The plots thicken. After the story broke a week ago about 114 British government files on “child sexual abuse” mysteriously going missing, the media exploded into an orgy of speculation about politicians, top civil servants and other Establishment figures in alleged paedophile rings, and conspiracies to cover up their dark deeds.
Immediately, a panicked government responded, with Home Secretary Theresa May announcing to a packed House of Commons that there would be not one inquiry but two, one to look into the current allegations and also an overarching inquiry into loads of past inquiries that apparently hadn’t inquired enough.
A thread running through much of this was the supposed involvement of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which I chaired in the 1970s. My alleged role at that time in connection with certain Labour politicians was the focus of media attention earlier this year. See Home Secretary cheated justice by dying! and Paedogate puts the past in the pillory. But now the scene of the crime, as the media would have it, had shifted to the 1980s, including the part played by my successor, Steve Smith.
This is where it all gets wonderfully murky, with the media working it up brilliantly into something like a John le Carré thriller, with proper spies and everything! How exciting!
To start with, a former civil servant called Tim Hulbert has been peddling the fantasy that PIE was given as much as £70,000 of government funding. I wish! Unless our treasurer quietly trousered all that lovely lucre for himself, we received not a penny of public money. We always operated on a shoestring. I had assumed this Hulbert character was some low grade tea maker cum errand boy but it turns out he is now retired after ending up as head of social services at Bedfordshire County Council.
It is a further allegation of his that brings in the spooks. Hulbert has reportedly claimed that PIE was being funded at the request of Special Branch, the anti-subversion police, who “found it politically useful to keep an eye on paedophiles”.
Now, get this: according to the Daily Mail the Home Office announced a formal inquiry into Hulbert’s claims but insisted the identity of the man carrying out the inquiry remain secret. Even MPs have not been told his name, leading the Mail to suggest he may be a security service officer. The Mail goes on: “…if the man is indeed a spy, then his appointment to investigate this scandal — which, remember, revolves around suggestions that the security services were behind the public funding of PIE — would represent a terrible conflict of interest. Either way, the man leading the inquiry promptly approached Hulbert for evidence. But according to friends, ‘did so in such a way as to make Tim feel threatened’.”
So government spies have been backing PIE and are now using sinister tactics to cover their tracks! Delicious! You couldn’t make it up! Or, rather, that’s exactly what you can do if you are a sensationalist tabloid!
The alleged government funding of PIE relates to a vague time period that could go back as far as 1974. But let’s fast-forward to the 1980s. I was in prison from 1981-2 for conspiracy to corrupt public morals, following a campaign by the News of the World (the dreadful Murdoch tabloid closed down after the recent phone-hacking scandal). It was essentially just a trumped-up political charge to “get” PIE. As may be imagined, the case generated a lot of publicity.
Geoffrey Dickens, a Conservative MP, jumped on the bandwagon, naming in the House of Commons as one of our former PIE members a certain Sir Peter Hayman. In fact, Hayman had already been named in the journal Private Eye, which was the first I learned of his membership as he had been a member under an assumed name. Hayman really was a member of the Establishment. He had been a top diplomat, in a career that included serving as High Commissioner to Canada. But he was never on the PIE committee or active in the organisation’s ranks.
Dickens, who died many years ago, is in the news again because the now infamously absent 114 government files are thought to have included a dossier of papers he compiled. The Dickens dossier is said to have detailed paedophile activity among leading MPs and public figures. It was handed to then-Home Secretary Leon Brittan in 1983.
During these early 1980s years, Steve Smith was chair of PIE. The interesting thing about this is that he had his own office in the basement of the Home Office, where he worked as a security officer! In a memoir, he would later write, “Every year, my security clearance was renewed by Scotland Yard, without my connection with PIE being discovered.” He said the security job involved very little work, enabling him to spend time on tasks such as producing PIE publications. This office was dedicated to security, so no one else came in and PIE documents could be stored there safely.
He even managed to get another PIE committee member employed there and it is entirely possible – I put it no more strongly – that other PIE members could have been admitted to do various PIE tasks.
