’t want to say any more.”

A spokesman for the peer said: “Lord Janner has not been arrested but has been assisting the police with their enquiries. We are not able to make any further comment at this time.”

It is not the first time Lord Janner has sparked controversy. In 2006, he was struck by fellow Lord Bramall, a former head of the Armed Forces, during a furious row over the Lebanon conflict.

He served as an MP for 27 years for Leicester North West and then Leicester West until his retirement in 1997, when he was made a life peer.

The widowed peer says on his official website that his hobbies include autograph collections, glass and other antiquities, swimming, speaking his nine languages and his family.

It also says he is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

The Times
, June 23rd, 2014
‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’

Police have searched the Westminster office of Lord Janner of Braunstone, the Labour peer, in connection with historical child sex abuse allegations. Leicestershire police confirmed that its officers had searched part of the House of Lords in March. They added that the former MP, 85, had not been arrested.

A spokeswoman said: “Leicestershire police can confirm that in March 2014 its officers carried out a search of part of the House of Lords in connection with an ongoing inquiry into non-recent child sexual abuse.

“A search warrant was obtained in advance from a crown court judge and the search was conducted in accordance with established House of Lords procedures, and monitored by senior officials from the House of www.Lords.No arrests or charges have been made, and inquiries continue.”

The search follows a raid of the peer’s home in north London, last year.

Greville Janner was an MP for 27 years, originally for Leicester North West and then Leicester West, until he retired in 1997. He was made a life peer that year.

The father of three is a former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and has been active in efforts to get compensation for Holocaust victims. On his website, Lord Janner says that he speaks nine languages and is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

The Times
, August 8th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’

Detectives investigating a Labour MP over child abuse allegations more than 20 years ago were stopped from arresting him, The Times has learnt.

Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, was interviewed by appointment in the company of his solicitor as part of a major investigation into the abuse of boys at homes in Leicestershire in 1991.

A number of sources with knowledge of the case have confirmed that officers had wanted to arrest the Leicester West MP, which would have given them the power to search his home and offices.

Legal advice was sought on taking the rare step of arresting an MP and it is understood that the advice from senior counsel was that it was an appropriate course of action. At the last minute the planned arrest was blocked.

Arrangements were made instead for Lord Janner to attend a police station by appointment with his solicitor, Sir David Napley.

The decision-making process is being re-examined by Leicestershire police as part of Operation Enamel, which is looking into allegations against Lord Janner and others.

Kelvyn Ashby, the retired officer who was senior investigator on the original case, confirmed that he was in contact with the Operation Enamel team but declined to comment further.

Police executed search warrants at Lord Janner’s home in Golders Green, north London, in December and at his office at the House of Lords in March. A partial file of evidence has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is providing the police with “investigative advice”.

The peer, now 86 and said by friends to be in very poor health, has not been arrested. He has strongly denied the allegations against him in the past.

The new investigation into Lord Janner and others is one of dozens of historic abuse inquiries which come under the umbrella of Operation Hydrant, a nationwide steering group headed by senior police officers and set up to ensure consistent approaches to cases involving “persons of public prominence”.

A Leicestershire police spokesman said that the force was “investigating several complaints in relation to Operation Enamel – it is an inquiry into allegations of criminal conduct and all appropriate lines of inquiry will be progressed”.

Asked if the decision not to arrest Lord Janner was part of the new investigation, the spokesman said: “This is an operational matter, no further details will be disclosed.”

Lord Janner’s current solicitor did not respond to requests for comment, but in 1991 the MP for Leicester West told the House of Commons that there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations made against him.

The Times
, September 25th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest”

An investigation into child abuse allegations against a prominent politician 25 years ago was blocked, one of the country’s most senior police officers has revealed.

Mick Creedon, chief constable of Derbyshire, told The Times that he was a detective sergeant in 1989 when he was ordered to limit his inquiries into Greville Janner, a leading Labour backbench MP. Mr Creedon said there was “credible evidence” against the MP, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC, that warranted further investigation, but he was given orders forbidding an arrest or a search of his home or offices.

“The decision was a clear one – he will be interviewed by appointment and there won’t be a search of his home address or his constituency office or his office in the House of Commons,” Mr Creedon said.

The order was “conveyed” by a superintendent but Mr Creedon believes it came from chief officers. He added: “It was a decision made by people more senior than me.”

The allegations against Lord Janner, 86, who was a senior Labour backbencher and president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, surfaced during the police investigation into Frank Beck, the manager of Leicester children’s homes who died in jail after being convicted of abusing boys in his care.

A former resident of one home alleged that he had had a two-year sexual relationship with the MP when he was a teenager in the 1970s. The alleged victim later aired the allegations in public when he gave evidence at Beck’s trial in 1991.

However, Mr Creedon said there were concerns about the credibility of the evidence against Lord Janner, notably that the key witness was in thrall to Beck despite being the victim of abuse.

The alleged victim also gave evidence for Beck. None of the other hundreds of residents interviewed made any allegations against the MP.

The witness had produced affectionate letters that were allegedly from the MP, some on House of Commons notepaper, and provided a detailed description of the inside of the MP’s Hampstead home. Mr Creedon said: “I look at this now, as a chief constable, as a senior investigating officer, in the light of many inquiries before and since – and one of the lines of inquiry could have been to search the house.

“My view has always been that the allegations were very serious, there was enough evidence to put a file before the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service], and as investigating officers our job was to search out as much evidence as possible to prove or disprove the offence. My interpretation of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act would be that under the circumstances it would have been justified to search the house [and] offices.”

He said he did not know who made the decision to limit the investigation.
The 1989-91 inquiry was limited to an interview at Leicestershire police headquarters during which Lord Janner gave “no comment” answers to detectives’ questions. A file was sent to the CPS, which decided there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

When the allegations became public during Beck’s trial in 1991, the jury was told they were a “red herring” and not relevant to the case. Lord Janner later said there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations against him.

Those allegations are central to a new police investigation into Lord Janner and others, called Operation Enamel, which has led to warrants being obtained to search the peer’s home in north London and his office in the House of Lords.
The peer, who is in poor health, has never been arrested and has not been interviewed by detectives from the new investigation. His lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

Academia and Paedophilia 1: The Case of Jeffrey Weeks and Indifference to Boy-Rape

Over on the Spotlight blog, a series of important articles have been posted on paedophilia in academia, focusing on the work of sociologist Ken Plummer at the University of Essex, Len Davis, formerly Lecturer in Social Work at Brunel University, and Donald J. West, Professor of Clinical Criminology at the University of Cambridge. There is much more to be written on the issue of the acceptance of and sometimes propaganda for paedophilia in academic contexts; I have earlier published on the pederastic scholarly writings of Clifford Hindley (formerly a senior civil servant at the Home Office alleged to have secured funding for the Paedophile Information Exchange), as well as the pro-paedophile views of leading feminist and Cambridge University Lecturer Germaine Greer. In several fields, including sociology, social work, classical studies, art history, music, literature and above all gender and sexuality studies, there is much to be read produced in a academic environment, and published by scholarly presses, which goes some way towards the legitimisation of paedophilia. In July, Andrew Gilligan published an article on this subject as continues to exist in some academic summer conferences (Andrew Gilligan, ‘Paedophilia is natural and normal for males’, Sunday Telegraph, July 6th, 2014), whilst Eileen Fairweather has written about how easily many in academia were taken in by the language and rhetoric of PIE, as they ‘adroitly hijacked the language of liberation’, presented themselves in opposition to ‘patriarchy’ and would brand critics homophobic (Eileen Fairweather, ‘We on the Left lacked the courage to be branded ‘homophobic’, so we just ignored it. I wish I hadn’t’, Telegraph, February 22nd, 2014). Back in 1998 Chris Brand, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, was removed from his post after advocating that consensual paedophilia with an intelligent child was acceptable (see Alastair Dalton, ‘Brand loses job fight over views on child sex’ The Scotsman, March 25th, 1988, reproduced at the bottom of this), but such cases are rare.

I would never advocate censorship of this material or research of this type, but I believe it to be alarming how little critical attention this type of material appears to receive, perhaps still because it is taboo in certain circles to criticise anything which in particular attaches itself to the cause of gay rights (just as victims of female abusers, or researchers into the subject, find themselves under continual attack from some feminists who would prefer for such abuse to continue than for it to disturb their tidy ideologies – see my earlier post on child abuse and identity politics).

I have over a period of time been assembling information on what I would call a paedophile ‘canon’ of writings, many of them produced by academics, which use similar ideologies and rhetoric to attempt to normalise and legitimise paedophilia. Detail on this will have to wait until a later date; for now, I want to draw attention to some of the writings of Emeritus Professor of Sociology and University Director of Research at South Bank University Jeffrey Weeks, previously Executive Dean of Arts and Human Sciences and Dean of Humanities. Rarely has Weeks’ work been subject to critique of this type (one notable exception is Mary Macleod and Esther Saga, ‘A View from the Left: Child Sexual Abuse’, in Martin Loney, Robert Bocock, et al (eds), The State or the Market: Politics and Welfare in Contemporary Britain (London: Sage Books, 1991), pp. 103-110, though this is problematic in other respects).

Weeks was described in a hagiographic article from 2008 as ‘the most significant British intellectual working on sexuality to emerge from the radical sexual movements of the 1970s’ (Matthew Waites, ‘Jeffrey Weeks and the History of Sexuality’, History Workshop Journal, Vol. 69, No. 1 (2010), pp. 258-266), having been involved the early days of the Gay Liberation Front and their branch formed at the London School of Economics in 1970. He published first in Gay News, and was a founding member of the Gay Left collective; their ‘socialist journal’ included several pro-paedophile articles (all can be downloaded here – see in particular issues 7 and 8). Weeks’ first book, Socialism and the New Life: the Personal and Sexual Politics of Edward Carpenter and Havelock Ellis (London: Pluto Press, 1977) was co-authored with Sheila Rowbotham; Rowbotham wrote on Edward Carpenter, who was a key member of the ‘Uranian’ poets, who have been described as ‘the forerunners of PIE’; the volume completely ignored any of this.

In the preface to the paedophile volume The Betrayal of Youth: Radical Perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex, and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People (London: CL Publications, 1986), editor Warren Middleton (aka John Parratt, former vice-chair of the Paedophile Information Exchange and editor of Understanding Paedophilia, who was later jailed for possession of indecent images), acknowledged Weeks gratefully alongside members of the PIE Executive Committee and others who had ‘read the typescripts, made useful suggestion, and, where necessary, grammatical corrections’.

Here I am reproducing passages from four of Weeks’ books, which should make his positions relatively clear. The first gives a highly sanitised view of the paedophile movements PAL and PIE, accepting completely at face value the idea that they were simply ‘a self-help focus for heterosexual as well as homosexual pedophiles, giving mutual support to one another, exchanging views and ideas and encouraging research’, whose ‘method was the classical liberal one of investigation and public debate’ (rather than a contact group for abusers and for sharing images of child abuse, as was well-known and documented by this stage), and more concerned about the tabloid reaction than about their victims. It is a lousy piece of scholarship as well, considering this is a revised edition from 1997 (the book was earlier published in 1977, 1980 and 1993); Weeks breaks one of the first principles of scholarship by shelving information which does not suit his a priori argument, thus saying nothing about the various members of PIE who had been convicted and imprisoned (or fled the country) for offences against children, including most of its leading members, claiming that the involvement of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality was due to its being ‘gratutiously dragged in’, ignoring the fact of their having made public statements of support at their 1974 conference (of which Weeks, at the centre of this movement, would have been well-aware). The second, on ‘intergenerational sex’ (an academic term used to make paedophilia sound more acceptable) is backed up by a range of references which is almost like a who’s who of paedophile advocates, many treated as if reliable scholarly sources rather than the child abuse propaganda they are. In common with many left-liberal writers on paedophilia, he does not endorse sex between adult men and young girls, but applies a very different set of standards when boys are concerned. The third passage is more subtle, appearing to distance Weeks from the view of J.Z. Eglinton and others, but again (drawing upon Brian Taylor’s contribution to the volume Perspectives on Paedophilia) ends up trying to make distinctions in such a way that some child abuse is made less serious. The fourth takes an angle familiar from Peter Righton and others; as abuse mostly takes place in the family, the risks from other types of paedophiles end up being little more than a moral panic.

Weeks’ minimisation of concern about sexual exploitation of boys, and concomitant greater sympathy with gay abusers than their victims, resonates with the view coming from the Labour Party at the moment, with the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper determined to make child abuse purely an issue affecting girls. Furthermore, the Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, as is now well-known, was involved at the centre of the National Council for Civil Liberties when they were closely linked to PIE (whose membership were overwhelmingly adult males looking to have sexual relations with boys). Under General Secretary Patricia Hewitt, NCCL submitted a document in 1976 to the Criminal Law Revision Committee, arguing amongst other things that ‘Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage. The Criminal Law Revision Committee should be prepared to accept the evidence form follow-up research on child ‘victims’ which show that there is little subsequent effect after a child has been ‘molested’’, echoing PIE’s own submission on the subject. Harman was not involved with NCCL until two years later, but there is nothing to suggest policy changed during her time or she had any wish to change it, whilst during her tenure NCCL went on to advertise in PIE’s house journal Magpie, and had Nettie Pollard, PIE member No. 70, as their Gay and Lesbian Officer. This was the heyday of PIE, and the support of NCCL was a significant factor. Harman, quite incredibly, went on to make paedophile advocate Hewitt godmother to her sons. Cooper is of a different generation, but all her pronouncements suggest the same contemptuous attitude towards young boys, seeing them only as threats to girls and near-animals requiring of taming, rarely thinking about their needs nor treating them as the equally sensitive and vulnerable people they are; with this in mind, abuse of boys is an issue she almost never mentions. It is alarming to me that both Harman and Cooper have parented sons and yet appear to be entirely unwilling to accept that boys deserve equal love and respect, nor keen to confront the scale of organised institutional abuse of boys

Though considering the number of stories involving Labour figures alleged to have abused or colluded with the abuse of young boys (I think of the cases in Leicester, Lambeth, the relationship of senior Labour figures to PIE, not just Harman, her husband Dromey, and Hewitt, but also former leadership candidate Bryan Gould, who made clear his endorsement for the organisation (see also this BBC feature from earlier this year; the relationship of the late Jo Richardson to the organisation also warrants further investigation), not to mention the vast amount of organised abuse which was able to proceed unabated in Islington children’s homes when the council was led by Margaret Hodge, who incredibly was later appointed Children’s Minister, the allegations around former Speaker of the House of Commons George Thomas aka Lord Tonypandy, and some other members of the New Labour government who have been identified as linked to Operation Ore; and the support and protection afforded to Peter Righton by many on the liberal left), it is not surprising if the Labour frontbench want to make the sexual abuse of boys a secondary issue. This is unfortunately a common liberal-left view, and a reason to fear the consequences of some such people being in charge of children at all, whether as parents or in other roles. There are those who see young boys purely as a problem, little more than second-best girls, to be metaphorically beaten into shape, though always viewed as dangerous, substandard, and not to be trusted; this in itself is already a type of abuse, but such a view also makes it much easier to overlook the possibility their being sexually interfered with and anally raped (not to mention also being the victims of unprovoked violence) – the consequences are atrocious. Many young boys were sexually abused by members of the paedophile organisation that Harman, Hewitt, Dromey et al helped to legitimise (I am of a generation with many of the boys who appeared in sexualized pictures aged around 10 or under in the pages of Magpie; I was fortunate in avoiding some of their fate, others were not); it is right that they should never be allowed to forget this, and it thoroughly compromises their suitability for public office. The Labour Party and the liberal left in general, have a lot of work to do if they are not to be seen as primary advocates for and facilitators for boy rape. In no sense should this be seen as any type of attack on the fantastic work done by MPs such as Simon Danczuk, Tom Watson or John Mann, or many other non-politicians working in a similar manner; but the left needs rescuing from a middle-class liberal establishment who are so blinkered by ideology as to end up dehumanising and facilitating the sexual abuse of large numbers of people. Weeks, Plummer, West, Davies, Greer, Millett, Hindley, and others I will discuss on a later occasion such as Mary McIntosh, are all part of this tendency.

Jeffrey Weeks, Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, revised and updated edition (London & New York: Quartet Books, 1997)

‘Even more controversial and divisive was the question of pedophilia. Although the most emotive of issues, it was one which centrally and radically raised the issue of the meaning and implications of sexuality. But it also had the disadvantage for the gay movement that it threatened to confirm the persistent stereotype of the male homosexual as a ‘child molester’. As a result, the movement generally sought carefully to distance itself from the issue. Recognition of the centrality of childhood and the needs of children had been present in post-1968 radicalism, and had found its way into early GLF ideology. The GLF gave its usual generous support to the Schools Action Union, a militant organization of schoolchildren, backed the short-lived magazine Children’s Rights in 1972, campaigned against the prosecutions of Oz (for the schoolchildren’s issue) and the Little Red Schoolbook. But the latter, generally a harmless and useful manual for children, illustrated the difficulties of how to define sexual contact between adults and children in a non-emotive or moralistic way. In its section on this, the Little Red Schoolbook stressed, rightly, that rape or violence were rare in such contacts, but fell into the stereotyped reaction by talking of ‘child molesting’ and ‘dirty old men’: ‘they’re just men who have nobody to sleep with’; and ‘if you see or meet a man like this, don’t panic, go and tell your teacher or your parents about it’. [28]

But the issue of childhood sexuality and of pedophile relationships posed massive problems both of sexual theory and of social practice. If an encounter between child and adult was consensual and mutually pleasurable, in what way could or should it be deemed harmful? This led on to questions of what constituted harm, what was consent, at what age could a child consent, at what age should a child be regarded as free from parental control, by what criteria should an adult sexually attracted to children be judged responsible? These were real questions which had to be faced if any rational approach was to emerge, but too often they were swept aside in a tide of revulsion.

A number of organizations in and around the gay movement made some effort to confront these after 1972 on various levels. Parents Enquiry, established in South London in 1972 by Rose Robertson, attempted to cope with some of the problems of young homosexuals, particularly in their relationships with their parents. Her suburban middle-class respectability gave her a special cachet, and with a series of helpers she was able to help many young people to adjust to their situation by giving advice, holding informal gatherings, mediating with parents and the authorities. [29] More radical and controversial were two pedophile self-help organizations which appeared towards the end of 1974: PAL (originally standing for Pedophile Action for Liberation) and PIE (Pedophile Information Exchange). Their initial stimulus was the hostility they felt to be directed at their sexual predilections within the gay movement itself, but they both intended to act as a self-help focus for heterosexual as well as homosexual pedophiles, giving mutual support to one another, exchanging views and ideas and encouraging research. The sort of gut reaction such moves could provoke was illustrated by a Sunday People ‘exposé’ of PAL, significantly in the Spring Bank Holiday issue in 1975. It was headed ‘An Inquiry that will Shock every Mum and Dad’, and then, in its boldest type, ‘The Vilest Men in Britain’. [30] Despite the extreme hyperbole and efforts of the paper and of Members of Parliament, no criminal charges were brought, since no illegal deeds were proved. But it produced a scare reaction in parts of the gay movement, especially as CHE had been gratuitously dragged in by the newspaper.

Neither of the pedophile groups could say ‘do it’ as the gay liberation movement had done, because of the legal situation. Their most hopeful path lay in public education and in encouraging debate about the sexual issues involved. PIE led the way in this regard, engaging in polemics in various gay and non-gay journals, conducting questionnaires among its membership (about two hundred strong) and submitting evidence to the Criminal Law Revision Committee, which was investigating sexual offences. [31] PIE’s evidence, which advocated formal abolition of the age of consent while retaining non-criminal provisions to safeguard the interests of the child against violence, set the tone for its contribution. Although openly a grouping of men and women sexually attracted to children (and thus always under the threat of police investigation), the delicacy of its position dictated that its method was the classical liberal one of investigation and public debate. Significantly, the axes of the social taboo had shifted from homosexuality to conceptually disparate forms of sexual variation. For most homosexuals this was a massive relief, and little enthusiasm was demonstrated for new crusades on wider issues of sexuality. (pp. 225-227)

28. Sven Hansen and Jasper Jensen, The Little Red School-book, Stage 1, 1971, p. 103. See the ‘Appeal to Youth’ in Come Together, 8, published for the GLF Youth Rally, 28 August 1971.
29. See her speech to the CHE Morecambe Conference, quoted in Gay News, 21.
30. Sunday People, 25 May 1975. For the inevitable consequences of this type of unprincipled witchhunt, see South London Press, 30 May 1975: ‘Bricks hurled at “sex-ring” centre house’, describing an attack on one of the addresses named in the Sunday People article.
31. There is a brief note on PIE’s questionnaire in New Society, vol. 38, No. 736, 11 November 1976, p. 292 (‘Taboo Tabled’).

Jeffrey Weeks, Sexuality and its Discontents: Meanings, Myths & Modern Sexualities (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985).

Intergenerational sex and consent

If public sex constitutes one area of moral anxiety, another, greater, one, exists around intergenerational sex. Since at least the eighteenth century children’s sexuality has been conventionally defined as a taboo area, as childhood began to be more sharply demarcated as an age of innocence and purity to be guarded at all costs from adult corruption. Masturbation in particular became a major topic of moral anxiety, offering the curious spectacle of youthful sex being both denied and described, incited and suppressed. ‘Corruption of youth’ is an ancient charge, but it has developed a new resonance over the past couple of centuries. The real curiosity is that while the actuality is of largely adult male exploitation of young girls, often in and around the home, male homosexuals have frequently been seen as the chief corrupters, to the extent that in some rhetoric ‘homosexual’ and ‘child molesters’ are coequal terms. As late as the 1960s progressive texts on homosexuality were still preoccupied with demonstrating that homosexuals were not, by and large, interested in young people, and even in contemporary moral panics about assaults on children it still seems to be homosexual men who are investigated first. As Daniel Tsang has argued, ‘the age taboo is much more a proscription against gay behaviour than against heterosexual behaviour.’ [30] Not surprisingly, given this typical association, homosexuality and intergenerational sex have been intimately linked in the current crisis over sexuality.

