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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Involvement of other MPs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Allegations of a Westminster paedophile ring

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

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

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

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

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

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


Peter Righton – Counselling Homosexuals (1973)

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

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

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

Peter Righton in 1992.

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

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

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

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

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Reports from the Richard Alston Trial

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Clement asked if he went to the flat alone.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you ever see him smoking cigarettes?”

To each of these, Alston replied “No”.

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

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

Alston replied: “I don’t know.”

Mr Clement continued: “Might he have done?”

“It is possible,” said Alston.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The trial continues.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– WENDY DOYLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The trial continues.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case continues.


Bury Free Press
, August 18th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The trial continues.


Sunday World
, August 18th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alston is on bail and denies all charges against him.

Court News, August 27th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Were you clothed,’ asked Mr Clement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court tomorrow.
ends


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alston is due to be sentenced on September 28.


East Anglian Daily Times
, August 27th, 2015

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

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

shares
Richard AlstonRichard Alston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alston is due to be sentenced on September 28.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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The Meeting with the Abuse Inquiry Secretariat at Millbank Tower, Friday October 31st, 2014

[Updated Saturday 8th November 2014 with transcript of responses from one panel member]

Yesterday (Friday, October 31st, 2014) I attended the roundtable for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse at Millbank Tower, together with 20 others. Whilst it would not be appropriate to provide a full list of attendees, various have otherwise identified themselves or been identified: Peter Wanless from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC); Peter Saunders from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)Liz Davies, social worker and whistleblower at Islington Council, now Reader in Child Protection at London Metropolitan University; Peter McKelvie, former child protection manager involved in the 1992 investigation into Peter Righton; Jonathan West, St Benedict’s School parent and campaigner into abuse at Ealing Abbey and associated schools, also part of MandateNow, but on this occasion there in a personal capacity; Alison Millar from Leigh Day Solicitors, Lucy Duckworth from Ministry & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors  (MACSAS); and Fay Maxted from The Survivors Trust. In some cases other representatives of these organisations were also present; other organisations represented were the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE), The Children’s Society, Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) Project, and Victim Support. I was at the meeting because of my involvement as a campaigner on abuse in musical education and contact with survivors there, and also because of wider research into organised abuse.

Jonathan West has already written a blog post on the meeting, and has covered some things I might have done and so will do so briefly; here I just want to add my own impressions and some further thoughts coming out of the further developments yesterday. It would not be appropriate to report exactly who said what, except where they have made this known elsewhere, so I will not do so, but I can give a broader picture of the nature of the meeting. From when people began to arrive there was a barrage of media outside Millbank Tower which had only increased by the end of the meeting; they were keen to interview attendees from when they arrived.

The meeting, which took place on the 12th floor and ran from 10:30 until slightly after 13:30, was also attended by two members of the inquiry panel, Barbara Hearn and Sharon Evans, as well as counsel to the inquiry, Ben Emmerson QC. It was chaired by Usha Choli, Engagement Manager to the inquiry, and several other administrative staff were present. All were sat around a large table with the panel members and counsel at one end, whilst Choli remained standing through the three-hour meeting. The administrative staff were taking notes throughout whilst Choli made some larger notes on a flipchart.

It is clear that this meeting was organised at very short notice, with most representatives having only been informed about it earlier in the week. It would appear to have been a response to widespread reporting about unhappiness following Fiona Woolf’s appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday October 21st, 2014, and many subsequent reports suggesting there was more to her connections with various relevant individuals than had been made clear during this appearance and in the letter confirming Woolf’s connections which was previously posted on the inquiry website. The details of these are now well-known and need little extra rehearsing; suffice to say that I think if she had stayed in position, some of the seemingly less important connections (in particular concerning her steward Colin Tucker) would have been raked over more extensively in the media.

However, I want to stress that I felt this was a very positive and constructive meeting, notwithstanding the naturally heated atmosphere as a result of overwhelming dissatisfaction with then then-chair of the inquiry, Fiona Woolf. Throughout I got a sense of a real will to listen to the representatives present and try to answer the numerous questions posed and also aim for transparency of process; of course the real test will be whether the Secretariat of the Inquiry and the Home Office follow through on these promises. There will be a further meeting next Friday morning (November 7th, 2014), possibly starting later. It was made clear at this meeting that the secretariat will be happy to accommodate a larger group if necessary (and book a larger room for the purpose), and I would urge anyone who feels they should be present as a survivors’ representative or because of other relevant expertise to contact them as soon as possible.

At the outset, all those present were invited to introduce themselves, detail the organisation they represented where appropriate, and list one thing they felt to be most important for the inquiry to consider. Many different responses were given to the latter, such as considering non-sexual abuse, looking at how various institutions turned a blind eye, to (my own point) considering the culture of institutions in which abuse is able to flourish unchecked.

