There has been no shortage of bloodcurdling oaths against “paedophiles” since the Savile scandal broke, but none I have heard none to beat the ravings of Harry Potter star Richard Griffiths some years ago.

I’d feed all paedophiles into a tree shredder,” he vowed, “and anything left the police can have.

Remember Griffiths? He was Harry’s bullying Uncle Vernon, the one who made the young magician sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Seems he was a natural for the role.

In fact this Dick Dastardly turns out to be a serial offender. On another occasion, he reportedly said:

Now, me, paedophiles, if it was left to me, I would hurt them so much it would upset and shock everybody in the country. I can think of really nasty things that I would like to see done to them. And I wouldn’t care if it didn’t change their behaviour – it would just certainly put them on notice that if you do this, you will have your skin removed, you will be made to go around to do really painful things before you’re allowed to die.

And they say WE are nasty!

Actually, though, Heretic TOC finds himself wondering whether this isn’t all a bit tongue in cheek, for two reasons.

Firstly, Griffiths played the role of Hector, a school master with distinctly pederastic tendencies in Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys, which was a great triumph on New York’s Broadway as well as London’s West End. He stuck with the part in the later film version too. Unlike Uncle Vernon, Hector was a sympathetic figure. He came across as a fine teacher who had a good rapport with his boys, and no less so for giving them lifts home on his motorbike and groping them in the process. Could anyone who really hated paedophiles have made such a good job of this part?

Secondly, there is a remarkable similarity between Griffiths’ style and Jimmy Savile’s. In a TV interview towards the end of his life, Savile admitted telling the tabloid press in earlier years that he hated children. Why had he done this? To put the press off the scent: it was a way of pouring cold water on any suggestion he might be too fond of them. And what does Griffiths say? In an interview with The Sun, he admitted – or claimed – that he dislikes children. He told a magazine: “I like playing Vernon — it gives me a licence to be horrible to kids.”

Not that I am insinuating anything. Griffiths is a married man and we all know that they are NEVER anything but the straightest of straight! Seriously, in all probability he IS straight. But anyone who has played a pederast in a drama is probably wise to be an anti-paedo drama queen off-stage.

Many thanks to reader willistina for alerting me to Newgon’s anti-paedophile quotes page, to which I owe the Griffiths utterances.