Alfred Kinsey was already noting the political pay-off in child-sex panics in the late 1940s. In Britain in the early 1960s Mrs Mary Whitehouse launched her campaigns to clean up TV, the prototype of later evangelical campaigns, on the grounds that children were at risk, and this achieved a strong resonance. Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in Florida from 1976 was not accidentally called ‘Save Our Children, Inc.’. Since these pioneering efforts a series of moral panics have swept countries such as the USA, Canada, Britain and France, leading to police harassment of organisations, attacks on publications, arrests of prominent activists, show trials and imprisonments. [31] Each panic shows the typical profile, with the escalation through various stages of media and moral manipulation until the crisis is magically resolved by some symbolic action. The great ‘kiddie-porn’ panic in 1977 in the USA and Britain led to the enactment of legislation in some 35 American states and in Britain. The guardians of morality may have given up hope of changing adult behaviour, but they have made a sustained effort to protect our young, whether from promiscuous gays, lesbian parents or perverse pornographers. [32]

From the point of view of moral absolutism intergenerational sex poses no problem of interpretation. It is wrong because it breaches the innocence necessary for mature development. The English philosopher, Roger Scruton, suggested that we are disgusted by it ‘because we subscribe, in our hearts, to the value of innocence’. Prolonged innocence is the prerequisite to total surrender in adult love. Erotic love, he argues, arises from modesty, restraint and chastity. This means ‘we must not only foster those necessary virtues, but also silence those who teach the language which demeans them.’ [33] So ‘intolerance’ is not only understandable but virtually necessary—there are no liberal concessions here.

Liberals and radicals on the other hand have found it more difficult to confront the subject. It does not easily fit into the rhetoric of rights—whose rights, and how are they to be expressed: the child’s, the adult’s? Nor can it be dealt with straightforwardly by the idea of consent. Kinsey argued that in a sense this was a non issue: there was no reason, except our exaggerated fear of sexuality, why a child should be disturbed at seeing the genitalia of others, or at being played with, and it was more likely to be adult reactions that upset the child than the sexual activity itself. [34] This has been echoed by the advocates of intergenerational sex themselves. David Thorstad of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) argued that ‘if it feels good, and the boy wants it and enjoys it, then I fail to see why anyone besides the two persons involved should care.’ Tom O’Carroll, whose Paedophilia: The Radical Case is the most sustained advocacy of the subject, suggested that:

The usual mistake is to believe that sexual activity, especially for children, is so alarming and dangerous that participants need to have an absolute, total awareness of every conceivable ramification of taking part before they can be said to consent…there is no need whatever for a child to know ‘the consequences’ of engaging in harmless sex play, simply because it is exactly that: harmless. [35]

There are two powerful arguments against this. The first, put forward by many feminists, is that young people, especially young girls, do need protection from adult men in an exploitative and patriarchal society, whatever the utopian possibilities that might exist in a different society. The age of consent laws currently in operation may have degrees of absurdity about them (they vary from state to state, country to country, they differentially apply to girls and boys, and they are only selectively operated) but at least they provide a bottom line in the acceptance of appropriate behaviour. This suggests that the real debate should be about the appropriate minimum age for sex rather than doing away with the concept of consent altogether. [36] Secondly, there is the difficult and intricate problem of subjective meaning. The adult is fully aware of the sexual connotations of his actions because he (and it is usually he) lives in a world of heavily sexualised symbols and language. The young person does not. In a recent study of twenty-five boys engaged in homosexual paedophile relations the author, Theo Sandfort, found that ‘Potentially provocative acts which children make are not necessarily consciously intended to be sexual and are only interpreted by the older persons as having a sexual element.’ [37] This indicates an inherent and inevitable structural imbalance in awareness of the situation. Against this, it might be argued that it is only the exalted cultural emphasis we place on sex that makes this an issue. That is undoubtedly true, but it does not remove the fact of that ascribed importance. We cannot unilaterally escape the grid of meaning that envelops us.

This is tactily accepted by paedophile activists themselves who have found it necessary to adopt one or other (and sometimes both) of two types of legitimation. The first, the ‘Greek love’, legitimation basically argues for the pedagogic value of adult-child relations, between males. It suggests—relying on a mythologised version of ancient Greek practices—that in the passage from childhood dependence to adult responsibilities the guidance, sexual and moral, of a caring man is invaluable. This position is obviously paternalistic and is also often antihomosexual; for it is not the gay nature of the relationship that is stressed, but the age divide and the usefulness of the experience for later heterosexual adjustment. The second legitimation relies on the facts of childhood sexuality. O’Carroll carefully assesses the evidence for the existence of childhood sex to argue for the oppressiveness of its denial. [38] But of course an ‘is’ does not necessarily make an ‘ought’, nor does the acceptance of childhood sex play inevitably mean the toleration of adult-child relations.

It is difficult to confront the issue rationally because of the series of myths that shroud the topic. But all the available evidence suggests that the stereotypes of intergenerational sex obscure a complex reality. [39] The adult is usually seen as ‘a dirty old man’, typically ‘a stranger’ to the assaulted child, as ‘sick’ or an ‘inhuman monster’. Little of this seems to be true, at least of those we might describe as the political paedophile. He is scarcely an ‘old man’ (the membership of the English Paedophile Information Exchange, PIE, varied in age from 20 to over 60, with most clustered between 35 and 40); he is more likely to be a professional person than the average member of the population (only 14 per cent of PIE members were blue collar workers); he is more often than not a friend or relation of the child; and to outward appearances is not a ‘special type of person’ but an apparently healthy and ordinary member of the community. His chief distinguishing characteristic is an intense, but often highly affectionate and even excessively sentimental, regard for young people. [40]

The sexual involvement itself is typically seen as being an assault on extremely young, usually pre-pubertal, people. The members of PIE, which generally is preoccupied with relations with pre-pubertal children, seem chiefly interested in boys between 12 and 14, though heterosexual paedophiles tended to be interested in girls between 8 and 10. This is less startling than the stereotype of babies barely out of the cradle being assaulted but poses nevertheless difficult questions about where protection and care ends and exploitation begins. Most members of NAMBLA, on the other hand, which has attracted obloquy in the USA as great as PIE has attracted in Britain, have a quite different profile. They appear to be chiefly interested in boys between 14 and 19. As Tom Reeves, a prominent spokesman for man/boy love, has put it:

My own sexuality is as little concerned with children, however, as it is with women. It is self-consciously homosexual, but it is directed at boys at that time in their lives when they cease to be children yet refuse to be men. [41]

Self-identified ‘boy-lovers’ like Reeves scarcely fit into any conceivable picture of a ‘child molester’. They carefully distinguish their own practices from sex between men and girls which ‘seems to be a reprehensible form of power tripping as it has been reported by women’; and stress the beneficial aspects for adult and young partners of the sexual relationship.

When the official age of consent in France is 15 for boys and girls in heterosexual and homosexual relations (compared to 16 for girls in Britain, and 21 for male homosexuals), and when in the 1890s Krafft-Ebing fixed on 14 for the dividing line between sexually mature and immature individuals, [42] the fear that NAMBLA is attempting a corruption of young people seems excessive.

The young people themselves are typically seen as innocent victims. Certainly, many children are cruelly assaulted by adults, but in relations involving self-identified paedophiles or ‘boy lovers’ there seems to be no evidence of either cruelty or violence. Sandfort found that in his sample the boys overwhelmingly experienced their sexual activities as positive. The most common evaluative terms used were ‘nice’, ‘happy’, ‘free’, ‘safe’, ‘satisfied’, and even ‘proud’ and ‘strong’; and only minimally were negative terms such as ‘angry’, ‘sad’, ‘lonely’ used. Even when these negative terms were used, it was largely because of the secrecy often necessary and the knowledge of hostile norms and reactions, not because of the sexual contact itself. [43] There is strong evidence that the trauma of public exposure and of parental and police involvement is often greater than the trauma of the sex itself. Moreover, many adult-child relations are initiated by the young person himself. A young member of NAMBLA was asked ‘You can be desperate for sex at 13?’ He replied, ‘Oh yes’. [44] Force seems to be very rare in such relations, and there is little evidence amongst self-declared paedophiles or ‘boy lovers’ of conscious exploitation of young people.

All this suggests that intergenerational sex is not a unitary category. Brian Taylor has distinguished eight possible categories which pinpoints the existence of ‘paedophilias’ rather than a single ‘paedophilia’. There are the conventional distinctions between ‘paedophiles’ (generally those interested in prepubertal sex partners), ‘pederasts’ (those interested in boys) and ‘ephobophiles’ (those interested in adolescents). But distinctions can also be made on gender of the older person or the younger person and along lines of homosexuality and heterosexuality. This variety suggests we need to be equally discrete in our responses. [45] There are three continuums of behaviour and attitude which interweave haphazardly. Firstly, there is a continuum of beliefs and attitudes, from the actual violent assaulter at one end to the political paedophile at the other. These can not readily be put in the same class for approval or disapproval. Most people brought before the courts for child abuse are heterosexual men who usually view their girl victims as substitutes for real women. Most activists who court publicity (and risk imprisonment themselves, as happened to Tom O’Carroll of PIE in 1981) have adopted a political identity, which sometimes does not coincide with their actual sexual desires (both NAMBLA and PIE had members interested in older teenagers) but is built around an exaggerated respect for children. [46] It is not obvious that all people involved in intergenerational sex should be treated in the same way by the law or public opinion if intentions or desires are very distinct.

A second continuum is of sexual practices. Some researchers have found coitus rare. It seems that the great majority of heterosexual paedophilia consists of ‘sex play’, such as looking, showing and fondling, and much homosexual involvement seems to be similar. Tom O’Carroll has suggested that these sexual distinctions should be codified, so that intercourse would be prohibited before a certain minimum age of twelve. [47] But bisecting these nuances, problematical in themselves, are two other crucial distinctions, between boy partners and girl, and between heterosexual and homosexual relations. There is a strong case for arguing that it is not the sex act in itself which needs to be evaluated, but its context. It is difficult to avoid the justice of the feminist argument that in our culture it is going to be very difficult for a relationship between a heterosexual man and a young girl to be anything but exploitative and threatening, whatever the sexual activity. It is the power asymmetry that has effect. There is still a power imbalance between an adult man and a young boy but it does not carry the socio-sexual implications that a heterosexual relation inevitably does. Should these different types of relation carry the same condemnation?

The third continuum covers the age of the young people involved. There is obviously a qualitative difference between a 3-year-old partner and a 14-year-old and it is difficult to see how any sexual order could ever ignore this (even the PIE proposals, which first sparked off the panic about paedophile cradle snatching in Britain, actually proposed a set of protections for very young children). ‘Sex before eight, or it’s too late’, the reputed slogan of the American René Guyon Society, founded in 1962 to promote intergenerational sex, is not likely to inspire widespread support, because it imposes sex as an imperative just as now our moral guardians would impose innocence. There is a strong case for finding non-legal means of protecting young children, as Tom O’Carroll has suggested, because it is clear that the law has a damaging and stigmatising impact. [48] But protection of the very young from unwanted attentions will always be necessary. The difficult question is when does protection become stifling paternalism and ‘adult oppression’. Puberty is one obvious landmark, but the difficulty of simply adopting this as a dividing point is that physiological change does not necessarily coincide with social or subjective changes. It is here that it is inescapably necessary to shift focus, to explore the meanings of the sex play for the young people involved.

Kate Millett has powerfully underlined the difficulties of intergenerational sex when adult/child relations are irreducibly exploitative, and pointed to the problems of a paedophile movement which is arguing for the rights of adults. What is our freedom fight about? she asks. ‘Is it about the liberation of children or just having sex with them?’ [49] If a progressive sexual politics is fundamentally concerned with sexual self-determination then it becomes impossible to ignore the evolving self-awareness of the child. That means discouraging the unwelcome imposition of adult meanings and needs on the child, not simply because they are sexual but because they are external and adult. On the other hand, it does mean providing young people with full access to the means of sexual knowledge and protection as it becomes appropriate. There is no magic age for this ‘appropriateness’. Each young person will have their own rhythms, needs and time scale. But the starting point can only be the belief that sex in itself is not an evil or dirty experience. It is not sex that is dangerous but the social relations which shape it. In this context the idea of consent takes on a new meaning. There is a tension in consent theory between the political conservatism of most of its adherents, and the radical voluntarism implicit in it. 50 For the idea of consent ultimately challenges all authority in the name of free self-determination. Certain categories of people have always been deemed incapable of full consent or of refusing ‘consent’—women in marriage, certain children, especially girls, under a certain age, classes of women in rape cases. By extending the idea of consent beyond the narrow limits currently employed in minimum age or age of consent legislation, by making it a positive concept rather than simply a negatively protective or gender-dichotomised one, it may become possible to realize that radical potential again. That would transform the debate about intergenerational sex, shifting the focus away from sex in itself to the forms of power in which it is enmeshed, and the limits these inscribe for the free play of consent. (pp. 223-231)

29. See, for example, Daniel Tsang, ‘Struggling Against Racism’ in Tsang (ed.), The Age Taboo, pp. 161-2.
30. Ibid., p. 8. There are plentiful examples of the automatic association made between male homosexuality and child molesting. In the year I write this, 1983, there has been a rich crop of them in Britain, with the low point being reached in the Brighton rape case, August 1983, where a deplorable assault on a young boy led to a rapacious press attack on the local gay community and legal action against members of the Paedophile Information Exchange, who were in no way connected with the case. The moral panic had found its victims; calm was restored; but the three men who actually assaulted the child were never found.
31. Kinsey et al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 117, note 16; Mary Whitehouse, Cleaning-up TV. From Protest to Participation, London, Blandford Press, 1967, and A Most Dangerous Woman?, Tring, Herts, Lion Publishing, 1982; Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story. For general commentaries on events see the articles in Tsang, The Age Taboo; Altman, The Homosexualization of America, pp. 198ff; Mitzel, The Boston Sex Scandal, Boston, Glad Day Books, 1980; Tom O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, London, Peter Owen, 1980, ch. 12; Ken Plummer, ‘Images of Paedophilia’ in M. Cook and G.D. Wilson (eds), Love and Attraction: An International Conference, Oxford, Pergamon, 1979; Major events included the Revere ‘Sex Scandal’ in Boston, the raid on Body Politic following its publication of the article ‘Men Loving Boys Loving Men’ in Dec. 1977; the ‘kiddie porn’ panic of 1977; the trial of Tom O’Carroll and others in England for conspiracy to corrupt public morals in 1981.
32. Pat Califia, ‘The Age of Consent; An Issue and its Effects on the Gay Movement’, The Advocate, 30 October 1980, p. 17. See also Florence Rush, ‘Child Pornography’ in Lederer (ed.), Take Back the Night, pp. 71-81; Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission, Sexual Exploitation of Children, Chicago, The Commission, 1980 (see further references in Tsang, op. cit., pp. 169-70); and on similar events in Britain Whitehouse, A Most Dangerous Woman?, ch. 13, ‘Kiddie Porn’, pp. 146ff.
33. Roger Scruton, The Times (London), 13 September 1983.
34. Kinsey et al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, p. 121.
35. Interview by Guy Hocquenghem with David Thorstad in Semiotext(e) Special: Large Type Series: Loving Boys, Summer 1980, p. 34; Tom O’Carroll, Paedophilia, p. 153.
36. See, for example, ‘“Lesbians Rising” Editors Speak Out’ in Tsang, op. cit., pp. 125-32; Stevi Jackson, Childhood and Sexuality, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1982, ch. 9. See also, Elizabeth Wilson’s comments on the debate about proposals to lower the age of consent in England in What is to be Done about Violence against Women? p. 205.
37. Theo Sandfort, The Sexual Aspects of Paedophile Relations: The Experience of Twenty-Five Boys, Amsterdam, Pan/Spartacus, 1982, p. 81.
38. Kenneth Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress’ in Brian Taylor (ed.), Perspectives on Paedophilia. See J.Z. Eglinton, Greek Love, London, Neville Spearman, 1971 for a classic statement of the first legitimation, and O’Carroll, Paedophilia, especially chs 2 and 5 for the second.
39. For an overview of these stereotypes (and the facts which rebut them) to which I am very much indebted, see Plummer, ‘Images of Paedophilia’.
40. Glenn D. Wilson and David N. Cox, The Child-Lovers. A Study of Paedophiles in Society, London and Boston, Peter Owen, 1983; Peter Righton, ch. 2: ‘The Adult’ in Taylor, Perspectives in Paedophilia; Parker Rossman, Sexual Experiences between Men and Boys, London, Maurice Temple Smith, 1976.
41. Tom Reeves, ‘Loving Boys’ in Tsang, op. cit., p. 27; the age range given on p. 29. On PIE members’ interests see Cox and Wilson, op. cit., ch. II.
42. Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis, p. 552: ‘By violation of sexually immature individuals, the jurist understands all the possible immoral acts with persons under fourteen years of age that are not comprehended in the term “rape”.’
43. On paedophilia as abuse see Florence Rush, The Best Kept Secret: Sexual Abuse of Children, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall, 1980; Robert L. Geiser, Hidden Victims: The Sexual Abuse of Children, Boston, Beacon Press, 1979. For alternative opinions: Sandford, op. cit., pp. 49ff; cf. Morris Fraser, ch. 3, ‘The Child’ and Graham E. Powell and A.J. Chalkley, ch. 4, ‘The Effects of paedophile attention on the child’ in Taylor (ed.), Perspectives on Paedophilia.
44. See interview with the then 15-year-old Mark Moffat in Semiotext(e), loc. cit, p. 10; cf. Tom Reeves’s account of being cruised by two 14-year-olds in Tsang, op. cit., p. 30; and O’Carroll, ch. 4, ‘Paedophilia in Action’ in Paedophilia.
45. Taylor (ed.), Perspectives on Paedophilia, ‘Introduction’, p. xiii. In the rest of the discussion I shall, however use the term ‘paedophile’ to cover all categories as this is the phrase adopted most widely as a political description: ‘Boy lover’ is specific, but exclusive.
46. On offences see P.H. Gebhard, J.H. Gagnon, W.B. Pomeroy and C.V. Christenson, Sex Offenders, New York, Harper & Row, 1965; J. Gagnon, ‘Female child victims of sex offences’, Social Problems, no. 13, 1965, pp. 116-92. On identity questions see Plummer, ‘The paedophile’s progress’.
47. O’Carroll, Paedophilia, pp. 120, 118.
48. Ibid., ch. 6, ‘Towards more Sensible Laws’, which examines various proposals, from Israel to Holland, for minimising the harmful intervention of the law; compare Speijer Committee, The Speijer Report, advice to the Netherlands Council of Health concerning homosexual relations with minors, English Translation, London, Sexual Law Reform Society, n.d.
49. Interview with Kate Millett by Mark Blasius in Semiotext(e) Special, loc. cit, p. 38 (also printed in Tsang (ed.), op. cit.).
50. Carole Pateman, ‘Women and Consent’, Political Theory, vol. 8, no. 2, May 1980, pp. 149-68.

Jeffrey Weeks, Sexuality, third edition (London & New York: Routledge, 2010; first edition 1986)

4. The limits of consent: paedophilia
The power relations that sex can involve are most dramatically illustrated by the question of sex between the generations, or paedophilia. Few topics arouse such fear and anxiety in contemporary societies. The ‘paedophile’ has become a symbol of predatory evil, a synonym indeed not only for child abuser but also in many cases for child abductor and even murderer. The peculiar horror invoked by the abuse of innocence, by the imposition of adult desires on the vulnerable, powerless child, speaks for a culture that is profoundly anxious about the boundaries and differences between adults and children, and has become increasingly concerned with protecting the young as long as possible. Yet this has not always been the case.

In the late nineteenth century paedophilia was lauded by some for its pedagogic possibilities – the so-called Greek love justification: in the passage from childhood dependence to adult responsibility, guidance, sexual and moral, of a caring man can be invaluable, it was argued. It was further legitimated in the twentieth century by the supposed facts of childhood sexuality: sexology itself has revealed the wide extent of childhood sexual potentiality including the existence of infantile masturbation. If something is so natural, and omnipresent, should it be as rigidly controlled as childhood sexuality is today? And again, if it is natural, then surely it cannot be harmful even if it takes place with adults. As Tom O’Carroll, a militant supporter of inter-generational sex (who ended up in prison for his pains) wrote ‘. . . there is no need whatever for a child to know “the consequences” of engaging in harmless sex play, simply because it is exactly that: harmless’. [6]

For the vast majority of the population this is not harmless play, it is simply child sex abuse. It involves powerful adults using their experience and wiles to gain satisfaction from exploiting children. The growing sensitivity to abuse is the result of long campaigns, often led in Western countries by feminists, or by campaigners who experienced abuse themselves. This has become a global phenomenon, with international campaigns to end the traffic in children and the worst abuses of sex tourism. This without doubt marks an advance in society’s awareness of the reality of exploitation, and the power of adults over children. Yet there is something rather odd in the ways in which various late modern societies, from Australia to Europe to the USA, have focused on the figure of the anonymous paedophile rather than on the hard reality that most abuse of children is carried out by a close relative or family friend, or perhaps by a priest, as a wave of scandals from the UK and Ireland to Australia and the USA has recently underscored. [7]

Despite, or perhaps because of, the emotiveness of the issue, it is important to be as rational and dispassionate as possible in looking at what is involved. Age is an ambiguous marker. Is there an ideal age at which consent becomes free, rather than abusive, and a relationship becomes consensual, rather than coercive? Certainly the vast majority of us could agree that it should not be 3 or 8, but what about 12 or 14 or 15 which are the ages of consent in various European countries? Laws vary enormously, and sometimes affect boys and girls quite differently. Brian Taylor has pointed to the existence of eight possible subcategories of inter-generational sex, depending on the age of those involved, the distinction of gender, the nature of the sexual proclivity, and the interaction of all three (Taylor 1981). This suggests that there are paedophilias, not a single paedophilia, and the social response should be sensitive to these distinctions, even as it focuses rightly on protecting the young and vulnerable. (pp. 95-97)

6 O’Carroll (1980: 153). For the various legitimations offered, see the discussion in Plummer (1981).
7 There is an excellent debate on the implications of the early twenty-first century anxiety about paedophilia in Loseke et al. (2003). For feminist perspectives, see Reavey and Warner (2003).