From these points, almost immediately a discussion flared up about whether one should assume that the chair and panel as currently constituted would remain, and also about what real powers the inquiry would have. In response to concerns about the latter, the point was made early on that the possibility of the inquiry having statutory powers (so that they would be able to demand evidence) had not been ruled out by any means, leading Choli to take a poll of those present as to whether this would be their preferred option. There was unanimous support for this, with various individuals expressing their belief that otherwise many institutions would provide no more information to the inquiry than absolutely necessary (I personally know of institutions who would act this way as a matter of policy because of fear of any other information being used against them in civil lawsuits). Choli made clear that this verdict would be communicated to the appropriate people.

Following this came a call for everyone to express their views on the suitability of Fiona Woolf as chair of the inquiry. Of those present, the majority were unequivocal in their view that she should definitely resign; three individuals were a little less emphatic, mostly because of concern about the delay to the inquiry that would be caused by the resignation of the chair, and two others were very mildly less emphatic than others whilst still essentially sharing the belief that Woolf’s resignation was necessary. Later in the meeting, various people made clear that were Woolf to remain chair, they and the survivors they represent had no intention of having anything to do with the inquiry. As Jonathan West has pointed out, there were a variety of reasons for this view, not simply Woolf’s relationship to Leon Brittan and others; various people also commented upon her lack of experience in this field and the amount of time which it would take for her to become fully acquainted with it within an otherwise busy schedule.

There were some questions placed to the members of the panel present about their own connections and the means by which they were selected for this task; an undertaking was provided that this latter process would be made clear on the inquiry website. One individual present wished in particular to question Barbara Hearn, former social worker and Deputy Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, who has also worked as an unpaid researcher for Tom Watson MP for the last two years. I have been sent a verbatim (allowing for the possibility of human error) transcript of what Hearn had to say in response to queries about how she was selected and possible conflicts of interest on her part:

Barbara Hearn: My process was that in July Tom Watson, who I have been working with amongst other MPs, asked me if an inquiry was put together would I be prepared to be on a panel. Then he asked me in middle of August for copy of my CV and statement to go to the Home Office. He said submission was made by him with support of Tim Loughton and Zac Goldsmith [Conservative MPs]. I then had a phone call on the Fourth of September from John O’Brien [Director of Safeguarding at the Home Office] asking me to be on panel and I said yes.

Questioner 1: Tom emailed me saying he had no role in your appointment.

Usha Choli: Let’s put on website how appointed.

[agreement from Ben Emmerson and others from secretariat that this will be done[

Questioner 2: I was referred and I didn’t hear anything from anyone. Would be nice to know why I was not suggested.

BH: My personal relationship with Tom Watson: I know him through family contacts, as I worked with his stepmother. After his announcement in 2012, as he knew me and trusted me, he asked me to come in that afternoon as I think he wanted to speak with someone who had experience of child protection. [Questioner 1] and [Questioner 2] were also at that meeting, and Tom described me in that discussion as a very close personal friend of the family.

Their concern is about my involvement with John Rea Price [Director of Social Services for Islington Council, 1972-92, from 1992 Director of the National Children’s Bureau] , and one of my staff members had been in Islington and refused to give evidence to the Islington inquiry, so I understand their concerns.

My view is that I’d use my contacts and knowledge to dig deep, but I accept the fact that there are issues for any of us who have worked together.

Jonathan West: it is a common characteristic that survivors are extremely distrustful of authority to the extent that those with no experience of abuse might find irrational. The Panel must bend over backwards to try to establish that trust and recognise the state of mind of many of the survivors.

Otherwise, the schedule presented (in which there would be discussions about how the panel would engage with representatives, how such representatives would engage with each other, which issues the panel should be considering, and how the panel could draw upon representatives’ networks) was not really followed, though various of the issues listed were covered through the course of the ensuing discussion. Those present were invited to suggest skill sets or other areas of expertise they felt were not represented on the panel at present, and invited to suggest names for further individuals who could contribute in this respect. Expertise in abuse in education, not least in elite public schools, does not seem to be well-represented on the panel at present, and I hope some good suggestions will be made on this; I have proposals of my own to make for those knowledgeable about abuse in music and the arts worlds to suggest.