Think about it. Two, three, maybe more, members of a massively oppressed, disaffected, minority manage to monopolise, undisturbed, in the basement, the security arrangements of a major government building: a tower-block, actually. They were the ones who controlled the alarm systems, and would have had closed-circuit TV screens from which they could monitor the rest of the building. The Home Secretary would presumably often have been there, along with hundreds of civil servants and visiting VIPs.
Sounds like an Al-Qaeda dream, doesn’t it? Or a Guy Fawkes one: pack the place with explosives and blow it sky high. But neither Steve nor the rest of us were violently inclined – an inconvenient truth the media would have to ignore if they wanted to manufacture a Gunpowder Plot story. No doubt they could, but the media are now more interested in Establishment conspiracies than PIE ones, so they focused on a totally different angle, claiming the authorities knew all about Smith:
“Shockingly,” said the Mail, “it seems that many in the civil service knew all about his peccadilloes, and indeed actually tolerated them — perhaps due to the misguided belief (then prevalent in liberal circles) that paedophiles were a minority deserving of protection.”
Steve, sadly, is currently in prison (porn, since you ask) hence not in a position to comment. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that I have been deluged with media requests this past week. In the end, I turned down most because they only wanted to hear facts supporting their conspiracy theories. I had no wish to oblige, and had no relevant knowledge anyway.
As briefly reported in response to comments here, though, I did eventually give a 15-minute phone interview to Channel 4 News. This item (see at this link under “Did taxpayers’ money fund paedophiles?”) was entirely about PIE and would have gone ahead without me anyway, as there were several other interviewees: psychologist Glenn Wilson, who published a book based on a survey of PIE’s members; Ian Pace, musician and assiduous dirt-digger on PIE; and Peter Hain, veteran Labour politician.
Wilson was wonderful. Not only did he decline to present paedophiles as abnormal monsters, which his research had shown not to be the case; he also declined to endorse the prejudice that adult-child contacts are necessarily harmful, stoutly maintaining that the science did not support such a view, whatever the general public might think in the light of merely “anecdotal” accounts.
Before the interviews aired, presenter Matt Frei delivered one of those warnings. You know the sort of thing. It’s usually about explicit sexual content or graphic scenes of violence. But this one was different. “Be warned,” he solemnly intoned, “[the] report does contain views which many people may find highly distressing”.
Views! Mere views! How long, one wonders, before “survivors” of exposure to allegedly traumatising opinions start whining and demanding compensation? I was amazed and delighted to discover, by the way, that the offending views must have been Wilson’s because mine were all censored out!
I had been in the chair of PIE in 1978 when we decided to cooperate with Dr Wilson, who was a research psychologist based at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. It was a close call. PIE grew mainly out of the gay movement, which at that time was highly suspicious of psychiatry, and with good reason: before the triumph of gay liberation psychiatrists had resorted to “aversion therapy” in an attempt to “cure” homosexuality. This entailed such barbaric methods as showing the “patient” gay porn while simultaneously administering electronic shocks or chemicals to induce nausea.
I have absolutely no regrets over the decision to make volunteers from our membership available for the research in question, which was written up as a book called The Child-Lovers: A Study of Paedophiles in Society (Glenn D Wilson & David N Cox, Peter Owen, London, 1983). The “in society” part was important because previous studies had been based either on sex offenders in the penal system or those undergoing psychiatric treatment, two populations both of which were likely to produce misleading data in terms of what most paedophiles are like.
As for my contribution to the Channel 4 programme, only a couple of minutes from the original fifteen were aired. As usually happens, especially on the rare occasions when a paedophile is allowed to speak, the best bits were the ones the audience never heard. I made my own audio recording of the original phone call, though, and have made it available online, [IMPORTANT: Whether you choose to Save the file or Open it, there is a load-up time or one or two minutes before play can commence. Works with Windows Media Player, VLC or “Other” (you choose).] so any Heretic TOC readers who are interested will be able to compare it with what was aired. For a quick understanding of the key points I made that were cut out, see the list below.