Jeffrey Weeks, The World We Have Won: The Remaking of Erotic and Intimate Life (London & New York: Routledge, 2007)

‘Through stories – of desire and love, of hope and mundane reality, of excitement and disappointment – told to willing listeners in communities of meaning, people imagine and reimagine who and what they are, what they want to become (Plummer 1995 [Plummer, K. (1995) Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds, London: Routledge], 2003 [Plummer, K. (2003) Intimate Citizenship: Private Decisions and Public Dialogues, Seattle: University of Washington Press]). Of course, all this does not mean that anything goes. It is noticeable that as some barriers to speaking are removed or redefined new ones are erected. Paedophilia began to speak its name in the 1970s, but has been redefined as child abuse and trebly execrated in the 2000s.’ (p. 10)

‘The age of consent may be an ambiguous barrier for young people themselves but it is a fraught one for many adults, usually men. The age of consent itself is constructed in terms of protection of young girls, and it assumes male agency (Waites 2005a [Waites, M. (2005a) The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan]). But the growing awareness of the extent of child sex abuse poses wider questions about the power relations between adults and children (see Reavey and Warner 2003 [Reavey, P. and Warner, S. (eds) (2003) New Feminist Stories of Child Sexual Abuse: Sexual Scripts and Dangerous Dialogues, London and New York, Routledge]; O’Connel Davidson 2005 [O’Connell Davidson, J. (2005) Children in the Global Sex Trade, Cambridge: Polity Press]). The government has responded to widespread anxieties about breach of trust on the part of adults by attempting to write into law notions of protection that should operate in certain types of adult child relationships, such as teaching (Bainham and Brooks-Gordon 2004 [‘Reforming the Law on Sexual offences’, in Brooks-Gordon, B., Gelsthorpe, L., Johnson, M. and Bainham, A. (eds) (2004) Sexuality Repositioned: Diversity and the Law, Oxford, and Portland, OR: Hart Publishing, pp. 291-296]; Epstein et al. 2004 [Epstein, D., Johnson, R. and Steinberg. D.L. (2004) ‘Thrice Told Tales: Modernising Sexualities in the Age of Consent’ in Steinberg, D.L. and Johnson, R. (eds) (2004) Blairism and the War of Persuasion: Labour’s Passive Revolution, London: Lawrence & Wishart, pp. 96-113). These have the habit of all attempts at redrawing boundaries of becoming fiery touchstone issues, as the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Ruth Kelly, found out in early 2006. The discovery by the press that there were teachers in schools who had previously been accused of abusing children threatened to engulf her and end her career, though she could realistically have had very little knowledge of how her civil servants operated the register of offenders (Doward 2006a:8-9; [Doward, J. (2006a), ‘Sex Scandal that Engulfed Kelly’, Observer, 15 January, pp. 8-9] see also Aaronovitch 2006: 21) [Aaronovitch, D. (2006), ‘The Paedophile Panic: Why We Have Reached Half Way to Bonkers Island’, The Times, 12 January, 21] Behaviours which were once regarded as natural and even healthy (childhood nudity, for example) have become fraught with menace, as parents and carers have discovered when their holiday photographs of naked children playing on the beach have been processed, and police summoned.

Many of these anxieties had been brought to the surface following the murder of the 8-year-old Sarah Payne in summer 2000. The News of the World’s campaign, in response to this, of naming and shaming alleged paedophiles, in turn stimulated a local vigilante campaign led by mothers on the Paulsgrove housing estate in Hampshire (Bell 2003: 108-28 [Bell, V. (2003), ‘The Vigilantt(e) Parent and the Paedophile: The News of the World Campaign 2000 and the Contemporary Governmentality of Child Sex Abuse’’, in Reavey and Warner 2003, pp. 108-28]). This raised in turn a number of crucial issues: the role of the press in stirring up moral panic, the role of class in configuring the response to the working-class mothers’ action, the role of women in confronting an alleged lack of communication from the state, and the role of the state itself in responding to acute anxiety, ignorance and fear. But as important was the shift in the perception of sexual risk and the management of risk that was taking place. As Rose (1999: 206) [Rose, N. (1999), Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (2nd edn), London and New York: Free Associations Books] points out, outrage at the neglect of abuse emerged most strongly from the very group in society that was once deemed most likely to abuse children – the working class itself. And in practice, of course, the vast majority of cases of abuse take place within families or are by someone known to the child. Yet the anger focused on the dangerous stranger, the paedophile, bearer of a particular psychopathology and history, completely detached from the family. A similar process has been at work in relation to so-called paedophile priests in the Roman Catholic Church. A scandal that the church had long hidden, it raised crucial questions about the religious calling, church discipline, priestly celibacy and simple trust. Yet in the church’s eyes it became less about abuse than about Catholic attitudes towards homosexuality, gay priests and the like. When in 2006 a new Pope sought to ban gays from taking up the priesthood, it was widely seen as a response to the paedophile scandal (Loseka 2003: 13 [‘”We hold these Truths to be Self-evident”: Problems in Pondering the Paedophile Priest problem’, Sexualities 6 (1), February, 6-14]). Anxiety has become individualized, thus expunging the most dangerous sites for the production of abuse, the home, the local community, and it appears the Catholic church, from the story. (pp. 153-154)

The Scotsman
, March 25th, 1988
Alastair Dalton, ‘Brand loses job fight over views on child sex’

THE controversial academic Chris Brand, sacked by Edinburgh University for promoting his views on paedophilia, yesterday lost his appeal against his dismissal.

The independent QC asked by the university to hear the appeal agreed that the psychology lecturer’s behaviour had amounted to gross misconduct and ruled that his dismissal could not be said to have been improper or inappropriate.

Mr Brand, 54, last night described the university’s actions as “treacherous”, but refused to say whether he planned to take his case to an industrial tribunal or the courts.

He was dismissed for gross misconduct last August by the university principal, Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland, after he published on the Internet his view that consensual sex between adults and children was acceptable as long as the child was intelligent.

Mr Brand had previously caused a storm after his 1996 book, The g Factor, claimed there was genetic proof black people had lower IQs than white people. It prompted students to disrupt his lectures and the book was withdrawn by the publisher. The university found no grounds for disciplinary action against him then, although the principal described his views as “obnoxious”.

Gordon Coutts, QC, who conducted Mr Brand’s two-day appeal hearing last week, stated : “The appeal fails. I reject all the revised amended grounds of appeal. I find that the appeal does not raise any question of academic freedom.”

He added: “In pursuit of his objectives, he (Mr Brand) set out to promote controversy. In that he succeeded but cannot now complain if the effect of his behaviour has been to render his continued employment by the university impossible.

“The principal of the university did not dismiss him for views he held; he was dismissed because it was established that his behaviour made it impossible for him to work within a university department.”
Sir Stewart said yesterday he was “naturally content” that “an independent legal expert has endorsed in the clearest possible terms” the findings of the university’s disciplinary tribunal and his subsequent decision to sack Mr Brand.

He said: “I would repeat that it is for aspects of his conduct, not his opinions, that Mr Brand has been dismissed. Mr Brand has again, in recent months, been reported in the press as alleging this process was an attack on academic freedom, though this was not argued by his counsel at the appeal hearing. It has not and never has been such an attack, as independently confirmed by the appeal decision.

“Neither I nor my colleagues at this university have sought in any way to censor Mr Brand’s researched conclusions, on ethnic background and intelligence, for example.

“But it was made clear to him, well before he publicised views on paedophilia, that he also had responsibilities to act with care, whether in a departmental, teaching or wider situation – advice which he apparently chose to ignore.”

Mr Brand condemned the university. He said: “Their behaviour has been shameful.

They have been treacherous to their own academic staff and a disgrace to academia.”

Mr Brand, a former prison service psychologist, had stated on his web site: “Academic studies and my own experience as a choirboy suggest that non-violent paedophilia with a consenting partner over 12 does no harm so long as the paedophiles and their partners are of above-average intelligence and educational level.”

He was suspended in November 1996 and a three-member disciplinary tribunal was appointed the following April to consider the charges against him.

The tribunal ruled that Mr Brand had compromised his position, and his teaching had fallen below the standards expected of him. It further ruled that the university’s reputation had not been damaged by Mr Brand’s publications on the Internet, but a disciplinary offence had been committed.

Mr Brand, a London-born father of three, had been at Edinburgh University since 1970.

Last night Nicola Owen, convener of the Anti-Nazi League Society at Edinburgh University, said: “It’s wonderful news.

It vindicates all the students who fought to get Mr Brand removed from the university.”

Betrayal of Youth (1986) – including the contributions of Middleton, Owens, Faust, Tatchell

[WARNING: some may find some of the material below distressing]

An extremely rare publication which is of central importance to the study of the Paedophile Information Exchange, its members, ideologies and activities, is Warren Middleton (ed), The Betrayal of Youth: Radical Perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex, and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People (London: CL Publications, 1986). A copy can be found in the British Library, and it can also be found in the Bishopsgate Library, National Library of Wales, National Library of Scotland, and the libraries in Oxford and Cambridge. Here I reproduce sections of the book so that more people can see this for themselves. In particular, it includes most of one of the long chapters by Warren Middleton, an interview between Tuppy Owens and Tom O’Carroll, a piece by Father Michael Ingram, the somewhat notorious chapter by Peter Tatchell, and a chapter by Roger Moody on how to make paedophilia more ‘acceptable’.

Details of the contributors can be found at the bottom of this post. Middleton (aka John Parratt), was jailed in 2011, alongside Steven Adrian Smith, Barry Cutler, John Morrison and Leo Adamson – for offences relating to child abuse images. Michael Ingram was a serial abuser of boys who was finally convicted in 2000, but took his own life before being sentenced. Peter Tatchell is well-known, but his past views on sex with children and association with some involved with PIE have been heavily criticised (see here and here – and here is an important series of letters and articles in The Guardian following Tatchell’s response to a critical review of Joseph Geraci (ed), Dares to Speak: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Boy-Love (New York: Gay Men’s Press, 1997) by Ros Coward). Tatchell has given his support to a national inquiry into organised abuse in response to queries on this issue; whilst some have implored me to remove his name, for now it will stay though one should not ignore his earlier statements.

Roger Moody was a ‘paedophile activist’ who was author of Indecent Assault (London. Peace News, 1980), an account of his trial and acquittal at the Old Bailey in March 1979, and who also strongly attacked Geoffrey Dickens for his anti-paedophile work – see more on Moody here. John Lindsay was a long term Socialist Workers Party and also gay rights activist, who urged more integration of the two movements. Here is a recent interview with Tuppy Owens. Some more information on Australian feminist and acolyte of Germaine Greer (about whose apologia for child abuse I posted here), Beatrice Faust, can be found here; she was awarded the Australian centenary medal in 2001 for ‘service to the community through women’s issues’. I am also including here an article she wrote on child sexuality and ages of consent in the Netherlands. Beatrice Faust – Child Sexuality and Age of Consent Laws – The Netherlands Model

Tom O’Carroll, chair of PIE from 1977 to 1979, is well-known. He was a regular contributor to various PIE publications (see here, here and here) and author of Paedophilia: The Radical Case, and has been imprisoned three times, first for two years in 1981 on the charge of ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’ based upon the contact ads section of Magpie, then to nine months in 2002 on grounds of importing indecent pictures of naked children, though this sentence was overturned on appeal, then again for two-and-a-half years in 2006 for possession of a huge range of images of abuse, together with retired Anglican minister Michael John De Clare Studdert.

My earlier post on PIE and the Home Office clarifies how Smith (also known as Steven Freeman) essentially ran the organisation from the Home Office itself. He fled the country for the Netherlands soon after writing this article, as detailed below, and was eventually jailed in 1991, and then more recently was given an indeterminate sentence in 2011 after being convicted of producing drawings of children being raped (‘Ex-paedophile group leader Freeman jailed over child rape drawings’, BBC News, July 15th, 2011).

Timothy d’Arch Smith was the author of Love in Earnest: Some Notes on the Lives and Writings of English ‘Uranian’ poets from 1889 to 1930 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), about a group of poets devoted to the issue of man-boy love. A three volume neo-Hellenic apologia was published by Boston aesthete Arthur Lyon Raile (Edward Perry Warren), A Defense of Uranian Love (London: Cayme Press, 1928-30), which can be read online here. A further book on the Uranians entitled Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater And Wilde (2006) can be read online here. Middleton, as can be seen below, specifically compares them and their offshoot, the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, founded in July 1914, with PIE. Recently two anthologies of Uranian poetry entitled Lad’s Love have been published, edited by Kaylor.

Do note the list of acknowledgements, not least to Nettie Pollard, who was NCCL’s Gay and Lesbian Officer and also a PIE member herself (#70), who invited Tom O’Carroll to sit on NCCL’s gay rights committee; the Sunday People wrote a piece on Pollard in March. Former NCCL officials Patricia Hewitt, Harriet Harman (Labour Deputy Leader) and Jack Dromey still need to answer questions about their relationship with Pollard. Pollard is also one of the leading acknowledgments in Moody’s Indecent Assault, and also in Tom O’Carroll’s Paedophilia: The Radical Case (London: Owen, 1980).

Here and here I have posted key chapters from an earlier important PIE-related publication, Brian Taylor (ed), Perspectives on Paedophilia (London: Batsford Academic and Educational Ltd, 1981). Later I will post material from another volume, Mark Cook and Glenn Wilson (eds), Love and Attraction: An International Conference (Oxford: Pergamon, 1979), which came out of the notorious conference in 1977 at Swansea.

I am looking for someone who has access to the third major PIE journal, Minor Problems who may be able to copy some of this – please let me know if you can help.




Contents 1

Contents 2

Introduction 1

Introduction 2

Introduction 3

Owens-O'Carroll 1

Owens-O'Carroll 2

Owens-O'Carroll 3

Owens-O'Carroll 4

Ingram 1

Ingram 2

Ingram 3

Faust 1

Faust 2

Faust 3

Faust 4

Faust 5

Faust 6

































[continuing in part]
…taken from the hands of the police and ordinary courts and entrusted to the hands of sympathetic trained counsellors who could conduct investigations in a more relaxed atmosphere, amid pleasant, informal surroundings. In cases where the child freely participated in sexual activities, or where he/she made the first sexual approach, both the child and the child’s guardians (where incest is not involved) should be allowed an important say as to whether prosecution should go ahead. When prosecution is recommended, the child should, at all costs, be kept out of conventional court hearings – if these are absolutely necessary – while the strongest possible measures are taken to ensure the defendant’s position is not compromised in the process. This would also have the effect of substantially reducing the number of paedophiles who plead guilty simply to protect their young friends from the trauma of court appearances.

7. In the event of a separate category of ‘sex offences’ being retained, then the Home Office and prison governors must take extra steps to ensure the safety of such prisoners from assaults by other inmates. Any abuses by prisoners should be automatically recorded, and those responsible made liable to loss of privileges, loss of remission, and, in more serious cases, prosecution. Prison officers should not be allowed to inform inmates what any particular prisoner has been convicted for, and failure to comply with this rule should result in disciplinary proceedings, or dismissal.

8. All defendants in court cases, whether sex is involved or not, should be protected from ‘trial by the press’. We think, therefore, that names and addresses of the accused should, by law, be kept out of the news media until such time, at least, as a verdict has been announced. [end p. 178]

Section on ‘Long Term’, pp. 179-180

Notes and References, pp. 181-187

Appendix 1
Steven A. Smith, ‘PIE: From 1980 until its Demise in 1985’, pp. 215-245

The name of PIE has cropped up several times in this collection. Since the group had, in its time, been so thoroughly misunderstood and misrepresented, it was deemed only fair to allow Steve Smith, its last chairperson, an opportunity to redress the balance. Accordingly, he now takes up the story from where Tom O’Carroll left off. –ed.

Questions of Priority

It seemed to me, when I succeeded O’Carroll as chairperson in 1979, that the most sensible order of business for PIE was firstly to regulate its internal affairs (MAGPIE [1] was appearing very erratically – partly my own fault – and members were receiving nothing else of value from the group); secondly to begin an energetic recruitment drive to replenish our depleted executive committee; thirdly to formulate collectively a coherent body of policies on key issues; and fourthly to tackle our campaigning objectives as a group, rather than as one or two individuals speaking on behalf of the group. More than simply addressing an occasional CHE branch, student gaysoc or academic conference, what I wanted to see was PIE producing a manifesto on video for the widest possible circulation (as GYM had done), or trying for ‘community access’ slots on TV and local radio, or producing posters and broadsheets aimed at the public rather than potential members, or even working in concert with the NUSS (the now-defunct National Union of School Students) to redress the steady flow of anti-paedophile propaganda which the police were imparting to schools all over the UK.

PIE had always felt a sense of kinship (not often reciprocated) with the gay movement, and a firm commitment towards autonomous youth liberation (children’s rights), but I wanted to see develop a far closer interaction – on practical as well as philosophical levels – between PIE and the various paedophile groups in Europe and the States. I felt we should lend considerable effort to the formation of an international alliance along similar lines to the International Gay Association (this was before we discovered how bureaucratic the IGA was in practice). Lastly, with the abandonment of PIE’s Contact Page under the menace of further prosecutions, the EC felt very keenly that members still needed something from PIE in the way of social support; something beyond the ad hoc counselling which many committee members undertook on a one-to-one basis. If British law prevented paedophiles from writing directly to one another through a simple small ad service, then some alternative had to be found which would abrogate the profound isolation which had driven them to the desperate resort of joining PIE in the first place. We began to look afresh at the establishment of local groups, which PIE had attempted in earlier years without much success.

In the event, PIE failed to draw onto its committee the kind of radicalised, hard-working people that were needed, and not one of the above objectives was realised. Year by year, PIE had sunk deeper into a state of collective torpor, grimly determined to survive, if only in catatonic immobility. So, we failed to attract into PIE useful paedophiles who were commited [sic] both to political action and to the development of a mutual support framework – this was due in part to PIE’s consummately negative image in all quarters (the radical leader was quite as easily duped by the press stories about us as anyone else, judging from the strange impressions of PIE that had reached our ears), but due also to obstruction and non co-operation wherever we sought wider publicity for the group’s address. Many gay and alternative journals must share the blame for PIE’s then continued parlous, debilitated condition. I’m convinced there are still many thousands of paedophiles in the UK alone who are ignorant of PIE having ever existed, and I know for certain there are many others who saw the various ‘exposés’ and shock reports about us, but were thwarted in their efforts to find us.

Perspectives on Pearl Harbour

A former treasurer, on resigning from the EC, put it to me (though not quite in these terms) that PIE’s reputation across the board had become so desperately negative that the groups’ mere existence could only harm the paedophile cause, whatever we tried to do about it. We were a pariah among alternative movements, evil incarnate to society at large, and by continuing to exist so doggedly in the face of all opprobrium, PIE was doing for British paedophiles what AIDS was doing for the gay community. A harsh judgement, I feel. If AIDS had not existed the Moral Majority would’ve had to invent it. If PIE had not existed, it would have been necessary for the NEWS OF THE WORLD to invent us. And in one sense it’s true to say that the gutter press did invent PIE – or at least, the image of PIE which had been in general coinage since 1977; that of a secretive international ‘cult’, probably with underworld connections, certainly with influence in ‘high quarters’; a porn-producing syndicate of callous men intent upon nothing but their own sexual gratification. But if PIE’s early strategy had been different, how different would its public image have been?

Several times the idea of folding PIE and replacing it with a new paedophile grouping was mooted on committee, but we’d never have successfully jettisoned PIE’s reputation by the simple expedient of a name-change, and even a substantially different alignment would not for long have escaped the vitriolic attention PIE had enjoyed. This rose by any other name would have smelled no sweeter. There was nothing endemic in PIE itself which another broad-based group could have avoided and thus somehow bridged the ‘credibility gap’. NAMBLA in the US, for example, has placed its emphasis exclusively on gay paederasty (men attracted to teenage boys and youths), thus neatly sidestepping the two most controversial planks of PIE’s platform – heterosexual and pre-teen paedophile relationships. Notwithstanding this, NAMBLA has been attacked, boycotted and obstructed every bit as much as PIE had been by the media, women’s groups, sections of the gay scene, and has come in for just the same intimidation and harassment from the authorities. So much for tactical compromise. PIE’s trajectory into the public eye in 1977 can be compared to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, after which Admiral Yamamoto observed: “I fear that all we have done is to waken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”. Doubtless, many paedophiles wish we’d let this particular giant sleep on, but neither they nor children can be liberated from his tyranny without at least waking him in the process.

The conflicting demands of our campaigning and befriending objectives from the start presented a fundamental dichotomy in PIE. What for years we viewed as one of PIE’s greatest strengths may in truth have been its greatest weakness, or at least its greatest liability; our acceptance into the group and onto its Executive Committee of paedophiles, whatever their attitudes, abilities or political persuasion (with the exception of the far Right, of course). By straining to be all things to all paedophiles I doubt that we fully satisfied any, and we certainly alienated a few. There is a very powerful argument which runs thus: that the accommodation of a passive, inert membership consumes so much of the energies of a small group’s activist core that the raison d’être of the group is lost in a sea of ‘club-shit’. In other words, committee devoted so much of its time and attention to the routine of organisation and providing reading material and other services for consumption by the Moloch that vital campaigning work was neglected. After six years hard labour on the PIE committee I can only say that this was absolutely true.

Probably the only way ahead for paedophilia in the UK will be the emergence of two distinct groupings – though working in concert – attending to these differing needs. I for one did not wish to see the majority of paedophiles abandoned while the few activists diverted their attentions elsewhere, as some would have had us do, but equally I recognised that our political momentum had been retarded by a plague of part-time paedophiles – those who wanted to know what was going on without getting involved any deeper; who wanted to see changes made but not to help bring them about. PIE’s committee did not comprise many true activists anyway – it never did – so it alone did not have the capacity to diverge, and the very few paedophile activists who could be identified outside the group showed no interest in helping the metamorphosis come about.

Perhaps PIE’s mistake was in tackling non-paedophile prejudice in the first place? Perhaps instead we should have operated under the most stringent security precautions as a kind of Masonic network through which paedophiles might have contacted one another in safety? I’ve heard this view from outsiders. I don’t think that locking oneself in the closet would have been a terribly progressive move; by its nature such a network would have benefited only a tiny minority of those ‘in the know’, and the outside world would have been vindicated in its suspicions about us if we had behaved so furtively and were so indifferent to public opinion and the political imperative of children’s liberation.