The Terms of Reference of the inquiry have received some criticism, for reasons of perceived vagueness, the omission of some types of institutions from the scope, and in particular the restriction of the inquiry to cover England and Wales. It was made clear that this latter point was due to devolution legislation which made devolved authorities responsible for child protection issues; thus Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be included. The message communicated, if not wholly clearly, suggested that the authorities in Scotland had not shown any inclination to launch a parallel inquiry of their own, despite widespread allegations of abuse in Scotland (much of it involving institutions and individuals operative elsewhere in the UK). This issue needs to be pursued further, and the Scottish Government held to account; various of those present at the meeting rightly asked the question of what they were meant to take back to Scottish survivors of abuse from this meeting. One person suggested that the model of a Royal Commission, such as was used in Australia to overcome separate jurisdiction in different states, might get round this problem. I requested that the appropriate devolution legislation and other clarification be placed on the inquiry website concerning all of these matters. Further questions affect the Channel Islands, under separate jurisdiction; knowledge of links between Jersey and Islington were raised.

In terms of the shape of the inquiry, it was presented as being in three stages: (i) consultation of all published and unpublished documentary evidence (referred to as ‘the reports’); (ii) taking of testimony from individuals; (iii) writing of the final report. The counsel also made clear in response to questions, some from myself, that those giving evidence to the inquiry would not be subject to criminal liability if their information was sub judice (thus otherwise liable for contempt of court proceedings) or libel, unless it could be shown to have been given maliciously. Even more importantly, it was also affirmed that those who give evidence will not be liable to prosecution under the Official Secrets Act; this is very important for current or former civil servants who may have been privy to important information. The panel will receive ‘developed vetting’ powers, enabling them to view security and intelligence files. They will also be able to access currently ‘closed’ files – I raised the example of the Barbara Castle archives in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, access to most of which has been forbidden to three people who have tried, and which might oossibly contain a copy of Castle’s own dossier of paedophiles in politics. In other archives, others have found access has been forbidden to key files on sensitive matters involving prominent individuals.

Liz Davies has emphatically made the point both inside and outside the meeting about the need for the inquiry to be limited to organised abuse (so not familial abuse with no institutional involvement) and also should consider some non-sexual forms of abuse such as torture. Others spoke of knowing survivors of abuse by some of the most prominent politicians in the country, and of massively widespread abuse in the care system, churches, schools, and elsewhere. One individual made the important point that the principal reason for Lady Butler-Sloss’s resignation from the inquiry chair was not so much the fact that her late brother was Attorney-General as that a report had suggested she had dismissed evidence against a bishop in order to protect the church.

If anyone has reason to question whether this is a fair account of the meeting, I welcome comments below, and am happy to make changes if necessary.

As mentioned before, towards the end of the meeting, people returned to the issue of complete lack of survivor confidence in Fiona Woolf. Of course, within less than four hours of the meeting breaking up (and widespread media coverage of statements by various of those who were present), Fiona Woolf’s resignation was announced. Now the inquiry is at least partially in a state of limbo.

Tom Watson has repeatedly tweeted and otherwise expressed his opinion that this should not be turned into an opportunity to score political points against Home Secretary Theresa May, who he believes genuinely wishes to get to the truth, unlike various politicians and non-politicians around her. Knowing of Watson’s tireless efforts on behalf of this issue (from his crucial question to the Prime Minister in October 2012, alleging the existence of a high-level paedophile ring with connections to a former Prime Minister, onwards) and his resolute will to stand up to corrupt power (as amply demonstrated through the phone-hacking affair), I am sure he would not make such an observation about a politician from an opposing party lightly, and think everyone should take this seriously. In the immediate aftermath of Woolf’s resignation, both Labour leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper have wasted no time in making this into an issue of incompetence on the part of the Home Secretary and accumulate political capital in the process.

I hope this will die down quickly. No political party has reason to be complacent on this issue, and for it to descend into partisan point-scoring (just as UKIP unsuccessfully attempted to do in elections for the new South Yorkshire Police Commissioner) is both to trivialise the grave importance of the issue and what is at stake, and may be insulting to some survivors. Finding an appropriate chair for this inquiry with no conflicts of interest is no easy task, and whilst it is clear that the process has not be managed well, it would be rash to assume that if Labour or another political party were faced by the same demands as is the current government, they would have managed it much better. Furthermore, Labour and the left in general have their own types of ‘establishments’ as well, including politicians and others who are also likely to be the subject of scrutiny; some candidates being touted from the left might be equally problematic for this reason.

I believe very passionately that all politicians should do all they can to take the issue of child abuse out from short-term party politics (and equally avoid exploiting it to bolster black-and-white ideologies concerning race, class, gender, sexuality and so on), and co-operate, in consultation with survivors and their representatives, and other expert parties, to try and find a chair who will command maximum support. It is in my opinion really vital that the inquiry is able to start its business before the General Election (to stop it being used as a political football then), and that it commands support and inspires confidence in its integrity. No such inquiry will ever satisfy everyone, and some alleged cases of organisational abuse may be found to have been other than portrayed by those making the allegations (though of course also some hitherto unknown cases may also come to light). But to have an inquiry which has the widest range of powers realistically available, and which is staffed by those with a genuine commitment to the truth, will be a major step forward, little imaginable even just a year ago.