Finally, it would take too long to write about the many fascinating developments in the past week but equally there are things you may not want me to leave out. So I conclude below with a few bullet points and links.
• Mark Williams-Thomas was among the media figures (ITV) who emailed asking for my input last week. He is the guy, it may be recalled, who got the whole Jimmy Savile story going. Why this latter day Witch-Finder General would think I would be keen to give him a story is beyond me.
• Rod Liddle had a good sceptical piece in The Spectator. He doubted that a hand on a thigh could cause “failed relationships, aspirations not achieved, mental breakdown, poverty, unhappiness, alcoholism, drug addiction” for years and decades later.
• Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, was also in sceptical vein. The late Geoffrey Dickens MP had been a rent-a-quote character, he tells us, who “made claims about the satanic and occult that were, to put it politely, far-fetched”. Moore also has a healthy line on the folly of “listening to the victims” on matters of which their opinion is of no value.
• The Daily Mirror did a surprisingly good guide to PIE in the 1970s, with links to the full text of some PIE publications and even to my book Paedophilia: The Radical Case
• Famously intellectual actor and comic TV presenter Stephen Fry “stuns Labour gala as he hits out at sex abuse investigation”.
• Fry can be very funny but if you want a real belly-laugh this week look no further than this story in the Guardian: “Leading psychologist says police officers investigating historical cases are at breaking point with exhaustion and stress”. No doubt they will be on the compo trail!
• David Mellor, former Conservative minister, bragged on the Andrew Marr Show, “We shut down the Paedophile Information Exchange”. Actually, PIE wound itself up after two major prosecutions of its committee members launched by a judiciary which is supposed to be independent of party politics. Umm. Is Mellor saying his party put the Director of Public Prosecutions under pressure? I have some recollection of hearing many years ago that Sir Ian Percival QC, Solicitor General under Thatcher, did advise the DPP to prosecute PIE, or at least to consider doing so. Would this have been constitutionally in order? I am not sure. [ADDED 2 FEB, 2015: I had occasion to check through some old newspaper and journals cuttings a few days ago. Any role Percival played actually seems to have been overshadowed compared to that of the Attorney General of the time, Sir Michael Havers, who is also mentioned immediately below in connection with Baroness Butler-Sloss. One particular article was particularly revealing. This was “Unacceptable charges exposed in recent trials” by Peter Thornton, who had been one of my trial lawyers. His article appeared in Rights (Vol. 6, No. 2), the journal of the National Council for Civil Liberties. He is now His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC, chief coroner of England and Wales. In this article, he said Sir Michael Havers had insisted on bringing an expensive and largely unsuccessful conspiracy case against PIE against the inclinations of the DPP.]
• In news just in, retired judge Baroness Butler-Sloss, appointed to head the “inquiry into inquiries” mentioned above, has resigned before even getting started. “Victims” had complained that her work would concern a possible Establishment cover-up but she herself was a key Establishment figure whose brother, the late Sir Michael Havers, had been Attorney General at the time of the alleged cover-up. They had a point.
WHAT CHANNEL 4 LEFT OUT
The following, in note form, are all points I made in my interview with Jackie Long. None of them were broadcast:
1) Raison d’être of PIE: public understanding of paedophilia; democratic campaign to change age of consent; fight for sexual self-determination at all ages; liberation of children from oppressive adult power in all aspects of their lives, in line with writings by feminists at the time, including Hillary Clinton whose work on children’s rights inspired my own writing on the subject.
2) Coming out of the 1950s, when sex was not talked about because it was considered shameful, in line with traditional Christian views of St Paul, and homosexuality was illegal. We felt we were part of the great liberation movement of the 1960s and beyond, which included gay liberation.
3) Kinsey showed that children masturbate and behave sexually with each other from the earliest ages if allowed to do so. It is not permitted these days to research children’s sexuality, so we are not getting the facts, and children’s sexual expression is being criminalised.
4) Society’s ever increasingly sexually repressive direction, with more and more vigilant policing, is making matters worse, not better: it has iatrogenic effects. People now feel traumatised for life by the mildest unwanted touching, or even by sexual relationships they enjoyed at the time.