The most bizarre misconception about PIE was held by a guy who later joined the committee for a short while – Lee Edwards. He’d visualised PIE being as affluent and neatly-organised as the Mormon Church, with smoked glass offices in the City of London and a full-time secretariat. He was, let’s say, a shade disillusioned by the reality. PIE did actually have an office in Westminster only a smirk away from the desk of the Home Secretary, but more of that later. The group’s silence in recent years had done nothing to dispel the illusions of people – friend and foe – about us, but then Pie itself had been undergoing an identity crisis of sorts, uncertain about which direction it should be taking. But one thing is quite certain – if we were none of the things people expected us to be, we were certainly none of the things the press had claimed us to be in their haste to deceive the British public.

Loaves and Fishes

I found PIE in 1978 entirely by accident through a classified ad in TIME OUT magazine. Many others came to us through a regular listing in GAY NEWS. However, both sources of new blood had been closed off long before the trial. [3] Occasionally, we would discover a listing in some unexpected place, inevitably giving an old address, but in general PIE was unable to get a listing in any gay or alternative paper in the UK. After the trial we attempted to retrieve this situation by a general approach to dozens of such papers here or abroad, asking for either free listings or concessionary advertising rates. A special appeal was made to the membership for donations to fund this advertising drive. MANCUNIAN GAY was the only paper in the UK willing to help us. Abroad, our ad was accepted without qualm by THE BODY POLITIC (Toronto) and GAY COMMUNITY NEWS (Boston) – both excellent gay papers whose unequivocally supportive stance on paedophilia put the faint-hearted GAY NEWS to shame – also by REVOLT (Sweden), CSC NUSLETER (California) and several others. But where we needed members most of all, where members were potentially of most value to the group, here in the UK, the drive got us nowhere. TIME OUT kept our hopes up for several months with repeated promises of a listing, but finally backed out with the feeble excuse that, as PIE wasn’t strictly a gay group, it was inappropriate to include us in a gay listings column. The only option left to us – a rather desperate one – was to litter PIE’s address around the streets by means of a sticker campaign, and this is what we did.

The sticker featured the silhouette of a standing child embracing a seated adult encircled by our name and address. We decided on this low-key format, foregoing bold and provocative slogans, as the object was simply to attract new members, not to outrage every parent that saw them. Even so, we were politely requested by one (prospective) London MP to desist planting them in his constituency (they had been discovered rather close to schools, you know!). Well, the campaign brought us just a handful of new people – too few members had been planting the stickers on a regular basis for fear of being caught red-handed and beaten up; those that were planted were being far too eagerly torn down; and worst of all one committee member made the terrible gaffe of not renewing the postal address on the sticker, so that later mail was never redirected to us at all. Perhaps the act of planting stickers, like writing political graffiti, is little more than a satisfying gesture of defiance for the individual, but I think we made a mistake in not concentrating our efforts on a far smaller area – probably London itself – and perhaps, if there had been a next time, we should have gone for those bold, provocative slogans.

There were a number of projects in various stages of completion during this period – none of which had any significance to non-paedophiles. The PIE Press Service was revived, making available once more all PIE’s early material (UNDERSTANDING PAEDOPHILIA and CHILDHOOD RIGHTS, for example) together with items like Tom’s book PAEDOPHILA: THE RADICAL CASE, [4] which PIE subsidised to its members; the early US boylove magazine BETTER LIFE; and the celebrated BODY POLITIC article ‘Men Loving Boys Loving Men’ [5] (which has been subjected to not one, but two trials of its own). We owe thanks to Julian Meldrum of the Hall Carpenter Archives for supplying us with much early PIE material. So many important documents were lost whenever Scotland Yard descended on the homes of committee members that arrangements were made with the Brongersma and Bernard Foundations in Holland to deposit copies with them for safe keeping.

A reading list of paedophile fiction was added to the press service, complied by Lewis Grey, David Joy and Leo Adamson, and later a non-fiction list condensed by Tom O’Carroll from the copious bibliography of his book. Work was also begun on a film guide and on a survival guide for paedophiles in the UK.

A growing number of our members were captives in US prisons. Coping with the special needs of these people prompted us to set up a prisoner support scheme which, under Peter Bremner and later Tony Zalewski, found correspondents for these prisoners and sought sponsors to cover the expenses of their membership, mailing them recommended books and items from the press service. It hardly needs saying that our attempts to operate the scheme with inmates of British prisons were scotched by this country’s Draconian censorship restrictions. Mail from US prisoners often carried an apologetic stamp on the envelope which read: “Prisoners’ mail uncensored. Not responsible for contents.” I look forward to the day when British prisons need to be so apologetic – I had a long and fractious correspondence with the governor of Wormwood Scrubs over the confiscation of several letters of mine and other items sent to Tom O’Carroll. As with all things in the US, prison regulations vary wildly from state to state, so while some members were receiving regular visits from the boys for whose ‘protection’ they had been imprisoned, others were not even permitted to receive MAGPIE. NAMBLA was far better placed than we were to defend the interests of these people, and is now doing so. PIE was powerless to help prisoners in the UK without some referral arrangement with the social services, and the Home Office lifting restrictions on visits and correspondence.

Given the monstrous treatment of many paedophiles in prison, and the squalid, dehumanising conditions that prevail throughout the prison system, it is a marvel to me that people can emerge from this ordeal without a deep and burning animosity towards the society that abused them so. Imprisonment is the grossest indecency.

If there was one venture that I expected to be an unqualified success and firmly supported by the membership, it was the re-establishment of social meetings through local group organisers. This was the sort of freedom which other oppressed groups – blacks, gay men and women, and many more – took entirely for granted. Any attempt by PIE to arrange social venues (this applied equally to workshops, AGM’s, marches and demonstrations of any kind) carried with it the implicit danger of press harassment, police observation, and physical attack from fanatics of every species. Accordingly, such precautions had to be taken to insulate these meetings from the hostile gaze that the people who had most need of them – frightened, solitary people with zero political awareness – were the last to be invited to them. Where possible, committee members attempted to meet new people in order to establish their bona fides, but there was always a substantial part of the membership who could not be directly vouched for, and we knew there was an agent of the NEWS OF THE WORLD among them.

Having an EC member in Birmingham, the first step was to organise meetings in this area for members in the midlands. Several meetings took place, but then the host was arrested and sent to remand prison on an unconnected charge, and interest petered out. With my help, an Australian member attempted to generate support for a PIE branch in his country (we had more members in Australia than in Scotland and Wales together), but the majority of those approached preferred to keep the breadth of the globe between them and the kind of flak which PIE attracted. This was not too surprising when one learnt that an earlier bid to establish an independent Australian paedophile group – SYBOL – crashed when a conservative gay group threatened to hand the organisers’ names and addresses to the police. Plans for a Canadian branch of PIE went awry also, but happily NAMBLA was able to establish a chapter there soon after.

Our greatest concentration of members had always been in London and the home counties. All but a handful of PIE’s workers through the years had lived there. From August ’82 we booked a private room one night a week in a series of West end pubs, inviting along all members who were known to us. The average attendance was very disappointing: always the same few faces. Presumably, everyone feared that a press plant would be present, as had in fact happened once before in 1979: A known freelance operating for the NOTW, had turned up half drunk at one pub meeting and begun asking those present to procure boys for him. “I know there are kids around who’ll go with you for money,” he said, “but where are they? Why don’t we do something instead of just sitting here?” No such investigative journalist graced any of the more recent meetings. TIME OUT reporter, John Gill, came along once or twice, but he was there at our invitation, preparing a feature on the anxieties and expectations of paedophiles living in London (a feature subsequently suppressed by the magazine’s editors). Other guests present at those meetings included many GYM members and one or two representatives from CHE – one of them a woman who was entirely supportive. Discussions with these people were on the whole constructive and stimulating, and made the meetings worthwhile for us on the EC, but the objective of a social forum for members outside the committee was never realised.

Babel Wasn’t Built in a Day

In August 1980 PIE circulated an open letter among every known paedophile group in Europe, Scandinavia and North America, and also to prominent individuals such as Dr. Edward Brongersma, Dr. Frits Bernard, Drs. Theo Sandfort, and Valida Davila of CSC (Childhood Sensuality Circle). The letter outlined an ambitious, some would say grandiose, proposal for a new transnational paedophile federation through which member groups would collaborate on material projects and share resources at the same time as working towards a common philosophical platform. As I wrote in MAGPIE 15, “Much more than a simple mutual aid society, such a federation would be the consolidation of a coherent international paedophile and children’s liberation movement out of the present chaos of tiny national groups working largely oblivious of one another”. This initiative was very much a personal commitment of my own – my committee colleagues were not all so inspired by this euro-vision. I had learned through PIE that there were groups in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, yet we knew virtually nothing about these people and their organisations, what they were doing in their own countries, or how their political analyses differed from that of PIE. Any contact we had established had been of a token kind, genuine in spirit but superficial in practice, so it was safe to assume that these groups were in the same state of ignorance about us. It seemed important to me that a full and penetrating dialogue be established at least with the strongest of them.

Inevitably, there were language obstacles. We mustered a few members to translate from French, German and Dutch for us, but although our files were brimming with magazines from these groups we could hardly ask people to translate whole magazines, and in any case one could not always rely on forming an accurate view of a group’s thinking merely by reading its general literature. (There had been no language barrier for Tom O’Carroll when he represented PIE at an Oslo conference ‘Amnesty for Love and affection’ hosted by the Norwegian group, NAFP, in 1979. There had even been discussions there on forming a new, broad-based international group called ‘Amnesty for Child Sexuality’, but nothing had come of this.)

The Open letter included a proposal for an early ‘summit’ conference of interested groups to discuss the general concept of an IGA-type alliance, and areas of practical collaboration between us. The most enthusiastic responses we received came from people and groups who had least to gain from the proposed alliance: “I am in complete agreement with your plans,” wrote Valida Davila; “Some people are ruined by oppression and persecution, and others are fired to fight back. I see your committee has chosen the latter road.” “We think the idea of an international association for paedophiles excellent,” wrote REVOLT of Sweden; “If there is anything we can do to support, never hesitate to ask.” Pasteur J. Doucé of the Centre du Christ Libérateur, Paris, wrote: “If I can be of any help in the formation of an international paedophile fellowship please let me know.” An anarchist commune for young people in Nuremberg, the Indianner, said that although they had deep reservations about the German group, DSAP, they still wished to “join a basic form” with us.

The groups themselves were not prepared to take a lead. They wanted to see PIE set up the conference itself. What better demonstration of the poor grasp our friends had on the political realities for PIE? We were possibly the only group among them which was unable to hold a general meeting for its own members without grave risk of injury to those attending, and prosecution of the organisers. After the events of 1977 for PIE, did anyone seriously expect an international paedophile conference to be permitted in the UK? NAMBLA chose to “wait and see what leadership develops on these concepts”. The paedophile wing of the Dutch civil rights umbrella organisation, NVSH, felt that their priorities should be domestic, and that international co-ordination should be left to the auspices of the IGA itself. NAFP in Norway “sympathised” but wanted “more concrete ideas”. [6]

The first months of the following year saw the emergence in France of a new paedophile organisation – the Groupe de recherché pour une Enfance Différente – and four of us from PIE sped along to its inaugural congress in November. Also present on that occasion were David Thorstad representing NAMBLA, Frits Bernard representing DSAP, and a member of the Belgian Paedophile Studygroup [sic]. The atmosphere at that opening day was something I had not experienced before even at PIE’s 1978 AGM – an intensity, an electric urgency of expression that welled as much from the floor as from the platform. The strength of the GRED committee was plain to see, as one after another they all addressed the meeting with equal vigour and self-assurance, and everyone it that packed hall (including, to our delight, a handful of women paedophiles) was involved, not quietly receiving the transmitted wisdoms of the committee. With the promise of an imminent reduction in France’s homosexual ‘age of consent’ from eighteen to fifteen, the liberation of children was for these people far from a remote utopian objective.

I came away from that conference profoundly frustrated, both with the inadequacy of PIE and my own inadequate French. I went to listen, but came away having understood little that I’d heard. I went to contribute my views, but came away without having said a word. I went to take part, but was obliged merely to observe. It’s not entirely unreasonable, of course, that a French group meeting in France should conduct its meeting in French, but I had rather hoped that, at least in the workshop on international collaboration, some concession would be made to a humble Anglophone like myself. Unfortunately, GRED’s English was only a little better than my French. One might think such a lesson in futility would have made me reconsider the practicality of collaboration on the level suggested by the Open Letter but, on the contrary, I felt all the more keenly how much we had to gain from a close dialogue and mutual co-operation with people such as GRED. If we left them with a rather poor understanding of PIE and what we had to deal with over here, that was entirely our own fault, of course, but even among the extrovert committee of GRED, and in its journal, PETIT GREDIN, there was a hint of the same parochialism displayed by the NVSH paedophiles and others, confining their analysis of the problems and solutions within national boundaries. Perhaps PIE was unique in this respect – that more than half our membership lived abroad, scattered among twenty or so countries, and it was plain to us that the ignorance and intolerance of paedophilia knew no frontiers, as with the inhibitory myths of childhood. While the police and the agents of ‘moral’ conformity were concerting their efforts internationally against us, would we not even collaborate in our own defence, if for no better motive?

Another item under preparation for the PIE Press Service at that time was a comprehensive directory of paedophile/children’s liberation groups – the first such guide ever to be published in the English language, filling in a little detail to that cold, unwelcoming expanse of acronyms: SAP, DAP, DSAP, PAC, AKP and so on. Questionnaires were distributed hot on the heels of the Open Letter, and the information that came back immediately helped to dissipate our own ignorance a little. We discovered, inevitably, that some of the groups had already collapsed. In Germany, for example, the Deutsche Studie und Arbeitsgemeinschaft Pädofilie had disintegrated over an ideological clash between anarchists, conservative reformists, and revolutionary socialists – notably about the nature and extent of freedom it wished to seek for young people. Blackmail threats had come into play here too, as with SYBOL in Australia, but this time one paedophile against another, to the utter damnation of those that made them. NAFP in Norway also, sadly, dissolved. And for each group that vanished another would suddenly appear elsewhere on the map – Stiekum in Belgium, for instance.

At the GRED conference it was agreed that the groups represented there would all follow NAMBLA’s example in joining the IGA itself and through it lobbying the gay movement directly for firmer support. The extent of our links with the gay political scene was an essential aspect of PIE’s strategy (insofar as PIE had such a thing) which I want to consider separately but, in the absence of a constructive dialogue with gays (or anyone else) in our own country about the radical means to accomplish our short and long term objectives, other paedophile groups abroad remained the only people from whom alternative strategies could be learned, our own analysis refined, different perspectives examined. Practical alteration to the law and its institutions is an objective necessarily specific to one’s own country, but awakening a whole culture to the living realities of sexuality and of youth is the promulgation of an idea, a new system of living, and is not confined to the arbitrary frontiers of states.

Prodigal Son? _ Or A Cuckoo in the Nest?

1983 was the first time in PIE’s nine-year history that a handful of members carried a PIE banner at the London Gay Pride march. The banner read simply: ‘Adults Loving Children loving Adults’ – a bisexual extension of the famous BODY POLITIC caption. This bold initiative was largely due to the efforts of one EC member, Leo Adamson, who, in a very short time of involvement in PIE, had propelled the group a deal closer to the gay movement than it had been for a considerable while. As a member of GYM (Gay Youth movement), Leo was able to speak for PIE at their annual conference ‘Gym’ll Fix It’, and he also took an active role in the group’s lobby of Parliament. In July ’83 he represented PIE at the IGA conference in Vienna. One could say that PIE had waited a long time for individuals with Leo’s stamina and conviction to come along and fulfil this vital liaison role.

Eric Presland, writing in CAPITAL GAY, [7] rejoiced in the appearance of PIE’s banner at the Gay Pride march, and bade us a hearty ‘Welcome back!’ While there was no doubting the sincerity of Presland’s support for PIE, nor his personal commitment to the liberation of children, there was an assumption behind his remarks that PIE had somehow drifted away from the gay movement in recent years, had now seen the error of its ways and returned – like the prodigal son – to its spiritual home. But it was not PIE that moved away from the gay movement in the UK, it was the gay movement that moved hastily away from us once the muck began to fly; and not because it viewed PIE as too reformist, sexist or reactionary – these tags were slapped on us much later – not because our proposals were insufficiently radical; they were too radical by half for the majority of gays. If we had concentrated, as NAMBLA had done in the US, simply upon sexual relationships between men and teenage boys, gays might have been rather more sanguine about solidarity with us. We were not prepared to barter away the interests of so many paedophiles and of pre-teenage children to realise that support.

If anything, the political leaning of the EC had become further to the Left than ever before, though unfortunately there was no output from PIE to attest to this. Committee may have been radical in its sympathies, but was singularly reticent to express this thinking through MAGPIE or CONTACT. [8] Repeatedly it was put to them that committee should buckle down and talk through some coherent policy positions on key questions – I prepared a discussion paper on pornography to set this process going – but there was no enthusiasm at all for the hard graft of policymaking. Little wonder then that Pie was seen as complacent and insular when it could not produce a single political position or line of analysis to promote wider debate. Those people who troubled to look for evidence of PIE’s philosophy or political credentials were left to glean what they might from the tone and content of MAGPIE, or from documents published years ago by a very different EC – the ‘Questions & Answers’ booklet [9] and our ‘Evidence to the Home Office Criminal Law Revision Committee’. [10] I don’t think there was anyone active in PIE at this time who was happy with the proposals contained in the ‘Evidence’ paper; many would have liked to see them publicly rescinded. All in all, if gays regarded PIE with some suspicion as being an unknown political quantity we had no-one but ourselves to blame for that.

“I don’t think the time is yet read,” wrote an editor of REVOLT in answer to our Open Letter, “for a great association that would support both gays and paedophiles. There are still too many prejudices in the various camps, and paedophile liberation has some very specific aspects which certainly would be overlooked (or neglected) in a general gay association.” I entirely agree with that view. Whereas those paedophile groups that had sprung initially from the gay movement (PIE, NAMBLA, GRED) had tended to survive without the umbilical intact, those which tried to submerge back into the gay movement, becoming just one of several special interest groups within it, (NAFP for example) expired in the process. It is manifestly obvious that the struggles and obstacles faced by paedophiles in the UK today, and indeed the major arguments marshalled against us, bear a striking resemblance to those which gays themselves were confronted with a scant few decades ago. Many of the tasks that face us are the same – combatting the monolithic heterosexuality of ‘educational’ propaganda, for one – and there is great scope here for joint action, but our demands of society are far from being identical, and nor are they at the same stage of accomplishment.

To pluck a metaphor from the mouths of our critics, in any relationship between paedophiles and gays, it is gays who are demonstrably the stronger partner, far greater in size and power, their social status much higher. In contrast, paedophiles are weak, vulnerable, and – as a political force – lacking in experience, our status just about the lowest there is. Can true equality ever be realised in such a relationship? Will gays not simply abuse their power advantage to silence or control paedophiles? Does the gay movement really care about the needs and aspirations of its younger protégé?

Well, you may be sure that PIE did not endorse that kind of negativistic approach. The assumption that the strong will tend inevitably to exploit the weak is true of fascists, not of sexual groupings. I believe that the gay movement in the UK neglected PIE’s struggle to establish a discrete paedophile consciousness, as it has largely neglected the predicament of gay people younger than sixteen or seventeen. From its position of comparitive [sic] strength it had much to offer us by way of philosophical analysis as well as options for positive action. Instead, we found ourselves forced consistently onto the defensive, perpetually having to justify our very sexuality, to avouch our responsibility as caring people. We were nothing beyond a coffee-table controversy to most gays, and our demands for acceptance and support were given barely more credence here than that which society gives to demands for gay equality. I’m afraid the movement itself has much to answer for the continuing misery and frustration gay children in this country are compelled to endure.

It was a measure neither of PIE’s ineptitude, nor of the political vacuousness of British paedophiles, that so few radical activists materialised among us. It was rather too facile to apply to us the logic of gay and feminist activism, as though the realities were no different for a paedophile coming out in a militant way. Every risk that a gay or lesbian accepts in entering a career of sexual politics, on whatever level, is multiplied many times for a paedophile doing likewise. It is a simple equation of greater risks equalling fewer volunteers. Beyond this rather elementary observation, it is in the nature of paedophilia that the greater number of us will channel their whole energies into working with and for children (however misguidedly), whether this be as youth workers, teachers, nurses or, yes, as scoutleaders. Individuals who would have been of immense value to a group such as PIE either never contemplated joining because their attention was squarely focussed on working with the young, or shied away from deeper commitment for fear the publicity would disable them from continuing such work. True, many of these people themselves inadvertently abet the social conditioning of youth, but they are sincere in the belief that their work is beneficial and constructive. The essential point is that a paedophile’s natural first loyalty is to children – not to other paedophiles.

Unlike gays and feminists, who seek the company of people like themselves for social and sexual reasons, and then develop a political consciousness within that society, drawing strength from their community for ‘coming out’ and embarking on political work, paedophiles do not tend to gravitate so readily into one another’s company, (those that would have no means of doing so, of course) and the breeding medium for radicalisation is so much less fertile for this often-overlooked reason. In the company of a thirteen year old boy one can learn a good deal about the realities of powerlessness and dependence and the frustration of being thirteen in this society – all the more so from a girl – but this is a long way from assimilating a commitment to political struggle. The younger the children a paedophile seeks for company, the more this argument applies.

Thanks in large part to PIE, some paedophiles did befriend one another, but all too often in such meetings the differences of perspective were more apparent than the congruences. There was a commonality of interest without a commonality of awareness. Therefore among paedophiles this consciousness has to be cultivated in an altogether more deliberate and artificial way. Those paedophiles who regard themselves (sometimes mistakenly) as the most revolutionary are generally those that move largely in gay circles. Undoubtedly, coming out as a paedophile via the gay movement increases one’s exposure to radical though – though anyone acquainted with CHE might laugh at this – but it may also leave one with a smug and false sense of security.