An account of the second meeting, on Friday November 7th, 2014, can be read here. I would like to copy the following section from this, which includes some important contact details:

You must email suggestions and ideas to: john.obrien@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk . Please be assured your emails will be read and considered but you may not get a personal response due to the volume of correspondence.

You can email Inspire You Me Us CIC anonymously, marking your email CSAinquiry and we will pass your suggestions, concerns & stories on for you if that is helpful – inspire4survivors@gmail.com

Future information will be emailed out to representatives for circulation; please be patient and watch social media for information and updates. As many voices as possible will be heard in this mammoth task and this will take time if we want the process to be carried out properly and positively.

The Children’s Commissioner is carrying out an inquiry into Abuse in the Family Environment (intrafamilial):http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/info/child_sexual_abuse_within_the_family_environment

Are Children Better Protected from Sexual Abuse by Mandatory Reporting:

http://www.bpc.org.uk/event/are-children-better-protected-sexual-abuse-mandatory-reporti

CSA Inquiry website: https://childsexualabuseinquiry.independent.gov.uk/

[Addendum: An article in the Mail on Sunday has reported various participants expressing serious unhappiness about the fact that the resignation of Woolf had already been decided before this meeting took place, yet no-one at the meeting was informed of this. Whilst other aspects of the meeting remain valuable, I would like to add my voice to those who feel a lot of time was taken up pointlessly as a result, and this does suggest stage management on the part of the Home Office. In this context, I will also register here that at the meeting I raised the question of whether, in case there were to be a voluntary resignation of the chair (which at this stage appeared more than a little likely following the release of the seven drafts of Woolf’s letter to the Home Office, providing clear evidence of manipulation of truth), other candidates had been considered? This was not least in order to obtain some clarification of the process for vetting potential chairs. No doubt because of instructions emanating from the Home Office, the reply was that it would be inappropriate to discuss this issue at that point in time..]


Research Paper at City University, November 12th, on ”Clifford Hindley: The Scholar as Pederast and the Aestheticisation of Child Sexual Abuse”

I will be giving a research paper at City University, London (where I am a Lecturer in Music) on November 12th, 2014, in Room AG09, College Building (on St John Street), at 6:30 pm (preceded by another staff presentation by Laudan Nooshin, entitled ‘Sites of Memory: Public Emotionality, Gender and Nationhood in the Music of Googoosh’ at 5:30 pm). This relates to my research into the late priest, Home Office civil servant and musicologist/classical scholar Clifford Hindley, and is as follows.

‘Clifford Hindley: The Scholar as Pederast and the Aestheticisation of Child Sexual Abuse’

The mysterious  figure of J. Clifford Hindley, who died in 2006, is well-known to scholars of the music of Benjamin Britten for of a series of scholarly articles he published on Britten’s operas in the 1980s and 1990s. During the same period Hindley also published a few articles on Classical Greece, focusing upon Xenophon and Sappho. Less well-known is the fact that in the earlier part of his life, Hindley was an ordained priest who worked for a period in India and published a range of theological articles, then worked for a while at the Home Office in London, where he was head of the Voluntary Services Unit. This year, as part of wider investigations into organised sexual abuse, Hindley has been identified by former Home Office civil servant Tim Hulbert, who was Hindley’s junior at the department, as the individual responsible for ensuring that a total of £70 000 from Home Office funds was given to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In this paper, for which I draw upon experience and expertise both as a critical/historical musicologist and as a campaigner and researcher on the subject of organised child abuse (especially in the field of classical music), I consider the obsessive focus upon paedophile themes in Hindley’s writings themselves, and locate his jargon, aestheticisation and ideologies within a wider tradition of contemporary paedophile writing since the 1960s, for which the volume Greek Love (New York: Oliver Layton Press, 1964) by J.Z. Eglinton (Walter Breen), a member of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) who already had convictions for child abuse prior to the publication of this work, is a central text, leading to Kenneth Dover’s Greek Homosexuality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978) – cited extensively by Hindley – which introduced the terms erastês and erômenos into the study of sexual exploitation of children, lending such activities a veneer of respectability through allusion to antiquity. I go on to consider this school of thought more widely in the context of a paedophile ‘sub-culture’ which  achieved some prominence in the 1970s and 1980s.

This paper draws upon and extends and expands some earlier work published on my blog Desiring Progress (https://ianpace.wordpress.com ); some of this specific research has been used by various national news programmes in the UK, whilst the work on Hindley was requested in order to brief members of the Home Affairs Select Committee in July 2014 in advance of their questioning of the Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill on issues of historical PIE infiltration of his department.