While my own sexual tastes extend to eighteen or nineteen year old guys, I confess I never had much inclination to join a gay group or frequent any gay clubs. I think my perspective might have been rather less parochial if I had, but this is to illustrate that there are many paedophiles like myself who wish to work in close harmony with gay society, not to join it. To those who say, “So why didn’t PIE make more effort towards a rapprochement with radical gay groups?” I reply, “Why didn’t the stronger, more numerous, and better-equipped gay groups approach PIE with advice, criticism, active support, even when we were reeling in the wake of an Old Bailey trial?” Why should we have had to make all the running? Let me cite one or two instances of the positive vibrations PIE was receiving from the mighty ‘λ’.

At the 2nd annual conference of the IGA (Barcelona, 1980), the only group to abstain from a general motion calling on member organisations to support paedophile groups more vigorously was Britain’s CHE, who insisted on their exception being noted for the record. At GYM’s 1982 lobby of Parliament (which only twelve of some four hundred MPs felt obliged to attend), it was a vice-president of CHE, Martin Stevens, MP (Conservative, needless to say), who favoured the retention of the homosexual age of consent at twenty-one (for males), whilst others present were quite willing to negotiate an initial reduction to eighteen. Stevens’ rationale – if we may dignify it by that term – was that if homosexual behaviour was legally sanctioned among teenagers, “teenagers might in later years regret their youthful flings”. Similarly, at the IGA’s 1983 Vienna conference, it was Michael Brown of Britain’s Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality who supplied the most stentorian opposition to every paedophile motion put before the conference. In this case, where one of the motions called upon PIE to urge all other paedophile groups to affiliate as we had done, Brown was joined by Denmark’s F48, Norway’s DNF48, and Lavender Left of New York, who had apparently determined by explicit resolution to vote against all paedophile-supportive motions. The excellent ‘Gay Youth Charter’ composed by GYM in 1982 was rejected by CHE’s own conference until a reference to paedophilia had been expunged from it. A comparison between GYM’s ‘Gay Youth Charter’ and CHE’s ‘Charter for Gay Rights’, published in the same year, is extraordinary – the one is detailed, uncompromising, bold and lucid; the other bland, timid and cursory.

CHE’s dilemma was summarised by their own Law Reform Committee thus: “CHE has hitherto directed its campaign towards achieving equality under the law relating to heterosexual and homosexual behaviour. The reasons for this, while in large part tactical, are nonetheless important. The argument for equality is much easier to explain to a prejudiced audience and can be forcefully advocated on grounds of simple justice.” It goes on to ask, “Would adopting a position in favour of the abolition of all ages of consent laws risk appearing, in the eyes of the general public, to be so extreme as to make (CHE’s) aims on other issues more difficult to achieve; or has it reached the position where no further significant advance can be made without working – in collaboration with other organisations – for reform of these and the other laws relating to sexual behaviour generally?” [11]

It was the same dilemma which confronted broader civil rights groups like the NCCL (National Council for Civil Liberties) when the rights at issue were those of PIE. Any association with our particular cause threatened to undermine their own political credibility cross the board. PIE was the hottest potato of all, and triggered off all kinds of atavistic terrors in more respectable reformist groups. We were therefore sacrificed on the altar of short-term tactical compromise.

Not to confine this criticism to gay and civil rights groups however the producer of London Weekend Television’s ‘Gay Life’ programme (screened once a week in the late night horror slot) promised me there would be a programme on paedophilia in the second series to which PIE might be allowed to contribute. Alas, there was not. Among the helplines which consistently declined to give PIE’s address to paedophile callers were Icebreakers, London Gay Switchboard, Brighton Gay Switchboard, and Friend. One of these told me their solicitors had advised them that by passing out our address it might be construed that they were acting as agents for the organisations.

The fact that PIE was not exclusively homosexual represented part of the reason for this moratorium. GAY NEWS and TIME OUT both quickly zeroed in on this objection, though as with the ubiquitous power argument, it often serve as a radical justification from the mouth for a decidedly unradical prejudice in the mind. I think it stood to the credit of the PIE EC (whose most active members had always been boylovers) that we did not cave in under such pressure. No heterosexual paedophiles ever stepped forward to defend their own ground, and this made it rather difficult for us to answer the challenges of the gays and feminists with total conviction. Between gays and our heterosexual members the strand of mutual acceptance was very thin indeed (between them and feminists it did not exist at all).

David Thorstad, while still spokesperson of NAMBLA, expressed his own position all too clearly: When Anita Bryant would say that gay men are child molesters, they would say ‘Oh no, we don’t do that; gay people are not molesters, it’s the heterosexual who are the molesters’. I’ve used that argument myself; I believe it’s true.”

Many heterosexual paedophiles are just as ready to swallow society’s stereotype model of gays, their masculinity squirming uncomfortably at the prospect of too close an association with the world of such caricatures. This kind of stupidity is an obstacle we can all do without.

No-one will be astonished to hear that the facet of gay politics in the UK for which PIE felt the closest affinity was gay youth, and that GYM came top of our list of groups to form an alliance with. The first meeting between members of our two committees only reinforced this feeling. As we sat about a table in a London pub, no more than a dozen of us, it was not a bunch of middle class, middle-aged liberal paedophiles confronted with a bunch of radical gay teenagers suspicious of our motives. In fact the majority of both committees were in their mid-twenties. The youngest PIE representative was twenty-one, the oldest GYM representative, twenty-six. Some suspicion was evident on GYM’s part, or rather a wry scepticism about PIE’s political soundness, but it was expressed with candour, not hostility. For our own part, the only major criticism of GYM was its arbitrary self-imposed age limit of twenty-six (a strange paradox in a group whose existence is a reaction against arbitrary age boundaries), in that this tasted a little of ageism in reverse – the idea being that, without an upper age limit, GYM would be taken over by older gays (older than the then committee guiding lights), or that gays would flock to it like moths to a flame in search of teenage boyfriends.

Strategically, so much more can be accomplished under the banner of gay youth than would ever be possible for an overtly paedophile organisation, but that apart, GYM has a freshness and directness which PIE lost long ago. Whereas we talked years back of producing a general information video, GYM have gone and made one. While PIE made ginger overtures to carefully-chosen MPs, GYM staged a general lobby of Parliament. While PIE agonised over whether or not we dared to call another AGM, GYM revels in mass meets.

It is time that gay society in this country woke up to the crucial role it has to play in the foundation of a stable, vigorous and independent paedophile movement which is committed to radical change. What emerges may not be PIE, nor will it be a clone of the gay movement itself, for paedophiles are more than simply gay and straight adults who like their partners particularly young. Ours is a whole different sexuality, our needs and priorities are very different. We are brothers with the gay world, not twins.

PIE in the Face of Fleet Street

Journalism is one of those unsavoury professions – advertising is another – in which an individual’s potential for success is inversely proportional to that person’s scruples. Note that I do not say there are no journalists of conscience or integrity in Fleet Street, only that such people had never been to the fore when the focus of attention was on PIE, or paedophile matters, or rights (in their totality) of people under sixteen, and that such exotic blooms must seem strange indeed in that arid, thorny habitat. Doubtless there remains one detective at Scotland Yard who really believes the police are the servants of the community, and not its warders; or doubtless Thatcher has one Cabinet Minister who genuinely believes in equality of opportunity. These are all, however, statistical freaks. If we find journalism itself to be venal and corrupt – as I believe it is – then this is a profound cause for alarm. As one American commentator observed succinctly, (but glibly), “The news media have become Orwell’s Big Brother of ‘1984’ – all pervasive, all influencing. The freedom of the press is eating away the freedom of the individual”.

Television long ago supplanted religion as the opiate of the working class, and most of the criticisms I make here of the press apply with equal force to the broader media, notably television. There is a disturbing trend towards tabloid-style presentation in TV news programmes, with the same crass, superficial coverage, the same rampant sexism and imperious moral tone, and the same calculated imbalance. Recent reports, for example, of a mother seeking legal compulsion on doctors to inform parents before prescribing contraceptives to girls under sixteen were invariably followed or preceded by progress reports from police investigating the sexual murder of a five year old girl. Such judicious editorial juxtapositions are common. (A contemporary report in a local Harrow paper on similar demands from the ‘Harrow Child and Family Protection group’ appeared on the same front page as an overtly sexist pin-up – of a fifteen year old girl.)

As to the quality of the coverage – in a Central TV news report on the swelling number of teenage runaways in the midlands (‘minors’ voting with their feet?), it was emphasised throughout that the principal fear was not of physical, but ‘moral’ peril; that girls would be “drawn into drink, drugs and prostitution”, and that boys would “fall into the hands of homosexuals”. (TV journalists, like their Fleet Street counterparts, do not care to use the word ‘paedophile’, you may notice.) As always, the people who had most to say on the matter, the people most directly affected, whose anxieties and exasperations had driven them to take off in the first place, were the only people not consulted. It might have been a report on lost dogs or stolen cars. So much for the objectivity and impartiality of British television news.

Every year since PIE had come into being, during the slow news time of parliamentary recess, the minions of the soft-porn tabloids had scurried out with their indignation and their power-winder cameras to rake together another shock story about the group. We were a silly-season staple for the NEWS OF THE WORLD, the SUNDAY PEOPLE and the DAILY STAR. The danger with papers of this vulgar, facile kind is that they are widely dismissed as being of no consequence to significant trends in popular opinion. The NOTW is generally regarded as a joke, but without the implicit malevolence and cruelty behind the joke being fully appreciated, or the extent to which the paper’s four million readers are being duped by the fantasies of its squalid-minded editor and staff. There is no room here to catalogue all the misshapen, libellous reports that have appeared concerning PIE over the last few years. An analysis of the coverage of the Old Bailey trial alone would require a full chapter, and in any case, such a virulent poison permeates this sea of press cuttings that the mere task of reading them all through is grossly offensive and unhealthy for one’s state of mind. Confronted with such wholesale, indiscriminate hatred a sense of proportion is difficult to maintain. There had been several major stories on PIE since Tom O’Carroll was convicted, each of which had repercussions far beyond the immediate distress inflicted on the committee members named, and illustrate well the harm which the gutter press can cause.

The first of these stories (NOTW, March 22nd., 1981) was occasioned by PIE having to open a new post Office box, the sponsor of our previous box, David Grove, having died. The Post Office leaked the home address of our new sponsor, Peter Bremner, to the NOTW so fast that the reporters were at his door before the box had even been used, and before the Executive Committee itself, let alone our members, knew where the P.O. Box was located.

Inside, the paper ran a feature on PIE, and the child pornography industry, being careful to blur any distinction between the two. The reporters were Charles Sandell and George Edwards. ‘The Dreadful Web of Child Corruption’ began as follows: “The evil men of Britain’s child sex organisation, the Paedophile Information Exchange, are just the tip of an iceberg. Behind them lies a web of pornography and degradation that spreads its tentacles worldwide – and even involves the Mafia.” After another couple of paragraphs which could leave no doubt in the reader’s mind that PIE was in fact a front for the manufacture and distribution of pornographic material, Sandell and Edwards went on: “The magazines… they produce do not stop at sexual abuse. Some show the systematic slow torture and even murder of children and young people.” Now if that was not a cut and dried case of libel, what is? Who could blame the public for its outrage against PIE when such nightmarish tales could be published about us with complete indemnity?

Someone else who spreads his tentacles worldwide is Rupert Murdoch, the Jehovah of yellow journalism, and the essence of this NOTW story quickly resurfaced as far away as Australia and in Sri Lanka where, in the SUNDAY OBSERVER (April 5th), PIE was described as “the sick porn merchants of the West”. Sri Lanka, like the Philippines, had long been celebrated among paedophiles and gays for its tolerance to homosexuality in general, and sudden government moves late in 1981 to curb sexual contact between local youth and Western tourists have been attributed in part to the scare campaign triggered by the NOTW. Perhaps this is overestimating the impact of that tawdry little paper, but the snowball effect of press hysteria was a very real phenomenon, as later stories demonstrated.

It was an open secret among anyone linked to the Executive Committee that for four years I was employed by a firm of electrical contractors, Complete Maintenance Ltd, to monitor a control panel of alarm systems at the Home Office, Westminster. The job entailed practically no work on my part, beyond attending the panel, and in fact I had a furnished office completely to myself seven days a week on a rotating shift basis. Much of PIE’s less sensitive file material was stored in locked cabinets there, where no police raid would ever have found them. Each year my security clearance was renewed by Scotland Yard without my connection with PIE being discovered. I’d known from the start that such a marvellous snook could never be cocked forever and sure enough the News of the World got hold of this information eventually. The paper contacted the Home Office immediately of course and gleefully drew this oversight to their attention. My security clearance was cancelled on the spot, my employers notified and I found myself not sacked but ‘rendered without employment’ – on the same day that reporter Alex Marunchak greeted me on my doorstep. ‘Child Sex boss in Whitehall Shock’ ran the headline.

And what do you suppose? – “Home Office security chiefs knew all about Steven Adrian Smith’s links with PIE”, claimed the report; “A Home Office spokesman said, ‘We’re aware of Smith’s background, and since the NEWS OF THE WORLD contacted us he has been told he’s no longer acceptable to us. He no longer works here. It would be true to say that he would still be here if you hadn’t been in touch.’” This silly bit of official face-saving apart, Marunchak went on to concoct a brief interview with myself. Instead of slamming the door in his face, which I seem to recall having done, I appear to have told him (with a swirl of my opera cloak), “Yes, I’m the chairman of PIE. So you’ve found out!” and so on. There was possible libel here too, for he alleged that at an EC meeting I had “bragged of (my) relationships with boys and urged members to organise a ‘dirty weekend’ with children at a south coast hotel.” This is imputing to me a specific criminality, but nonetheless – we were advised by a solicitor – whether I won a libel suit or not, and I stood every chance of doing so, that the sympathies of the jury would be wholly against me, and any damages derisory.

Some of us had fondly hoped that my inevitable discovery would at least throw such egg on the face of the government as to oust the Home Secretary (then, Mr. Whitelaw), but in the event, this story was curiously not picked up by any other paper (obviously, the ‘ruling class’ had to be protected), and our own attention was diverted by a plague of visits from DAILY STAR reporters the very next week. (Incidentally, the extent of security chiefs’ knowledge of my activities did not prompt them to investigate the content of my filing cabinets and a carload of PIE files was safely spirited from the building before it could occur to them to intervene.)

Once upon a time a reporter in the alternative press wrote (with just a hint of sarcasm) that it was about as difficult to ‘infiltrate’ PIE as to infiltrate Piccadilly Circus. He was absolutely right. One of the hazards of keeping our door wide open (as any counselling group must) is that all manner of creepy-crawlies are apt to find their way in along with more welcome visitors, and such a one was Charles Oxley, principal of two public schools, Christian fundamentalist, and wizened protégé of Mary Whitehouse. [12] Under the name of David Charlton he joined PIE with offers of practical help in EC work. He was good enough to type out for us Tom O’Carroll’s copious non-fiction booklist, and to photocopy at his own expense many other items for the PIE Press Service. As with anybody else who expressed a willingness to work, he was first met by an EC member to assess his character and reliability, then invited along to a couple of committee meetings. His sensational findings formed the basis of a four-page spread in the DAILY STAR (‘Child Sex Spy Tells All’ – August 21st, 1982) and many subsequent radio, press and police interviews. On the strength of just two meetings with the EC, Oxley had become the Establishment’s trusted authority on PIE. Who was taken in the more by his fantasies, PIE or the Establishment, is open to question. STAR reporters Paul Henderson and Barry Gardner played Woodward and Berstein [sic] to Oxley’s ‘Deep throat’.

Four committee members were named – David Joy, Peter Bremner, Lee Edwards and myself, and photos appeared of three of us (my mother was later to comment that the STAR photo was one of the best of me she’d seen!) It was no coincidence that the three committee members who were to be raided by the Obscene Publications Squad, almost exactly a year later, were David Joy, Peter Bremner and Lee Edwards. Not content with publishing our addresses, the DAILY STAR carried photos of our homes too, for greater ease of identification by neighbourhood vigilantes, mums’ armies, and neo-fascist groups.

The text itself was rather lame, even amusing in comparison to the previous year’s NOTW extravaganza, and only of interest for the crude, obvious manner in which colour was added. To convey the impression of PIE as a shifty, back-street organisation, our homes were variously described as “dingy”, “seedy”, and “an old mansion that comes straight from a horror movie”. Meetings were arranged, it said, “through a complicated exchange of letters and coded telephone calls” using “secret codes and passwords”. This was total fantasy and a familiar lie printed about the group – arrangements were far more mundane and prosaic than that, I’m afraid. Oxley knew that no pornography had been handed round at the meetings, but he was determined to create that impression at least: “Various paedophile books and magazine were mentioned and passed around” he hinted darkly. As I remember, Oxley took away one of these magazines himself for closer inspection, and never returned it – it was the latest issue of PAN (Paedo-Alert-News).

The news-gathering tactics of the DAILY STAR rate a mention here. We learned later that they had used menaces toward several children in Lee’s home street who would not answer their questions (Lee was staying with a family at the time, and the two daughters were tailed by the press for several days). When this proved fruitless, they set up a couple of young boys to accost Lee in the High Street and make conversation just long enough for him to be photographed form a parked car across the road. (Even when he called on me, Henderson had attempted to force his way into my house.) It was a standard routine for reporters on this kind of story to make a point of visiting all one’s neighbours and filling their heads with who-knows-what horrific yarns. There was a knife attack on Lee shortly after the story appeared, but as Lee is an ex-boxer he managed to send his assailant away with a bloody nose, never to return. Another standard hurdle with these reports was the local press follow-up, a boringly predictable after-shock when your local paper contrives to regurgitate the story for those of your neighbours who missed it the first time around. In this particular instance the STAR itself ran a follow-up story a few days later (‘Ban the PIE Men’) in which glory-hunting Tory back-bencher, Geoffrey Dickens, vowed he would table a Private Member’s Bill at the next session of Parliament which would proscribe PIE explicitly, and outlaw any other pro-paedophile organisations. [13] Dickens was the same stalwart who named diplomat Sir Peter Hayman, under House of Commons privilege, as the PIE member whose identity had been concealed throughout the trial (some six months after Hayman had been publicly identified in PRIVATE EYE magazine). Dickens did not win the Private member’s ballot, as chance would have it, and nothing more was heard of that pledge, but it seemed to us a serious threat at the time. Even a bungling oaf of Dickens’ calibre could hardly have failed with such an intimidatingly populist Bill, had he won the ballot.

By the winter of ’82, the papers were full of the Geoffrey Prime affair. Prime was exposed as a Russian supermole who worked at the government’s intelligence HQ at Cheltenham. Imprisoned for sex offences against young girls, as well as spying, it was alleged, unsubstantiated of course, that he either had links with Pie or was actually a member under an assumed name. As with the much earlier Sir Peter Hayman affair (he was the former British high Commissioner to Canada), and the later revelation that I myself and an EC colleague, Barry Cutler, were both employed on security at the Home Office, this latest scandal must have caused considerable embarrassment to the government. By now, PIE’s name must have been truly hated in the corridors of power. [14]

In June, 1983, the NOTW ran yet another of its regular silly stories, this time claiming that top TV stars and MPs were members of the Exchange. No names were mentioned, of course – except those of EC members. As a result of this and follow-up stories in such scandal sheets as the STAR and the SUN, committee members Mike Williams and Richard Travell lost their voluntary work as a scoutmaster and Sunday School teacher respectively. Travell was later denounced by his father, a church minister, and forced to move out of his home.

It would be possible to go on and on about the shock/horror stories concerning PIE, but this would serve little purpose since the point has been made. Suffice it to say that press harassment of the group was real, and it seemed that reporters were prepared to use any means, fair or foul, to ensure the organisation was destroyed. The time is coming when something will need to be done about the press in this country – and the sooner the better.

Final Words

If paedophiles have little faith in the press, they have certainly got even less for the criminal justice system in this country, for being a paedophile is an invitation for every sort of injustice there is. While baby batterers walk away with derisory sentences after being slapped on the wrist and told not to do it again, people whose only ‘crime’ is that they love children can expect to have the book thrown at them and endure years of attacks in squalid prisons from real criminals. One can inflict horrendous physical suffering on a child, but if one is unfortunate enough to be a paedophile who has consensual sex – oh well, that’s classed as worse than murder.

Similarly with ‘corporal punishment’ which is, in truth, nothing more than a euphemism for legal assault. This practice is widely supported in these isles, and it is no coincidence that the organisations and people who were most opposed to PIE were the very ones who endorsed it most. The message is clear: abuse is okay as long as it is socially approved.

Back in its earlier days, PIE itself initiated a campaign against this practice and received letters of support from such well-known people as Baroness Wootton, and Sir Alfred Ayer, the philosopher. But PIE, being a tiny organisation, could only do so much.

For PIE, the time has now run out; but the ideas behind it will continue to survive.

Editor’s note: Soon after the above article was written, its author along with two other PIE EC members were arrested on incitement charges in connection with issue No. 6 of the group’s internal bulletin, CONTACT. Before the trial, Steve Smith fled to Holland where he still resides. The two other defendants were subsequently found not guilty of the incitement charges, but guilty of a lesser charge. After renewed threats to proscribe PIE, the group finally succumbed to political pressure, and the organisation disbanded in early summer, 1985. Because of this, all articles in this book referring to PIE, including the above, have had the tense changed from present to past.


1. A journal of PIE
2. Lee Edwards was later alleged (though unproven) to have given or sold confidential information about PIE and its members to the NEWS OF THE WORLD, which published the details, much of them erroneous, in a front page splash.
3. I refer, of course, to the notorious Conspiracy to Corrupt Public Morals trials of early 1981.
4. Tom O’Carroll (Peter Owen, London, 1980).
5. ‘Men Loving Boys Loving Men’, by Gerald Hannon (BODY POLITIC, March/April, 1979).
6. It was Kenneth Clarke in CIVILISATION who said that ‘nearly all the upward steps in the history of civilisation have been internationalist steps.”
7. CAPITAL GAY (July 15th, 1983).
8. CONTACT! Which was edited by myself, was the internal bulletin of PIE.
12. Oxley was, at the time of writing, chairman of the right wing National Campaign for Law and Order, which incidentally supports hanging and corporal punishment, and deputy chairman of Mary Whitehouse’s Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association.
13. Even revelations that he was consorting with two other women, despite the fact that he was married, didn’t stop Dickens attacking PIE. Hypocrisy has no bounds, it seems. I often wonder what the dickens the man would do if it weren’t for paedophiles???
14. Well before the Hayman affair, another Establishment figure, Lord Bingham, had also been revealed as a PIE member.

[ADDENDUM: The ‘Lord Bingham’ in question here was Richard Maurice Clive Bigham, Viscount Mersey (1934-2006), who admitted PIE membership and contact with a 10-year old girl, who would remove her clothes when offered money and sweets by him; the girl’s mother went on trial in Manchester Crown Court in 1978 on charges of inciting one of her daughters to commit gross indecency with Bigham. See ‘Peer’s son in sex case ‘revolted”, Glasgow Herald, July 20th, 1978]

Appendix 2: Timothy d’Arch Smith, ‘The ‘Uranians’’, pp. 246-253.

In Britain, the birth of what could be called a politically conscious campaigning paedophile movement occurred around October 1974 with the inception of two groups; PAL – Paedophile Action for Liberation, and PIE – Paedophile Information Exchange. However, after a scurrilous SUNDAY PEOPLE exposé of PAL on May 25th 1974, the group went into a steady decline which, by 1977, resulted in both PAL and its magazine PALAVER being incorporated by the Exchange.

Until the emergence of PIE, never before in the history of this country ahd such a cohesive group of crusading paedophiles come together so openly to press for changes in the laws and public attitudes. Indeed, the nearest and only comparison one can make is with the Victorian literary clique known as the ‘Uranians’ (or Calamites) and its offshoot, the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, founded in July, 1914 by some of the group’s leading lights.

The Uranians consisted largely of undergraduates who extolled the beauty of young boys in their poetry and prose, and much of their work is refreshingly outspoken for the period.

We are indebted to Timothy d’Arch Smith for bringing this remarkable and hitherto unsuspected literary phenomenon to public attention with his brilliantly research study, LOVE IN EARNEST.

For the benefit of those not acquainted with this study, and because the Uranians were the forerunners of PIE, he was asked to expound a little about them for the present book. –ed.

The word ‘Uranian’ was coined by the nineteenth century Austrian jurist, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, before the word homosexual had been invented. Casting about for at term to embrace a group of poets who celebrated in their verse the love of boys, for whom in any case homosexual would not do, I chose Ulrichs’ word. My book appeared as long as sixteen years ago and yet the name appears to have stuck. Since alternatives – paedophile, paederast – originally discarded as unfamiliar, are now so overloaded with opprobrium synonymous these days almost with monster, perhaps semantical and, astrologers tell us – the word deriving from the planet Uranus – fatidical inexactitudes, it will continue to survive.

The Uranians flourished between 1850 and 1930; approximate but by no means arbitrary dates. Three influences were the cause of their ascension. Urlichs’ pamplets, calling for revisionary views on homosexuality, began to circulate in the 1860s and 70s and their influence soon spread to England for propagation in the 90s by the sexual reformers, Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds. Attention was being directed to homosexuality by its incidence at the public schools whose traditional structure nurtured its existence as loving as it zealously stamped out its manifestations; and intense study by boys of the classics, read during the Victorian age as much for their content as for their syntax, directed sympathetic minds to Greek love. Further, as the century progressed, there arose a rebellious dissatisfaction with Victorian ‘stuffiness’ that would lead, in the nineties to the ‘decadent’ movement; a conscious, indeed a self-conscious desire to shock.

The movement, not intendedly one despite mutual ties but retrospectively observable as such, numbered about forty exponents, each the author of at least one volume of unmistakably paedophilic verse. The best of the British, the public school tradition – it must not be forgotten that the Uranian movement was quintessentially British and proud of it – was the Rev. Edwin Emmanuel Bradford (1860-1944). [1] With twelve books to his credit, he was the movement’s most prolific writer. His cheerful verses, airily overlooking any sexual implications, tapped out in rollicking jingles the Uranian philosophy. Of the proselytisers, the campaigners for sexual reform who, in those days, saw no difference between homosexual and paedophilic attachments, or if they did see it, advanced no reason for dissimilar compassion, we may single out Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), author of TOWARDS DEMOCRACY, [2] and John Addington Symonds (1840-1893), who never missed a chance of bending classical and biblical themes to a homosexually allegorical advantage. [3] If we exclude Oscar Wilde, the chief exponents of the decadent school were Wilde’s catamite, Lord Alfred Douglas (1870-1945), [4] and the fashionably shocking Theodore Wratislaw (1871-1933), whose two poems ‘L’Éternal Féminin’ and ‘To a Sicilian Boy’ were almost the only examples of Uranian poetry to have suffered censorship and suppression. [5]

Each of these sub-sections had, of course, its neurotics; obsessive paedophiles who spent their lives thinking of very little else. John Gambril Nicholson (1866-1931), [6] arguably the best poet of them all, friend to his recurrent disadvantage of Fr. Rolfe (‘Baron Corvo’), [7] fell into this category. Ralph Nicholas Chubb (1892-1960), attempted to raise paedophilia to a religion, and his prose-poems, issued in stringently limited editions from his own hand-press, were examples of fanaticism run riot. [8] A late runner in the decadent stakes, Philip Gillespie Bainbrigge (1891-1918), with his smutty pastiche, ACHILLES IN SCYROS, provided the best example of unashamedly erotic verse. [9]

Love of boys – or girls come to that, although there is no similar sub-literature – raises the acutest problems, and although Uranian poetry was, for the most part, not very good, it raised psychologically interesting points. Shot through with simple yearnings – analogy with the negro blues not too far-fetched, both reflecting the discontents of an outcast people – it was permeated with longings for the poets’ lost boyhood; with regrets for the briefness of boyhood’s span; with declarations of the supremacy of Uranian love over other manifestations of affection; its, as it were, rightness.

As might be expected, dissatisfactions outweighed euphoria. Celebrations of untroubled and untrammelled love affairs were few and far between. With admirable stoicism, however, the Uranians were able to console themselves with very little: a boy seen in the street, the sound of a treble voice, glimpses of bare flesh at a bathing place, and on occasions, a kiss. Hard won, of rare occurrence, these to the Uranians were riches indeed. Almost all of the group were quick to assimilate the catachrestic lessons of Symonds, and Uranian poetry abounded with reiterations of the legends of Achilles and Patroclus, Zeus and Ganymede, David and Jonathan.

The most striking curiosity of their verse was an almost unanimous obsession with class distinctions. This slightly reprehensible ‘snobisme’ took the form of the poet (the lover’s) desire for lads of the lower orders. Guttersnipes, lift-boys, oil-begrimed stokers on the knife-edge of puberty bowled over, like so many skittles, are Uranian poets. One wonders why this should have been.

The uniqueness of the Uranians’ ideal lay in their single-minded tenet that society should discard the socially acceptable prerogative of parenthood and allow them to take from a boy such love as he has had, in the past, to reserve for his father and mother at a time in his life when he most needs a trusted adult guide outside the confines of home and school.

That a man may take from a boy the kind of physical donation he should reserve for a girl may present us with a problem of the gravest kind, or it may not; for the Uranians maintained that the very nature of male-to-male experience of sex, with its unwritten code of impermanence, was not callous or immoral but altogether harmless. It was their bravery in throwing down this challenge which demands our attention. [10]

I will conclude this appendix with two poems, the first by Alan Stanley, the second by E. E. Bradford, both of which typified the work of the Uranians.

August Blue

Silver mists on a silver sea,
And white clouds overhead
Sailing the grey sky speedily
To where the east turns red.
And one lone boat her sails has spread,
Sails of the whitest lawn,
That seem to listen for the tread
Of the tender feet of dawn.

The risen sun now makes the sky
An arching roof of gold,
Amber the clouds turn as they fly
Uncurling fold on fold ;
The sun a goblet seems to hold
A draught of fervid wine,
And the young day no longer cold
Glows with a fire divine.

Stripped for the sea your tender form
Seems all of ivory white,
Through which the blue veins wander warm
O’er throat and bosom slight.
And as you stand, so slim, upright
The glad waves grow and yearn
To clasp you circling in their might,
To kiss with lips that burn.

Flashing limbs in the waters blue
And gold curls floating free;
Say, does it thrill you through and through
With ardent love, the sea?
A very nymph you seem to be
As you glide and dive and swim,
While the mad waves clasp you fervently
Possessing every limb.

King of the Sea, triumphant boy,
Nature itself made thrall
To God’s white work without alloy
On whom no stain doth fall.
Gaze on him, slender, fair, and tall,
And on the yearning sea
Who deigns to creep and cling, and crawl,
His worshipper to be.

(From Love Lyrics, 1894)

Boyish Beauty

See the lad, of late a child
Irresponsible and wild
Now look up with earnest eyes
Tender, passionate and wise!
Love has lent him for an hour
Beauty’s holy, awful power;
When he’s ripe for toil and pain,
Love will take it back again.

Boyish beauty comes and goes,
Like a rivulet that flows;
Woman, as a placid pool,
Long is fair if clean and cool.
Yet the running waters shine
With a splendour more divine;
So the fairest woman’s grace
Fades before a boyish face!

(From Boyhood)


1. Among Bradford’s best known works, all of which were published by the London firm of Kegan Paul, were, THE NEW CHVALRY AND OTHER POEMS (1918); RALPH RAWDON: A STORY IN VERSE (1922); and THE KINGDOM WITHIN YOU AND OTHER POEMS (1927).

2. Carpenter’s TOWARDS DEMOCRACY, which was heavily influenced by Whitman’s LEAVES OF GRASS, first appeared in four parts at various dates, but the complete edition was published in 1905. Carpenter was also the author of many other works, among them, IOLAUS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FRIENDSHIP (Sonnenschein, London, 1902), which was nicknamed ‘The Bugger’s Bible’.

3. Symonds was a noted classical scholar who wrote many books, among them, MANY MOODS: A VOLUME OF VERSE (Smith, Edler, London, 1878), and ANIMI FIGURA (Smith, Elder, London 1882).

4. Douglas’ best known boylove poems appeared in his SONNETS (Rich & Gowan, London, 1935), and LYRICS (Rich & Cowan, London, 1935).

5. These were included in his extremely rare book, CAPRICES: POEMS (Gay & Bird, London, 1893).

6. Nicholson, a schoolmaster, was author of the paedophilic novel, THE ROMANCE OF A CHOIRBOY (privately printed by F. E. Murray, London, 1916) and four books of boylove poems, including, A CHAPLET OF SOUTHERNWOOD (Ashover Derby, Frank Murray, Mayday, 1896), and A GARLAND OF LADSLOVE (F. E. Murray, London, 1911).

7. Corvo, the genius who died in penury in Venice, was the writer of the well known HADRIAN THE SEVENTH: A ROMANCE (Chatto & Windus, London, 1904), and the scandalous THE DESIRE AND PURSUIT OF THE WHOLE: A ROMANCE OF MODERN VENICE (Cassell, London, 1934). He was also the author of the notorious ‘Venice Letters’.

8. Poet and artist, Ralph Nicholas Chubb (Blake’s Mantle), was theauthor of several limited volumes of poems which were decorated with beautiful hand paintings of boys. Among the best were THE HEAVENLY CUPID: OR, THE TRUE PARADISE OF LOVES (Newbury, the author, 1934); and FLAMES OF SUNRISE: A BOOK [end p. 252] OF THE MANCHILD CONCERNING THE REDEMPTION OF ALBION (Newbury, the author, 1954).

9. ACHILLES IN SCYROS: A CLASSICAL COMEDY (Cayme Press, London, 1927).

10. For those wanting to know more about the Uranians, and see some of their works, read: LOVE IN EARNEST: SOME NOTES ON THE LIVES AND WRITINGS OF ENGLISH ‘URANIAN’ POETS FROM 1889 TO 1930, by Timothy d’Arch Smith (Routledge & Kegan Paul, Lonodn, 1970). FEASTING WITH PANTHERS: A NEW CONSIDERATION OF SOME LATE VICTORIAN WRITERS, by Rupert Croft-Cooke (W. H. Allen, London, 1967). SEXUAL HERETICS; MALE HOMOSEXUALITY IN ENGLISH LITERATURE FROM 1850 TO 1900, by Brian Reade (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1970). ERO; AN ANTHOLOGY OF FRIENDSHIP, by Patrick Anderson & Alistair Sutherland (Anthony Blond, London, 1961). THE PENGUIN BOOK OF HOMOSEXUAL VERSE, ed. By Stephen Coote, Penguin, Middlesex, 1983). GREEK LOVE, by J. Z. Eglinton (Neille Spearman, London, 1971). MEN AND BOYS: AN ANTHOLOGY (revised edition – the old Coltsfoot Press, New York, 1978).

PIE and the Gay Left in Britain – The Account by Lucy Robinson – plus various articles newly online

The following is the passage from Lucy Robinson, Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain: How the Personal got Political (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), pp. 129-139, dealing with the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). Whilst not without some errors (for example misdating the foundation of PIE as 1975 rather than 1974, and confusing the British National Party – not founded until 1982 – with the National Front), and also glossing over feminist and lesbian paedophilia or pro-paedophilia, this is an important and relatively comprehensive account. In the footnotes reproduced at the end, where possible I have given a link to the material in question when it is available online; in other cases I have uploaded it at the bottom of this post itself

I intend soon to complete a comprehensive bibliography of books, articles and newspaper pieces relating to PIE.

Testing times and uneasy alliances: Gay Left and the Paedophile Information Exchange

The [Gay Left] Collective’s theoretical approaches can be best assessed when tested against actual campaigns. Single-issue based campaigns continued to make unity difficult and this was particularly true of the campaigns that the Collective became involved in around PIE. By looking at the issues around PIE and the campaigns that defended it, it is possible to see how transferable Gay Left’s approaches were. This is not to say that there is an easy correlation between homosexual and paedophile experience or desire, instead it is a way of seeing how paedophile self-organisation developed with a full consciousness of the history of the gay liberation movement.

PIE coincided with the Collective’s need for a campaign through which to impact the world. The second issue of Gay Left included a letter from Roger Moody. He called for an analysis of paedophiles’ transgressive role in society, solidarity between different identity groups and a revolutionary model of sexual behaviour. [50]. From its third issue PIE ran adverts in Gay Left. Issue 7 of the journal was entitled ‘Happy Families – paedophilia examined’. Members of the Collective saw PIE, and the campaigns around it, as a new battlefield from which to extend sexual liberation. Conservative anxiety had switched its focus from homosexuality to paedophilia, so it seemed as though the lines of defence should too. Bob Cant and Steven Gee specifically addressed these issues in Homosexuality, Power and Politics. Kenneth Plummer also became involved in the debate contributing to a number of collections on the subject. [51] In acknowledgment, the chairman of PIE, Tom O’Carroll, thanks Plummer in his introduction to Paedophilia – the Radical Case. Whilst not supporters or advocates of paedophilia, the Collective argued that discussion around paedophilia and PIE could be used to challenge the idea that sexuality was ‘pre-given determined and firm’ as well as to open up debates on child sexuality. [52] However this proved to be a gross over-estimation of both society’s position on paedophilia, and of paedophilia as a political issue. The following section of this chapter explains how a paedophile identity developed in the wake of the gay liberation movement and why Plummer and others in the Gay Left Collective were overly optimistic in their assessment.

Saying the unspeakable: PIE’s development in context

As with GLF et al., paedophile self-organisation developed in an international context. In both Europe and the United States paedophiles felt that they were on the receiving end of increased aggression and also felt that they had the potential to organise against it. [53] The first UK based group was Paedophile Action for Liberation (PAL) some of whom had been involved in the GLF. PAL published the newsletter Palaver. This group were singled out in the Sunday People campaign that labelled them ‘the vilest men in Britain’ on 25 May 1975. PAL were exposed as the enemy within. Although the article contained no allegation of actual sexual assault it made it clear that PAL members represented an evil that every parent must be warned about. The manner in which the article was researched, and the treatment of those it accused was so severe that both the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) and Gay News acted as advocates and witnesses for the PAL members. The advocates were threatened themselves. PAL’s closure was inevitable and it eventually ‘tottered to death’ in 1977. [54]

PIE, PAL’s most successful counterpart, was formed by three members of the Scottish Minorities Group. Their postal address remained that of the Group’s Glasgow headquarters. Having learnt many lessons from its early roots, PIE took its remit beyond that of support for individuals; they were the first to attempt a collective identity for paedophiles. [55] PIE began in October 1975. By November 1975 it is recorded as having 100 members. By 1977 this had risen to 250. At its peak, membership reached 450. [56] However, by the end of 1979 PIE was effectively over. Like PAL before them, tabloid exposés, this time in the News of the World and the Daily Star, precipitated its demise. All that remained were court cases and newspaper coverage, leaving the Left and the liberation movements struggling for positions. [57] On the way a number of contradictions and unmaintainable legacies were exposed.

PIE first gained public attention after The International Conference of Love and Attraction, organised by Mark Cook, and convened by Kevin Howells and Tom O’Carroll. The title of the conference, and PIE’s publicity, concentrated on paedophilia as a way of describing emotions not actions – a distinction that made little difference to the reactions that confronted them. In reality, the conference proved just how far paedophilia stood from the brink of liberation. College authorities ejected O’Carroll from the building and he was beaten in the face. Protesters also beat Daily Telegraph reporter Gerard Kemp, and Richard McCance, General Secretary of the counselling group Friend, whose appeals to the police were ignored. Elsewhere unions organised against PIE holding meetings on their premises. [58]

In today’s contemporary climate any rational public discourse relating to paedophilia seems increasingly unmanageable. [59] For a brief period however, the campaign surrounding PIE offered a possibility of learning from the GLF’s mistakes and of pushing the liberational agenda into its third and most radical stage. In the process PIE’s contradictory position was exposed. On the one hand PIE made Wolfenden type appeals to professionalism, whilst at the same time it spoke to an audience who were increasingly informed by the counter-culture’s Do It Yourself values.

O’Carroll fostered GLF’s shared history in his account of PIE’s development. The Conference was justified as an act of ‘coming out’, the first stage of liberational development. GLF veterans acted as stewards for a PIE meeting in Red Lion Square meeting in 1977 [60] and the International Gay Association made a public statement supporting PIE. [61] O’Carroll tightened the relationship between the two by concentrating on the organisational ties. By melding PAL into PIE, PIE inherited roots as a break away group from the South London GLF. He argued that PIE was one of the ‘radical blooms’ that sprouted from the ‘flourishing phenomenon’ of gay liberation. 62] This appealed to those who, following the attainment of certain concessions, were searching for a new radicalism with which to challenge wider social structures. The book produced from the conference, Adult Sexual Interest in Children, was designed to provide the factual basis for a ‘cooler and more reasoned’ approach to the issue. [63] Like the earlier GLF publications, it directed its iconoclasm at Freud and psychiatry as a whole and tried to undermine categorisation itself. It combined this with a Wolfenden style ‘rational’ argument suggesting that society’s solutions were more dangerous than the problem. [64] This double-pronged attempt to combine liberation and reform was not enough to alter paedophilia’s position. Twenty years later the News of the World still referred to this book as ‘vile’. [65]

Like the earlier homosexual law reform campaigns PIE’s immediate goals were to provide support and to collate and disseminate information. [66] In terms of support, PIE wanted to alleviate the isolation, guilt, secrecy and anguish associated with paedophilia as well as to dispel the myths surrounding it. As with reformist support organisations such as the Albany Trust, PIE used contact advertisements, magazine publication and letter writing to breakdown the strong sense of isolation felt by its members. [67] From the start PIE explained that alongside individual and collective support it wanted to educate the wider world. When PIE announced its launch in the C.H.E. Bulletin, it explained that its initial goal was the organisation of information to act as a resource. [68] It produced Perspectives on Paedophilia, which combined sympathetic research with an educational role, aimed at professionals who worked with paedophiles. PIE argued that, like homosexuals earlier, self-oppression and fear of the law meant that paedophiles felt they had no choice but to accept chemical castration or aversion therapy. [69] PIE also tried to counter the unequal distribution of sentences experienced by paedophiles. The realities of paedophile criminality meant that paedophiles received severe sentences for their first offence, suffered frequent attacks from other prisoners once in prison, and had to be placed on ‘Rule 43’. [70] Perspectives on Paedophilia reappraised psychiatric models and offered a variety of self-help alternatives to challenge the tradition façade of a choice between either treatment or punishment. [71]

In 1975, PIE made a submission to the Home Office Criminal Law Review Committee on the age of consent. In the submission, the connection between PIE’s case and the Wolfenden Report was made explicit. The submission directly quoted the Report to support PIE’s argument. [72] In reaction to the existing laws, which treated infants and adolescents the same, the main body of the submission outlined a convoluted set of age divisions as an alternative to the mechanistic age of consent. Briefly these were: Firstly, that there was no possibility of consent under the age of four years old. Then, between the ages of four and nine a parent or responsible adult should be qualified to indicate in court cases whether or not they believed the child to be able to communicate consent. The remaining years, ten to seventeen, should be treated with minimal intervention providing the child is of normal development. There should be no division between assessment of heterosexual or homosexual cases. [73] This caused considerable controversy. There had been a certain amount of debate surrounding the upper ages of consent, particularly within lesbian and gay communities. Some young people began to take the liberation movements at their word, and Kidz Lib started organising around young people’s own rights and sexual freedom. But, PIE found there was little support [end p. 131] for their plan to lower the age of consent so dramatically. Even within PIE there was little chance of publicly defending sexual contact with the younger age groups. Few in PIE would admit to interest in sexual activity with those under adolescence, which is reiterated in studies of paedophiles generally. [74] PIE had hoped to gain a level of legitimacy through the submission. However, Home Office acceptance of PIE’s submission did not extend to any sympathy for individual members. In 1979 the Home Office ensured that Steven Smith, a PIE member who was employed by a subcontractor working at the Home Office, was removed from his job. [75]

Impossible collaborations: PIE’s attempts at entryism

PIE developed its own form of entryism. In order to build alliances with other identity groups, it tried to make connections with various liberal, professional and liberational organisations. PIE contacted amongst others, GaySocs, Gay News, the National Association of Youth Officers, Peace News, groups of trainee social workers, Release, Probation Services, NCLCC, MIND as well as academic departments. The contradictory and arbitrary divisions in British law around age meant that campaigns around paedophilia fed into a variety of issues relating to young men and women. This was particularly fostered in the Gay Youth Movement, with whom PIE made public statements of solidarity. [76]

Compared with today’s possibilities, PIE was remarkably successful in building alliances. For example, its overtures to social workers’ professional organisations culminated in a four page ‘non-judgmental and neutral’ article in the trade paper Community Care. The article, ‘Should We Pity the Paedophile?’ by Mary Manning, was published in Autumn 1977. It was illustrated with stills from Death in Venice and alluded to paedophilia’s historically and culturally constructed meaning. When the Manning article described Tom O’Carroll as ‘a likeable and gentle young man who has an ongoing interest in social history’, Manning constructed a version of O’Carroll appealing to both the empathetic and the academic. [77]

Some organisations resisted any involvement with PIE. Bristol University’s Vice Chancellor refused PIE’s offer to provide a speaker for the Department of Social Planning. In the end the request was hypothetical, as the speaker had been sent to prison by the time the proposed date arrived. The National Association of Probation Officers took a similar approach. [78] Whereas other organisations were loosely supportive, but withdrew their support when they were confronted with either the reality of PIE’s beliefs or society’s reaction to them. Although the NCCL challenged the State’s right to intervene in post-pubescent sex, it did not directly support the PIE. A fierce internal debate ensued when PIE targeted the NCCL and applied for membership. Eventually the proposal was rejected at the organisation’s annual general meeting. Similarly, Christian Wolmar described his amazement when he joined the staff of Release in 1976 and found that they were providing a mailing address for PIE. Wolmar raised the issue at a collective meeting. A member of PIE was invited to come and justify its position. It appeared that any vague sense of commonality dissipated when faced with the perceived weakness and realities of PIE’s argument. Apparently, PIE’s ambassador talked about ‘the joy of sex with children’ and argued that there should be no age of consent. Following this meeting, Release stopped providing PIE with any resources. Wolmar was sure that if the relationship had continued for a few more months it would have coincided with the News of the World exposé and Release would have lost its Home Office funding. [79]

The real twist in the story of PIE’s attempted entryism into the rainbow coalition of liberal and liberational groups, was that PIE had been infiltrated itself, more than once. In 1977 André Thorne attended a few PIE meetings. He stole some completed membership forms, which he used to try and blackmail a highly placed PIE member. The proposed victim went to the police and Thorne was found guilty of blackmail. [80] Whilst the judge at the trial described the information in Thorne’s possession as ‘potential dynamite’, a widespread exposé did not follow. This time the only charges brought were against the infiltrator. The next series of events had far graver implications for PIE. Charles Oxley, a grandfather and headmaster, joined PIE under the pseudonym David Charlton. He had aroused some suspicions from fellow PIE members, but they had appreciated his willingness to help and he attended two executive committee meetings. He then took a number of stories to the News of the World. [81] Although none of Oxley’s accusations constituted actual criminal activity, based on his research the tabloid published the names and photographs of seven PIE members on 25 June 1978. This built on the earlier Daily Star campaign, which had named and photographed four members. [83] Following the articles, PIE could no loner find a sympathetic printer for its newssheet MAGPIE. [84] As the furore ensued, O’Carroll lost his job as a press officer for the Open University. [85] The police pre-empted the News of the World exposé by a day. The police had previously raided O’Carroll’s home, but it was this second search that resulted in arrest. [86] O’Carroll was arrested along with three other PIE members, John Parratt, David Trevor Wade and Michael Dagnall. [87]

When PIE members found themselves in court, their attempts at entryism blossomed into co-ordinated support. As with the Angry Brigade and the GLF, prosecutions built shared campaigns. The nature of the charge was central to the ways in which gay and left campaigners were able to organise support for PIE. Along with Oxley, the police had been unable to find any hard evidence of actual sexual abuse of children. They were charged with postal offences and the common law offence of conspiracy to corrupt public morals over contact advertisements in Magpie. [88] PIE’s defence at the trial rested on the argument that their function was to campaign for the recognition of the feelings of paedophiles and that this was not the same as sanctioning sex with children. To an extent, the prosecution concurred. The prosecution did not attempt to prove that PIE advocated breaking the law through sex with minors; instead they relied on statements and publications from PIE to demonstrate the conspiracy. Similarly both the defence and prosecution agreed on the ‘pathetic nature’ of the defendants. [89] The first trial resulted in one defendant being acquitted and the jury unable to agree on the others. Following a retrial, Tom O’Carroll was convicted and sentenced to two years. [90]

Beyond the trials initiated by Oxley against O’Carroll et al., a series of further charges were brought against PIE members, which resulted in guilty verdicts relating to conspiracy, obscenity and postal offences. As with the earlier accusations these prosecutions were not directly related to actual sexual offences against children. [91] However, public concerns following an attack on a six-year-old boy in Brighton [92] and two girls in Plymouth fed into the perception of PIE as dangerous. [93] Calls to ban PIE increased and the Department of Public Prosecutions opened a new dossier that included a ‘long list’ of its members’ names. [94] Leon Brittan, the new Home Secretary, made his presence known when he pre-empted one series of convictions by condemning the ‘views’ of PIE’s members. He argued that the public ‘rightly expect[ed] criminal law in this field to be effective’. [95] PIE’s argument that it was organising around the category of paedophile rather than in favour of child-abuse, was once more proved an irrelevant distinction. According to Parliament and the lower-courts, there was no paedophile identity that could be extracted from actual offences against children. Faced with this onslaught, PIE came under increasing attack. Members were evicted from their homes, groups lost the use of postal addresses and Midland Bank closed PIE’s bank account. [96] O’Carroll blamed a lack of rational debate and thought that public perceptions of paedophilia were a sign of an undeveloped society. [97] However the reasons that PIE failed went beyond timing.

A campaign too far: defensive projects for paedophilia

The type of charges brought against the PIE members and the type of people who pushed for the prosecutions, meant that sections of the Left and of the gay movement felt that they should support PIE. PIE had been attacked from two related directions, the conspiracy laws and Right. Oz, International Times and Gay Circle had all been prosecuted for the same charge. The Angry Brigade trial had showed how in particular political climates the law read loose links between groups and communications between individuals as conspiracy. Sheila Rowbotham recognised this when she explained that ‘[h]istorically the use of the notoriously vague offence of “conspiracy” has always been a sure sign that the British state was in one of its spasms of insecure authoritarianism’. [98]

The PIE prosecutions played out the relationship between the State, mainstream morality and the far-Right. Mary Whitehouse and the National Festival of Light, who had perennially attacked the counter-cultural and gay movements, spearheaded the campaign against PIE. [99] In August 1977 the Daily Mirror launched a ‘hysterical campaign’ against PIE. [100] This led to dramatic events at a public PIE meeting at Red Lion Square on 19 August. [101] The meeting was besieged by the British National Party and the British Movement who attacked; chanting ‘Kill them, Kill them’. [102] This ‘fascist violence’ was reported in the press the next day as the ‘fury of the mothers’. [103] In this context it was difficult for ‘”movement” people not to be drawn into sympathy with PIE on the old basis of “your enemy’s enemy is my friend”’. [104] After all, organisation against the far-Right had apparently been successful in attracting the young to leftist orientated events like Rock Against Racism carnivals.

Gay and Left supporters stand up . . .

In 1974 C.H.E. made statements of solidarity with PIE at its annual conference and included adverts for the group in its Bulletin, although C.H.E. frequently related paedophilia to heterosexuality rather than homosexuality. [105] IN 1975, the People implicated C.H.E. in its exposé of PAL. The broadsheet press picked up on the link, leading to concerns within C.H.E.’s rank and file over whether the issue of paedophilia had been brought onto the agenda as a ‘cause célèbre’. [106] In fact the issue had been publicly discussed at a number of C.H.E. conferences and it had been decided that C.H.E. would hold no active position on paedophilia, PAL or PIE. Although the tactic had not worked for the defendants in court, C.H.E. was able to negotiate a level of removed support of PIE by separating paedophile identity from paedophile activity. In 1983, the C.H.E. annual conference passed a resolution vehemently condemning ‘all violent attacks on children’ whilst upholding PIE’s right to ‘freedom of speech and organisation’. In so doing C.H.E. was attempting to reject the conflation of child-abuse and paedophilia. [107]

The Albany Trust’s support of PIE had more significant implications. As part of the first phase of PIE’s development, it had produced a booklet published by the Albany Trust. [108] Despite Grey’s eloquent discussion of the complexities of paedophile defence, in 1993 he still felt the need to explain the relationship between the Albany Trust and the PIE. He described a series of ‘private discussions about the counselling needs of paedophiles’. However this alone was enough to give impetus to a smear campaign by ‘moral monopolists’. Like C.H.E., both the Trust and Grey personally, were accused of ‘supporting child abuse’. The old adversary, the National Festival of Light described the Albany Trust as a ‘related body’ to PIE. [109] Although Grey made the distinction between the groups clear, the Trust paid a heavy price for its supposed connections with PIE and received the sanction that Wolmar had feared would be brought against Release. The Trust lost its public funding. [110] Even in Grey’s later account of the events he has to explicitly distance himself from personal ‘sexual interest in children’ in order to discuss the matter at all. [111] The fait accompli was such that any discussion of society’s treatment of paedophiles was assumed to have a personal motivation.

Alongside gay organisations, a broad based leftist alliance stepped in to protest against the ‘show trial’ that attacked the ‘freedom to communicate and organise’. [112] The Campaign Against Public Morals (CAPM) formed around the trial in an attempt to coalesce wide reaching support and published Paedophilia and Public Morals. [113] It argued that there should be no crime without a victim, CAPM asked, ‘Have YOU ever held radical views? Have YOU ever campaigned for social change? Because if you have it could be YOUR turn next’. [114] A number of groups answered in the affirmative: IMG, the SWP, Gay Rights at Work, Gay Noise, Revolutionary [end p. 135] Youth, German Study and Working Group on Paedophilia, Gay Rights at Work, Gay Workers in Print, the Campaign against Sexist Stereotypes and the Gay Noise Collective. [115] Like Gay Left, these groups’ support of paedophilia followed the Pastor Neimöller theory. Neimöller’s poem begins ‘First they came for the communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist’, and then lists other groups affected by the Nazi purges, trade unionists etc and then Jews, until ‘then they came for me – and by then there was no one left to speak out for me’. In other words if the State was not stopped from persecuting paedophiles it would not be long before there were different identity or political groups in the dock. [116] Groups related to the trial as both an immediacy in itself and also as part of a bigger challenge to the law. So the order of priorities was firstly to stop the show trial and have the charges dropped and secondly to defend the right of paedophiles to organise. The magazine Outrage! Noted that the defendants had been arrested, not for any physical abuse, but for ‘what they think’. [117] Gay Noise related PIE’s experiences to issues faced by lesbian mothers, to employment rights, the right to self-organisation, manipulation of psychiatric services and the use of the police. [118] Gay Noise also explicitly linked PIE with the context of the wider gay Left. Gay Noise saw paedophilia as important in the battle to restructure the women’s and gay liberation movement, because it could offer a socialist view of child sexuality. [119] The campaign could then be extended into a rejection of state harassment of the young and the abolition of the conspiracy laws. [120]

. . . and fade away

Beyond shared experiences of the conspiracy laws and resistance to the Right there was little common ground between PIE and the groups around the CAPM. There was not enough whole-hearted support for such a contentious issue. Paedophilia was not a class issue and the simple correlation between sexuality and political radicalism was a misnomer. In fact, in one article that contained interviews with a number of paedophiles, each one was a conservative. [121] Some sections of the Left directly attacked PIE on moral grounds. Along with the Right, the unions employed at various meeting halls and conference centres were often the most vociferous campaigners against PIE. Even those who were supportive during the trial later recanted. IMG questioned whether support for PIE was appropriate, and withdrew. [122] They refused to recognise the value of PIE’s autonomy. PIE’s right to self-organise was under attack again, although this time not in order to maintain the status quo, but to justify a left-wing focus on party organisation and class.

Some of the groups that PIE tried to attach themselves to were diametrically opposed to PIE’s agenda. There had been efforts to make links between the position of women, particularly lesbians, and that of paedophiles, but much of the women’s liberation movement did not see its role as extending grown men’s sexual liberty. The CAPM had prophesied that there would be a ‘concentrated effort to split the Women’s Movement and the Gay Movement on the question on which they have been historically the weakest; paedophila and child [end p. 136] sexuality’. [123] But women such as Spare Rib’s Susan Hemmings and Bea Campbell saw any attempt to link feminism and paedophilia as opportunistic .Hemmings argued that the connection was ‘irresponsible’, whereas Campbell dismissed it as an attempt to blackmail feminists into something they did not believe in. [124] Post-WLM feminist found paedophilia an abhorrent expression of patriarchal society. Paedophilia was ‘inherently sexist’. Adult men, not women, typified these unequal and objectifying relationships. If heterosexual men’s sexuality pathologically objectified women, then paedophilia objectified children in the same way. Following the PIE trial, feminist discourse on child-abuse took precedence over the gay Left’s call for paedophile liberation. In the divorce case following the short lived romance between the women’s and gay liberation movements, the feminists gained sole custody of the children.

Keeping identities separate: the danger of homosexual and paedophile association

It was largely feminists who were given roles as children’s advocates, but the idea that the same models would work for paedophilia and homosexuality was also beign questioned. Gilbert Herdt, Professor of Human Development and Psychology at Chicago University and leading anthropologist, asked the key question: ‘[c]an you call paedophiles a minority group who form their own subculture?’ Is there a Paedophile community from which to organise social reform let alone liberation?’ [125] The variety of personal and political approaches taken by gay men suggest that there may be contention over whether a gay community exists, but let’s assume that a concept of gay community does exist, however wrought with tensions and lacking in coherence, however artificial and conscious the act of maintaining itself may be. Plummer explained that paedophiles had a less grounded sub-cultural tradition upon which to develop a collective identity. Furthermore the gay line of development from surreptitious underground, to law reform campaigners, to public declaration of liberationist intent could not be followed when the sexual activity was still illegal and initiated such outrage in the public. [126]

Many gay reactions to PIE reiterated concerns over any assumed allegiance between homosexuality and paedophilia. The relationship between PIE and Gay News was a measurement of this. Having acted as advocates for PIE in the face of the bigotry of tabloid journalism, the association had legal implications for Gay News. Yet, despite the publication’s earlier advocacy, in reality support for PAL and PIE had consisted of printing PIE’s address and the ‘occasional sympathetic article’. [127] Gay News had favourably reviewed Paedophilia: The Radical Case, but when PIE approached the magazine with a request to be included in the help lines list, they were refused. [128] W H Smith had refused to stock the magazine. Under pressure from the news-sellers and in reaction to the growing atmosphere, Gay News eventually refused to take any adverts. This exclusion from the major gay voice piece was the death-knell for PIE. [129]

It was not just Gay News that backed out of a relationship with PIE. There was a point of retreat, whereby paedophilia was dropped consciously ‘as a hot potato, too dangerous to everybody else’. [130] Gay Left’s Stephen Gee argued that homosexuals had not been, ‘sufficiently supportive [of PIE] nor have we challenged the dominant ideology childhood and child sexuality which informs this attack’. [131] PIE representative told Gay News that:

[p]olitically, PIE feel that the division between itself and the gay movement, which is acknowledge[d] as real, is in part the product of a realistic fear by the gay movement that its own gains could be jeopardised by too close a relationship with the paedophile movement. . . . We regret the alienation we feel from the gay movement and the feminist movement in this country. [132]

Homosexuality was regarded as a privilege that could be retreated back into in order to avoid taking on any stigma of association with paedophilia. A review in Gay Times in August 1997 charted this reassessment of the period:

Gay attitudes to paedophilia have undergone a transformation. In the early days of gay liberation, ‘intergenerational’ sex seemed to occupy a legitimate place on the homosexual continuum. Homosexuals were vilified and persecuted, and so were paedophiles. Denying child sexuality seemed part of the ideology of repression. But genuine anxiety about child sex abuse has hardened attitudes. Gay law reform is a serious business nowadays. We have spent decades trying to shrug off the charge that we just want to molest children. We can do without real perverts hitching a ride on the bandwagon, thank you. [133]

Yet, PIE’s entryism seems to have been perversely successful. The unshakeable assumptions pinking homosexuality with paedophilia were used to discredit the Left and liberational movements. Liberal attitudes to inter-generational sex became metaphors for concerns over sexual liberation generally, equal opportunities, union protectionism, anti-professionalism, of the ‘politically correct’ ‘gone mad’. This was particularly true of the debates and recriminations following the children’s homes’ child-abuse scandals of the 1980s where protecting gay rights was seen as a cover for the employment of paedophiles in children’s homes. [134] Whereas PIE were not directly implicated in the children’s home abuse scandals, they were the polemic expression of the ‘general tenor of the period’. [135] By 1999 Community Care published articles condemning its earlier liberal approaches to paedophilia which it associated with union monopolies stifling complaints about child sex abuse. [136]

PIE was seen as evidence of the worst excesses of the post-1968 liberation movements, especially because of the way in which it blurred distinction between adult and child.

[T]he argument that a distinction could be drawn between abuse and consensual sex with children struck a chord [because[ it was fashionable to see children as autonomous beings who should have the right to liberate themselves sexually. [137]

In PIE’s submission to the government, it presented itself as a champion of children’s rights. However this had less credibility than its expression of adult sexual liberation. The pleasure principle overrode the reality of adulthood and adult responsibility. According to David Shaffer, consultant in child psychiatry at Maudsley Hospital, ‘PIE ignor[ed] a child’s other interests apart from pleasure’. In the mind of Shaffer, hedonism should have come ‘pretty low on the list’ in the lessons the liberational adults should have been teaching their children. [136] Just as celebrations of Laing had little to do with real mental illness, PIE’s posturing had little relationship with the reality of childhood.

Christian Wolmar argued that ‘the failure of supporters of greater sexual freedom to distinguish between openness and exploitation meant that for a time paedophilia almost became respectable’. [139] However at the heart of the gay left/paedophile interaction there was an equally strong dynamic working against paedophilia. Any connection between paedophilia, the counter-culture and the Left was bound to increase rather than decrease reactions against paedophile self-organisation. So rather than representing a greying of attitudes towards sexuality debates surrounding paedophilia clearly demarcated the line beyond which behaviour was unacceptable. When Ken Livingstone and his Greater London Council sought to harness the energy of lesbian and gay politics, they confronted a similar dynamic. Attaching a left-wing campaign to personal politics was not going to bring down the State, but it might help to bring down the Left.

50. Roger Moody, ‘Paedophile Politics’, Gay Left 2 (Spring 1976) p. 23.
51. Kenneth Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View from Below’, in Perspectives on Paedophilia, ed. B. Taylor (Batsford, 1981). Kenneth Plummer, ‘Pedophilia: Constructing a Sociological Baseline’, in Adult Sexual Interest in Children, eds. Mark Cook and Kevin Howells (Academic Press, 1981).
52. Gay Left Collective, ‘Happy Families: Paedophilia Explained’, Gay Left 7 (Winter 1978-79).
53. Edward Brongersma, ‘An Historical Background’, The NAMBLA Bulletin 4, 2 (1983), p. 1.
54. A. Mayer and H. Warschauer, ‘The Vilest Men in Britain’, Sunday People (25 May 1975). Michael Mason, J. Grace, and C. Hill, ‘The Vilest Men in Britain’, Gay News 72 (1975). Plummer, ‘The Paedophiles’ Progress: A View from Below’, p. 128. Bob Taylor, Perspectives on Paedophilia (Batsford, 1981), p. xix.
55. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View from Below’, p. 118.
56. PIE, ‘Evidence on the Law Relating to and Penalties for Certain Sexual Offences for the Home Office Criminal Law Revision Committee’. Wolmar, Forgotten Children: The Sexual Abuse Scandal in Children’s Homes (Vision, 2000), pp. 138, 143. Plummer, ‘The Paedophiles’ Progress: A View from Below’, p. 128.
57. Anthony Bevins, ‘Labour’s Hard Left to Form New Group’, The Times (24 August 1983).[see below]
58. ‘Hotel Ban on Paedophiles’, The Times (25 August 1977). [see below]
59. E.g. Anna Gekoski, ‘Their Evil Is Incurable Says Crime Expert’, News of the World (23 July 2000). [see below]
60. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case (Peter Owen, 1980) p. 230.
61. Gay Noise Collective, ‘Campaign Moves into Full Swing’, Gay Noise 4 (25 September 1980).
62. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case pp. 208, 209, 247.
63. Plummer, ‘The Paedophiles’ Progress: A View from Below’, p. 126. ‘Hotel Ban on Paedophiles’ [See below]. Cook and Howells, Adult Sexual Interest in Children, p. viii.
64. Kevin Howells, ‘Adult Sexual Interest in Children: Considerations Relevant to theories of Aetiology’, Adult Sexual Interest in Children, eds. Mark Cook and Kevin Howells (Academic Press, 1981). Kenneth Plummer, ‘Paedophilia: Constructing a Sociological Baseline’, Adult Sexual Interest in Children. D.J. West, ‘Implications for Social Control’, Adult Sexual Interest in Children. [See here for more on West]
65. Mazher Mahmood, ‘Caught in the Act’, News of the World (5 August 2001). [See below]
66. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View from Below’, p. 116. C.H.E., Bulletin (Harverster, 1974).
67. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View from Below’, pp. 119, 116, 117.
68. C.H.E., Bulletin, 11 & 12 (Harvester, 1974).
69. C.A.P.M., Paedophilia and Public Morals (no date HCA). PIE, ‘Evidence on the Law’.
70. Richard Card, ‘Paedophilia and the Law’, in Perspectives on Paedophilia, ed. B. Taylor (Batsford, 1981) p. 21.
71. Taylor, Perspectives on Paedophilia, p. vii.
72. PIE, ‘Evidence on the Law’. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View form Below’, p. 122.
73. PIE, ‘Evidence on the Law’.
74. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 143. Christian Wolmar, ‘Home Truths’, Independent on Sunday (8 October 2000).
75. ‘PIE is in the Wars Again’, Gay News, August (1979).
76. North-Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee, Bulletin January (Harvester). O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, p. 232. Grey, Speaking of Sex: the Limits of Language (Cassell, 1993) p. 91. C.A.P.M., Paedophilia and Public Morals, p. 21. Peter Tatchell, ‘Letter to the Editor’, The Guardian Weekend (17 February 2001). Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 140. ‘PIE is in the Wars Again’.
77. Mary Manning, ‘Should We Pity the Paedophiles?’, Community Care, Autumn (1977). Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 144.
78. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 140.
79. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, pp. 139-40.
80. ‘PIE Blackmail Case’, Gay News (1977).
81. David Nicholson-Lord, ‘Government “Apathy” on PIE Criticised’, The Times (31 August 1983). ‘PIE is in the Wars Again’.
82. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, p. 233.
83. ‘PIE is in the Wars Again’.
84. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View from Below’, p. 128.
85. Mahmood, ‘Caught in the Act’ [see below], ‘Open University Man Suspended’, The Times (23 September 1977) [see below].
86. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, p. 9.
87. Brian Deer, ‘Paranoid About PIE’, Gay News 185 (1980). Dr. T. Stuttaford, ‘Everett Picture Gives Credence to Dangerous Myth’, The Times (7 April 1995) [see below].
88. C.A.P.M., Paedophilia and Public Morals, p. iii. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 142. Outcome, Outcome 7 (1978).
89. Gay Noise Collective, ‘The Paedophile Information Exchange Trial’, Gay Noise 12 (12 December 1981).
90. ‘File on Child Sex Group for DPP’ [see below]. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, pp. 142-3.
91. Gay Noise Collective, ‘The Paedophile Information Exchange Trial’. Gay Youth, ‘Editorial’, Gay Youth 11 (Summer 1984). Bevias, ‘Labour’s Hard Left to Form New Group’. David Nicholson-Lord, ‘Child Sex Group Men Arrested’, The Times (9 September 1983) [see below].
92. Peter Evans, ‘Minister Condemns Paedophile Views’, The Times (2 September 1983). ‘Telephone Caller Says He Knows One of the Men Who Assaulted Boy’, The Times (25 August 1983). Nicholson-Lord, ‘Police Hunting Men Who Assaulted Boy Lack Vital Computer Software’, The Times (25 August 1983) [see below].
93. Nicholson-Lord ‘Government “Apathy” on PIE Criticised’. Nicholson-Lord, ‘Police Hunting Men Who Assaulted Boy Lack Vital Computer Software’ [see below]. ‘Hysterical Attacks on Paedophiles’. C.H.E., Annual Conference Report, September (1983).
94. ‘File on Child Sex Group for DPP’ [see below]. ‘MP Seeks to Ban Child Sex Group’ (23 August 1983). Nicholson-Lord, ‘Government “Apathy” on PIE Criticised’.
95. Evans, ‘Minister Condemns Paedophile Views’.
96. ‘Hysterical Attacks on Paedophiles’.
97. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, p. 220.
98. Sheila Rowbotham, Promise of a Dream (Allen Lane, 2000) p. 70.
99. ‘Leaders of Paedophile Group Are Sent to Jail’, The Times (5 November 1984). ‘PIE Member Faces Child Pornography Charge’, The Times (17 November 1984) [see below].
100. Derek Cohen and Richard Dyer, ‘The Politics of Gay Culture’, in Homosexuality: Power and Politics, pp. 172-86.
101. ‘Three Men Fined after Paedophile Meeting’, The Times (21 September 1977) [see below].
102. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, p. 230.
103. Cohen and Richard, ‘The Politics of Gay Culture’, p. 198. The far-Right continued this entryist relationship with the public campaigns pertaining to paedophilia. For example the National Democrat’s ‘Help Our Children’ campaign. (The Flag: The National Democrats, Help Our Children [website] (www.natdems.org.uk/the_flag.htm, August 2001 [cited 21 August 2001]).
104. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 142.
105. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, p. 210. C.H.E., Bulletin, p. 129. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View from Below’. C.H.E., Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Homosexuality (C.H.E., 1975).
106. C.H.E., ‘CHE’s Reply to the Guardian’. C.H.E., ‘Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee Held on 12th, 13th & 14th September 1975’ (Harvester, 1975). C.H.E., ‘Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee Held on 14th June 1975’ (Harvester, 1975). Glenys Parry, Letter from Glenys Parry to Local Group Chairpeople, C.H.E. (Harvester, 17/09/1975).
107. C.H.E. Committee, Annual Conference Report, Annual Conference Report (Harvester, September 1983).
108. O’Carroll, Paedophilia: The Radical Case, p. 234.
109. NFOL, ‘Paederasty and the Homosexual Movement’, Broadsheet (1977) p. 20. Grey, Speaking of Sex, p. 90.
110. Grey, Speaking of Sex, p. 95.
111. Grey, Speaking of Sex, p. 91.
112. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 142. C.A.P.M., Paedophilia and Public Morals, p. iii.
113. C.A.P.M, Paedophilia and Public Morals, p. iii.
114. C.A.P.M, Paedophilia and Public Morals, p. iii.
115. Graham Mckerrow, ‘Judge Orders PIE Retrial’, Gay News (1981).
116. Gay Noise Collective, ‘The Paedophile Information Exchange Trial’.
117. ‘Hysterical Attacks on Paedophiles’, Outrage 3 (1983).
118. Gay Noise Collective, ‘Demonstrations against State Repression’, Gay Noise 13 (12 February 1981).
119. Gay Noise Collective, ‘Campaign Moves into Full Swing’.
120. Gay Noise Collective, ‘Editorial: The IMG and Paedophilia: the Wrong Initiative at the Wrong Time’, Gay Noise 12 (12 February 1981). Deer, ‘Paranoid about PIE’.
121. ‘Hotel Ban on Paedophiles’. Maurice Yaffe, ‘Paedophilia: The Forbidden Subject’, New Statesman (16 September 1977) p. 362. Dea Birkett, ‘Monsters with Human Faces’, The Guardian (27 September 1997).
122. Gay Noise Collective ‘Editorial: The IMG and Paedophilia: the Wrong Initiative at the Wrong Time’, Gay Noise 12 (1981) p. 2.
123. C.A.P.M, Paedophilia and Public Morals, p. 6.
124. Deer, ‘Paranoid about PIE’.
125. J. Geraci, Dares to Speak (GMP, 1997) p. 30.
126. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View form Below’, p. 130.
127. Mason, Grace, and Hill, ‘The Vilest Men in Britain’. Cohen and Richard, ‘The Politics of Gay Culture’, p. 198. Julie Bindel, ‘Rather Than Campaign on the Age of Consent. . .’, The Guardian Weekend (3 March 2001).
128. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 140.
129. Plummer, ‘The Paedophile’s Progress: A View form Below’, pp. 128-9.
130. Lucy Robinson, Interview with Peter Burton, unpublished (1 June 1999).
131. Gee, ‘Gay Activism’, p. 199.
132. ‘PIE is in the Wars Again’.
133. Gay Times (August 1997).
134. Wolmar, Forgotten Children. Wolmar, ‘Home Truths’. Margaret Hodge, ‘Not Quite, White’, New Statesman (16 June 1995). Wendy Parkin and Lorraine Green, ‘Cultures of Abuse within Residential Care’, Early Child Development and Care 1333 (1997) p. 75. S. Payne and E. Fairweather, ‘Minister Acts over Our Child Abuse Revelations’, Evening Standard (7 January 1992) [see below]. Polly Neate ‘Too Tolerant a Past?’, Community Care (15-21 July 1999).
135. There is a proven relationship between one member of the PIE and the children’s home scandals. Peter Righton was senior lecturer at the National Institute for Social Work, senior tutor at Open University, and sat on many committees including the Central Council for Education in Training and Social Work (Peter Righton, ‘Positive and Negative Aspects in Residential Care’, Social Work Today 8, 37 (1977)). He was charged with possession of books, videos and photos of young men (Peter Burden and Peter Rose, ‘Porn Squad Quiz Child Care Expert’, Daily Mail (28 May 1992) [see below]. He was later found to be PIE member number 51. Righton had used his professional position to assist a banned teacher, Charles Napier, who he had met through the PIE. Through Righton’s influence Napier was able to return to Britain and have the ban lifted (BBC, Children at Risk: Inside Story, 1 June 1994). Edward Pilkington, ‘Shadow of the Attic’, The Guardian (1 June 1994).
136. Polly Neate, ‘Too Tolerant a Past?’, p. 14
137. Pilkington, ‘Shadow of the Attic’.
138. Tim Gospill and Duncan Campbell, ‘Untouchable Subject’, Time Out (9 September 1977).
139. Wolmar, Forgotten Children, p. 153.

‘Hotel ban on paedophiles’, The Times, August 25th, 1977

Times250877 - Hotel ban on paedophiles

‘Three Men Fined after Paedophile Meeting’, The Times, September 21st, 1977

Times 210977 - Three men fined after paedophile meeting

‘Open University man suspended’, The Times, September 23rd, 1977

Times 230977 - Open University Man Suspended

Anthony Bevins, ‘Labour’s hard left to form new group’, The Times, August 24th, 1983

Times 240883 - Labour's hard left to form new group 1

Times 240883 - Labour's hard left to form new group 2

‘File on child sex group for DPP’, The Times, August 24th, 1983

Times 240883 - File on child sex group for DPP

David Nicholson-Lord, ‘Police hunting men who assaulted boy lack vital computer software’, The Times, August 25th, 1983

Times 250883 - Police hunting men who assaulted boy lack vital computer software

David Nicholson-Lord, ‘Child sex group men arrested’, The Times, September 9th, 1983

Times 090983 - Child sex group men arrested

‘PIE member faces child pornography charge’, The Times, November 17th, 1984

Times 171184 - PIE member faces child pornography charge

Dr. T. Stuttaford, ‘Everett Picture Gives Credence to Dangerous Myth’, The Times, April 7th, 1995

Times 070495 - Everett picture gives credence to dangerous myth

Daily Mail (London)

May 28th, 1992, Thursday

By Peter Burden,Peter Rose

A LEADING consultant on children’s homes has been arrested after police raided his house and seized videos featuring young males.

The action came after Customs at Dover intercepted a magazine and a book sent from the Continent to 66-year-old Peter Righton.

A major police inquiry has been launched to establish the identities and ages of those involved in the videos, where they were taken and by whom.

Books and magazines were also seized. It is an offence to possess an obscene picture showing under-16s.

Mr Righton, who has worked for several publicly-funded bodies, was on police bail last night waiting to hear whether or not he will be prosecuted.

He denied making any of the videos himself and said: ‘I am sure there will be a satisfactory outcome.’

He added: ‘It is no secret that I am gay. It’s not an offence, although one is made to feel it is.’

Mr Righton is widely regarded as the leading authority on council residential care of children.

The Department of Health’s social services inspectorate has been told of the raid at his home in Evesham, Hereford and Worcester, and a report is expected to go to Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley.

She is a patron of the National Children’s Bureau, a highly-respected charity for which Mr Righton has worked as a senior consultant.

The bureau, which monitors children’s welfare, receives £1million for administration from the Health Department and a series of grants for Government work such as providing training packages and videos for social services managers and social workers.

Mr Righton’s credentials include having been senior lecturer at the National Institute for Social Work in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, which was established by Ministers in 1961.

It has an annual income of £2million, mostly from the Health Department.

He is also a senior tutor with the Open University, where his work includes advising social work managers from all over the country on the the rights of children in care.

Mr Righton has served on many committees including the Central Council for Education in Training and Social Work. He began his career working in approved schools and residential homes.

As part of his various jobs he has regularly visited children’s homes.

Chris Andrews, of the British Association of Social Workers, said: ‘He 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.’

Mr Righton stressed last night: ‘I have not been charged with any offence. I cannot see what offence they can charge me with.’

At the former farm cottage he shares with Mr Richard Alston, headmaster of a school for disturbed children, he insisted that none of the seized items featured under-age boys.

The raid by police and Customs officers took place on May 12. Mr Righton was released on bail after lengthy questioning and has been ordered to report back next month.

A full police report is expected to be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service soon.

Mr Righton was involved in controversy in 1977, when he called for a more liberal attitude to sex in children’s homes.

He said in the magazine Social Work: ‘Provided there is no question of exploitation, sexual relationships freely entered into by residents – including adolescents – should not be a matter for automatic inquiry.’

But last night he said he had been misrepresented in a part of the article appearing to condone sex between staff and adolescents in care. He was in fact against that.

Mr Righton, dressed in a T-shirt and slacks, added: ‘In the course of my work I did visit children’s homes but not many times.’

Of his relationship with Mr Alston, he said: ‘Yes, I do live here with Mr Alston, but what is wrong with that? We are consenting adults.’

Evening Standard (London)

October 7th, 1992, Wednesday

Minister acts over our child abuse revelations
By Stewart Payne, Eileen Fairweather

HEALTH SECRETARY Virginia Bottomley today ordered Islington Council to provide a swift response to the ‘serious and worrying allegations’ of abuse revealed in an Evening Standard investigation into its children’s homes.

Yesterday the Standard printed the disturbing stories of children in care who have been exposed to paedophiles, pimps and prostitution.

Today, beginning on Page 15, we examine the cases of two former Islington residential workers alleged to have abused boys in their care and how fears of a child sex ring were dismissed by management.

Following yesterday’s publication, Mrs Bottomley issued a statement saying she had instructed Islington Council to explain its actions ‘as soon as possible’.

‘To take advantage of the most vulnerable children in our society in the ways alleged in the Evening Standard article is despicable,’ she said.

‘I know that Islington Council will be looking very closely at their services for children and the people who provide them. I have asked the Social Services Inspectorate to give me a full report on Islington’s response.’

She added that she had recently urged new measures to strengthen independent inspection of children’s homes ‘in order to protect children from abuse and exploitation.

‘I intend to make sure that we have in place reliable systems that will pick up early warning signs.’

Islington Council confirmed that Mrs Bottomley had asked it to produce a report commenting on the Standard articles. ‘Its author will be independent of the social services department,’ said a spokesman.

The council also issued a statement from Labour councillor Sandy Marks, who chairs the social services committee. This ignores the central concerns raised by yesterday’s articles but takes issue on several points of detail. It says:

* ‘The circumstances of these young people are known to us and have been the subject of casework or detailed investigation.’

We reply: We do not dispute this. But, as the children’s stories showed, it was clearly ineffective. Some of our sources were involved in this casework and appealed to us because they felt it had not been resolved properly.

* ‘All our homes are inspected monthly and reports provided to management and councillors.’

We reply: We do not challenge the regularity of inspections, merely their efficiency.

* ‘The Standard has been asked for three months to furnish us with any new evidence. They have singularly failed to do so.’

We reply: We completed our inquiries and gave the council two weeks to prepare their reply. We do not claim to have found ‘new evidence’. What we have done is to expose how Islington failed to act properly on the evidence already given by parents, children and worried staff.

* ‘Neville Mighty, a key informant of the Standard, was the subject of allegations of gross sexual misconduct by young people in his care, was investigated and subsequently dismissed.’
We reply: Mighty was charged with sexual harassment but was found guilty only of using inappropriate language of a sexual nature. The matter is now under appeal. Twelve members of staff gave evidence on his behalf, including nine women. He is only one of our many sources.

* ‘The case of Roy Caterer was the subject of a Hertfordshire police investigation. No evidence or information was passed to the council.’

We reply: This is clearly wrong. Caterer was only imprisoned for sexually abusing children in care when a determined Islington social worker found some of his victims and went to local police. They liaised with Hertfordshire police.

That social worker wrote a report for her superiors and no action was taken on it.

Councillor Marks also claimed children interviewed by the Standard were paid.

And Mrs Margaret Hodge, leader of Islington Council, alleged in a radio interview with LBC Newstalk Radio that our reporters sat outside childrens home enticing children with £50 bribes for stories.

We reply: These allegations are absolutely untrue. Only one girl, no longer in care and unemployed, was paid £90 with her parents’ approval. This was for the time she spent helping reporters trace children who suffered in Islington’s care during the 12-week inquiry.

It is most unfortunate that Islington Council should seek to deflect the substance and seriousness of the situation revealed by the Standard’s inquiry by making inaccurate statements. We believe the council should concentrate its energies on reforming its inadequate social services procedures.

News of the World

July 23, 2000

Their evil is incurable says crime expert; Interview; Ray Wyre; NOW campaign; For Sarah Campaign against paedophiles
By Anna Gekoski

THE monster who murdered Sarah Payne will kill again unless he is caught, warns a senior sex crime psychologist.

Ray Wyre, an expert on cases of child abduction, explained that many paedophiles are incurable. “Research shows that once a paedophile starts to offend they have urges that don’t go away.

“Such behaviour will have its seeds in childhood where the person will most probably have been sexually abused himself. This will start a cycle of fantasy which spills over into reality in small ways at first.

“The offender may begin with indecent exposure before moving on to indecent assault, then attempted rape and then rape. In a small number this then leads to murder.”

Mr Wyre has worked with child sex killer Robert Black, convicted in 1994 of the murders of five-year-old Caroline Hogg, Sarah Harper, ten, and 11-year-old Susan Maxwell.

“Black had abducted and sexually assaulted a little girl when he was just a teenager,” he said. “The attack was so severe that she nearly died. Yet he was simply admonished for that offence. The authorities said at the time he’d grow out of it and it would be wrong to label him.

“I firmly believe that if he had been put away then, Sarah, Caroline and Susan would be alive today.” Mr Wyre believes that even where paedophiles are jailed for less than life the authorities should have the power to keep them in for the rest of their days if the prisoner is still considered dangerous at his release date..


“There are paedophiles I’ve worked with in prison who say they’ll offend again, some who even say they’ll kill,” he said. “Yet they’ve been given a fixed sentence and the law has no provision to deal with future danger.”

Another problem, he says, is that under current law the psychological treatment of paedophiles in prison is voluntary. “Many of the worst offenders, those who need treatment the most, choose not to undergo the treatment programmes,” he added. “We need a new system whereby treatment is mandatory.”

Meanwhile the hunt goes on for Sarah Payne’s killer. Mr Wyre added: “Men who abduct, sexually abuse and kill are men with a history. Tragically they are also men with a future. At some time he will do it again.”

News of the World

August 5, 2001


By Mazher Mahmood Investigations Editor, in Barjac, France

We find leering child sex perverts befriending kids at nudist camp

A NAKED grey-haired man brushes past children playing around a swimming pool at a nudist camp.

Grinning broadly, he stops to chat to the bare youngsters-many of them British-as they frolic in the sunshine.

Their unsuspecting parents smile politely at the scene. They have no idea that their children’s new playmate is one of the most infamous perverts on earth.

For the man is Thomas O’Carroll-founder of the evil Paedophile Information Exchange which campaigned for the legalisation of sex with children.

News of the World undercover reporters tracked 55-year-old O’Carroll-who has avoided being photographed for 20 years-to the family naturist resort in the south of France. And we discovered he was not the only paedophile lurking at the poolside.

Nearby, former teacher Simon St Clair Terry-once jailed for indecently assaulting a 12-year-old girl pupil-sat rubbing oil into the back of a naked 14-year-old he first befriended at the camp six years ago.

Both fiends spent the day mingling among families and wandering around the tents at the La Sabliere camp set in acres of woodlands in Barjac.

“I’m really enjoying myself here. It’s a fantastic place,” leering O’Carroll told a reporter posing as a tourist. “It’s full of children because of the school holidays.


“This place was highly recommended and it’s living up to all expectations! I’m going to Blackpool next week, although I don’t think that will be this good!”

O’Carroll-who served two years in jail for corrupting public morals–ate lunch by an underwater window in the side of the swimming pool.

Designed so that parents could keep an eye on their children, it was the perfect place for him to ogle naked tots as they swam past. “It’s more like an aquarium than a swimming pool,” he drooled.

Twisted O’Carroll bragged to our reporters that he was an academic.

But the former Open University press officer failed to mention that he was sacked after forming his infamous ring of child molesters.

The Paedophile Information Exchange boasted more than 300 members before police smashed it in the Eighties with a string of arrests following a News of the World investigation. Monster O’Carroll also made no mention of the vile book he wrote on the “myths of childhood innocence” in which he said: “Consenting children and adults have a right to private intimacy together just as lesbians and gay men do.”

Now O’Carroll-who owns a house in Leamington, Warwicks-is part of a sick new gang of 200 paedophiles called GWAIN-Gentlemen Without An Interesting Name-which is being watched by Scotland Yard detectives.

The highly organised group hold clandestine meetings at homes and members are in touch via e-mails. One of the group’s officials was arrested last year on suspicion of raping a 10-year old boy.

As O’Carroll wandered off to chat to an eight-year-old he had befriended, disgraced teacher Terry returned to the caravan he is sharing with a Belgian single mum.

She met the molester when he first came to the camp in 1995. Then her daughters were eight and 11.


He has been joining her for holidays there ever since, and also visits her at her home in Antwerp.

It is not known whether she is aware of his disturbing past-that he spent six months in jail in 1991 for assaulting a pupil. And that he kept a stomach-churning diary of his obsession with the youngster.

“I’m here for a month. I’m really lucky with my work. I get a lot of holidays,” 42-year-old Terry told our reporters.

“I’ve been coming here for years-it’s a great place.”

Terry-who works as an account manager for Waterstones’ bookshop in Canterbury, Kent-has a history of targeting young girls.

He has had involvement with the Girl Guides and once set up a club for 11 to 12-year-olds called the Pig Tin Club.

After sitting naked with two youngsters outside his tent at La Sabliere, Terry then joined in a ball game with a group of naked girls and boys.

Today both paedophiles can expect to be thrown out of their perverts’ paradise. Our dossier is available to the authorities in Britain and France.

DO you know a scandal that should be exposed? Call Maz on 0207 782 4402 or e-mail him at mazher.mahmood@news-of-the-world.co.uk